Wild Sweets – 2017 Summer Collection

Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Wild Sweets is always coming up with innovative desserts each season. They have recently launched their 2017 summer collection, and we got a sneak peak to see what there is to offer!

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Cocoa Bean ‘Chocolate Iced Tea’

Last time I visited Wild Sweets, we got to try their Chocolate Tea, which is a drink made entirely from pure in-house roasted cocoa bean husks only and no sugar or any other ingredients are added except for a touch of vanilla bean powder. Now, for the summer, they have blended the tea with pure fruit purées and lightly sweetened with a vanilla syrup. You get this undertone of chocolate flavour, but the overall drink is fruity and refreshing when served cold. Currently, there are 5 flavours: Strawberry, White Pear, Lychee Raspberry, Morello Cherry, and Apricot Passion. My personal favourites are the Lychee Raspberry and Apricot Passion.

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Strawberry Cream C|Puff2

The new C|Puff2s are Wild Sweet’s take on the classic cream puff. However, their cream puffs are not round, but instead a square shape! The Strawberry Cream C|Puff2 features a choux pastry and almond cookie crust filled with a strawberry custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh strawberries, red berry confit, and served with an encapsulated mint aroma pipette. It is then decorated with chocolate cereal pearls, paper thin hand-painted chocolate petals and chocolate ‘pasta’ strands.

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Chocolate Cream C|Puff2

The Chocolate Cream C|Puff2 features a dark chocolate custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh raspberries, red fruit confit, red fruit Kirch aroma. I love how there are so many components to these desserts and they all work together. The amount of work that goes into each piece before it gets assembled is really amazing! What a piece of art!

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Praline Cream C|Puff2 

The Praline Cream C|Puff2 features a hazelnut praliné custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh black berries, apricot passion confit, and orange liquor aroma. This is perfect if you love hazelnut, but can be slightly on the sweeter side.

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CocoArt ‘Summer’ Limited Edition Collection

Each of the Summer 2017 Collection chocolates feature 2 types of fillings including a fruit-based liquid caramel while the other is a ‘Créme Fraîche Vanille’ – a lightly sweetened soft cream made by emulsifying fresh cream and butter scented with vanilla bean. All of the chocolates are hand-painted with cocoa butter colours in different artistic patterns. They are designed to be eaten cold from the fridge so make sure to keep them chilled! The following flavours are available:

  • Liquid strawberry / raspberry fruit caramel
  • Liquid apricot / peach fruit caramel
  • Liquid blackberry / cassis fruit caramel
  • Liquid mango / lychee fruit caramel

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Ice Cream Dessert

Last but not least, Wild Sweets has also come out with some Ice Cream Desserts. The one pictured above is the Dark Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Blackberry Cassis sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate Marcona almond foam
  • Assorted fresh dark fruits
  • Blackberry cassis confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

The other flavour is the Red Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate pistachio foam
  • Assorted fresh red fruits
  • Red fruit confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

Yes – it’s crazy how many components there are to the ice cream! Each bite, you will find something different!

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Overall, there are definitely beautiful pieces of edible art for Wild Sweets’ new 2017 summer collection! You’ll have to pick these goodies up at the Atelier in Richmond, which is open Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM & Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. If you’re looking to pick them up from Mondays to Friday, you can also do so by making an appointment in advance. Check out their website for the full collection!

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sparkling Ice: Cocktail Recipe

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Disclosure: All Sparkling Ice beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

With the summer heat getting real these days, I’m always looking for new beverages to try. It’s also time for patio season and barbecues, and of course cocktails must be present! I was recently sent some of the Sparkling Ice beverages to try and decided to whip up a cocktail recipe.

