Wine and Travel Concierge

Welcome!

This website, is a place for me to share my wine, culinary and travel experiences locally and around the world.

It’s for anyone who shares a common interest in flavours and cultures.

ENJOY!

Donita

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A Trip to Thailand

Canadian winters. You love them, hate them or sit somewhere in between. The in-between would be me. They can be beautiful but chilly. And usually, all I crave is constant sunshine with very warm temperatures, preferably while standing on the sand with ocean waters lapping at my feet.

So earlier this year when an opportunity to travel to a tropical destination landed on my lap, it didn’t take long to decide! “I am doing this!” I said to myself. A friend would be in Thailand, so what a great reason to go. And it had been years since I had travelled to Thailand, so it would be great to ‘see’ it and experience a tropical destination again. PLUS, what a great test to see if I could work remotely while travelling!

Feet, beach, Gulf of Thailand, Pineapple + Mint Fruit Smoothie

So I booked it. 2 weeks on the island of Koh Phangan, just off of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, south of Bangkok. Air with Eva from Vancouver, via Taiwan to Bangkok, then Thai Airways to Koh Samui, and ferry to Koh Phangan.

I had planned on working, yoga, beach time, touring, eating delicious Thai food and chilling. I think I accomplished this pretty well! Here are some photos from my trip along with a little recap of my adventure.

And I booked all my hotels online at agoda.com (a popular site for SE Asia) & I booked my air with a travel agent.

 

Follow along on my adventure…

 

KOH PHANGAN

The Beach Villagehttp://www.beachvillagethailand.com

Here is where I stayed for 10 nights! Basic, beautifully located, somewhat rustic for a 3-star and beds

that were pretty hard (very normal for Thailand), but a great price and location!!

 

Southway Coffee Bar (can be found on Trip Advisor)

A friendly little family-run place with delicious fresh fruit smoothies (very popular in Thailand)

This was where I would start my day with air conditioning!

Banana, coconut, pineapple smoothie

Can’t remember this fruit smoothie (but it was delicious) – I was more excited about having a Matcha green tea!

 

Fisherman’s Restaurant and Barwww.fishermansphangan.com

I took myself here a few times for the food! They had a great wine list too, I was just too hot to have any.

Located on the beach, a modern restaurant with a beach lounge.

The food was soo good! And I enjoyed

my first (ever) fresh coconut – which is a saviour in the hot, humid weather!

A little more expensive than downtown Thong Sala, but still highly worth it!

Chicken Fried Rice

Fresh Coconut with a spoon to scrape out the coconut meat

 

Beach Coconut Bowlshttps://beachcoconuts.business.site

This was such a good find! And I only found them because their social media is strong. They followed me once

I tagged a photo with #kohphangan, so I followed them back and discovered where they were.

They make fresh smoothie bowls from fresh fruits and healthy additions in locally made coconut bowls.

And they made fresh-pressed juices which are not as common on the island.

They also have a cookbook out! Follow them on social media.

Super great people running this place! You’ll find them on Trip Advisor as well.

Fresh pressed juice of apple & cucumber and the Pitaya Passion Bowl

 

Serenity Beach Restauranthttps://www.serenity-beach.org

What a find this was! I drove by on my scooter and caught a glimpse of the view, I had to return.

This picture was my lunch view. A French chef now living locally runs the restaurant. Delicious food

and good wine list (what a surprise!). Also on Trip Advisor & Facebook

The Phangan Thai Cooking Classhttps://the-phangan-thai-cooking-class.business.site

An absolute must when you are here. Chef Oy is a cute woman runs the courses. We started by taking bikes to the local market to get ingredients, then returned to cook and eat what was made.

An amazing experience and not that expensive.

Note: no air conditioning, just fans, so best to go when it’s not the height of the hot season.

Local Fruit Market

Papaya Salad with Prawns; Chicken Fried Rice; Green Curry with Chicken

Chef in training

 

Bluerama – www.bluerama.com

A great location for food, drinks, a calm atmosphere with great music and a spectacular view!

