d'oro at vancouver international wine festival

This article originally appeared on Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver on March 28, 2017.

Sometimes the best value events at the Vancouver International Wine Festival are not necessarily the cheapest, but the ones where the best of food and wine come together in one exclusive event.  The Vintners Brunch is such an event which for the mere price of $160 brings the best of Vancouver chefs together to offer dishes paired with the best of wineries. Its a social event where one can mingle with chefs and fellow foodies and oenophiles to taste the best of the festival.


Professionals from the food and wine industry were on hand to choose the winner of the annual Judges’ Choice Award – wine scribe Tim Pawsey of HiredBelly.com; chef Julian Bond of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts; food, travel and wine writer, Joanne Sasvari; and sommelier Josh Clark of Victoria’s Il Terrazzo Ristorante. The following are the winning pairings.

1st Place

D’oro Gelato e Caffè
Gaspar Jovino Brites & Giorgia Zanone

BC Carrot and Citrus Sorbetto served “A la Piemontesina”
paired with Mondo del Vino Acquesi Asti Spumante DOCG NV, Piedmont, Italy

Gaspar and Giorgia received $3,000 USD in Delta Air Lines vouchers as the winning chefs.

2nd Place

Railtown Catering
Sous Chef Ljubek Dehlic

Pork Belly and Scallop, Apple Parsnip Purée, Grilled Radicchio, Pickled Shiitake, Pepper Jus
paired with Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand

3rd Place

Vancouver Convention Centre
Executive Chef Mark Massicotte

Cassoulet of Duck Confit, Merguez Sausage and Slow Braised Pork Hock with Lingot Beans and Black Garlic Glace de Viandem, Chicharrons paired with M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut L’Esquerda 2015, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France

Honorable Mention

The Blackbird Public House:  Smoked and Charred Eggplant, Spiced Pork, Marcona Almonds, Farinata
paired with Les Vins Bonhomme Losada Vinos de Finca – Losada 2012, Bierzo, Spain

Personal Favorites

Chicha:  Octupus Causa, Basil Cold Whipped Potato, Octopus and Heart of Palm Ceviche, Peruvian Black Oil Aioli, Balsamic Reduction, Chorizo Oil
paired with Suvla Wines Kabatepe Rosé 2014, Gallipoli, Turkey

Forage:  Rabbit River Quail, Egg Shakshuka, Pork Lomo, Kootenay Alpindon, Brioche Croutons
paired with Culmina Family Estate Winery Decora (Riesling) 2015, Golden Mile Bench, British Columbia

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House: House Cured Scallop with a Mediterranean Couscous Salad
paired with Yalumba Viognier 2015, Eden Valley, Australia

Notch8 at the Hotel Vancouver:  Valrhona Guanaja chocolate Gateau Spiced Cherry Fondant Brandy Snap
paired with Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV, Douro Valley, Portugal

Other Pairings

ARC at Fairmont Waterfront:  Elk Sausage Benedict, Plum Mostarda, Brioche, Poached Quail Egg, Salted Pistachio Brittle Moon Curser Vineyards Malbec 2013, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Lift Bar Grill View:  Herbed Guanciale with savoury Apple Compote Tapioca Crisp
paired with Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Ocean Mama Seafood:  Braised Fennel and Tarragon Risotto, Parmesan Foam Pickled Vegetable Salad
paired with Viña Errázuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Aconcagua Costa, Chile

The Patio at Lake Breeze:  Scallop and Crisp Chicken Skin, Smoked Bell Pepper and Lime Cream
paired with Lake Breeze Vineyards Seven Poplars Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Showcase Restaurant and Bar:  Duck Waffles, Smoked Duck Crackling Crumble, Bearnaise Aioli, 70 Degree Yolk, Berry Compote
paired with Osoyoos Larose Pétales d’Osoyoos 2013, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery:  Seared Albacore Tuna, Carrot Emulsion, Pickled Carrots, Smoked Bacon Dressing, and Spiced Micro Greens
paired with Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2015, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

WildTale Coastal Grill:  Wagyu Beef Shortrib Croquettes and Dungess Crab, 7-Hour Braised Wagyu, Pacific Dungess Crab Remoulade
paired with Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Arroyo Seca, California

Also featuring Arla Foods and Caffè Umbria

vitners brunch hiredbelly

This article originally appeared on Hired Belly on March 4, 2017.

D’oro Gelato: A moment in the sun

Vintners Brunch is a bit like that favourite item on a restaurant menu. It might feel a little bit dated. Maybe it needs a freshen up now and again. However, tweak it too much and you’ll be in trouble.