 

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Sparkling Ice is a fizzy, flavourful beverage without all the calories! In fact, they are advertised as a zero calorie beverage! The best part is that they come in a variety of fruity flavours, so make a great addition in your cocktail. Some flavours include Lemon Lime, Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Cherry Limeade, and Black Raspberry. You can drink it straight, or add it to cocktails, flavour your marinade, and even use it in baking for flavour!They are available at most retailers, including Walmart and Amazon if you want to shop online.

 

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S and I enjoy gin, so we decided to make a Gin Fitzey:

INGREDIENTS

1.5 oz of gin
Simple syrup
½ Lime (sliced into 3 wedges)
Splash of Sparking Ice Lemon Lime
Lime (garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Add gin, simple syrup, and lime wedges to shaker. Muddle. Add ice. Shake and strain into chilled martini glass. Add a splash of Sparking Ice Lemon Lime. Garnish with lime twist.

The cocktail was super easy to create, especially if you don’t have a lot of ingredients. I loved how the drink wasn’t too sweet, and the fizz isn’t overwhelming.

 

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To find more cocktail or cooking recipes that incorporate Sparkling Ice, check out their website and on Instagram. I especially love their cute and quick videos on Instagram! Cheers!

Caffè Artigiano – New Summer Menu

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Last month, Caffè Artigiano launched their new summer menu with a selection of chilled caffeinated (and decaffeinated) artisanal iced coffee, teas, and sodas along with some new food menu items. I was invited to check out the location on Main and 24th.

 

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The Main Street location is extremely spacious with long communal tables as well as seating for smaller parties. Love the cool vintage Italian vibe in here.

 

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There are a number of new menu items for food this summer as Chef Dawn Doucette has curated some new breakfast and lunch items. Chef Dawn has worked with Michael, the Director of Coffee, to introduce menu items that pair well together for the summer.

 

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This also includes some pastry items.

 

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Italian Sodas

For drinks, we tried the new Italian Sodas which guests can choose flavours like the frutti do bosco berry or peach syrup. The flavoured syrups are mixed with sparkling San Pellegrino and topped with fresh blueberries or mint. These make light and refreshing beverages and are great for those who enjoy a bit of a fizz.

 

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Affogato

Another exciting addition is the Affogato, which features a dark espresso poured warm over a scoop of cold vanilla gelato from Mario’s Gelato. This item is available at locations that have freezer space, so this includes Park Royal, YVR (McArthurGlen Designer Outlet) and Hornby Street.

Other summer beverages included the Ice Cofffee, Iced Caffè Latte , Iced Spanish Latte, Frappé, Shakerato, and Ice Tea. What’s great here is that they do not use powders and syrups in their coffee drinks and therefore much healthier. Further, kid’s drinks are made with organic milk, soy, or almond milk, and also available for an added price for adults.

 

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Pavarotti 

There are many new sandwich options which are drawn from Italy. The Pavarotti  features green olive tapenade, Italian mortadella, nitrate-free country ham, smoked salami and provolone served on focaccia. The focaccia is toasted beautifully and the ingredients inside are savoury with a hint of spice from the salami.

 

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Paolino Piadina

The Paolino Piadina features rustic Italian flatbread, parmesan breaded chicken, roast garlic aioli, mozzarella, marinara sauce and arugula.

 

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Breakfast Wrap

The Breakfast Wrap is filled with scrambled eggs, marinara sauce, potatoes, cilantro, green onion and served with a side of salsa and sour cream.

 

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There are also several new salad options, all of which are colourful and fresh. These are prepared at the commissary kitchen in Vancouver.

 

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Overall, a great selection of new summer menu items. I especially love the new iced drinks and affogato, which are perfect for the hot weather.

 

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This summer Caffè Artigiano is giving away all things Vespa! Prizes include some of their bright red gift cards, loaded with $20 worth of great coffee drinks in their caffès; a Vespa LX50 day rental for two; and five bright red Vespa bags full of coffee, a travel mug and gift card, and in one of those bags, a key to a brand-new Vespa Primavera 50 Rosso Dragon. Follow them, comment and share pictures of the scooter at their various locations around BC this summer for your chance to win!

