Cabana tasting at Black Hills
Cabana tasting at Black Hills
Kliluk Lake or Spotted Lake between Osoyoos and the Similkameen.
I love living in Vancouver and love cities but I have to escape regularly and this year, after staying home for months, I need to get out. I’m dreaming of early morning open roads and great restaurants at sunset.
We started visiting Okanagan wineries in 2007. Wine was my new hobby and many winemakers were just starting out. I loved the excitement didn’t feel foolish for my ignorance.
Over the years many young people have grown up in the wineries and are bringing fresh perspective and enthusiasm.
One of my favourite drives is the Hope Princeton to Osoyoos ending at Spirit Ridge.
The resort offers everything for a great vacation: suites with full kitchens, an onsite winery and tasting room, cultural centre, adult and family friendly pools, a 9 hole golf course, gym, a spa and an exciting new restaurant.
Chef Murray MacDonald and the indigenous culinary team launched The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry last year. I’m thrilled to see the resort amp up the food experience and I believe Chef MacDonald and the new culinary team can do the job.
Great wines need great food and things keep getting better outside Vancouver as chefs look for options for a balanced family life and opportunities that come with growth in tourism.
One thing is for sure, the food and wine scene in the Okanagan keeps getting better and better and I have no doubt that the people working there will rise to the challenge of the summer of CoVid and create great experiences. Things will be more exclusive and everyone will put their hearts and souls into it. For sure it will be a bit more expensive but it will also be hard to get. Planning early is a must. Small groups of up to 6 will enjoy guided, sit down tastings and beautiful dining and chefs with more time to create perfect meals.
I have a hotel booked, now for the winery visits.
Spirit Ridge Resort, Osoyoos, BC
I put in 6 straight hours of hard mental labour. Horrible Covid business stuff, but I had some cooking to look forward to.
Tuna steaks will be my 1st BBQ of the year.
I was happy to start by choosing the wine.I love being in the Meyer Vineyards club and having a great selection of exceptional Pinot Noir always available.Tonight I’m self soothing with 2017 Micro Cuvée from the McLean Creek Vineyard. I love being able to drink from the same vines year after year.
I made had some balsamic vinaigrette and I’ve mashed in some roasted garlic to baste the tuna. Scavenged a few potatoes from the bin. They might need a fair amount of butter.
The tuna turned out delicious.
We’ve been working mornings Monday to Friday, mostly frustrating, fruitless work so often feel like getting happy when we get home for the lockdown.
All this time at home leads to reflection. No?
I love food. It’s essential, yes, but so much more. Satisfying, nurturing, comforting, creative, exciting. Food is all that for me.
Food and wine has been comforting the last few weeks. We’ve eaten our favourite breads, slathered in cultured butter and drank some of our best wines. We’ve even indulged in desserts.
I miss restaurants. Especially with a table of friends. All that laughter and good cheer.
But I also love to grow, shop and prepare food. I love to shell peas, shuck corn and sauté onions. So staying at home’s not all bad. With a well stocked pantry and cellar and more time for cooking, we’re not suffering but I can’t wait to hear the clink of glasses as we share again with friends and family.
So what have we been eating and drinking?
2019 was a delicious year with some great meals in Japan, St. John’s Newfoundland, Kelowna BC, Portugal and Wellington, Ontario.
The giant tempura clams at Tsunahachi in the Keio Department store, Shinjuku, Tokyo was unforgettable. We didn’t have a bad meal in Japan. The Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka was a highlight.
In St. John’s, Newfoundland, we had the absolute best tasting menu paired with wine at Raymond’s. The food was glorious but the wine matches knocked it out of the park. At The Merchant Tavern we had the best scallops ever and The Mallard Cottage‘s cornmeal crusted cod cheeks are unforgettable.
We went to Kelowna for our annual wine buying trip and tried the new Home Block at Cedar Creek Winery and had the best calamari we’ve ever had. Can’t wait to go back. This one is bound to get even better.
We spent a week in Portugal. Our best meal was at Volta & Meia in Figueira da Foz http://voltaemeia.com/. Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato combines clams, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, white wine and cilantro. Without doubt, the best clams I’ve ever eaten and we loved the restaurant. And we discovered Serra cheese. I sure wish I’d brought some home because I can’t get it here. Another reason to go back to Portugal.
Lastly we had the best fish taco ever at La Condesa in Wellington, Ontario. Fresh made to order tortillas mean you wait a little longer and then have to order more. Just try to eat only one.
Another great meal at Kissa Tanto proved that Italian and Japanese food is a great fusion.
We started with house made sourdough bread with olive oil and miso butter. If it wasn’t so delicious I’d say we were sorry later when we could barely finish our dessert but we managed somehow.
Research tells me that Namban-zuke is usually a home made dish rarely available in restaurants. Deep fried cod marinated in vinegar, surprisingly refreshing.
Tonno Mantecato was fun to eat and like nothing we’d ever had before. More sourdough bread topped with tobiko, served with smoked potato blended with confit albacore tuna and topped with furikake.
Two dishes I could never do without are the Tajarin, a crave worthy pasta with butter, roasted mushrooms and miso cured egg yolk and the deep fried whole fish with daikon dipping sauce. We’ve had the fish several times and never had the same species twice. This time it was a thorny headed rockfish, small fish so there were 2 in an order. Crazy good and the dipping sauce is even better than last time.
We ordered two side dishes; eggplant with miso besciamella, almonds and parmesan, and squash with miso apples, bagna cauda and walnuts. Not a crumb left.
We were committed to dessert and had both the tiramisu and the yuzu cream. The tiramisu was traditional and good but the yuzu cream was a wonder.