Join Taste of Yaletown to celebrate its 10th Anniversary in 2014, October 16 to 30

Join Taste of Yaletown to celebrate its 10th Anniversary in 2014, October 16 to 30.

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Taking it slow in the Thompson Okanagan

Taking it slow in the Thompson Okanagan.

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Terra Madre Day 2013 – Slow Food Thompson Okanagan

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Mother Earth was smiling last evening. Since 2009, Terra Madre Day is held on December 10 to mark Slow Food’s anniversary. Food communities around the world highlight eating locally and sustainable local food production and honour that through a dedicated event or action. For Slow Food Thompson Okanagan it was an opportunity to do a little fundraising for the Convivium and celebrate the principles of Slow Food.

Talented chefs and their affiliated companies stepped up to the plate and volunteered extensive hours in sweat equity and creativity to draw like-minded diners to snag a place at the long communal table at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek for an amazing feast.

It was hosted by Chef Jeff Van Geest, sharing the kitchen and volunteer duties with a group of gifted chefs, and all seven pillars of the Terra Madre initiative were achieved, including:

  • · Access to good, clean and fair food
  • · Agricultural and food biodiversity
  • · Small-scale food production
  • · Food sovereignty
  • · Language, culture and traditional knowledge
  • · Environmentally responsible food production
  • · Fair and sustainable trade

The joy that comes from working together and spending time with inspired individuals poured forth from the kitchen and on to our plates. The camaraderie at the long table reverberated to those stunning rafters and added another challenge for the chefs – being heard when they were asked to come out and tell us about the dish. Even some of the heartfelt passages from Alice Waters’ book The Art of Simple Food had to be imagined rather than read. No worries though: Alice is smiling along with Mother Earth.

IMG_5051Ingrid Jarrett, Convivium leader of Slow Food Thompson Okanagan and Chef Jeff Van Geest lay the context for the special Terra Madre Day celebration.

Terra Madre Day Slow Food Dinner

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IMG_5050Oh, yes, we broke beautiful bread together as well!

IMG_5057Covert Farms red and yellow beets, BC Farmstead Parmesan, hazelnut, mustard greens, petit Clos Farms black currents & basil: Brock BowesSonora Room at Burrowing Owl Winery

I haven’t been to the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Winery Estate Winery since Chef Bowes arrived spring 2013. This elegant dish was a symphony of intense and distinct flavours so when the restaurant reopens for the 2014 season, count me in! It’ll also be a good chance to check how Tom Di Bello is settling in as new winemaker. By the way, if you haven’t tasted Tom and Tari’s own line Di Bello Wines put that on your list, too.

IMG_5063Okanagan’s Finest Angus beef neck tortellini, smoked parsnip and apple puree, foraged mushrooms: Chris VanhooydonkArtisan Culinary Concepts

If this dish looks a bit erotic to you, let me tell you it was as satisfying as it looks! If this dish was around in time for Kim Bassinger’s big scene in 9 ½ Weeks, it might have been used instead of strawberries.

IMG_5070Spit roasted Okanagan Falls heritage breed goat, Roasted fennel with saffron & dried grapes: Dana Ewart & Cameron SmithJoy Road Catering

What more can I say about Cam and Dana’s cuisine? If you haven’t tasted their fare at the Penticton Farmers Market nor at one of their legendary dinners, you’re reading the wrong blog! Call me a groupie, I’ll carry their road gear any day for a chance to partake again and again. Who but our beloved Dana would slam on the brakes at a sign saying “goat for sale” and work through the entire process to share the whole beast? The roasted goat proved a tad tough – I guess that’s why I’ve usually found it in stews. That said, it didn’t get in the way of the artful seasoning or accompaniments. As for the fennel, the best ever!

IMG_5071With Sides including goat sausage, goat crepinette and old-fashioned cabbage with Covert Farms vegetables: Derek UhlemannCovert Farms

Farm Chef extraordinaire, Derek works with Dana to transform goat into melting morsels. He elevates the most humble of vegetables to heavenly status. I’m a professional when it comes to eating capacity but did I just see Mark dig in for another sausage and more vegetables this deep into the meal?

