Thursday, March 16, 2023


Cucumber and Wine The cucumber is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Other members of the family include squash and different kinds of melon, including bitter melon. Cucumbers provide various nutrients but are low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. 

 People in India have grown cucumbers a Trusted Source for food and medicinal purposes since ancient times, and they have long been part of the Mediterranean diet. They also contain a plethora of health benefits. You can achieve a balanced and well-rounded diet by consuming a cucumber, and they have nutritional benefits that can improve your health. You may not have known that cucumbers are in fact fruit. They contain almost no calories. Cucumbers have all possible advantages and virtually no downsides.

 Cucumbers have been shown to be able to aid the liver in cleaning up the blood, helping with detoxification of the system. Cucumbers also have a high-water content, which further aids the liver and encourages urination. Cucumber-based beverages are a popular way to make the most of its detoxifying properties. 

 Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. 

 Cucumbers contain high levels of bitter-tasting nutrients known as cucurbitacin. According to in the International Journal of Health Services, cucurbitacins may help prevent cancer by stopping cancer cells from reproducing. 

 The American Heart Association (AHA) note that fiber can help manage cholesterol and prevent related cardiovascular problems. Diverticular disease is a painful inflammation of the colon that sometimes requires hospitalization.

 Studies have shown mixed results on the benefits of fiber to prevent flare-ups (called diverticulitis)However, research does support the intake of fiber from fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers, to lower the likelihood of diverticulitis-related hospitalizations. Specifically, getting an additional 8.5 grams per day of fiber from fruits and vegetables was associated with a 30% risk reduction.

 Cucumbers are a non-starchy vegetable, which is one of the best categories of food for managing diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables per day,8 but that's just a minimum. Well, it has been stated by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that moderate consumption of wine by diabetics is safe. Furthermore, it has been studied and confirmed that a limited intake of wine is healthy and can even benefit diabetes patients.

 When hunger strikes, having more non-starchy vegetables can help satisfy appetite without raising blood sugar levels. The fiber and water content of fresh cucumbers makes them an ideal choice for glycemic control. 

 Cucumbers are neutral in flavor with an almost delicate melon character with a hint of bitterness. They work with most wines since they do not compete with flavor.

 The Best Wines with Cucumber: Pinot Gris Pinot Grigo Riesling Albarino Alvarinho These wines go best with a natural Cucumber. Adding vinagar or salad dressing will change the wines. 

In the Cucumber Salad recipe, the strongest flavors are the jalapeno, onion, and lime juice. A wine with a hint of sweetness and good acidity would work best. Gewurztraminer and Riesling are good pairings. Hummus and Cucumbers try a medium bodies rosé wine or an aromatic, fresh white like Albariño or Assyrtiko. prefer reds Pair with herbaceous reds like Sangiovese or Barbera You can of course make numerous cocktails with Cucumbers.

Friday, February 17, 2023


 An Amazing Valentine's Dinner

Ah! The question of where to take one's special lady for Valentine's dinner! I had several favourite restaurants on my list. Atlas Steak and Seafood were chosen because of the exceptional service we received on previous visits. Despite an early arrival, we were quickly shown to our table, which had an excellent view of the kitchen. It was entertaining to watch the three chefs prepare the meals and see the creative dishes as they were picked up by the servers. Barbara was pleased with the selection. 

We started the evening off with the wine. Barbara chose a very nice Australian Shiraz, and I went with the Inniskillian Pinot Grigio. We were off to a great start; delicious hot bread was soon to follow.


I knew what to order, but Barbara took a little longer to decide. She went with the Josper Grilled Salmon Steak with warm potato salad and Chimichurri sauce. I went with the Tomahawk Pork Chop, a smoked pork belly, apple relish and warm potato salad.


Our server Alena provided some delightful conversation while seeing that we were well looked after.  One of the restaurant's features is the knife selection, patrons are presented with an interesting array to choose from.


