December Wine and Whiskey Special Events at BC Liquor Stores

Make it merry this holiday season by enjoying a glass of your favourite bubbly, wine, spirits, or beer! Here is your inside track to some of BC Liquor Stores’ exciting holiday events! Whether you are picking out the perfect gift, hosting your own party, or simply enjoying the company of family and friends, BC Liquor Stores have something perfect for every occasion.

Share a wonderful experience while learning from our knowledgeable wine and spirits brand ambassadors by checking out our line up of sit down events! Make it a perfect gift and bonding moment with your special someone. Events are free unless otherwise specified. For ticketed events, quantities are limited so get yours now.


39th & CAMBIE

Saturday, December 2
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Taste Cono Sur Bicicleta wines and enjoy a great food pairing experience. Learn how to recreate this at home with friends and family for the holiday season!

Friday, December 8
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Discover the complex and refined taste of Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose. Carefully crafted gin and premium vodka are perfect for blending during your holiday celebrations!

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50th anniversary

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50th anniversary

Saturday, December 9
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Masi Campofiorin as we taste through the history of this iconic Italian wine with Brand Ambassador James Bornn. Classic vintages like 1988, 1997 and 2001 will be tasted alongside the 2014 served from Special Edition Magnums.
Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Tuesday, December 12
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Tutored Scotch Whisky tasting with Stuart Brown, Diageo Whisky Consultant. Rare, old and unusual bottlings from famous and closed distilleries – this small, annual series of Special Release Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are limited editions, usually bottled at cask strength. They’re also some of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, though you definitely don’t have to be a collector to marvel at these magnificent, rare malts. Let Stuart Brown, Scotch consultant for Diageo’s preeminent release of the year guide you through some of Scotland’s most exceptional expressions of Scotch whisky.
Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Wednesday, December 13
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Explore the very best single malts from their respective regions, Douglas Laing’s remarkable regional malts deliver the ultimate distillation of Scotland’s malt whisky regions. Taste through the Christmas Big Peat (2017 Edition), the Rock Oyster Sherry and the Scallywag Limited Edition bottlings.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Thursday, December 14
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Join Macallan Brand Ambassador, Dan Volway, for a unique whisky tasting and food pairing featuring 4 outstanding Macallan whiskies. A gift with purchase of a limited edition Macallan bottle stopper (valued at $60) will be available for guests who purchase a bottle of the Macallan Rare Cask during the event.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Saturday, December 16
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Experience the taste of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, an alchemy of fine aged cognacs and exotic wild oranges, while having the opportunity to engrave your purchased bottle with a personalized message


Friday, December 8
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Masi Campofiorin as we taste through the history of this iconic Italian wine with Brand Ambassador James Bornn. Classic vintages like 1988, 1997 and 2001 will be tasted alongside the 2014 served from Special Edition Magnums.
Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Saturday, December 9
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Experience the taste of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, an alchemy of fine aged cognacs and exotic wild oranges, while having the opportunity to engrave your purchased bottle with a personalized message

Wednesday, December 13
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Tutored Scotch Whisky tasting with Stuart Brown, Diageo Whisky Consultant. Rare, old and unusual bottlings from famous and closed distilleries – this small, annual series of Special Release Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are limited editions, usually bottled at cask strength. They’re also some of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, though you definitely don’t have to be a collector to marvel at these magnificent, rare malts. Let Stuart Brown, Scotch consultant for Diageo’s preeminent release of the year guide you through some of Scotland’s most exceptional expressions of Scotch whisky.
Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

Saturday, December 16
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Celebrate the season with sparkle and ice in this elegant fine wine tasting experience. Specially selected hors d’oeuvres will be available to pair and there will be a live performance by the Armadillo String Quartet.

Saturday, December 23
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Taste Cono Sur Bicicleta wines and enjoy a great food pairing experience. Learn how to recreate this at home with friends and family for the holiday season!


