A pilgrimage to dinner

We went to God’s Mountain for dinner with friends this week.

It was our celebration of another summer season here in this little paradise full of food. But the name of the place is only part of why a dinner there was the perfect experience.

The hosts were a pair of chefs well known in the Okanagan. Dana Ewart and Cam Smith are the wunderkind who coined the term “cuisine de terroir” when they decided to feature local, seasonal fare at their Joy Road Catering table.

People who wanted to experience a taste of the region made the pilgrimage to partake of their meals.

Dana and Cam speak of food the way the Sex in the City girls spoke of martinis and expensive shoes. But there is no pretentiousness at all; the evening is very low key and full of laughs.

There is a reverence for the meal at Joy Road events that just happens as people eat and drink and share the camaraderie around the table.

Even if you’re not a sentimental gourmande like me, you get drawn into the world of appreciating the circle of life that comes with good food.

You hear about the prosciutto that comes from their pigs, who get to eat scraps from the kitchen and farmers’ market and get washed daily by the dishwashers.

Dana tells a story like the one about the grapes being in the dessert because they were so prolific this year the vines blocked the internet at their property. How can you not love what you’re eating after that?

Since the Okanagan is as much about the drink as the food it accompanies, most of these dinners feature local wine as well as vittles. The evening we enjoyed was with Wild Goose Winery, which was started by another pioneer family in the region, having planted their first vineyards in 1984.

They share their passion as farmers with the same fervour as the Joy Road team, so this was a well-paired menu.

All of us at the table started to relax and smile once we sat down at the table and sipped and tasted. When the winemaker, Hagen Kruger, told us about buying port for his kids to drink on their wedding day or the birth of his grandkids, we laughed and shared our family stories with neighbours, too.

People I’d never met were like old friends by the time dessert came around. A sense of community was formed.

Dana and Cam have sold their business, and they are moving on to new adventures, so this was one of the last dinners they would host. Joy Road has new owners, and they will undoubtedly do wonderful things too, but this particular form of magic is coming to an end.

Our pilgrimage was also an homage.

As the last dessert plates were being cleared and we savoured the final sips of the port style wine served as a special treat, we thanked our hosts for our full bellies and happy hearts.

Roland Kruger, the “front end” owner at Wild Goose, invited us to drop by the winery with the sincerity of a long-standing neighbour. I know we will make a point of getting there before the end of the harvest.

Dana thanked us for coming and told us how she couldn’t do what she does without sharing. She said that one of her favourite things has been getting emails in the winter from people who have worked to re-create a Joy Road evening in their home community, sharing local ingredients to make a meal together, even in the frozen north.

Dana and Cam wanted to share a taste of place with their food (that’s what “terroir” means). Not only have they spent the last 15 years sharing the wondrous flavours of the Okanagan, they have shared their hearts and souls and built a community of kindred spirits who learned to respect and appreciate local seasonal food.

Cheers to them. Here’s to spreading their good word.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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