Category Archives: Food Prizes

2015 Ends With Two Wins!

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 was a great one for all of you, and that 2016 will bring you much joy and happiness. Personally, I’m sad to see 2015 go. I had one of my best years ever—a new job, great graphic design classes, a wonderful trip overseas, and some fantastic new friendships.

With all the changes in my professional and personal life, I didn’t have as much time for entering contests in 2015. However, I did have some memorable wins earlier this year and December ended with two wins; a great way to end 2015.

The first was a $50 drink and appie voucher for the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier (North Vancouver) courtesy of Got Craft? I enjoy going to this craft show every year before Christmas and this year was an especially nice experience because of the meal I shared with my mother at the hotel preceding the event. Here are the two appetizers we had:

Charcuterie Plate
Charcuterie Plate
Fish Tacos
Fish Tacos







Both were absolutely delicious! The charcuterie plate delighted us with its array of cheeses, prosciutto, pate, dried cranberries, and more. The fish tacos were also very unique, as they were wrapped in jicama and had a light and fresh flavour that we both enjoyed.

Our server was very friendly and the restaurant had lovely Christmas decorations that put us in the festive spirit for some crafting at the market.

My last prize of the year was a CND Vinylux nail polish set which I won via an online holiday giveaway launched by The Style Spy. I will be receiving my prize in January. If you’d like a preview of what’s due to arrive at my doorstep in the coming weeks, click here. This final prize is worth $137, making my total winnings for the year $412.

So ends 2015. A year I’ll look back on with fondness. 2016 promises to be an exciting one as well, with more changes coming my way! Here’s hoping for some more wins too!


Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Dinner, Part Two

Brewmaster's Dinner

For those of you who missed last week’s post on Win #4, I will provide you with a brief recap of what happened. The rest of you can skip gleefully past the next paragraph and get ready to learn what my husband thought of five Okanagan Spring beers.

I was delighted to win two tickets to the Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Dinner at Mamie Taylor‘s courtesy of Miss 604. However there was a problem. I don’t drink beer. I have tried many times to cultivate a love for Canada’s national beverage, but I have failed. However, I have somewhat redeemed myself by marrying a devotee of the brew. Thus, if you’re here for the beer, here are some excerpts from the on-the-spot reviews I got Ryan to record:

Beer #1: Okanagan Spring Pale Ale

“This is a particularly nice beer…It’s a nice, well-balanced, mellow beer..really approachable. I could pretty much drink this all day, and possibly I will.”

Beer #2: Okanagan Spring Sonder Hefeweizen

“This is a wheat beer…and if you like wheat beers, I think you’ll like this one. It’s got a very strong vanilla overtone, which is quite interesting for a wheat beer. Generally, this is like kinda your ideal summer beer.”

Beer #3: Okanagan Spring Cloudy Amber Ale

“I like it a lot, ’cause it’s beer..well, it’s got kind of a nice, mellow amber ale-ness. Basically, an amber ale should have a nice, strong beer flavour, a nice balance of hops, and beer-ness  and it’s got all of that. This is a perfectly, decent amber ale.

Beer #4: Okanagan Spring Porter

“To be honest, my tastebuds are kind of shot by the previous four beers, but if you like porter, I think you’ll like this porter.”

Now, at this point you may be wondering why the first beer of the evening, the Okanagan Spring 1516 Bavarian Lager hasn’t received a review. That is because it was served as part of a michelada cocktail, so it wasn’t possible to assess its flavour on its own. However, Ryan very much enjoyed the cocktail.

When asked what his favourite beer of the night was, Ryan had difficulty picking a clear winner. He enjoyed everything he drank, but particularly liked the porter and the amber ale because they most closely aligned with the type of beers he particularly likes.

