Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oriental Inspired BBQ Steak Marinade

I'm am NOT going to tell you how long ago I added this recipe to my collection - just way too weird.  In my 20's (that means you have to guess my age) I subscribed to a recipe card series where they sent you a recipe box at the start and then one set of cards each month until full. It's hard to remember which exactly of my long held favourites came from this fount of knowledge, but this marinade did and it's one I still love

The original recipe card was for Sukiyaki, but I loved the marinade they used for the beef and thought it might be a great choice for steak going on the BBQ.  I was right.  The recipe had to be doubled and tripled over time as the number of steaks grew to accommodate my growing family, but it's still the most requested dish I serve for birthdays.

I am personally not a big meat eater and was a vegetarian for many years, but the unique taste of this marinade even has me pulling out the knife and fork - as long as the steak is carefully well-done by my husband.  He can do it without making it tough or dry - love I guess.

Let's start with the basics.  I purchase a large package of top sirloin steaks at Costco that are thick. In looking, I would guess about 1 inch.  The packages seem to hold about 4 pounds of steak (1.8 KG).  I cut them in smaller size pieces.  This helps the marinade get into the meat better and honestly, even though they may look small, the steaks are very thick so it's more than you think.

I then split the meat into two large or one extra-large Ziploc Freezer bags and put 1 full recipe of marinade in each one (so one recipe to 2 lbs. of meat). Sometimes I do a recipe and a half to 2 lbs of meat as I love the taste it imparts. Carefully squeeze out all the air and seal, then lay flat in in your refrigerator.  If you can remember, turn it over once or twice during the marinade process.  If you have a nice big container that you can lay the meat in a single, flat layer you can also just pour the marinade on top and flip the steaks a few times over the marinade process.  Again - don't forget you need a MINIMUM of 1 recipe for up to 2 lbs. of steak and preferably a little more.

For ease, and so they really soak up the flavour, I put the meat in the marinade the night before. Add a few make-ahead salads and the day of your dinner all you will need to do is set the table and fire up the BBQ.  You could also put them in the marinade first thing in the morning for an evening get-together.

One item in the marinade - the whole peppercorns - soften the longer they are allowed to soak and I have had guests who love to take a bite of steak embedded with these jewels.  Others prefer to scrap them off as they don't like the intense peppery bite.  So don't remove them, let the guests decide.

Oriental Steak Marinade (single Recipe)
This is good for no more than 2 lbs. of good quality steak.  More is better in this instance, so don't be afraid to do a recipe and a half for 2lbs. if you want lots of flavour.

1/2 cup      Chopped Onion
4 Cloves    Garlic, crushed or minced (minced will impart more flavour)
5 T            Soy Sauce (I use low sodium)
5 T            Salad Oil
1 T            Sesame Seeds
1 T            Sugar
2 T            Whole Black Peppercorns (or you could try a variety mix - see note below)
3 T            Dry Sherry or Cooking Sherry (in same aisle as vinegar)

Combine all Marinade ingredients, pour over meat and let marinade up to 24 hours - a would say a minimum of 6 hours.  Occasionally flip meat over to make sure it gets evenly marinaded.

That's it - fast and easy to get ready and we all know how relaxing it is to sit outside and visit while something cooks on the BBQ.
Note - Black peppercorns have a hotter flavor and more of a bite; white peppercorns are subtler and milder; and Green peppercorns are the least pungent of the three.  I think the black adds the most flavour to this to my preference and again, guests can just scrap them off.  The steak is not spicy at all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

VFW Sept. 2012 - SODDI, Y!D.N.A. and George Bezhanishvili

Photos courtesy of Peter Jensen

Vancouver Fashion Week closed this year with a triad of amazing designers - Solon Diego, Andy Hoan Nguyen and George Bezhanishvili.  It was the perfect end to what has been an exciting week and the strongest line-up of international designers I have seen here.

SODDI by Solon Diego

This is the second season Brazilian designer and stylist Solon Diego has shown his SODDI menswear line at VFW. F/W 12 featured a dark palette and stark silhouettes that modified the male form. His S/S 13 collection heads off in an entirely new direction.  Lines were still fairly clean, but a bit softer than last fall.  Stark white, neon yellow and vivid orange created the feel of the hot sun shining in on a tropical beach.  As always, Diego is not afraid to play with silhouettes that fall outside traditional male shapes.  The one shoulder shirts - example on right above - are one example.  The wrapped shorts offered in several colours another.  It was easy to spot the influence of traditional African and Asian styles. In addition to incorporating multicultural trends, the looks were completed with crownless hats and styled with accessories by Negra Rosa, another Brazilian designer.  Well tailored, great lines and vibrant colours all combine to create an exceptional line and I for one always applaud new directions in menswear.  It's their time to shine.

