Archives for category: okanagan

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.

www.eatmagazine.ca

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!

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!

http://www.eatmagazine.ca/the-3rd-annual-exceptional-eats-reader-awards/

Hello everyone, I figured it was about time I catch you up on how my raw food smoothie cleanse ended up.   After an unexplained severe allergic skin reaction to something I ate that the doctors so far haven’t been able to pinpoint (possibly from canned peaches soaked in preservatives), I personally decided that it to was time for a change and wanted to try a cleanse. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be but then again at times it was. Eating fresh raw food made me feel great. I did however have to hide all the treats in my cupboard  as an out of sight out of mind thing. Doing a raw food cleanse at leading up to Christmas time was fine, however if I decided to do my cleanse during the Christmas holidays then I’m certain that would have been a completely different story for me. My cleanse days were filled with delicious fresh smoothies full of every possible fruit, veggie and even herb I could cram into the blender. It usually looked a little something like this….

Banana, mint, watermelon, cucumber, cilantro, ginger and pure pomegranate juice.

My meal times were spent chopping and preparing the fruits and vegetables. At times when I was craving something a little different I thought I’d get creative and make a raw chopped salad/salsa hybrid. I used tomatoes, A LOT of purple garlic, avocado, cilantro, parsley and hoped for the best… EEEEEKKK, this was not what I was going for! It turned into a horrible gazpacho instead. I learned with raw food as with any cuisine there’s a lot of experimenting involved and many trial and error experiences.

This is what I was trying to make, I realized that a knife works just as well as any super blender… haha.


During these 7 days I ate as much raw food as I could. For me it wasn’t only smoothies though. I made salads and raw soups as well. I even managed to convince someone to try out a raw food restaurant with me. My friend and fellow foodie Jenna Perreault, owner of Delish Gluten Free Baking. We often go on little food adventures in the city and she’s always willing to try new things. If you have the chance to try her baking visit Rubens Chocolates or Gallaghers Coffee Shop, both located in Port Moody. Her cookies are amazing FYI!

Foodie adventures at Gorilla Food

Foodie adventures at Gorilla Food

Cheers at La Taqueria

We ventured downtown on a typically rainy Vancouver day to this literally underground restaurant on Richards Street, aptly named Gorilla Food.

The entire menu is raw, organic and vegan. Even their bread for their sandwiches is made with pressed squash! I had their Main Street Monkey sandwich, which is made with mashed avocados, zucchini humus, olive tapenade, sprouts, tomato slices and cucumber on a curried raw veggie bread. Accompanied with their fresh dreamy creamy carrot, avocado and basil gazpacho. It was so different yet so fresh and filled me up, I had to take half a sandwich to go.

My Gorilla lunch

Overall I saw major results in my skin and felt so much better while eating only raw. I’ve decided to now incorporate as much raw food into my eating habits as possible and throughly recommend trying it out at least for one day to anyone who’s interested. I will most likely be going on another raw food cleanse again and hopefully the next time I’ll learn how to make a proper gazpacho!

If you are looking for more information for raw food eating in your area check out these links.

The Raw Food Okanagan Pot Luck

The Raw Food Society of BC

Indigo Raw Food Cafe & Cooking Classes in Vancouver

The Raw Family

Living-Foods Community

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Sorry about the lack of posting the past couple of weeks. I am been so busy with preparing for the Christmas season. I’m home in the Okanagan now and enjoying the holidays with my family. I’m been devouring my dads Ukrainian food and my sisters sugar cookies. In between my eating and wrapping gifts I came across this interesting sounding cookie recipe that won the $5,000 prize on the TV show The Chew. I haven’t made it yet but it sounds so interesting it’s definitely on my ‘to do list’. Here’s the recipe for Salt & Pepper Butterscotch Cookies. If you make these before I do please tell me how they turn out. It is such a unique combination of flavours but if it won the prize form a nationally televised baking recipe they must be good right? Anyways, I wish everyone a very happy holiday season filled with love and laughter.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 bag (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
  • 1 handful pine nuts (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon flakey sea salt (I like to use Maldon salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and table salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing non-metallic bowl, with an electric beater, cream together the 2 sticks of butter, sugars and vanilla. If too stiff (you want the consistency of butter cream frosting), place bowl in microwave for 10-20 seconds.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating for 10 seconds after each egg.