Win #4: Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Dinner, Part One

Before the ImbibingThe first courseThe Second Course

I love food. I especially love free food. Perhaps now you can guess my motivation for entering Miss 604‘s contest to win two tickets to the Okanagan Spring Brewmaster’s Dinner at Mamie Taylor’s. I was delighted when I won this prize, however there was a problem. I don’t drink beer. I have tried many times to cultivate a love for Canada’s national beverage, but I have failed. However, I have somewhat redeemed myself by marrying a devotee of the brew. Thus, this is the first of two blog posts on our Thursday evening experience. If you love food, be prepared to revel in my very detailed descriptions of the delectable four courses we enjoyed. If you’re here for the beer, wait for part two, when some on-the-spot reviews on the five beers Ryan tasted that evening will be presented.

This was our first time at Mamie Taylor’s. The atmosphere is warm and the long tables lent themselves well to conversing with our dining companions. I’m not a fan of taxidermy, but I did like the rather whimsical wallpaper of animal targets on the bathroom wall. Vegetarians, however, would be less amused I’m sure. Mind you, Norman Bates would feel right at home.

Our first course (pictured above) was a tuna smokie, garnished with fennelkraut and dijonaise. I could never have imagined how flavourful and moist tuna could be. In fact, I never even knew such a thing as a tuna smokie existed. Our table mates also seemed equally amazed and delighted by this passed canapé. I have to give the bun its due as well. So many times I’ve enjoyed the meat of a burger or the filling of a sandwich, only to have been let down by the bread. This bun was a worthy home for the delectable tuna vessel it housed. Overall, a very impressive start to the meal.

The appetizer (also pictured above) that followed was cornmeal fried rock fish with cajun spices, orange, fennel, parsley, and old bay aioli. I can’t remember if I’ve ever had rock fish before, but I found the taste light and somewhat similar to sole. What made the dish special was the crispy cornmeal and the refreshing slaw that accompanied it. I’m not sure I would seek out rock fish for its own sake though, it didn’t have the depth of flavour that I so enjoy in other white fish.

Main CourseDessert

Do I have your attention?! Look at the beautifully presented, scrumptious offerings above! The main course was slow roasted porchetta accompanied by roasted apples, polenta, and an olive and herb puree. The crackling on the porchetta was like the most perfectly crisp bacon that melted in your mouth. Yes, it was rich. But no, I regret nothing! Diabetes, high blood pressure, muffin top, come what may, this was worth every calorie. The polenta was an incredible standout as well, especially given that I have been rather meh on polenta in the past. Again, oh so crispy, and excellently paired with the puree.

Finally, we arrived at dessert. I was well and truly sated before it arrived, but I was powerless to say ‘no’ once I saw this brown sugar cake. Alongside it was custard made with Okanagan Spring Porter. It had all the depth of flavour of a sticky toffee pudding, but the custard kicked it up a notch by bring beer notes to the party.

Now, having realized I have devoted well over 500 words to describing this meal to you, I strongly recommend that you put Mamie Taylor’s on your must-visit list. Chef Tobias Grignon knows how to put on a culinary show and I for one can’t wait to return for another delectable performance.

Contest note: This is my fourth win of the year, so I’m almost on track with my one-win-a-month goal. This prize, which I thank Miss 604 sincerely for winning, was worth approximately $100, making my total winnings to date approximately $203.


Chocolates in January

As the days turn colder and the excitement of the holiday season dies down, we find ourselves looking for warmth and quiet comfort. I found both at Rubens earlier this month.  Bundled up in my scarf and red coat, I went inside and ordered strawberry tea for myself and hot chocolate for my husband, Ryan. I paired my beverage with my two favourite chocolates: passionfruit matcha and English toffee. Ryan opted for their sinfully delicious brownie.

We sipped and munched away happily while I tried to decide how to spend the rest of my $50 this month. My thoughts turned first to my parents.  My Dad who was celebrating his name’s day in a few days, got the milk chocolate almond bark (his favourite Rubens product).  My Mom, who was planning a dinner party for 30+ people, got some sugar-free chocolate (diabetes is no fun).  Then, I remembered a friend who had just been fired. Chocolate therapy was in order and green apple truffles were the remedy of the day.