The Tomahawk Pork Chop with an crisp apple relish was among the best I have ever enjoyed, it was cooked to perfection. Barbara was very impressed with her Josper Grilled Salmon Steak and complimented the chef. She rated it as the best ever!

As our meal was coming to an end, the table next to us was having Baked Alaska. which is a baked dessert consisting of cake, ice cream, and meringue. It is brought to the table, whisky and syrup are poured over the top, and the dessert is set alight before serving. It is my favourite restaurant dessert but we opted for something a little smaller in size that we could share.



In keeping with Valentine's chocolate theme and her love of peanut butter Barbara chose the Chocolate Peanut Butter Marquis Bar. Excellent choice! Normally we go to Atlas for Happy Hour but I have a feeling more dinners will be in our future.




Sunday, January 29, 2023


 Season In the Park

We were and about on the town last Sunday. We attended the musical Fiddler on the Roof at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It was an excellent performance dedicated to the people of Ukraine. The cast received a rousing standing ovation.

Following the performance we dine at the famous Seasons in the Park Restaurant located in Vancouvers Queen Elizabeth Park. The restaurant is located at the highest point within the park.We had an excellent table with a view of the city. Our server was efficient and charming and had just the right sense of humor.

They have an excellent menu and a very good wine list featuring some notable BC wineries. There were six of us in our party and we all selected Tinhorn Creeks Merlot. 

The Merlot is fresh and elegant with a vibrant natural acidity. Fruit from Tinhorn Creek's Diamond Back Vineyard on Black Sage Bench was fermented using natural yeasts. The wine was then aged in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak barrels for twelve months. The ripe dark cherry flavours and firm tannins in this wine showcase the bounty of the South Okanagan perfectly.

Five of us went with the Prime Rib dinner one went with the Citrus - Ponzu Marinated Sablefish. The prime Rib was served with a gigantic  Yorkshire Pudding. Sadly it was slightly over done. The prime rib was delicious.

It was a most enjoyable day





Thursday, January 19, 2023


 Margaret Swaine 


Margaret is an internationally published wine, spirits, food, spa, golf and travel writer, who has authored well over 2,000 articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers. She’s the travel columnist for the National Post newspaper (Forks & the Road), the spa columnist for Best Health magazine (Paradise Home & Away), the spirit & cocktail columnist for Zoomer magazine, the spirit columnist for WineAlign and the culinary travel columnist (Global Gourmet) for Travel Industry Today.


She wrote the monthly wine column for over 25 years in both Chatelaine and Toronto Life and has written regularly in other wine publications including Winetidings, Wine Access and WineAlign since 1979



Margaret has co-authored/edited two books, “The Romance of Wine and Food” and “101 Big Ideas for Promoting a Business on a Small Budget”. She is also author of the first three annual Toronto Life Wine, Beer and Spirits Guides which review all wines, beers and spirits on general list in Ontario.


Margaret is a founder, director and first treasurer of The Travel Media Association of Canada and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. As a member of the Society of Wine Educators, Margaret has taught wine courses at the YMCA, The Skills Exchange, The Learning Annex, Creative Entertaining, The Creative Touch Cooking School, Harvest Kitchen and Georgian College as well as for private corporate groups. She was founder and host for many years of The Toronto Life Wine & Dine Experiences that were held monthly at top restaurants in Toronto.


Margaret has participated as a wine judge at many competitions around the world. She has appeared on numerous radio and TV Shows as a wine expert, including Live It Up (CTV), Midday (CBC-TV), Morningside (CBC Radio), CFRB Talk Radio, Canadian Living TV (CTV) and Report on Business TV. In winter 1995 she acted as host for a video production by the LCBO “Shop the World – Spirits Promotion”. In January 1996, she was a speaker at the Symposium on Alcohol Privatization and has been a guest on Metro Morning and CBC Radio Noon, to present her views on deregulation.


