Finding the right drinks for a spicy serving

Peppery pairings that sizzle

Rugged, rustic, and ripe.

Three words that could easily describe the Similkameen Valley, the area in and around Keremeos and Cawston, under the distinct “K” formation on the mountainside, the ‘ripe’ referring to the abundant fruit and veggie stands full of farm fresh produce.

Did you know peppers play a spicy part there, with more than 200 varieties in the region?

With so many peppers and possible culinary creations, you’re going to need a glass of something for a proper pairing. Thankfully, the award-winning beverage producers of the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers can pour you in the right direction.

Two Similkameen wineries are on the top 10 small winery WineAlign list and among the top 25 wineries in Canada, plus there is a new distillery already racking up awards. Together, 14 producers – a distillery and two cideries alongside the wineries – will be at Canada’s only hot pepper festival this Saturday in at Memorial Park in Keremeos, the Similkameen Sizzle.

Sip and sizzle with the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the beverage gardens. Beverage tickets at $1 per ounce for tastings or glasses of fine wines, ciders and spirits, and bottle sales will be available.

Food trucks and small bites will be available throughout the day, and you may find a hot pepper jelly, salsa, or spice rub to pair with a newly discovered wine.

A fresh cider might be a good first choice to sip with a spicy dish. How about Untangled Craft Cider’s Mulberry Thyme, a dry cider with lime notes, with some Shishito peppers roasted with fresh thyme salt, and olive oil? Only one in about every 10 Shishitos is hot. Have the cider handy.

A jalapeño and cucumber Sharpe’s Distillery vodka cocktail? Why not? Kick it up a notch with a salad of the last of the season’s peaches, fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta, basil, and some peppery arugula leaves dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper jam.

Pondering red wine with a hot chili? Go for a lighter bodied fruit forward wine, such as a Pinot Noir from Crowsnest Vineyards or Gamay from Robin Ridge Winery.

A daring pairing is a mole sauce served with roast turkey this coming Thanksgiving (or maybe drizzled over the mashed potatoes), and a bottle of off-dry Riesling from Orofino.

Finally, your apéritif or dessert wine to enjoy after the peppers and spices have been put away: Saturn, a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Soleil.

Entrance to the Sizzle Festival, presented by the Similkameen Country Development Association is free, and the schedule can be found online here.

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


Settle in for a good read, sip and nibble with these new books

Book pairings for autumn

Fall is my favourite time of year two reasons—new television shows and new books.

The former is not what it used to be thanks to changes in technology and the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike, but thankfully, the latter continues to provide ample opportunity to crack a (book’s) spine, pour a glass or cup of something and settle in for a story.

And so, I present my my semi-annual book choices, paired with sips and dishes as we head into September.

Paradise for Cats: A Return to the Rainbow Bridge
Adrian Raeside
Harbour Publishing

While this could be seen as something for kids, if you’re a fan of Raeside’s illustrations or his comic strip, The Other Coast, this lovely little book will take less than a half-hour to flip through and enjoy. Gentle humour about a girl and her cat meeting at the Rainbow Bridge, with a touch of hope. Pair with your first pumpkin spice latte of the season, with your fur baby at your side.

Hollywood in the Klondike: Dawson City’s Great Film Find
Michael Gates
Harbour Publishing

We may be short on new movies for a while, so a look back at an “unexpected cinematic discovery” might tide film buffs over. Who knew that hundreds of reels of silent films were sitting under an old hockey arena in Dawson City? And how did this impact Hollywood during the Gold Rush? Pour a glass of your favourite local sipping spirit – whiskey, gin, vodka – and find out.

Alone in the Great Unknown: One Woman’s Remarkable Adventures in the Northwestern Wilderness
Caroll Simpson
Douglas & McIntyre

After abandoning the dream of living on a sailboat with her husband, the couple decides on another adventure: owning a remote lodge at Babine Lake. The adventure nearly derailed after the sudden death of her husband, this memoir tells a story of perseverance amidst environmental, animal, and other unforeseen challenges. You’ll be inspired to find a salmon and blueberry recipe of some sort.

Okanagan Eats: Signature Chefs’ Recipes from British Columbia’s Wine Valleys
Dawn Postnikoff and Joanne Sasvari
Figure.1 Publishing

To be released this month, a sneak peek reveals more than 70 recipes from chefs, bistros, bakeries, wineries, and tasting rooms from around the Okanagan including La Bussola, Fitz Winery and 19 Bistro, Phantom Creek, The Modest Butcher at Mt. Boucherie, and Wayne & Freda. As a bonus, the recipe and wine or craft brew pairings speak for themselves.

