Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Preservatory Cookbook!

The Preservatory - Cookbook!

It's happening - Finally! I think I started a proposal about five years ago - it took a few glasses of wine and a good friend to convince me to send it off - that was last July! It took a full year to hash out the details and sign the contract, with RANDOM HOUSE!!

Completely surreal, very exciting and completely overwhelming now that I have a deadline! The photo shoots have begun, we have two under our belt now and the pictures are amazing, I'll post teasers as we go.

The Preservatory cookbook will have 75 recipes FOR preserves and another 50 recipes WITH preserves. I'm including about 20 recipes of preserves that we currently produce and am creating the others as we speak - this is by far my favourite part of the process. The preserves will of course be seasonal, so the clock is ticking to get the summer fruit into jars and onto the page.

Stay tuned for more updates and few recipes to test out...

Behind the scenes with Janis Nicolay - photographer extraordinaire!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Big Fat Weekend...

I love to travel. I love to eat. I mostly travel TO eat. Seriously, I have no interest in visiting places that don't offer me less then five options for amazing food a day. The obvious locales are my favourites ...Paris, New York, San Francisco but I've become very good at seeking the obscure.

Tricks of the trade-

Rarely trust a concierge
Always trust a bartender
Never trust Yelp
Walk between meals if possible - even if its Chicago in February and -38

I keep notes on my iPad for each city, whenever I stumble across a mention of somewhere interesting I make a note to research further. I have a few sources I check first and if not recommended by at least three, I pass.

I have a strong preference for casual dining and by that I mean no elaborate 20 course tasting menus , unless you're at Stone Barns in NY or French Laundry in Napa, both bucket list meals and not for the days when you're doing 5 restaurants!

The hard part is narrowing down your choices, I hate missing out on a dish.  I also have a bad habit of finding somewhere amazing and wanting to go back and order that same thing over & over. I try and limit this to no more then 3 repeats a trip  - but it's HARD...especially the Gnudi at Spotted Pig
and the Pork Buns at Momofuku, and the roast chicken at Zuni, and the brandade at Le Comptoir...sorry I'm sitting on an airplane eating "artisanal" cheese that tastes suspiciously like Cracker Barrel!

Momofuku Pork Buns & Singapore Sling Slushie

I'm on my way to NYC for the annual Summer Fancy Food show, when I told the border guard I was going the 'fancy food show' he actually laughed, I informed him it's a real thing and after chatting more he ask for my business card so he could bring his wife to the farm to try out barrel diving!

Travelling is a bit stressful for me, not the flying and getting through security, but deciding which restaurants I'm going to get I make reservations? That's a big commitment for me and most of my favourite meals have been sitting at the bar....but, do I take a chance and not get into the more 'hot' places? I usually end up with  a few late night reservations allowing me to get a couple 'appie hours' in beforehand. I only have two reservations booked for this trip and one is a repeat...Il Buco Alimentari and I'm going back for the deep fried baby artichokes! Can. Not. Wait. The other was recommended to me last time I was in ny by the food editor of a very fancy magazine, so I'm pretty confident I won't be disappointed I researched five other sites, just to be safe :) oh and I'm going to the Spotted Pig as soon as I land...that Gnudi better be on the menu still!

Il Buco Alimentari - Crispy Artichokes

Happy travels - Lee

The Breslin's - Curried Lentils & Poached Eggs

Saturday, February 09, 2013

PIZZAM! Pizza & really!

Pizzam! Proof that not all crazy ideas are all that crazy...

How it all began...
Last year at Feast of Fields, actually two years ago, but I digress...Mary from Terra Breads and I decided to collaborate on a crazy idea...she was making amazing pizzas in her AWESOME 'husband-built' pizza oven and I was making 'PB&J' sandwiches for the event, they were actually Brioche with Spiced Walnut Butter & Plum Vanilla & Star Anise Preserves and pretty tasty...
Anyways, we combined the two and made a few PBJ pizzas...THEY.WERE. AMAZING!

Moving along...
Patrick & I were on a sales trip in Whistler (yes, I know that sounds rough) and stopped for a snack in the lobby of the Four Seasons and shared a couple flatbreads that were on special, best bar snack ever!

Next thought....
We should make flatbreads for the Picnic's at Vista D'oro, oh and we should use our jam as a base...oh and like those pizza's in Provence, we can garnish with dressed greens....

This is what transpired one night in the kitchen....
Mise en Pizzam!

