Friday Night Wine Pick: Epica Red


This easy drinking red hails from the San Antonio Valley in Chile. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet, 20% Carmenere, and 20% Syrah which explains its strong cherry and dark cocoa flavours. It reminds me a lot of Apothic, a TBB favourite! Epica is great on its own, but would also pair well with red meat, Italian, Mediterranean or Lebanese style food. What more could you ask for? Ok, a good bargain? It is well priced at $14.95 at the LCBO and is a regular stock item. I see it becoming a go to wine in my house. Cheers!


LCBO 350520 | 750 mL bottle

Price $ 14.95


Mary Anne thumbnail

 Mary Anne

Donna BorderDonna says: “I love self confident wines! You know – great on their own!  Between the two of us Mary Anne – a good portion of the wine I drink is self-confident! *wink wink*”

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Karen Turner - April 4, 2014 - 10:59 am

Looking forward to trying this Mary Anne! Thanks for this!

A New Trend in Hotel Lobby Design?

I’ve noticed a change in the way hotel lobbies are being designed these days and I hope it is the start of a new trend. Instead of the large, uninviting spaces designed to check in guests and funnel them in and out of the hotel, lobbies are becoming cosy, welcoming spaces in which guests can linger, relax and socialize. I think boutique hotels started this trend, and now larger chains are slowly following suit.

Nordica Hilton

We recently stayed at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica in Iceland and I loved the lobby. Did I say LOVED?  It had been recently remodelled and they created cosy seating areas, centered around fireplaces, that could have easily been in someone’s living room. The area above faces guests coming in via the main entrance and really sets a “welcome home” tone for the hotel. I enjoyed a late night glass of wine (or two) sitting in front of that fireplace, winding down after a full day of touring. Don’t you just love that light fixture?  A big factor in the successful design of this lobby was that the hotel wasn’t afraid to display accessories, and this  really bridged the divide between commercial and residential. These little details made all the difference.

Hilton Reykajvik

Above is another lobby seating area in the same hotel. In the winter, the focus is on the fireplace, while in warmer months there are large windows and doors to an outdoor terrace. Both of these spaces were well used by hotel guests,  a testament to how well designed they are.

Hotel 1818

Above is the lobby of Hotel 1818, a boutique hotel in downtown Sydney, Australia. A cosy seating area with a humongeous tufted leather sectional was created. Smaller seating areas and tables for having a drink, or a light meal, complete the space. The designers maintained the industrial history of the building, which was once a warehouse for sheep wool, yet created a modern, funky, welcoming lobby that encourages lingering. I think lighting in both hotels also played a big factor in making these lobbies cosy spaces. Hanging lights that you would find in a residential setting, in addition to overhead track or recessed lighting, add to the feeling of “welcome home”! The easily accessible candy jars in both hotel lobbies wasn’t a coincidence either!

Have you noticed this trend in your travels?

Mary Anne thumbnail

 Mary Anne

Donna BorderDonna says:  “I have noticed this trend  as well Mary Anne.  The Le St. Germain Maple Leaf Square in Toronto had a couple of seating areas, as did the Hudson Hotel in New York City, all designed to be small intimate spaces to relax!  As a traveler it makes me feel like I’m in someone’s home rather than in a large cold hotel.”

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Fried Rice … or is it?

Like most of you, we’ve been trying to eat better in our house.  You know, cut the bad fat, cut the sugar, cut the carbs and eat more superfoods (although it’s hard to keep up with superfoods, there seems to be a new one every day).

In our travels for better food, we came across cauliflower.  Now I’m not sure if cauliflower is a superfood, but hot-damn, if it isn’t I’m nominating it right.  This is such a versatile vegetable.

Do you remember when you were a kid and your mother tried to feed you stinky over-boiled cauliflower?  You gagged, you threw a tantrum, you left it to the last and your mother STILL made you eat it!


Well, I’m here to tell you – they’ve changed cauliflower!  Yes they did!  It’s the God’s honest truth!  It is DELICIOUS!!!

We’ve tried several different methods for preparing this NEW cauliflower but by far our favourite is Fried Rice.  This very simple recipe results in what looks and tastes EXACTLY like Fried Rice – but there isn’t a grain of rice in it!

Fried “Rice”


  • 1 medium head of fresh cauliflower
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • cooking oil as required (2 tbsp min)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce ( I modify the amount based on the amount of cauliflower)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup each frozen peas & corn (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken (optional)
  • dash of pepper (optional


  1. Rinse and chop up the cauliflower into manageable pieces.  Using a grater or similar appliance (I use my Salad Shooter) grate the cauliflower.  I use most of the head of cauliflower as even the stems grate small enough to resemble rice.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick wok or skillet on medium to medium-high.
  3. Add the garlic and grated cauliflower.
  4. Stir fry until the cauliflower is almost tender – about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in the sesame oil and soy sauce – as mentioned I play with the amount of soy sauce I add based on the size of the cauliflower.  Too much and your “rice” is far too salty and too dark.  Add a little at a time til you achieve the best look and taste.
  6. In a microwave safe dish beat the egg and cook in the microwave (1 minute on high, but depends on the strength of the microwave), chop into small pieces and add to the “rice”
  7. Add frozen veggies and chicken (if using)
  8. Toss and cover until veggies are cooked.
  9. Serve and top with chopped green onion.
  10. BE AMAZED!

fried rice 1

We have paired this with chicken, pork and fish for a yummy low-carb side dish.

Donna ThumbnailEnjoy….Donna


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Friday Night Wine Pick: Crush Midnight Cab

Okay, confession time.  Sometimes I buy wine based on the name – *gasp*.  This was one of those times.  Not for the name “Crush” although that conjures up plenty of emotion, this time it was for the wine type – “Midnight Cab”.  Although I love the sun, I am a night owl at my core.  There is something about the dark that appeals to me – the mystery, the quiet, the calm.  So with a name like “Midnight Cab”, I had to give this wine a try.  And I wasn’t disappointed!

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Made in Ontario (can I get a woo-hoo?) by Andres Wines (now Andrew Peller Wines), the name is derived from the mixture of grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon and Baco Noir – Midnight Cab!  This is a deep fruity red with cherry and berry flavours.  We paired it with a steak and greek salad – it was perfect!  And you know what else is perfect?  The price!


LCBO 308510 | 750 mL bottle

Price $ 12.95


Donna ThumbnailCheers … Donna

Lisa Border Lisa says: “Woo Hoo! Just like picking a wine based on the label:-) This sounds like a great one and the price is right!”


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Friday Night Wine Pick: Stone Cellar by Beringer – Cabernet Sauvignon

This lovely and rich Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is a new find for me, which I’ll definitely be picking up again. It’s a vibrant dark red with plum, berry flavours, together with a touch of vanilla and chocolate. Perfect!


Named Stone Cellars in honour of their original stone winery built in 1876.  It’s great with firm cheeses and grilled meat.  And at $13.76 go ahead and enjoy often!

LCBO 606798 | 750 mL bottle

Price $ 13.95


Lisa Thumbnail

 Cheers, Lisa






Mary Anne Border

 Mary Anne says:“Looks like you found a winner Lisa! I can’t wait to try it.”

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