Making Pasta with Cosmo Meens

Homemade Clive and Cheese Tortellini with Pancetta Caper Cream Sauce

Homemade Clive and Cheese Tortellini with Pancetta Caper Cream Sauce

Thanks to a thoughtful birthday present, I attended my first cooking class in over a decade just last week.

At Cook Culture, my partner and I along with ten or so others, learned the fine art of making fresh pasta from Victoria’s own Chef Cosmo Meens, owner/chef of Mo:le and The Hot & Cold Café.

I’d always wanted to try and make fresh pasta, but I was a little apprehensive about trying to figure out how to use the pasta machine, particularly how to calculate the different thicknesses of the dough.

I didn’t have to worry though. Cosmo was very thorough in walking us through how to create the pasta dough using a food processor, how to use a potato ricer to create fluffy potatoes for homemade potato gnocchi and even how to twist individual portions of freshly made pasta into tortellini.

When it came time for my partner and I to use the pasta machine to make fettuccine, apparently we misjudged the different thicknesses of the dough. Our machine didn’t have the numbers listed on the dial and we rolled out a chunk of pasta dough almost to the correct thickness, but we missed a step. The thickness of our fettuccine looked more like udon, according to Cosmo, but, hey, that would be closer to me, culturally speaking anyway.

After we all took turns making the fettuccine or angel hair pasta along with learning how to twist the tortellini properly, Cosmo talked about how to make the proper cream sauce for the tortellini and how to create brown butter, which I’d seen before on the Food Network.

The meatballs for the spaghetti were rolled and baked, while the asparagus for the gnocchi dish was blanched. As we cooked, Cosmo shared stories of all the restaurants he worked in and had previously owned and talked about some of his current projects.

We were each served three plates of the pasta we made. I would have to say though everything was delicious; my favourite dish by far was the gnocchi, simple and easy to make, but hardly plain or bland.

Want more of Cosmo’s stories? Check out how a Canadian Olympian became connected to my first cooking class in over a decade.

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-Lilian

 

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Third & Final Stop on the Dine Around & Stay in Town Victoria Tour: Vista 18

I saved the best for last to close out our Dine Around & Stay in Town Victoria Tour. We chose Vista 18 partially for the beautiful views of the city and the waterfront but also to try out some amazing food.

After perusing the menu, we decided to try the $30 selection. Our server, the ever easy going and good natured Russell, commented that many people were averse to trying the steak dish in the entrée after being told what sweetbreads were, but having developed a taste for pate, sweetbreads didn’t scare me.

My partner and I both decided to try the chicken terrine as an appetizer. It has less of a spreadable texture than I thought it would, but it was still tasty paired with the rosemary crackers that had come in our bread basket.

For a main course, I did choose the steak with the sweetbreads and onion Yorkshire pudding. My partner went with the pan seared sablefish with spicy tomato and octopus ragout. The steak I had was even better than the one I had at Spinnakers a few days previous, but Russell was right, the crowning achievement of the dish was definitely the crispy breaded sweetbreads.

They were so good, I’m still craving them now, in fact. My partner did enjoy his fish, but the ragout was a little too spicy for him.

To round out the evening, he had the flourless chocolate torte with peanut butter ice cream for dessert, while I chose the cardamom panna cotta with a cardamom shortbread cookie. My partner was addicted to the peanut butter ice cream while the panna cotta and cookie were so good, sometimes I feel like I can still taste them.

Overall, I’d say Vista 18 was definitively the winner out of the three restaurants for me and I can’t wait to have dinner there again.

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-Lilian

PS. Missed my post on Chez Michel or Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub?

PPS. Sorry for the blurry photos, forgot the camera and had to make due with my partner’s phone.

Second Stop on the Dine Around, Stay in Town Tour: Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub

For our second stop on Victoria’s Dine Around & Stay in Town event we decided to go more casual and fun than upscale.

We chose Spinnakers because of its strong $30 menu and we were definitely not disappointed. My partner ordered the meatballs as an appetizer while I went with the seafood chowder and both dishes surpassed our initial opinions.

The chowder was creamy and it definitely wasn’t short on seafood either. I tried a bite of my partner’s meatball appetizer and they were delicious, smoky and spicy with a hint of cumin and paprika.