What’s more, for the lucky few (well, 450 or so) who have it on speed dial, it’s the ultimate festival wrap party. When the festival releases tickets, Vintners Brunch is still the first event to sell out.

It all comes down to this: VB is one great party, held in an amazing venue. Furthermore, the major draw is a cornucopia of dishes paired with some good wines. Not to mention Rueben Gurr and his Stolen Moments band. They alone over the years have helped shape one of the week’s liveliest events.

However, behind the scenes a more serious scenario unfolds. A rigorous judging is underway to decide the best food and wine pairing. This is a “blind” judging, meaning nobody knows which chef’s plate is on the table. And nobody has access to the event program.

As a judge from Day One,  it’s been rewarding to watch the quality and sophistication mature. The original idea behind the judging was to raise the tenor of the event. To try to turn the pairing aspect into a little more serious undertaking. And to recognize the skills of chefs and somms who participate.

D’oro gets gold

Every year somebody unexpected pops up in the top three. I’m not sure why that is, as there’s a truckload of experienced talent in the room. But it is refreshing. And, consequently, a great way for young chefs to get some exposure.

Gelato Rules

Even though, as always, the emphasis is on savoury plates, this year a dessert won best food and wine match.

When the last dish was cleared and the numbers tallied D’Oro Gelato grabbed top spot. D’Oro Gelato’s Giorgia Zanone and Gaspar Jovino Brites came up with a wicked BC Carrot and Citrus Sorbetto served ‘a la Piemontesina’. It was matched with Mondo Del Vino Acquesi Asti Spumante DOCG NV. The pairing was perfect.

Giorgia has some experience with the festival. D’Oro offers free samples of their gelato in the International Tasting Room, next to Caffe Umbria. I have been known to enjoy the occasional affogato mid tasting…

When invited to create a dessert in Vintners Brunch she jumped at the chance.

“Yes. Let’s do it!,” she said.

Participants are offered a few wines with which to work. Zanone says she chose the Asti over Port. And gelato was a natural choice.

“I’m from that region and know that wine. I thought I’d like to try it. Why not?”, she says.

I like her style. Plus: These guys are good…

“We made the dessert two times and decided the pairing worked,” she says.


A perfect match

When D’Oro Gelato’s dish arrived, even before we tasted, we were charmed. The presentation was precise and exquisitely garnished.

Vintners Brunch food and wine pairing winners, D’Oro Gelato’s Giorgia Zanone and Gaspar Jovino Brites

However, this was more than just a pretty plate. For the sorbetto Zanone used carrot and mandarin with a sponge cake base. On the side was honey and saffron ‘caviar’, milk chocolate filled with Cointreau, and candied almond. The piece de resistance was perfectly crispy carrot chips, which had been poached and dehydrated. Finally, The duo went the extra mile by making a non-dairy and gluten free dessert. That in itself was a smart move considering the number of people in the room.

The choice of ingredients was a perfect match for the floral, fruity and gently citrus elements in the wine. What’s more the lightness of the sorbetto’s texture also played nicely off the weight of the wine.

Giorgia Zanone attends Northwest Culinary Academy, from where she’ll graduate in May. She is the pastry chef at D’Oro on Denman St., where she works with Gaspar Brites. You could say he has gelato in his blood. He’s an Italian trained and certified Gelataio, who has worked in Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, and now (lucky for us) in Canada.

It’s unusual for a dessert to to come out on top. Although, the academy did win before with a dessert, in 2008.

“I never expected to win, for sure!”, she laughs.

Not only did they get all the glory. The pair won $3,000 US in Delta Airlines vouchers.

Congratulations to D’Oro Gelato!

You can find them in Vancouver  on Robson and on Denman streets—and likely at next year’s wine festival!

On line at dorogc.ca

Congrats also to…

Second Place… Railtown Catering (Pork belly and scallop with apple parsnip purée, grilled radicchio, pickled shiitake and pepper jus. Paired with Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013)

Third Place…Vancouver Convention Centre (Cassoulet of duck confit, merguez sausage and slow braised pork hock with Lingot beans and black garlic glace de viande chicharons. Paired with M. Chapoutier Bila Haut L’Esquerda 2015.)

How it works

Thanks to a wicked crew of volunteers, everything runs like to clockwork. Because of that, the panel is able to judge one dish with its paired wine every six minutes.

As a result, the judging adds up to two hours of non-stop tasting and scoring. At the end is a brief discussion, before announcing the results.