Italian Excellent Quality Experience in Vancouver and More

Italian quality experience

Italian quality experience

To me, Italy is always known for quality products: food, wine, olive oil, cars, and more.  To help spread the word, a dual pronged approach is underway in Italy that crosses the oceans, and lands here in Vancouver.  The first is Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition that Milan will host from May 1 to October 31, 2015.  140 countries will participate to offer their technology related to guaranteeing healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone while not over taxing the planet.  The theme for the Expo is “Feeding the Plant, Energy for Life”.   It sounds very interesting and if I had a chance to go to Italy this year, I would make a point to visit the Expo.  You can read about the Expo at the website.

In addition to Expo 2015, “Ospitalita Italiana – Ristoranti Italiani nel Mondo” ( Italian Hospitality – Italian Restaurants in the World ), promoted in part by all Chambers of Commerce in Italy, is underway to promote:

  • traditions of Italian food products and improve global culture of Italian food and wine
  • to enhance the image of authentic Italian restaurants abroad and to guarantee the quality standards
  • to create an international network of Italian restaurants and to support them in promoting Italian products of excellence.

We are fortunate to have a local restaurant, Federico’s Supper Club as being certified by this program.  In total there are 1700 authentic restaurants in the world.  You can tell that the restaurant is certified by a Golden Q trademark plaque at the restaurant.  How did Federico’s and the other restaurants become certified?  They had to meet these quality guidelines:

  • The restaurant must have at least one person able to relate with customers in Italian
  • The percentage of traditional Italian dishes and recipes should be at least 50% of the total number of dishes
  • The wine list must contain not les than 30% of Italian DOP/IGT wines
  • The restaurant must offer only DOP/IGT extra virgin olive oil of Italian origin or Italian extra virgin olive oil
  • The chef must be qualified for the preparation of dishes according to Italian recipes
  • The names of all courses in the menu must be available in the Italian language

To see the complete worldwide list of “Ospitalita Italiana”, visit

I, and other media types, were invited to Federico’s Supper Club to taste some Italian dishes and enjoy some Italian wine to kick off Italian Hospitality – Italian Restaurants in the World and Expo Milan 2015.  Some exceptional Prosecco was brought in from Italy, as well as still red and white wines.  Federico’s made Arancini, mini pizza bites with anchovies and caramelized onions, and a real standout for me, which was smoked salmon and caramelized onions on a crostini.  I had never experienced such wonderful melding of flavours before.  I can highly recommend trying to make this yourself, or visiting Federico’s.  I am not sure if it is on their regular menu.  Enjoy a few pictures I took of the event, enjoy Italian food & wine, visit Federico’s, and visit Expo Milan 2015!

Astoria Corderie Valdobbiadene DOCG

Astoria Corderie Valdobbiadene DOCG

Beni di Batasiolo Langhe Rosso

Beni di Batasiolo Langhe Rosso



Smoked salmon with caramelized onions on crostini

Smoked salmon with caramelized onions on crostini


Bottega Gold Prosecco for Valentines Day

Bottega Gold Brut Prosecco

Bottega Gold Brut Prosecco

Have you been thinking about what sparkling wine you can buy for your Valentine without breaking the bank? Champagne may have first popped into your mind, but maybe you could also consider Italian Prosecco? Prosecco is generally made, lighter bodied and maybe a bit off dry, making it a fun indulgence to share with friends and family.

I recently received a bottle of Bottega Gold Brut (BC $24.99) to sample.  It comes in a very striking gold coloured bottle, making it look very special for a special day like Valentine’s Day.

In the glass this wine is pale lemon in colour.  A light intensity nose of flowers and citrus, with a hint of lime in the background.  This one is dry on the palate with medium plus acidity and light body.  Agressive, medium sized, creamy bubbles.  Citrus, apple, a hint of lime, and some lemon rind on the palate.  Medium length.  Overall a straight forward wine to enjoy with friends.  It should pair well with crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms, goat cheese, and a fresh fruit salad.

If you are interested, here is the website for the Bottega winery to get more info on this wine and their other wines.

Tuscan Estate Montestigliano Hosts Art Exhibit and Dining Under the Stars

As I wine, music and arts lover, who wouldn’t be excited about hearing of such an event in Tuscany, Italy?  It certainly peaked my interest, but is not in my plans.  Just in case you are taking a trip to Tuscany shortly, you may want to consider attending this event at the Tuscan Estate Montestigliano.  Enjoy!


