Monthly Archives: June 2010

Alfresco dining, Okanagan style

You may have got the impression from some of my earlier posts that I have many fond food memories of the years I spent in France. Well you’d be bang on. And now that we are in the final preparations of moving back to France, I am getting excited about all the great little moments of life that I miss so much here.

But my wife and I were reminded last week that real food prepared with care and talent can be found in BC as well. The opportunities are just harder to find.

We were invited to attend the premier alfresco dinner at a stunning Bed and Breakfast called God’s Mountain Estate, high above the shore of Skaha lake, south of Penticton http://www.godsmountain.com/index.html.

White walls, blue sky, striking vistas

This Mediterranean styled, 14 room small Inn is by far the funkiest, most relaxing B&B I’ve encountered in a long time. Owner Sarah Allen fell in love with the property by chance in 2003 and within two years sold her Bowen island restaurant and along with her husband Richard purchased God’s Mountain.

The stunning 115 acre hillside property is a functioning organic farm growing apples, plum, cherries, apricots, grapes and a horde of vegetables. Hence the guest book at GM is filled with glowing comments on the food. There are no phones or TV’s in the room and if you like something different there’s even a roofless room for romantic star gazers.

Sarah has found a unique approach to staffing her estate too. On arrival we were greeted by a friendly young girl offering us a glass of sparkling Blue Mountain, one of Canada’s top bubblies. Turns out she’s  a woofer from Germany. A what you may ask? After some digging, I discovered a website for World Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s an organization that helps travelers  find temporary work on farms worldwide and at the same time discover a new culture. In return for their labour woofers are given room and board.

But back to the food. The kick-off alfresco dinner was prepared Joy Road Catering, http://www.joyroadcatering.com/, which is run by two Stratford Chef’s School grads, Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart. They’ve lived in the Okanagan for several years and want to show the world what they can do with the top quality organic food being grown in the BC interior.

They are committed locavores and even spent much of the day before our dinner gathering wild greens, morels and herbs. The hard work and great ingredients really did make a huge difference. My wife stated it was the best meal she’s ever had. I wouldn’t go that far but it was the best diner I’ve had in several years.  And outside of a dash of olive oil, a shaving of pecorino, a few lemons and a handful of coffee beans, everything was grown or raised in the Okanagan. Wines of course, followed the same theme and all were excellent, especially a God’s Mountain Riesling from Wild Goose that was sourced from the vineyards on the property.

Just to make you drool some more, I’ll list a few highlights from the menu.

Selection of Oyama salami, pork rillets, market radishes with goat’s cheese – served with Blue Mountain Brut- one of Canada’s best bubblies

Chef Dana preps dessert

prepping the charcuterie platters

Wild herb, leek and spinach potage – served with God’s Mountain Riesling

Salad of shaved fennel, wild watercress, picked baby beets and quail eggs

Cider brined and charcoal grilled leg of pork, served with roasted asparagus, wild mushroom risotto –  served with Pentage Syrah from next door – superb

An amazing lemon tart served with strawberry rhubarb compote and crème fraiche

The combination of great food, the incredible view and the joyful,relaxed mood was truly memorable. By the end of the evening conversation at the communal table flowed as easily as the wine and I was left with a warm feeling of deep satisfaction.  If you want to see just how good the Okanagan can be I highly recommend you make the effort to attend.

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