IMG_5072Local heirloom squash risotto, sage roasted acorn squash cubes, crispy garden sage, 10 year old aged balsamic, asiago petals: Natasha SchootenTerrafina at Hester Creek Winery

There’s risotto and then there’s Natasha’s risotto. Why did I not get the memo doggie bags were allowed? The devil is in the detail and I’d have even raided the plates for that crispy sage.

IMG_5087Fresh cheese made with Gort’s grass fed cow’s milk, Quince poached in Okanagan Spirits’ Sea Buckthorn Liqueur, chestnuts & Similkameen honey: Jeff Van GeestMiradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery

Even as a professional eater, I’m stuffed at this stage. Then Jeff presents this delicate aria lifting simple elements to an elaborate elixir. He does so paying homage to a B.C. cheese farm that could use a boost after a tough autumn. Did I mention the seven pillars of Terra Madre?

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With a long drive home, we hit the road quickly. As you can see, the enchantment of this room was hard to leave!

While a complete wine pairing was available we choose the delectable Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc to enjoy with the meal. Smart move.

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Postscript: Ever wonder how chefs feed themselves when they’ve been slaving for days preparing a feast for the community?

These chefs let their food speak first so I left some of the photographs of them until last. You can see it’s not just Mother Earth and Alice Waters smiling.

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Posted in BC Wineries, Culinary supplies, Food, Joy, Learning, Lifestyle, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WBC13 Countdown – BC Winery Each Week – Posting 21

June 5, 2013 – Conference Welcome

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With great joy, I welcome the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton for 2013. Between #WBC12 and #WBC13, I had aspirations of introducing one of our BC wineries each week and fell short. Life just gets busy sometimes and to do our BC wineries justice, I want my research to be current. That doesn’t mean that our wineries fall short, however, quite the contrary.

If you are discovering the British Columbia wineries for the first time, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. If you’re checking them out again, I believe you will find them even better than you remembered. BC wineries are frigging awesome!

Over the next few days, forgive me if I’m a little giddy while I sit back and watch our BC wine and culinary industry wow you.

My goal was to provide a bit of an introduction to the diverse stories of our wineries. Truly, the best discoveries are made firsthand. If I’ve helped to whet your appetite for what our wineries can offer, I’m happy.

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Some vineyards I see from my window

As for me, I’m totally engaged and ready for #WBC13 to unfold. I look forward to meeting you and sharing some tastes.

Oh yes, and long after the conference, I intend to carry on the BC Winery postings. There’s so many of my favourites, I’ve yet to cover!

Cheers.

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Full DisclosureHere’s a review of the wineries covered to date. You’ll just have to keep reading to meet more. I have preliminary research on 19 more entries that I had in my planning chart and everyday I discover another I want to share!

Posting Number & Date Winery Comments
1. 2012-09-05 Quail’s Gate Winery
2. 2012-09-12 Naramata Tailgate Party
3. 2012-09-19 NkMip
4. 2012-09-26 Orofino Vineyards
5. 2012-10-03 Ruby Blues Winery
6. 2012-10-10 The Vinegar Works
7. 2012-10-17 Bonitas Winery
8. 2012-10-24 SummerGate Winery
9. 2012-10-31 Dirty Laundry Vineyards
10. 2012-11-07 Tasting Room Radio
11. 2012-11-14 The Festival of the Grape
12. 2012-11-21 The Magic of Naramata Bench
13. 2012-11-28 Township 7 February 26, 2013
14. 2012-12-05 Tinhorn Creek Vineyards March 5, 2013
15. 2012-12-12 Eau Vivre Winery April 2, 2013
16. 2012-12-19 Upper Bench Estate Winery April 12, 2013
17. 2012-12-26 Cannery Brewing April 16, 2013
18. 2013-01-02 Oyster Festival May 19, 2013
19. 2013-01-09 Apples and Quails B&B May 24, 2013
20. 2013-01-16 BlackCloud May 28, 2013
21. 2013-01-23 #WBC13 Welcome June 5, 2013
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WBC13 Countdown – BC Winery Each Week – Posting 20

May 28, 2013 – Black Cloud Winery

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Not all of our wineries in British Columbia are businesses with tasting rooms that you can visit. Bradley Cooper and wife Audralee Daum own and operate Black Cloud Winery, which has been described as a “virtual winery”.