Beat in flour, in two or three additions. Stir in butterscotch chips.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small non-stick skillet – add pine nuts and toast, stirring with wooden spoon, being careful not to burn – pine nuts burn easily! If you burn them, start over! Remove from heat when butter is brown and foamy and pine nuts are perfectly golden and let cool for a few minutes, and then stir in salt and pepper.

Add to cookie dough, making sure to scrap all the brown butter goodness into bowl, and stir to incorporate.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place scant tablespoonfuls of dough onto paper, spacing about 1 inch apart.  Cookies will spread. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Remove and let cool on sheets for 3-4 minutes, remove cookies to racks and continue to cool until room temperature. Makes about 3 dozen cookies

http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/Holidays-Catherine-Wilkinson-Santa-Salt-and-Pepper-Butterscotch-Pine-Nut-Cookies

Last week my main squeeze took me out to a little Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond for pho. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of pho or Vietnamese food for that matter but after recently watching Anthony Bourdain’s food porn tribute to pho I couldn’t help but crave it. Check out this video and you will understand why. However my pho experience last week wasn’t quite as x-rated as Anthony’s. After reading a few good reviews about a little hole in the wall place in Richmond called Pho Lan on No.3 Road we decided to check it out. You enter through the back  parking lot down a sketchy looking labryinth of a hallway where you finally find yourself in a tiny little restaurant. The loud Vietnamese ladies running the place barely speak english and the decor is well..there is no decor. We both ordered the medium rare pho bowls as well as a few spring rolls and a couple prawn wraps. Long story short the food was pretty good, the atmosphere and service not so much but it got us both thinking. How do you judge a good bowl of pho? Since it simply comes to your table as broth, noodles and meat and it’s pretty much up to you how you dress it. How much chili paste to add? Do you squeeze in the whole lime? How much basil leaves do you throw in? Do you add soya sauce etc. Does the restaurant matter or is it how you prepare your own pho once it comes to your table? Any pho experts out there have any advice for us?  How do you judge a good pho and where is the best place to get it?

The classy entrance to Pho Lan


The town of Summerland with its quaint old english charm and it’s love of festivals is the perfect place to host the annual holiday tradition of ‘The Festival Of Light’s. Since moving to the big city three years I have made the drive back home every winter to come to the Festival of Lights in Summerland or the Light Up as the locals call it. The charm of this event has even got my city-bred boyfriend coming back every year as well. The streets are closed off and filled with vendors, food carts and this year even popup shops. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted a pop up Starbucks on Summerland’s Main street this year! The townsfolk bundle up in their warmest attire and gather in the streets. The Mayor gets up on stage with the entire town together counts out loud 10, 9, 8, 7 etc. Until the Christmas lights are turned on and illuminate the streets. Cheers echo through-out the downtown core of Summerland. The Christmas carolers begin singing onstage and it is all really is as perfect as it sounds. Light Up means a little extra to my family because my father is the head of the electric department for the town. He always enjoys picking out the lights and putting them up around town with his crew. (SPOILER ALERT) The big fancy switch that the Mayor pulls on stage is actually just a prop. Someone from Summerland Power is actually listening with a cell phone waiting for the cue to hit the actual switch to turn the lights on. After everything is lit up everyone wanders the streets and enjoys the local food carts and restaurants. Later everyone gathers to watch the fireworks. It can only be described as a magical holiday event. One of my favourite parts about Light Up is obviously the food. Local restaurants set up tents and make special food items to sell on the streets that night. There are perogies made by real Baba’s, mac & cheese from gourmet restaurants , delicious poutines from a fry truck, deluxe hot chocolate, a cotton candy machine and more. This year I forgot to bring my camera so I had to use Matt (my boyfriends) ancient relic of an original iPhone. The pictures turned out a little blurry so I’ve added some of my Summerland Light Up of the pasts photos for your viewing pleasure.

Light Up 2011 - the sweet scent of the Wanawaffel street cart filled the air.

