Dirty Apron: a Vancouver Foodie Bucket List Must!

Dirty Apron Cooking School

Dirty Apron Cooking School: 540 Beatty Street, Crosstown, Vancouver BC

I joined a mini-class at Vancouver’s Dirty Apron Cooking School for an upcoming SHAW TV holiday segment, and I certainly felt like a culinary pro! Their cooking school is designed to make everyone feel that way – be a kitchen pro for a day.

First we received a lesson from the Chef on how to make a fun holiday-entertaining appetizer – then we made the same recipe ourselves using their kitchen stations.

My experience was incredibly fun and I dub this a Vancouver Foodie Bucket List must!

The classroom set up reminded me of being in highschool home-ec class, with the demonstration mirrors above the Chef station, and the personal instruction provided to us as we made the recipe on our own.

Learning new things in the kitchen is a top pass-time of mine, and here I learned some new basic knife skills and techniques for preparing the recipe ingredients – I loved every minute of the class. The surroundings were professional and it felt like we were on a food tv set: I was giddy over the gourmet kitchen experience!

Kitchen classroom work stations

Kitchen classroom work stations

Once the Chef’s interactive cooking demonstration was complete, we manned our stations to find everything portioned out for the recipe – just like on tv! Each station is equipped with all necessary tools, pans, and fun kitchen accessories.

My heart raced with excitement as we began by cutting our onions for caramelization. I’ve chopped an onion dozens of times before, at home, but here it became an adrenalin rush for me – I am an foodie-anomaly though!  I was excited to be in the kitchen setting, fitted with my apron and hand towel tucked into my side – we cooked up a storm! And then we feasted!

My first puffed pastry tart, after the first bite:

Savoury goats cheese pesto puff pastry tart

Savoury goats cheese pesto puff pastry tart - garnished with rocket, tomatoes, cheese, walnuts, and drizzle of olive oil.

A tasty tart - perfect for holiday entertaining.

A tasty tart - perfect for holiday entertaining with rich colours of green and red...

At the Dirty Apron Cooking School you’ll WATCH, LEARN, COOK, EAT, and really HAVE FUN! I recommend their classes are for everyone, and they make great gifts too because anyone can participate : from amateurs to culinary-enthusiasts!

Stay tuned at Shaw Express for their holiday entertaining segment from the Dirty Apron Cooking School.

#21 – Vancouver Slop

Slop can be defined in a few ways, according to my computer’s dictionary, including “to speak or write in a sentimentally effusive manner or gush”. And I think this particular food blog selected their name very appropriately!

Hosted by three guys who each bring a great sense of humour to the blog: meet Gyromite (founder), O-toro, and Joe here. You can follow them on twitter as well: @VancouverSlop.  They are a comical team of bloggers that share a raw view of food in Vancouver through their site, VancouverSlop. With a catchy name, entertaining content including videos,  fun photos, and an organized catalog of restaurant reviews from around town, VancouverSlop is a blog to bookmark!



Nostrala, Alpindon, and Grana, Oh My!

Kootenay Alpine Cheese farm

How food is made and where it comes from is always fascinating for me to learn about. Recently, I literally watched the cows come in to be milked on a trip to a family owned and run BC cheese farm, Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co.

Their farm dog guided the herd, with very full udders, into the barn, where the cows are milked twice daily, and receive a hay mixture / treat before each milking. It sounds simple, but this routine is a big process and amazing to witness.

Smelling the mountain air and hearing cow bells jingle, we suddenly had a craving for cheese and headed to the cheese shop for some samples.

The Kootenay Alpine Cheese company makes three cheeses named Nostrala, Alpindon, and Mountain Grana, respectively, each with a slightly stronger taste and firmer texture. After seeing the cows that produce the milk that makes the cheese, the flavour experience was certainly heightened.

Later I was able to ask Denise a few questions about her family’s farm; and I learned some interesting facts that just might aMOOse you too…

The Cows of Kootenay Alpine Cheese Farm

The cows enjoy their treat just before milking.

How did your cheese farm start? We started making cheese three years ago but have been dairy farming for about 20.