When I look up the definition of the word “virtual” in such resources as my trusty old tattered Oxford Dictionary or The Free Dictionary online, it’s not a perfect fit because you can “actually” taste the wine. And when you do get that opportunity, its quality is truly tangible.

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While you can’t travel to Black Cloud Winery as a destination, you can purchase the exquisite pinot noir wines online and join the Cloudy Day Wine Club. Just the other night we enjoyed a lovely bottle of Altostratus which paired heavenly with a hearty smoked salmon dish. You’ll also find Black Cloud selections on the wine list in a number of fine restaurants and stocked in some of British Columbia’s specialty wine stores.

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Despite all of this virtuality and cloudy references, the story of how Black Cloud Winery emerged in the Okanagan atmosphere is an authentic industry story. Brad is the winemaker at Township 7 Vineyards & Winery. With a background in journalism and restaurants, his journey to become a world-class winemaker over almost two decades is an interesting read on his LinkedIn profile. As described by him, he went from cellar monkey to cellar technician at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (1998-2002) now See Ya Later Ranch, and took Okanagan College’s first winery assistant course. He honed his skills in New Zealand and Washington State, USA, before becoming winemaker at Stag’s Hollow Winery (2003-2005), consulting winemaker Stone Mountain Vineyards Canada (2005-2008), consulting winemaker at Hijas Bonitas Family Estate Winery (2006-2008), and consulting cider maker at Daum Cooper Winery Services Ltd (2010-2011) working with the team at Raven Ridge. His profile also includes chief imaginist, winemaker, writer, speaker and traveler since January 2010 with Churnbucket, a creative umbrella organization for concept development. It was through his consulting work that Black Cloud surfaced.

The story goes that an Okanagan Falls winery project for which he was consulting collapsed financially and he was paid with 80 cases of pinot noir he had made in 2006. When he informed wife Audralee, he recalls her reaction as saying that just when things were looking great, another black cloud comes over. Thus, the name became Black Cloud Winery and partners Audralee and Brad bought additional inventory and began marketing the label. Township 7 owner Mike Raffan agreed to license Black Cloud under Township 7.  Pinot Noir grapes are sourced from other vineyards to make the wine. This way, Brad remains winemaker for Township 7 and consults on its projects while he and Audralee build the Black Cloud brand. Everybody wins. Pinot Noir was not a focus at Township 7 while it is a passion for Brad and Audralee so there’s no conflict of interest. And from the beginning, Brad had great success making wines for Township 7 such as his 2006 Reserve Chardonnay Harmony One, which won Best Chardonnay in Canada 2008 at the All Canadian Wine Awards. (Note: Township 7 was subject of my post February 26, 2013.)

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Mike and Brad giving a media session at Township 7

As a former journalist, Brad is a great writer so rather than me telling you my version of the daily trials and tribulations in starting your own winery, I urge you to follow Brad’s blog http://blackcloudpinotnoir.wordpress.com/.

I will add that I’m proud to know Audralee and Brad. Here’s wishing them silver linings in all the clouds that they encounter – and hopefully, some gold as well! These are engaged citizens who have a dream and are incredibly down-to-earth people. Audralee balances another career while supporting the Black Cloud initiative. You’ll see them out supporting charities, community events, local farmers and chefs, other wineries, breweries and distilleries at every opportunity. Oh, yes, and did I mention they like to have fun? Brad was founder of our Okanagan Burger Tour, an open group on Facebook. Most burger tour stops you’ll find them both in attendance – sometimes with son Ben, expounding on the virtues of a fine burger and sharing a few laughs.

