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Silverstar Bike Park

Mountain Biking at Silver Star

Canada, ROAM By May 3, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

Looking for some adventure for your family this summer? Try mountain biking at Silver Star in Vernon, BC. This amazing and expanded bike park has a little something for everyone from beginners to expert rippers. And with over 100 km of total trails, including 50 km of downhill and 50 km cross country you are sure to never get bored!

Ian Galbraith, summer business manager at Silver Star Galbraith says, “Last season we saw rider visits increase by 8% and when riders become aware of the expanded trails, it will solidify Silver Star’s reputation as one of the best bike parks in Canada. The expansion will play a big part in increasing rider visits this summer and while we are a long way from matching skier visits we are building a healthy summer business and increasing the resort’s four season appeal.”

Silver Star has expanded its downhill trail network to provide riders with the option of riding a new intermediate trail from the summit to the mountain base. Jedi Mind Trick, a blue trail that runs from the base of the mountain to half way up is being extended to the summit and the double black diamond trail Pro-Star – Walk the Line, that runs from the summit to half way down the mountain will be extended to the bottom. The trail network that will link existing trails with new trails are currently in their final stages of construction.

Silver Star’s bike park currently consists of over 50 kilometres of downhill trails ranging from green (easy) to double black (expert only) that challenge both beginners and advanced riders. It has18 downhill mountain bike trails: three double black diamond, five black diamond, six blue, three green, a vault skills area, five multi-use trails and seven XC bike trails. They offer camps and lessons for every level of rider so everyone in the family can get their “shred” on!

“Given the well-rounded experience we provide for riders at Silver Star, I am confident we will join the elite status of trail networks around the world with this exclusive designation,” said Ian Galbraith, summer business manager at Silver Star. “We offer a mix of XC and downhill trails for all abilities and are a full-service resort.”

And after a fun day on the slopes you can cool off with a nice dip in Lake Okanagan or by doing a wine tasting at one of the local wineries!

