The Unexpected Picnic

Learn how food blogger Brenda Yim found a passion for her culture and heritage through exploring ethnic foods.

The Unexpected Picnic; how to create a Valley Commons experience in an urban setting – our conversation with Pistachiopicks

Tell us about who you are and how you spend your days. What are some things that are important to you?

My name is Brenda and I am the creator behind pistachiopicks, a food Instagram started in 2016 to bridge my Hong Kong and Canadian cultural identities. I chose the name pistachiopicks because ‘pistachio’ in Chinese, metaphorically, describes someone as a happy and bubbly person (that’s me!) and I wanted the content and food that I picked to bring joy and happiness to people! Hence, the name pistachio+picks.

Through this passion project, I got to take what I learned from my Food, Nutrition and Health degree and pair the sciences with the culinary side of food. It was an eye opening experience because it is important for me to create informative content that educates others on different cuisines and ingredients but also the people behind the dish and restaurant.

When I am not cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I am working as a digital marketer at a healthy snack food company, exercising (ex. swimming, running, yoga) or developing my eye for design. As a marketer and food blogger, I enjoy having a unique lens where I get to be a part of the world of food and gastronomy on both sides of the table. There are always new trends and unexpected creativity in every corner and that drives me to challenge myself in how I view growth and food.

How do you and your brand bring the beauty of lush British Columbia to an urban setting?

The fact that I live in a city with blue skies, oceans, mountains and lush greenery is truly a blessing. When spring and summer roll around, I try to capture content that showcases seasonal produce and elements of the outdoors! For example, cherry blossom trees are my favourite spring backdrop and fresh fruit, flowers and herbs are always abundant in my content because they are the ripest and brightest.

What are your favourite ways to connect with your loved ones?

Food has always been my way of connecting both culturally and emotionally with my loved ones. From uncovering my family’s history through traditional dishes to learning about personal taste preferences, food allows me to get to know someone on a more intimate level.

For example, growing up in an Asian household, we value Sunday morning dim sum because it brings even the busiest bees to the table. It becomes an opportunity to slow down, sip on heartwarming tea, and eat a vast variety of small Cantonese dishes while catching up on past and present moments.

Besides eating, exercising is a great bonding activity. You can really get to know someone’s mindset, determination and passion from going on evening strolls or running a good o’ 7 kms.

What are your ‘must-have’ picnic sips and snacks?

My picnics will always have an array of Asian inspired snacks and sips like my highly requested Japanese egg salad sandwiches, matcha macarons and iced Thai tea. The use of asian flavours comes from inspiration I see on Instagram from cafes abroad in Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. For sips, it can be as simple as opening a bottle of wine to venturing into soju cocktails. For health(ier) sips, I love making a nice iced matcha tea and sweetening it with mango or pineapple juice.

Valley Commons connects the regions of British Columbia, bringing a metropolitan taste from the bounties of the South Okanagan and Fraser Valley. What’s the perfect setting for your picnic?

Quarantine at home has made me realize how much we take the outdoors and nature for granted which is why the perfect setting would be going to my neighbourhood park. There is a lot of shade from trees and flowers surrounding the area. Pairing that scenery with a white linen draped on a portable table, white and gold cutlery and plates, you can create a minimalistic and classy picnic setting.

As a certified Vancouver food blogger, what meal are you pairing with a glass of Valley Commons?

I am pairing my homemade white nectarine and oolong tiramisu with Valley Commons’s Pinot Gris. This tiramisu combination combines soft nectarine with aromatic oolong-infused lady fingers with a tangy mascarpone cream paired with a slightly acidic pinot gris that balances the overall sweetness.

Besides pairing this Pinot Gris with dessert, I included a sweet and juicy cantaloupe with prosciutto, olive oil drizzled garden salad, and tart green grapes to create a balanced and light summer picnic.

What spots are still on your British Columbia foodie bucket list?

I have so many but I have my eyes set on dining at Land and Sea restaurant, Acquafarina, Noah’s Cafe, Miantiao and the opportunity to visit Valley Common’s winery!