For a main course, we both decided on the steak frites dish, given that the jambalaya was too spicy and neither one of use felt like having a vegetarian meal. The steak was tender and the fries were crispy, but the real highlight of the meal was being able to dip slices of steak into a condiment that tastes like ranch dressing mixed with chipotle. Though I’m not sure what it was, it was tasty all the same.

For dessert, my partner opted for the apple sorbet with handmade truffles and biscotti, whereas I wanted to try the blackberry tart with goat cheese ice cream. The bite of truffle I had was creamy and decadently rich, but the highlight of my own dessert was definitely the goat cheese ice cream. It’s something that I recommend everyone try, it’s not only creamy, but the taste of it is more mild than you’d think and just as addictive as regular ice cream.

Overall, I’d say this dining experience went better than the first one at Chez Michel. Here’s hoping for good experiences to continue at our third and last stop. I’d give Spinnakers a rating of 4 out of 5.

Missed my last review on Chez Michel? You can find it here.

-Lilian

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PS. Sorry if the photos come across a little blurry, I forgot my camera and we had to rely on my partner’s phone.

First Stop on the Dine Out Victoria Tour: Chez Michel

On our 4th annual trip into the Dine Around & Stay in Town event, my partner and I decided to try an entirely new trio of restaurants. As a rule, we don’t re-visit a restaurant that we’d already eaten dinner at.

For our first stop, we chose Chez Michel as we enjoy French cuisine and it was a restaurant that I’d heard good reviews from people that I knew, in the past.

For our first course, my partner and I both chose the lobster bisque.  It was deliciously creamy and rich with great lobster flavour and the crouton provided the right amount of contrasting texture.

Our main courses weren’t quite up to the same standard, unfortunately. My duck a l’orange was delicious, the orange sauce a perfect companion for the duck, but the vegetables left something to be desired.

My partner’s filet mignon was tender and he enjoyed the béarnaise sauce, but underneath the flavour of the sauce, he felt that the steak itself was under seasoned. A steak, he said, no matter how tender, should not be left with no seasoning at all.

As for dessert, we both decided to go with the old-fashioned crème de menthe sundae as mint is one of our favourite flavours. Though the dessert tasted good, it wasn’t what we were expecting for something labeled a sundae. It was too simple and plebeian for the price we were expected to pay.

Overall, while our experience at Chez Michel wasn’t the worst I’d ever had at a restaurant, it wasn’t the best either. Instead, it fell somewhere in the middle.  Thought it wasn’t bad, I expected more for my money and I would currently rather save the return trips for other restaurants.

2 and a half stars out of 5.

 

-Lilian

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Ads

With love in the air this month, how are you celebrating? Are you surfing online stores to find that perfect gift for the love of your life, making something by hand or just sitting down to a fantastic meal?

While I’m uncertain about what kind of surprises will come my way personally, I couldn’t help but be curious about how the world of advertising and business chooses to observe Valentine’s Day. After all, you see print ads in magazines, ads on network television and billboards all over every major city for holidays such as Christmas-what kind of ad campaigns would there be for Valentine’s Day?

After doing some research, I found more than few creative ads as well as a few heartwarming campaigns that have become some of my favourites that I would love to share with you all.

Without further ado… (in no particular order)here are some of best Valentine’s Day ads I’ve ever seen .

1. Watch Out. Love Is In The Air. (Heineken)

Love is in the Air-Heineken

Love is in the Air-Heineken

I chose this one because I love how the fog rising from the ice-cold bottle of Heineken forms the image of Cupid shooting an arrow. It’s somehow much more artistic than other beer ads I’ve seen and it definitely speaks to the theme of love without being too sentimental.

Original Link: designtaxi.com   

2. Levi’s

Valentine's-Levi's

Valentine’s-Levi’s

I like this one because it’s about more than selling a pair of jeans. It’s got some sex appeal, but more than that, it has some genuine affection in it. It’s also simplistic with no taglines or further imagery to obscure the visual of impulsive young love.

