Tag Archives: Germany


I just spent a week in the Okanagan Valley, in Kelowna and the areas surrounding the southern half of Lake Okanagan. The lake, a 90-mile long glacial lake, which, at the moment, is at a record high, creating some havoc in the area. I was there for a conference, but had four days to explore some of the wineries and restaurants that make this area so inviting. How many wineries? I was told 235, 250, even 285 by various people. The WineBC website says it’s 172 (LINK).

Wine - Okanagan wine-map

This was my third trip to the Okanagan since 2007, and the number of wineries has definitely multiplied. Another change from that time is the quality of the wines – there are some truly excellent wines being produced up and down the region. I made return visits to three wineries and two of them had improved their products greatly.

The Okanagan was initially home to white wines from Germany. Rieslings and Gewürztraminers are still prevalent, and used for ice wines and late harvest wines, which have precise definitions in Canada (LINK). There are also drier versions of these varietals being made today, echoing trends across the world.

The growing season has been lengthening here, as in other places. This means that red varietals are being grown across a wider area than in the past. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and others are very common, joining Pinot Noir which has been widely cultivated for some time. Over the past decade, many wineries are producing excellent reds. As a rule, the wines are in the European style, more elegant than bold.

Delta Grand Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna – Delta Grand Hotel in foreground

Kelowna is a beautiful city of about 200,000 on the east side of Lake Okanagan. With a temperate climate and warm summers, the area attracts vacationers and there are many large homes along the lake. Good restaurants, wine bars, brewpubs, and more are readily available. A number of wineries, both urban and rural, have restaurants.


Cactus Club at Kelowna Yacht Club (LINK): A modern restaurant with two bars (patrons must be seated at the bar to be served, a BC law), a view of the lake and downtown, and a very attractive and well-trained wait staff (think little black dresses). I only went here three times during my stay because I moved across the lake to West Kelowna for the last three days. Great food, ranging from casual to fine dining on the same menu, a nice selection of wines by the glass, and a good bottle list as well. Standard pours are either 6oz or 9oz; generous! The prices are a bit expensive, but the exchange rate works in your favor if you are not Canadian (currently about 70% of US dollar).

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Pinot Gris at the Cactus Club

Oak + Cru, Delta Grand Hotel (LINK): A full-service restaurant and bar in the lobby of the hotel and extending out to a lakeside area. Also a wine tasting room featuring only Okanagan wines. I ate dinner there one night, had glasses of wine in the bar another, and did a tasting at the wine tasting room/wine cellar as well. Each experience was excellent – good food, good wines, a beautiful setting, and well-trained staff. If you want to taste a range of local wines without leaving town, this is the place. There are tastings each evening from 4 to 6 pm, each featuring a different area of the Okanagan region and different varietals, plus food pairings. The tasting room can be reserved for private dinners in the evenings for groups of six or more.

Volcanic Hills Winery/Blue Saffron Bistro (LINK): In West Kelowna, a winery and restaurant. The bistro is outdoors and offers a view of sloping vineyards, with the lake and mountains in the distance. I went for lunch and a tasting (separate days), and enjoyed both. The kitchen does a good job, and their 2016 Gamay/Pinot Noir rosé wine was an excellent pairing with my lunch salad. Volcanic Hills whites are their strength – especially their Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Chardonnay. The Viognier was a bit thin and not to my taste. Reds were decent, but not outstanding.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the wineries I visited on this trip.

Photo Jun 07, 12 01 10 PM

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard


How does one blog about a visit to Copenhagen’s Noma, the “best restaurant in the world”? Do you focus on the food, the changing menu of everyday and very unusual ingredients put together in ways that, well, us regular people never would think to do? Do you focus on the wine, paired with the many courses from some of the most obscure and unusual wineries in Europe (only European wines!). Do you focus on the culture of Noma, which can be observed from the friendly greeting from EVERYONE as you enter, through the service of the exceptional and long meal, and via the tour of the premises that is offered after you finish eating? Do you focus on the price – not crazy expensive these days, but an investment nonetheless?

I will attempt to do a bit of everything in this series of four posts, for my visit to Noma with Dorianne and two friends was, if nothing else, an event. It was more than the food, more than the wine, more than the service, more than the culture, more than the location. It was more in just about every sense of the word. It is over 24 hours after we left and I am still not feeling normal, physically, mentally or emotionally. How does a visit to a restaurant do that to someone?

We began to plan our visit to Noma over six months ago. Imagine a 45 seat restaurant with a staff of 45 or more! With a food lab on the premises! That serves 18 or so courses of totally creative dishes! Much of which is foraged! With wine! We decided to go, but getting there was not without its complications and moments of fear.

I researched several websites that were about Noma or about visits to Noma (LINK) (LINK) (LINK). I looked at Noma’s unassuming website (LINK) to find out how to get reservations. They put a month’s worth up at a time, about 3 months in advance. Since we wanted to come in July around the date of our tenth wedding anniversary, I discovered that we needed to be online on April 6th at 10:00 am Copenhagen time.

We were in Spain at the time. I got online a bit late, about 10:10 am, and was informed that I was number 2499 and that there were 2278 people ahead of me waiting to be served. My waiting time would be about 90 minutes. I did not do the math of about 2 seatings a say of 45 people for 31 days, as some of those ahead of me would not be getting the dates they wanted, etc.

About 70 minutes later, I was in. We had booked an apartment in Copenhagen for July 21-24, so I requested a table for four (another couple was going to join us on the trip) on the 23rd through the website (all automated). The response was that I was booked for lunch. Great! That was comparatively easy.

