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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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/

Advertisements

Fable Kitchen x Bordertown Winery Long Table Dinner

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Thanks to a contest hosted by Peter from Vancouver Livin and Fable Kitchen, K and I won two tickets to the long table dinner at Fable Kitchen which featured a five course menu paired with Bordertown wines. The menu was created by Chef Max Straczek.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Bordertown Winery was present at the dinner to explain the different notes of each wine and essentially provide a wine tasting experience!

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Bordertown is one of the newer wineries and is located in Osoyoos, BC. It started in 2015 and BC Liquor stores now carry their wines. Bottles range from around $18-40.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Pan Seared Scallop and Cucumber

The first dish was the Pan Seared Scallops with compressed cucumber, cucumber relish and watercress. The scallops were perfectly cooked and almost melted in my mouth! I loved the pickled flavours of the cucumber relish and this paired great with the seafood. Refreshing and light. This was paired with the 2015 Muscat which was light and fruity. Muscat white wines are always one of my favourites.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Slow Cooked Egg and Flash Steamed Asparagus

Next up was the Slow Cooked Egg and Flash Steamed Asparagus on top of gnocchi and topped with hazelnut bread crumb. The egg was cooked perfectly with the yolk spilling out. This was paired with a 2014 Chardonnay which has a buttery richness to it.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Rabbit Turnover

For our main, we had the Rabbit Turnover with smashed peas and chervil. The portion looked small but I was seriously so full after this but I couldn’t stop eating because it was so delicious! The pastry was so flaky and the rabbit filling inside was full of flavour. This is the perfect introduction to rabbit for first timers. This was paired with the first red wine of the evening, a 2014 Cabernet Franc, which was perfect with this savoury dish.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Duck Cooked Three Ways

Next up was the Duck Cooked Three Ways. The three ways were smoked, confit, and mousse and this was paired with cornbread, carrots, and pickled mustard. This dish was delicious, but I was beyond full at this point. My smoked duck was a little too rare for my liking. It was still very bright pink in the centre, and therefore more chewy than tender. My sister’s was cooked nicely with a light pink all around. The confit was really interesting as it was more like a croquette. Deep fried in a cornmeal type batter, this was tasty with the pickled mustard on the side. However, one of my favourites was the duck mousse. This was like a pâté and delicious when spread on the cornbread. This dish was quite heavy though, especially with the cornbread. Perhaps smaller portions of each would be perfect or if this was the only main we had. This was paired with the 2014 Merlot, a perfect pairing for meaty dishes.

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Apple Terrine

For dessert, we had the Apple Terrine which was absolutely delicious! Essentially a streusel with custard on the side, topped with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce. Sort of like a deconstructed apple pie, but so flakey and addicting. A must try! Paired with the 2014 Gewurtztraminer, one of my favourite dessert wines, this was a great way to end the night!

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

Overall, we had an amazing time at the Fable Kitchen x Bordertown Winery long table dinner. What more can you ask for with good food, good wine, and good company! Thank you to Peter from Vancouver Livin and Fable Kitchen for the contest!

Fable Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BiBo Restaurant -Media Launch

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

Last month, I was invited by Peak Communicators to attend the official launch of Bibo Restaurant at Richmond’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Mall. They had their soft opening back in October last year, but the official launch was on February 29, 2016. This is now their second location, with the first in Kitsilano.

During the media launch, we were greeted by the owners Andrea and his wife and business partner, Michela. As native Italians, the owners are passionate about creating an authentic atmosphere at the restaurant that mirrors traditional Italian values, heritage, and ambiance.

The interior is bright and modern with long tables for communal type seating.

At the end of the restaurant is a large bar and we were able to sample a variety of drinks.

The Cortese Gavi di Gavi DOCG is a distinguished white wine produced in a very small region surrounding the little town of Gavi. It has a medium body and notes of limes. This wine is exclusive to BiBo.

All other wines are carefully selected and sourced by the owners to ensure it’s consistent with the authentic Italian ambiance and complimentary to the traditional Italian dishes.

We also got to sample some of their Italian sodas which I fancied. These are are imported from Italy and are great for both children and adults.

They had set up a buffet style event for us to showcase some of their best menu items. On one side were a selection of meats.

