Gourmet picnics featured in gastronomic fundraiser

Picnic for a cause

Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality, this month has its B.C. chapter spearheading its mission to promote education, scholarship and philanthropy.

And they’re doing it in a tasty way.

Les Dames BC is excited to announce their summer fundraiser program: “Picnic and Bubbles” for two, a fun experience in collaboration with restaurants across the province inviting guests to support women in hospitality by picnicking with participating restaurants in Vancouver, Penticton and Kelowna and 50% of the proceeds will go to Food Banks BC.

How does it work? Each pair of guests will choose which restaurant they want to order from. Then, they arrive at their scheduled pick-up time between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 21 and saunter off to enjoy their picnic at their ideal location.

Take your picnic to your backyard, favourite picnic spot or maybe one of the local Okanagan beaches.

Tickets are $150 (for two), must be purchased in advance, and your picnic includes a main dish created by your chosen restaurant, two side dishes, dessert and “bubbles”. A number of picnics have already sold out, so don’t delay.

Here in the Okanagan, the choices are delicious.

The Naramata Inn is offering Buttermilk fried Yarrow Meadows chicken, Jerseyland organic cheddar biscuits with cultured butter, Lotz provisions black garlic honey drizzle, a tomato, stone fruit and basil salad, plus a farmer’s potato salad with smoked trout, pickled mustard and dill. For dessert? An orchard fruit shortcake, and the bubbles are Bella Estate’s Ancestrale Chardonnay.

The Broken Anchor, known for its southern-style creations, is (of course) going with double fried chicken, scallion Hushpuppies with spicy maple aioli, triple cheese macaroni and cheese, and a pecan and apple salad. Dessert is a “bake at home” peach cobbler and your wine is a Blanc de Blanc from Kitsch Winery. Seating will be available onsite if you decide to purchase this picnic.

Penticton’s Time Winery continues the chicken theme with a jerk (half) chicken and roasted yams, and a kale caesar salad with roasted garlic dressing, peppered bacon lardons, toasted parmesan, garlic herb croutons. A lemon tart and chocolate chip brownie rounds out your dinner, all paired with a bottle of Evolve’s Pink Effervescence from the Time Family of Wines.

And finally, we have Sunny’s Modern Diner in Kelowna (pickup will be at the Okanagan Table), with a fried Falkland chicken and Rossdown Farms turkey wings, with a blueberry ginger bbq sauce, spatchcock Cornish game hen, a Dijon nugget potato salad with turkey bacon, corn on the cob with smoked pepper and lime butter, celery root and cabbage slaw, and Sunny’s buttermilk biscuits.

If you have room, dessert is an Okanagan Red Haven peach melba with raspberry sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. This feast is paired with Monte Creek winery’s sparkling rosé.

Start packing the picnic blanket and napkins.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Plenty of opportunities to mix food, wine and writing this summer

Food, wine and writing

Reading, writing, and wine

This coming heat wave may inspire many of us to grab a book and hide out in the shade with a glass of wine.

And maybe the book you choose will provide further inspiration to explore a cool summer event, then write about it yourself.

Thankfully, this sequence won’t be too difficult to follow, as a handful of mid-to-late summer events are on the horizon, and the Wine Country Writers’ Festival (WCWF), is taking place Sept. 23 and 24 in Penticton.

Step one: Ponder an upcoming event or experience for your initial inspiration.

Step two: Pair that experience with a good book to sharpen your writing skills.

Step three: Attend the WCWF with your notes and prepare a pitch. Registration includes the opportunity for one “blue pencil.” You can provide up to three pages of your writing that you’d like to discuss with a professional writer for feedback, questions or to get you out of writer’s block.

Here are some options for step one.

Interested in high finance? Laughing Stock Vineyards invites you to Mergers and Acquisitions on Aug. 6. Take five varietals – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot – and blend your own signature bottle of the winery’s flagship bottle, Portfolio.

Novel choices? Almost any of Stephen W. Frey’s fiction books, or perhaps Dave Hart’s At Bonus Time, No One Can Hear You Scream. Contact the winery to purchase your tickets at 250-493-8466 or email [email protected].

Head to the hills of Silver Star near Vernon for the Silver Star Summer Wine Festival, Aug. 12 to 14. Not only will the mountain air be refreshing, you’ll get to attend a wine dinner or two, enjoy tastings, listen to live music, and Savour the Sun with the wineries of Oliver and Osoyoos.

Silver Star has fantastic downhill, cross-country and enduro bike trails, but for even more fun try the mystical Gnome Roam. Once home, pick up a copy of Glendy Vanderah’s Where the Forest Meets the Stars, and start drafting your own mystical mountain adventure.