JAJ: A Haida Manga
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Douglas & McIntyre

An utterly gorgeous book that blends a variety of visual art forms, iconography, and graphics to follow historical figures through time from the first contact between Europeans and Canada’s Indigenous peoples to mass resettlement. Even the interior book jacket is a stunning work of art. The only pairing needed here is a moment – or many moments –of quiet reflection.

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

Ways to help people and businesses who are hurting

Rebooting recovery

Two songs have been swirling through my head in recent days—Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, and, at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Dolly Parton’s Here You Come Again.

The recovery refrain is once again on repeat for the hospitality industry. To coin a phrase, the hits just keep on comin’. And that, just when we were gently and thoughtfully getting back on track, with the pandemic in the rearview mirror and gradually fading into the horizon.

Conditions here in B.C.’s Interior will hopefully improve in short order. As with prior crises, our communities have rapidly come together in gratitude to gather donations, start fundraisers, open our homes to others, foster frightened animals and much more. But you surely already knew that. And you know we’ll do it again.

So, not to sound like a broken record, how can we help?

Hotels, motels, campgrounds and other short-stay accommodators will take a hit, even though their spaces will be full of first responders and evacuees. The secondary income from food services and special events will likely drop.

If friends or family were coming here to a local resort, how about suggesting they purchase a gift certificate with a part of their refund for a future stay? Why not, as many of us did when restaurants had a hard pivot back in 2020, pick up a gift certificate or two and give it to a neighbour, or to someone who’s volunteering in an emergency social services centre.

Wine clubs, craft beer subscriptions and gift boxes loaded with local products have picked up steam in recent years for both locals and guests to our region for their convenience and (often) discounts. Renew yours if it has, or they have, lapsed, and encourage those who were coming here in these last couple of weeks of summer to sign up or get a one-time shipment of what they would have tasted if they were here.

A number of chefs and restaurants are opening their doors or putting their catering services into high gear for evacuees and firefighters to come in for a discounted or free meal. If one of your favourite spots is doing this, head there for lunch or dinner. When the cheque comes, if you are able, ask if you can leave a bit more money on the table (in other words, pay a little extra), to pick up the tab of the next evacuee or first responder.

This is not the end of summer anyone wanted but let’s give it one more round of being tourists in our own town.

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

Comparing and contrasting Chianti

A taste of Italy

If you’re of a certain age, hearing someone mention the wine Chianti may bring up a certain memory or two.

First, the image of a squat, bulbous bottle of wine wrapped in a straw basket with a somewhat unreliable woven handle for ease of pouring, the bottle likely to become a vessel for candles to create artistic wax topography.

Second, the infamous dinner pairing declared by Hannibal Lector in the film Silence of the Lambs.

A dish of fava beans is probably better paired with an Italian white wine, whereas Chianti is driven almost entirely by Sangiovese, a grape that produces a red wine with aromas and flavours of everything one might experience in an Italian bistro or gourmet marke—dried oregano, pizza smothered in fresh tomato sauce and a rich Italian cheese, aged balsamic.

The Okanagan is often compared to California’s Napa Valley. It might be more fitting to compare – and contrast – our valley with Italy’s Tuscany. Similar laid back lake vibe, Forno pizza ovens popping up at winery bistros, and farm-to-table freshness.

The contrast? B.C. wine–arguably—does not yet have something with a name as recognizable as Chianti, and there isn’t much Sangiovese grown here compared to other reds. But we do grow many of the grapes that blend into Super Tuscans.

Thankfully, August is a great month for cultivating your Chianti vs. Okanagan conversations, as select B.C. Liquor stores put Chianti on display (In the B.C. Interior at stores in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton). In Vancouver, sign up for a Chianti tasting event with a three-course tapas style tasting menu.

The Okanagan winery to note is LaStella, where the winemaking and the guest experience are both inspired by Tuscany and Super Tuscan wines. Managing partner and winemaker (at LaStella and Le Vieux Pin), Severine Pinte was recently knighted to the Order of Agricultural Merit by the Consul General of France, a rare honour.

A few Okanagan bottles of Sangiovese can be found with a bit of effort as there are not many. Seek out the Modest Wines label at Mt. Boucherie, and small lots at Sandhill Wines, Echo Bay Vineyard, Black Hills Estate, or Bonamici Cellars.

When visiting your favourite tasting room, ask for a recommendation of the best red wine to have with an Italian dinner. Then stop by a B.C. liquor store and select a bottle of Chianti. Give both bottles a try with some good pizza or pasta.

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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