Y!D.N.A. Collection by Andy Hoan Nguyen

In 2010, Designer Andy Hoan Nguyen caught the attention of the fashion world as the Grand Prize Winner of the Telio Design Competition at Montreal Fashion Week.  With several successful shows now under his belt, he brought his latest collection to walk the runway at VFW.  His fashion house is called Y!D.N.A. - Andy backward, but also a reference to the y-chromosome.  Nguyen shares in his Facebook bio, "Human DNA is unique to each individual, and this characteristic of uniqueness is something that I wish my collection to be interpreted as. It’s like transferring the “Differences” between them to make something different again." The palette focused mostly on the colour black with a few accents of red and yellow as well as one bright print. It was young hip and fresh.  Sexy dresses, skirts and shorts had very lofty hemlines and there was even a body suit with high french cut leg lines that heralded back to his connection to the dance industry. Zipper accents and nice detailing rounded out this statement making collection.  Young designers always shake up the industry and Nguyen is definitely one of those making waves.

George Bezhanishvili

George Bezhanishvili was the final show at VFW and he did it with style.  This internationally recognized designer creates his unique look by bringing together diverse ethnic looks and utilizing contemporary techniques to craft them.  He thinks of his garments in terms of a 2nd skin to wear.  I loved this statement I found explaining the designers process, "...combining different fabrics and materials, spinning the wheel of color and adapting ethnicities to contemporary technique, this designer establishes an androgenic world of dreams – thus existence. Garments are assembled as an endless flirt between strong and fragile, outlining the opulent look. Each collection is a personal chronicle, present captivation and a fresh breath of desire. They shape and move in tune with the wearers body."  I couldn't have said it better myself. The palette for this collection was dark and the music played to accompany it dramatic. Delicate hints of gold, brown and purple drew us in. My favourite piece of the collection was the dress on the left above - kimono style with print sash and high slit.  The overwhelming response from the audience was well-deserved and I hope enough encouragement for Bezhanishvili to return.  This is another designer I hope to interview in the future.

VFW Sept. 2012 - Goldie London, Hive Mind, Aptform and PINGHE

Runway photos courtesy of Peter Jensen.

Again, this was a full day of shows at Vancouver Fashion Week with many amazing designers.  This is just an overview of a few that personally caught my eye.

Goldie London & Hive Mind Millinery

Hive Mind Millinery
Britsh born, Vancouver based hat designer Dominique Hanke is one of the newer forces on the local millinery scene - combining traditional hat-making techniques with unique, contemporary finishes to create wearable art. Her initial offerings were more traditional felt hats as well as an interesting selection of unusual fascinators. With a truly unique personal style - who could miss her British Flag tights and pale blue hair this week - one would expect only over-the-top styles. This certainly was seen in the skull adorned number on the bottom right and in a paint splattered flat disk version, but overall her collection showcased a talent for subtlety in design and accent that will place them well in the market. It was exciting to see her expansion into new directionis.  I loved the addition of very feminine and light woven straw styles, especially the smaller versions with accents.  The grey design in the bottom strip, 2nd from left, is one of my personal favourites.  I think the 2 best pairings between Goldie London and Hive Millinery are the top strip far right - the pale shirt sporting a jeweled collar with the lavender hat topped by a pink bow - and the bottom right bronze sequined dress with the skull hat. Special kudos to the model in that last photo for posing the hat so well at the end of the runway

Goldie London 

Goldie London made its first foray into the fashion world at London's Portobello and Spitalfields markets. Their description of "wearable with a cool girl aesthetic" is a good fit with what was showcased at VFW.  Obviously aimed at a younger market, we saw a selection of garments that combined femininity and fun with a touch of rock-n-roll.  The palette touched on the softer side with white, pink, aqua, 2 muted prints and fluid fabrics.  Then came the studs on a white jacket, a vibrant water colour print skirt, a red lace bra style top, sparkly black separates, a bronze sequins dress and 2 sequins skirts.  Although diverse in styles, most of the garments are designed for a day or evening out. I love surprises on the runway and Goldie London offered me a great one.  The white blouse with silver skirt in the bottom strip had a surprise open back with a y-shaped strip of 1 inch wide beading down the centre.  A great dramatic moment. As mentioned above, the collaboration with Hive Mind really worked well in my mind and elevated the work of both designers.