It’s probably not the most leisurely brunch. But it is always tasty, interesting—and surprising!


In conclusion, sincere thanks to my fellow judges for being such a collegial group. Moreover, extra appreciation for not being anti-Asti snobs.

Julian Bond – Executive Chef and VP of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Josh Clark – Certified Sommelier and consultant, Il Terrazzo, Victoria, and panel chair

Joanne Sasvari – Vancouver based food, drink and travel writer, Vancouver SunWest Ender and other publications

This article originally appeared on VancityAsks.com on August 3, 2016.

Where do you find the best Ice Cream in Vancouver? Don’t miss these fabulous local ice cream shops this summer.

A lot of work has gone into creating this list of the best ice cream shops in Vancouver. First, we carefully looked at over 50 ice cream shops (the ground work) and closely checked those for the best reviews (the short-list), and finally there was tasting a lot of ice cream (hard work as I mentioned) to compile the top 5 ice cream in Vancouver. (All the articles and recommendations on VancityAsks follow a similar process to truly highlight the best of Vancouver with minimum bias. Any tastings are also paid for to avoid bias.)

We’ve considered local recommendations and online blog reviews to find the initial highlights then first-hand experience to validate our choices. (by the way, eating ice cream can be hard on your diet). We hope we’ve chosen correctly but your feedback and comments bellow will influence the list of the best ice cream in Vancouver on VancityAsks.

The article is long but worth a read if you love ice cream.

Here are the five best Ice Cream shops in Vancouver, BC:

1) Bella Gelateria:

Bella Gelateria is an award winning ice cream shop nestled in downtown Vancouver, BC by Coal Harbor. They actually serve gelato which is the Italian word for ice cream. Traditionally, gelato is also made with lesser cream, no eggs (though Bella Gelateria uses eggs) and more milk while being churned slowly. The end result is, you get a creamy cool treat with less fat (per ml) that’s more luxurious and weighty because of the lesser air incorporated. Read more about the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream here.

You taste the difference with Bella Gelateria freshly made, small-batch gelato ice cream in Vancouver, BC. Bella Gelateria is commit as well to using as many fresh and local ingredients as possible with no preservatives in their gelato. You’ve likely seen one of their many awards for their ice cream featured on the storefront by Coal Harbor with a line wrapping around the Fairmont hotel building. It’s definitely worth a taste if you’re looking for good ice cream in Vancouver or authentic Italian gelato. The price is comparable to any artisan ice cream shop in Vancouver setting you back $5.50 per scoop. (Outrageous pricing for ice cream but it’s truly artisan, quality ice cream in the heart of downtown Vancouver and the typical cost of good ice cream in Vancouver). If you have a celebration coming up, cakes are available at Bella Gelateria for $72 per 10”.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellaGelateria

Yelp: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/bella-gelateria-vancouver-2

Address: 1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B7

2) Earnest Ice Cream:

Mention ice cream in Vancouver, and Earnest Ice Cream likely comes to mind. They’re rightfully considered by many Vancouver locals to be the best ice cream in Vancouver. Earnest Ice Cream started with humble beginnings as an ice cream trike back in 2012 selling brown paper wrapped, home-made ice cream sandwiches made by Ben. It evolved into an ice cream store shortly after. They are famous for artisan, home-made, FRESH (really fresh) ice cream; Earnest uses fresh and often local ingredients void of any preservatives or additives. It’s good old-fashion ice cream.

Tangent: This is a rather interesting story; Earnest Ice Cream is unique. Ever wondered why Earnest Ice cream makes do without the traditional see-through displays? (Removing the visual selling point.) You’d typically hope to see what you may indulge with, wouldn’t you? Well, Ben and Erica are probably marketing geniuses! They want to emphasize on the story telling and the experience of their fresh and local Vancouver ice cream creations. They wanted their products properly represented I suppose. In an marketplace that leans more towards ethical consumerism and experiential buying (thanks to technology and millennials), Ben made the smart and purposeful decision not to display their ice cream so he could rely on his service personnel to narrate the ice cream to you…rather than the consumer judging by glances, you get the story of the ice cream – it’s about the experience remember? The premium ingredients, the process, and the taste. That’s marketing genius it seems but it also provides a more personable experience for customers so you can expect service and attention and an overall positive experience with your ice cream at Earnest.

Interesting fact – It’s been proven that restaurants using descriptive words like “homemade” and “fresh” can raise the willingness to pay of consumers by 27%.