Simple Pizza Dough (you could easily use frozen)

Apricot Tarragon & Riesling Preserve with Duck Confit

Heirloom Tomato & Chile Preserve with Pancetta, Bocconini & Fresh Tomatoes

Green Tomato & Garam Masala Preserves with Italian Sausage, Fromage Fraise & Cilantro
My Fav!

Green Walnut & Grappa Preserves with Truffle Salami, Fermier Cheese, Frisee

Finished Tomato & Chile Pizzam with Fresh Basil

Finished Apricot & Duck Pizzam Garnished with Fresh Tarragon

So now all I have to do is get Mary's husband to build me a pizza oven for the deck and we'll be in business! Or win the lottery and build a Pizzam Truck modelled after the Del Popolo truck! (Google it!) Hey a girl can dream!

The Pizzam Menu

Figs & Walnut Wine Preserve with
Proscuitto, Blue Cheese & Arugula

Heirloom Tomato & Chile Preserve with
Pancetta, Bocconcini, Fresh Tomatoes & Basil

Green Heirloom Tomato & Garam Masala Preserve with
Italian Sausage, Fromage Fraise, Cilantro

Green Walnut & Grappa Preserve with
Truffle Salami, Fermier Cheese, Frisee

Apricot Tarragon & Riesling Preserve with
Duck Confit, Alpine Gold Cheese & Fresh Tarragon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get out to the Farms!

As spring seems to have finally decided to show it's warmer side, we come out of hibernation and look forward to the arrival of those first fresh local culinary treasures and begin seeking them out. The best way to discover these delicious offerings is to head out to the country and visit the farmers and vintners that are producing them.

While agritourism may have it’s roots in Italy – British Columbia has wasted no time adopting the term and lifestyle, nowhere is this more apparent then in the farms and wineries across this beautiful province. Agritourism offerings are as diverse as the landscape they rest on; from corn mazes with your kids to barrel sampling with the vintners, the choices are truly endless.
Preserving Krause asparagus at Vista D'oro

Food and wine go hand in hand and culinary agritourism and wineries are a match made in heaven. Agritourism on wineries comes in many forms; from culinary classes and vineyard tours to fully gourmet-stocked tasting rooms and overnight stays amongst the vines, the wineries are taking the ‘experience’ to whole new level.

A trip to the Fraser Valley uncovers many of these experiential destinations.  With over ten wineries from Richmond to Chilliwack, and endless farms stops along the way, it’s easy to plan a full day out in the country and come home with edible delicacies and local wines to stock your pantry and cellar for months to come.

Farmhouse Cheese - always on the picnic menu!

At The Farmhouse Natural Cheese in Agassiz, view cheese makers turning fresh ‘from the cow’ milk into beautiful artisanal cheeses, then take a stroll around the farm to meet the cows and goats that make it all possible. Stop in at Krause Berry Farms to get the first crop of asparagus and pick your own ripe strawberries then head in and watch those same berries being made into fresh baked scones in their farm kitchen, melt in your mouth deliciousness!

Thomas Haas treats in the Farmgate Shop
Warning: Shameless plug about to begin… At our own farmgate shop and winery, Vista D’oro Farms in Langley, alongside our wines, we feature culinary products made on our farm using our orchard fruits as well as produce from other local farms. We also stock other great local products including artisanal cheeses, charcuterie as well as local chef produced delicacies such as Thomas Haas chocolates, Terra Breads baguettes and crackers, and Tequi-Lime Sauces from Chef Ann Kirsebom.

Picnic under the walnut tree with a view of the vineyard.
Vista D’oro also offers picnic-ing under the walnut trees or on our deck, produced in our commercial kitchen incorporating fresh local ingredients into our menus.  Using products grown or produced on our farm as well as many other local farms alongside a glass of Vista D’oro wine, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

The Fort Wine Company in Fort Langley offers delicious fruit wines and has another lovely spot for romantic picnics. They also offer tours of the farm and winery and a lovely bistro in the tasting room.

First blooms on the apple trees!

Take the time to meet with the people providing these experiences they are a passionate bunch who truly love what they do and only too happy to share it with you.
Come and hang out on the deck!
Be sure to check out for more stops in the Fraser Valley!

With so many unique agritourism experiences to choose from your hardest task will be convincing yourselves to come back home. Careful, you may end up like us, never leaving the farm!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Farming in Louboutins


I don’t know many women who aren’t a least a little shoe crazy, so honestly my addiction doesn’t make me feel too guilty. I mean really, who doesn’t get a little excited when you see that tell tale red soul of a Louboutin?