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Okanagan Burger Tour

Brad is a social media marvel so you’re probably already following him @Blackcloudwine or @Bradinator and if you haven’t had a chance to meet him in real time, watch for him at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Don’t leave Penticton without snagging a bottle or two, or at least a taste, of Black Cloud!

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Black Cloud Winery

1450 McMillan Avenue, Penticton, BC V2A 8T4

Phone: 250-490-7314

www.blackcloud.ca

info@blackcloud.ca

www.facebook.com/BlackCloudPinotNoir

Twitter @blackcloudwine

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Posted in Alcohol, BC Wineries, BC Winery Each Week, Beverages, Drinks, Joy, Learning, Lifestyle, Restaurants, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WBC13 Countdown – BC Winery Each Week – Posting 19

May 24, 2013 – Apples & Quails Bed & Breakfast

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When you’re exploring our amazing B.C. wineries, you need a great place to stay. While touring the Bottleneck Drive and other wineries of Summerland, here’s a quaint bed and breakfast you’ll want to consider – Apples & Quails Bed & Breakfast.

Ming and Walter Stein were destined to be the hosts of Apples & Quails Bed & Breakfast. While they didn’t really have aspirations of becoming proprietors, they planned to retire to the Okanagan. When their favourite place to stay during their visits came up for sale, the move came quickly and retirement plans changed. Passionate about the local wine scene and cuisine, their decision has been embraced by guests.

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Recently, I was invited to an Open House and got some insight into a stay there including a tour of the well-appointed rooms and a scrumptious breakfast. Ming and Walter are perfect hosts and work well together in the kitchen. The aroma of coffee, freshly ground from beans of a local roaster, filled the air. We were beckoned to immaculate place settings and served a delicate crepe bursting with apple-cinnamon flavour. To garnish the plate was a fresh apple – not just a random slicing, however, it was expertly carved by Walter to resemble the entertaining quails roaming the yard. The breakfast was a clever and lip-smacking apple and quail theme. Walter joked as the quails seemed to appear on cue, “We have them on payroll to delight guests”. While it’s clear from its web site and Facebook page that breakfasts vary according to what’s fresh and available locally, the photographs reveal that there’s always something tantalizing to anticipate.

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Breakfast

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Ming and Walter are a wealth of knowledge on the area, not only drawing from their past vacationing experience but keeping up-to-date as engaged citizens. They are members of the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development & Tourism and make a point of touring the area and keeping in touch with what’s available for leisure activities in the Okanagan. Apples & Quails was a 2013 Talk of the Town Award Winner for Excellence in Customer Service.

While you might want to lollygag on site all day, it is within easy walking distance to town. It’s also close to the KVR Trail for biking and hiking, and just across from the entry to the popular Giant’s Head Mountain hike for another stunning vista.

Perennially popular, see what guests have to say about their experience on sites like TripAdvisor.

Apples and Quails Bed & Breakfast
12014 Trayler Place
Summerland, Okanagan, BC V0H 1Z7

Phone: 778-516-6300
Toll free: 1-855-751-8220
Email: info@applesandquails.com

http://www.applesandquails.com

www.facebook.com/Applesandquails

Twitter: @applesandquails

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Hosts: Walter and Ming Stein

Posted in BC Wineries, BC Winery Each Week, Bed and Breakfast, Food, Learning, Lifestyle, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WBC13 Countdown – BC Winery Each Week – Posting 18

May 19, 2013 – Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival 2013

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Oysters in the Desert

While I’m shocked that a month has already passed since the shucking at the Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival, the good news is that there’s less time to wait for next year’s event. Who knew you’d be able to get such fresh, delectable oysters in the desert?