Original Link: Creatives in Love

3.  Love Needs  a bit of UpKeep(Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5)

Love Needs a bit of UpKeep-Wilkinson Sword

Love Needs a bit of UpKeep-Wilkinson Sword

Beyond being a reminder to the men in our lives to shave, the message in this ad is definitely true-and not just for Valentine’s Day either. We all have a tendency to forget that love isn’t just magic, that it doesn’t stay constant, nurtured or grow; if the people involved in the relationship don’t want to put in the time and the energy to make it work. It’s a lesson I learn every day, but every once in awhile,  it’s nice to have a reminder.

Original Link: Valentine’s Day Campaigns

4. A perfect day to try out a few new positions (Toyota)

New Positions-Toyota

New Positions-Toyota

This tough-in-cheek ad from Toyota is naughty without going overboard and it also reminds to spice up our love lives every once in awhile. And guess what, you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to do that either.

Original Link: Creatives in Love

 5. Mother Nature please, the room is already paid (Tampax)

Mother Nature-Tampax

Mother Nature-Tampax

Speaking as a woman (without going into details), I will say that it’d be absolutely amazing if an occasion such as Valentine’s Day could control this aspect of life. The ad message gives it a little attitude, a little spunk AND it definitely reinforces the notion of not letting anything-even Mother Nature- stop you from having a good time.

Original Link: Valentine’s Day Campaigns

6. Oops, I Forgot Valentine’s Day Again! (Miller Genuine Draft)

I Forgot Valentine's Day Again-Miller Genuine Draft

I Forgot Valentine’s Day Again-Miller Genuine Draft

I love this one, not only because it’s creative, funny and sweet, but because it’s a genuine effort on the part of one significant other in the relationship to make up for missing Valentine’s Day. The idea of a personalized coupon book makes for a great actual Valentine’s Day gif, too. I should know, I made my sweetheart one for our first Valentine’s Day together.

Original Link: Creatives in Love

7. Love is the language that unites people. English is what translates (Wise Up Intelligent English)

Love is the language that unites us all-Wise Up Intelligent English

Love is the language that unites us all-Wise Up Intelligent English

This one is adorable and so very true. You don’t have to speak the same language or be from the same culture to be in love. Love is a universal language after all and it can bring all kinds of people together. This one in particular also speaks to me because the boy is Chinese, which is my culture. My partner’s cultural background is also in Eastern Europe, Ukrainian, actually and being able to reconcile the two and have a mix of both in our relationship is a source of new discoveries for us both.

Original Link: Valentine’s Day Campaigns

8. I just called to say I love you (Brasil Telecom)

I just called to say I love you-Brasil Telecom

I just called to say I love you-Brasil Telecom

For anyone who has ever had to spend Valentine’s Day or any significant chunk of time away from their loved one, this ad will definitely speak to you. Even just a short phone call is enough to show that you care. I’ve phoned my sweetheart in the past and received phone calls. It doesn’t have to be a large extravagant gift, it’s the thought and the effort that counts.

Original Link: Creatives in Love

9. Happy Valentine’s Day (Nutrient Water)

Happy Valentine's Day-Nutrient Water

Happy Valentine’s Day-Nutrient Water

The various poses of those having fun, in love and experiencing so much joy paint a simple picture. To be in love, happy and healthy is the best feeling in the world. After all, if you’re not healthy, how can you enjoy yourself? Using people in various poses to spell out the words was creative and I definitely commend Nutrient Water for that.

Original Link: Valentine’s Day Campaigns

10. Valentine’s Day is no time to be apart (Wonderbra)

Valentine's Day Is No Time to Be Apart-Wonderbra

Valentine’s Day Is No Time to Be Apart-Wonderbra

This naughty ad does make a good point without being too overboard in the risqué department. Valentine’s Day is a time to spend with the love of your life. But in what capacity, is up to you.

Original Link: Creatives in Love

Some old favourites I couldn’t resist adding…

This next one isn’t really an ad…but it does have to do with Valentine’s Day and it’s one of the sweetest things I’ve seen.

Valentine’s Day-Google

This one happens to be an ad, but a TV ad rather than a print one and it is definitely my top favourite from Super Bowl 2010.

