The West Coast Culinary Experience

A press release about a very interesting tasting of BC wines and enjoying culinary dishes prepared at PICA on Granville Island.  Enjoy now till Oct 13, 2019.


PICA (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts) highlights BC’s best in new culinary activity

Vancouver, May 9, 2019 – The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is excited to announce the debut of The West Coast Culinary Experience; an immersive exploration of British Columbia’s vibrant culinary landscape.
From the ocean to the mountains and Okanagan Valley, British Columbia boasts a rich and diverse terroir that produces a vast selection of regional ingredients. The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) will be highlighting the many flavours of the West Coast in their new culinary activity, The West Coast Culinary Experience is available for bookings now until October 13.
Located at the gateway to Granville Island, one of Canada’s most visited neighbourhoods and home to the iconic Granville Island Public Market, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is Vancouver’s leading culinary education center with classes for everyone from aspiring professionals and home chefs alike.
The West Coast Culinary Experience is a deep dive into the flavours of British Columbia and begins with a walking tour of Granville Island. The walking tour weaves through the bustling public market where guests will work up an appetite as they take in the many local artisans and food purveyors from butchers and chocolatiers to bakers and baristas. Tour guides are globally trained chefs, certified sommeliers, food writers, and food experts from PICA, who will answer questions and provide cooking tips, while they point out historical details and reveal hidden, cultural landmarks.
A sommelier-led wine tasting follows the walking tour and features four exceptional BC wines: Mission Hill, Quails Gate, Blue Mountain, and Hester Creek. Guests will experience the province’s different wine regions while learning about grape varieties and what’s new in winemaking during this interactive tasting session.
With thirsts quenched and appetites peaked, up next is a cooking demonstration and tasting. The instructing chef will share best practice for selecting the freshest fish and seafood and demonstrate various cooking techniques. This may include an exploration of traditional recipes from West Coast aboriginal nations or how to clean, filet, and debone a whole salmon. Guests will leave with a better understanding of local seafood and insights on current flavours and cooking styles.
three-course meal at PICA’s Blue Hat Bistro concludes the West Coast Culinary Experience. Guests will have two or three dishes to choose from for each course including vegetarian options.
The West Coast Culinary Experience is an interactive and immersive journey through the traditions, history, and trends of British Columbia’s cuisine. Guests will see, taste, and learn what makes the Vancouver and British Columbia world-class culinary destinations.
The West Coast Culinary Experience is available for booking seven days a week from May 1 until October 13. Tours begin at either 10:00 AM or 3:00 and last approximately 3 hours. Each tour can accommodate up to 16 guests and costs $167 per person before tax. For more information or booking, please call: 604.734.4488 or email: or via eventbrite.

BC Wine Appreciation Society 10th Anniversary Gala – Get Your Tickets

Do you love BC wine, or want to try BC wine?  Here is a great chance at the 10th Anniversary Gala of the BC Wine Appreciation Society.   Their announcement is below.  Enjoy!


BC Wine Appreciation Society logo10th Anniversary Gala-Over 45 Wineries – April 16/15

Broken Rice Modern Vietnamese Food in Burnaby

Burnaby restaurants do participate in Dine Out Vancouver.  Just travel a little east of Boundary and you are in Burnaby.  There are many fine Burnaby restaurants along Hastings Street.  One of these restaurants is Broken Rice, which offers modern Vietnamese food.  They put together a $28 Dine Out Vancouver meal this year.

Broken Rice $28 Menu


Traditional Glass Dumplings Bánh Bột Lọc Steamed tapioca dumplings stuffed with dried shrimp and pork, herb and cabbage salad, Vietnamese pork crackling, nước mắm.


Dragon Fruit Leaf Chicken Salad Gỏi Gà Xé Phay Hand torn free range chicken salad, sesame, pickled radish, pickled dragon fruit leaf, pickled carrot, onion, cabbage, jellyfish, peanut, cilantro, nước mắm, shrimp chip.


Beef Tongue Banh Mi Bao Lưỡi Bò Bảo Slow cooked beef tongue, pickled jalapeño, cucumber, pickled carrots and jicama, garlic aioli, pâté, cilantro.


48-Hour Short Rib Sườn Bò Slow cooked braised short rib, curried kabocha puree, watercress salad, pickled lily stem, red wine reduction sauce.


Chicken Fried Quail Chim Cút Chiên Crispy quail, fish sauce honey drizzle, lime, pea puree, poached scallop, quail egg, xôi gấc (traditional sweet gourd sticky rice).


