Living in the Okanagan, as I’ve said before, presents a wealth of gourmet products that are produced locally. From wine to cheese, preserves to organic meats, our valley is becoming a foodie centre albeit recently unacknowledged by MacLean’s and AirCanada’s enRoute Magazine list of Canada’s top restaurants. For those looking to discover secret foodie towns and wine regions of the world, let alone Canada, the Okanagan should be on your list.
On the weekend it is so tempting to stop by your favourite local bread maker, cheese shop, and winery. I often stop in at least one of these shops during the week to treat myself, especially when company is coming over or as a gift for a party host. Below I feature three of my go to products within the Okanagan. I’d love to hear your Okanagan favourites or your local favourites to treat yourself.
From asiago black pepper loaf, rosemary foccacia, Callebaut chocolate loaf, traditional baguettes and a tempting daily variety of pastries and desserts Okanagan Grocery could easily be your one stop shop for all things comforting and tempting. The long list of breads is accompanied by stocked shelves and fridges of soups, sauces, local cheese, preserves, specialty olive oils, wine vinegars and dressings. My bread of choice is the traditional baguette but saturday mornings call for croissants or the occasional sticky bun and a cappuccino.
*Right across the parking lot is the Bernard Callebaut chocolaterie where you can get a small box of gourmet chocolate to pair with your ice wine. The ginger milk chocolate, cinnamon ginger and the Sambucca are a few of my favourites*
The journey is just as rewarding as the destination in this case. Driving along the Okanagan Lake with the trees and winery leaves turning orange and gold, the water a perfect colour wheel match to the autumn landscape and the sky was luckily free of grey clouds, I arrived at the Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm feeling lucky to live in such close proximity to wineries and general deliciousness. The goats stutter their calls around the back of what looks like a hybrid of a home, a barn and a cheese shop. Inside the shop are patrons with their mouths full with samples of cheeses of their choice, a long selection of cheese before them and a goat cheese gelato stand against the window adorned with a stained glass of a peasant girl and a goat.
I tend to favour softer cheeses such as their Big White camembert, creamy Moonlight, and any one of their chevry soft and younger goat cheeses.
*Tours of the farm, milking stations and cheese production is available for $5per person. Closed from November-February.*
Ice Wine, Port & Sparkling Wine
The Okanagan has been producing some of the most delicious ice wines. Derived from the German tradition, ice wine is harvested when the grapes freeze at -8 degrees Celcius or colder. When the grapes freeze on the vine the juice contains a higher sugar content which is why ice wine is has a sweeter taste and syrupy texture. If ice wine is too sweet for you then a port or a tawny may prove to be a better pairing for you. Although a port is also sweet it still contains the cut of alcohol that I find is missing within the dessert ice wine.
However, I am a sucker for sparkling wine and champagne even when I am not celebrating anything in particular. You only live once and champagne/sparkling wine is my drink of choice particularly Summerhill’s Cipes Brut. Cheers!
Below are a few selections of ice wines (and other wines) that you can order online.