A chocolate fruit assortment was intended for another friend, but due to a bad day I had later in the month, it never reached her.  I can tell you, though, sometimes a little selfishness is very, very necessary.


For those of you following my winning ways, I am still entering contests.  Watch this space for updates!



November and December with Rubens

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Everyone!

I apologize for the long gap between posts. Since I came back from Europe at the end of October, life has been busier than I could have imagined. A nice escape from all the chaos has been going to Rubens, though. During the last two months, I have gone in and sipped their delicious strawberry black tea while making decisions for Christmas presents and getting supplies for my Christmas party. I’m afraid I can’t tell you about the former just yet, as it would spoil the surprise for some people on the 25th! However, in terms of the latter, I managed to get a large bag of milk chocolate buttons which were put to good use in a big pot of brandy-laced fondue. I also chose a dozen marshmallows dipped in various yummy toppings.


Rubens Travels Abroad

I write this latest instalment high above the clouds. My long journey to Greece has begun. And so, incidentally, has Rubens. As I return to see my family and the bluest of blue seas, I have chocolates in tow. My suitcase is filled with the familiar red bags and various assortments to delight Eleni, Dimitri, Yianni, and many more. My hope is they will enjoy the chocolate almond bark, caramels, and fruit flavours all the way from Canada.

My quest for more contest wins will be curtailed for the next little while, as online surfing is going to have to give way to lots sun-drenched picnics, sandy toes, and new adventures. I’ve had a very lucky year so far and hope to bring you more tales of my winning ways in the autumn.

The Hungry Oven and A Year of Chocolate Continues


The Hungry Oven and A Year of Chocolate Continues
Yummy cupcakes

My niece Olivia just finished her week at The Hungry Oven cooking camp. As you can see, she means business in her new apron! She learned to make many delicious things this week and I’m told that they were so delicious that the food she boxed up to take home didn’t always make it out of the car! Well done, Olivia! Auntie Rebecca is so glad you enjoyed your week.

Auntie Rebecca also really enjoyed the mint chocolate cupcake pictured below and reluctantly gave the other cupcake to her husband. Now, she is going to go for a run…

Rubens Chocolates – a Year of Chocolate Continues and Win #10

So, it was my birthday on the 15th. Let’s all observe a moment of silence for the aging process…now, back to chocolate! I ordered a cake to share with my family and friends from Rubens. It was the definitive chocolate cake. Other cakes aspire to achieve this level of chocolaty goodness. Please see the amazing picture and how nicely decorated it was! Check this space next month for another instalment of “A Year of Chocolate Continues”.

This month was also eventful, as I won a prize for my niece Olivia from The Hungry Oven cooking school, courtesy of Olivia will join a cooking class for a week and will receive an apron, a backpack, a cookbook, and copies of the recipes they use. Again, check this space next month to hear about her experience learning to cook. I started cooking at age nine, so Olivia will have a head start, as she’s just six and a half!

Win #8: Chocolate for a Year!


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”― Charles M. Schulz

Now and then for me has become every month, thanks to the wonderful generosity of Rubens Chocolate! Yes, that’s right I’ve won chocolate for a year! This was also the easiest and least deliberate of any win I have achieved so far. I like Rubens Chocolate. I “liked” their Facebook page.  I won chocolate for a year! However, I have gotten a little ahead of myself. Let’s start this story at the beginning:

Rubens Chocolate opened in my neighbourhood a few short years ago. My husband was incredibly excited. He rode down on his bike on their opening day and immediately purchased a big box and was given a large stuffed bear that says, “I loooove chocolate!” every time you press its hand. Both of these he presented to me with an enormous smile on his face. Since that day, we’ve returned to Rubens again and again with our family and friends. On hot summer days, we’ve cooled down with their ice cream. On cold winter nights, we’ve grasped cups of strawberry black tea and hot chocolate in our mitten-clad hands while eyeing Christmas presents for others…and ourselves!