Poached Sablefish Cá Kho Poached Sablefish, caramelized fish sauce, Vietnamese wing bean, opo squash, rice, lily blossom, tonkin jasmine, lotus chips, pickled papaya, salmon roe.


Rau Câu (traditional gelatin dessert) with jasmine ice cream.

My Review

My guest and I ordered the Glass Dumplings and the Dragon Fruit Leaf Chicken Salad appetizer, the Chicken Fried Quail and Poached Sablefish, and the Rau Câu.

Of the two appetizers, I preferred the Dragon Fruit Leaf Chicken Salad.  It has lots of nice flavours and crunch.  Citrus and herbs, fresh vegetables, and crunchy jellyfish.  A super dish.  The Glass Dumplings were well made, but the dumpling is a bit too thick and chewy for me, and the fish sauce on the dumplings was a little too strong for me.  The herb and cabbage salad was very tasty and very similar to the flavours of the Chicken Salad.

Dragon Fruit Leaf Chicken Salad

Dragon Fruit Leaf Chicken Salad


Traditional glass dumplings

Traditional glass dumplings

For the entrees, both were quite good.  The Chicken Fried Quail had some cinnamon spice to the batter, and tasted similar to the Special Fried Chicken from Tropika Restaurant in Vancouver.  It did have a few too many different components though and could have been simplified a bit, such as dropping the pea puree, or the ramen bowl with scallop.  The Sablefish was poached and nicely soft.  I was a bit worried that it came with a caramelized fish sauce, but the sauce was not fishy at all.  It did have very strong sweet, sour, and peppery flavours.  The presentation and vegetables were perfect support to the sablefish.

Chicken fried quail

Chicken fried quail


Poached sablefish

Poached sablefish

For both the appetizers and entrees, I sipped a glass of Jackson Triggs Pinot Gris. It was very full of stone fruit flavour and soft on the palate, and was a very complimentary wine to our food.

The dessert was Rau Câu (a traditional gelatin dessert) with jasmine ice cream.  The gelatin was a marbled white and brown colour, which when you tasted it, it reminds one of a Vietnamese coffee.  Nice strong coffee flavour.  The kumquat slices, mandarin orange segments, and strawberry were nice fresh notes in the dessert.  Enjoy.

Rau Câu dessert

Rau Câu dessert

My Last Dine Out Vancouver – Sandbar at Granville Island

Sandbar Restaurant boat

This Dine Out venture to Sandbar Seafood Restaurant at Granville Island was a last minute decision.  It was also a lunch decision.  Did you know that many Dine Out restaurants have a lunch menu?  The lunch menu is usually at one price level below the dinner menu, and slightly smaller in portion.  The Sandbar lunch option for Dine Out was $18.  Very good value, for very good food and service I received today.


My lunch consisted of:

  • Lemongrass Braised Short Ribs with 5 spice crushed peanuts, chili scallion relish
  • 4oz Chateau Rib Eye Steak with Tiger Prawns, caramelized onion marmalade, creamed peppercorn demi-glace
  • Spiced Pumpkin Cake with maple frosting

Braised beef short rib


My wine pairing was Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir (sorry I didn’t see the vintage as the wine was by the glass).  This is one Pinot I regularly enjoy from the Okanagan.  The wine had a bay leaf, earthy, cherries and raspberries on the nose, with a big bouquet of violets on the palate.  The high acidity of this wine really went well with the fatty braised short rib appetizer.  The earthy, full flavours of the short rib was a nice complement with the lifted pinot flavours.  The Rib Eye Steak with Tiger Prawn were very tasty.  I especially enjoyed the cedary smoky aroma imparted to the tiger prawn.  The Rib Eye steak was cooked closer to well than to medium well, but was still flavourful. The dessert, the spiced pumpkin cake was very similar in flavour to a carrot cake, but was a bit heavier.  The cake was served cold, and I thought that it might taste just that much better if it was warmed up a bit and maybe served with a bit of vanilla ice cream.

Tomorrow is the last day for Dine Out Vancouver, so go out tonight and tomorrow for dinner, and don’t forget about lunch tomorrow too.  Enjoy!

Celebrating Mardi Gras Food with Wine!

Mardi Gras is coming up on March 8. What food and wine will you be serving? I took a trip to New Orleans, the Big Easy, just before Hurricane Katrina. It was an amazing food experience. Lots of rich and delicious food.

For Mardi Gras, there are some well loved dishes.  I was thinking to tell you about some of them, and then offer some wine pairing suggestions.  And maybe get invited to a few Mardi Gras parties!

What are some Mardi Gras dishes?


