Archive for September 2013

What Wine?

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Here’s some suggestions for choosing the wine to go with that fabulous meal you are preparing. This won’t be anything new to a lot of you, but for some, it might just come in handy! Like when you have bought a wonderful wine and want to cook something that will be a complement to each other!

DSCN5739 nx2The Whites:

These wines need to be chilled but not served ice-cold.

  • Sauvignon Blanc: has herbaceous, lemon, grapefruit overtones. Would be good served with steamed, sautéed or barbecued white fish with a citrus butter sauce, or a citrus butter melting on top or a tarragon mustard sauce. Serve with shrimp and crab, sushi made with white fish; see dry German Riesling as well. Asparagus pairs well with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. & also vegetarian dishes.


  • Chardonnay/ oaked & unoaked: the oaked usually has a toasted/vanilla nose; unoaked has citrus, orchard/tropical fruit, perhaps a bit of spice & a certain bit of butter. A good Chardonnay would go well with roast chicken served with a sauce made from the pan drippings, it also would be good with veal. The rich flavour of Chard pairs well with ripe Brie & other soft cheeses.


  • Viognier:  has exotic citrus, apricot & cream flavours, is round & full bodied. Good with pork chops that have been marinated in some citrus zest, ginger & garlic or simply served with a squeeze of Meyer lemon or a lemon buerre blanc.


  • Pinot Grigio: pairs well with butter & cheese or cream pasta sauces, gnocchi with butter & sage sauce & pork chops or vegetarian dishes as well as freshwater fish.


  • Riesling: has flavours of citrus & peach, with a certain acidity & spice; pairs well with Asian foods such as Chinese food. Try serving with smoked salmon on rye with sour cream & dill. Try it with fried chicken & roast ham.


  • Gewurtzraminer: especially good with Asian, South Asian & Alsatian foods. For your roast turkey, try an Alsatian Gewurztraminer. Also try this wine with a roast ham.


  • Vernaccia: pairs well with fresh artichokes. Try with young veal, pasta dishes or salad in “frico” cups (cheese cups).


  • Vermintino: try serving with cioppino, calamari, grilled white fish & it would be excellent with pesto sauce tossed with pasta.


  • Grechetto: this wine lends character to Orvieto wine but is excellent as a wine in its own right & would be a nice addition to a lunch of Panzanella (tomato-bread salad) or frittata.


  • Soave´: goes well with sole, cod & delicate white fish, or as a first course of seafood salad, or with rich cream or butter pasta dishes.


  • Prosecco: try serving with a fish & or shellfish antipasti, crab cakes or fried squid, prosciutto with melon, ham & scallops wrapped in bacon. As a summer, patio sipper, perhaps with olive ascolani (olives stuffed with sausage filling, breaded & deep fried) to nibble on.


  • Rose´: not the bubbly types of Rose´. The dry, crisp freshness of this wine goes well with quiche, scrambled or fried eggs or try with salad nicoise.

The Reds:

  • Cabernet Saugivnon: roast beef or steak, Cheddar & mild yellow cheeses, duck breast or roast leg of lamb.Merlot: pairs well with roast pork as does a Chianti. Also goes well with Cheddar & mild yellow cheeses. Try with roasted or baked chicken or duck breast.


  • Syrah/Shiraz: choose as an accompaniment to barbecued ribs, roast beef or steak.


  • Pinot Noir: game birds, steaks, roast beef, roast duck, roast turkey & goose. Good with salmon & roast leg of lamb.


  • Zinfandel: perfect for a barbecue, especially burgers & other picnic foods.


  • Chianti: would be a great pairing for a full-flavoured veal roast or veal stew. Try with roasted or baked chicken or roast lamb, grilled lamb chops, grilled steak served with mushrooms sautéed in butter. Would be a great accompaniment to an antipasti of Italian chicken liver crostini. Try serving with an aged Pecorino, aged Gouda or aged Cheddar.


  • Chianti Classico: would be delicious with Osso Bucco.


  • Barolo, Barbaresco or Rhone wines: these are big wines & go well with big foods such as venison or wild boar or other large game & roast leg of lamb, lamb shanks, beef stews, rare grilled steak topped with sautéed mushrooms or veal. Barolo would be very good with a rack of lamb.


