Author: Richard Wolak

Experience Dao Tea

Recently I had the pleasure to meet Pedro Villalon, the President of Dao Tea who invited me to a Tea Ceremony to brew me some of his tea. This was quite the experience, one that Pedro was so passionate about, he came with a Chinese hand carved wooden basket, complete with kettle, glass tea pots and four types of tea to sample. He set-up the teapots and prepared to steep the tea, in a very relaxed manner with much patience he then showed while preparing the tea. The glasses were warmed with hot water as well as the teapots. When the water was added to the tea he gently circulated the water while he continued to give us an idea how he, a Mexican ended up starting his tea company in Canada to sell Chinese and Korean tea. Pedro explained his background, it was when working for Proctor & Gamble in China that he stumbled across tea in the mountains one day while hiking. He became friends with small farmers who produced great teas, many of which had never been exported from China. He was invited in to some of the Tea farmers homes in the mountains and got to know them well, he formed relationships and these relationships have helped him start is tea company. I sampled a few of his teas and my favorite was the ‘Sejak’...

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The Nutcracker

(December 17-20, 2009 at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts) As holiday traditions go, taking the family to see The Nutcracker is always a guaranteed hit. Children enjoy the fantasy elements of the story, and adults appreciate the technical aspects of the production, all the while enjoying a trip back into their childhood. One of the charms of The Nutcracker is that it allows adults to enter a fantasy world as easily as if they were children. This year, the holiday tradition is brought to life by the Goh Ballet Society, in a world premiere. It has been choreographed by Anna-Marie Holmes, who is famous for interpreting the Russian classics, and has a cast of 197. The National Ballet Company has loaned two of their Principals for this world premiere — Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stanczyk, who play the Sugarplum Fairy and the Cavalier Prince.  In the tradition of Nutcracker productions world-wide, the cast includes about 50 children. Tchaikovsky’s score is performed live by the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, under the direction of Ken Hsieh. The sets and costumes are deigned by Dinghao Zhang and Ming Li. Lighting design is by Pierre Lavole. Together, these elements serve to provide a visual feast, and the audience gets the hint of what is to come. The ballet opens with an overture, which Holmes has interpreted as a snow-capped village scene....

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Cornucopia Food and Wine Festival in Whistler

Whistler’s famous fall wine and food extravaganza is set for November 12-15 offering a wide range of events, from free seminars to paired dinners and exclusive tastings. Autumn in Whistler means warm afternoons, crisp nights, a dusting of new snow on the mountains, and Cornucopia, one of the top ten wine and food events in the world, according to forbestraveler.com. As always, this year’s Cornucopia is an abundance of wine and food and a long list of tastings, seminars, and parties. Oenophiles and foodies will be enticed by Cornucopia’s trademark events, including Winemakers Dinners, the Trade Tasting, and the ever popular Crush! Grand Gala Tasting, featuring 75 wineries showcasing regional and international flavours.  Crush is Cornucopia’s flagship event, heralded as B.C’s most anticipated consumer wine event of the fall and offered on both weekend nights of the...

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The Perfect Espresso – The Italian Way

Recently I took part in a coffee tasters workshop that was held in Vancouver, Canada, this hands on workshop was taught by Carlo Odello who works for the International Institute of Coffee Tasters in Brescia, Italy. The workshop came about off an invitation by Caffè Umbria a coffee roasting company based in Seattle, which for years had been working only with the Italian standard. With the help of Pasquale Madeddu, Emanuele Bizzarri and Jesse Sweeney of Caffe Umbria the first two Espresso Italiano Tasting courses were born. For the first time Carlo came to Vancouver, Canada and to Portland, OR, USA to teach the courses in collaboration with Caffe Umbria. Carlo Odello is a trainer, board member and the Director of Communication for the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (IIAC). Mr. Odello is also the Communications Manager for the Italian Espresso National Institute and a board member of the Taster Study Center, the most advanced Italian company in sensory analysis. The IIAC is a non-profit association, founded with the intent of developing and implementing a scientific method to give a measurable value to the sensory value of coffee. Making a perfect espresso is not a simple task. A large number of variables have to be kept under control: the coffee blend, the coffee grinder, the espresso machine and the barista’s hand of course. Every single variable will influence the...

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Tasting Chocolate in Seattle

Each time I visit Seattle, I usually make a visit to at least one or two chocolatiers to sample what’s new in their chocolate world. There are some fine chocolate companies in the area that make Seattle there home and are well worth a visit if you are local or travelling through. Here are some of these Chocolate shops who offer chocolate tastings, workshops and events: Claudio Corallo Chocolate 2122 Westlake Avenue, Seattle WA . Open 12noon – 5PM Monday through Saturday. Retail location downtown Seattle, If you are in the area, stop by, sample some chocolate. http://www.claudiocorallochocolate.com/ Theo Chocolate, 3400 Phinney Ave. N., offers the most workshops and tasting events in the area, including its new Chocolate Academy, which features lectures and hands-on courses. About $55-$70 per course. Theo also holds daily tours of its Fremont plant ($6, including tastings). 206-632-5100 or www.theochocolate.com Oh! Chocolate offers classes on Fridays and weekends at its Madison Park shop, 3131 E. Madison St. ($59). There are also “Parlour Nights,” chocolate-and-wine pairing events ($69). 206-329-8777 or www.ohchocolate.com Chocolopolis holds workshops on how to taste chocolate and also brings in many of the USA’s top chocolatiers for free tastings and talks at its Queen Anne store, 1527 Queen Anne Ave. N. 206-282-0776 or www.chocolopolis.com Cocoa Chai Chocolates offers a variety of workshops out of their Queen Anne studio for all levels. Included is...

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