wine

VanFoodster Brunch Crawl – Commercial Drive

As part of VanFoodster’s collaboration with Tourism Vancouver, Richard presents his neighbourhood Brunch Crawl series for Dine Out Vancouver. This past weekend, we were invited to experience some of the finest restaurants on Commercial Drive.

Our check-in location was Federico’s Supper Club, a long time restaurant on the Drive, offering up authentic Italian cuisine complete with live dancing and entertainment almost nightly.

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Federico’s offered a selection of small bites for their Brunch Crawl menu, along with an optional wine pairing. Admittedly, drinking 4 glasses of wine at 10:00am in the morning is a bit early for me.. but what the heck, it’s the weekend!

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From left to right:

  • Crostino con Uova di Quaglia e Proscuitto (quail egg & prosciutto crostino)
    Wine pairing: Prosecco Mionetto
  • Arancini con Percorino saffron risotto ball, Pecorino Romano
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris VQA
  • Crostino al Pesto di Noci, Gorgonzola e Pera (walnut pesto crostino with gorgonzola and pear)
    Wine pairing: Tormaresca Aglianico Trentangeli
  • Crostino di Polenta, Speck e Gruyere (grilled polenta with speck and gruyere)
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA

Just across the street was Fratelli’s Bakery – if this place isn’t pastry heaven, I don’t know what is.

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Fratelli has actually been on Commercial Drive for 20 years, baking Vancouver’s best Italian pastries. Say hello to glass display cases packed with scrumptious bars and squares and pies and tarts of every flavour imaginable.

They also have a second location in Sapperton, New Westminster.

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We were treated a cute package of four items:

  • Espresso almond biscotti dipped in chocolate
  • Mini chocolate salted caramel cupcake
  • Silician cannoli
  • Nutella macaron

The Nutella macaron was my favourite, though the Silician cannoli is a popular favourite as well.

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Next, we visited The Drive Coffee Bar, a European style coffee bar with beautiful wood finishing, artwork lining its walls, and a delicious selection of pastries.

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Here, we opted for a Lavender London Fog (on the left) and a Salted Caramel Cappuccino (on the right). This was a welcome treat in the midst of the cold rainy/snowy weather we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver.

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Vegan cafe Eternal Abundance is a bit of a hidden gem on Commercial Drive, and is both a full-service store and a community gathering space. It operates almost as a one-stop shop, where you could grab a healthy, organic lunch, pick up all your groceries, and perhaps a few delicious vegan treats along the way.

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From Eternal Abundance, we sampled some flax crackers with sunflower cheeze, a kale caesar salad, and a vegan pad thai.

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Our last stop was a tucked away, nondescript nook called Cabrito Tapas, serving Spanish tapas on Commercial Drive. I love the unique painting and artwork on the walls, with intimate seating. For those of you looking to make special Valentine’s Day plans, this would be a lovely option!

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Here, we opted for a Mushroom Benny, with a poached egg, marinated mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and hollandaise sauce, served with bread and salad.

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And with Dine Out Vancouver all wrapped up with their festival, the Commercial Drive Brunch Crawl is a lovely finale to Vancouver Foodster’s Brunch Crawl series.

For his next event, stay tuned for Pizza Palooza, to taste all the best pizzas in Vancouver. Get your tickets here: Vancouver Foodster!

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Why Not? – Quidni Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley

Tucked in the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley, you’ll find a beautiful new winery by name of Quidni Estate Winery.

Founder Marty Gunderson, who actually didn’t know much about wine-making, decided to partake in an adventure to open a winery to bring good people together through outstanding wine because… why not? The word “quidni” means “why not” in Latin – this was the inspiration behind their humble beginning.  Today, each bottle of Quidni wine reflects their philosophy of taking risks, leaving excuses at the door, and living life to the fullest.

