The Venue - Van Westen Winery, Naramata
This past Sunday I was lucky enough to volunteer and attend the 3rd annual Feast of Fields in the agritourism area of Naramata about an hour south of here. Situated along a meandering country road with spectacular views of Okanagan Lake and surrounding mountains the Naramata Bench is one of the most scenic wine regions in North America. As a parking volunteer you could feel the anticipation and I saw a rare glimpse into the making of a word class event as the drama unfolded. Many of the Okanagan Valleys top chefs, vintners, and organic farmers arrived with their goods to create this one-of-a-kind experience. I can only imagine the thought, effort and collaboration it took each of them to get to this point to create a magical feast for over 300 attendees. I witnessed each participant being welcomed and ushered down the hillside. As each tractor load disappeared down the hill with all their goodies and displays I wondered how all of this seeming mayhem would transform in to the magic I have witnessed in previous years with gorgeous displays and beaming participants. Seeing an event from the beginning is very different than arriving once all the hard work has already been accomplished.
But magic did happen as I meandered through the orchard rows and vineyards with napkin and wine glass in hand as a guest at Van Westen Vineyards and Orchards. The Feast of Fields is intended to be a leisurely, sumptuous experience. A four hour wandering harvest festival with the underlying theme being the connection between those who grow our food and those who eat it. You can taste the very best of the Okanagan Valley from chefs, vintners, brewers, farmers, fishers, ranchers and food artisans from across the province. Think of it as restaurants disguised as a farmers market. You wander from tent to tent sampling bites and nibbles and raving with other diners about how good it all is. And all your “sacrifice” helps to develop a secure food future. Some think of it as a 35+ course meal with wine and beer!
Each year about 20 organic producers are teamed with talented chefs to create special culinary treats for more than 300 paying guests. Taken together with scores of volunteers, more than 500 people attend Feast of Fields each year. If you've ever been to one of Farm Folk City Folk Feast of Fields you will know they just keep getting better and better!!!
Sandrin's, Kelowna, Lavender Macarons (they have feet)
Mouth-watering fare as far as the eye can see ensures the event's success year after year but generous, enthusiastic and talented people actually make this event successful, from the chefs who create amazing dishes over a simple campfire or gas barbecue to the wineries and breweries that continue to innovate with their products, to the dedicated, hardworking organic farmers who work year round to grow the food we eat to the hundreds of volunteers who are committed to the organic movement. It's no coincidence that Feast of Fields takes place in late summer, the pinnacle of harvest season. This gives chefs an opportunity to take advantage of the unlimited harvest bounty at their doorsteps, and what they deliver is incomparable!!!
Bogners Penticton Dark Cherry Sorbet in Oat Cookies
Joy Road Catering's fresh berries on meringue
Raudz, Kelowna "Bacon and Eggs", it was really chicken pate piped into
hollow eggs with a stick of bacon.
Wine Fed Sezmu Shredded Beef
What originally began in 1989 in Ontario as a modest walkabout featuring urban cuisine in a rural setting has become an event guests and participants eagerly anticipate year after year. Imagine strolling through a sweet-smelling field sampling dozens of the freshest, most succulent organic creations, accompanied by organic and local wines and beers and you will get a taste of the Feast of Fields event. Feast of Fields has been spreading across Canada. FarmFolk/CityFolk has hosted its own Feast of Fields in Vancouver for the past several years as well as here in the Okanagan Valley, while Earth to Table in Calgary has taken the concept and turned it into a dinner. Groups in Halifax, Montreal and Winnipeg have expressed interest in hosting the event as well. Feast of Fields is a gastronomic journey towards a sustainable, local food system. Knowledge is power, and the sense of community is strengthened and energized through this kind of event
It was a wonderful way to spend a day, and I found a lot of people that I looked forward to visiting. The food was earth-shattering, the drinks were refreshing and delicious. It really was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with like-minded people. After 5 hours I left dusty, tired and over-heated but with a deep satisfaction that I had helped in some small way to create a collaboration between farmers and consumers. If you haven't been, and enjoy eating, I would recommend that you check it out in your area! In British Columbia the Feast continues September 11 at Krause Berry Farms in Langley, and September 18 at Marley Farm in Saanichton, on Vancouver Island. If not there is always next year!!!! These tasty events not only highlight the connection between farmers and chefs, but so much more…explore what your region has to offer while strolling through a country field with a wine glass and linen napkin in hand, all the while supporting the work of FarmFolkCityFolk. I knew from past experience that I would leave satisfied with a full belly and warm memories...and no need to make dinner!
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