Parisian Love-Google

Crisis Communications 101: BC Place & Canada Place Case Studies

Last week, I had an opportunity to experience one of the best professional development opportunities I’ve had thus far in my career. Discovering that Currents 2012, the CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) National Conference would be held in Victoria this year was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

As a media relations and social media volunteer, I was granted the chance to attend a few of the workshops as well as a keynote address and the knowledge-and interest-I gained from each one of them is amazing. Areas such as crisis communications or issues surrounding media disclosure for companies have never been my specialty, nor have I come up against them when working for companies or with my own clients; but they were informative nonetheless and it makes me want to learn more about how to deal with such situations on a regional, small-to-medium sized business level.

That leads me to my first workshop, Crisis Communications with Linda Bilben. With over twenty years of experience, Linda is currently a Partner and Creative Director in Reputations (@ReputationsCorp), a Vancouver-based firm specializing in award-winning branding, issues and crisis communications management.

In this workshop, Linda shared with us two of her most well-known crisis communications case studies, the January 2007 BC Place roof deflation and the 2010 Canada Place construction accident in early December that saw one construction worker fall off of Canada Place’s sails and sustain life-threatening injuries while other a block away died of injuries he suffered on site. Both workers were contracted by Ledcor.

I will start with Linda’s and Reputation’s crisis communications plan for BC Place’s roof deflation first before moving onto the Canada Place case study.

 

Case Study #1: 2007 BC Place Roof Deflation

BC Place Before Sept 2011

The 2007 roof deflation was both quick and unexpected and while Linda and Reputations had a crisis communications plan in place for BC Place, the one incident they didn’t factor in was the roof deflation.

Faced with the worries of the Ministry of Tourism, VANOC and IOC on whether or not BC Place would be ready for the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics and the interests of the international media, Linda and her team at Reputations put their plan into action.

By using human interest stories such as having Global BC’s Ted Chernecki up on the actual roof structure within three days, Linda and her team were able to deflect the media’s interest for the time being while a new roof was being ordered. While the new roof was stuck in customs at the US border, Linda and her team constructed human interest stories to be shown on regional and national as well as international media was 17 days straight. Every single member of BC Place’s media relations team and all of their spokespeople received media training for those 17 days as well.

After 17 days, Linda and her team had conducted 1500 media calls, thanked over 250 suppliers and vendors, neutralized the international media and won the confidence of VANOC, the Ministry of Tourism and the IOC.

 

Case Study #2: 2010 Canada Place Construction Accident

Canada Place

During sail reconstruction at Canada Place shortly before Christmas in 2010, a construction worker slipped and fell off the sails, landing on the ground below. A block away, another construction worker was crushed to death by a piece of falling equipment and both men had been contracted by Ledcor.

In less than an hour after the accident, local reporters were tweeting about the crisis, and publishing articles online as they received information. Before the work day had even started, Canada Place was facing the challenge of correcting misinformation about the event, and then sharing the actual facts in a way that maintained the trust and support of their employees and stakeholders.

Almost immediately, misinformation was coming from all sides, from blogs and other social media platforms, including WorkSafe BC incorrectly reporting that there had been 2 deaths that day, when the truth was that one worker was still in critical condition.

Linda and her team had to go online via social media and on websites and ask the media to pull the misinformation down and within in 20 minutes, correct statements regarding the Canada Place incident were in place. Two hours later, a press conference was held. The correct topics were trending via social media and the entire setup and take down of the crisis communications plan within one day of the Canada Place incident. By going to news organizations via Twitter on the topic, @ReputationsCorp ended up trending on Twitter regarding the Canada Place incident.

 

Final Thoughts and Vital Knowledge from the Workshop

What I’ve learned from this workshop that applies to nearly every company out there is this: a crisis communications plan is crucial to any business or situation. Always, always plan and for that matter, always plan for Plan B or Plan C. After all, Linda and her team hadn’t been prepared for the BC Place roof deflation and yet, executed their crisis communications plan successfully.

Not only is the plan vital, but so is testing the plan with clients and running through simulations with them so that they understand how to handle media questions as well as internal and external stakeholders during the given timeframe of a crisis.

And lastly, always ensure that you have a team around you who can manage and plan during a crisis. From what I learned during this valuable workshop, it’s one of my goals to learn how to manage crisis communications on a small business, regional level.

