Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Chefs for Oceans: Vancouver Chef Ned Bell Cycles Across Canada for Sustainable Seafood

Chef Ned Bell of Vancouver is no stranger to spending hours on a bicycle. On his 40th birthday in 2013, he took off on a 4-day, 900-kilometer bike ride across Vancouver Island. It was all about increasing the awareness of our food system.

But that's a spin around the block compared to the adventure he's beginning July 1, 2014. The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and YEW seafood + bar Executive Chef is off on a three-month, cross-Canada journey on his two-wheeler. As the founder of Chefs for Oceans, he's pedaling across the country to support sustainable seafood -- and healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. 

The trip begins July 1 in St. John's, Newfoundland and ends September 11 in Vancouver, BC. Chef Bell will pedal between 140km and 200km each day, and the 7,453km coast-to-coast trip will take 10 weeks to complete. Stopping in major cities along the way, Chef Bell hopes to raise awareness for sustainable seafood through interviews, events and appearances. 
Chef Bell, the father of two sons (Max is pictured above, second from the right), hopes to create a movement that allows Canadians to easily and readily access sustainable seafood. He's also donating a portion of net funds raised from his ride to the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, Sea Choice and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Bell is co-founder of the National Sustainable Seafood Day (NSSD) and member of the Chefs Table Society of BC. 

The Chefs for Oceans ride has numerous backers and sponsors, but there's room for more. Individuals and businesses can support the ride by making a donation, signing the NSSD petition, showing up at one of his events this summer or even riding alongside him when he passes through your city. To donate and get up-to-date details of Chef Bell's most amazing bike ride, go to www.chefsforoceans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @nedbell, hashtag #chefsforoceans.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Life and My Love of Horses: An Exclusive Afternoon with William Shatner at the Calgary Stampede

Who knew that Captain Kirk likes horses? Obviously he does, as William Shatner is a headliner at this year's Calgary Stampede. My Life and Love of Horses: An Exclusive Afternoon with William Shatner is the kick-off event for the 102nd edition of the Calgary Stampede, which runs July 4-13. 

One of the goals of the Calgary Stampede is to make urban and rural connections during the 10-day event. With Shatner being both a Hollywood actor and a passionate horseman, organizers thought he would be the perfect person to make that connection.

The 83-year-old Montreal born actor will appear in the Palomino Room of the BMO Centre on Thursday, July 3 at 3PM. The cocktail-style event will feature commentary from Shatner, followed by a Q&A. Tickets are $305 for General and $405 for VIP -- the latter includes a pre-reception and photo op with Shatner. Tickets are available at the Calgary Stampede website (click on for a fun video featuring Shatner, who will also be the Stampede Parade Grand Marshal on July 4).

Headliner entertainment during the Calgary Stampede includes Shania Twain (July 9-10), Paul Brandt (July 11), Keith Urban (July 12) and Reba McEntire (July 13). 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Black Hills Estate Winery Introduces Joy Road Vineyard Kitchen in Oliver, BC

I was first introduced to Black Hills Winery while on an AUDI road trip with Eric Pateman of Edible Canada. It was a unique and fun way to experience the Okanagan Valley, BC's largest wine growing region. One of my favorite stops was Black Hills Estate Winery. Established in 1996, the 40-acre vineyard's terroir is comprised of desert earth, long hours of sunlight and cool nights. The Bordeaux grapes are hand-picked by the Black Hills team. 

The winery has expanded since my visit in 2007, with the addition of its highly acclaimed Wine Experience Centre. And this weekend, they're introducing the Joy Road Vineyard Kitchen, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine paired with locally sourced food. Joy Road is a catering company that started out selling pastries at farmers' markets. Today, it's known for its Cuisine du Terroir, and they work closely with regional farmers and producers in sourcing fresh, in-season ingredients. 
The unique partnership between Black Hills and Joy Road features a shipping container kitchen repurposed for the patio restaurant. It's equipped with a full kitchen that includes a pizza oven, and is located beside the patio in the vineyard -- hence the name Joy Road Vineyard Kitchen

