Photo Friday – Embracing Calm

It’s been a downer of a week. The shocking loss of Robin Williams, turmoil around the world, personal frustrations and worries left me with a heavy heart and restless mind. And I know I’m not the only one who was left unsettled and emotionally drained this week.

So, time to embrace the calm on this Photo Friday. Here are some of my favourite photos from a walk along the Vancouver Seawall. There’s no better place to find serenity. Enjoy.

I love the way the water was a mirror...

I love the way the water was a mirror…

I never tire of this skyline.

I never tire of this skyline.

I could stare at this for hours.

I could stare at this for hours.

I adore Vancouver's big beautiful skies.

I adore Vancouver’s big beautiful skies.

 

Blind Tastings – Jockeying for Cocktail Supremecy at The Deighton Cup

Attending The Deighton Cup was an awesome experience – and not just for the fashion and the horses. There was also bourbon!

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I dropped by the Jockey Lounge on the roof of Hastings Racecourse to check out the 2nd Annual Cocktail Jockey Mixology Competition, presented by Bulleit Bourbon, and was shaken and stirred by the creativity and talent of some of the best mixologists in Vancouver as they created their own versions of an Old Fashioned.

Here are just a few of the cocktail jockeys in action, and their drinks.

First up, last year’s winner Sean McGuigan of The Clough Club and his Deighton’s Landing – marrying Bulleit Bourbon with Douglas Fir liquer and essence.

The Clough Club's Seam McGuigan was the first winner of the Cocktail Jockey Mixology Competition

The Clough Club’s Seam McGuigan was the first winner of the Cocktail Jockey Mixology Competition in 2013

The Deighton's Landing

The Deighton’s Landing

Inspired by the railway workers who helped connect this country from coast to coast, Buck Friend from Bambudda Gastown introduced his Chinaman in Kentucky creation – a visually stunning cocktail incorporating the signature bourbon, house-made limoncello and his own Asian bitters.

Buck Friend of Bambudda creates his Asian-inspired cocktail

Buck Friend of Bambudda creates his Asian-inspired cocktail

The finished Chinaman in Kentucky cocktail

The finished Chinaman in Kentucky cocktail

Julia Diakow from Reflections in the historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia presented the Ring of Fire – a cocktail combining the Bulleit Bourbon, blueberry oleo saccharum, bitters and her own Scrappy Firewater tincture. It was as much fun to watch it being made as it was to sample!

Julia Diakow made a cocktail that was entertaining to watch - and sample

Julia Diakow made a cocktail that was entertaining to watch – and sample

The Beauregard

The Ring of Fire

And after many more contenders and concoctions I wasn’t able to stay for because I was shooting hats – I returned to see the winner announced and the trophy awarded. Congratulations, Cam Brown from the Blackbird Public House and Oyster Bar, and his Bartender’s Wake-Up!

The winning cocktail - Cam Brown's Bartender's Wake-Up

The winning cocktail – Cam Brown’s Bartender’s Wake Up

Second runner-up Thor Paulson from The Diamond and his Race Day Mounteback cocktail, and first runner-up Amber Bruce from Cuchillo and her Beauregarde creation were also honoured.

As you can see, Cam couldn’t stop smiling – and why not? Not only did he come away with the trophy and bragging rights – but he also pocketed $1,000. And his winning recipe will be featured on bottleneck tags of Bulleit Bourbon in all BC liquor stores.

Not a bad day’s work, even if it was pretty hot in a suit…

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The happy winner!

Cam was joined by the Competition’s top-tier judges – Jay Jones, Director of Wine and Beverage Canucks Sports and EntertainmentMark Brand, Hospitality Impressario; Dani Tartarin, Bar ManagerThe Keefer Suites and founder, the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association; Tyson Villeneuve, The Social Concierge and Josh Pape, Wildebeest.

At the end of a long competition, the judges and winner happily pose for a group shot

At the end of a long competition, the judges and winner happily pose for a group shot

As an added treat, I’m able to share Cam Brown’s winning recipe for the Bartender’s Wake Up.Slowly but surely, I’m becoming a cocktail lover. That’s my #EyeOpener from The Deighton Cup!

Bartender’s Wake Up

2 ounces bullet
.25 home made coffee bitters
-375ml JJ Bean East Side Roast cold brew coffee,
Zest of a whole lemon and orange,
Quarter cup devil’s root.
Vacuum-sealed and sous vide for 1.5 hours at 70 degrees.

1 vanilla infused sugar cubes.
– seal vanilla bean and sugar cubes in a vessel for 2 weeks

Stirred and served on the rocks in a stemmed cocktail glass.

Garnished with an orange zest and sprayed with lemon oil but discard the peel

Cheers!

My Roving Eye – Hats Off to The Deighton Cup

The Deighton Cup is Vancouver’s answer to the historied Kentucky Derby – and attending this year’s event for the first time was a personal thrill for me. But after many hours and more than 500 photos later, I was presented with a quandry. What to highlight?

I’ll be doing several posts to do this special day justice. But because The Deighton Cup is the place to see and be seen, I’ve decided to start with the fashions on display, and especially the hats. Because I’m a hat gal. I even bought myself a new chapeau for the occasion.

Ready to experience my very first Deighton Cup.

Ready to experience my very first Deighton Cup.

Believe me, it was hard not to stop and stare at the gorgeous creations and stunning fashions on both the men and women. And while some people did chose to pose, I also managed to capture some less formal moments during my photo walk. Enjoy!

