From dirt to dinner

With agri-tourism, the opportunity to enjoy fresh food has expanded from the dinner table to the farm.

The line of cars at the end of our road gets longer every year with people stopping to pick fruit off the trees. And it’s not enough to have a picnic, numerous wineries and farms offer dinners at tables set in the great outdoors.

When I was a kid, we ate carrots that had dirt on them because we were too lazy to wash them carefully.

Now, it's trendy to say you ate carrots with dirt. It's part of the terroir.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that people are getting back in touch with Mother Earth and enjoying more real food. I just hope we don't swing the pendulum too far and make it complicated.

Special events are wonderful, but you don't need them to take pleasure in the bounty of the season. You can just as easily eat veggies from your garden or window box and feel just as fulfilled, perhaps even more.

So, as I mention some great events that are coming up in our wonderful corner of paradise, please remember that a visit to a farmers' market or a roadside stand can be just as fruitful (the pun was fully intended there).

I mentioned long table dinners, well, if you haven't been to one, it's worth doing at least once. Sit next to someone you don't know and break bread, share delicious local food and wine, take in the view, count your lucky stars.

Quails' Gate Winery has one more dinner coming up that is not yet sold out - check their website for details. Mission Hill Family Estate had their dinner last week, but you can still enjoy a glass of wine and a nibble at one of their outdoor concerts.

You can certainly feel like you are living the good life if you dine among the vines.

The quintessential long table dinner in the Okanagan is hosted by Dana and Cam from Joy Road Catering near Epenticton. Their Sunday al fresco suppers at God's Mountain on Skaha Lake are renowned for the food, drink and camaraderie.

They also partner with friends in the valley to do special events during the summer season; I can't recommend them enough. These people live and breathe the concept of cuisine du terroir — food of the earth.

If you can't decide where to go, or you want to try lots of different things at one event, then you're in luck - on Sunday, Aug. 14 the annual Feast of Fields Okanagan is being hosted on the Westside at Off The Grid Winery. (Full disclosure: I will be there, helping my hubbie at his barbecue rig, as one of the participants.)

This is foodie heaven. All the chefs who are keen to showcase local and seasonal ingredients are there, along with all the wineries, breweries and cideries who want you to toast the region.

It's a big event, with lots of goodies to sample and lots of people with whom you can visit. You will truly feel like you have feasted on the Okanagan. I just have two pieces of advice :

  • Dress for the weather. You'll be outside, and you'll be walking around. Be prepared to stand and chat and enjoy the view.
  • if you've ever seen livestock eat. You know grazing means you keep wandering and keep eating. It's only a nibble at each stand, but there are a lot of stands. Pace yourself.

I hope you'll have a chance to take in at least one of these events. They are a wonderful reminder of how much fun you can have while eating, and how valuable it is when we stop and take in the moment.

If you can't manage any of the events, I leave it to you to make your own moment — a picnic on the beach, or a bit of fruit picking in an orchard.

Smell the freshness of the great outdoors and feel the earth beneath your feet as you taste a bit of the season.  

Toast your good fortune with a friend; you know what they say: It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

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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