Montestigliano in Tuscany

Montestigliano in Tuscany (Image courtesy 

Throughout July, Tuscan estate Montestigliano marries terroir and culture in a yearly art exhibit held in the granary above its ancient barn.  This year, five international artists (painters, photographers, writers, musicians), all members of the Stanza 251 group, descend on the historic locale to exhibit their cool, contemporary work in this timeless, rustic setting.  The show can be seen every Monday from   July 1 to July 22 in the afternoon between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., or by appointment.   For more information, contact or call +39 0577 342189.

Special Event July 17

On July 17 Montestigliano opens its doors to an evening of Prosecco, opera, fine dining and art.  Guests will enjoy an apertivo, view the artwork and settle into an evening of music and song with Baritone Pierluca Porri, accompanied by Francesca Giovannelli on the piano.  Pierluca has sung with Europe’s most famous opera houses such as L’Opéra de MonteCarlo, Le Theatre Royale de la Monnaie a Bruxelles, il Liceu di Barcelona, and the Opéra Nationale de Paris.  Dinner will be served in the estate’s courtyard, under the Tuscan stars. Price:  40 €.

About Stanza 251

Stanza 251 an on-line e-zine of fiction, poetry and imagery, founded by Carlo Zei and Stefano Loria. A new poem or story appears on the site every Tuesday, anew image every Friday. Stanza 251 also publishes a series of e-books and paperbacks, and organizes literary and visual arts events.  All of the artists at the show participate in Stanza 251. 

Participating Stanza 251 artists include: 

  • Stefano Loria: Co-founder of Stanza 251, Loria is a painter and writer.  In the Visual Arts field, he is considered one of the leading representatives of new-generation abstractionists.
  • Francesco Niccolai: A professional photographer, Niccolai has dedicated himself for years to making portraits of jazz musicians and much more.  He has recently developed a personal series of unpredictably nuanced and intimate landscape photographs.
  • Andrew Smaldone: an American artist who has lived in Italy for years, Smaldone has developed a specific poetry of images, painting environments emptied of their original function, almost reducing them to pure geometry and light.
  • Tomoko Sugahara: A Japanese artist of rare sensitivity, Sugahara works on an idea of subtle, fragile painterly atmospheres, producing juxtapositions that are sometimes material, sometimes chromatic.
  • Carlo Zei:The other co-founder of Stanza 251 who, aside from writing, is engaged in photography. He explores landscapes with a poetic, ironic eye, for which he prefers black & white prints, as exemplified in his series, “Christo on the Beach”.
  • Matthew Licht: A writer on the edge between realism and paradox, his adventure stories are animated by a parodic intent, but are richly nuanced with existential and social themes.  All of the ingredients of his stories are flavored with an irresistible sense humor, which makes for a particularly pleasant reading experience. He is also a skilled performer.
  • Marco “Shark Guitar” Naffis: One of Tuscany’s most brilliant Blues and Country guitar players.

About Montestigliano:

Montestigliano is a privately owned farm estate (agritourismo)with self-contained 18th century holiday villasavailable for rental.   All have been professionally restored and furnished.  Each is fully equipped with kitchens and private baths. Every villa has easy access to some of the most beautiful countryside in Tuscany.  With 2475 acres of cypress avenues, olive groves, fig trees and ancient terraces, it’s an ideal location to walk, enjoy the countryside and truly experience Tuscany.

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Garden Parties at Hart House Restaurant this Summer 2013

hart house restaurant logo

hart house restaurant

There’s no better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying fine food and wine in the open air.  Hart House’s annual garden parties are the perfect fusion of regional cuisine, enchanting wines, and beautiful natural surroundings.  Each evening starts with a tasting of wines from the featured region; guests may purchase a bottle or two from the special selection to pair with dinner.  The al fresco dinner is served on the estate lawn overlooking Deer Lake, and is accompanied by live music, making the evening a true feast for the senses.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – Lobster Fest

Our Lobster Fest features fresh Nova Scotia lobster paired with spirited maritime music.  Celebrate the start of summer with us. $62 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – Italy al Fresco

