Yearly Archives: 2011

Happy New Year

There’s something wonderful about champagne, few drinks leave me with a similar emotional response. Perhaps this is because we save it for special occasions like New Years Eve, weddings and/or Sunday mornings. Perhaps there’s something in the bubbles. We may never know.

What we do know is that today is New Years Eve and a good chunk of us will (hopefully) be drinking a glass or three of champers tonight. If you’re not sure where to start I’ve got a couple tips I’ve picked up over the years. I wouldn’t (publicy) claim to be a professional champagne drinker, but there are a few things I do know about a fine bottle. My drill for New Years has seen everything form a small sip of champagne to last years debacle in my living room. Let’s just say it included a box of Summerhill Brut — my absolute favourite sparkling wine with these lovely small bubbles reminiscent of Dom Pérignon — a smoke machine, and that everyone involved is thankful we took spectacularly amateur photos with which we may “remember” the night.

I prefer a chilled bottle that, if not kept in the fridge, is chilled in a bucket with 70% ice and 30% water. If you’re in a hurry I’ve heard that throwing some salt on the ice helps a lot. It’s apparently faster than a freezer and a lot less dangerous if you’re forgetful.

The foil and cage are fairly straightforward but trivia buffs will be impressed when you tell them that it always takes seven turns of the neck wire to free the cage.

Now for one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned. Grab the cork with one hand and the bottom of the bottle with the other. Place the bottle at a 45˚ angle to maximize champagn-to-bottle surface area exposure. Turn the bottom of the bottle but not the cork. Keep a firm grip in the cork pushing against it. You don’t want an explosion but rather, something like a nun farting in a front pew.

Pour into glasses… slowly. Replace bottle in bucket.

Cheers, and a safe and happy New Years from A-OK!

Focus Friday: Duck Lake Skate

A couple of weeks ago, we braved the Christmas traffic past the mall to go skating at Duck Lake. I had seen some photos popping up on Flickr and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to skate across that black glass before it melted or got buried in snow. And what a blast it was to skate for miles in any direction! Not sure what the conditions are like after this warm spell — feel free to leave updates in the comments if you know — but stay safe out there on the lakes this winter.

Duck Lake Skate by JeremyOK

My Wife’s Notes – 2010 La Stella La Stellina Rosato – Ahi Tuna Mac & Cheese

Click here for recipe
Ahi Tuna Mac & Cheese

  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyère, Edam, Danish Blue or other cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups aged white cheddar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large Ahi Tuna fillet

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Cook the macaroni in a pot of salted water for about 5-6 minutes; the pasta should be a little more firm that you’d normally eat. When it is finished cooking, drain the water and place the pasta in an oven-safe casserole dish. Coat the pasta in 1 tbsp olive oil, and set it aside to cool.  Cut a chunk of the Tuna fillet (about 1/4 the total fillet) and dice it, adding the small pieces to the pasta, mixing them evenly.

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan over, gently simmering.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter and create a roux by slowly adding in the flour, whisking constantly until all flour has been added and the mixture is free of lumps. Pour in the cream mixture slowly, continuing to whisk.  Add one cup of each of the cheeses, continuing to whisk as the cheese melts. Add salt and pepper to your desires.

Pour the cheese and cream mixture over the pasta, and mix well.  Top with the remaining cheese and cover with bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling all over the top. Once it’s done, remove from the oven and let it rest for five minutes.

While the mac and cheese is baking, heat a non-stick fry pan to medium-high.  Coat the tuna fillet in olive oil and season each side with salt and pepper.  Sear the tuna on both sides, about 3-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the tuna.  I like it rare in the center, but it can be cooked to your liking.   Serve by topping macaroni with 1/4 inch slices of tuna.

Alana is all about traditions at Christmas time; she likes to watch the same movies on Christmas Eve, make the same baking that she and her mom made as a kid…our lead up to Christmas has been scheduled for months.  And since this is our first Christmas as husband and wife, we wanted to start some fun new traditions!

To that end, we created the tradition of Rhys and Alana’s Christmas Eve Eve Comfort Food Extravaganza.  And what could be more comforting than mac and cheese?

To take it up a notch, I added rare seared Ahi Tuna, as a modern take on tuna casserole.

La Stella La Stellina Rosato 2010And to pair with it, we brought out a bottle of Rosé we’d been saving for a special occasion.  Alana has been really into Rosé this year, and this bottle of La Stella La Stellina Rosato 2010 was highly recommended to us.

La Stella La Stellina Rosato 2010

My Notes:

This bright strawberry red wine practically glows in the glass.  The nose is sweet, floral and aromatic…there’s plenty of different fruits and berries, as if I’d walked into a farmer’s market in June.  The first sip is sweet and full, with more of the berry flavors popping out.  Strawberry is most predominant, but blackberry and currant comes out in the finish.  When paired with the food, it starts to sparkle, the creamy cheese sauce bringing out a snappy tartness that cleans off the palette. A good pairing, but it would be even better on a summer patio with a goat cheese and strawberry spinach salad. 90 points.

My Wife’s Notes:

“Ugh, I LOVE it. SO GOOD. I love Rosé!”

Happy Holidays from Awesome Okanagan

Remember what’s important when you’re surrounded by family and friends.

The Power Of A SHOE

Dresses, skirts, blouses, shorts, tunics, you name it, there is a garment for everybody, and we spend a lot of time deciding how to dress every morning.  More often than not, the composition of our outfits stop when we have finished dressing and accessorizing and we forget about the item that pulls an entire look together; FOOTWEAR!  Shoes can pull a look together, or tragically, make it fall to pieces.

