Have you heard about matcha? Want to find out more about this healthy neon green tea? Read my latest article out now in the Asian Pacific Post.
Have you heard about matcha? Want to find out more about this healthy neon green tea? Read my latest article out now in the Asian Pacific Post.
Over the Christmas season I went to the Grannies for Africa free trade market. It’s an adorable little market in the basement of the big blue United church on the corner of Main & Eckhardt in Penticton. The market was full of local and world-wide free trade products. However, it also boasted a charm that only church basement bake sale can have. There was an abundance of homemade baked goods with all proceeds going towards the Grannies For Africa charity. While there I came across an inspiring local charity called OliveUs started by owner of Theo’s greek restaurant in Penticton, Nikos Theodosakis. What he has done is created a charity art project with local school children that raises money for different food related causes locally and across the globe. You can read more about the projects here at http://blog.oliveus.ca
Here’s an excerpt from their website to explain what their charity does and how it works:
‘The InStill life program invites students to change the world. Students look at food in their homes, community and around the planet. After looking at food still life paintings through history, students create their own with groupings inspired by their own favourite foods. The beautiful paintings are shared as gift cards and are sold throughout the community. Proceeds from these card sales are used to fund food challenges locally and to lend to individuals around the world through kiva.org, an organization which enables micro-lending. Students research family farmers and small scale food entrepreneurs in developing countries and examine their loan requests before collectively issuing repayable loans.’
This adorable video from 8 year old local participant Jakub puts things in perspective and explains how the InStill life project came to be in his classroom in Naramata and as he describes “this just wonderful day popped up” . The spent the day making soup from local veggies and then painted pictures of produce on cards that are sold with the profits going towards microloans to food producers in developing countries such as Guatemala. Check out what Jakub has to say here:
These cards are available at Theo’s Restaurant in Penticton and 10,000 Villages. Go pick yours up today and spread a little good karma around the globe!
A little while ago I posted about Eat Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards. The awards are separated to three categories; Vancouver, Victoria Island and the Okanagan. There were many awards given out, such as best place for lunch, best bartender, best restaurant, best food truck etc. There was even a category for best local food blogger and tweeter and guess what….. VineVie.com won for best in the Okanagan! I can’t believe it! My little food blog actually won a top award! Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog! I love sharing my passion for food and writing and it’s such an honour to be recognized for that, it’s craziness really! A massive thank you to everyone that took the time to vote!
Here’s the link to see other awards winners throughout BC.
I’ll share a few of the Okanagan winner’s list here for you:
Restaurant of the Year: Local Lounge & Grill, Summerland
Best Place for Lunch:The Bench Market, Penticton
Best Restaurant Cooking Local: RauDz Regional Table, Kelowna
Best Meal Under $10 – Mad Mango Cafe, Kelowna
Best Burger – Burger 55, Penticton
Best Healthy Meal – Poppadums, Kelowna
Best Food Truck – Jefferz’s Fryz, Penticton
Top Chef – *tie* Robert Cordonier(Hillside Bistro- Naramata Bench) and Paul Cecconi (Local Lounge-Summerland)
Best Barista – Good Omens, Summerland
Best Wine – Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Summerland
Best Fruit Wine – Elephant Island, Naramata Bench
Best Beverage – Poplar Grove Cab Franc, Penticton
Best Cooking Classes – Mission Hill Culinary Workshops, West Kelowna
Best New Addition to the Scene – Okanagan Food Truck, based out of Kelowna
Congratulations to all the winners and the runners up and don’t forget to check out the list of all the winners.
I think I’ll celebrate tonight with a little glass of Okanagan wine. Cheers!
I have been deciding whether or not to share this on my blog but I thought it was a fun story so here it goes… I auditioned for the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches! For those of you that aren’t familiar with it check out this link www.recipetoriches.ca
Basically it is a television show that searches across Canada for the best recipe from a home chef. There are several different categories, including savoury snacks, condiments, entrée’s, cookies and squares etc. Each week on TV it is rounded down to the top 3 contestants from each category across Canada and they compete against each other to win in their category. The winner receives a $25,000 prize as well as their product will be sold in Superstore under the President’s Choice brand, with their story and image as the packaging. At the shows finale a the winner for each category will be put up for voting and Canada votes and decides who will be crowned the winning recipe and that will be take home another prize of $250,000!
Here’s an example of a few of last seasons winning products.
I’m a big fan of Superstore and always love trying their new products so this show caught my eye. When I saw that this season they were holding auditions in Vancouver I knew I had to try. I love food and I love cooking so I figured why not? I sent it my homemade silly audition tape……..