Italy’s passion for food and wine is legendary.  Guests will enjoy savoury Mediterranean cuisine paired with top-quality wines from Italy.  Traditional Italian music will set the mood. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 – Evening in Provence

Celebrate France’s contributions to world cuisine at this evening featuring the coastal Provence region. Romantic French ballads will provide a tuneful counterpoint. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – Spanish Fiesta

Modern Spanish cuisine is a fusion of Old and New world influences.  The menu for our Spanish Fiesta will feature seafood and Spanish-inspired dishes paired with excellent wines and flamenco music. $56 per person, plus taxes and gratuity

Reservations are available by phone only at 604-298-4278.
Hart House at Deer Lake
6664 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby

About Hart House Restaurant:  

Open since 1988, Hart House at Deer Lake makes an unforgettable impression on guests with its elegant heritage house setting and outstanding Pacific Northwest cuisine.  The 13-acre estate includes a mock-Tudor mansion with tastefully appointed dining room, private function rooms, and heated patio; immaculate lawns and gardens; and a Lakeside Cottage.  Always a favourite for outdoor weddings, Hart House also hosts business lunches and conferences of all sizes, as well as intimate dinners and celebrations.  Our menu changes with the seasons to take advantage of the freshest local ingredients, including herbs from our own on-site herb garden.  Whatever your menu selection, our attentive staff are always happy to recommend wine pairings from our award-winning cellar.

Are You a True Neapolitan – Pizza?

Nicli AnticaHow often have you thought about pizza?  It has a crust, sauce, toppings, herbs and cheese.  Sounds simple, but it takes true skill to make simplicity seem simple, and delicious.  Take into consideration a Neapolitan pizza.

I was invited to learn about Neapolitan pizza at Nicli Antica Pizzeria in Gastown.  The owner, Bill McCaig, undertook training in how to create a true Neapolitan pizza, and gave us an introduction to Nicli Antica Pizzeria and the things he needed to do in order to be certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN).

The making of a “True Neapolitan Pizza” requires strict adherence to the culinary discipline of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, from the preparation of raw ingredients to the cooking method in an approved wood fired oven (Bill purchased his oven from Italy). Only organic “Pomodoro di Napoli”, fresh mozzarella, fresh herbs, and fresh yeast are permitted.  Bill tries to locally sources his ingredients but still does need to bring in some Italian products, such as the cheese.

Pizza fresh from the oven

Pizza fresh from the oven

What is the Verace Pizza Napoletana?

The VPN is an international non-profit association founded in the mid-1990’s by a group of Neapolitan pizzaiolis (pizza makers) seeking to cultivate the culinary art of Neapolitan pizza making. In June 1998, they were officially established as a denomination of control (DOC) by the Italian government, a designation that made the VPN a legal entity able to give special designation to pizzerias who meet strict requirements that respect the tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making. (Source: Association of Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), 1998 Charter).

Making a Neapolitan Pizza

We learned about the steps to make and recognize a Neapolitan pizza.  The dough is made simply from flour, water, and salt, then hand rolled.  Each ball of dough for a pizza is exactly 220 grams. When the dough is rolled out and baked it should be no more than 0.4 cm in the center.  The pizzaiolo pushes the dough from the centre of the pizza to the edges to make a diameter not greater than 35 cm.  The pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven for between 60-90 seconds.  That’s fast!

It is then served without being sliced.  We were told that this is the traditional way from Naples to serve a Neapolitan pizza, as it tends to be a bit wetter.  The wood to fire the oven is any hardwood that does not impart flavour. Nicli Antica uses birch.

The first Neapolitan pizza created was the Marinara pizza, that had for the first time in Europe, tomatoes on the pizza!  The second Neapolitan pizza created was the Margherita pizza, which used mozzarella cheese for the first time, along with tomatoes.

We were served a Margherita pizza and enjoyed it with a glass of Tormaresca Neprica 2011 redwine from the Puglia region of Italy. The pizza crust edge was crispy, the center was wetter than other pizzas I’ve had, but that is OK.  The wetness came from a very fresh, vibrant tomato sauce.  Not spicy or full of herbs, just bright tomato flavour.  On top of the pizza were sprigs of fresh Italian basil.  I probably could have eaten the entire pizza myself.

