Archive for June, 2013


June 29th, 2013

The Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards 2013 the 24th edition of which I am a long time participating judge have just been released. Full details can be found at
Hawksworth cleaned up for the second straight year repeating as restaurant of the year, Gold for best upscale, and chef David Hawksworth again as Chef of the Year. Wonderful fresh & contemporary food that has lightened up on the butter and cream using Pacific & Asian influences. Congrats!
Silver to Blue Water Cafe, Bronze to Diva at the Met, followed by Cioppino’s and West.
In the Casual category (but as I previously advised in an earlier blog all restaurants in Vancouver are casually orientated rather than upscale) gold was awarded to La Quercia, silver to L’Abattoir, bronze to Wildebeest followed by Vij’s and Chambar. Wildebeest also received best new restaurant.
A special must go for me is Cactus Club Cafe winner of gold for Best Casual Chain with that breathtaking view of their brand new Coal Harbour location under inspiring chef Rob Feenie and competent sommelier Sebastien Le Goff.
Pastry chef of the year was again Thomas Haas.
Seafood is important in Vancouver and gold went to Blue Water Cafe, silver to Yew in the Four Seasons Hotel and bronze to Landmark Hot Pot House followed by Tojo’s and C Restaurant.
Food Carts have become very popular for all of us on the move and gold to Tacofino, silver to Re-Up BBQ and bronze to Vij’s Railway Express.
These are the latest hot spots for dining in Vancouver.
Please post your list of the very best restaurants in your city (with or without added comment). Appreciated!

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June 28th, 2013

Not yet a month into 2013 and I already have experienced two 2003 Bordeaux horizontals. The 10 year anniversary retrospective is a traditional one and though perhaps more appropriate for the old style more backward harder tannins higher acidity Bordeaux it still gives a good snapshot of the vintage. Certainly 2003 was very controversial right from the start because of all the hot weather. Remember well the “tropical” storm during Vinexpo on June 24  that in an instant wiped out the black tie dinner of St. Emilion “Millesimes de Collection” set up in two small beautifully decorated outside tents at Chateau La Gaffeliere which was turned into the best wine tasting party in the cellars with only bread and old wines. Tragically this unprecedented European heat wave continued through the summer and in August many people especially in Paris died from it.

This update confirmed my opinion that this is indeed a variable vintage (unlike consistent 2005 & 2009). Certainly it showed the Bordelaise (and Bordelais) that the merlot variety doesn’t like gravel during these now often increasingly hot climate conditions. Seeing much less replanting of merlot on gravelly soil since 2003. The clay soils thrived in 2003 with their ability to retain mositure for the vines – see the success of St Estephe! Also helped at the lower end outlying regions of Bordeaux like Cotes de Castillon, Cotes de Bourg, and Fronsac that often don’t get enough heat for sufficient ripening.

Didn’t try any 2003 Pomerol or First Growths this month but Parker gave Lafite & Latour perfect 100 scores. Generally less impressed with the regions of Pessac-Leognan (Latour-Martillac quite herbal, light and simple), Margaux (but a dark rich impressive Malescot Saint-Exupery), and St Emilion – some riper though alcoholic ones are OK (atypical Petit-Village easy but drying out). My best wines were all from the Northern Medoc showing star quality from several St Estephe, Pauillac and St Julien chateaux. I preferred the AC Pauillac with Pontet Canet concentrated cedar and cassis so classy with some elegance less commonly found in this vintage. Liked both Pichons with the Lalande showing more smooth chocolate to go along with the usual herbal character of this property and the Baron is really outstandingly powerful and ripely dense. My Pauillac sleepers included Duhart Milon (nearly three quarters cab sauv), Clerc Milon, and D`Armailhac.

Hope you have collected some 2003 Bordeaux to try this year.  Let us know your impressions of this vintage with your own favs and please post your comments below.



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June 27th, 2013

We are eating more seafood than ever before with global consumption per person growing from 22 pounds in 1960 to 41 pounds in 2011. Our Chefs’ Table Society of BC launched a Spot Prawn Festival which now in the 7th successful year is very enthisiastically supported. Wonderful sustainable seafood available fresh for about 2 months (May & June) showing those distinctive sweet delicate flavours with a firm texture. Spot prawns are caught fresh daily and sold off the boats to the public at the docks every afternoon during this season.