Light Up 2011- There was a Carbeque! How neat is this?!!

Light Up 2011 - A pop up wine tasting shop during the Festival of Lights.

Light Up 2011 - A pop up wine tasting shop during the Festival of Lights.

One of my favourite places to eat at Light Up is the very old I.O.O.F. Hall where the sweet older ladies have a chili cook off. A couple of years ago while Matt and I were enjoying their chili; one elderly lady came up and asked him if he worked there and if he could clear their dishes for him. So he laughed and cleared the entire table for the ladies!

Matt at the Chili Cook-Off at Light Up 2009, he probably won't be thrilled with me for posting this photo of him chompin' but it makes me laugh every time :p

Summerland Festival of Lights 2003 - every year the contestants in the local Blossom Pageant gets dressed up in Old English costumes and hand out candy canes to the kids during Light Up. Notice anyone in particular?


Light Up 2010 - My Mom & Lara from Summerland Power handing out cake for Summerland Power's 100th Celebration during the Light Up.

My mom, Matt & I at Light up 2010 Summerland Power tent. We handed out cake and raised money for the Summerland Food Bank.



My dad helping kids get into their safety equipment for the popular Summerland Power bucket truck rides at the Festival of Lights 2010.



Light Up 2009 - My dad, my sister & I up in the bucket truck to watch the fireworks.

Light Up 2009 - My dad, my sister & I up in the bucket truck to watch the fireworks.

This year after the Light Up we all headed down to the local rink to watch the home team ‘The Summerland Steam’ play a good ol’ hockey game. It was another wonderful Summerland Festival of Lights night.

Happy Monday everyone!  These are a few foodie features I’m crushing on right now. I can’t get enough of these recently discovered treats and I hope you enjoy them too, check them out below.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I have found the best snickerdoodle cookie on the face of the Earth.  I suppose it wasn’t a hard sell since I’ll approve pretty much anything ‘snickerdoodle’  but I really do declare this to be the best of the best.  Vancouver’s own bake shop Butter Baked Goods has created a  Maple Snickerdoodle Sandwich. The puffy snickerdoodle cookies are stuck together with sweet maple icing. Without being too sugary the buttery taste makes for a perfect medley of flavours. Butter Baked Goods can be found at their adorable little bakeshop on 4321 Dunbar Street in Vancouver or at various local Whole Foods Markets and Urban Fare grocery stores in Vancouver. Also, right now for the holiday season Butter Baked Goods is offering their goodies boxed up for the holiday season and are taking custom orders right now. You can find them at www.butterbakedgoods.com

Another product I’m loving right now is Epicure’s Curry Dip Mix. It’s an exotic blend of indian spices can be used in various dishes. The directions on the bottle recommends you mix a spoonful of the dip with a little bit of mayonnaise and sour cream to create their delicious dip. I have been using this on everything. It’s great for dipping with veggies, tortillas, prawns but it can also be used for a spread for burgers, gourmet grilled cheese, lamb chops etc. The little jar will last you a long time and only cost $7.95 a bottle. It’s a handy little mix to keep around for the holiday season as it will spice up any holiday party platter. Epicure Selections can be found in almost any community at various trade shows and markets or you can check out their website to find a consultant in your area www.epicureselections.com


The Bench Market located on Upper Bench road in Penticton is a great place for  unique culinary finds or even a relaxing sunday brunch. This little gem of a  deli/gourmet grocery store is always offering new and local products and cuisine. One of my favourite items that also doubles as an excellent stocking stuffer this holiday season is their  toasted sweet almonds. They are crunchy and just sweet enough without taking away from the almond. The Bench market also makes a spicy version of the almonds for $3.99 a pop. www.thebenchmarket.com

Who doesn’t like dessert? Dessert without the guilt? Even better!  With only 7 grams of fat per skewer  these little treats will curb your chocolate craving without make you feel like your missing out.  You won’t even realize that you are actually eating a banana. These little Belgian milk chocolate treats are available at  M&M Meat Shop. www.mmmeatshops.com