The butterflies immediately caught my eye.

The butterflies immediately caught my eye.

A stunner of a hat - and an obliging, friendly couple.

A stunner of a hat – and an obliging, friendly couple.

A classy, classic look.

A classy, classic look.

I loved his style.

I loved his style.

Original and eye-catching.

Original and eye-catching.

This hair style was awesome.

This hair style was awesome.

Too beautiful not to shoot.

Too beautiful not to shoot.

Such an original, but comfortable style.

Such an original, but comfortable style.

My friend Kerry sported a custom-made hat.

My friend Kerry sported a custom-made hat.

Loved those suspenders.

Loved those suspenders.

Elegant and timeless.

Elegant and timeless.

Fun and summery.

Fun and summery.

Loved the hat and her whole look.

Loved the hat and her whole look.

At the end of the day, of course, it’s all about the horses! And I was happy to get this candid shot of a lovely lady in pink happily catching all the action.

Caught up in the action.

Caught up in the action.

What was your favourite memory of the Deighton Cup?

 

Photo Friday – The Skies Have It!

We have a winner! This photo was a result of being in the right place at the right time – and in this case, I happened to be on Vancouver’s SkyTrain as the sun was beginning to set amid the clouds. All I had was my iPhone, but I managed to capture the big, beautiful skies of Vancouver and the result took my breath away.

The big, beautiful skies of Vancouver.

The big, beautiful skies of Vancouver.

This photo drew a lot of attention, and helped catapult me over 200,000 views on Flickr – a real milestone for me. And it’s made me even more determined to capture life as I see it, no matter where I am or what camera I have with me. That should be an #EyeOpener for us all.

 

Blind Tastings – New Zealand Oysters Meet BC Spirits

I love supporting independent businesses. So I was excited at the prospect of visiting Long Table Distillery, Vancouver’s first micro-distillery, for a sampling of 46 South Fish Co. New Zealand oysters and an assortment of Long Table spirits.

Long Table Distillery is Vancouver's first micro-distillery, focusing on sustainability and local ingredients.

Long Table Distillery is Vancouver’s first micro-distillery, focusing on sustainability and local ingredients.

NZ oysters married well with Long Table Distillery's locally-produced spirits.

New Zealand oysters married well with Long Table Distillery’s locally-produced spirits.

Mind you, my excitement was a wee bit tempered by the fact that I’m not used to eating oysters. It’s a texture thing for me. But I love the smell of the sea that wafts up from a platter of oysters. They’re such a beautiful, sensual food to photograph. I was bound and determined to have at least one. And I did!

I love shooting oysters, and inhaling the smell of the sea.

I love shooting oysters, and inhaling the smell of the sea. 46 South Fish Co. featured Kaipara (left) and Tio Point (right) varieties.

46 South Fish Co. have introduced Kaipara and Tio Point oysters to the Canadian market, and both were available for tasting to a very eager and hungry group of media and food writers. Kaipara oysters are the same genera as the Pacific Oysters and have a salty, creamy texture with hints of lemon and cucumber. They are grown in Kaipara Harbour in the northwest of the North Island where there is little human activity and exceptionally clean waters. Tio Points are more like the French Belons and have a shallower shell with plump, firm meat and a salty sweet flavour with hints of minerality and a slightly metallic finish. They are grown in the Marlborough area and are native to New Zealand; in fact Tio means oyster in the native Maori language.

The oysters disappeared faster than the shucker could shuck them!

The oysters disappeared faster than the shucker could shuck them!

I opted for the slightly smaller and more familiar Kaipara oyster and it was delicious! And it went down beautifully with Long Table Cucumber Gin. Suffice it to say that I was the only tentative person in the entire room – oyster after oyster was slurped with obvious pleasure and enjoyed with one of the many varieties of local spirits that were available for sipping with the oysters.

Among Long Table Distillery's popular offerings - Cucumber Gin, London Dry Gin, and Texada Vodka.

Among Long Table Distillery’s popular offerings – Cucumber Gin, London Dry Gin, and Texada Vodka.

This was a second milestone of the day for me. I haven’t been much of a spirits drinker, and wine is usually my beverage of choice. I’ve actually avoided gin in particular, mainly because of the smell. But I really liked the Cucumber Gin. Thanks to Charles of Long Table  for encouraging me!

Thanks to Charles at Long Table Distillery for encouraging me to try the Cucumber Gin!

Thanks to Charles at Long Table Distillery for encouraging me to try the Cucumber Gin!

If you’re an oyster lover, you can find the 46 South Fish Co. varieties at Codfathers Seafood in Kelowna, the Lobster Man on Granville Island, and in Toronto Diana’s Seafood Market. If you prefer a restaurant experience, Vancouver’s Oyster Express, Rodney’s in Toronto and Rodney’s Vancouver has them, and soon Rodney’s Calgary will have them on their menu. And if you don’t see them at your favourite fishmonger or oyster bar, ask for them! Mark Urwin from 46 South Fish Co. will be more than happy to oblige.

Of course, there was an #EyeOpener for me, not so much about accessibility of the location, but about my accessibility to new tastes and experiences. At the ripe old age of 60, I’m opening myself to more new bites and sips than I’ve ever had.

So, I’m up for new culinary adventures, folks. (And new selfie locations…)

Bring them on!

Long Table's still provided me with an interesting selfie.

Long Table’s still provided me with an interesting selfie.