Margherita pizza at Nicli Antica

Margherita pizza at Nicli Antica

Talking with the Chefs

Bill McCaig trained Chef David Tozer in the intricacies of making a Neapolitan pizza.   David was trained through the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, and worked in various restaurants, including the Rocky Mountain Flat Bread company.

Chef David Tozer with a penchant for pizza

Chef David Tozer with a penchant for pizza

I had a chance to talk with both Bill and David,  finding out the back of restaurant tasks of these men.  I learned about them having to start making the dough at 9am every day, between 40-80 kg, which are then divided into the 22o gram balls.  The tomatoes are all hand crushed, and sounds like very hard work.  An evening’s work can be very taxing; for example on a Friday or a Saturday night, they could produce 250 pizzas each evening.  I can truly appreciate their hard work.  I look forward to trying more of their pizzas over the summer.  Enjoy!

Celebrate Valentines Day at Vicino Pastaria and Deli

Have you thought about what to do for Valentine’s Day?  Taking your significant other out for dinner should be on the top of the list (unless you prefer to cook a dinner), but where to go?  One place may be Vicino Pastaria and Deli in Gastown.  They sent me this information which I am passing along to you.  Pick a nice Chianti and you will be set for a wonderful dinner.  Enjoy!


Vicino Pastaria Room Overview

Vicino Pastaria Room Overview

(Vancouver) – It’s an accepted fact that Italians are amongst sexiest and most romantic people on the planet – they can even claim St. Valentine (San Valentino) as one of their own. Italians are also great cooks who appreciate flavourful food, simply prepared from the freshest, most exquisite ingredients. On the Sagra of San Valentino, chic couples, from Milano to Roma, Venezia to Genova, stroll cobblestone streets arm in arm, in search of small neighbourhood restaurants in which to celebrate the day with a seductive dinner.

You don’t have to go as far as the Via Veneto to celebrate Valentine’s Day Italian-style. In Vancouver’s own little corner of old world charm, Gastown (recently named one of the top four hippest hoods in the world), sitsVicino (‘neighbour’ in Italian), an unpretentious restaurant that is very serious about serving beautiful food at reasonable prices. In honour of San Valentino, Executive Chef Chris Picek has created a special five-courseMenu Compreso that pays homage to the arte and amore of eating and living well. It is only available on Thursday, February 14.

Seduction begins with the first spoonful of the Stuzzichino (starter) of leek and roasted garlic soup with crispy duck skin. Next up is the Antipasti (‘before pasta’) course of baked ricotta with caramelized endive, blood orange and fennel pollen dressing. Italians don’t eat pasta on its own as we do, pasta is just one of many courses in a meal and this dinner is no exception. The Pasta course is orzo served with sautéed with Yellowfoot Chanterelles. For the Primi there is a choice betweenRoasted Pork Chop with pepperonata and red wine butter or Ling Cod, with crushed potato, olive tapenade and leek sauce.  Now, if you really want to dine like an Italian, this is the point at which you insert an optional cheese (Formaggi) course. However, if that seems like too much, then linger over Dolci – a rich chocolate spice cake.  Raise a glass or two of vino (Vicino is now licensed), to San Valentino, and end with an espresso.

Then stroll arm and arm over Gastown’s cobblestone streets and imagine you’re in the Brera. What happens after that is up to you.

Menu Compreso: $55 for five courses.
Optional Formaggi:  $10

Where We Are

68 East Cordova Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1K2
604-336-0042 /

“He Said, She Said” Wine Seminar at Taste of Tulalip 2012

Rub foreheads at Taste of Tulalip

The Taste of Tulalip is right around the corner; November 9 and 10, 2012. It has a Celebration Dinner, a large Tasting Room, plus many smaller food and wine events.  One of these events is the “He Said, She Said” wine seminar.  The event, an interactive panel of 5 top wine makers, quizzing Tulalip Resort Casino Sommelier Tommy Thompson and Leslie Sbrocco (a.k.a Head Thirsty Girl).  More details about this event are below, straight from the Taste of Tulalip.  IF you have not bought tickets for this event, or any of the other events, buy them ASAP, as they will sell out, and they are all fantastic!  Here is the link to tickets.