Okay, Claire Sear, who is a sales manager at Walnut Beach Resort, Osoyoos, and EAT Magazine’s Okanagan Contributing Editor, loves bivalves, and like many of us, is pretty confident in our local fish mongers. The fine folks at Codfathers Seafood Market (Kelowna), Buy the Sea Fresh Seafood Market & Fish n’ Chip Shop (Penticton and West Kelowna) and Helen’s Seafood Cove (Osoyoos) put heart and soul into bringing in the freshest, high quality product that they can source. Jon and Anne-Marie Crofts of Codfathers, for example, are true leaders in encouraging sustainable harvesting of seafood products and promoting small artisanal fisheries. Knowing she could count on the support of these fish mongers, Claire figured “even oysters need a day in the sun,” so she enlisted a team to create the Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival.

From the start the plan was “to showcase the sustainable oysters produced by the farmers and guilds of the nearby West Coast together with the award-winning wines of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association.” This year, in its second year, the festival launched the first Canada-wide oyster wine pairing competition, which was sponsored by Codfathers Seafood Market, EAT Magazine and Walnut Beach Resort. Claire, creator of the Canadian Oyster Wine Competition, explained, “Jon Rowley of Seattle’s Taylor Shellfish Farms created the American Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition and we knew it was time for a Canadian Oyster Wine Competition given we live in a country that is one of the best in the world for producing oysters and what better place could there be to stage it than the heart of wine country.”

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Open to all wineries in Canada, the inaugural competition drew over 80 entries to the eight categories and included a Wild Card category in which any alcoholic beverage produced as 100 per cent Canadian product could be entered. Judges included Rhys Pender, Master of Wine and owner of www.wineplus.ca; Mark Filatow, Sommelier and Chef www.waterfrontrestaurant.ca and Canadian Culinary Championships British Columbia winner and finale competitor; Audrey Surrao, WSET certified and co-owner www.raudz.com; Cassandra Anderton, food and wine writer and publisher of www.goodlifevancouver.com and Bradley James Cooper, Okanagan winemaker and owner Black Cloud Winery www.blackcloud.ca At Walnut Beach Resort, judges paired each wine with Marina’s Top Drawer Oysters from Outlandish Shellfish grown near Cortes Island. www.outlandish-shellfish.com

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Congratulations to all the wineries that took part. Categories and winners in the 2013 Canadian Oyster Wine Competition are:

Best of Show: Winner: Blue Mountain Vineyards 2011

Pinot Blanc: Winner: Kraze Legz Estate Winery 2012;

Runner-Up: Lake Breeze Vineyards 2012

Un-Oaked Chardonnay: Winner: Poplar Grove Winery 2011;

Runner-Up: Meyer Family Vineyards 2011

Oaked Chardonnay: Winner: Upper Bench Estate Winery 2011;

Runner-Up: Dostana 2010

Riesling: Winner: Intrigue Wines, Focus Riesling 2012;

Runner-Up: Kalala Estate Winery 2010

Pinot Gris: Winner: Blue Mountain Vineyards 2011;

Runner-Up:  Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2012

Sauvignon Blanc: Winner:  Bench 1775 2011;

Runner-Up: Clos du Soleil Fume Blanc 2012

Sparkling: Winner: Haywire The Bub 2011;

Runner-Up: Noble Ridge Winery The One 2009

Wild Card: Winner: Cherry Point Estate Winery Gewurztraminer 2011;

Runner-Up: Tinhorn Creek 2Bench White 2011

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Exciting Array of Events

The festival includes a number of great events so you’ll want to stay awhile. Walnut Beach Resort offers a special rate that’s hard to beat (In 2013, starting at $79.) Rooms are well-appointed and have kitchen facilities. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tubs as well as fitness facilities with sauna and steam shower. Weather permitting, as it did in year one of the festival, you can also lounge on its private beach.

Art of the Oyster

The signature event is called the Art of the Oyster and a work of art it is! This is the second year we attended this festivity and barring any unforeseen circumstance we’ll be first in line for it again next year. Last year I got to cover it for Savour Magazine. Oyster creations are featured from the area’s best restaurants and chefs which are paired with wines from participating wineries of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association. Effingham Oysters, Outlandish Oysters, Codfathers and Buy the Sea were on hand to provide freshly shucked oysters. As you sipped and sucked your way through the various stations, background melodies by nHarmonix Music added to the decadence.