Yes, I realize I’m a farmer by day, however I love a dressy night out. My retirement plans include a pied-à-terre in Paris, with a closet dedicated solely (pun intended) to the aforementioned footwear, so it only seems right to begin the collection now, because let's face it, on a farmer's salary, Louboutin’s put a serious dent in the ‘marketing’ budget and it’s going to take a few years to accumulate enough of these beauties to fill said closet.

My first pair have their own dedicated shelf in my office, where I can keep a close eye on them as well as use them as inspiration to work a little harder everyday!  When we were about to launch the D'oro fortified Walnut Wine to trade and media, I realized the time was ripe for purchase, I mean I had to convey the new winery ‘brand & image’ right? They came to me through a lovely sales lady at Holt Renfrew, home of the coveted Pink bag, she even sent a lovely note the following week to see how the two of us were making out.

Convincing the accountant and auditor of this purchase was another matter entirely and I still think they missed the true value and meaning of that purchase, but a girl’s gotta try right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Turkish Fig with Walnut Wine - Artisanal Preserve

The only way we were able to, legally, sell our D'oro (fortified Walnut Wine) for the first 5 years, was to incorporate it into a preserve. My first fresh fig experience took place in the backyard of one of my Italian uncles, who grew massive amounts on a postage stamp lot in Burnaby, a city in BC, which, likely, has the most fig trees per capita in North America! I wanted to capture that fresh 'seed crunch' taste of figs and combining it with the richness of the walnut wine, we ended up with a preserve that is as delicious served as a condiment on a cheese board as it is slathered over a grilled pork tenderloin.

Customers are constantly sharing their favorite combinations and pairings of our preserves, and more times than not, it involves the Turkish Fig with Walnut Wine. This past weekend, a lovely lady and great friend, Wendy Taylor, told me her latest creation incorporates the preserve into a vinaigrette she serves over a decadent salad of Arugula, Proscuitto and Blue Cheese....seriously? Can NOT wait to try this!

Other ways of incorporating the preserve...

Fig Loaf - Replace the mashed bananas in banana bread with the same amount of Turkish Fig w/ Walnut Wine for a rich loaf, smear with Mascarpone for a truly over-the-top treat

Panini - Turkish Fig w/ Walnut Wine, Tiger Blue Cheese, Proscuitto

Stilton Cheesecake topped with Turkish Fig w/ Walnut Wine

Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette - Combine Turkish Fig w/ Walnut Wine with Balsamic and Olive Oil for the above mentioned salad.

I'd love to hear if you've done something great with our preserves and if you'd like to share the recipe, I'd be happy to post...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vista D'oro in a (Wal)Nutshell

We received our winery license, after a three year wait, in 2007. This has been a labour of love and hate, however, I think we are finally getting into a grove and going into year three will make a difference. The learning curve was steep and a manual on 'how to start a winery in BC without losing your patience and mind' could be a bestseller, if anyone is interested in writing it, I am NOT!

We are no longer hosting cooking classes at the farm, just too crazy making our preserves and baking for the farmgate shop. I hope one day to be able to do both, maybe in the 'Old Dairy Barn' once that project gets going....more on that at a later date.

We continue to operate the farmgate shop on the farm, which is also where the wine tasting takes place. We've increased our local offerings and continue to search out the best artisan products BC has to offer, to accompany our own products. Any and all recommendations are considered, if you know of a great locally produced product, please let us know!

The greenhouse is just getting going again for the season, we have great help this year and hope to have enough heirloom tomatoes to make the customers and the kitchen happy!

Enough about work!

We've welcomed a new member to our family this past Christmas, he's actually been in the family for over 12 years and we're lucky enough to be his new caregivers! Jesse, is a majestic Bay & White Quarterhouse Paint, which my cousin Teresa received through the Make-a-Wish foundation while she was going through cancer treatment at the age of 13. Unfortunately, Teresa never got to ride Jesse....we hope she's happy with his new home!

Roxy, my little Westie (read apartment dog) is adjusting well to farm life, pretty sure she was white when she arrived two years ago...Paris, our 'real' farm dog, has no time for her, but Roxy's not giving up, they WILL be friends, just give her a couple more years!

We are down to one chicken, Chicken Little, who lives with my horse, Rico. She roosts above his stall at night and hangs out on his back during the day, likely how she avoided the fate of the rest of the chickens. She's getting a little grumpy in her old age and I now carry a broom when I feed her, she may be tiny, but she's damn scary up close!

That pretty much gets you up-to-date- on farm life, minus all the details, which may or may not get covered in future posts.