Tulalip, Washington — Tulalip Resort Casino Sommelier Tommy Thompson has devised an exuberant way to learn about wine at the 4th annual Taste of Tulalip on November 9th and 10th.  Attendees will have a chance to rub foreheads with two of the greatest wine minds around:  racy wine raconteur Leslie Sbrocco (a.k.a Head Thirsty Girl) and wine wizard Tommy Thompson (Tulalip’s Head Drinks Dude).  The duo will emcee a fast-paced, fun-filled discussion, “He Said, She Said” – an interactive wine journey, along with a panel of five top winemakers from around the globe.

Lucio Gomiero, Vignalta Pinot Bianco ‘Agno Casto’, Veneto, Italy, 2010
Vignalta was founded by Lucio Gomiero in 1980 and is located in the northern Italian region of  Veneto, in an area called Colli Euganei. Before Lucio came on the scene, these wines could best be described as underachievers. Lucio saw the potential in the unique soil and topography of the land, treating his vineyards as if they were on French Bordeaux Grand Cru estates (which he emulates).  He is now the recognized champion of the area, just as Angelo Gaja is in Piedmont and Robert Mondavi was in Napa.

Marc Perrin, Famille Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel  Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Vielles Vigne’ Roussanne, France 2009
It is no coincidence Famille Perrin is the leading organic wine grower of the Southern Rhône Valley, where they occupy the region’s best terroir. Their values have given them a worldwide reputation for excellence: absolute respect for the soil, a commitment to manual methods and a deep belief in organic viticulture. Nature and tradition are key to the Famille Perrin way and this approach has continued seamlessly over five generations.  Each wine is unique; organic and biodynamic approaches are used, as Perrin has mastered the art of blending and bringing out the freshness of the Southern aromas.

Ron Penner-Ash, Penner Ash Pinot Noir ‘Pas de Nom’, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2009
The winery’s self-avowed “mature cellar rat,” Ron loves the physicality of winemaking. Along with his cellar work and vineyard management, he has always been fascinated with technology and innovation. During his 20 years as a public school teacher in California and Oregon, Ron’s interest in technology and its potential classroom impact led to a collaborative grant with Oregon Public Broadcasting. “The wine industry’s annual cycle parallels that of teaching,” Ron says. “I’ve learned that Mother Nature can be more demanding than a pre-adolescent drama queen.”

Sean Boyd, Woodinville Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc, Washington State 2008
Boyd joined Woodinville Wine Cellars in 2002. Growing up in a Californian family surrounded by gourmet food, fine wines and journalism (his father is a professional wine critic), Sean began cultivating his craft at an early age. After working for five years at a California wine shop, Sean left home at age 20 to learn the art of fine winemaking. He traveled the world, visiting leading viticulture areas such as Australia, Portugal, Spain and New Zealand where he worked for several prominent wineries.

Heidi Barrett, La Serena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California 2008
Barrett grew up in a Napa Valley winemaking family, and great genes have helped her to become one of California’s leading winemakers. It is said that winemaking is a combination of science and art. With a scientist-winemaker father (Richard Peterson) and an artist mother, it is no surprise that Heidi was drawn to the industry. With great enthusiasm, a love for what she does and an incredible wealth of experience, she blends the art and science of winemaking like few can.  Heidi has been responsible for some of California’s most notable cult wines, including but not limited to: Screaming Eagle, Della Valle Vineyards, Grace Family Vineyards, Amuse Bouche, Showed Vineyards and Fantasia. She is a consultant for Diamond Creek Vineyards and Niobium-Coppola, and has her own wine label, La Serena.

Where, When, and How Much?

Leslie and Tommy’s “He Said, She Said” seminar will take place on Saturday the 10th at 11:30 am in the Canoes Cabaret.  It is offered as part of the Taste of Tulalip 2012 “All Access Pass” priced at $225 per person (which also includes a cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the Private Magnum Party in the Impulse Lounge and the Grand Taste). More information and ticket purchase for the November event is available at .

La Stella Mosto Cotto and Olive Oil – Premium Foodie Products

You may know of Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries as high quality French and Italian style wines coming from the Okanagan. But you may not know that they also provide olive oil and now Mosto Cotto from Italy!