A few days later as expected, I got an email from Noma requesting a credit card number (they have a policy that charges you if you change your reservation), and saying that they were looking forward to seeing us on APRIL 23RD!!!


I called Noma to try to get this changed and eventually connected with the reservations director. She told me that I made the reservation for April 23rd via the website. I told her that I thought that only July reservations were available on that day. She told me that there were also cancellations available via the website (you heard that here first!). I told her that we would not be in Copenhagen until July, so was there a way to change the reservation?

She checked and said that July 23rd was fully booked. I asked about July 22nd. She said that there was a spot for lunch for four. I said we would take it. Then I hung up and had a glass of wine.

Then, in May, the couple who was going to go to Copenhagen and to Noma with us, cancelled. This put us in the position of either changing our reservation and paying the fine(!!) or finding someone else to go with us. We were in Barcelona when we go the news. What to do?

The next evening in Barcelona, where we were attending and presenting at the Spirituality and Creativity in Management Congress 2015, at the Esade Graduate School, we went to dinner with some of the other attendees and presenters. There we met Ginger Grant, who just happened to be teaching at a graduate program in Copenhagen in July. Match made in heaven! Ginger agreed to come and bring someone to make a party of four.

The Big Day came. We arrived in Copenhagen in the evening on July 21st, had a quiet dinner on the Nyhavn canal, and turned in at our 5th floor walk-up AirBnB.

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Nyhavn Canal area in Copenhagen.

At the appointed hour on July 22nd, we walked the kilometer or so to Noma, met our dining companions outside. A Noma staff member came out and invited us to come in. About 25 staff were gathered inside the front entrance to greet us. It was as international a group as you can imagine, mostly young. We were shown to a table in the rustic, rough-hewn dining room. And the show began.

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The meal and (very unusual) wine pairings will be described in the next two posts, followed by the tour of the restaurant, kitchen, the lab, and the staff room in the final installment over the next few days.


Amsterdam (LINK) is a great city for food and wine. Over the past three days, with one more to go, Dorianne and I have had amazing meals. With so many pleasures and options, wine is not the only thing that they focus on in this international city, of course. There are world class beers and spirits and, of course, marijuana to salve the human need for altered states. But where the wine is the focus, they do it very, very well.

Guts & Glory (LINK) is a very small restaurant (about 40 seats inside, another 16 outside) in Amsterdam near the Rembrantplein (Square). Dorianne and I went for lunch on a Sunday. We walked into a foodie and wine haven.

The plan here is to make an entire menu around one item – fish in summer, pork in winter, beef or fowl in other seasons – and offer up to seven courses based on treatments of that item. It is summer, so we opted for three courses of fish.

I asked our server, Liselore, about the wine list and was directed to Ricardo, the sous chef and wine expert. He reviewed the list with me and suggested pairings. We opted to buy by the glass to get the best pairings with each course.

Our first course, after an amuse bouche of seaweed broth, marinated North Sea Shrimp, and deep fried Nori, was a very unusual sea bass ceviche with onions, sweet potato sauce, wheat nuts (deep fried!) avocado paste, and some crispy lime foam (yes). The wine pairing was a sparkling Pignoletto Frizzante Bio DOC `13, Corte d’Aibo (LINK), from Bologna, Italy. The dry sparkler went perfectly with the ceviche.

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Pignoletto Frizzante Bio DOC `13, Corte d’Aibo
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Amuse Bouche of Delights
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Sea Bass Ceviche.

Next, we had skate with Italian Brocollini, onions, anchovies, and other delicacies. The pairing was a Friulano Vigna del Torrione Bianco DOC ‘12 La Sclusa, (LINK), from Friuli, Italy. I had begun to wonder if Ricardo was only recommending Italian wines, but the next course settled that. By the way, the Fruliano was a perfect match for the skate dish, with little acidity, a nice oaky flavor, and more minerality than fruit in the flavor of the wine. It also had a deep golden color. A very unusual white wine.

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Friulano Vigna del Torrione Bianco DOC ‘12
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The Skate Course.

The third course was very different – a cod cake nestled in a steamed beignet with pickled cucumbers, onions, black beans and lime aioli. The pairing with this one was a Villa Wolf Pinot Noir ‘13, Ernst Loosen (LINK), from Pfalz, Germany. The German Pinot Noir, of which we had had several on our cruise up the Rhine River this past week, was one of the best I’ve had, with a bit more body than most German reds, plus a floral sense on the nose. It, once again, paired wonderfully with the cod dish. Nice work, Ricardo!

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Villa Wolf Pinot Noir ‘13, Ernst Loosen
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Cod Cake Course

The wine list (LINK) is pretty extensive for such a small place, with wines from the Old and New Worlds. Here is the team – Michael Randag, Guillaume de Beer (Chef/Owner), and Ricardo Russo (Sous Chef/Wine Guy). Not pictured is our server, Liselore Tieshers. A great group!

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Michael Randag, Guillaume de Beer (Chef/Owner), and Ricardo Russo (Sous Chef/Wine Guy).

Guts & Glory was a very good preparation for our visit to NOMA in Copenhagen later this week.


As I have noted before, Dorianne and I will soon be leaving for an extended period in Europe – mostly Spain and France, with some side trips to Portugal and/or Morocco on this leg, then back to the US for a bit to see our daughter graduate from Boston University, then back over to Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium (maybe) and Denmark. Here is a link to a NYTimes.com article about a couple who have retired and are using Airbnb.com – which we will be doing for most of our stays. Our trip will be more focused on wine, of course!

NYTimes Article  2013-05-21 11.49.03