CASE STUDY: Unit Publicity & Media Relations Campaign for Season 3 of APTN’s Moosemeat & Marmalade

THE CHALLENGE

As the unit publicist for APTN’s third season of the Indigenous cooking series, Moosemeat & Marmalade, this production stood out from my other indie film projects for a few reasons. 1) It would be my first time doing publicity for a TV series, 2) It would also be my first time promoting Indigenous food culture and 3) As a recurring client of The Social Agency (a boutique PR agency I do contract work for), they’d already established press coverage from numerous outlets across Canada for the past two seasons that saw the show increase in popularity.

So as the new publicist coming into the project, I had both the added benefit & challenge of pitching Canadian media coast to coast as well as trying to establish new story angles for a series that had already covered a lot of ground over two seasons. Additionally, I didn’t want to just obtain press coverage from outlets already familiar with the TV series, the goal was to expand coverage to reach completely new audiences.

There was also the media relations strategy between the outlets and the two co-hosts; Cree bush cook/Indigenous rights activist Art Napoleon and UK born Chef Dan Hayes, owner of The London Chef Cooking School, to consider.

THE SOLUTION

 Focusing on story angles such as the first-ever gleaned Vegetarian Chili recipe (meaning it used leftover crops after the harvest) and Indigenous food culture and sovereignty, I pitched several mainstream major city newspapers, blogs and radio stations across Canada.

As the TV series also filmed in several locations on the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Northwest Territories and overseas in the UK, I pitched the story angles to publications, radio stations and blogs located in these specific regions. Using the Indigenous food culture angle and Art’s passion for Indigenous food sovereignty and security, I was also able to secure interviews, coverage and recipes in Indigenous radio shows, newspapers and websites.

For the results & press coverage received, please go to Case Studies, where you’ll also find my other film & lifestyle PR campaigns. For more project examples, please check out my Unit Publicity Portfolio.

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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 5 Dishes & Drinks I’ve Tasted in Victoria-NOT in a Restaurant

Over the years I’ve lived in Victoria, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite restaurants. From Sauce and Il Terrazzo to King Sejong and everything in between, Victoria has surprised me with some great restaurants that serve my favourite cuisines.

Along with new restaurants, I also made other surprising culinary discoveries in the city. Even in a smaller city, you can find some amazing drinks, liqueurs and culinary dishes in places that you never expected.

Here’s my list of top 5 dishes and spirits I’ve tasted in Victoria-NOT in a restaurant:

1)      Giffard Menthe Pastille

Giffard Menthe Pastille

Giffard Menthe Pastille

As mint is one of my favourite flavours, I couldn’t wait to try it.  If you’ve never tried Giffard’s Menthe Pastille, I highly recommend it. As a mint liqueur, it was silky and refreshing and it definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s smooth and the mint flavour isn’t too over powering. It’s great on its own and to spice up coffee or hot chocolate.

2)      Smoked Duck Sliders with Heirloom Tomatoes and Arugula

Smoked Duck Sliders with Heirloom Tomatoes

Smoked Duck Sliders with Heirloom Tomatoes

I’ve tried many burgers and sliders in my time; made with all different kinds of meat, including wild game as well as vegetarian and tofu burgers. But this was the first time I’d had duck, smoked duck at that, in a slider. The smokiness and saltiness of the duck paired with the sweetness of the tomato was a perfect match. It was so delicious I went back for seconds. It’s definitely a flavour of slider that you should grab and try ASAP!

3)      Vice Vodka Ice Wine Martini

Vice Vodka Ice Wine Martini

Vice Vodka Ice Wine Martini

I’ve been a fan of ice wine ever since I tried my first sip. I love to pair the sweet taste and tart finish with my favourite desserts, but I’ve never tried to make cocktail with it before. Vice Vodka Ice Wine Martini was the first time I’d ever heard of a spirit being mixed with wine into a cocktail and the end result was fantastic. The vodka balanced out the sweetness in the wine perfectly.  It’s definitely one of my go-to drinks for appetizers, dinner and dessert.