Well, starting last week the tradition of going to Rubens continued in a big way as I came down to claim my prize:

I brought my husband and mom along, hence the picture of two smiling people! I gave my husband a box of assorted chocolates, which he kindly shared with me! My mom chose a sugar-free box of chocolates because, well, diabetes. We also picked up a bag of chocolate almond bark for dad. Then, we sat down for some coffee and strawberry black tea, of course.

I’ve only had a few chocolates since that day, as sadly, the flu and chocolate don’t mix well. My favourite chocolate so far has been passionfruit matcha.  A unique taste that has to be experienced, rather than described.  It also had a nice soft texture that made it easy to swallow with a sore throat.

In the coming months, I’m planning some chocolate-themed parties for friends and family. Next month is my birthday, so look for some Rubens chocolate to appear on my big day.

*For those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you know that my biggest win to date has been $500.  Now, I am pleased to announce that it is now $600, as Rubens has given me $50 a month for the next 12 months to spend on chocolate.  Again, very, very generous.

**I am also pleased to announce that I have just been notified about Win #9!  I will know more by the end of the week, but will simply tell you that my next prize is transportation-related.  Guess if you can!

Whole Foods prize

I apologize for neglecting my blog of late. I was in Europe for a month and curtailed my online activities while abroad. Now, however, I am back home and ready to tell you about my purchases at Whole Foods with my $50 gift card.

The items I bought were:

1. Burt’s Bees Color Keeper Green Tea & Fennel Seed Conditioner

2. Bolthouse Farms Mango Lemonade

3. Varietal No. 47 (Bungalow) Full Leaf Black Tea – Steven Smith Teamaker
4. a Whole Foods deli sandwich
5. a Whole Foods bakery scone
6. figs
7. goat cheese


I chose these items because they were somewhat indulgent and not what I might normally buy during a weekly shopping trip. I am still using numbers 1 and 3; the other items are long gone, alas. Thus, I feel it is fair to review only the conditioner and tea.


I have never used the Burt’s Bees conditioner before. I usually buy whatever conditioner my hair stylist recommends at the salon. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this hair product. First, the green tea, fennel, and other herbal ingredients give this conditioner the most amazing aroma. My hair smells great! My hair also seems to retain its colour quite well. I wouldn’t say it is noticeably better conditioned than it has been before, but it is no worse. The price of the Burt’s Bees conditioner is comparable to what I pay for salon products. Some people may argue that it is too steep for a grocery store hair product, but as the results are equally as good, I would not hesitate to purchase it again.
The No. 47 Darjeeling tea is also new for me. I often purchase Darjeeling in loose form, but this was one of the first bagged varieties I have ever bought. Steven Smith describes this tea as follows:


“Grown in the high elevation in the foothills of the Himalayas, this blend of organic first and second flush Darjeeling tea produces a light, yet exceptionally complex tea with the aroma and flavour of fruits, nuts and flowers complemented by rich, toasty, buttery notes. A tea of daily celebration.”


I will agree that the aroma is exactly as described, but as with many teas, the taste differs significantly from its scent. I cannot find anything fruity or floral about this tea. The nutty, toasty, and buttery notes are definitely predominant. Consequently, its taste is not as complex as I’d hoped. On the other hand, it does deliver what a black tea must-a significant jolt of caffeine to the drowsy sipper.


My biggest complaint about this tea is the lingering dryness it leaves in the throat. I’ve experienced this with other black teas and it tends to ruin an otherwise pleasant experience. Would I buy it again? Probably not, as it is as costly as many loose teas that deliver more.


I thank Whole Foods for this great prize and enjoyed trying new products and shopping in their store.


*Watch for my next entry on my $500 prize from Where Vancouver