We had high hopes for Vancouver's Tojo's restaurant. It's gotten a ton of press over the years as one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city – though also one of the priciest.
After a rough morning wine tasting around the Boucherie Mountain Bench area of the Okanagan Valley, west of the city of Kelowna, we had to stop for a bite to eat to rejuvenate – and preferably somewhere with a view. The restaurant at scenic Quails' Gate Winery fit the bill perfectly.
Restaurants: Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley, BC: Local food with a view
The Okanagan, a scenic five-hour drive east of Vancouver, boasts some of the loveliest vineyards anywhere in the world. Many of them are on the banks of the Okanagan River and offer sweeping views of the water and the vines, many of which slope down to the river's edge.
To celebrate Jay's birthday in Vancouver, on what was apparently one of the rainiest days on record, we decided to drown our sorrows with some seafood at the Blue Water Café, widely acknowledged as the best seafood restaurant in the city.
Jay and I were excited about visiting the wineries on Vancouver Island this fall because when we'd last gone there two years ago, we'd had some surprisingly good wines, most of which are very difficult to find outside of the area. The wineries on the Island are mainly small-production, family-run places where the owner or another family member is also likely to be pouring your wine, so they're good places to ask questions about the growing and production process.
We decided to try the Richmond branch of the Vancouver mini-chain Kirin, a large restaurant filled with Chinese families on the second floor of a nondescript mall (as most good Chinese restaurants seem to be!). Though Kirin didn't offer the dim sum wheeled around on carts that we love, we were impressed with the huge menu featuring some unusual choices. (And we ended up totally over-ordering.)
In preparation for the Winederlust trip to Victoria/Vancouver/the Okanagan Valley in a few weeks, I’m doing an anniversary blog post on our trip last September to Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, widely regarded as one of Canada’s best restaurants.
That's right. Canada has wine. Gallons of the stuff. And not just Inniskillin Ice Wine found at better boutique wine shops - like Duty Free at JFK. I'm talking some amazing Cabs, Pinots, Zweigelts, Merlots, and Blaufrankischs that rival the best of the US west, Germany and Austria.
If you haven't tried the new Chocolate Cheerios you are missing out on one of the great breakfast pleasures. Sure, they taste like Cocoa Pebbles or the delicious crunchy parts of Count Chocula. They must be healthier...and would you believe they work just as well with a nice merlot from Vancouver Island as they do with cold milk.
We lazily made our way towards the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake stopping to take in a taste of the local grape in an area just south of the lake and west of the St. Catharines referred to as the Niagara Escarpment. This area has shale and limestone cliffs from the glacial movements that provide good drainage for the rain and melting snow and allows the roots of the vines to grow deep. Over 40 wineries have cropped up over the years further establishing the Niagara Peninsula as a strong appellation and the jewel in the VQA crown.