What is Mosto Cotto?

La Stella Mosto Cotto

Well you probably have heard of Balsamic Vinegar.  Mosto Cotto isn’t the Balsamic Vinegar that you normally get in the grocery store.  According to Wikipedia Balsamic Vinegar is “…is made from a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The resulting thick syrup, called mosto cotto in Italian, is subsequently aged for a minimum of 12 years in a battery of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. The casks are made of different woods like chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and, in the past, juniper. True balsamic vinegar is rich, glossy, deep brown in color and has a complex flavour that balances the natural sweet and sour elements of the cooked grape juice with hints of wood from the casks…”  This reduced grape syrup, Mosto Cotto can be enjoyed on it’s own rather than further process/age it into top quality Balsamic Vinegar.

I was fortunate today to sample some La Stella Mosto Cotto on it’s own.  It was deep orangy brown in colour.  A very intense molasses nose which with air, added a dill component. Quite sweet and sour at the same time on the palate.  Medium minus body with  burnt sugar / caramel flavour. The higher acidity of the Mosto Cotto keeps it lively in your mouth.  Long lasting finish.   The grapes to produce their Mosto Cotto are biodynamically farmed and certified.

What would you serve with Mosto Cotto? I was told by Rasoul from Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries that in Italy he has seen the Mosto Cotto dissolved in soda water as a drink, and put on shaved ice.  It could be drizzled onto vegetables and polenta. If you are more ambitious you could take the jus from a roast beef, add some mosto cotto and reduce this down and serve on the roast beef.  Mosto cotto is very versatile.

La Stella Olive Oil

La Stella Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil Intensivo

I was first introduced to the La Stella Olive Oil last year, but by that time it was completely sold out.  This year the olive oil has just arrived, so there is time for me and you to purchase a bottle. It is also organically produced.

The oil was deep lemon in colour. It had an artichoke, grassy, mineral nose. Very full bodied and round on the palate with a very spicy finish.  Their olive oil is called “Intensivo” and yes I agree that it really is intensive.  Use sparingly as a condiment as it really is quite peppery.  This would be wonderful drizzled on vegetables, or in dishes where the oil would not be overcooked or competing with too many other spices.  You really want to enjoy the flavour of this olive oil.

Where can you buy these two products?  There will be a small allocation to some specialty grocery stores in the Vancouver area.  The easiest way would be to order these through Le Vieux Pin / La Stella. Email

Check Out the New Food Menu at Poor Italian Trattoria Ristorante

Poor Italian sign

I love Italian food and Italian wine; and was thrilled to be invited to try the new menu items from the Poor Italian Trattoria Ristorante on 3296 E 1st Ave Vancouver. In case you didn’t know, this restaurant is owned by Tony Parsons, the TV news announcer that has been gracing the Vancouver airwaves for many years.  The restaurant has a very cosy feeling with landscape paintings hanging on the walls, Italian pottery scattered throughout the restaurant, and rustic terracotta coloured walls.

Arriving there, I was offered a nice light, dry sparkling Italian Prosecco while the appetizer-sized plates of the new courses were brought in for us to try.  The dishes we tried were:

  • Roasted butternut squash soup with acacia honey, Dungeness crab and grape seed oil.
  • 3 types of Bruschetta. House made crostini with i) traditional fresh tomato, basis and olive oil, ii) chopped mushroom medley with porcini and truffle, and iii) tuna with olive oil marinated artichoke hearts.
  • Beef Carpaccio made with AAA Alberta beef , finely sliced and served with truffle aioli and Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Crab Cake with Scallop.  A giant diver-harvested Atlantic scallop balanced over a fresh Dungeness crab cake, served with a spicy pomodoro sauce and micro greens.
  • Ricotta and spinach filled ravioli in a tomato sauce.
  • Paccheri pasta and spicy Italian fennel sausage, with caramelized onion and San Marzano pomodoro sauce.
  • Braised boneless beef short ribs with roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula and gorgonzola risotto
  • Deep fried cannoli tubes topped with marscapone cheese and chocolate
  • Lemon ice cream in a miniature ice cream cone