Have you tried Okanagan Wineland Dressing? This handcrafted dressing will absolutely rock your salads world. Created by Executive Chef Peter Young with the help of his wife Valenica. Peter was inspired to bottle his goods while working at the Barrel Bistro at Hillside Estate Winery in Penticton, BC. Restaurants guests were constantly asking to purchase the delicious dressing after trying it at the bistro. With that Okanagan Vineland Dressing was born and Peter began first bottling his Roast Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette, which just so happened to be the first bottle I had ever purchased as well. I was first introduced to these tasty dressings at Eat! Fraser Valley expo a couple of years ago. I couldn’t get over how fresh and flavourful each dressing tasted. These dressings are definitely a step above the rest. All three of the dressings are delightful my favourite two being the Cilantro & Lime Vinaigrette & the aforementioned Roast Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette. There’s also a Raspberry & Black Pepper Vinaigrette which is lovely for summer eating. The dressings are excellent on salads of course but also can be used as a marinade, a dip with bread, for bbq grilling or whatever you heart desires. The bottles are sold in a 3 bottle gift pack for $20 or individually for around $7. Okanagan Vineland Dressing is available for purchase at various local farmers markets and through out the fine stores in Britsh Columbia. To name a few places to find the dressings, The Bench Market & Marketplace IGA in Penticton, Willowbrook Lane in Summerland, Okanagan Tree Fruits Co-Op in Kelowna, Meinhardts & Whole Foods in Vancouver, Continental Kitchen in Victoria and even as far away at MystiK Design Studio in Whithorse, Yukon. For a full list of where to buy Okanagan Vineland Dressings you can visit the website at http://www.wineland.ca
I’m certain these dressing will have your dinner guests asking for a bottle to take home as well.


Tucked away in a plaza that is a melting pot for ethnic shops is a little gem of a restaurant called Sandar’s Thai Garden in Surrey, BC. The glowing pink neon sign hanging in the window doesn’t look like much from outside but once you enter you will be taken on a delicious culinary journey. Thai food is one of my all time favourite cuisines, the combination of spicy, sweet and savoury is like no other. I’ve tried many Thai restaurants but there is something about the way they make it at Sandar’s that keep me coming back. For starters everything is house made which enhances the fresh flavours, unlike some other Thai restaurants in the lower mainland (I’m looking at you Thai Chili House). The spring rolls are fresh and their sweet chili sauce is heavens nectar. I’m not exaggerating here, it is that good! Their lunch combo can’t be beat either. Starting at 11:30 to 2:30pm for $8.99 they offer a spring roll with your choice of Thai soup or salad and any entrée, from the classic pad Thai to pad gra paow (a basil leaf dish). Sandar’s doesn’t skimp out of the lunch menu either, it comes as a full size serving, so come hungry. The curries are perfection, and their smiley shower cap wearing cook in the back makes them custom to your taste. One of the best dishes at Sandar’s Thai Garden is their yellow curry with chicken, it comes in a massive bowl with a side order of rice and is great for sharing. As is custom with Thai food, each dish is to be shared. The soups also come in large bowls and are presented in this nifty little clay pot set up with a candle underneath that keeps the soup warm for you. How cool is that?! I’ve brought a lot of out-of-town visitors to Sandar’s Thai Garden for some grub and now everyone asks next time they come, ‘Can we go to the Thai Garden again?’. The food is certain to warm you up during the cold winter months, which also is a great place to go if you feel a cold coming as the spices can clear you out. I admit that’s not the most appetizing way to describe a restaurant but a benefit none the less. So, if you are looking for an excellent meal and trying something a little ethnic Sandar’s Thai Garden will have you coming back for more. Also, if you are in the Okanagan and don’t feel like making the 4 hour drive for Thai food, there’s a great little place in Keremeos called Benja Thai Restaurant. Keremeos seems like a bit of a strange place to go for Thai but it is authentic food. It’s also a lovely little place to stop at on your drive out to the coast, if you are going that way. The food is extremely fresh and the decor is very Thai inspired with lots of neat little things to look at, including a rose petal buddha shrine inside the restaurant. Both restaurants are casual atmospheres with friendly services and budget friendly prices. You can check them both out online at
http://www.sandarsthaigarden.com
http://www.benjathairestaurant.com
Happy Eating!

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