With all the work that goes into their home made Vancouver ice cream, it well justifies the $5 price tag for a single scoop and $7 for a double. Many certainly think so because they have flocks of locals outside their shop every weekend of summer. Earnest Ice Cream is known for their rotating, unique and seasonal flavors. All their ice cream are made fresh on a regular basis; you can find the latest flavors available on their website. A sample of their current flavors includes “Vegan Mint Chip”, “Matcha Green Tea”, “Raspberry”, “Sour Cherry Goat Cheese”, “Whiskey Caramel”,“London Fog”, “Tahitian Vanilla”, and “Salted Cameral”.

Another Tangent: Where did the name Earnest Ice Cream come from? The name Earnest Ice cream was inspired by Ben’s last name (another observation, many of the renown brands and businesses today are often the founder’s name isn’t it – is Earnest next?); it was also chosen because the word “earnest” means honest and true which is what Ben and Erica hopes their Ice cream shop embodies. Honest and true Vancouver ice cream (not with the preservatives and fillers). The price tag is high for ice cream but certainly worthy for its quality.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EarnestIceCream/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/earnest-ice-cream-vancouver-2

Address: 3992 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4E4

3) Rain or Shine:

Rain or Shine ice cream in Kitsilano is a local ice cream shop that scoops up home-made ice cream made with milk from Birchwood Dairy Farm. A theme with Rain or Shine is being environmentally friendly. Their objective is to reduce their carbon foot print and support locals hence all their ice cream is sourced with ingredients as close to the point of chaos deliciousness as possible. The ice cream produced at Rain or Shine is made fresh on a regular basis. You’ll notice an open kitchen concept with their stores so locals and patrons can view how their ice cream is made.

Established in November of 2013, Rain or Shine is quickly becoming a Vancouver favourite in Kitsilano. We like their emphasis on community. Flavors at Rain or Shine range from Honey Lavender and Blueberry Balsamic to the classics like Peanut Butter and Salted Cameral. Rain or Shine ice cream emphasizes on friendly service at this Vancouver ice cream shop. Prices here are typical of good ice cream shops; you’ll find yourself spending about $4.50 per scoop.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rainorshineYVR/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/rain-or-shine-ice-cream-vancouver

Address: 1926 West 4th Ave #102, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M6

4) D’oro Gelato & Café 

D’oro Gelato & Café is a gelato shop conveniently located on Robson street in downtown Vancouver once again. Arguably one of the most under-discovered ice cream shops in Vancouver, this gelato shop is a hidden gem. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the rich, creamy and authentic gelato. The gelato is “home-made” like your Italian grandma might do it (if you had one…) with some rotating flavors. Their gelato is made fresh daily in small batches with local and seasonal ingredients as usual of quality ice cream shops in Vancouver, BC. The history of this gelato and café shop dates back to 2000 with the help of a gelato expert otherwise known as a “Gelateria Artiginale. It’s as authentically Italian as it gets outside Italy and also one of the best ice creams in Vancouver whether gelato or not.

D’oro Gelato & Café continues to follow the same standard of quality and artistic Sicilian practices with making their gelato today. The luxurious taste and quality is distinct with D’oro Gelato & Café matched with equally good service in a neat little café by Robson street. Don’t miss this Vancouver ice cream shop. Great service and good food with an unsurpassed atmosphere for an Italian café.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorogc/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/d-oro-gelato-e-caff%C3%A8-vancouver-6

Address: 1222 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 3Y4

5) Johnny’s Pops:

The best for last right? They serve unique flavors of premium popsicles. It’s not really popsicles; it’s a complete cold-desert. Their “popsicle” is notorious not only for delicious flavor combinations but for having whole treats in that stick of goodness. Johnny freshly makes these popsicles himself.

Much like Earnest Ice Cream’s beginning, is sold from an ice trike that roams around Vancouver. Flavors includes mini-donuts popsicle, chocolate brownies, peaches and cream, or fresh local berries concoction like blueberries. It’s often a simple favourite of many locals for a cool treat on a summer day. Unfortunately they are usually in North Vancouver which makes it a bit of trek. Finally had the chance to try their pops at #PopCrawl Vancouver; the chocolate brownie is more than a popsicle; you have chewy pieces of brownie, dark chocolate flavor, creamy base, and a pinch of salt. While it was given away free at PopCrawl event, you’d typically have to pay $3.50 for the tasty treat. A $3.50 popsicle may not be a favorable price-point however you can buy it for $2 with an app which is a worthy bargain.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Johnnys-Pops-366445543465850/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/johnnys-pops-vancouver-3

Address: Depends on where Johnny goes.