Totally silly, I can’t even believe I just posted that on here for people to see… haha- oh well! Anyways, I got a call from a producer who did an interview with me and said they would be in touch if I was selected to come down for the in person audition in front of the judges. I waited and waited and finally got the call! I was nervous and excited and I had so much to prepare.
I stayed up past midnight the night before the auditions preparing my food. Matt was the best kitchen assistant a girl could ask for!
Finally the finished product…
Morning came and it was audition day. I woke up early and boiled and fried the perogies to get them the perfect golden brown colour. I got myself all dolled up and Matt chauffeured me to the Regency Hyatt Hotel downtown where the auditions were being held.
When we arrived at the hotel I signed in at registration and got my number.
We waited in a room with other contestants until our number was called. There were really helpful kitchen staff that let me practice my audition speech in front of them.
Finally after a few hours of waiting my number was called. I went with a group of other contestants into another room to plate our food. There were more chef’s to help us out in that room. I got my microphones taped onto me and filmed a pre-judging interview about my food. Once I had plated my perogies with a side of sour cream and chopped green onions and was whisked down a hallway to the judges room. I waited anxiously outside the room watching as the contestants in front of me went in for their auditions. Finally it was my turn. I entered a room where I met with a producer who told me where to stand etc, got my makeup touched up and voila… I was on! Just me with all the lights shining on me and 3 judges sitting at a table staring at me with my food. It felt like a dream but it was so fun. The judges by the way are Laura Calder,( host of French Cooking at Home), Tony Chapman (marketing guru) and Dana McCauley (food trends and innovation expert).
Here’s a photo of the judges at last year’s judging table.
It was a pretty intense experience but I am so happy that I did it. It was such a fun day and pushed me out of my comfort zone which is a good thing. I believe that we should take every opportunity that presents its self and for me this was one of them. The judges seemed to enjoy my gourmet perogies, Tony was the tough judge and asked me some questions about marketing that really put me on the spot but they were all super nice. It really was such a fun experience and I would do it again in a heart beat. I told myself that no matter if I walked out of that room with a golden ticket or not the real prize was just being there and enjoying the experience and having the guts to get infront of the judges and the camera’s and do something like this. I still feel that way. Everyone I met was so kind, all the other contestants in Vancouver and all the staff were so kind and helpful.
So now, what you are all probably wondering… did she get a golden ticket to go onto the next round…..?!?!? What do you think????????
Yes? No? Maybe so?
Well…. here’s your answer………………………………
YES, I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I feel like singing, in the words of Grandpa & Charlie from the original Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
“I’ve got a golden ticket! I’ve got a golden ticket! I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye!”
What that means is that I’m in the next round and I am up for consideration. Now I just wait until all the other auditions across Canada are finished and hope that they choose me as a finalist to compete in Toronto. If they do that would be amazing and if they don’t it still has been such a fun experience. The competition is across Canada so I’m certain the chances of me actually getting called to be a finalist are slim. For now I wait with this golden ticket posted to my fridge with a magnet that says ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going’.
I truly believe that and if you want something you have to work for it. They say that half the battle is showing up so if you have something you are a bit hesitant or shy to try I encourage you to do it because nothing new or exciting usually happens when you are inside your comfort zone. So in the famous words of Ms.Frizzle “Take chances, get messy and make mistakes!”
I wasn`t selected as a top 3 finalist to compete in Toronto. However, I am really looking forward to the show coming out and seeing who made the cut and hoping to see some of the friends I made during casting compete on the show. It was a really fun experience and I may even audition again next year because….
Hello everyone, I hope that your sweethearts spoiled you this Valentine’s Day! Did you stay home and make dinner or go out somewhere romantic? I stayed in and shared homemade pizzas and Okanagan wine with my Valentine. We stopped at retro themed doughnut shop Krispy Kreme in Delta a couple of days before V-Day and I was so excited (it’s the small things) to be there when they were actually making the doughnuts. Plus I also liked all their cute Valentine’s Day themed decorations. Did you know that you can get a 50% off a box of a dozen doughnuts after 9pm? Now that is a deal! Doughnut party anyone? Haha! Check out my pics below.
I also wanted to share with you my latest article that has been published in the Asia Pacific Post as well as the Filipino Pacific Post newspapers. It’s an article about Vietnamese noodle soup a.k.a. pho. Check it out here at www.asianpacificpost.com and let me know if you have any other delicious ethnic food ideas or restaurants for me to try!
