Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top 5 Okanagan Food Experiences

Center-- Chef Remington at the Hooded Merganser.
Upper right and Lower left -- dishes from Hillside Estates Bistro

If you are going to WBC13 you are naturally looking forward to learning what the Okanagan has to offer in terms of wine -- but you have to eat too and you will not be disappointed with the cuisine of Penticton and the surrounding area. Last July I toured the region as a guest of Tourism Penticton and Wine Country and here are my top 5 picks for best eats in the area.

1. The lamb from Chef Bruno at the Vanilla Pod Restaurant

Moments of brilliance like the lamb chop (upper left above, but photo does not do it justice) that Chef Bruno of Vanilla Pod prepared defy description. But I’ll try...  it’s pure lamb essence practically whispered in my ear. Baaa...baaaa...Mmmmm. The lamb tasted so “clean” it’s flavor distinct yet subtle.  Chef Bruno procured the lamb from local producer and it tasted as if all he did to prepare it was wave a hot wand over it’s lamby perfection. As any Chef will tell you it’s the pure fresh and local ingredients that are the foundation of any great menu. But it takes great talent to turn those ingredients into something sublime. Bravo Chef Bruno.

2. The salmon from Chef Remington at the Hooded Meganzer

Naturally I came for the wine in Okanagan, but the vibrant food scene in Penticton and the surrounding valley were a surprise bonus to me. At the Hooded Merganser, the airy lakeside restaurant at the Penticton Resort, I marveled over another stand-out dish--the golden beets and candied salmon created by the charming Chef Remington as part of a multi-course wine paring menu he prepared especially for our group.

3. Cheese and Charcuterie pairings at Tin Horn Creek

The cheeses we had as part of a tasting spread at Tin Horn Creek was incredible and a complete wow moment--and I live in Northern California, one of the foremost cheese hot spots this side of France. So I am a bit spoiled by all the goodness available in the Bay Area. But the quality and variety is very high in the Okanagan, so be prepared to get your cheese buzz on and be wowed.  

4. Seasonal salads and deserts at The Hillside Estates Bistro

Another dining standout was the Bistro at Hillside Estates Cellars -- fresh, seasonal, and inventive dishes presented in colorful platings that were as beautiful as they were delicious. 

5.The Gewurtzraminer Slusshie at Kettle Valley (okay not exactly a food--but still!!)
In every post of I’ve written about the Okanagan I have mentioned the Gewurtzraminer Slusshie at Kettle Valley, I know, I know,  I have a bit of an obsession with this, but trust me, it will rock your world! Go. Slurp. And report back to me.

Oliver Garden

The Oliver Garden!
I saw this place on our way through Oliver to Tin Horn Creek and although we did not eat there, their sense of humor alone makes it my kind of place. At least I think it’s supposed to be a joke!

Oh Canada

I don’t know why Americans have this strange perception of what Canada is all about. Yes people are polite, but is that a character flaw? I think not. We could certainly learn a lot from our neighbors to the north. The people I met were smart and funny and very engaged in their pursuits to make the best wine or meal or create a hospitality experience that they could be proud of, not out of competitiveness but out of the sheer satisfaction of doing so. It’s the kind of satisfaction that comes from doing your best and then pushing it one step further. It’s like everyone there is in pursuit of an 11 on the Spinal Tap dial but they are seeking it with grace not sheer volume.

I’m looking forward to experiencing the all the Okanagan valley has to offer again in 2013. The venue is in one of the most dynamic settings of any WBC location yet. You can see vineyards from the conference hotel!  I think it will be one of the best Wine Blogger Conferences of them all. And remember...if you miss out on WBC13 in’re an idiot!

Vanilla Pod Restaurant
Hooded Merganser
Tin Horn Creek
Hillside Estates Winery & Bistro
Kettle Valley Winery

Tourism Penticton & Wine Country

Top Ten Reasons You Should Go to WBC13 in Okanagan
Okanagan: What’s The Signature Grape?


  1. I will see you at the WBC in June!
    I have to admit my favourite spot to go while wine touring is the Naramata Heritage Inn & Spa. Their Cobblestone restaurant and bar is the best spot to sit in the sun and begin a day of wine touring or end it.
    Love their charcuterie platter as well.

    Great list for Penticton!

    1. Thanks-- I’ll have to check out the Cobblestone in June. See you at WBC13.



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