Quidni Estate Winery

Quidni Estate Winery has a rustic wine tasting room, an outdoor patio, and three beautiful private luxury suites available for guests. I stayed in Room 1, complete with a king-sized bed, an incredible panoramic view of the vineyards below and mountainside, and of course, a mini-fridge for all of my wine purchases (… sorry wallet!).

Quidni Estate Winery

They offers a fantastic selection of reds and whites, including a few Barrel Selects, and their signature WhyNots. In their few short months of operation since opening in April earlier this year, Quidni has already won four awards for their wines (Viognier, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris Viognier) – surely a testament of winemakers Todd Moore and Robert Thielicke’s expertise. Quidni Estate WineryMy personal favourites are the 2013 Merlot, 2013 Pinot Gris Viognier and the 2014 WhyNot Red & 2013 WhyNot White.

2013 Merlot: This red wine was full of sweet berry fruit aromas, and its full-bodiedness fills your mouth with such richness and opulence. There is also an added depth and complexity, having been aged in French oak.

2013 Pinot Gris Viognier: I was forewarned before my winetasting that this wine had actually sold out only just earlier that day. After I had my first sip, I was sorely disappointed – I would not be able to buy a bottle (or two) to take home! This wine was a wonderful balance of the intense, flavourful Voignier (30%), with the more gentle Pinot Gris (70%), giving it a clean finish that makes it so easy to drink and enjoy.

2014 WhyNot White and 2013 WhyNot Red: The WhyNot White is a blend of the Gewurtztraminer and Riesling – for light, sweet wine-lovers, this is the perfect wine. It has a fruitness that is light on the palate, and as Quidni’s “summer sipper”, would be a fantastic wine to enjoy on a patio on a hot summer day. The WhyNot Red is also a blend, balancing out the full-bodied Merlot, with the light to medium bodied Cabernet Franc, to create a smooth red wine.

An honourable mention goes to Quidni’s 2013 Gewurtztraminer – a wine that is a difficult mouthful only when pronouncing its name. This fruity white wine has notes of sweet grapefruit and lychee, that is crisp and refreshing with its lovely citrus-y finish.

You can browse through and order from their full wine collection online on their website: quidniwine.com.

Quidni Estate Winery

What makes this winery so special were the people that I encountered during the trip. Leanne, a Wine Tasting Associate, kindly guided us through a (non-intimidating) wine tasting, peppered with Quidni tidbits, allowing us to learn more about both the wine and the winery.

Dustin, the self-proclaimed “cellar-monkey”, has such a friendly and vibrant personality, whose passion for wine and the wine-making journey emanates brilliantly through his character. We were lucky to catch him in action, and he was very kind in showing us the downstairs area and cellar where all the action happens, despite it being past closing time. If you have a chance to meet either Leanne or Dustin, I promise you, they will make your journey to the Okanagan Valley worth it!

Quidni Estate Winery

I’m looking forward to seeing Quidni Estate Winery’s guaranteed growth in the upcoming months and years. With the team aiming to double their wine production, a lounge license and a fragrant rosé already in the works, this winery is bound to be the talk of the town. Next time you are in the Okanagan Valley, I would definitely encourage you to drop by and taste their wine. As Quidni’s motto goes … ask yourself why not, and see where it takes you!

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Memory Monday: #ThisIsCocoa!

leonidas party

In honour of Epicentr Academy’s launch on Thursday with this summer’s 15 new recruits, I’m sharing this photo from when I was a Project Manager for Epicentr back in the fall of 2013. My client was Leonidas Chocolate Cafe at Waterfront, and my two community managers and I managed their social media accounts for 8 months.

To promote more engagement for Leonidas’ Facebook & Twitter, our team (with the help of Orane) threw two exclusive media parties called #ThisIsCocoa, complete with Spartan props and party balloons. We tried way too many chocolates, drank way too much wine, and generally just had a huge blast.

After the parties was over, we looked at our Twitter numbers, and ended up with 60+ social media contributors with average 3 tweets each, generating over 380,000 impressions. Not bad at all for a team of 3 social media newbies. #proud