Do you have a favourite that we missed? Share it bellow and have your say. This list will be amended base on feedback.

Worth a Mention: There are a growing number of ice cream and cool treats in Vancouver, BC. Here are some that didn’t quite make it on the list unfortunately – picking one leaves out another. Many of these are unique ice cream shops in Vancouver that are worth a visit or in the case of Rocky Point Ice cream, too far from Vancouver central to be featured above (else they’d have come in #5)

Rocky Point Ice Cream – This is one of my personal favourite ice cream in the Greater Vancouver Area. People who grew up in the tri-cities know that Rocky Point Ice cream is an establishment in the community. They are located in Port Moody by Rocky Point park, hence its name and they make their own ice cream fresh. The owners are very involved in the Port Moody community and are passionate about ice cream. They spent about a year travelling around learning how to make the best ice cream they can (including to Italy) then they came back and started crafting fresh ice cream for locals. They’ve perfected their craft it seems; the ice cream is delicious on a hot summer day. It’s packed during summer with a line as long as 10 meters around their newly renovated shop. The staff is friendly and very generous with their ice cream portions. Price is about $4-5 for one scoop on a waffle cone and had various flavors like salted cameral and chocolate.  Once again as the ice cream is made fresh on site, the flavors do rotate regularly. It didn’t quite make it onto the list because it’s farther away from Vancouver, in Port Moody, BC.

A nice tip: If you live in Vancouver downtown, catch the West Coast Express on a Friday (leaves at 3:50, 4:30, 5:30) which brings you right to Port Moody by Rocky Point Park and enjoy your ice cream, Pajo’s fish and chips, and the nice inlet before making your way back to Vancouver. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable trip on the WCE by the coastline of Vancouver; the tidal inlet is a spot where Vancouver residents HAVE to visit; there’s a nature trail by the coast line too.

La Casa Gelato – No introduction is needed for La Casa Gelato. This is the Chinese owned (I think?) gelato shop that spots over 200 flavors! I was impressed at the variety and the row after row of ice cream flavors displayed. You can taste a few and buy what you like most. The ice cream shop is located in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood. While the ice cream is good, it’s mainly the experience of seeing over 200 flavors of ice cream (from Durian to black sesame) that draws patrons in. The Vancouver gelato shop is good but not necessary the best relative to D’oro or Bella.

Mister – Mister is another liquid nitrogen ice cream shop in Vancouver’s Yaletown community. People say that the price at Mister is steep at $7 whereas the taste doesn’t necessary appeal to the masses.  However, if you wanted to taste ice cream that Adele has enjoyed in Vancouver then Mister is the place. The UK singer shared about their ice cream she had on stage during her performance in Vancouver. Sooo…if you want a taste of what the famous eat when visiting Vancouver then perhaps Mister is your bid at $7 for a small cup of liquid nitrogen ice cream. Other than that, maybe not?

720 Sweets – 720 Sweets made its debut in Vancouver back in the fall of 2015 and wowed Vancouverites with their nitrogen ice cream. The theme with their ice cream shop appears to be pseudo-science (from appearance); from nitrogen ice cream to their modern drinks (you can choose varying levels of sweetness). The presentation is excellent though the taste is another; it is a worthwhile visit to experience the nitrogen ice cream but likely not a regular ice cream favourite in Vancouver.

UYU Ice Cream – UYU Ice Cream is another must-try ice cream shop in downtown Vancouver, Gastown to be more precise. They serve soft-serve ice cream with a variety of toppings (something like Scoop! but actually done right). UYU means milk in Korean so you know it’s a little k-pop inspired (kidding). They boast that their ice cream is perfectly balanced, never too sweet (that’s a relieve) or creamy but fresh and delicious. What’s unique about UYU Ice Cream in downtown Vancouver is  the soft-serve flavors; the use of organic milk with their soft-serve flavors such as “Vietnamese coffee”, “salted cameral” and “cereal milk”. They also spot unique flavor toppings such as black sesame powder. A standard soft-serve at UYU Ice Cream is priced at $4.75 which includes a free drizzle sauce.

Red Rooster – Red Rooster is the new kid on the block as far as Vancouver’s artisan ice cream shops are concerned. Their ice cream per usual of Vancouver’s artisan ice cream is made fresh with an emphasis on local ingredients void of preservatives. The owners begun the ice cream shop out of their love for ice cream and the interest with seeing kids smile (seems the common factor with good ice cream shops as you’ll find with Rocky Point Ice cream bellow)


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