Things I Learned at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton

I had a great weekend close to home at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton BC last weekend at I am seriously thinking of trying to get to the next one in Santa Barbara in 2014.

I learned a lot of things about wine and our local wine industry and also a few ideas on how to get my blog off the ground. I met an amazing bunch of wine and food bloggers, wine industry types and people from all over, not just North America but South America and Spain! Many of the bloggers are seriously talented writers and I feel honoured to have been in their presence.

This was the first time the WBC had been held outside of the U.S and even though the participant numbers were down according to Zephyr Adventures Owner Allan Wright, “It was time”.  He said they had purposely pushed back the Penticton venue an extra year in order for the U.S participants to get travel plans and passports in order. And I’m thrilled that I happened to be in the right place at the right time and was able to participate! my thanks go out to Allison Markin who really made this happen here for our area and to all her minions and sponsors.

Some things I learned during my fabulous immersion into the world of Wine Blogging were:

1. Don’t overdo it on the first night.

Or this may happen:

bazandthewhale

I was so excited to get started that I jumped in with both…glasses so to speak. I started trying whatever was offered and suddenly realized “Hey! I didn’t really eat yet and I am getting rather tipsy!” So I slowed down a bit, ate a few of the amazing Gone Crackers and made note to eat more before anymore tasting sessions. Which brings me to the next point.

2. Learn to Spit

I know it’s the right way to taste wines and not get tipsy…now I know ! But heck! All that gorgeous wine just getting spat out into buckets seems so wrong to low budget old me! I started telling the pourers to slow down on the pours during the speed tasting sessions , but more about those later!

3. Maybe I do like White Wines after all!

Well, some of them. I’ve discovered I like Rieslings. I guess I am less a fan of those rich, sweet whites. Chards and Chenins don’t seem to appeal to me but I’d love to find some I do like. The best white of the weekend for me was the Upper Bench 2012 Riesling presented to us (at my table by the winemaker Gavin Miller) which rocked my white wine hatin’ sox. It so impressed me that 5 nights later I texted my guy to picked some up on he way home from work- he claims to not have seen the txt in time….hmmmm…but I will be popping in there soon for their wine and cheese and a blog to come!

upperbench

4. Charge your camera and take some freakin’ photos!

Sure, I have a phone that takes pictures but it’s a Blackberry and it takes crappy photos, most of which are too crappy to add here. Plus while everyone else was snapping pics of scenery, I thought, In my infinite wisdom”I live here! I don’t need scenery photos!’  Duh! Wrong! My amazing hike on day One with the Okanagan Falls Winery Association would have been so much easier to blog about with some great photos. more about this in 5.

wine blogger epic photo fail

5. OK Falls has some great wines and some great views!

I chose the Hiking Out Trip sponsored by the Okanagan Falls Winery Association  which took us up high above the southern end of Skaha lake to feast on lovely sandwiches, fruit and of course, delicious  wines from the wineries of that area. I can’t wait to have time to explore these wineries and do that hike again!

Wine Makers of Ok Falls

6. Wines from Uruguay are really good and I like Tannat, a wine I had never tried or even heard of before. Also the people of Uruguay are very smart and drink up most of the wine thus we can’t get much of it here in Canada. I met one of the Winery owners, Leslie Fellows of Artesana, and fell in love with her Tannat wines and just hope we can buy them here sometime at a decent price.

7. Speed Wine Tasting/Blogging is super fun and ridiculously crazy. It’s like speeding dating only wine makers come to your table every 5 minutes to try to engage you and seduce you to have  a relationship with their wine. Very exhilarating!

Something I knew but was reminded of at every turn…

-We live in a very beautiful part of the world here in the Okanagan Valley. Where else can you visit great wineries, climb mountains, play on a lake, ski, golf and experience great weather? Sure our wines aren’t available much outside of the Province or the Country but that’s possibly better for our wine tourism industry. Come here! Try our wines!

View from See Ya Later Ranch

I need to go to more conferences! Well seriously, where else can I meet lovely, like-minded people, eat fabulous foods, drink great wines and learn new things?

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Lamburgers and Foch!

Last night we made one of our favourite dinners. Lamburgers with Roasted Red Peppers and Bacon. this is more of a Paleo/Primal version of a burger sans bun. It’s a meat eaters dream combining flavours of smokey cheddar, coleslaw, lamb and succulent red pepper. this time we added Tzatziki sauce to see how it blended with the lambiness and it was a brilliant addition! Recipes at the bottom of the page!

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The more we make this meal, the more we enjoy it. I know it looks like a huge pile of  stuff but Oh My! The flavour!

I start by pan roasting the cut pieces of red pepper in a grill style frying pan. You could do this under the broiler or in a hot oven . I trim the sections so they lay as flat as possible in the pan and cook them at medium heat until they are soft with the blackened lines that just look grill ish.

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While the peppers are cooking we constructed the burgers. No egg is used as a bit of salt seems to keep things together. Finely diced garlic and onion along with a dash of grainy mustard gives the patty a boost. These patties we also cooked in the grill pan as the lamb would really flame up on the BBQ but your mileage may vary and you may want to try them on yer barby.

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We used homemade coleslaw, the creamy style, just a simple mayo based dressing. I also whipped up a quick bowl of Tzatziki using plain yogurt, grated cucumber, dill, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

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Then for an accompaniment I did a quick Greek Salad. I use the simple dressing rule of thumb; 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil and a handful of fresh Oregano plus fresh ground pepper. I add the olives and feta separately and some people don’t like olives (pah!) and I find the feta gets messy in any leftover salad.

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We agree that the burger and fixins’ part is enough without a starch on the side, and I rarely do starchy foods anymore. This meal would be suitable for those requiring a Gluten-Free diet.

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To finish off with a Sp!ash! I selected our favourite bold an meaty Red, a 2011 Lang Marechal Foch. At $18 it’s a great value wine with a robust flavour. It’s not a VQA wine so you won’t find it at the BCLCB but need to find a local wineshop that carries it or go to the Naramata Bench Winery for yourself and have a taste!

Now the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground lamb, beef or mixture of your choice
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 small white onion, diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 tsp Celtic or sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 whole red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil for frying (or oil of choice)
  • 2 to 4 strips of free range bacon
  • 2 slices of smoked aged or any cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup homemade or store bought creamy coleslaw

Cut red pepper into sections using the natural shape of the pepper and remove seeds and pith. Trim the 4 sections so they lay flat as possible. Pre-roast the red pepper in a 350° oven or pan roast without oil, turning frequently for about 30 mins or until it is soft and pliable. Remove the skin (optional).  Set aside.

Combine meat, mustard, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and form mixture into 4 firm patties. Cook the patties on a hot grill pan, frying pan (or BBQ) until cooked through turning often. While burgers are cooking also precook and drain the bacon on paper towel and keep warm. When the burgers are cooked, finish them off with the cheddar by melting the slices on two of the four burgers using a lid over the pan for a minute or 2. Drain the burgers if desired.

To construct the masterpieces place a cheese topped burger on each plate and top that with a slice of the red pepper and a slice of cooked bacon (and tzatziki if you want to be adventuresome). Place the remaining patty on top of that and garnish with the remaining pepper, bacon and a large dollop of coleslaw. (We have also thrown some Coleslaw between the patties but this makes them a bit slidey)

Eat with a Knife and Fork!

Prep Time :20 mins

Cooking Time: 15 mins

Number of servings: 2