Margaret founded and was first president of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and is a member of the Wine Writers Circle in England. She has acted as an expert witness in wine disputes involving Champagne, Entre-Deux-Mers and other trade mark usages. Margaret is also a regular consultant to the hospitality industry and assisted with the creation of The Sommelier Guild of Canada. Margaret also has organized and run a number of wine fairs including the visit of Vignobles & Signatures, The Pacific Northwest Wine Fairs, and The Premiere Bordeaux Barrel Tasting. Margaret got her debut in the wine field, as a winner of blind tasting competitions. Back in 1978, when Margaret entered her first Toronto competition, she captured both the first prize and the “women’s prize”.


A graduate of Carleton University with an Honours Journalism degree, she speaks conversational French, German and Demotic Greek.




Monday, December 26, 2022

 Never mind about Feel Good Friday; mine became a Feel Fantastic Friday!

Story By Barbara Bell

The recent weather threw a wrench into my Christmas to-do list. We are house/pet sitting in South Surrey until January 03, taking care of two adorable dachshunds. I was not too concerned about the dump of snow we received and clearing the driveway, as we only needed to leave the house today to run last-minute errands. Our stress level was low; we were smug, thinking the snow would be gone. Smug in, thinking it would be gone, we turned down the owner's offer to ask the neighbour to shovel the driveway.
That smugness changed to a high-stress level for me yesterday. First, the mailman requested that we clear a path for him; second, Bob came down with a man cold (some of you might know what that is like, lol). Third, no snow shovel in the garage; (who really needs one here). Fourth, the turkey and roaster pan needed to be retrieved from home as we were hosting Christmas dinner. I no longer drive due to COPD and would not attempt it in the current conditions if I did. With my chauffeur/sherpa ill, I planned to Uber it, but the driveway needed clearing first! I started looking online for snow removal people; it was late afternoon by then.
Bob commented that he heard on Global News that there is an organization called Snow Angels which helps with snow removal. I googled it and filled out the online form; within 15 minutes, I got a response that someone would arrive at 8 am today to clear the driveway at no cost to us.
A young couple arrived at 7:45 am and cleared the driveway in less than an hour! I offered them hot chocolate, which they heartedly accepted. Brett is a civil engineer consultant with the Ministry of Highways his wife Emma is a pharmacist with Fraser Health. While they were inside warming up with their hot chocolates, I commented all I had to do now was get an Uber to get groceries and the turkey; they both chimed in with we can help you with that; the rest of our day is free. They patiently waited for me to get ready, then dropped me at Safeway for 2 hours to grocery shop and do a Dollarama run.
THEN they drove me to our place; Brett loaded everything on my list into our Costco cart and transported me safely back to Bob. Oh, almost forgot, they also helped water our plants. Although they would not take any compensation; (I wanted to give them gas money), I did convince them to accept a box of After Eight chocolates I had picked up at Safeway. So other than Bob having a man cold, this will be one of the nicest Christmases in a long time. To top it off, we get to have Max and Sadie and the ambience of a lovely home. And weather permitting, good friends are making the trek from Ladner to celebrate Christmas. Life is beautiful; we are truly blessed!
Kindness has been important for most of my life; today, we received an abundance of it and are very grateful!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
What about the Wine. The story to be continued!!

This part of the story could not be told until Christmas Day. I had ordered six bottles of wine for Bob from a Backyard Vineyard sales offer. I called the wineries manager, Norma. She happily filled the order and complimented Bob with six more bottles of wine. I could not of course, let Bob know the story behind the wine delivery until he was presented with the wine.

The wine was supposed to be delivered to a friend's home Suzzane who lived close to us. We were housing and therefore were not home. The wine was sent by FedEx to our home. Unable to deliver, the wine was sent back to the FedEx depot.

Having not received the wine, Barb traced the wine to the depot called Suzzane. Who volunteered to get the wine. FedEx refused to give her the wine.

Once again, our snow Angels came to the rescue; they drove Barbara to the depot to collect the wine.