What does your family love most about your farm? We all get satisfaction from farming the way we do and we like to see it reflected in the end product.

How many cows approximately do you have at your farm? We milk ~75 cows and then have about that many again that are young stock and dry cows (on vacation from milking for two months)

How much milk does each of your cows produce in a day? Our cows produce about 60 pounds of milk each a day (24 litres each).

What separates you from other local cheese farmers? We are the only certified organic dairy in our area, we are the only ones in our area that intensively graze, we feed a high forage, low grain ration and no corn silage. We have gone away from large high producing pure bred Holsteins and experimented with cross breeding to come up with a herd well suited to organic production (high fertility and health traits and good production on forage)…. Our cheese is unique in that it is a raw milk, naturally aged cheese.

Is there a story behind the names of each of your cheeses? Nostrala means “local cheese” in some Italian dialects so we chose it to reflect our area. “Alpindon” means Alpine Gift to reflect the traditions of Alpine Cheese making. And Mountain

Nostrala cheese

Nostrala cheese served with gently salted rosemary crackers. Yum is the word.

Grana because it is a hard grainy cheese.

Where can Vancouver folks buy your cheese? les amis du FROMAGE and Benton Bros distribute for us.

It can be easy to forget where things come from when grocery shopping in the city, perhaps an out of sight out of mind concept, but this cheese is milked and made in BC! So the next time you indulge on some cheese, maybe to pair with a new wine, I suggest this organic handcrafted mountain cheese made in the Kootenays!

2010 Summer Wine List

Courtesy of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s 2010 Top 25 Under 25 event – that I attended earlier this year. On arrival, the staff handed out wallet sized cards, as a takeaway, which listed all 25 wines.

Because summer time is a great time to try new wines, here is the list:

From 2010 Buyer’s Guide: 25 under $25, PlayhouseWineFest.com

1. Argentina: Bodega Catana Zapata Alamos Malbec ’08, $15.99
2. Argentina: Bodegas Francois Lurton Pinot Gris Reserve ’08, $18.99
3. Argentina: Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Reserva Cab Sauv ’08, $15.99

4. Australia: d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache ’07, $23.00
5. Australia: Evans & Tate Margaret River Chard., ’08 $19.99
6. Australia: Hardys, The Chronicles Butchers Gold Shiraz Sangiovese ’08, $15.95
7. Australia: Peter Lehmann Wines Clancy’s Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, ’08 $16.99

8. BC: Gray Monk Estate Winery Pinot Auxerrois, ’09, $15.99
9. BC: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Cab. Franc ’07 $17.99

10. Chile: Vina Cliterra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon ’09, $12.99
11. Chile: Miguel Torres Cordillera Chardonnay, ’08, $21.99

12. France: Blason de Bourgogen/ La Chablisienne Cremant De Bourgogne NV, $24.99
13. France: Reutenauer les Vins du Sud Quest Chateau Croix du Mayne ’07, $19.99

14. Schloss Reinhartshausen Estate Riesling QBA Troken ’07 $19.99
15. Italy: Altesino Rosso di Toscana IGT ’06, $21.99
16. Italy: Santa Margherita Prosecco Brut Valdobbiadene, DOC NV $21.99

17. New Zealand: Allan Scott Family Winemakers Marlborough Pinot Noir, $24.00
18. New Zealand: Stoneleigh Riesling ’09 $19.99
19. New Zealand: Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauv. Blanc ’09 $19.99

20. South Africa: Nederberg Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling ’08, $22.99
21. Spain: Grupo Faustino Fortius Tempranillo ’07 $13.99
22. Spain: Freixenet Cordon Rosado NV, $14.99
23. LJ. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay ’08 $22.99

24. US: MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, ’07 $24.99
25. US: Stonehedge Winery Cab. Sauv. ’06 $19.99

At the tasting event, I tried almost all of the wines and all were enjoyable. Most liquor stores or wine stores should carry these.

But if you can’t find them, sometimes, I confess, it is simply fun to pick a new wine purely based on the label… Regardless, happy patio dining!