 

-Lilian

 

 

Sheepdogs, Throwing Hammers and Kilts: 2012 Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival

Matt Doherty Weight for Distance Throw

After experiencing the 2011 Victoria Highland Games, my expectations for 2012 were raised, partly because I now have a great camera to take amazing photos. Still, with the warm sunny weather and not a cloud in the sky I was excited to see what the 2012 Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival had to offer.

After walking through the front entrance to Topaz Park, I snapped a few quick photos of the pipe band practicing in one of the lower fields and joined the large crowd waiting to see the sheepdog trials. Being a city girl all my life, I’d never seen a sheep being sheared up close, but the quick and effective way that the woman handled the sheep and sheared all the wool off with no pain at all, seemingly, to the sheep was impressive.

Next, I watched the tug-of-war competition between two different teams and cheered along with the crowd when the team on the right won. From there, I snapped a few photos in quick succession of the different vendors and clans that attended the Highland Games this year. Standing in front of Clans Cameron and MacLaren, I could see some of the vendors such as Freedom Kilts and Labyrinth Leathercraft, the name which invokes for me images of the Greek myth of Minotaur.

Standing with the crowd and being able to see the distance weight toss up close and personal through the amazing zoom of the camera lens was awesome. It was the first time that I’d ever been able to capture live action shots so clearly, making the experience of watching the Heavy Events that much more memorable.

I was even able to catch an Irish step dancing performance as well as a pipe band performance on the main stage over the heads of the crowd. Both performances as well as that of a music performance on the Bard & Banker stage were made that much more special because of the ability to see every aspect of each performance up close and personal through the camera lens.

Lastly, I was able to capture some great shots of the sheepdog herding trials; snapping photos of the dog in motion as he herded the sheep around makeshift fences in a circle.

What are my expectations for next year’s Highland Games & Celtic Festival? Well, it would be fantastic to finally see the caber toss, which I’ve never gotten a chance to see, as well as the braemar stone competition. Who knows, maybe I’ll even have the guts to try some haggis! If you’ve never been to the Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival, I definitely recommend it!

-Lilian

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Luxury, Comfort and Fantasy: My Take on the 2012 Vancouver International Auto Show

Lexus LFA Concept Car Front-Side View

Before I start diving into my experiences at the 2012 Vancouver International Auto Show, I have a confession to make. I am not, nor have I ever been a gearhead or a huge car enthusiast. In fact, save for a few times my cousin and I pawed through her older brother’s Road & Track magazines as kids and daydreamed about our fantasy cars, I hadn’t paid much attention to the latest car trends for years.

However, with the 2012 International Auto Show in town while I was home for Easter, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to re-educate myself on what was going on in the world of automobiles. And maybe I would even be one of the first people I knew to see some exclusive limited edition cars!

Walking in through the front entrance and into the outer concourse at the renovated BC Place Stadium, I couldn’t believe the amount of people coming into the auto show. The show had already been going strong for at least five days by that time, but there were still a ton of people just like us wanting to see all the cars!
Without further ado, here’s some of the highlights for me at the 2012 Vancouver International Auto Show.

Fuel Efficient Cars

The very first display of cars was the new fuel efficient cars from several well-known and dependable car brands as well as a few luxury car brands as well. I was definitely surprised to see some luxury brands come out with fuel efficient cars. Among the fuel efficient cars that caught my eye was the electric sports car driven by the owner of Sun Country Farms, the 2012 Fisker Karma and the most surprising one of all, the Ferrari 458 Italia.

Seeing luxury cars break into the fuel efficient market definitely speaks to how important fuel efficiency has become, even in the luxury car market. Here’s hoping there will more to come in the fuel efficient segment of the automobile market!

Luxury Cars

2013 Lotus Evora

(Note: I may not have the 100% accurate make and model of each luxury car, I had check on many of them via the dealership websites and chose the ones that looked the most like the ones I snapped photos of. So if you notice any mistakes on the makes and models, don’t hesitate to let me know)

Though I’m still waiting for the upcoming Acura NSX to be displayed, it won’t be ready until 2015, thanks to custom retrofitting that Acura needs to do for their factory, I wasn’t disappointed by the other luxury cars that I saw.

