The highlight of our trip to Kelowna is picking cherries. On the first day we were there we went to a cherry farm on Westbank. We had been to this farm before but were pleasantly surprised at the abundance newly ripe cherries on the trees.
Picking cherries is simple. You need to pick it with the stems on. This will keep the cherries fresh longer. The man in charge of the farm showed us how best to pick cherries — basically, you push the stem up and snap off the stem.
The cherries in the Westbank farm is free of pesticides but is a bit small compared to larger ones we see in the stores. They a bit soft and not crunchy.
You really need to climb ladders to get to the better fruit. The lower ones were gone very fast. We need to make sure that the ladder is stable. In all, we picked about 11 lbs of cherries from the Westbank farm. Each lb costs $1.25.
On the second day, we drive south of Kelowna to the end of Lakeshore Rd. There are a few popular farms there. These u-pick farms are more organized and the cherries were a class better than the ones in Westbank — they are bigger and crunchier. However, this farm uses pesticides.
The cherries in this farm is a bit more expensive at $1.50 per pound. We picked more this time — 15 pounds. Ha ha ha … it was so easy to pick but not we have to figure out how to eat all 26 pounds of cherries! :-)
There was this family we saw who picked 82 lbs! So, 26 lbs is not so bad after all, right?
Suanne is looking a recipes to make use of the cherries. She’ll blog about it the next few days. At the meantime, do you have any idea what we can do with so much cherries?
Here is a few shots around Kelowna we took. We had a good time just walking along the park and seawall.
“The Sails” is the centre point of Kelowna.
The seawall walk is very well maintained and very beautiful. Green on one side and blue water on the other.
We also saw some upscale apartments along the lake. Instead of a cars parked in front of the apartments, they have boats instead.
We also went up Knox Mountain which overlooked the entire Kelowna valley. It was a beautiful sight as we just sat and waited till the sun goes down.
It takes about 4 hours in all to get from Vancouver to Kelowna. I think it’s about 400 km in all. We took Highway 5, which is better known as the Coquihalla Highway. This is the more scenic route as it climbs up very rugged and spectacular scenery.
Along the route, there are a lot of creeks and rivers. We stopped by one of them for a few minutes.
There are hundred of miles of greenery along the route. I am always amazed with the sheer size of the forests in British Columbia. BC is beautiful because of the abundance of nature.
For the past few years, the mountain pine beetle has infested much of the forests. It is a major concern in BC because there is no effective way to contain the infestation. The only effective way to contain the beetles is to have a prolonged freeze of -40C to kill them off. Winter never gets that cold in this part of BC.
You can see that the infestation has taken root with the forest turning flaming red. This is the beginning of the end of the tree and within a couple of years, they will completely die and turn the scenery grayish.
The Coquihalla Highway is the only road that is tolled in British Columbia. The rate for a passenger car is $10. Many cars stops at the toll plaza for a kidney break and to stretch their legs.
We just gotta blog about food. Here is the little bucket of snacks that we brought along.
We want to share with everyone a popular Malaysian snack called Ground Peanut Cookies. We bought this from the Big Crazy grocery store in Richmond. Each pack of 12 “cookies” costs about $2.
Although the English word translates to Ground Peanut Cookies, I think it’s more apt to describe this as a candy. This is a sweet snack with the outside crunchy with a crumbly insides.
Polly initiated a get together among a few of families this weekend. We have been getting together for a gathering the past couple of summers. The amazing thing is that we had only gotten to know each other through a mailing list I created in 2000.
This summer we met at the Boundary Bay Regional Park, just south of Richmond and near the US border. We took a spot on the beach.
As always, our gathering has been centered around food! Each of the families brought a dish or two to share. Suanne brought the spinach dip and baguette.
Suanne also made chicken curry, Malaysian style. For this she used the famous Malaysian Baba’s Meat Curry Powder. Malaysian curry are rich because of the coconut milk used. She also cooked Basmati rice to go along with the curry. Basmati rice is perfect as it has a drier texture and goes great with the curry.
CJ and his family brought marinated drumsticks and chicken wings. I am not sure what marinade they used. They also brought some corns.
Whatever it is that is used for marinade, the chicken was awesome. It was juicy and very fleshy. Although CJ brought a lot for BBQ, we actually finished every single piece of it.
Polly brought her special aluminum foil wrapped mushroom. We had this when we last met and it was fabulous. So, I asked that Polly make this again. This seems like a very simple dish to make.
I can’t recall what Polly used for the marinade. She uses inoki mushrooms, button mushrooms and some sliced onions. It was great. (BTW, Polly, could you let me know what marinade you used?) Answer from Polly: The sauce was hoisin sauce.
Jessica made Mee Siam. Mee Siam is a popular Singaporean thin rice noodle (vermicelli) dish. It’s typically spicy and sour sweet in taste. She made it extra spicy — just the way we liked it. For garnishing, she used hardboiled eggs, prawns and fried tofu puff. It looked very pretty and tastes even better.
