|Pouring local wines|
Whenever I have sat down to write about the days I spent south of here in Penticton in the beautiful Okanagan Valley I was overwhelmed by where to begin. It may also have something to do with the fact that this humble blogger was surrounded by professional and talented writers throughout the weekend. How do you convey the joy, laughter, learning opportunities, new life-time friendships, jaw-dropping food and wines and all the other experiences all rolled into one post. I have decided that its simply not possible. So I begin here with our first night under a blanket of stars, surrounded by twinkling lights and warm smiles.
For those of you who don't know, Penticton is just north of Canada's only desert (being part of the Sonoran desert that travels from Canada and into Mexico). Surrounded by more than 80 wineries and bordered by two lakes, our home away from home is the largest city in the South Okanagan region, an interior British Columbia region often dubbed the Napa Valley of the North. As it happens our hotel was the home of the Vancouver Cancucks for the weekend, a fact that made L'il Burnt Toast very envious:D
After settling into our rooms we headed on our first adventure of a life time to one of the sold out Cuisine du Terroir dinners at God's Mountain in Penticton. "Close your eyes and envision one long communal table, laid out under the stars, on a secluded bluff overlooking one of the oldest Riesling vineyards in the Valley and the shimmering Skaha Lake. In the background, a rambling, whitewashed bed and breakfast full of nooks, crannies, roofless rooms and stuffed armadillos that could be taken straight out of my photo album of a timeless trip to Santorini."
These unique multi-coursed dinners unite curious diners, local epicureans and culinary tourists alike. On the table, coronation grape fougasse soon to be followed by warm fresh Carmelis goat cheese with apple and grainy Dijon slaw and scallops with Red Haven peach, torpedo onion and cilantro chutney as starters to our exceptional menu. Our taste buds danced across the table as we savoured a salad of butter bottom pear and shaved cured ham, local nuts and bitter greens infused with a Port Vinaigrette. This was followed by platters served family style groaning with the edible bounty of the region. Our plates were piled high with "du pios lentils with chioga beets" and topped off with duck confit that literally fell off your fork, with a side of "chantrelle mushrooms, roasted onions and freshly shucked corn" (I asked for seconds). Another platter came around with a "gratin of zucchini and heirloom tomatoes". And for dessert (since this is a food blog and it is all about food), "fall berries and elephant heart plums baked with vanilla bean and canella custard". Sigh....
|Overlooking Lake Okanagan|
Sourcing and showcasing the bounty of the Okanagan is a way of life for Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart, chefs and owners of Joy Road Catering as they host these ethereal mountain top outdoor dining experiences that begin in May and run through till Thanksgiving. In speaking with the young couple their passion is contagious and you understand the devotion the pair have to fresh food and local ingredients. Cam says, “The immediacy of the cooking experience here is unparalleled. I go to the farmers’ market that morning and it’s on your plate that evening.”
|Long Table Dinner at God's Mountain|
The evening included a local wine reception and a carefully chosen, local wine pairing with each course. Our guest speaker was Rhys Pender of Wine Plus and sponsored by the British Columbia Wine Institute. He took us through Wine Tasting 101 where we learned some rudimentary skills on wine and pairing it with food which is a natural progression to great meals. In 2010 Rhys became the 4th Master of Wine (MW) in Canada. Rhys is increasingly becoming recognised as one of Canada's leading experts in the wine business and is regularly sought after to write, judge and consult to the industry.
Nothing is more intimate, or more effective at breaking down barriers, than sharing a meal together family style. When you have like-minded people from two countries breaking bread at the same table magic happens!!!!!!
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