2.38pm, Tuesday 27th April, Changi Airport, Singapore, still in transit
This is Voyager One on the home run – having a magnificent cup of TWG (est 1837!) Jasmine Queen Tea – and every one of their teas I’ve tried really are head and shoulders above any other tea I’ve had! Check this back of the tea bag description – “intoxicting jasmine flowers enhance the sparkling elegance of this delicately fashioned green tea”. (They must go to a similar school of writing as a lot of wine back label writers.)
Any rate, I’ve just been off around Terminal 3 for an explore, and I got quite excited because believe it or not … Dunkin Donuts are now here! However – Dave Langford this is for you – their Boston Cream is not the same doughnut here! It’s a thick dry dark not glazed choc icing with a white ripple – definitely not our favourite that we have when we’re working Chicago together! And the vanilla custard cream centre is lighter and sweeter – not the same doughnut Dave! I took one bite and I knew.
Wow, it’s just started to pour outside and it’s 30 degrees C. I’m glad I’m in here. So – to the last couple of days in Vancouver.
Saturday April 24th – Vancouver Wine festival
Here’s how the day went:
11am – 2pm We met up with Tara from MAB (she’s in that photo of the three girls below from the first day we were in town doing the wine speed dating session with our distributor), and she took Kath and me across to the yacht marina just across from where the recent Winter Olympic Village was located. Here you’ll find a double-story restaurant perched on and over the water called Monk McQueens – the venue for this year’s Aussie barbie – a long standing Wine Festival event. The idea here is to put about 35 Australian wineries exhibiting at the Festival around the outside of the room, and folks buy a grazing ticket to try any wines they like, plus a whole lot of “Aussie barbie” finger food.
There was crocodile and kangaroo coming off the grill, little baby lamb shepherds pies, and the mandatory “prawns off the barbie”.
Great day really, and the event was sold out again. It’s always a given that we see a whole pack of folks from the Australian Wine Appreciation Society on this day – they have a crazy staunch chapter up there in Vancouver, and we love ’em! Over in our corner, folks had the added extra of my karaoke version of The Easybeats “Friday On My Mind”, seeing as the music for the day was All Australian, and that’s pretty much my era.
A lot of fun, the Pewsey Vale Contours and 2008 The Scribbler flying high yet again – you know you’re onto something when folks are over “by reccommendation” from other folks in the room to try an aged, dry Eden Valley riesling. So much for the preconceived ideas by a lot of marketing types that consumers only “get” Australian white wines that are simple, slightly sweet, and super fresh. They should have been with us on those 4 Festival days to see how much consistent impact that 2003 Pewsey Vale Contours made. Well done, Lou Rose, and everyone with a hand in whatever happens at Pewsey Vale!
Then we had a big break until the evening session. I went to the shops because SOMEONE at the winery with a massive crush on Michael Buble wanted a hockey jersey from the Vancouver Giants – the team he part owns. Turns out you can usually only get the jerseys at the game – but I got lucky and found the only one in the city! Someone (who helps out a huge amount with my incoming visitor work at the winery) is going to be very happy!
After that – flat out for a nanna nap for a couple of hours.
7 – 10pm The last ‘party time’ Exhibition Tasting Session – open to the general public. It’s a big Saturday night out for folks, and they didn’t let us down, they were out in force.
10pm – We went out for a late dinner to The Flying Tiger over in the Kitsilano part of the city, as we’d met the chef /owner Tina Fineza at Friday’s trade session where she fell in love with The Scribbler. But we were in for a pleasant surprise several ways when we got there, firstly as it turns out she’s had the Y Viognier on the list since she opened the restaurant , secondly because the food was a style we hadn’t struck before in Vancouver and it was sensational. Tina does modern Asian street food, and you know you’re in the right place as you walk in, because it just smells right to start with – like walking into a wall of spice in an exotic way. That probably has a lot to do with the kitchen being wide open to the room. I drove the gals nuts because I wanted to take photos of the dishes that we ordered, and I’ve put in my two super favourites. Mind you, we got an extra treat as Tina came out and explained a lot of what she did on the plate.
The Miso Yuzu glazed smoked sablefish ‘inari’ sushi pockets. We didn’t order this dish, but Tina said we needed to try it because the sablefish is a local thing. But the way it came out is not how it read on the menu. You have to think modern Asian new wave version of a really sharp vol au vant. It’s a small tofu ‘boat’ that Tina fills with nori, sweet peas, and carrot, topped with a piece of smoked glazed sablefish, and garnished with salty pickled ginger. And it works! I tackled it with chopsticks like a large piece of sushi and have to say I never would have ordered it – but now wouldn’t go there without having it.
Duck confit rolls
My other favourite was the Pulled Duck Confit Crepes. The plate comes out as a ‘make em yourself kit’ with the bowl of duck confit, Phillipine lime, Charred scallions, shredded jicama and cucumber salad, sesame oil crepes, and 5 different Asian leaf herbs to add into the ‘roll’. There were two types of Vietnamese mint, as well as a Thai basil and the last two I didn’t pick up. But fresh and light, even given that it’s duck confit. You gotta do the do it yourself crepes.
And I could add the Grilled Korean Kalbi Ribs – quarter inch thin sheets of beef short ribs marinated for 48 hours in kim chee, Korean chilli & sui choy then char grilled to a soft glaze. I’m going to stop now or I’ll be dribbling over the computer keyboard – not a good look! Just go over and drop by if you’re in the mood for a spicy night out, that’s what we did!
I’d love to say I went straight to bed after dinner, but we got back to the Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Bar to find assorted winemakers and our distributor folk all having a quiet celebratory champagne, and we couldn’t not be hospitable, so we did the right thing and waved the Australian and New Zealand flag via Yalumba and Nautilus for about an hour and then it was all over red rover for another year.
Thanks such a huge amount to Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Mark Anthony Brands, and all those folks in Vancouver that have adopted us – you know who you are. I’ve never enjoyed losing my voice as much as I did this trip, and you can absolutely bet on it – We’ll be back!!