Polly also brought some pork chop. The pork chop was chunky. BBQ’ing this was pretty easy. We love this too. I think Polly had some left-over but I guess by then everyone was already too full to eat anymore!
Rachel brought some watermelon and sausages. I was too busy eating to take shots of Rachel’s dishes.
Polly, thanks for organizing this one. It was great meeting everyone again this summer. We are looking forward to another one!!
Today is my last day in London. My flight is in the late afternoon. I thought I should just take advantage of some time in the morning to get to some places I did not manage to visit. I went to Harrods in Knightsbridge.
Harrods is an upmarket department store with over 1 million square feet of retail space. In particular, their food hall has been famous for their variety and quality.
There were a lot of tourists waiting to get in. I see many people taking pictures at the entrances. As in many places I’ve been to, photography is not allowed in the store.
I went straight to the food hall since I got to get back to the hotel and then to the airport. The food was very impressive. The food displays were well laid out. There are actually a few side-by-side food halls in all, including a small Krispy Kreme instore.
I bought the Omelette Salmon Wrap for just under 4 GBP for lunch.
It was a good sized piece.
The omelette wrapped was a little greasy but nicely moist. The salmon inside the wrap was not bad.
That’s all for the London Trip Report series. It was a great experience for me although it was also a tiring trip. I am just glad to get home and get on back with my life! I wish that we could afford to have Suanne and the boys along too for this trip. Well, one day, maybe we’ll get the chance to make this trip together.
Hope you enjoyed this series of London blog. Cheers!
“Mind the gap, please” … “Mind the gap, please”.
These words rings in my head everytime I took the tube in London. I have heard of this phrase being used before but not until I really see what the “gap” is like on the London Underground. I mean, it should not be too tough making sure that the train floor aligns to the platform but no, most station does not align at all.
This gap above was not too bad. I have seen worse. There is a station where there is a six inch gap between the train and the platform. Anyone know why it is like that in the London Underground?
The London Underground is the oldest underground system in the world. It is also the longest in route length. It is amazing to learn that the first line was built way back in 1863 (not 1963!!). Below is the map of the London Underground. There are currently 275 stations in the entire network. It took a while for me to get used to it but once I get myself familiar, it was not too difficult.
Despite its name, about 55% of the network is above ground. Popular local names include the Underground and, more familiarly, the Tube, in reference to the cylindrical shape of the system’s deep-bore tunnels. That is why you see that the top of the train were rounded.
Unlike modern subway trains and the narrowness of the train, the seating configuration is not optimum for standing passengers. The aisle between the two rows of facing seats were so close I see that many people don’t even want to move it to make room for others coming on board.
When taking the tube, you should pay attention to the service updates. It’s because not every line is in operation all the time. So, you need to pay attention on which line is open and then plan your route accordingly. The service updates below are electronically displayed while older stations had them handwritten on whiteboards.
Find the stations is easy. You just need to look for the familiar red circle with blue band logo — it is called a roundel. You could get to a station in the city centre within not more than 10 minutes walk. It is that convenient.
Many of the stations were unbelievably deep underground. Some of the busy interchanges were four levels deep. There is also one that was so deep that they had built lifts that shuttles passengers to the surface. The trains and most of the stations were not air-conditioned and you actually can feel the high humidity while in the station and the trains.
I took the tube to the city centre using a 6-zone TravelCard. The card costs 6.30GBP and allows me unlimited rides on the tube and buses for the whole day. I stayed near Heathrow and getting down to the city centre takes about 1 hour.
There is an alternative way to get from Heathrow to the City Centre in just 15 minutes. It’s called the Heathrow Express. It’s pretty expensive — one way ticket costs 19 GBP!!
Now, this train is more modern and definitely more comfortable. I took the Heathrow Express just once.
The Heathrow Express station in Paddington was also much cleaner and nicer.
OK, this blog entry is not about food. It’s about more of my Sunday walking tour of the south bank of the Thames. I started the morning hoping to visit the Westminster Abbey and the Parliament. It appears that I chose a wrong day to that because Westminster Abbey is closed to tourist because of worship services.
So, the best I could do was to walk around the compound.
I found a small entrance at the back of the Westminster Abbey and got into the courtyard. It was really quite because not many people ventured to that back entrance.
The corridor was amazing and mesmerizing reading the plaques on the walls and on the floor. Many of them are hundreds of years old. I had a good time reading some of them. The floor of the corridor seems like grave slabs. I am not sure really if people are really buried right under it but the writings appears do say so.
The Parliament building’s public area was under renovation. So, I did not get the chance to see how the insides were.
A day earlier, I had booked a flight on the London Eye. The London Eye flight takes about 30 minutes for one revolution. It costs about 12 GBP. People are divided over whether this is an ugly eyesore or if it gives a different character to the city centre. What do you think?
That being a weekend, it was a good thing I had a pre-booked ticket. The crowd were growing very fast and we can see the lines getting longer.