 

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Check out their social media for more details!

Caffe Artigiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacific Poké

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Pacific Poké opened up at the end of last year on Main Street in Chinatown. Thanks to VancityTastes, I was able to give their menu a try. The interior is clean and minimal with cute cacti plants on the tables. The location seats around 20 people inside but many opt to take out their poké bowls.

 

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The menu is similar to many other poké shops. You can either build your own or choose the chef prepared creations. To build your own, a regular bowl costs $12 (two proteins and three toppings) whereas a large goes for $14 (three proteins and four toppings). The options for your base include organic brown rice, traditional sushi rice, quinoa salad base or a kale salad base. Proteins include salmon, ahi tuna, negitoro, albacore tuna, crab and shrimp, and also seasonal selections such as hamachi.

 

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You’ll notice that the number of toppings to choose from is more limited than many of the other poké shops. However, at Pacific Poké, they pride themselves in using high quality ingredients and setting high standards in execution. This includes how the fish is cut perfectly into the same size and the details that go into putting the bowls together. The head chef and sous chef both have many years of experience in fine dining and it definitely shows in the food they present.

 

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The Main

We got to try the chef pre-arranged bowls which I always go for on my first try at poké shops. Getting these bowls, I know I won’t mess up with overloading on random toppings. There are four pre-arranged options, with one being vegetarian. We tried the other three bowls, including The Main, which features salmon, spicy tuna, crab and shrimp jicama, cucumber, avocado, nori, sesame miso sauce, lime and yuzu juice, green onion, and fresh herbs. This bowl was fresh with the lime and yuzu juice really pulling through and hints of spicy flavour from the tuna. I’d say this is a safe bowl for first-timers.

 

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The Keefer

My favourite however was The Keefer which featured ahi and albacore tuna negitoro, avocado, nori, fresh wasabi peas, mixed herbs, classic sesame shoyu, and lime juice. Although this bowl tasted very healthy with the greens, it was extremely flavourful and light. I especially liked the wasabi peas which I don’t normally find at other poké shops. I actually took a bowl of this home and my dad ended up eating it and absolutely loved it. He commented that the fish was very fresh and the sushi rice was cooked perfectly.

 

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The Cali

If you like spicy, then The Cali would probably be your choice. This bowl features spicy salmon, crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado nori, green onion, sprouts, and spicy mayo. I really liked the pickled red onions in this bowl which balanced well with the spicy sashimi.

 

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Poké Panini

Other than the typical bowls, they also have Poké Paninis. Pictured above is the Tuna Panini which is filled with crab and tobioko mix, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, wasabi and miso mayo, green onion and sprouts. On the right is the Salmon Panini which is filled with crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, spicy sauce, and tomato kimchi.

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To wash it all down, they also have three homemade drinks, including the Strawberry Green Tea, Yuzu Lemon Tea, and Coco Panda (which is a coconut pandan drink). Overall, I highly recommend Pacific Poké due to the chef’s care in ingredients and detail. You can really taste how fresh the food is here and the toppings are meant to go well in all variations. The chefs also curated a menu that is more health conscious, and I definitely felt that way after my bowl. Although more pricey than Pokeritto, the pricing is similar to many of the other poké shops, and I would pay a little more for the quality.

 

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ajishou

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Ajishou opened up earlier this year at the new Garden City mall. The interior is surprisingly very nice inside with a very modern look and a long sushi bar on one side. I heard that their lunch menu is quite affordable, so decided to give it a try. You can order a la carte, but they also have a lot of combos that range from $10 – $15. The dinner menu is much more expensive.

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Many of their lunch combos, like the one I got comes with miso soup. This was quite average and wasn’t anything special.