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Oyster stations included Artisan Culinary Concepts, Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl, Patisserie d’ Vallee, Mica Restaurant at Spirit Ridge Resort, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery, Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Winery, Covert Farm Family Estate, Watermark Resort, and Walnut Beach Resort. To accompany these succulent creations wine stations included Castoro De Oro Winery, Covert Farms, Fairview Cellars, Gehringer Brothers, Hester Creek Winery, Inniskillin, Maverick Estate Winery, Nk’Mip Cellars, Oliver Twist Winery, Platinum Bench Winery, Silver Sage Winery, Stoneboat Vineyards, Intersection Winery, and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.

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Miradoro Long Table Dinner

We also attended the Miradoro Table Dinner, which was a special long table dinner held at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek that celebrated the oyster. Once again Jon and Anne-Marie Crofts of Codfathers were serving freshly shucked oysters along with the wine samples. Chef Jeff Van Geest and his kitchen presented a wonderful array of oysters dishes and you had the option of wine-pairing or you could order your Tinhorn Creek wine of choice. OK Wine Shuttle offered transportation $20 per person return from Walnut Beach Resort and throughout the festival, private wine tours could be arranged in advance.

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Miradoro at Tinhorn as a setting

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The Menu

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The meal

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A toast to Chef Jeff Van Geest

Thursday, Medici’s Gelateria, Oliver, offered an oyster shucking station for lunch while Terrafina at Hester Creek held “Under the Tuscan Sun” – pizza and oyster tasting highlighting new releases from Hester Creek and its bubbly neighbours. On Friday, events included a luncheon at Dolci Artisan Fare with freshly shucked Codfathers oysters paired with a glass of Young & Wyse wine and the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce’s Oyster Brew Party held at Spirit Ridge Conference Centre. Ticket price of $25 included entertainment, complimentary glass and three samples from local vendors showcasing food, beer, cider and wine along with fresh oysters from Effingham Oysters and Codfathers. Saturday in addition to the Art of the Oyster Signature Event that we attended, there was the option of Kayaking with HooDoo Adventures, the Amateur Shuck & Suck Competition hosted by Helen’s Seafood Cover and the Sage Pub, or a Cooking Class with Private Dinner at Hester Creek with a focus on oysters with Chef Jeremy Luypen and Winemaker Rob Summers.

With such great support from local producers and President Holly Plante (co-owner Unveil Shuttles) and members of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, just in its second year the Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival was a resounding success. I can hardly wait to see what’s up their sleeves for next year! It was a great way to shake off the remnants of winter blues, celebrate spring and get set for wine festival and summer activities.

Golfing South Okanagan

Special rates are provided at golf courses in the area during the Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival. The South Okanagan Golf Trail offers excellent golf with options for all levels of players. Given many of these courses are open almost year-round and are in great condition in April when golf courses in many areas of Canada aren’t even open yet, there’s even more incentive to take in this fun festival.

Wine Competition Bonus

Bradley James Cooper, Okanagan winemaker and owner with Audralee Daum of Black Cloud Winery www.blackcloud.ca was one of the Canadian Oyster Wine Competition judges. Lucky for Mark and me, he and Audralee inherited some remnants of opened wine left from the judging. They generously invited us after our afternoon of grazing at the Art of the Oyster to join them to polish off some wine along with snacks Audralee put together. Such a fine couple!

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JoJo’s Cafe

Before we headed home the next morning we dropped into JoJo’s Cafe for its bargain breakfast sandwich – a truly satisfying way to say goodbye to oysters for awhile. While you’re attending the Third Annual Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival, you’ll want to add JoJo’s to your list.

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See Other Posts about the Oliver Osoyoos Oyster Festival

Twylla Campbell of weirdandwonderful.ca: OOOysterfest 2013 – Celebrating Oysters And Wine In The Okanagan

Cassandra Anderton: examiner.com article

Keith Lacey in Osoyoos Times: Oyster Festival Overwhelming Success

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