My two top favourites would definitely be the limited edition 2013 Jaguar XKR-S Coupe, done in a stunning blue shade and the Lexus LFA Concept Car. Both cars were listed at more than $165,000. I suppose I can keep dreaming….

Next in line for me were two vehicles by Audi; the R8 V10 and the 2013 S5 Coupe, both listed at nearly $60,000. While these are definitely more in my price range, I think I’d still rather save up more money than break the bank. I also definitely appreciated the presence of the Camaro and the Corvette, with the Corvette Stingray Concept car being the most futuristic looking out of the entire group.

Cars I’d heard of for the First Time at the Auto Show

Intermeccanica Roadster

Top of this list would definitely be the custom Intermeccanica Roadster followed closely by the Subaru BRZ. I hadn’t heard of either one of those cars before the auto show, though I’m very familiar with Subaru as a brand. Fisker is another car brand that I’d add to this list as I have never seen a car off of that brand on the streets of Vancouver or Victoria.

Final Thoughts

I won’t spoil the show anymore for you than I already have and leave my photos of the vehicles to speak for themselves. However, there were a few other surprises based on the cars I tried sitting in. The Scion iQ surprisingly has more room than I thought it would, while the floor model of the Nissan Versa hatchback that I tried out actually had a more old-school looking console for the radio and climate control. And, for those of you interested in a Mini Cooper, the convertible model definitely is more roomy than I ever thought it would be.

-Lilian

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Gourmet Fare, A Dip in the Pool & A Sip of Wine-Experiencing Parksville Uncorked 2012 Part 2

Mussels served at Swirl for Parksville Uncorked (Courtesy of Greg Howard Photography & Tigh-Na-Mara)

Friday morning in Parksville after Parksville Untapped started off uneventful enough. I started off my morning with an amazing breakfast in the Cedar Room at Tigh-Na-Mara before heading off to do my interview with Jenn on how Parksville Uncorked got started and what they hoped to achieve for the future

After the interview, I decided to take a soak at the mineral pool at Grotto Spa. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend it. Not only is it the epitome of luxury at a resort spa, with rain showers and the best tapas grill I’d ever been to where you’re able to sample endless tapas in nothing but a soft bathrobe and slippers; but the minerals inside the pool work miracles. I had been dealing with some shoulder pain from earlier on in the week, but after spending a good half an hour alternating between the mineral pool and the hot tub, my shoulder pain all but disappeared the day after. It was a great way to relax and spend some time pampering myself at one of my all-time favorite spas.

Once I got back to my suite, I prepared for Parksville Uncorked’s signature event, Swirl, by writing down a few more questions I was planning on asking both Wendy & Jenn. I also took another look at my media package to see what sort of wines would be available.

There were several wineries participating that I recognized, including Mission Hill, Jackson Triggs and Sumac Ridge, to name a few. But I was also surprised to see so many other BC wineries and wines being represented at Swirl. All told, over 150 different BC wines were poured at Swirl. 150! It was definitely an impressive number and I couldn’t wait to try as many as I could.

For an event that’s only four years old, it’s amazing how many wineries, food suppliers and breweries have jumped on board. And it’s got nothing to do with revenue. Parksville Uncorked is one of the few wine and culinary events where vendors aren’t charged a cent and neither resort has to depend on sponsorships. It’s entirely independent and one of the main reasons they’ve been able to run the festival in that way is because of the incredible partnerships. As Wendy told me while we chatted at Parksville Untapped, “the cornerstone to the success of Parksville Uncorked is partnership and not just the partnership between Tigh-Na-Mara and the Beach Club Resort. It’s the collaboration between so many partners such as wineries, restaurants, breweries and food suppliers. We are all working together to support not only tourism in the Oceanside Region but to showcase the diversity of our food & beverage.”  And that’s what it comes down to, the reason Parksville Uncorked is so successful is because of the partnerships and the common goal of showcasing BC & the Oceanside region as one of the world mecca’s for food & wine.

Once I arrived at Swirl, I wanted to try as many different wines as I could, knowing that tonight’s crowd was anticipated to be twice as large as the one the night before. I noticed a few more familiar names of wineries on the list and decided to hit them up first as well as few others.