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Rainbow Chirashi Combo

I chose the Rainbow Chirashi Combo which comes with a Japanese salad, tempura, a chirashi-don, and some orange slices. The set was $12.50 and I thought it looked like a lot of food, but I was actually still hungry after. The chirashi-don is super small. And when I say small, I mean the amount of rice given was so little, that it left me hungry. You would think that they would give you more rice since it’s cheap, but I thought the ratio of sashimi to rice was really odd. There was salmon, tuna, hamachi, hokigai, ebi, avocado and tamago. The fact that they gave cooked shrimp instead of shrimp sashimi was slightly disappointing. The quality of the sashimi itself was average. It was fresh and not bad, but nothing to get excited about. Salad was typical with the usual Japanese dressing. As for the tempura, they actually give you two prawns, a squash, and yam. Batter was too thick, so reminded me of all you can eat tempura.

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Ajishou Special Sushi Combo A

S got the Ajishou Special Sushi Combo A for $10.75. The set comes with dynamite roll, California roll, and cucumber roll. As you can see, the sushi is not very well constructed. The dynamite roll was cut too thinly so all the filling fell out. Even the California started to fall apart. Everything was just a mess and these are super simple rolls!

Overall, S and I were quite disappointed with Ajishou. The prices would be reasonable if they could execute with their quality and construction of the sushi. However, given there are so many other sushi restaurants in Vancouver to choose from, I don’t think I would be returning.

Pros:
– Ambiance is nice

Cons:
– Rolls fall apart easily
– Expensive for average quality, especially a la carte

Price Range: $10-20

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 2.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 2.5

Ajishou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Assembli

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last week, we were invited to check out the newly opened Assembli on Cambie between West 7th and 8th near Broadway station. The focus on two main items: pizzas and salads. What differentiates them is the fact that their pizzas and salads are one set price and you can add as many ingredients as you want. This means the customer doesn’t end up with an expensive meal at checkout, and also makes it easier for the staff as they don’t need to constantly keep track of what “additional” items you got. 11 inch pizzas are $12.99 and salads come in regular size for $10.99 and large for $12.99.

 

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The interior has high ceilings and a beautiful painting of Vancouver. There are enough seats for you to dine in, but because of how quick the assembly line is, you can also grab and go. They offer online ordering for pick up, but have also teamed up with some other delivery companies, like Foodora to deliver straight yo your place. While we were there, I couldn’t help but notice the constant in and out of the Foodora deliveries.

 

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If you choose to come in to make your pizza or salad, then you can see all the ingredients you can add through the glass shield.

 

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Although you can customize your pizzas and salads, for those of you who cannot make decisions when there are an overwhelming amount of options, you can choose preset options. We were able to try some of these preset options at the tasting.

 

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O-Mega Brainiac

We started off trying some of their salads which were beautiful in colour. The O-Mega Brainiac came with mixed greens, quinoa, cucumber, cabbage, blueberries, beets, avocado salsa, walnuts, seed mix, and the goddess dressing. Normally, this salad comes with the glory dressing which is more of a tahini dressing. This was bright and great for the summer with the blueberries and avocado salsa.

 

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Sexy Hippie

One of my favourites was the Sexy Hippie which has brown rice, quinoa, roasted root veggies, celery, beets, parsley, walnuts, apple, and a honey dijon dressing. I think the honey dijon dressing was what got me as it was slightly acidic but sweet at the same time, making it very appetizing.

 

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Wild Cowboy

The Wild Cowboy reminded me of a deconstructed taco or burrito with all the fillings you would normally find in Mexican food. This had mixed greens, romaine, black beans, mixed bell peppers, roasted corn salsa, brown rice, cheddar, pico de gallo, and a southwest dressing. Ours also came with shredded chicken. Another favourite for me and I don’t even normally order salads!

 

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All Greek to Me

Onto the pizzas, these are just the right thickness. The crust is not as thin as flatbread, but not thick like the ones you get at Pizza Hut. Just the perfect thickness! The All Greek to Me pizza normally comes with genoa salami, goat feta, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olives, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, tomato sauce, and balsamic drizzle. Ours came without the salami but was already flavourful enough. This was my least favourite pizza as I’m not a fan of feta or olives. That’s exactly why the customization ability is perfect here!

