Friday, September 14, 2007

Italian Rice & Peas

Italian Rice & Peas or better known as "Risi e Bisi" is a dish that I want to perfect and came across an interesting recipe when doing some investigating. Risi e Bisi is basically a risotto made with peas, but the recipe I came across uses broth made from the pea pods. I love recipes that utilize every part of an ingredient!
For those of you, who have never made risotto before, it is a rice dish made with a risotto rice (Arborio is the variety most popular in supermarkets here) that is constantly stirred with gradually adding small amounts of broth. The result is a very creamy rice dish that is incredible, especially when made with a complexity of flavours absorbed into the rice.
Needless to say, I did make a version of Risi e Bisi, but it needs more work. The broth from the pods was good but was somewhat bitter on its own, and afterwards felt like the rice could have benefited by starting with a cup of white wine with a touch of sweetness like a Gewurztraminer or a Riesling. Nevertheless, I will experiment some more in the spring with a fresh batch of peas... as unfortunately fresh peas are very difficult or next to impossible to find this time of the year!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Boys from Landsdowne Earls

While in Penticton, I was able to get together with a couple of great guys and we had a bit of a reunion. All three of us opened the Earls in Landsdowne Mall in Richmond approximately 10 years ago.

Rob Siddon (on the left with his daughter) is now General manager of Coast Wholesale Appliances in Kelowna, and James Bryan (on the right with his daughter) is the Executive Chef at the Ramada Inn & Suites in Penticton.

We reminisced all evening long, drank some great Winter Pudding (a fantastic smooth dark beer from Earls) and got reaquainted. There was a whole team of us back then, and I would like to hear from more of the original team that opened Earls Landsdowne back in 97. If you were part of this original team, or know of someone that was, please get in touch with me at


What a beautiful drive it was arriving in the Okanagan. As we gazed out at magnificent Lake Okanagan I said to Katherine "Why do we not live here?" The rolling hills spotted with vineyards and orchards makes for the perfect backdrop for this pristine lake... and as a chef I was getting excited about all of the fresh locally available produce and array of wines.

Then realization set in, and I began to remember that all areas are beautiful and bountiful in their own ways... and the Fraser Valley is also very abundant in local produce and wines.

My book signing at Okanagan Books went as scheduled and I met many great people in Penticton. The population of this community of approximately 38,000 over triples for the weekend of Peach Fest so the streets and events were very packed with people, but it was fun nonetheless. My son Noah enjoyed his very first Parade... and his first lollipop! Katherine and I sampled some great food and some even better wines. We arrived home yesterday with a collection of 4 great whites (even though we are mainly red wine drinkers!) and some local peaches, plums, blackberries, and of course garlic!
Unfortunately, there was not enough time to perform any peach cooking shows, but we already have our sights set on next year's Peach Fest and hopefully this time arranging a cooking stage and creating some great peach recipes!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Peach Fest in Penticton

Well today we are off to Penticton to help them celebrate their long standing tradition of celebrating peaches at the "Peach Festival". Since I am a regular columnist of the Penticton Herald I have been invited up by the Editor to do a couple of book signings and hopefully some impromtu cooking shows at a local restaurant. If these shows come about, it will be sort of a Iron Chef with peaches as the secret ingredient... with no challenger... just the audience of samplers to please!
Also there's a good chance of having a bit of a reunion with some of the guys I used to work with at Earls Landsdowne. A few of them now live and work in the Okanagan and it would be great to see them. I will update you on the Festival when I get back.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kristal Barrett

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Kristal Barrett - Country's newest "up & coming" star. A woman who is very real and true to her family and loved ones. Look for her at and look for a recipe by me dedicated to her in the near future. She recently performed at the Abbotsford Agrifair and stopped by my cooking stage to say hello, catch a couple shows, and also came on stage to help me make Blueberry Cheesecake Crepes. Her Mom said she was now going to get Kristal to make her these crepes at home - I hope you took notes Kristal.

Here she is pictured on the right with me, my son Noah, and my beautiful wife Katherine.
Kristal's first single "High on Life" was just released yesterday and I wish her the best of luck & success. If you're a country music fan, please support local talent and request her single as much as possible from your favorite country station.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Abbotsford Agrifair 2007

I just completed another 16 cooking shows over the August long weekend at the Abbotsford Agrifair, and yesterday my voice was in recovery mode... not good for everyday talking but great for singing low Johnny Cash songs!
The crowds at the shows were phenominal, and I met many great people - one of the things I love most about what I do. My cooking stage was indoors this year (last year we had a great outdoor covered venue right beside the consessions) and thus I was a bit skeptical that we would see the same kind of numbers... but because of the great impression we left on everyone last year, they searched me out, found me, and enjoyed another series of shows.
This year's cooking stage was sponsored by the BC Blueberry Council and therefore 3 of the 5 recipes I performed were, of course, made with this incredible fruit! A big thank you to everyone that attended my shows. You're the ones that make the cooking stage a regular part of the Fair and I am very grateful. Also, a big thanks to everyone involved in running Agrifair, and I am looking forward to working with you all again in August 2008!