The seasonal kitchen features a menu that includes hand-tossed pizzas with house cured salumi, local cheese and produce, and Black Hills' wines. The menu will reflect the seasonal offerings, and the hours of the Joy Road Vineyard Kitchen are 11:30AM to 5:00 PM on these dates:
  • June 14 - 29 | Friday-Saturday-Sunday 
  • July 3 - September 1 | Thursday - Monday 
  • September 4 - October 12 | Thursday-Sunday
The Wine Experience Centre is also launching a Sunset Happy Hour series of special events on Thursday-Saturday nights during the summer. From July 1-September 1, guest DJs will spin music by the poolside cabanas from 4-7PM. 2 for 1 wine tasting will be offered to guests along with special food offerings.

Photos by Sue Frause
Poster by Dale Nigel Goble

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quebec's Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac to Reveal $70 Million Makeover

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac on a summer night.  Photo by Sue Frause.
It seems a bit risky to rehab a grande dame such as Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. For more than a century, this castle in the sky has loomed high above the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, welcoming guests from around the world. The hotel got its start in the late 19th century, when Canadian Pacific Railway began construction to create the ideal stopover for its train travelers. Fairmont Le Chateau Fronteac's name is from the flamboyant French goverenor Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, who led the New France movement from 1672-1698. His coat of arms may be seen on the entry arch of the outside wall and in other areas throughout the hotel.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac rises high above Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photo by Sue Frause.
Although there have been numerous expansion projects over the years, the hotel is currently undergoing a $70 million revitalization and modernization. An important element in the renovation is the preservation of its heritage. The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac sits on the sites of the Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux that were the official residence and seat of power of the French and British governors for more than 200 years. While transitioning the hotel's interiors to a more contemporary style, designers will be respectful of the hotel's history while combining historical and modern elements. That will be showcased through heritage elements and positioning of 400-year-old artifacts within specially designed windows.

Sunrise on the St. Lawrence River from the Fairmont Le Chateau Frotenac. Photo by Sue Frause.
Among the major areas being revitalized and modernized are:
  • Transformation of the main lobby.
  • Renovation of the hotel's 611 guestrooms. Of those, 354 will have a more contemporary design, while the other 257 will offer a classic Chateau style. 
  • Construction of a new floor of Fairmont Gold rooms, increasing the number from 46 to 60. The Gold Lounge will also be expanded.
  • Addition of a luxury spa and expansion/renovation of the health club.
  • A reinvented Champlain restaurant.
  • Opening of the new 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar, featuring 250+ local cheeses and an expansive wine menu.
  • Le Sam, a newly created bistro-style restaurant.
  • Continuation of masonry and roof replacement work.
It's anticipated that the project will be completed by June 2014. "Inspiration renderings" and other details of the renovation are available at nouveauchateau.com and a virtual tour may be found here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Victoria's Oswego Hotel Package Includes Roundtrip Passage on MV Coho

MV Coho arrives in Victoria's Inner Harbour.
My two favorite ways to travel to Victoria on Vancouver Island are via Kenmore Air and the Black Ball Ferry Line. If you don't have a lot of time, Kenmore Air is a fast and scenic way to go. It's about a 30-minute flight from Seattle's Lake Union to Victoria's Inner Harbour. The Black Ball's MV Coho is a 90-minute sailing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria's Inner Harbour. But it's such a cool ship and a fun way to travel -- and you might even see a pod of orca like I did on a trip last summer. 
The Oswego Hotel is in a quiet residential neighborhood near the Inner Harbour.
The Oswego Hotel is offering a dandy package called Sip, Savour and Save. The package includes: 
  • Round-trip ferry fare on the MV Coho
  • Overnight in a one-bedroom suite
  • Two (2) passes to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
  • BC wine or locally brewed craft beer 
  • House-made caramel truffles
  • Complimentary parking 
Package rates start at $108 per person/double occupancy for walk-ons and $152 per person/double occupancy for drive-ons. Click on the Black Ball link to book online.
A stroll along the Inner Harbour from The Oswego Hotel brings you to Fisherman's Wharf.

Photos by Sue Frause