North of Thong Sala, perched up a hill, very modern with a great drinks list, menu and infinity pool.

Entrance fee is 60 Baht which goes towards your bill, it’s a no brainer.

Friends and new friends

Infinity pool looking over the island of Koh Phangan

Tuna tartare – one of many delicious dishes

 

Divine Comedie Boutique Resorthttp://www.divinecomedyhotel.com

I stayed at this beautiful and quaint resort for just 3 nights, it had modern decor and soft beds – thankfully! Each suite has a rooftop deck, and you feel tucked away from the busy main road.

Next time, I would stay here the entire time. Good wifi, a restaurant with Burmese cuisine, infinity pool and a little bar.

The infinity pool at the beach

 

I would also recommend:

Bubba’s Coffee house (can be found on Trip Advisor) – offering North American comfort foods, fresh and locally made, good coffee as well.

Visit the small shop Pink Pineapple in Thong Sala – all-natural self-care products and island home decor.

Visiting the little village of Haad Rin to shop or enjoy the beach, but warning, 1 week before the full moon it gets quite busy as young travellers arrive for the full moon parites!

Haad Rin

Also, take the longtail boat from Haad Rin to Haad Yuan Beach to the Bamboo Hut Restaurant for Thai Food.

Haad Yuan Beach

Visiting the night market on the weekend in Thong Sala

Night Market food

Visiting the food market outside of the Big C supermarket (freshly made green papaya salad!).

And if you are there in April, do take part in the Songkran Festival – it brings locals and visitors out to celebrate the

Thai New Year with street water fights. I’ll admit it was pretty fun!

My scooter and I are drenched from the water fights in Thong Sala for Songkran

Visit Haad Than Sadet Beach – about 30 minutes north on the scooter,

just one restaurant but lots of space to enjoy the beautiful beach.

Fried Rice & Pineapple Mint Fruit Smoothie at Haad Than Sadet Beach

KOH SAMUI

Leaving Koh Phangan for Koh Samui was a beautiful and short ride on the ferry. But also a shock.

KP is a rustic and quaint style of island, where KS is busy with tourists, more cars, more everything.

I stayed right in Fisherman’s Village – which is a touch too touristy, but it did have everything I needed

for my 2 night stay before flying home to Canada.

 

Eden Bungalowshttps://www.edenbungalows.com

Comfortable, quiet, central and quaint (totally my style).

On-site restaurant with really good local Thai cuisine & the friendliest staff.

A cute little pool and right on the main street so it was easy to get around.

Eden Bungalows pool & courtyard

Beef with peas a local Thai speciality

 

Cocotam’s – https://cocotams.business.site

A great find along the beach, a popular bar at sunset as well. And who doesn’t like a beach swing?!

This is where I discovered the Pineapple and mint fruit smoothie, ahhh sooo amazing!

Cocotam’s bar at the beach

Cocotam’s beach area

 

Fisherman’s House Cafe & Hotelhttps://fishermans-house.hotelinsamui.com/en/

Located off the beaten path in busy Fisherman’s Village, this is an absolute must.

They offer breakfast to dinner, creative cocktails, a basic street view but modern decor

and hands down amazing food to make up for it! Follow them on social media.

Spicy chicken lettuce wraps

I would also recommend visiting Chi Samuiwww.chisamui.com a resort just outside of Fisherman’s Village,

go there for dinner, evening jazz, and the view.

Travel tips: I was told the tropical heat is cruel to your shoes, its the truth. So the best flip flops I was able to find through research was Havaianas (the plastic they use is heat resistant and won’t melt); pack light as you will wear light clothing daily; rayon, cotton and linen are the preferred fabrics for hot, humid weather; ladies – make-up won’t be needed, it melts! Get ready to sweat all the time, you’ll eventually be okay with it, but you MUST hydrate – buy 1-litre bottles of water to drink and to brush your teeth (water is not potable) and travel with NUUN rehydration tablets to add to your water. Rent a scooter, they range from $2-4 cad/day – no insurance, so just drive responsibly, but it’s a convenient and common way to travel. There are buses on the island as well.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed my trip, it’s a great place to visit.