On Aug. 20, Blasted Church Vineyards celebrates its 20th anniversary with a grand party, The Seven Deadly Sins. Seven stations of wine and food pairings to partake of poolside, from oysters to chocolate and other indulgences. The winery itself dares to ask, how much have you sinned? The steamy romance novel practically writes itself. Pick up a classic such as The Scarlett Letter, or one of the six novels in J.R. Ward’s Fallen Angels series – covet, crave, envy, rapture, possession, or immortal.

As the Wine Country Writers’ Festival suggests, take inspiration from the beauty around us.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Memorable moments as a milestone birthday is celebrated

Milestones and road trips

Today marks a milestone birthday for yours truly. A half-century is being celebrated by someone who barely acknowledges any birthday.

So, what did I do? I travelled — two back-to-back trips, one to the east, one to the south, with entirely different themes, involving a lot of driving, multiple short-haul flights, a handful of ferry rides, a few urban centres and a bunch of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them small towns.

Travel can be unpleasant and uncomfortable at the best of times. Speaking from my own recent experiences, it certainly is challenging now. Pack along as much patience as you can. Be grateful and polite; saying thank you to every staff person or server you meet goes a long way. Say it twice. Give yourself plenty of extra time (especially flying), and plan as much as you can, knowing things will go off the rails at some point.

Whether or not you decide to venture out of the Okanagan, or B.C., this summer, the best advice I can give is to have a theme. It doesn’t matter what it is. Looking for the best coffee within an hour’s drive? Go with that. The most unique cocktail bar near you? Why not?

Trip number one for me was driving to Saskatchewan.

I know you’re wondering why. Ultimately, it was to visit the Doukhobor Dugout House near Blaine Lake (pop. 499) and witness a historical re-enactment.

My ancestors settled in a stunning spot next to the North Saskatchewan River, surviving from 1899 to 1904 in caves dug into a ravine. Despite warnings to not leave their area, the neighbouring Muskeg Lake Cree Nation brought the Doukhobors a horse to help them clear the land after witnessing women pulling a plow.

The theme for this trip started out as discovering my roots. It quickly morphed into one of making new friends. The people of Saskatchewan are some of the friendliest anywhere. Karleigh Sanchez, the proprietress of Betty’s Diner – the best gas station diner in Canada, in my opinion – sat with us for a half-hour to share her family’s history. Ed, from Muskeg Lake, and I bonded over a plow. Glenn, a total stranger, guided me down a ravine to see the dugout houses.

Trip number two’s theme started with crossing off a couple of bucket list items.

First, was seeing the Toronto Blue Jays play in Seattle. The Jays lost, but it was still great fun. The second was to dine at one of the Pacific Northwest’s best restaurants, Canlis. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not only for the food, but also for what became the theme of this trip—reconnecting with old friends.

I’m not going to go anywhere for a while, but I am so grateful I did go where I went.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

In summer be careful taking your wine purchases home

Don't keep wine in hot car

Now that wine, brewery and distillery tours are back and the summer heat has finally returned, it’s a good time for a critical reminder—don’t cook your newly bought beverages in your car.

I once ruined an excellent red wine, a gift for a friend, by leaving it in my trunk for just a little while, thinking it would be OK. It was under a screwcap, so no cork to dry out, under a layer of “protective” clothing, and it was a warm spring day in Vancouver, not a scorcher in the Okanagan. Nothing extreme to worry about, I thought but as we all know, a warm day outside can make a car stifling hot in mere minutes. That heat can damage your purchases faster than a good bartender can make a martini.

If you’re finally getting out there to visit and support local producers, plan ahead for the rising temperatures.

Consider a tour company. Not only is it safer if you’re tasting and no one misses out on the experience and has to be the designated driver, tour companies may be able to keep the air conditioning on while you’re in a tasting room or have other ways of keeping the van or bus cool.

If you’re making a larger purchase, ask about shipping. Wineries, for example, may waive shipping fees on a minimum number of bottles and they use companies that are well-versed in climate control and the handling of perishables.

Driving yourself (and a few friends)? Pack along a cooler or an insulated bag to keep the heat off of your bottles or cans. Ice packs are also way better than ice itself, as that melts, causes a mess and will damage the labels on the bottles. The gel version of ice packs should do the trick.

No matter what you’ve put your purchases in, avoid the trunk of your vehicle. Yes, it’s dark but there’s no airflow or air conditioning. You may hop into a hot car and crank the air conditioning up but the cool air is probably not reaching the case of wine you’ve had in your vehicle’s trunk all day.

Even if I have a short drive, if the sun is at full tilt I put bottles on the floor of my car – in a box or bag so they don’t roll around – and point the air conditioning down, even for a few minutes.

And one last tip, be careful not to shock your purchases if they have be warmed by chilling them too quickly.

Enjoy your purchases once you’re home and they are safely put away.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

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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