Bio boasts a selection of fresh and natural ingredients sourced from Italy, including many of these cheese.

Olive oil is imported from Tuscany and Campania, and Porcini mushrooms from Piedmont. The olives and artichokes are from Michela’s uncle who owns a farm in Salerno.

I asked the servers to give me a sample of everything. This included the Coppa Piacentina, which is a seasoned meat left to age for at least six weeks.

So many choices of fresh meats and cheese, so a perfect place to get a charcuterie board along with a glass of wine.

Risotto Balls were Crispy on the outside and gooey in the inside.

There were also a selection of polenta bites. They also offer gluten-free and vegetarian options.

We then got to watch the pizza chefs in action. BiBo’s pizza chefs are all from Napoli and have trained at the Neapolitan Pizza School. All pizza crusts are hand-stretched and baked in a wood0fired oven and topped with the highest quality ingredients.

This was the Butternut Squash Pizza. I liked the sweetness of the squash along with the salty meat. The crust is definitely really light and crispy. This is what you call thin crust! Usually I’m not a fan of eating the crust, but this was really good.

They have a good variety of choices including this Spicy Chorizo as well as classics like the Margherita.

Lastly, we got to sample some of their pastas, including this meat ravioli and risotto.

Overall, a great new addition to Richmond’s vast choices of restaurants. Perfect to stop by after a day of shopping at the outlet. BiBo’s owners also announced that they will be opening its third location in the Olympic Village district this summer!

In celebration of the grand opening, BiBo is offering promotions at its new Richmond location only. This includes discounts on all bottles of Italian wines exclusive to the restaurant every Tuesday and Wednesday. As well, there is a special Pizza and Beer for $18 every Monday until May 30, 2016.

BiBo Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gudrun

IMG_9153

When K came back, I suggested we go try Gudrun. It’s been opened in Steveston for quite some time, but I always just past by it without looking into it too much. Finally, we decided to go on a rainy weekday.

IMG_9154

They seem to change their menu daily, based on what’s fresh in the market. Their menu is fairly simple with probably under 10 main menu items.

IMG_9158

The inside is dimly lit and filled with wooden tables and chairs. There’s also a long table – great for large groups. It’s an open kitchen and there’s also a bar table. The service was amazing, with our server being super friendly and checking up on us occasionally. He might also be the owner, but I’m not sure. It was really relaxed and chill, and we didn’t feel rushed or pressured to order more. He would actually chat with customers, but he saw us having our own conversation, so he gave us plenty of space. I also love how they have pillows so you can feel like you’re at home. Absolutely love the ambiance here!

IMG_9155

Mac & 5 Cheese with Side Salad

K got the Mac & 5 Cheese which came with a side of salad. The Mac & Cheese was definitely very cheesy and creamy. It might be a little pricey for a mac & cheese, but you can tell that this ain’t any cheap Kraft Dinner!

IMG_9156

Meat Sandwich – sopressata, red peppers and cheddar

J and I both got the Meat Sandwich. It came with sopressata, which is an Italian dry salami. It also came with a side of salad, which had a really good light dressing. A bit of those tiny little pickles and olives too. A very simple dish, but it tasted amazing!

IMG_9157

The sandwich was also filled with red peppers and cheddar. I loved the pairing of the peppers and salami. It wasn’t too salty, and the bread was grilled perfectly!

Overall, we were extremely pleased with Gudrun. It may be a bit pricey, but the relaxing environment really makes it a great place to chill and catch up with friends. They also have a large selection of wines and meat or cheese boards, which would be perfect for a late night hangout. Fresh ingredients with well-executed dishes and impeccable service!

Gudrun Tasting Room on Urbanspoon

Els Quatre Gats – Barcelona

IMG_6971

Els Quatre Gats means “The Four Cats” in Catalan. You’ll sometimes see that it’s short termed as 4 Gats. This restaurant has a lot of history! It started as a hostel, then became a cabaret, a pub, and finally a restaurant. It’s been open since 1897! There is supposed to be a lot of art and architecture history behind the building and it’s actually well known because this was the spot where Picasso used to come very often.

IMG_6950

Inside, the place is colourful and there is a small section of tables near the entrance with the bar behind.