 

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Smoke & Fire

Smoke and Fire features pepperoni, smoked cheddar, mozzarella, banana peppers, red onion, and a spicy tomato sauce. This is for those who love a bit of a kick. I actually really enjoyed this but would probably need a beer with it!

 

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Backyard BBQ

A colourful pizza was the Backyard BBQ which features herb-roasted chicken, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, bbq sauce, yogurt drizzle, and an adobo sauce drizzle. The pizza is sweet from the onions and bbq sauce and would be great with the kids.

 

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Smooth Crimini Kale

Lastly, the Smooth Crimini Kale was my favourite. I love meat, but sometimes I actually crave vegetarian pizzas. This pizza has sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, red onion, and white sauce. All my favourite ingredients and you also feel super healthy eating it.

 

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Fiasco Gelato

Other than pizzas and salads, they also have a select few desserts, smoothies and gelato! Assembli carries the Fiasco brand gelato in their single serve cups. With so many flavours to choose from like Salted Caramel, Bourbon Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, and even dairy free sorbettos like Mango Pineapple, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Raspberry Lime, there is a flavour for everyone!

 

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Overall, Assembli offers fresh ingredients and the ability to customize at a flat price. Definitely a great spot to grab and go or sit down for a quick eat. I love how you can also make your meal really healthy or not so healthy depending on what you add to your pizza or salad. Plus, they have happy hour with drinks for $5 and salads and pizzas for $10!

Assembli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas in November at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Home for the Holidays by ukijojo on 500px.comPhoto Credit: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Disclosure: I was invited to a media preview and all food and beverages were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Christmas in November? You must be thinking I’m crazy. Well Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has been celebrating Christmas in November for many years and it is now the 29th year! This food and wine festival runs from November 3 to November 12th, 2017 this year and I was invited to a media preview a few weeks ago to learn all about it.

 

Chesnuts on an open fire by ukijojo on 500px.comPhoto Credit: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

The event is not just about food and wine. Instead, it gets you ready for the holidays with cooking, cocktail, and decorating classes where you get to interact with the chefs and experts at a personal level. Attendees will be wined and dined throughout the 3 days from breakfast to dinner, so fear not of being hungry.

 

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One of the most exciting highlights are the celebrity chefs that you will be able to meet including, Chefs Chuck Hughes, Vikram Vij, Ned Bell, and Anna & Michael Olson. They will be showing you many recipes and you can mix and mingle with the chefs at a whole new level. Not your typical demo and dine experience.

 

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At the media preview, we were luckily invited to Chef Vikram Vij’s restaurant to indulge in some of his dishes (which will be available at the event as well)! He shared his stories from last year and said that the experience is like no other and is perfect for both guests who want to just relax and rewind but also guests who are ready to mingle and have a party. Jasper National Park is the perfect place to get closer to nature, but you will also make some lifelong friends along the way.

 

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Of course we got to try some of Vikram Vij’s curries including this Chicken Curry which was packed full of flavour and paired perfectly with naan and rice.

 

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A Chickpea Curry was also served and the aroma of spices filled the room.

 

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So how do you attend this amazing event? There are 3 packages to choose from: 3-Night Weekend Package (November 3-6) from $1,049 per person, 3-Night Mid-Week Package (November 6-9) from $999 per person, and a 3-Night Weekend Package (November 9-12) from $1,110 per person. All these packages include accommodation, a reception on the first day, breakfast, lunch and dinner on the next two days, continental breakfast and brunch on the day of departure, instructional seminars and gratuities. There is also a VIP package which features private classes, meet and greet with the celebrity chefs, and a private kitchen party! For more details, check out https://www.christmasinnovember.com/