Who doesn’t love to celebrate love? It’s a wonderful thing! With Valentine’s Day a week away I’m sure many of you have already begun at least thinking about your plans for V-Day. Are you planning on going out for dinner, or staying home for a romantic home cooked dinner? Many local restaurants are extending their Dine-Out menu‘s until the 14th so lover’s can enjoy a 3 course dinner for less. As always Boston Pizza across Canada offer a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day with $1 of every pizza going towards charity. For those planning to stay home I have a little recipe for a pasta dish to share with you that’s quite simple and so flavourful. Maybe you can even slurp together your pasta a’la Lady & the Tramp.
This is a recipe that I was first introduced to by my boyfriends Grandmother. We beg her to make it for us every time we go to her house. I’ve changed the recipe a bit to make it my own. I promise you this pasta dinner recipe will knock your Valentine’s socks off!
Grandma Z’s Pasta
1 1/2 cups of sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small sweet onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 handfuls of spinach
1 cup milk
1 small tub of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 package fettuccine noodles or egg noodles
In large wok fry onions, mushroom,garlic and spinach with a touch of olive oil or butter. When browned slowly add cream cheese, working it in as it melts. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Slowly add in milk to make the sauce less thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer and stir for 5-10 minutes. Add to pasta and mix together. Et Voila!
I have tried every single time I’ve made this dish to take a good photo of what the sauce looks like and I can never do it justice. Just trust me when I say that this is the best pasta EVER!
Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love and good food!
For anyone that knows me well, they know that I miss Morocco. For anyone that doesn’t know me quite as well let me explain. I spent a year in 2007 living in Casablanca after I graduated college and did my practicum at a Chinese Medicine clinic in the city. I also was there doing a bit of modeling/movie stuff. It was an incredible experience to say the least. There’s so much I could write about my time in Morocco but today I’m going to tell you about the food.
When I first arrived in Casablanca I was honestly scared, the food scared me as strange as that may seem. After living off of pizza and Tim Horton’s during my time at college the smells and appearance of Moroccan food were so completely new to me. Shockinglydifferent. My first little while in Morocco I would only order the ‘safe’ foods that I was familiar with which was pretty much chicken and bread. I would beg my friends to go to Pizza Hut with me (yes there is pizza hut in Morocco!). Everything was different, the ketchup tasted different, the bread was cut differently, the meat was different and often bled when it was cooked (which I later found out was due to Halal methods). I would often dine at a french restaurant in the heart of Casablanca called Chez Paul, it boasts modern architecture and french cuisine and pastries which at the time was a lot more welcoming to me than Moroccan food.
New friends that I had made in Casablanca would often invite me over for lunch. The food was usually Moroccan and mainly prepared by their maids, which is very common in Morocco (even I had a maid!). Slowly but surely I was exposed to more and more Moroccan cuisine and began to develop a taste and appreciation for it. All ingredients are fresh and there are no preservatives used in Moroccan dishes. Before long I was becoming more adventurous is my dining.
Fridays became my favourite day because every Friday in Morocco is couscous day! For anyone that’s not familiar with couscous, it is a dish made with seminola, spices, meat and veggies . It is prepared on a massive dish and looks absolutely gorgeous when served. Couscous is typically only made on Fridays for lunch in Morocco and is available to anyone. Rich or poor, you can walk into any
restaurant and order couscous and dine for free. I had some interesting experiences on couscous Fridays. A girlfriend of mine who was from Britain but had been living in Casablanca for a few years had invited me to tag along for lunch with her and her Moroccan boyfriend and his pals. We entered into a restaurant, went through a back door and headed underground. There in a dimly lit basement of a restaurant we dined on couscous and drank beer. Alcohol, especially for women is technically frowned upon and often times considered illegal to consume during Arabic holidays so I suppose that’s why had to be so sneaky about it and hang out in the restaurant secret dining room. One of my favourite time eating couscous was before I left to head back home to Canada.
My friend Mehdi had brought me to his families riad. A riad is an architecturally beautiful place, much like a hotel except for family members only. In Morocco it is typical (not so much anymore) for a man to have more than one wife and Mehdi’s mother used to live in one of these rooms in the riad. As the riad wasn’t used anymore it sits in the middle of a medina and its barely used. Mehdi had his lovely maids prepare a massive plate of couscous for us as I admired the hand layed tiles covering every inch of the riad. It was the best couscous I have ever had.
Mehdi actually served as my guide and good friend throughout my time in Morocco. He’s a talented Moroccan journalist and former editor of Maroc Soir newspaper. Lucky for me his work allowed him plenty of time to show me around the city. One of the tastiest and most unique meals I have ever had was courtesy of Mehdi.