4)      Pallini Limoncello

Pallini Limoncello

Pallini Limoncello

I’ve always loved the fragrance and flavour of lemons in my baking, cooking and my cocktails as well. I wanted to try a lemon based liqueur and this one from Italy was exactly what I was looking for.  Tart and smooth, the citrus flavour was strong but not overwhelming. I’d recommend trying a sip and experiencing the lemon flavour for yourself.

5)      Carrot Cake with White Chocolate and Mascarpone Mousse and Grand Marnier soaked Sultanas.

Carrot Cake w/ White Chocolate & Mascarpone Mousse

Carrot Cake w/ White Chocolate & Mascarpone Mousse

I’ve baked and eaten many carrot cakes in the past, but for a bite-size dessert, this particular carrot cake was one of the best ones I’ve had yet. It could’ve been the soft texture paired with the white chocolate mascarpone mousse. Or, it could’ve been the extra hint of orange liqueur coming through in the Grand Marnier soaked sultana raisins. All I know is it definitely worked.

Now I know I said that these were the top 5 dishes and liqueurs that I’ve tasted in Victoria, NOT in a restaurant. Truthfully, no restaurant I’ve been to has given me the opportunity to try so many different dishes, liqueurs and drinks. You can find similar dishes at certain restaurants, but nothing exactly like what I was able to taste.

So where can you find rare and different liqueurs, cocktails and dishes in Victoria? At the annual Art of the Cocktail fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival, of course, which is the one event I always make sure to attend every year.

Pick up your glass and buy a ticket for Art of the Cocktail 2013 to be held this October. After all, you might be missing out on a rare cocktail, liqueur or dish that could become your new favourite.

 

-Lilian

PS.  If you missed my last post, don’t worry. Find the Top 5 Marketing Resolutions Every Business Should Make for 2013 here.

Culinary Expeditions Part One: Food Truck Hunting & Restaurant Dining in Vancouver

Bada-Bing's Menu

Though I’d seen many food trucks around the downtown core in Vancouver the previous few summers, I’d never had a chance to try any of them, owing to a lack of time and other commitments.

Finally, on Easter weekend, I made it my mission to hunt down at least one food truck and see for myself the quality of the food and why the craze was so popular. However, there were a few issues that I had miscalculated.

Having only seen food trucks in abundance in and around downtown in the summer, I made the mistake of thinking that every food truck would not only be open 7 days a week, year round, but stationed somewhere downtown; all I had to do was look for them. Unfortunately, I was wrong and the end result was a mad hunt around Vancouver’s downtown core on an empty stomach.

I found out later that each food truck only operates on certain days and they’re all stationed in different areas at different times; and the best way to keep track of them was to use a combination of Vancouver Street Eats for a list of food truck names and locations as well as each food truck’s Twitter page.

Finally, after a 20 minute search, we found the Bada Bing Food Truck right in front of the Burrard Skytrain station.  Serving up halal meat and a bit of Middle Eastern twist on things like Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and poutine, I couldn’t wait to try it.

My partner and I both ordered the Chicken Rice Box, complete with seasoned veggies and rice along with Strawberry Crush to drink, which I saw for the first time ever that day. It was absolutely delicious, with the right hint of spice and flavour. The teriyaki sauce that we both drizzled over the rice and chicken gave the entire meal the extra bit of sweetness.

Although we started the food truck hunt without a specific truck or destination in mind, the amazing first expression by Bada Bing definitely has me looking forward to summer in Vancouver and discovering more food trucks!

Even though our second attempt at finding a food truck that weekend was unsuccessful, we did have a wonderful lunch at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar by Waterfront Skytrain Station.  I’d been there twice before, but always for the more Westernized meals of pasta and sandwiches. This time, I decided to try something different and ordered their Big Chicken Wonton Soup. The sweetness of the soup and the wonton filling wasn’t what I’d been used eating to growing up, but it was still very tasty.