  • Rosso di Montalcino: a slightly lighter & cheaper version of Brunello di Montalcino & good with grilled steak, roast pork with lots of garlic & herbs (Artista), mixed grilled meats & sausages.


  • Brunello di Montalcino: try with grilled steak, marinated & grilled portabello mushrooms over polenta or rabbit ragù over pappardelle or medium-sized game animals such as Alberta wild boar.


  • Vino Nobile di Montelpuciano: fresh tagliatelle tossed with EVO & butter & sautéed wild mushrooms, pasta sauce made with dried Porcini, Florentine steak, grilled pork sausages, salumi, grilled or roast lamb.


  • Spanish Rioja: try this wine with lamb chops, lamb shanks, lamb stew, empandas, grilled steak & marinated olives.


  • Nero d’Avola: try with salmon, tuna & swordfish, chicken, pork, veal, beef, eggplant with a spicy, full bodied, acidic sauce with capers & olives, sheep milk cheeses, Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyere, Livarot, Muenster or Raclette.


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Time To Re-decorate? Part 3

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Lots of us are living in smaller spaces, moving into condos or townhomes perhaps because we want to downsize or make a lifestyle change. More and more, we find couples with young children living in the downtown core of Vancouver.

A few guidelines when decorating a smaller space:

It’s all about harmony and unity, simplicity and sophistication.

curtains nx2The first thing we need to do when we are planning a move into a smaller footprint is to make a floor plan. Either measure the space yourself and draw on graph paper to a scale of ¼” = 1 foot or have someone help you with this. It’s important. Having the floor plan in hand will allow you to measure the furnishings you are planning on bringing with you so you’ll know if they will fit when you move and the same goes when you want to buy new pieces. While you’re at it, measure the doorways in your new place to make sure the furniture will fit through the door! Don’t want that problem do we?

At this time you are probably going to be editing of your stuff. I think it’s a good plan to keep what you love and recycle or give away what you don’t. Remember, storage or lack of, will probably rear its ugly head. You know what they say, less is more! Having furnishings that are multi-purpose and functional is a good idea.

Now that we have a smaller space to decorate, perhaps we can up the ante and go for more $$ finishes because we don’t need as much of them! Something to think about!

Consider built-in’s if possible. They look great and provide lots of additional storage.

More open floor plans if possible, which will visually increase the space.

The colour schemes best suited to smaller spaces are, monochromatic (adding some neutrals for accent), neutral and analogous, with the addition of some black & white for punch. Lighter and muted colours will increase “visual” space. You can choose to add accent colours for a punch of colour! Consider 10% the right amount for the accent colours. Avoid too much contrast with the colours.

As in any dwelling, keeping the same style throughout creates harmony and flow.

Keep in mind the function and activities that will take place in the space, especially when arranging furniture. The following guide is useful which is why it is in Part 2 and 3.

  • A coffee table should be 1 to 1½ feet from the sofa, otherwise it is too far to reach for your glass of vino!
  • A major passageway should be 3 – 6 feet wide.
  • A minor passageway should be 1 ½ – 2 feet wide.  Space from the dining table to wall should be 3 feet to allow for chairs to be pushed back.
  • Sofas and chairs should be placed 8 – 10 feet across from each other makes for easy conversation.

When arranging furniture: place large pieces 1st, smaller pieces 2nd and accessories last.

Keep the use of patterns to a minimum (a maximum of 3 is considered best). Tone on tone fabrics will work well.
Furniture should have simple, clean lines which will increase the feeling of “visual” space. Know when to stop, keep things simple.
Avoid clutter, or just too much stuff, it tends to make the space feel smaller, leave some empty space, it will make things feel more open.

Choose bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances with the same finish, i.e.: chrome/stainless steel. Use similar coloured countertops in both spaces.

Vertical furnishings will increase the height of the room, i.e. draperies hung from the ceilings.

Horizontal placement of furniture and pictures will increase the feeling of width. Something to keep in mind is that the use of too many vertical furnishings will increase the formality of the space. What you are looking for is a variety of both with the addition of a few curved items.

Smooth and shiny surfaces visually expand a space because they reflect light.

Add a mixture of fine to medium textures, tone on tone will give the look and feel of texture.