One afternoon with a group of friends Mehdi guided us into one of the cities off the beaten track street markets. There he showed us the black magic section of the market which had caged owls, rare cheetah skins and caged baby turtles. It was very shocking for me to see and I desperately wanted to let all the animals free out of their cages but I had to respect their customs and hesitantly move on. Mehdi took us to the butcher area of the market. Giant slabs of meat hanging in the open market were abound. A gigantic camel head with his neck skinned was hanging beside me and I nearly walked into it. Mehdi took us to his favourite butcher and ordered us what I believe were cuts of lamb. I thought we were just going to order it and bring it back to cook for dinner, but I was wrong. Mehdi explained that we order whatever cut of meat we want, the butcher cuts it fresh, uses his seasonings, cook it up for us there and voila. This was different, as I had never gotten meat from a butcher who cooked it for me right then and there. When the freshly cooked meat arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect as I took a bite. It was cooked to perfection. The meat was so unbelievably tasty like nothing I had ever had before, the seasonings were hands down the best mixture of spices I’ve ever had!
I wish I could duplicate this recipe myself and many other Moroccan recipes that I had while I there but alas I didn’t bring any Moroccan spices back to Canada with me. I did however follow the recipe for a few Moroccan meals that I saw my housekeepers make which somehow turned out surprisingly good as I had never cooked Moroccan food before.
Mehdi wasn’t my only ‘tour guide’ to Moroccan cuisine in Casablanca though. I met my dear friend Ingrid Pullar while working at the clinic. She’s a Swedish born photographer who’s been living Morocco for the past 30 or so years. She is one of the top photographers in Morocco and her work as appeared in the New York Times, in many magazines and ads, and she’s even taken a few modeling portfolio shots of me back in the day(you can creep on her website to hunt down a few of those photos).
Ingrid would often invite me to her house which has a pretty backyard patio area where we would eat the freshest and healthiest Moroccan foods while her little pet turtle would wander around the backyard.
Ingrid also is the person who introduced me to Moroccan ‘fast food’ one day after horse back riding in the hillsides of Dar Bouza we pulled over on the side of the road where a mother and son had a stand set up. They were selling fresh corn on the cob with a water bottle mixture that she would pour on top of your corn cob for toppings. Like manly Moroccan dishes, I’m not exactly sure what the spices are but it was delicious.
Being the super photographer that Ingrid is and me with my aspiring journalist hopes, Ingrid invited me so the first and only at the time completely organic farm in Morocco. We ventured out to the farms lands with a couple from South Africa. The farmer and his wife toured us around the farm while their little boy played in the fields. We left the farm that day with a plethora of fresh organic veggies. It was so great to see concious farming methods being practiced in a developing country.
Those people and experiences are a huge reason why I miss Morocco so much. I’ve tried to duplicate the recipes back home in Canada myself but it just doesn’t seem to go right. I unfortunately didn’t bring any of the delicious Moroccan spices back to Canada with me for fear that the airport might give me a hard time for having a suitcase full of powdered substance flying back from an Arab country.For my birthday few years ago Matt and I went out for a taste of Moroccan food at a now closed restaurant in gastown called Le Marrakech. We dined on couscous, chicken tagine and finished of the meal off with a fresh and very sweet pot of Moroccan mint tea. I miss the unique flavours of Moroccan food and sincerely hope and pray that I can go back to Morocco again someday soon. Until then I’ll just have to hope that my Moroccan friends will send me some spices from afar.
It seems as if cold and flu season has snuck around again. Biting me in the butt this time around! I’m not one for taking a bunch of medications to fight off a cold, I prefer a more natural method of healing. Lord knows I love food so I have been consuming anything I can to help myself feel better. I wanted to share some of the foods and natural remedies that I have been shoving my face with while fighting the cold and flu season.
This is a tiny little packet filled with a powerful blend of vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients, electrolytes and more that all help to enhance your immune system and give you energy. Available in a variety of flavours also in a kids formula. You can find Emergen-C at most drug stores in single and boxed packets. They taste good and are so easy to consume.
Cinnamon has been used for years as a natural remedy for many ailments. Cinnamon aids in clearing sinuses, clearing cough, works as an antibacterial and aids in circulation. In its powder form it’s easy to add to smoothies, plus it tastes great to it’s easy to consume. You can also boil cinnamon sticks in water on the stove then steep your tea in the cinnamon water for drinking.