We work closely with the Vancouver Aquarium and their Ocean Wise Program. Interesting to check out their extensive listing of seafood that is recommended, not recommended or under review on the website

Ocean Wise makes recommendations based on 4 main criteria:

a.  Abundant & Resilient

b.  Well-Managed

c.  Limited By-Catch

d. Limited Habitat Damage

You will note that so many prawns and shrimps are not recommended as well as Atlantic Cod, Atlantic farmed salmon, Blue Crab, and lots of tuna including Yellowfin Ahi. In the Vancouver marketplace Wild Pacific Salmon, Halibut, Farmed Oysters and Sablefish (black cod or butterfish) – no more Chilean sea bass – are all very popular and well supported. Ocean Wise now has more than 450 Canada-wide partners. Quite a few restaurants in Vancouver have gone to using only 100% Ocean Wise recommended products. To find sustainable seafood near where you live, download the Ocean Wise app. This is certainly something important to be aware of when making your own seafood choices. A top 12 in random order of presently recommended sustainable seafood by Ocean Wise:

1. ARCTIC CHAR : Closed-system farmed

2. HADDOCK: North West Atlantic – Handline caught

3. HALIBUT: Pacific – Bottom longline or handline caught

4. SHELLFISH: Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Scallops – Beach or Suspension Farmed

5. SPOT PRAWNS: BC – Trap caught

6. ALBACORE TUNA: BC – Pole or Troll caught

7. COD: Pacific – Bottom longline or trap caught

8. SABLEFISH: Alaska & BC – Bottom longline or trap caught

9. MACKEREL: Atlantic, Pacific, King, & Spanish – Purse seine caught

10. LAKE WHITEFISH: Lake Huron, Superior, & Michigan – Gill net or trap net caught

11. RAINBOW TROUT: Closed-system farmed

12. SALMON: Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, & Sockeye – BC & Alaska – Seine net, gill or troll caught

Please let us know your thoughts on seafood sustainablility and more specifically what seafoods are the most popular in your region.

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June 25th, 2013

The wines of this Jura region are relatively unknown yet are so distinctive always showing their unique terroir. I don’t drink them regularly but one of my favourite pairings during 2012 was a 40 year anniversary bottle of 1972 Vin Jaune D’Arbois from Henri Maire with some hot buttery garlic escargots. We certainly need much more detailed information on this underrated region.

Fortunately there is a credible expert on the region who has come up with an innovative book project for Jura Wines. Check out Wink Lorch on her website of and @WineTravel on Twitter for more information.

Wink posted today on her campaign to fund the production of her book for publication in April 2014. She is using Kickstarter for a fund raising target of 7500 English pounds through individual pledges of various amounts possible from 1 pound to 1500 with various rewards as a result of the amount of your pledge (if average 25 pounds would need 300 people). I believe Wink is very credible and I have pledged my 25 in support and invite you to join in too. The reward is a worthwhile encouragement for a great idea and for 25 pounds delivery of what will be an interesting valuable wine book and 2 PDF Travel Guides. It is also an all or nothing deal so if the budget is not reached you end up paying nothing.  Check out and it is off to an encouraging fast start because right now there already are 74 backers with 2207 pledged towards the 7500 goal with still 27 days to go. Follow the details set out on these postings to become involved in all the excitement.

I worked closely with Wink Lorch as my editor last year on my Monograph “An Appreciation Of The Age Of Wine”  and set out in Author’s Acknowledgements my praise for her laudatory work.

Pleased to receive any feedback you have on sharing your own Jura experiences – either touring or drinking!


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June 25th, 2013

Many of us would consider this question of “what to do with left over wine” to be an oxymoron. What left over wine?

However as more bottles are being opened together either for verticals or horizontals and comparisons of the same varieties from different regions there is often more wine left over at the end of the evening then we expected.  What to do with it?

Several systems are on the market to keep oxygen out including the innovative restaurant-wine bar Enomatic wine dispensing machines. Are you the first in your neighborhood to install one in your home or condo? Ha! Ha!  Simpler Vacu Vin and other pump systems to get the air out or using a canister spray of an inert gas containing Nitrogen or Argon are becoming increasingly popular.

I still use an antiquated series of small bottles. 750 ml for left over Grand Format, 500 ml, 375 ml (if you have no half bottles to drink consider immediately on opening a 750 decanting it into a half for subsequent use and drinking the other half), 250 ml, and petite jam jars or even those miniature airline liquor bottles. Fill them as full as possible, stopper them, and refrigerate them for later drinking! Some of those new screw cap bottles work well for this procedure. The cold temperature helps slow down oxidation but try not to keep them in the frig too long. My system still works satisfactorily for me and some young wines actually do show improvement the next day.

Dessert and Fortified wines – especially Madeira – last better but be careful when opening those special older vintage ports which can change after 24 hours or so and still oxidize rather quickly compared to young table wines.

My better half  Joan has a few tips for using your leftover wine:

Freeze in ice cube trays for later use in your marinades or addition to cooking sauces.

Hold some white wine as a helpful household solvent for help in getting those emergency red wine stains out before they set.

Start your own special homemade vinegar blend.

Please post your comments on what works best for you in either preserving or using left over wine.



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