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Kids at Big White

Family Activities at Big White Resort

Canada, ROAM By January 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Big White BCLeaving my airport hotel this morning, there was a sign that left me breathless. ‘It’s not only about the destination, but about the journey.’ As I approach a milestone year, this message hit me as a powerful explanation of the first 40 years of my life. Recently the family and I travelled to Big White Ski Resort, near Kelowna, British Columbia. Their typical champagne powder is such a given that it is often taken for granted. I have a secret suspicion that in fact, the staff have so little worry about snow conditions that management have been able to use their extra time and passion to focus entirely on customer experience.  Trappers CrossingOur room at Trapper’s Crossing included a loft with bunks for the kids and a private hot tub on the deck. The kitchens make a huge difference for families and the grocery store across the street is much better stocked than most resort stores. The moose stencilled on each wall and requisite wooden skis and snowshoes as part of the décor made the kids squeal in anticipation for our Big White weekend. Big White Ski LessonsSomething miraculous and unexpected happened over the next few days. Ready to hit the hill with the new automatic RFID lift cards in hand, we started getting apologies from people… But it was a bluebird sun-filled day with a perfect temperature and a fabulous buzz in the Village Common Mall (VCM for hipsters). The VCM is like the Great Hall in a Harry Potter film – the nerve-centre of the resort where ski instructors grab their morning latte, phones get power from Telus charging stations and rental assistants never make you wait for equipment. With this vibe – why the apologies, I wondered. Big White Pet PassI soon found out that just before we arrived, a crazy mild spell hit the region. It was accompanied by torrential rain which washed away some of the fluffy powder. For the first time in decades, the slogan ‘It’s the Snow’ wasn’t fitting. Being somewhat familiar with the resort, I knew there were always hidden caches of great skiing but I was also interested to thoroughly explore the many other activities provided by the resort. After all – not everyone in the family always skis, and Big White offers so much more for the family than their snow. I should note that ‘family’ also includes four-footed ones, and they also offer the ‘Pet Pass‘ in exchange for a donation to the SPCA. Bluebird Day Big WhiteMy tiny novice snowboarders were not deterred in the slightest by the conditions. They whooped and hollered as my husband made a mental note to give their instructor an extra big tip after he had to pick up the 6 year-old over 200 times. We followed the kids on the hill, spying on them and trying to show off our style a bit too… The Woods Big WhiteWe all met in the village for lunch and The Woods offers some of the best food and ambiance on the hill. A talented artist on staff has even hand-drawn a depiction of the restaurant and it’s on the back of the kids’ menu as a colouring page. In mid-afternoon, when the sun shines and guests are ready for après ski, huge drums with skis attached are slid onto a snowy patio out front and natural wood fires burn ‘til dusk as a DJ spins tunes that made me feel only half of my 40 years.  Big White Tube ParkIn past trips to the resort, we have been challenged with climbing the 60 ft tall ice tower. (For me, ‘challenge’ is an understatement). What I hadn’t yet tried was the tube park. A tow rope drags you and the tube to the top and you are spit out of the trail like a ping pong ball. After instructing the attendants if you want spins or no spins (the boys always asked for 2,000 percent spin power), we whizzed down the icy tube run to be slowed by bunches of hay. My face could have cracked with the grins. Then the true magic happened. We would form a duo with one of the kids, holding hands as we laughed and squealed down the icy track. Memories for a lifetime. Big White Games NightNear the tube park in Happy Valley is a bunny hill for beginners, snowmobiling (including two tiny ones for kids), horse and sleigh rides and of course, the huge outdoor skating rink complete with nets, sticks and pucks. After the activities we all hit the Loose Moose, where resort staff were holding a ‘Games Night’, teaching families how to play checkers and connect four, and being uber-generous with prizes. Six Degrees Bistro I have always believed that good parenting requires great balance, and the ad
ults of our family decided to experience the resort’s more mature offerings. Having no trouble finding an excellent babysitter, my husband went to Showshoe Sam’s to hone his pool skills while I hopped over to 6 Degrees Bistro for a tasting of wines and small plates. Owner John Mooney and his accomplished chef had prepared foie gras and local lamb to serve with an exceptional local pinot noir. I laughed happily when I realized Covert Farms was a supplier. Not only was the preparation and presentation at 6 Degrees more fitting of a New York City starred-establishment than a ski hill, but I found a kindred spirit in Mooney’s daughter, who has been volunteering with kids in Liberia. Though it has been two years since I travelled to Monrovia with Right to Play, we exchanged stories and smiles. After deciding that pool really wasn’t our game, my husband and I wandered into the VCM to check on the boys. It was carnival night, and rumour had it that Big White’s mascot, the Loose Moose, was to get a female partner in crime. The building was packed with bouncy castles, carnival games and cotton candy. Trying to high-five the boys, they were too busy throwing bean bags and getting prizes to pay much attention to mama. Sessions Taphouse Big WhiteWe headed around the corner to check out the newest watering hole and dining establishment called Sessions Taphouse. After a near $1MM renovation, this former ‘dive bar’ (they said it – I didn’t!) had been transformed into a restaurant and après ski paradise by day, and nightclub by night. What I entirely didn’t expect was the cuisine. On our next visit for lunch a day later, the cheesy bacon balls were devoured by the boys a la Homer Simpson, and every single dish we tried during the three visits during the trip were perfection. Carnival Night Big WhiteEarly Monday morning my husband rose early for the shuttle to Kelowna airport so as not to miss his day at work, and the boys and I were feeling the stale negativity that comes when leaving a beloved place. Given that it was the final week of school before the holidays, I didn’t think they would miss much if we extended the stay. Central Reservations was brilliant and helped us so much. While I was chatting with the desk, the two boys were playing in a festive section of the room, donning elf hats and playing with a stuffed Rudolph. On a table there was a microphone – a toy that apparently ‘called an operator’ in the north pole. The eight year old, doubting the existence of Santa, pressed the button. An operator connected him to Mrs. Claus. His eyes wide, she asked him what she and Santa should do for a special date night. My son answered that they should snowboard like he was doing at Big White Resort. Mrs. Claus got very excited by the idea, commenting that she would tell Santa that he had suggested it. My son was in a dream-like state. He has never believed in goodness and magic so strongly. So as we still received numerous apologies about the snow, we left Big White with life lessons, felt closer as a family and had tried new challenges. Though the champagne powder is the typical feather in Big White’s cap, it’s not nearly the only reason to pick this resort destination. Our journey experiencing the plethora of activities offered for everyone in the family reminded me never to focus on the end game. It’s cherishing every second of the journey that’s important. And now I’m 40 so that’s true wisdom talking. Addendum: After our family left the resort had 45 cm of fresh snow. The base is now at 183 cm with a cumulative snowfall of 360cm.

