Archives for category: review

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!

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.

Check out that icing waterfall!

The little doughnut factory .

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!

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

Hope everyone had a rockin’ New Years Eve, I know I did!  This New Year’s Eve I went out with friends for dinner at South Granville’s new burger bar, Luke’s Corner Bar &  Kitchen. I’d been to the place once before and knew it would be a great spot to  have a casual NYE dinner. Located in the corner suite that used to host the asian-fusion restaurant Red Door this place has been re-done as a Earl’s type place.; Except with much better food, lower prices and more of an easy-going atmosphere. Part of the reason I’m crushing on Luke’s so much is that as a customer I can tell that they actually care about the quality of the food. Unlike many other restaurant’s that tend to just slap down whatever pre-made, reheated food they are serving that day. The food at Luke’s is always fresh with a tendency toward natural and local ingredients such as their pan roasted chicken breast with Fresh Valley chicken or their Salt Spring Island mussels. They are also partners with Ocean Wise. My absolute favourite must try item of the menu at Luke’s is their Luke’s burger. A honkin’ handmade patty made with Chilcotin Heritage grass-fed beef, onion, arugula and tomato. This burger doesn’t need a lot of fancy dressing or cheeses to jazz it up. The flavour from the quality beef used in the burger is unsurpassed and has an extremely fresh and earthy taste. I guarantee you will  be hard pressed to find  a burger patty this flavourful at any other restaurant. Served on a crispy grilled bun topped with arugula, tomato and fresh onions it is all this burger needs to satisfy your burger craving.  This burger is so good I haven’t even stopped to take a picture of my plate anytime I’ve been into Luke’s. So this photo taken from their website will have to satisfy your need for food porn until you are able to make it down to Luke’s yourself for your own mouth-watering burger. Their was one photo taken at Luke’s on New Years eve though, my sister and I enjoying our Bellini’s in our back booth at the restaurant while we were serenaded by one of their singing waitresses who sang and played the piano throughout the evening. Speaking of Bellini’s; have I mentioned the amazing drink prices at Luke’s? This is what sets them apart and above from places such as Earls, Cactus Club etc.  Their drink menu starts at the reasonable price of $4.50, you can get a glass of wine, Luke’s lemonade or Budweiser draft beer ANYTIME for that price, plus they have daily drinks specials as well. Another amazing menu offer from Luke’s is their $5 appetizer menu, $5! What other restaurant can you get $5 appetizers and I’ll share a little secret with you. Sign up your e-mail address  for their Luke’s dining club offer and you will receive a coupon for a FREE  appetizer!   Overall Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen is a great value, delicious food and excellent service (Our server was a doppelgänger to Katy Perry). So next time you are in the South Granville area I definitely recommend checking out Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.

Luke's Corner Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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

I have been hearing for months from friends that Trader Joe’s grocery store in the states is amazing. Anyone I know who goes over for cross-border shopping has been telling me that it’s like a Whole Foods Market except a lot less expensice. I finally had a chance to go this weekend to the Bellingham location on a shopping trip with a friend of mine. The parking lot was a nightmare (probably because of the upcoming American Thanksgiving) and the store was ridiculously busy but I managed to fanagle my way down the aisles and bought some ‘border friendly crossing” food. I couldn’t belive how good the prices were. Another great thing about the Trader Joe’s label is that they promise NO trans-fats, No MSG, No genetically modified ingredients and NO artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. I wanted to buy wanted to bring home the whole store. The stores itself was on the smaller side but still managed to have everything one would need. The employees are all very friendly and were  decked out in funky Hawaiian shirts & handing out yummy samples.  Here’s a few of the items I picked up at Trader Joe’s this weekend.

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s – I assume that these cookie are only for the holiday season so get them while you can. These are basically oreos with REAL pieces of candy cane in the icing.  Why hasn’t oreo thought of this sooner? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Great little treat with a cup of tea on a cold winter night. Even better, the box is huge and comes with three rows of cookies.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt  – Himalayan salt has many benefits. It is full of minerals such as potassium, iron and magnesium. It can stimulate circulation and helps remove toxins. Not to mention it’s much for flavourful than regular table salt. The Trader Joe’s version comes with a built-in grinder and is only $1.99 a bottle.

Organic Peanut Butter –  I’m a huge fan of peanut butter, I like mine soft, salted and creamy. If it’s organic even better. This peanut butter covers all those bases and comes at the right price as well. I’ll be picking this up again next time I’m at Trader Joe’s.

Organic Sugar – This sugar from the Trader Joe’s label is organic and reasonably priced. It comes from evaporated cane sugar and is very flavourful. With zero of polyunsaturated, trans, monosaturated fats per 2 tablespoons that is pretty darn good in my books.

Split Pea Soup – Mmmmmm thick and creamy  split pea soup, what could be better on a gloomy cold day? This soup is not only tasty but it’s inexpensive as well, only $1.99 a can. It’s seasoned with sea salt, cracked pepper, basil. Perfect for celiacs as well or those with lactose intolerance as  it is gluten-free.

I will definitely be stopping at Trader Joe’s next time I do a south of the border shopping trip and I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover on my next venture into  Joe’s world. For those American readers lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s I would love to know some of your favourite products found at Trader Joe’s?

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!

Sandar's Thai Garden on Urbanspoon

I have a penchant for a little fishing village near Vancouver, BC. I’ve written about it before and I’m sure I will write about it again. It’s the charming seaside village of Steveston. It is one of my favourite places to spend an afternoon. You can walk along the wharf and buy fresh seafood direct from the fishermen, puruse the antique& decor shops & explore their plentiful dining scene. Last weekend my boyfriend and I spent the afternoon at the Steveston Farmers Market. It is a massive market held outside during the summer and inside the old cannery during the colder months. Plenty of fresh vegetables, food products, jewelry, and more. While walking down the quaint streets on Steveston we spotted Gudrun, which is a little tasting room/restaurant that I had heard a lot about so we decided to give it a whirl. It’s similar to Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver as it is mainly a wine and cheese pairing type place. We were there for their brunch service which is the biggest meal Gudrun serves. We both ordered different variations of their eggs benedict. Mine with tomato and avocado and his with italian sausage and mushrooms. It came on a large plate full of unexpected goodies. Their flavourful eggs benedict came toasted on the most perfectly toasted croissant I’ve ever had. It also came with a side of fresh fruit, romaine salad with housemade dressing and potato salad. The cook works in the front of the restaurant behind a bar so you can watch him enthusiastically throw in a dash of this and a dash of that to prepare your plate. You can tell that the people who run Gudrun are passionate about food and care about the quality of the ingedients they use, including free range eggs for our bendicts. There’s also a delighful ‘ecomosa’ which uses organic Spanish cava (sparkling wine) and freshly squeezed OJ. The atmosphere is minimalist comfortable, with the menu written out on a giant chalkboard wall. We were surrounded by families, beatniks, foodies and grandparents, Don’t let the uber trendy look of the place intimidate you as it is very a comfortable atmosphere. They even offered us a bowl of Halloween treats at the door as we left! I will definitely be bringing visiting guests here for another lovely brunch on my next visit to Steveston.

A closer look at our brunch at Gudrun.


Gudrun Tasting Room on Urbanspoon