Tag Archives: wine

Dining Out for Life: Thursday, March 24

Dining Out for LifeI don’t know about you, but I have a tough time making decisions. I spend most of my day herding cats and correcting other people’s grammar, and when dinnertime rolls around, the last thing I want to do is make a decision. Cook dinner or eat out? Wine? Which one?

Well, thanks to Dining Out for Life, on Thursday, March 24, it’ll be a no-brainer.

Dining Out for Life (not to be confused with the very similarly named Dine Out Vancouver) is an annual fundraiser that benefits two local agencies who support people living with HIV/AIDS. One is A Loving Spoonful, an organization that I have volunteered with for the past three years, and the other is Friends for Life. A Loving Spoonful provides food for individuals and families who are living with HIV/AIDS, so that they don’t have to choose between food and medication. And Friends for Life provides alternative therapies—for example yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture—for those living with terminal illnesses. Both create community for a group of people who are otherwise marginalized and isolated.
Dining Out for Life

On March 24, it’s easy to help. Dine at one of the participating restaurants (more than 230 of them!) and 25% of your food bill will go directly to A Loving Spoonful and Friends for Life. Even better, during the entire month of March, Sumac Ridge Estate Winery will donate $1 from each bottle of wine.

So I know what I’ll be doing on Thursday, March 24: dining out at a participating restaurant, and drinking Sumac Ridge wine. Giving has never been easier.


A Night with Theo Chocolate – schedule

There are only five days before the chocolate event of the year hits Vancouver! Are you ready for artisan chocolate, fine wine, hand-crafted cocktails, and stories?

Tickets are only $40. Get yours here.

This is the schedule of events:

5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Savoury canapes from The Refinery’s Chef Mike Carter, incorporating Theo Chocolate. Paired with a custom cocktail from Lauren Mote, incorporating Vista d’Oro walnut wine and garnished with shavings of Theo Chocolate.

6:15 – 6:30 p.m. Welcome and introductions. Joe Whinney, CEO of Theo Chocolate, will tell us about the company he founded.

6:30 – 7:10 p.m. Guided chocolate and beverage pairing. Hear stories about where the chocolate comes from, and who made the beverage that it’s paired with.

We’re featuring four chocolates from the Theo Chocolate line:

Paired with those, we have gorgeous selections from Farmstead Wines and Vista d’Oro:

7:10 – 7:30 p.m. Sweet canapes from Chef Mike Carter, plus confections from Theo Chocolate. Here’s your opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the artisan products that you just enjoyed.

This event would not be possible without the generous support of the event’s sponsors. Theo_Banner4

What I ate last week

Disclaimer: this post is not about chocolate. I’m sorry. I know you’re all eagerly awaiting another snarky post about some chocolatier gone wrong, but you’ll just have to wait.

In the meantime, I present you with a list of things that I ate last week while showing a friend around the city. Split this list between two people…and it’s still a ridiculous amount of food. Also bear in mind that we walked the equivalent of a marathon (42 km, or 26 miles) and hiked up Grouse Mountain last week, so I think we worked off a few of the calories that we ingested.

Without further ado, this is what I ate last week, in the order that my memory came up with:

  • 6 xiao long bao
  • 9 spicy wontons
  • 1 bowl of spicy beef noodle soup with hand-pulled noodles
  • 3 turnip cakes in rice flour pastry
  • 1 cone of pink grapefruit-campari sorbetto
  • 1 cup of passionfruit guava sorbetto
  • 10 crepes with summer berry compote
  • 1 grilled cheese sandwich (contained 4 kinds of cheese)
  • 1 fennel salad with candied walnuts
  • 1 bacon truffle
  • 1 raspberry truffle
  • 5 pieces salmon sashimi
  • 5 pieces tuna sashimi
  • 5 pieces toro sashimi
  • 2 negitoro cones
  • 1 spicy tuna cone
  • 1 scallop cone
  • 2 oysters motoyaki
  • 3 cubes agedashi tofu
  • 3 cubes spicy pan-fried tofu
  • 6 pieces BC rolls
  • 6 pieces avocado rolls
  • 6 pieces yam tempura
  • 6 pieces assorted vegetable tempura
  • 2 dishes neopolitan ice cream
  • 8 pieces toast
  • 6 eggs, scrambled
  • 10 slices of 4-year aged cheddar
  • 2 bowls of pho with rare beef and cooked flank
  • 2 deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls
  • 2 Japadogs (one oroshi, one okonomi)
  • 2 bowls of my mom’s seafood soup
  • 2 desserts from Boneta: bowl of local cherries with Aztec chocolate ice cream, cherry foam and elderflower jelly; lemongrass baba with chantilly, local blackberries, blackberry sorbet and crispy cookie
  • 1 granola bar, kindly donated by a stranger on the Grouse Grind
  • 1 baguette
  • 1/2 wheel of Moonstruck Cheese ash-riped camembert
  • 1 bowl of kalamata olives
  • 1 homemade pithivier
  • 1 plate of Najib’s Special from nuba
  • 2 pistachio baklava
  • 8 shiu mai
  • 5 fish balls in curry sauce
  • 2 dishes fried noodles
  • 9 pieces of scallop and shrimp takoyaki
  • 1 skewer of grilled pan bread
  • 1 skewer barbecued shrimp
  • 1 skewer barbecued chicken
  • 1 custard-filled Taiwanese waffle cake
  • 1 sheet of egg-shaped waffle dessert thingies
  • 4 shrimp dumplings
  • 3 shrimp rolls
  • 3 pieces pan-fried turnip cake
  • 3 pea shoot dumplings
  • 3 shrimp-chive pan-fried dumplings
  • 2 apple tarts
  • countless bowls of fresh Okanagan fruit (cherries, blueberries, apricots)
  • handfuls of wild blackberries, plucked off spiky vines wherever we found them

And this is what we drank (it isn’t nearly as impressive a list):

  • 1 taster glass of each of three kinds of artisan sake
  • 2 glasses of Joie rose (tastes like summer in a glass)
  • 2 bottles of Powerade from the top of Grouse Mountain
  • 4 perfect cocktails made by Simon at Voya
  • 2 bottles of Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Ogopogo’s Lair pinot grigio
  • 1 juicebox of lychee juice
  • 1 cup of Hong Kong style coffee & tea
  • countless cups of coffee (including a stop at Elysian)
  • 1 coconut, juice and pulp
  • 1 cup of drinking chocolate

Looks like a week of salad and iced tea. Anything green, really. I think I might have scurvy.

The Kitchen Cafe doesn’t disappoint

Before the name Chef Hugh Matheson mean anything to me (he won the 2009 IACP award for community service), I met several people who spoke reverently and enthusiastically about The Kitchen Cafe in Boulder. Well before it was trendy to do so, The Kitchen Cafe supported local farmers and producers, serving organic and seasonal food wherever possible.

There’s a proper restaurant downstairs, and a more casual, loungey atmosphere at The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Well, I headed [Upstairs] in search of tasty food and the promise of happy hour. From 5:30-6:30 pm each day, they feature a three-course prix fixe for $26 ($34 with wine pairings). Now, that’s not a cheap dinner, but it’s incredible value for amazing food and wine in a beautiful room.

First course was a rustic bruschetta with basil pesto (thick, rich and unctuous), mozzarella (clean, fresh and delicate), red onion (sweated and sweet), and radishes (crisp, without their customary bite) on top of toasty bread. Garnished with olive oil and parsley, this appetizer was really well-composed. All the flavours worked well together, and – more importantly – complemented each other. This was paired with a 2007 Ochoa Viura-Chardonnay from Spain (nice and light, with notes of roasted pineapple and mango).

Next up was a dish of seared scallops, sauteed romaine, roasted potatoes, and anchovy dressing. The dressing was to die for: rich, creamy and salty. The scallops were sweet and seared, the romaine kept its texture and sweetness, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked. It was an exercise in the perfect bite: the acidity and tartness of the dressing, met by the sweetness and crunch of romaine, mellowing to the sweetness and texture of the scallop, all on top of a solid foundation of potato that actually tasted like potato. It was paired with a 2001 Tempranillo from Ramirez de la Piscina that was a bit too tannic on its own, but mellowed out nicely with the food.

Dessert was a Knickerbocker Glory, which was so insanely delicious but simple. In fact, I’m going to steal it and say I invented it. You can too: here’s how. Start with a large, bulbous glass – a Chimay glass, if you want to be exact about things. Put in a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, creamy and fragrant with real vanilla. Top it with softly whipped chantilly cream and crumbled meringue bits. Add a few sliced strawberries, some berry syrup, and a drizzle of Chambord. Serve with a spoon and watch people swoon with delight as they eat a very grown-up ice cream sundae.

Even better, serve it with R&R Naughty Sticky dessert wine, all coy with its honey and toasted almond flavours. Naughty and sticky, indeed.