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was provided with accommodation and passes for the purposes of crafting this story.

big-white-bc

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Cheesecake 101

Canada, ROAM By May 18, 2013 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Mini CheesecakesHead to Campbell River for the fishing, but you might catch more fish with these mini cheesecakes thank you would with worms.. (or at least make yourself and kids very happy). The handmade treats from Cheesecake 101 are about 3 cms across, and decorated beautifully. If you’re doing a picnic or a selection of bite-sized desserts, head straight here and don’t pass go.

Cheesecake 101 Gourmet Outlet
Address: 660 Isl Hwy., Campbell River BC, V9W 2C3

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Creamy BC Spot Prawn Chowder With poached egg and Smokey Chicharon

EAT, family meals, Uncategorized By December 26, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments
BC Spot Prawn ChowderOn 22nd Nov, the Vancouver Aquarium was transformed into a culinary battleground as 12 of Vancouver’s top chefs competed to create the best sustainable chowder before a crowd of hungry seafood lovers. After the last bowls of chowder were sampled, a panel of esteemed judges crowned Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage Restaurant the 2012 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. In a surprising sweep, Chef Whittaker’s chowder was also chosen as the winner of the People’s Choice Award.
Chef Whittaker won over the celebrity judges and the crowd with his irresistible recipe for Creamy Spot Prawn Chowder with Poached Egg and Smokey Chicharon, featuring white wine, leeks and bacon.

And here is the recipe Creamy BC Spot Prawn Chowder With poached egg and Smokey Chicharon:

1/3 cup Salted Butter
¾ cup bacon (cut into batons)
2 cups Diced Celeriac
2 cups Diced Tomato
2 cups Diced Onion
1 cup Diced Carrots
1 cup Diced Leeks
¼ cup Flour
½ cup White Wine
3 cups Spot Prawn Stock
1 ½ cups Cream
1 ¼ cups Diced German Butter Potato
1 tsp Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
1 tsp Finely Chopped Thyme
½ tsp Riesling Vinegar
20 piece Wild BC Spot Prawns (split in half)
Salt and White Pepper to taste

Heat sauce pan over medium heat and add bacon and butter. Once melted and bacon has begun to render, add celeriac, onion, leeks and carrots. Saute until vegetables become translucent and add flour and mix until incorporated. Cook for about five minutes on low hear and then deglaze with white wine. Once alcohol is cooked off (about 1 minute) add prawn stock and turn heat back up to medium. Add heavy cream and diced tomatoes and potatoes. Cook for an additional 30 minutes on a gentle simmer and then add riesling vinegar, parsley and thyme. Stir in the raw prawns and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.

Serves 4 – 6

For the Chicharon

1 pound pork skin (fat removed and diced)
3 cups water
1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Cook for at least 30 minutes. Strain and dry in 180f oven for 6 hours or until completely dry. Place in 350f frying oil until they puff nicely. Remove and season with salt. At this point we lightly smoke with applewood chips for 10-15 minutes.(optional)

Place chowder in bowl of your choice and garnish with soft poached egg and chicharon.

 

Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ Program
The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 3,100 Ocean Wise partner locations across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. www.oceanwise.ca
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