This is one of the most common natural treatments for coughs and colds. When added to a steaming tea it helps to sooth and protect a sore throat and eases coughing. It also has many antibacterial components and helps the spread of micro organisms in the body. Honey is full of vitamins and minerals. When purchasing honey remember the darker the honey the more antioxidants. Most importantly, honey doesn’t contain any chemicals or harmful ingredients that are commonly found in other medicines, therefore making it free from side-effects.
Happy Planet Health Drinks
Vancouver based company Happy Planet has an excellent little remedy to help you feel better, faster. Happy Planet Shots are little 75ml bottles of natural vitamin extracts, minerals and more that aim to make you feel better naturally. I recommend their ‘Immunity’ shot that contains, Vitamin C, Echinacea, elderberry, ginger roots and many more medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients. Happy Planet shots don’t contain any added sugars, colours or preservatives and come at a reasonable price. You can find 2 for $5 at Whole Foods Market or usually around $3 a bottle at many drug stores in Canada and the United States. Best of all they taste great and are available in a variety of remedies.
Ginger is a spicy little remedy that hosts a strong anti-viral property. When boiled in water and drank as a tea it can helpt to reduce fever, treat sore throats and inflammation of the mucous membrane aka a runny rose. Ginger can be easily added to smoothies and blends surprisingly well. Add ginger to a super smoothie for an added health boost. Ginger can easily be found at any grocery store. So there you have it a few things to help keep your feeling healthy this cold season. Along with many other things such as lots of fresh fruit and vegetables these are some of my favourite remedies.
East Indian Food
Speaking of spice, Indian food is another excellent thing to consume when fighting a cold. Many Indian dishes contain garlic, chilis, cumin and an abundance of other spices that make you sweat and your nose run which helps to clear out a virus our of you system faster. Many spices also have antibacterial and antioxidative properties. Check out Gurpareet Bains (the creator of the world’s healthiest curry) website that has a variety of ‘Indian Superfood’ recipes that will have you fighting off that cold faster than you can say “butter chicken”. Other spicy dishes will work as well such as Thai, Hanan or Szechuan.
So there you have it, a few natural remedies to use the next time you’re starting to feel under the weather. I’d love to hear some of your favourite cold and flu busting remedies!
Since I recently did a posting on Gorilla Food I thought why not do another one on banana bread? Hehe. Yesterday, I baked banana bread for the first time ever! I don’t know what took me so long. Even my 20-year-old little brother told me he had baked it himself before. Although he said the recipe he used including Miracle Whip which sounds pretty interesting…hmmmm. I wish I could have tried a bite of that loaf! I’ve don’t think I’ve ever had a bad slice on banana bread though. Even when it’s the healthiest option in a gas station ‘bakery’ section on a road trip I still love it. So found out why ingredients I would need and behold I had all I needed in my pantry already! I followed a few recipes and then made it my own. It turned out lovely and filled my kitchen with such a sweet scent. Best of all it’s preservative free food, which is the best way to be!
VV Banana Bread Ingredients:
2 cups (500ml) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (50ml) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5ml) baking soda
A pinch of salt ground himilayan rock salt
1/2 (125ml) chocolate chips
1/2 cup (125ml) crushed walnuts
2 cups (500ml) mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup (125ml) butter, melted
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
2 large eggs
In large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate chips and crushed walnuts. In separate bowl whisk together eggs, butter, milk and bananas. Pour over flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon till blended. Spread in greased or silicone pan 9×5 inch (2L) load pan.
Bake in centre of oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out smooth. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes then place on rack to cool completely.
Tip: I sprinkled my Banana Bread with a little bit of granulated sugar as soon as it was out of the oven for an extra sweet treat.
Want to try some of the best restaurants in Vancouver, the Okanagan or the Island for free? Of course you do! Eat magazine is offering their readers a wide variety of gift certificates with a contest that they are having online for their reader’s choice awards. There are prizes available for great restaurants such as The Tea House, Theo’s, RauDZ as well as a couple hotel packages up for grabs and much more! All you have to do is go on their website and click on the area that you reside in (Okanagan, Vancouver or the Island) and fill out the survey. Eat Magazine wants to know what your favourite restaurant is? Who your favourite foodie blogger? Where you can find the best drink in town, etc. You actually don’t even have to fill it all out if you can’t come up with an answer. So have fun and best of luck to all who enter! You can vote for me (VineVie) in the OKANAGAN or Vancouver section since I blog about both, it’s eays just put VineVie in questions #42 and #43. Thanks!