Overall, I’d consider the ‘culinary expedition’ in Vancouver to be a success, having been able to try out at least one food truck and I’m definitely looking forward to adding more ‘culinary expeditions’ to the list soon!

-Lilian

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3 Course Meal with 5 Stars Part 2: Dining at Fire & Water Fish and Chophouse

Roasted Tomato & Bell Pepper Terrine

Having gone into Fire & Water Fish and Chophouse at the Marriott Inner Harbour hotel on New Year’s Eve this past year to enjoy a few drinks; which turned out to be a positive experience; I wanted to return to try out the food.

We picked a random weeknight, thinking that it wouldn’t be too busy. Sure enough, there were enough tables open on a Wednesday night and we had been seated and given our drinks without any waiting.

For an appetizer, I decided to try the roasted tomato and bell pepper terrine for something different. It was a bit of a shock as I didn’t expect the terrine to be cold, but the tomatoes and bell peppers were roasted to perfection and very sweet and soft, so the taste and texture more than made up for the temperature.

My partner, being a meat and potatoes fan, ordered the braised short rib as an appetizer and he loved how tender and juicy the meat was. According to him, it was definitely one of the pieces of beef short rib that he’d ever eaten.

For my main course, I decided to try the honey and soy glazed salmon, which came with barley ‘risotto’ and baby spinach. The miso emulsion made it seem as though I had soup accompanying my main course, which only added to the depth of flavour.

My partner stuck with his craving for beef for the evening by ordering the Moroccan spiced centre cut striploin. He was happy to discover that not only was the steak tender and correctly seasoned, but that the mashed potatoes didn’t disappoint either, unlike some other restaurants we had eaten at recently.

For dessert, I decided to try the pairing of white and dark chocolate mousse which was smooth and creamy as well as filling. Due to his love for nearly everything apple, my partner ordered the crispy apple cheesecake, which he said was absolutely delicious.

If you’re looking for a more romantic restaurant with a quiet atmosphere, why not give Fire & Water Fish and Chophouse a try? Don’t let the fact that it’s a hotel restaurant deter you, the food  will not disappoint.

-Lilian

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3 Course Meal with 5 Stars Part 1: Dining at Heron Rock Bistro

Heron Rock Bistro's NY Steak Frites

As our list of ‘Top Restaurants We Want to Try in Victoria, But Haven’t Yet for Some Strange Reason’ continues to shrink, my partner and I are hard pressed to come up with new ones. What has helped however, is recommendations from close friends and co-workers alike as well as the occasional glance at sites such as Urban Spoon and persistent cravings for a certain type of cuisine.

Recommended by a co-worker who lived in the area, Heron Rock Bistro piqued my interest as a nice, quaint neighborhood restaurant that would be a nice change of pace for a mid-week dinner out.

Walking into the restaurant, it definitely had a quaint, bistro-like feel to the décor and ambient lighting. It was casual without being cookie cutter and romantic without being too high-class or expensive.

I ordered the clam chowder to start, while my partner ordered the crab cake. The chowder was delicious, it had the right amount of creaminess paired with the fresh seafood.  My partner’s crab cake also didn’t disappoint as it was fresh, light and the dressing didn’t overwhelm the accompanying salad.

For a main course, I decided on the New York striploin steak paired with homemade hand-cut fries with garlic aioli to dip and caramelized shallot and balsamic butter on top. I’d never had balsamic butter on steak before, but the butter added a touch of sweetness to the steak that the accompanying root vegetables continued. It was delicious and definitely filling.

My partner ordered the pork chop, complete with potato, bacon and shitake mushroom hash and rosemary apple cider sauce. He said it was flavourful and tender.

For dessert, we both chose the pineapple white chocolate bread pudding and it was the largest serving of bread pudding that I’d ever seen in my life. So large, in fact, I couldn’t even finish eating it.

So, if you’re looking for a great neighborhood restaurant with casual and romantic ambience, head to James Bay and to Heron Rock Bistro. You won’t be disappointed.

-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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