Easy to navigate, everyone is very friendly and you will enjoy incredible value, delicious foods and even more amazing views!

Until next time, happy travels! ~ D

The World of Zinfandel

Every year, Vancouver hosts one of the biggest consumer wine festivals in North America. And I make sure to go, as this fantastic festival offers seminars, events and a tasting for consumers and wine professionals.

This year, I was able to attend the “World of Zinfandel” seminar masterclass. And what a fantastic experience.

We tasted through some amazing Zinfandel wines from Croatia, Italy and the USA. Did you know that this iconic American grown grape derived from Croatia? It’s also known as Primitivo in Italy; and is grown in many wine regions in California. Did you also know California has the highest quantity of Zinfandel vines planted than anywhere else, even Croatia?

If you are not a regular supporter of this grape, I challenge you to give it another try. You really need to try different regions and producers in order to taste the style differences. I believe I’ve just fallen for this grape, all over again!

In order, here is what we got to taste and experience:

Korta Katarina Rosé 2017 – A blend of 35% Zinfandel & 65% Plavac Mali (a cross between ancestral Zinfandel and Dobričić a local grape); soft, herbal, great acidity and so refreshing. And believe it or not it ages well (a rosé that ages, what?!).

Korta Katarina Reubens Private Reserve 2008 – Made solely of Plavic Mali – this was a mature wine, definitely an expression of the area with its chalky tannins.

Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2015 – Grown just 30 km from the Adriatic sea, these 15-year-old vines showed this 100% Zinfandel very well, with red and black fruits, nice balance of acidity and a fresh herbal note.

*Masseria Surani Dionysos Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2011 – From the region of Puglia in Italy, this Primitivo had intense, ripe fruits on the nose, with tertiary notes on the palate, dusty tannins, balance and vibrant acidity. The star means I liked it, lots!

Louis M Martini Monte Rossi Gnarly Vines Zinfandel 2009 – The Monte Rosso vineyard was planted originally in the late 1800’s in California – crazy to think about that isn’t it?! “This wine was sooo smooth, herbal, nicely balanced with acidity and deep red and black fruits, gorgeous” – from my seminar notes.

*Grgich Hill’s Estate Miljenko’s Old Vine Napa Valley Zinfandel 2014 – This winery also has a winery in Croatia, so they are connected to their roots. This Zin had tobacco notes, black fruits, again balanced with herbal notes. Super approachable!

Myself and Barb Wild a wine colleague

Hess Collection Artezin Mendocino County Zinfandel 2016 – This wine was made from 45-50 year old vines. A young and vibrant wine with good body, texture with red and black fruit notes, they use no oak to showcase the Mendocino, California – Zinfandel style.

Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2014 – These vines were planted in 1904 in this California region. What a pretty wine, which was blended with a touch of Petite Sirah and Carignan. It was spicy, with dark fruits and it was zippy. I love zippy.

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016 – Someone mentioned this with Pulled Pork or Ribs, and then I was hooked. Youthful, zippy (there it is again), spicy, red and black fruit profile with chalky tannins. Californ-i-a!

Lange Twins Centennial Zinfandel 2011 – The co-founder and farmer is a twin, hence the name. This is their 125th vintage from the vineyard. Typical bold style (from Lodi, California) Zinfandel – herbal, mineral, deep black fruits and gentle tannins, smooth and rich.

Klinker Brick Old Ghost Zinfandel 2015 – Not what you’re expecting, not what I was expecting! Smooth, pretty, floral, rich & lush. *102 year old vineyard. California beauty.

 

Until next time, keep exploring wines of the world.