*** Had my cold not devolved into something worse, I wouldn’t have gone on such a blogging hiatus, especially with a fun foodie event to post about. But I appear to be on the upswing now, and can stomach looking and talking about all things food again! ***
‘Tis the season for food and drink events around Vancouver. From Dine Out Vancouver to Tales of the Cocktail (wish I could afford the $155 price tag for this one!), there is something to tickle every taste bud out there. Not all of them are in my price range, but when I found out I had won tickets to Taste BC 2011 from Follow Me Foodie, a wine tasting charity event for BC Children’s Hospital’s Oak Tree Clinic, I made sure I had the night off work to get dressed up and enjoy some of BC’s finest wines, spirits, and eats.
Taste BC 2011 was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver in the Regency Ballroom. Fun trivia fact – this was also the location of my Grade 12 Graduation dinner and dance way back in the day. Seemed only appropriate that my date for the evening was a fellow foodie I graduated high school with – Jill from Jill’s Test Kitchen.
Jill elected herself scribe for the evening, marking down each of the wines we tasted. Which was a good idea, because there were 60+ wineries each sampling multiple wines, plus some local breweries and spirit distilleries. There’s no way we’d be able to keep all those sips straight by the end of the evening. We also decided to limit our tastings to one type of wine each – I would be in charge of reds while Jill would be in charge of whites. We skipped out on all of the beers, since neither of us are really beer fans.
I wish I could say I had photos of everything I tasted and detailed notes on them. But that’s not how I roll. Not to mention the lighting was horrible, and it was really hard to carry around my purse, a plate, a wine glass and wield a camera while wearing heels and becoming increasingly tipsy. But I shall do my best to describe some of the highlights.
Benton Brothers Fine Cheese – delicious local BC cheeses. You can’t have a wine tasting without a little cheese, can you?
I enjoyed a goat brie that was creamy and amazing.
The Butcher – as the name implies, a location for locally sourced artisan and ethical meats. I pass by their store almost every day on my way to and from school, but of course, have never stopped in.
They were sampling locally made salami and chorizo, as well as some pork spread-like item (I forget the name), and more cheese!
All lovely, especially the pork mixture.
Therapy Vineyards – a winery who’s bottles I’ve always eyed up, but never purchased. I tried the 2008 Freud’s Ego, which they describe as “ripe dark berry, chocolate, vanilla, balanced with earthy notes, integrated tannins and long on the finish.” I would concur, and completely enjoyed this wine. I would pick up a bottle if I were to see it.
Left Coast Hemp Vodka – how could I pass on a locally made vodka, that couldn’t be any more quintessentially west coast hippie if it tried?!
Fortunately it didn’t make me want to sport dreads, stop bathing, and wear patchouli. Also fortunate was that it tasted quite good. As I don’t often drink my vodka straight up, it’s hard to give it a true rating, but I could definitely taste the hemp essence in there. They say it lends a more oily finish to the vodka as well. Maybe that’s why it went down so easily? ;)
Forbidden Fruit Winery – a variety of fruit wines. I tried the Cerise D’Eve Red Cherry Port Style 2009, which was a sweet, flavourful dessert wine. I was impressed. Little did I know there were better fruit wines yet to be had.
Central City Brewing – they were serving up grilled cheese with stout cheddar, beer bacon, and what I call the “tomato soup orb”. Molecular gastronomy? Sign me up!
Hmmm…I don’t know how I feel about this.
It wasn’t bad. But I’m not sure how I feel about soup that explodes in your mouth.
Rustic Roots Winery – hands down my favourite. And they won Taster’s Choice for their 2009 Santa Rosa dessert wine. They are an all organic fruit winery with some amazing varieties, and great people presenting their wines. I loved the 2009 Plum Rosé – such a unique table wine with hints of grapefruit. I also tried out the Santa Rosa (great with chocolate), and the Mulberry Pear (also delicious). I will be tracking these wines down to have on hand.
And then there were the oysters…
Rodney’s Oyster House had set up an oyster shucking table that attracted quite the line up.
Fresh oysters on the half shell for free? Hells yeah!
With plenty of toppings to choose from.
We may have gone back once…or twice.
Salty, fresh, little shots of oyster goodness.
If the raw oysters haven’t creeped you out yet, perhaps this headcheese will. And yes, I tried it. And you know what? It was good! Even if I could probably never bring myself to actually purchase headcheese.
I was also able to try out some mead from Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery. It was alright, but I’d rather have wine.
Another bite, courtesy of Central Bistro – fig and tomato braised lamb on a taro chip. Lamb and taro? Yes please. This was melt in your mouth delicious.
There were so many more wines and bites had throughout the evening. Here’s the list of wines and spirits I was able to tryout:
- Eau Vivre Gewurztraminer 2008
- Elephant Island Crab Apple 2009
- Elephant Island Cassis 2009
- Ex Nihilo Vineyards Night 2006
- Forbidden Fruit Winery Cerise D’Eve Red Cherry Port Style 2009
- Hillside Estate Merlot 2008
- Laughing Stock Portfolio 2007
- Laughing Stock Blind Trust 2008
- Mistaken Identity Abbondante Rosso 2008
- Mistaken Identity Charmela 2009
- Rustic Roots Plum Rosé 2009
- Rustic Roots Santa Rosa 2009
- Rustic Roots Mulberry Pear 2008
- Stag’s Hollow Con-Fusion 2009
- Therapy Vineyards Freud’s Ego 2008
- Tugwell Creek Meadery Vintage Sac 2007
- Tugwell Creek Meadery Brazen Blackberry 2008
- Victoria Gin Oaken Gin
- Left Coast Hemp Vodka
- Schramm Vodka
And all on a school night!
Needless to say, after all of our liquid indulgence we were in need of a little sustenance. We had hoped the Japadog stand would still be open, but it wasn’t, so we hit up the Cactus Club across the street from the hotel.
It may have been Bellini Tuesday (only $5.99!)
We eventually decided to share a couple of appetizers.
Korean style BBQ pork lettuce wraps – braised pork shoulder shredded, Asian slaw, kimchi, chopped ginger and green onion, korean chili bean sauce, spicy yogurt.
Tuna tataki – locally caught Oceanwise seared albacore tuna, green papaya slaw, orange, avocado, pine nuts, yuzu vinaigrette.
It’s no Japadog, but it would do ;)
Overall, I was very impressed with the whole Taste BC 2011 event. It was a great way of tasting many of our local wineries, and such a good value for your money (tickets were $49.99, which I would consider a steal). I would definitely pay retail to attend again next year. I would like to see more local restaurants showcased there, as I felt it would have been nice to have a few more eats to go along with all of the wines. Would have loved to bid on some of the silent auction items (hello, signed Canucks jerseys!), but they were completely out of my student budget price range. I would also come a bit later in the evening to not miss out on the door prizes, and would try and take better tasting notes (as well as my good camera). Hopefully Jill and I can make plans to attend again next year!