Fabrics with large sprawling patterns that show a lot of background will expand visual space, i.e. a large damask pattern. Match the background colour of a window covering fabric with wall colour.

Mirrors, placed appropriately, reflect light, which increases visual space. Just be careful about what they reflect, i.e. you don’t want to hang a mirror in the dining area so that the people facing it see themselves throughout the meal, unless they are narcissistic!

Entryways in small spaces can be a challenge and they make the first impression! Ask yourself where you will I put the coats, place a mirror to check myself before going out the door, lighting that’s in keeping with the rest of the dwelling. Consider where you want to put your keys, set down the mail, and have a place to sit down to put on/take off your shoes. Hopefully there will be a closet but not always!

Probably a no-brainer but closets in smaller spaces need to be well planned for efficiency and to use all the space effectively. Check out closet planners to see how to maximize storage.

Now, is this not fun? Yup, there’s a Part 4!
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What’s Been Cooking This Week?

Yes, it’s still summer but most of the apples have been harvested from our two trees, they are so good!   And just this morning, we brought in all the remaining Sungold cherry tomatoes that still need to ripen.  They tend to split from any moisture, even  dew, so in they come into a warm place to do their thing.  There’s still zucchini in the garden though!  The barbecuing season is starting to wind down; a sad thing in my opinion!  Still…we are squeezing  in a few more before the rains come!

DSC_4083 nx2Here’s a few things we have been enjoying this week:



It’s not September 22nd yet, so enjoy the last days of summer and try some of the recipes!

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Feast of Fields 2013

Once again, another fun Sunday afternoon spent bouncing from one stall to the other at this late summer event aka FOF!

DSCN7843 nx2The weather was fine and the location at Krause Berry Farms, we all thought, one of the best spots for this event. What was with those damned wasps? There must have been thousands of them! People were exchanging all sort of remedy’s of how to enjoy sitting outside and not being constantly dive-bombed by them. Have they been awful or what this summer?

We sampled the offerings from the folks of Forage, The Pointe Restaurant, Oru Cuisine, Pidgin Restaurant, Four Winds Brewing, Chicha Restaurant, among others, and munched on roasted corn on the cob provided by Krause Berry Farms.

Kudos go to Four Winds Brewing for their Saison 6.5 ABV Belgian style beer and to Hoyne Brewing for their Dark Matter 5.3 ABV. We were impressed with the beer on offer at FOF. A “like” from me for the Raspberry Ale from Granville Island Brewery too!

Fable got our attention early on with their offering of Urban Digs heirloom tomatoes with housemade ricotta served with “tomato essence”. That essence, oh my…with a splash of vodka (I love my Bloody Mary’s) was certainly up my alley!

DSCN7822 nx2ORU Cuisine at the Fairmont Pacific Rim had us coming back on more than one occasion, us being addicted to good charcuterie and salumi. They were serving bresaola, prosciutto, guanciale, mortadella and God help me, fantastic lardo! Lardo love!

Not being a fan of liver, I personally didn’t try Pidgin Restaurant’s duck liver parfait, okanagan peaches & brioche but the good news is that the “liver lovers” in the crowd were bowled over by this one! My liver lover thought it was the best thing he had all day and kept going back for more to be joined by our friend, another liver lover! The vegetarian in our little group, was not impressed!

Bella Gellateria served up one of their outstanding gelati, this time it was Krause Berry Farms strawberries and Peruvian lime, delicious. I often find just plain strawberry too boring but adding the lime was brilliant, adding a new level to plain, old strawberry gelato! I have it on good authority that they will be making my favourite flavour of all time “castagne”, made with marrons glace. I can’t wait! I have only seen that one in Italy and if I can get some before our next trip, woo hoo!

Rocky Mountain Flatbread had flatbreads with local veggies from Vancouver school gardens, tomato sauce, mozzarella, pesto & goat cheese…nice!

We all had a really good time! There was live music and an amazing Photo Booth Tent where we got photos taken for free, with bins of props you could use for your photo, what great fun!

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What’s Been Cooking This Week?

DSC_2603 nx2The “test” kitchens and “volunteers” have been hard at work this past week, testing and tasting!
Here’s a few new ideas to try!



Even if summer is on the wane, it’s not over yet, so enjoy!

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