Bob was more than surprised to discover a huge box of wines waiting for him on Christmas Morning.



Thursday, December 1, 2022

 

Turkey and Wine

Turkey is mostly white meat and tastes like chicken. Although Turkey has a richer, darker taste than chicken, The meat's succulent flavor profile and juicy texture make it the perfect match for an array of diverse grape varieties, hailing from various regions all over the globe.

Perhaps the most common wines served on a day of celebration like Christmas is a A Sparkling wine or a Champagne. High in acid, insanely food-friendly, and just about as festive as it gets, Champagne might just be the best wine to sip with turkey-- as well as pre-dinner, post dinner, and every second in between.

Chardonnay is another excellent choice. the wine's crisp acidity, mineral undertones, and fruit-forward nature bring out the best that turkey has to offer. When it comes to cooking with wine Chardonnay can be used to bast the Turkey and to sip while the turkey is in the oven.

Pinot Noir with turkey is also a winner. . The wine's bright high acidity, as well as extreme versatility on the table, make it a solid choice for pairing not only with turkey, but also the handful of sides that will cover the rest of your plate. Canada produces some amazing Pinot Noirs.

Viognier might not be as popular of a variety as Chardonnay, it's certainly one of turkey's greatest matches. Fleshy and round, the wine's juicy stone fruit flavors and floral, honeyed undertones are ideal with tender turkey meat.

Many people love their Zinfandel with their holiday turkey. Jammy, juicy, and fruit forward,Zinfandel pairs gorgeously with both light and dark meats, as well as an array of sides.

In Ontario where Riesling is King a dry Riesling goes well with your turkey.

Gamay, the wine's high acid, low tannins, and juicy mouthfeel make it one of the best bottles to pair with turkey. 

If you want to think a bit outside of the box try Ortega or Bacchus. I have enjoyed both with our Christmas diners over the years..

Another option would be a Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is produced to be either lightweight or a more structured, occasionally barrel-aged white wine that is adaptable to any situation and occasion. It can be sipped poolside or on formal dinners, and it can even make a fantastic house gift. a Chenin Blanc can be produced in numerous styles so it is best to know your wine.

To finish and celebration a good Canadian Icewine works!


Thursday, November 3, 2022

 Checking out Two Delta Restaurants


It was not our objective to compare two Delta Restaurants; it was just by chance we happened to be in both. Sunday evening, we visited the new Matches Restaurant at the Delta Casino.  The fact that there was covered parking with an elevator up to the main floor kept us out of the rain. A good start. Located off the main lobby, away from the casino floor, was also a good idea. We were greeted at the entrance with a smile and quickly shown to a table of our choice.

The restaurant's interior was well-designed; the ambience was far superior to the Matches in the other casino we visited. If there was a negative, it would be the huge TV centred just above the table. 

Our server was excellent. We even enjoyed a chat with the manager. It is rare to see the manager delivering food and clearing tables.

I enjoyed their French Onion soup and chicken wing. Barbara had her favourite pasta dish. 

Mushroom Pesto Rigatoni

A most enjoyable meal. As for the wine we made it simple and went with the house red (Barb) and house white (me). The house wines from Jackson- Triggs did not disappoint.


The following evening we found ourselves along with good friends Peter and June at the Riverhouse Pub. This was Halloween so the Pub was not busy.

We were surprised to find only one person working the Pub. It is a difficult task to handle the bar and take food orders. We were seated for some time before the young lady was able to greet us. She did so with a warm greeting and a nice smile. She suggest we move to a nicer, more comfortable table which we did.

She took our drink order. Before the drinks arrived, a second server showed up and took over our table. It was smooth sailing from there on. Barbara Peter and June had the Jackson Triggs Merlot, and I had the Gehringer Riesling. Both are excellent wines.

We all enjoyed our dinner. Peter especially raved about the Artic Char. I had my usual the Beef Dip.

Two enjoyable nights out No dishes.