IMG_6953

If you continue walking in, you’ll find that the restaurant is actually quite large. There’s also an old piano on the side, and it seems like there are jazz nights here.

IMG_6952

The restaurant is filled with art pieces, and Picasso actually had his first exhibition here. I love how there’s two seater tables at the top balcony. It sort of looks unstable, but people still sit up there today. I could only imagine Picasso sitting there sipping a cup of coffee and finding art inspiration.

IMG_6951

This is the menu. The title page for the menu is actually made by Picasso. Pretty neat! Anyways, the prices at 4 Gats is quite pricey and not for everyday meals. However, they offer a menu of the day with 3 courses during lunch time for around 16 euros. It’s much more expensive than typical menu of the days, but the restaurant is almost a famous tourist spot, and the setting is close to fine dining. So it’s quite reasonable.

IMG_6954

Bread

Of course, we ordered the lunch menu, since most entrees on their own were the same price. The set came with a bread roll for each of us.

IMG_6955

Mineral Water and Red Wine

Then came a glass of mineral water and a bottle of red wine for our table of 5 to share. The wine wasn’t actually too bad. Usually the house wines are watered down and extremely cheap. You get around two glasses each. I liked how the waiters were very professional in the way they poured the wine and how they placed our table setting.

IMG_6956

Paella

Since we had 5 people, we ended up ordering every single item on the menu. They had four choices in each course to choose. We were able to try a bit of everything this way. The first appetizer was Paella. I really enjoyed this! This was probably one of the best paella I had. I hadn’t had a lot of paella in Barcelona just because I wasn’t very fond of it. I could have it once or twice, but I eventually got sick of it, and it’s also not the cheapest dish. This was a seafood and meat paella. Rice was moist, but not too saucy, but at the same time, it wasn’t too dry. The rice was cooked perfectly so it wasn’t too hard or soft. There were shrimps and mussels and a meat I couldn’t really grasp upon what it was. It had a chewy texture, but I loved it! I felt like it was some part of pork. Loved this dish!

IMG_6957

Spinach Lasagna

Another appetizer was the Spinach Lasagna. The lasagna was actually quite a decent sized portion as an appetizer. I could easily get filled up by this and the bread. It was very creamy with a load of cream sauce and tons of spinach. There wasn’t too much cheese to it though, so it wasn’t a very cheesy lasagna. Definitely more of a cream base one.

IMG_6958

Goat Cheese Salad

The Goat Cheese Salad was plated beautifully. I liked how the cheese was made into almost like a terrine, where there was nuts mixed into it. I’m not a huge fan of goat cheese, so I found the cheese to be really strong. My friends really enjoyed it though. The greens were also extremely fresh and crisp.

IMG_6959

Vegetables with Parmesan

I was hesitant about the Vegetables with Parmesan, as it sounded very plain. However, it was plated beautifully again. They stacked the vegetables on top of each other to make a square shape, and topped it with lots of Parmesan. This was then baked I believe. It was a simple dish, but I really enjoyed it! I thought all the flavours worked really well together and I never enjoyed eating vegetables so much!

IMG_6961

Stew Fish with Clams and Potatoes

Now onto the entrees! Again, we tried every item on the menu. I didn’t think the presentation of the Stew Fish looked too appetizing, but then again, it’s a stew. Surprisingly, there was a lot of fish! The sauce was very flavourful, and all the ingredients were soaked in it. Not bad, but wasn’t my favourite.

IMG_6963

Swordfish with Vegetables

Another fish dish was the Swordfish with Vegetables. The swordfish were battered and deep fried. There wasn’t much of a sauce to it other than the vegetable mix with a slightly tangy lime sauce. However, the fish was fresh, so it was really delicious without any real sauce.

IMG_6966

Steak with Baked Potatoes

I thought the Steak was both a hit and a miss. We ordered two dishes of this, and one was cooked perfectly, while I thought the other was a little undercooked. Both dishes were cooked very rare, but one of them was extremely tender while being pink. The other was a bit tough and I almost felt disgusted that I was eating raw meat that was extremely difficult to chew. Let’s comment on the good dish. It was lightly seasoned with salt and topped with some green onions. It was already sliced into strips so it was extremely easy to eat. As for the potatoes, they were baked alright with a generous sauce on top. I found the baked potatoes to be just average.