Aptform by Michael Gkinis

I don't know where to even begin with this designer, but I'll start by defining him instead as an artist.  I was so struck with his work I arranged to interview him at the airport as he left. but in that brief hour only managed to touch the surface. Yasuhiro Tomita (the talented designer of the RUKUS label) was fortunately sitting next to me during this show and tried to help me understand the complexity behind what appeared simple.  Gkinis was born in Greece  and trained in London, but an internship with Issey Miyake in Tokyo changed his direction.  Living in Japan since 2006, each garment is constructed like a piece of art.The more you delve into it, the more complex it becomes.  This excerpt in the designer's own words speaks volumes, "...contemporary clothing that is meaningful in terms of construction and sensitive in their cut and texture.
Gkinis finds inspiration all around him - from the texture and colour of 1000 year old walls to rain falling in Tokyo.  He is drawn in particular to subtle Japanese craftsmanship, unique textiles and dyes and is always exploring and updating traditional techniques.  I cannot begin to describe what I saw on the runway, so will let the photos speak for themselves. 


PINGHE (designer Ping He) closed the evening with a line of ready-to-wear that was sleek and beautifully constructed.  This internationally recognized, award winning designer has worked with the best - including Alexander McQueen - and has fans such as Madonna and Uma Thurman. The wonderful collection of garments she showcased here was designed with today's modern woman in mind - a touch of sophistication, a touch of edge and in the designer's own words, "...infused with elements inspired by both East and West"  Clean, structured silhouettes were contrasted with softly draped sheers.  The palette included off-white, light and dark grey, red and black providing the foundation. 2 prints were offered - the red-toned one above right and a black/white Op Art geometric that I especially loved.  Adding depth were also an interesting textured shiny bronze fabric and leather in both red and black.  My favourite leather piece was a jacket that had eyelets and lacings straight up the back of the sleeve from the wrist to top.  Kudos to this designer for making us all sit up in our seats and take notice after a long day of shows. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

VFW Sept. 2012 - KoH T, Xsenia & Olya, Pola Thomson and Ha Sang Beg

Runway photos courtesy of Peter Jensen

Another tough day at Vancouver Fashion Week to pick just a few designers to highlight.  There were MANY this day that deserved attention.  Unfortunately, there just isn't time to write up everyone.


KoH T is the brainchild of award winning Japanese designer Taisuke Kohji.  With studies at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K., Sugino Fashion College in Japan and an internship with Issey Miyake, it's no surprise that the collection was a standout.  The palette was anchored by black and white with a variety of accent colours to add interest.  Elegant simplicity at its finest.  The garments also had a subtle undercurrent of femininity that added to their charm.  Separates and short shift dresses were offered that could easily move from day to evening out.  The softer fit of the silhouettes meant they were wearable as well.  Let's face it - today's woman lives hard and fast so being comfortable in your clothing while still looking well put together is a strong selling point.

Xsenia & Olya

This London-based, Central St. Martins trained design duo - Xsenia Runa and Olya Shishkina - was one that really caught my eye last spring, so I couldn't wait to see what they had to offer this season and they did not disappoint. The collection - titled Liquid Smoke - built on a theme of movement by exploring hte properties of smoke and water. I loved their watercolour prints and the soft, fluid fit of their silhouettes - not overly feminine, just the right balance to meet a wide range of personal styles.  What was difficult was trying to note 1 or 2 favourites. Their collection had so many looks in such a wide colour palette that I finally gave up.  I did manage to single out 2 of the above in my notes. There were several looks with bright turquoise and neon yellow like the short set on the left.  I loved the energy and vibrancy of that colour pairing and am going to have to work it into my wardrobe.  I also thought the dusty pink short set would be a hit. I can imagine this look being worn at a beach resort anywhere in the world.  The best news was in talking with this designer, she mentioned the possibility of a local store opening.  I will be first in line.

Pola Thomson

Designer Pola Thomson understands the concept of less is more. This Chilean born, New York based designer has won awards such as "Best Collection" from Marie Claire Latin America and and 1st place in the "Femme" category at the "Who's Next" show in Paris.  The collection shown at VFW offered clean lines and silhouettes that said so much more.  Soft drapes, a great palette and strong selection of separates - all looks that most women would love to incorporate into their wardrobe - came one after the other. The audience was entranced.  I personally loved the palette that moved from white, black and pastels into a deep gorgeous red.  I would wear the 2 looks on the left above - the red pantsuit and the black coat and skirt with white top - in a heartbeat.  I am hoping Pola Thomson will come return next season so I can schedule an interview.