In total, I sampled from Muse, Summerhill, MooBerry Winery, Elephant Island Orchard Winery, St. Hubertus and Calliope Wines. And the wine that became the absolute love of my life was the 2010 Framboise from Elephant Island, followed closely by a tart yet delicious Cranberry wine from Mooberry. The framboise was just fantastic, it was the taste of sweet raspberries that turned tart as soon as I sampled a strawberry with the chocolate fountain. I’d also highly recommend the Gewurztraminer from Muse as well as St. Hubertus. The Rose from Summerhill also paired well with the amazing grilled cheese sandwich courtesy of Tigh-Na-Mara’s amazing chefs.

Overall, I loved Parksville Uncorked. It was an amazing firsthand experience of an upscale wine and culinary event in a region I’m only briefly familiar with. Personally, I can’t wait for next year and another opportunity to experience what Parksville Uncorked has to offer!

And what does the future for Parksville Uncorked look like? Jenn had this to say when I asked “Parksville Uncorked is truly a celebration of all things BC. The spectacular wines and amazing cuisine come together in this festival of tastes. Our goal is to continue to provide festival goers with the opportunity to experience the incredible products right in their own backyard.” And that’s definitely something I want to be a part of.

 

Coming up within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences with Dine Around and Stay in Town 2012 as well as the CHBA Victoria Home Show 2012.

 

Cheers and always, happy reading.

 

-Lilian

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Gourmet Fare & A Pint of Cider-Experiencing Parksville Uncorked 2012 Part 1

Chocolate fountain, strawberries & beer cupcakes by Tigh-Na-Mara @ Parksville Untapped

Months ago, I was invited by Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, Director of Sales & Marketing at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Conference Centre to attend Parksville Uncorked for the first time. I’ve always been interested in getting more involved in travel and tourism and she thought that inviting me to cover the event as a freelance writer would help me learn more about the industry and gain an opportunity to become more well-known as a writer who can cover tourism/hospitality & culinary related events.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when I finally arrived in Parksville and it didn’t hurt that my suite also gave me an amazing view of the beach and the water.  It was the perfect environment to be in for a wine & culinary festival, even if the weather wasn’t warm enough to actually spend any time on the beach.

As I got settled into my room and starting preparing for the first event, writing down questions I’d planned to ask Jenn and Wendy Sears, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Beach Club Resort, I was definitely excited for Parksville Untapped. I knew from speaking with Jenn and looking at my media package that Parksville Untapped was the beer & cider event that they had added to Parksville Uncorked. While I’m not a beer drinker (save for a few brands that I can tolerate), I was looking forward to the gourmet fare that was promised as well as the different types of cider.

So with my stomach rumbling with anticipation, I arrived at Parksville Untapped fully expecting to enjoy myself. And, I wasn’t disappointed.  I was able to sample a smorgasbord of great food supplied by both resorts, Tigh-Na-Mara & The Beach Club as well as other food vendors like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

From an incredible chocolate fountain with beer cupcakes (yes, the batter & the icing had beer) and strawberries to porcini mushroom risotto balls, Tuscan sausage & amazingly decadent truffles, the food did anything BUT disappoint. Out of all of the food, I would have to say that strawberries swirled in the chocolate fountain and the shrimp “spoons” chilling on top of the ice sculpture were my favorites. I also loved the truffles as a final dessert.

When it comes to the beverages, I did find an ice luge carved into a beautiful sculpture that was serving Ephemere Pomme beer, which was quite enjoyable to sip. It was also a novelty to hold my glass up to the sculpture and watch the beer flow through the ice into my glass. Surprisingly, I also found a cider that I enjoyed, which is not usually that simple. I loved the Merri-Berri cider from Merridale Cider and I made a point of writing down the name so that I could pick up a bottle on my way home.

Thanks to Jenn & Wendy, I also learned a lot about how Parksville Uncorked started, how the festival has benefited the resorts and the Oceanside region and it’s made me all the more excited for next year! You can read my article in the Parksville Qualicum-Beach News on it here.

I’ll have Part 2 up by dinner time and you can hopefully enjoy a sip of wine with dinner and my post as reading material.  🙂

-Lilian

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