  • Oysters Bienville
  • Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
  • Gumbo

The Oysters Bienville dish on the half shell cooked with butter and egg and of course oysters is quite a rich dish.  A riesling or maybe an unoaked chardonnay may pair nicely with this.  For a riesling maybe try a Tantalus Vineyards Riesling from the Okanagan, BC or a Pikes Traditionale Clare Valley Riesling from Australia. For unoaked chardonnay, you could pick a La Chablisienne Chablis from France or Township 7 unoaked chardonnay from Okanagan, BC.

The Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya will be a spicy dish with a tomato based sauce.  A wine with good fruit and low tannins would pair well.  Maybe a grenache or a zinfandel.  On the grenache side, I really like the Sorrento Dry Grown Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia.  I just tried it last month and it is wonderful, lots of red fruit flavours.  Nice raspberry and toffee on the nose and on the palate. If you prefer a garnacha from Spain, try the Las Rocas Garnacha. For a zinfandel Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 or Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2006.

What is gumbo?  Gumbo is a roux-based stew made with andouille sausage, cubes of beef, crab and shrimp. Again this will be spicy.  A New World pinot noir could match well.  From last years Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair, I can recommend the Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007 and the Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007. My wine reviews for these 2 wines are here.  If you want a BC Pinot Noir, try the Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir?  One of my reliable pinots in BC!

In case you don’t have a recipe for these dishes, I’ve added the links for you.

Oysters Bienville


Enjoy these dishes from the Big Easy and these wines from around the world!

What’s my favourite wine?

People ask me quite often, what’s my favourite wine, or what is my favourite wine from a specific region or country.  Do you get that too?  What do you say?

My response is that I have too many favourite wines, which is true.  The thing about wine, is that every vintage is different.  Some years are hot and dry, others are cool and wet, and everything in between.  This makes every vintage unique.  So one year I may like a cabernet sauvignon from one producer, but next year, I may prefer a cab from a different producer.  That’s the beauty of wine.  In this case, I do have a few wineries that I enjoy their wines each vintage.

Some countries have less variability in climate, so the wines are closer in style, body, flavour each year.  Examples would be the Barossa Valley in Australia, or the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  Some producers are Haan, Penfolds, and Thorn-Clarke in Australia, and Montgras, Casa Lapostolle, and Montes in Chile.

Most places do not have the luxury of a predictable climate with a long growing season.  Most areas in France, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest have significant climate variability each year.  So I could list just about every winery I know in this category.  Some wineries do seem to produce better quality wines, due to their vineyard management and their fermentation process and aging.  Those would be a good bet to try for each new vintage.  Other wineries can have an exceptional year and those are the unique finds that are fun to hear about and try, because it would only be around for that vintage.  Some wineries in BC that I really like are La Frenz, Quails’ Gate, Le Vieux Pin, La Stella, Osoyoos LaRose, Tantalus, Mission Hill, Tinhorn Creek, and many more.

So for the cooler climate wines, I’d say the best is to check with the website for my wine reviews, and check other well-known wine bloggers for their reviews, then go try out some wines.  You may also want to  consider attending wine tastings put on by wine societies in your city.  Here in Vancouver we have the South World Wine Society, the BC Wine Appreciation Society, and many others. Enjoy!

An abbreviated list of wines for the holidays

Isn’t technology lovely? Sometimes you spend a long time writing a long blog about wines for the holidays and it doesn’t get saved! Well that just happened to me, so please enjoy this very short version of my wine recommendations.

Wines to take to a host/hostess. Try a wine they would not normally buy but would enjoy. Try a champagne (from France. Try Bollinger, Lanson, Krug, or Taittinger), or a sparkling wine (e.g. a cremant from France, a prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, or a New World sparkling, such as Gloria Ferrer from Napa Valley, or Lindauer from New Zealand).

An ice wine could also be a nice gift. Riesling ice wines are the best in my opinion as the high acidity of this grape complements the sweetness from the grape. Mission Hill and Quails Gate in the BC Okanagan have nice ice wines.

With dinner, assuming you have a turkey feast, try a lightly oaked chardonnay, or a lighter bodied pinot noir. On the chardonnay side try a wine from Deloach in California, Mission Hill Reserve from the Okanagan, or Evans and Tate from Australia. For a pinot noir, try Quails Gate or Mission Hill from the Okanagan, or Villa Maria or Kim Crawford from New Zealand.

People also like fortified / dessert wines. Buller makes a nice Muscat (Australia). You may try a port from Portugal, such as from Quinta do Portal. A full bodied Oloroso Sherry from Spain from Gonzalez Byass.

Enjoy the wines and enjoy the holidays!