IMG_6967

Duck with Artichoke

The Duck dish didn’t look too appetizing again, but it was actually quite delicious. The duck was extremely tender and the meat would just fall off easily. I wish the skin was a little crispier. The artichokes were cooked till soft and complemented the dish quite well. A lot of sauce on the dish as well.

IMG_6968

Apple Cake

As for desserts, we ended up only choosing two out of the four, since the other two were a yoghurt or fresh fruit. Didn’t sound too interesting. So instead, we got the Apple Cake. Sadly, it was quite disappointing. The cake was extremely sweet since it had alternating layers of a cream custard. The custard was very similar to the ones they use for Catalan Cream. It was too moist and soggy with the cream, and none of us really enjoyed it. Also, overly sweet!

IMG_6969

Pineapple with Catalan Cream

Lastly, we had the Pineapple with Catalan Cream. We weren’t too sure what to expect, but it ended up to be simply a kebab of pineapples on a skewer stick and topped with tons of Catalan Cream. It was actually quite refreshing! Not the most amazing dessert, but it wasn’t too sweet. A great way to finish our meal.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with Els Quatre Gats. I don’t think it’s a place I would recommend as a must go, but I think it was cool to dine here at least once. You really get that artsy atmosphere and now I can say I’ve dined at the restaurant where Picasso did! Also, service was not as bad as other reviewers have written. I found it a little cold when we first stepped in, but our waiter himself, was extremely funny and friendly. You’ll also find an older crowd here.

Mercat de Mercats 2013 Barcelona

IMG_6798

Mercat de Mercats is an outdoor food festival in Barcelona that lasts for three days. In English, it’s translated to Market of the Markets. In 2013, it took place in mid October near the Barcelona Cathedral as you can see in the back.

IMG_6799

Its a food festival to showcase the best of Catalan and Mediteranean food and cooking. There are around 30 market stalls, 50 local producers, 12 market and city bars and restaurants and 16 wine cellars, who take part! Pretty impressive! You’ll find everything from wines, cavas, oils, vinegars, cheeses, meats, seafood, and cooked tapas.

IMG_6800

I thought it was pretty cool that people were walking around with wine glasses since they had paid for some wine samples. Not something we normally see in Vancouver!

IMG_6801

I didn’t get a chance to try any of the food since I had just passed by after doing some grocery shopping alone. Wasn’t exactly in the mood to try food by myself. There were tons of good looking tapas though! I ended buying some olive oil and balsamic vinegars as gifts though. It was from a local producer with all the packaging done by the producers. Pretty neat to support local producers!

IMG_6802

Some of the stalls in La Boqueria market were present, including the burritos stand.

Check it out if you’re in Barcelona this year during the festival!

Wings Restaurants and Pubs (Granville)

Last Wednesday, I met with my Pre-Law Society for a wrap-up dinner to a great year! It has definitely been one of my favourite clubs I joined throughout my university time. Tons of fun with a great team and I will surely miss them next year! We settled for Wings Restaurants & Pubs at the Granville location. There was a Canucks game on that night, but suprisingly the place wasn’t that packed. We had made reservations prior to secure seats anyways.

Image

House White Wine & Fusilli with Chicken in Garlic White Wine Sauce

Unlike many pubs and bars, Wings does not offer Wings Wednesdays. The wings are regular priced like on any other day. However, they do have Pasta Wednesdays! I decided to get that since I wasn’t exactly in the mood for wings that night. You get to build your pasta for only $7.98! What a deal. I chose Fussili with the Garlic White Wine Sauce and topped it with Chicken. The portion was not as large as many restaurants, but it was enough to fill me up. And for a little under $8, it is definitely worth it. Don’t expect anything amazing though. It’s literally just cooked pasta, with a simple sauce and some chicken. It was topped with some cheese and also came with a slice of garlic bread, which I found a little flavourless. As for my drink, I got the House White Wine, which I forgot what the name was… A little dry for my liking though.

Overall, my experience was alright at Wings. I don’t expect much at a pub, and I wouldn’t say our waitress was extremely friendly, but she got things done. It’s also a great place to catch the games as they have televisions at almost every corner of the wall.

Wings Restaurants & Pubs on Urbanspoon