Where has the time gone? If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter you probably know that I am newly engaged! And little did I know what that really meant. I was never the type to plan her wedding at the age of 10 with Barbies and teddy bears strewn across my bed. Frankly, I had told people for years that I wouldn’t get married. My fiancé James and I have been together for 7 years with the last 5 feeling like we were the equivalent to married. So why go through the stress of planning and family politics?
But once again I am eating my words, happily I might add.
To my chagrin when the question was asked and I felt the dizzying effect of life changing before my eyes I said yes and was ecstatic. The high lasted for weeks before I started to understand all the planning that comes with “Yes”. The venue (Hawaii or the Okanagan?), the catering, the DJ and invites… Oye!
But some decisions are easier than others. Having decided to stay in my beloved Okanagan for the big day made my catering decision an easy one….Joy Road Catering.
Having first discovered their talent at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in 2013, then again at Sumac Ridge, I knew Dana and Cameron, the husband and wife team who made the trek from the kitchens of Montreal’s fine dinning establishments to the Okanagan to create a phenomenon of terroir dining, are THE catering company for any foodie wedding.
While I was certain my family wasn’t on board. They hadn’t ever had the pleasure to sample Joy Road Catering. And I think my tendency for excitability and perhaps even mild exaggeration (although I don’t seem to think so) made their eyes roll when I stated that Joy Road Catering makes the best food in the Okanagan hands down!
Those were fighting words. But I had to prove my point. So when Mother’s Day arrived I convinced my parents and grandparents to make the trek from Kelowna to Penticton in order to eat perhaps the best meal we’ve all shared in a long, long while.
Held at the God’s Mountain Estate overlooking the Skaha Lake, about 15 minutes from Penticton’s downtown core, you are greeted with locally made sparkling wine and Greek/Provençal architecture. Smells of fresh bread, freshly blooming spring flowers and your mystery meal of the evening cooking away combine to transport you back to sometime or somewhere that feels familiar yet is placeless. MY sister and I, the first to arrive, sat upon the balcony of the main manor staring at the view wondering, Is this Tuscany? Is this Provence? Perhaps this is what Greece feels like? Where ever we were that evening it would be together with my grandparents. Certainly a special feeling considering my grandma refuses to fly for longer than 5 hours and never over an ocean.
The looks on their faces when they arrived though the gates of foodie heaven sipping away with wide eyes and rosy cheeks I could tell the evening was already a success.
Dana, of Joy Road, rang the dinner bell and 20 of us rushed to community table knowing we were going to experience something special in the celebration of mothers.
Joy Road Catering holds dinners at God’s Mt Estate each Thursday and Sunday evening keeping it fresh every time with a newly inspired menu. For Mother’s Day we were to taste their interpretation of Tuscany with Okanagan ingredients. However, the buttery olive oil and dark green olives on the table were all brought from Tuscany as Dana and Cameron helped to harvest the olives and press the oil.
My fiancé and I have decided that after I’ve dragged him all over Italy and France that we would like to have a menu that has reflected our love of their cuisine as well while also transporting our guests to both countries.
This evening the menu was an ideal reflection of Tuscany of which James and I could certainly relate. The menu began with focaccia to be dipped in the previously discussed buttery olive oil. Then proceeded to a long board of one of the best charcuterie platters: ricotta, pea and prosciutto upon crispy bread slices. A much tastier rendition of black pudding than what I had in Ireland. Anchovy butter sandwiched between two slices of radishes and crunchy chicharron (both of which delighted my dad – he loves pork rinds!).
The entire menu was paired with locally made wine and glasses were always full with the helpful service provided throughout dinner. The idea of “cuisine du terroir”, of which Joy Road specializes, was especially present within the wine. A Riesling, paired with the humpback shrimp upon a salad and what tasted like a chimichurri made of nettles, garlic chives and olive oil, was harvested on site from the vineyard upon the very estate we sat.
Dana would occasionally arrive from the kitchen with a quote from a book she treasures expressing the love of the land, the farmers, vineyards and produce that all result from the Okanagan. In short we are blessed to have access to the most amazing resources and we need to celebrate that as a community together in support of each other and local eating.
I knew Joy Road was in sync with my own heart when Dana told a story an old Italian square that was to receive a McDonalds. She explained how the locals all got together and signed a petition to help ban the fast food chain from entering their historic and local site. Our table of 20 cheered in synonymous zeitgeist! Julia Child’s over-quoted saying “People who love to eat are always the best people” was never more true than at that table.
As the main arrived we all had a spirited glow on – a sense of community and wine with a good view was stirring the recesses of our hearts. Heavy platters of white wine herbed risotto, milk braised pork coppa (made from a pig Joy Road had raised), and refreshing local salad as well as asparagus with eggs were passed around diagonally, horizontally, arms crossing ensuring the next new friend would not go without a full plate or two.
By the time the wine was consumed and the honey & orange blossom crème brûlée was seated before our stuffed bellies we groaned for tea and coffee. To my surprise the tea did not disappoint either, made with freshly picked chocolate mint – one of my own favourite herbs to grow on my balcony – it was just what I needed to make enough room for the best crème brûlée my sister and I have ever tasted. Which is saying a lot as we’ve tasted the best around the world and back again.
It is evenings like these that bring happiness to my heart. When I see my family gathered around the table enjoying the best of food, the best of views on a soft spring evening I can only aspire to share such emotions on my wedding day with 60 people or so next summer. At least I know I’ve left the catering in the most capable of hands…those who hold the hands of local farmers, vintners, fishermen, in supporting the community I have come to love so dear.
But the main event was in celebration of two generations of mothers and as we toasted as the sun descended and the bulbed lights illuminated our faces around the table I couldn’t help but wonder about the future and the faces yet to come.
I urge you to book your own Joy Road Catering event this summer before they are sold out!
I was not in any way supplemented. I paid full price for this dinner as did everyone in my party. We were there purely for the celebration of good food and Mother’s Day. All opinions are always my own. Please share your experience using #MyOkanaganSummer!