Trio of bruschetta

All the food we were served was delicious.  The first 4 items fall into the appetizer category. The butternut squash soup was very creamy and went very nicely with the pieces of Dungeness crab.  If you would like an appetizer, the trio of Bruschetta are all tasty.  The traditional tomato one and the mushroom medley both had a good amount of garlic, while the tuna one was light and citrusy flavoured. If you are on the more daring side, you may want to try the beef carpaccio.  This is thin raw slices of beef, topped with the garlicky truffle aioli and sharp Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. If you are a seafood lover, then try the crab cake with scallop.  The scallop slice was expertly grilled so it was still soft and juicy, and placed on a skewer atop the crab cake. The fresh hand-made crab cake was also cooked so it had a nice amount of crunchy texture, and tender inside.

Main Courses

Paccheri pasta and spicy Italian fennel sausage

The main courses covered 2 types of pasta and one risotto.  The ricotta and spinach filled ravioli in a tomato sauce could have been my overall favourite dish.  It was also the most simple.  The ravioli pasta was cooked perfectly al dente (as was the other pasta).  Inside was a mixture of ricotta cheese and spinach.  A simple tomato sauce was a nice complement to the richness of the ricotta and spinach filling. The Paccheri pasta and spicy Italian fennel sausage were very nice.  I had not seen or heard of Paccheri pasta before.  It looks like a very wide flat noodle that is rolled.  On top of this was the Italian fennel sausage and the spicy tomato sauce.  The pasta held the sauce nicely even though it was smooth. I think the amount of surface area covered by the pasta, allowed the sauce to adhere to the pasta.  Lastly the braised boneless beef short ribs was very rich and flavourful with a gravy/reduction made with roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes. To this was a creamy, rich gorgonzola risotto.  The gorgonzola was not overpowering so do not worry if you are not a blue cheese fan.


Deconstructed dessert cannoli

The two desserts were both delightful. The first was a deconstructed dessert cannoli.  The cannoli tube was sliced into triangular pieces then deep fried, and topped with marscapone cheese and chocolate.  Nice texture between the crunchiness of the cannoli and the creaminess of the cheese. The lemon ice cream in a miniature ice cream cone was a simple dessert, but very refreshing with the citrus flavour cleansing your palate after trying the other dishes.

If you are wondering about their wine list, they have a wide selection of wines by the glass, which is important I think to keep you safe when you drive after your meal.

Sparkling Wines

  • Pergola Prosecco Brut DOC (Italy)
  • Mionetto Prosecco Brut DOC (Italy)
  • Sumac Ridge Stellars Jay Brut 2006 (BC)

White Wines

  • Valle d’Oro Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2009 (Italy)
  • See Ya Later Ranch Gcwurztraminer (BC)
  • Anil Macabeo 2009 (Spam)
  • Mt. Fishtail Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Pentage Pinot Gris VQA (BC)
  • Dr. Loosen Riesling (Germany)
  • Tommasi Le Rosse Pinot Grigio DOC 2009 (Italy)
  • Bourgogne Montvallon Chardonnay 2009 (France)
  • Di Lenardo Pinot Grigio IGT (Italy)
  • Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino DOC 2009 (Italy)

Red Wines

  • Cecchi Chianti DOC 2009 (Italy)
  • Valle d’Oro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2009 (Italy)
  • Cal y Canto (Tempranillo – Syrah – Merlot) (Spain)
  • Rosso Bello R0ss0 Piceno DOC (Italy)
  • Di Majo Norante Sangiovese IGT (Italy)
  • J. Lohr Cypress Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California)
  • Lucky Country Shiraz 2008 (Australia)
  • Kettle Valley Merlot 2007 (BC)
  • Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008 (California)
  • Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir 2008 (BC)
  • Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Super-Tuscan IGT 2008 (Italy)
  • Tedeschi San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso DOC 2008 (Italy)
  • Cantine di San Silvestro Barolo DOCG 2006 (Italy)

I would recommend going to the Poor Italian.  As I mentioned, I really liked their pasta.  They have a wide range of appetizers to start off a nice lunch or dinner with friends or family.  Enjoy!