And because no meal is complete without chocolate, Rick the bartender let me try a homemade chocolate bar: 72% dark chocolate with walnuts and sea salt. This was not a demure salted chocolate. The salt was front and centre. But then it stepped aside to let the walnuts – all nutty, tender and crumbly – shine. And then the 72% dark chocolate brought its bittersweetness to the table.

I have my doubts as to whether Rick really wanted my “professional opinion,” because he knew that it was delicious. But hey, I’m happy to oblige.

The Kitchen Cafe and The Kitchen [Upstairs]
1039 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO
The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Nile: miles from Ethiopia, but so delicious

There we were, five visitors to Denver stuffed in a car, on a dark highway, guided by nothing more than a silent GPS unit. We were on a quest for the region’s best Ethiopian food. Based on an exhaustive survey of two Ethiopian people we met earlier that day, The Nile was where it was at.

Forty-five minutes later, we found it: an unassuming restaurant in a suburban strip mall in Aurora. The friendly server brought us Ethiopian beer and honey wine and managed not to laugh at us as we earnestly explained that we wanted to try one of everything on the menu.

An hour – and several Ethiopian beer and glasses of honey wine – later, she presented us with a giant injera covered in bright dollops of different curries. That is, it was a 3-foot diameter Ethiopian pancake that looked like an artist’s palette. Each dollop was tastier than the last, whether it was the cardamom lamb, the roasted potatoes, curried lentils, fragrant spinach, fiery curried chicken, or something else.

We ate until we were full, then took turns declaring ourselves stuffed – only to find ourselves, five minutes later, picking at a dollop of something. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was a lovely communal experience with people who I look forward to seeing each April. At last year’s conference we experienced The Most Delicious Sandwich I’ve Ever Eaten (no exaggeration, it really was) and this year was no exception. According to the restaurant’s website:

Sharing the same bread is socially significant in the Ethiopian culture and also creates a bond of friendship and personal loyalty between the diners.  It is said that people who eat from the same plate (mosseb) will never betray one another.

On our way back to Denver, we figured out how to make the GPS talk, but not how to control the volume. It barked instructions to us all the way home, drowned out only by our giggles.

[This post is dedicated to the memory of JS, who raised a great son and tipped us off to The Most Delicious Sandwich last year. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I wish I had. He’ll be sorely missed.]

The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
1951 S. Havana Street
Aurora, CO
(720) 748-0239
The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chocolate + salt = the perfect flavour profile?

I was speaking with someone this morning about my earlier post about ChocolaTas’ salted chocolate. She told me that while she has no willpower when it comes to plain old chocolate, no matter how high-end or bitter it is. She can’t have just one piece. But, for some reason, when it comes to salted chocolate, she can have just one.

I think it might be because salt provides the one flavour that chocolate doesn’t have. In having a salted chocolate, all your tastebuds are satisfied. Without the salt, you’re tempted to keep eating in an attempt to reach the goal of ultimate satisfaction.

She likened it to being happy with one really great glass of wine, but having an urge to have a second glass of plonk.

Worth thinking about, anyway.

Osteria Marco makes a mean pizza

From the street, Osteria Marco looks more like a tea shop or gourmet food store than a restaurant. Once inside, the hostess leads you down the winding staircase to the cavernous, but not oppressive, dark-panelled basement dining room. Looking at the room, you wouldn’t even know that we’re in the midst of a recession. It was buzzing on a Tuesday night.

Since we were a large group, we were given a prix fixe menu to choose from. I started with a baby arugula salad, smartly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted baby pine nuts and currants. The arugula was delicate and didn’t have its typical bite, and the pine nuts provided a lovely nuttiness and richness to the salad. There were a few too many currants for my liking, but they did provide a sweet contrast to the dish.

The main course was touted as a margherita pizza from their wood-fired oven, but the menu didn’t say that it was going to be 14″ in diameter. I would have liked the crust to be a wee bit crisper, but aside from that it was delicious. The tomatoes were rich and meaty (San Marzano tomatoes, I’m sure), the basil nice and bright, and the mozzarella fresh and gooey. After trying to hock a few pieces of pizza to my dining companions, I ended up taking half of the pizza home with me.

The dessert menu was a little uninspired, but I was also so full of pizza that dessert wasn’t an option.

The kicker: all this food (including next day’s breakfast in leftovers), plus a glass of wine, came in at $20 including tax and a generous tip.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO
(303) 534-5855
Osteria Marco on Urbanspoon