What can I say about this mysterious Korean designer? HaSangBeg has been a regular at VFW for the last 4 or 5 seasons.  An overview of his work shown at VFW is covered in The Evolution of Ha:Sang;Beg.  Despite following him for so many year, I still don't have an interview on file, nor is there much to find on his website (it honestly is a total mystery starting with the opening page) or in an internet search.  While he is still an enigma to me, HaSangBeg always brings something to the runway that is outside the box. In past seasons I felt I was always seeing something brand new, but this season I began to see some detailing, such as the unusual use of belts, that had been featured in previous collections. Whether he is beginning to find elements that will be a regular part of his aesthetic or just wasn't finished with that design element only he knows. The collection was a refreshing show of streetwear from a designer that loves to push boundaries - full of energy, a great palette and tons of attitude. We can only hope he will be back next year to delight us again.

VFW Sept. 2012 - The Lasalle Connection

Runway Photos courtesy of Eugenio Flores and Rene Artiga

LaSalle College Vancouver is part of a network of international schools.  For the last several seasons, their graduating fashion design students have been showing on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week.  Student work brings fresh, young ideas to the table, but their creativity can be above production skills.  Not so here.  The four students who presented their collections were right on the mark.  Each collection was widely different which is always refreshing.  Looking closely, you could see excellent tailoring and finish work as well a good proportions and silhouettes.

While I loved all 4 collections - the top notch construction and design work on Ivan Yiu's line stood out to me.  This collection is store ready and I hope the retail community sits up and takes note.  I was also drawn to the dye work and use of colour in Mislaid Pieces.  The 5th collection down the runway featured an interesting selection of dresses created from newsprint for a design competition last spring - more details below.

Kudos to the LaSalle students for a job well done.  Below please find 4 looks from the runway as well as excepts from their personal bios.

Ivan Yiu
Photo Courtesy of Eugenio Flores

“I've always been around fashion because my dad owns a clothing manufacture company. I hung out there when I was young and I was really interested in the machines and how they worked. I really wanted to learn how to sew and I was always interested in designing things. Since my dad didn't have time to teach me himself, he decided that I should go to school for it.” That’s when he decided to find a fashion school in Vancouver to learn how to design and sew. One reason he chose LaSalle was the pattern drafting teacher – Nargas – who helped him tremendously. The collection of high fashion active-wear shown at VFW consisted of 22 looks (over 30 pieces) and was inspired by running and what he sees on the trails – water, silhouettes, wood grain and more.

Photo Courtesy of Rene Artiga

Byron Abad has been designing under the label ‘Synikal’ for over a decade, creating cutting-edge apparel for the fashion-conscious individual. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Byron moved to Vancouver in 2008 to expand his label. Although he has a Ready-To-Wear line, his primary focus is on creating custom pieces such as evening and bridal wear. Byron is currently attending LaSalle College International to further his education and knowledge of the Fashion Industry

Photo Courtesy of Eugenio Flores

When I was younger I had no interest in sewing at all. In Home Economics class I could barely sew a drawstring bag. I have always loved clothes however, trying all sorts of different fashions. Art and Illustration was always a draw to me too. Fashion design didn’t occur to me until I began a part time job at Le Chateau. I enjoyed working hard there and seeing all the new styles of clothes that would come in, as a result I began to research fashion schools. Calgary my hometown offered very few fashion programs and I had always dreamed of moving to B.C. so, I came to Vancouver for a weekend and enrolled in the Design program at Lasalle College International. Two years later I have the chance to show my debut collection at VFW.

Photo courtesy of Eugenio Flores

Originally from Japan, Ai showed passion for drawing and coloring from very young age. And it was those passions that led her to discover the world of fashion.  Ai arrived in Vancouver a little more than a year ago. At first, the young fashionista wanted to study in Montreal, but since Vancouver is closer to Tokyo and her family, she finally chose the cultural capital of British Columbia to teach her the fashion ropes. Ai is inspired by the mixed of Japanese and North American culture. Most of her designs are constructed and ready-to-wear; classy, elegant and feminine. Now she is completely focused on beautiful couture line for girls age 5-11.


This section included an unique selection of dresses submitted to a design challenge last spring focused on the Eco movement.  Metro News and Lasalle College came together to challenge their students to create high end, exciting garments from discarded newspaper.  At VFW we saw the entries submitted by Vancouver students, 2 of which made it into the top five finalists.  I think everyone in the audience was impressed with the intricate construction work and appealing silhouettes achieved.

Kudos to the LaSalle students for a strong showing this season.  For more information on the programs offered at LaSalle Vancouver please visit their website at