The view were spectacular from up high. I could pick out some of the famous buildings around and it does give a different perspective of the beauty of London from up high.
I next took the Underground to the St Paul’s Cathedral. Bad move — it’s because again, it’s closed to tourists on Sunday because of church services. We get to see the insides from the back of the church but could not get any nearer. Also photography is prohibited in the cathedral.
I badly wanted to get up to the top of the dome to take pictures — dashed!
From St Pauls, it’s just a 5 minute walk to the new and famous Millennium Bridge. It’s a pedestrian only bridge. When it first opened, I heard that it closed for some time when the bridge wobbled. It seems very stable when I crossed it. Across the bridge is the Tate Modern. I was not interested in the Tate Modern and gave that a miss.
The view of the Millennium Bridge spanning the Thames and having St Paul’s imposing facade on the other end makes a great shot.
Further down the South Bank was the reconstructed Globe Theatre — Shakespeare’s theatre. I did not have time for this and also gave this a miss. London had so much to offer tourists and all within a short walking distance one from another.
This is the London Bridge … well, it clearly says so at the underside of the bridge. Some bloke from the US bought the London Bridge and took it apart brick by brick … had it shipped to the US and reconstructed it. Many people thinks that he mistaken the Tower Bridge for the London Bridge!
Near to the Tower Bridge was the unique City Hall building. It was really beautiful.
I walked over the Tower Bridge across the Thames to get to the Tower of London. This bridge is so beautiful and is perhaps the one symbolic structure that defines London. Who doesn’t know the song “London Bridge is Falling Down”?
You can into the top of the tower if you want. Entrance is about 6 GBP.
This is where I spend most of my afternoon — The Tower of London. Entrance in costs 15 GBP. The Tower of London is a complex of successive forts, armories, palaces built over hundreds of years. I’ll blog more about the Tower of London tomorrow. Enjoy.
I left Vancouver for London on an Air Canada flight in late afternoon on Friday. Time wise, the flight was not too bad — it took about 9 hours in all and I did had a chance to sleep quite well.
Grant told me I should have booked on British Airways. Grant was right, the Air Canada plane was a really old plane. The inflight movie was on a CRT TV. The seats although comfortable, has seen many. many years of service.
Right after the flight took off, dinner were served. I was not given a choice at all unless you had special dietary requirements. The meal was chicken with potatoes and some vegetables. The chicken breast was pretty good.
The meal also came with salad and Balsamic Vinegar for dressing. There were also a small tub of vanilla ice-cream. The meals were passable but I remember many years back, airline meals were a bigger deal.
I choose red wine. It knocked me out right after — I wanted to sleep throughout the flight and it did the trick.
About 1 1/2/ hour before landing, I was woken up by the announcement about breakfast. Breakfast was served in a simple box. The box contained a muffin, peach, orange juice, yogurt and dried raisins. I also had coffee.
I have never been to London before. Right after I checked into the hotel, I quickly made my way to the City on my own. I actually had a great time and seriously wished Suanne were here. I know she would have loved it here too.
I have tons of pictures I took this afternoon. Check out the link below if you care to read about them …
The Gilmore Church Community Kitchen decided to have a break on the last session of this season before the break for summer holiday. Instead of the regular cooking class, the group went for dim sum at Empire Seafood Restaurant.
Empire Seafood Restaurant is located next to London Drugs on No. 3 Rd and Westminster Highway. This restaurant offers 20% discount if you place your order before 11:00 am. There are daily specials on discounted price. The restaurant has a menu of 82 items and the price ranges from $2.45 on daily specials to $7.85 per dish. I must say that it is not cheap.
Here are some of the dishes we ordered.
This is Empire’s specialty dish; baked BBQ pork buns. Regular price is $3.95 but it’s on special today @ $2.45.
Deep Fried Tofu with salt and pepper @ $4.95.
Garden pea with dried prawns in broth @ $6.50.
Bake egg custard tarts @ $3.45.
Steamed rice rolls with beef @ special price $2.75 (regular price: $4.65).
Steamed prawn dumplings @ $3.95.
Deep fried spring rolls @ $3.65.
Steamed rice rolls with BBQ pork @ special price $2.75 (regular price @ $4.65).
Meat balls in chicken broth @ $3.95.
Deep fried wonton with sweet and sour sauce on side @ $6.95. Unfortunately, the photo of the sauce did not turn out ok.
There were more dishes which I did not manage to capture a clear photo like steamed pork dumplings with prawn and scallop @ $3.95, steamed pork with pumpkin @ $4.25, steamed rice rolls with Chinese donut @ $4.65 and fried sticky rice with preserved meats @ $6.95.
All in all the bill was $90 including tips for 10 people. However, we only shared the bill among the 9 members excluding Jean, the leader of the group; as an appreciation to her service. It was a good get-together. I wish all the members of the Gilmore Church Community Kitchen a great summer and happy cooking at home.