Shoes trends change just as often as clothing trends alter, but we often forgo a new pair of shoes for that amazing new little black dress with sky high hopes nobody will notice what is happening south of your knees. That being said, there is nothing wrong with rocking a classic shoe time and time again, but your shoe-wardrobe needs to be updated sometimes as well. Items such as; your staple black or brown leather boot, or a nude pump are the classics that can be savoured for a few seasons, with a few accent shoes in between.

When you are in search of the staple shoes for your wardrobe it won’t hurt to invest a little bit more money into them as you are going to be using them for more than one season. Keep your eyes open for real leather boots that will be versatile and wearable with more than one item of clothing.  When choosing the length it may seem like an excellent idea to go the dramatic route and get purchase the flavour of the week, proceed with caution, you may hate that length in a year. You want to have a pair that will last more than a couple of winters so choose a length that has never gone out of style such as, knee length or just below .  You can wear them with jeans, leggings or dresses and they will not go out of style.  Freedman’s and Kolu are fantastic stores to begin your boot search, located in Spall Plaza, they are sure to fulfill your booty needs.

With your shoe rack stocked with the essentials it’s time to get creative and add a few new favourites.  Whether it be the colour, shape, or the style of your fabulous shoes they will each reveal a little piece of who you are.  Most of us work in an environment with somewhat of a uniform so shoes are a great way to express who you are while staying in the guidelines of the company. Shoes can look really scary as they pose on the shelves of our stores and most likely you will pass by a pair of shoes simply because they do not look like your style. Never judge a shoe by the shelf and take the time to try on lots of different kinds of shoes such as different heights and a style you may not normally go for. So many times something like a Tangerine patent mini pump would be a shoe that would be dismissed on the shelf but if you take a chance and simply try the shoes on you will soon realize you can use these to polish and complete a total look.  Moving into the depths of winter it is essential to keep as many things light and bright in your life as possible and why not start with your feet. If you are into heels, fierce lace booties in emerald green, or any bold colour of your choice, are a great asset to your closet.

Step your way into a local shoe store and let your senses guide you. Boutiques Such as Asphalt shoes, or Hollywood Shoes are fantastic local stores that are filled with so many unique one of a kind styles to suite each individual.  For a more commercial find check out places such as Frakas, or Downtown Shoes.

We all have the power to dress to impress, but for those of us that dare to wear amazing footwear will land a step ahead!

Focus Friday: Ice Wine

the icewine cometh

So maybe this isn’t a photo of true ice wine, but I thought there was some quiet drama to this vineyard ice. After the flurry of the autumn harvest and crushing, the wineries are a little sleepy at this time of year. The 14th Annual Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is coming up at Sun Peaks in January — perhaps a time for winemakers to cut loose and ski a bit too.

The Icewine Cometh by Peter Hovestad

Brandon’s Adventure at Chances Kelowna

With a Foreward by Me: As you may recall, A-OK was selected as a premier Okanagan participant in The BC Lottery Corporation’s Very Important Blogger (V.I.B.) Program. We were really excited because we also got to give a reader $25 in slot play and a $100 gift certificate to Longshots Lounge at Chances Kelowna. During my Chances adventure I had a quick update on privacy laws and learned I was not able to snap photos. Don’t worry, this post will still have pictures because, as you can imagine, I’m really good at Photoshop. I just didn’t have a lot of time to work on the photos so bear with me and suspend your disbelief.

Chances Kelowna supplied this particular blogger with $100 in slot play, a $100 gift certificate to Longshots Lounge and $15 Chances Bucks — the latter of which is the same as cash, as I understood it. Last night Adam and I decided to make use of our GCs for a date night. As Adam had never been gambling, and I’ve probably been 6 or 7 times in my life — I had a stint in Vegas when I was 12 — I was clearly the experienced veteran here. Our game plan? Fuel up. Why gamble on an empty stomach?

We made our way to Longshots Lounge and found a nice table-top. It just happened to be $5 Wednesday which means almost all the appies are $5. We order 4 plates because if you know us you know we like to order more food than can physically be digested at one time. We also get a jug of beer for some courage.

Here is the one and only potentially illegal photo I took from the night while eating noms in the lounge.

Full and ready to hit the floor, Adam and I pay our surprisingly inexpensive bill. $38 for a jug of beer, a dozen hot wings, a personal-sized veggie pizza, spinach and artichoke dip and yam fries with chipotle dipping sauce. In fact, we were hard-pressed to find anything on the menu that was more than $13, hard to argue with that price point. We were full and pretty pleased with ourselves at this point, so we hit up Guest Services.

A quick aside, the reason I probably don’t gamble is because I’m honestly not sure what’s even happening most of the time. I mean, I’m cultured and everything — I’ve seen every James Bond movie like a hundred times — but there’s something about numbers that always loses me.

Luckily, Chances Kelowna made a real good decision in hiring Mallery at Guest Services. Mallery answered all the questions I had about the slot machines, even going so far to take us on a tour to all the different machines and showing us how to use them (I’m still not sure what we were doing exactly, but things were lighting up). She took us to the penny machines and explained how to play. And by ‘play’ I mean she showed us how to lose less money here than on the dollar slots.

Here I am supporting myself on my 'winning' streak. This is creepy and I apologize for it.

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Get Oig’d

We’re not quite sure what’s going on here with Dan Oig‘s first Episode of Oig’d. What we do know is we probably a) wouldn’t let him make us dinner based on the vegetation we see him eat here, and b) maybe wouldn’t let him teach us yoga either. Other then that, we’d be eager to go on a day-date with him, because he seems to know how to spend an afternoon.