Now available from Promethus Books (avail in the UK, Canada, and the US)

Avail Now on Amazon and at your local, independent bookseller

 Presenter at

Canada's only nonfiction literary festival: Oct 17-29, 2012


Entries in Okanagan (6)


Wine Bloggers Conference: Penticton, BC June 6 - 8, 2013

Wine Bloggers Conference

I'm taking a break from my usual food writing to attend my first Wine Bloggers Conference. It's an easy decision, as it's in Penticton, so right here in the Okanagan Valley. With over 200 wine bloggers registered, I'm looking forward to meeting wine people from around the world, and welcoming them to the amazing Okanagan Valley (a beautiful wine+food producing region of Western Canada).

I'll be tweeting and Facebooking (maybe even Google+ after I learn what that's all about) for the next three days. Then I'll post some of the conference highlights here in the weeks that follow.

Follow the hashtag #WBC13 on Twitter, and follow my @OKFWWWorkshop twitter feed, as well as the official conference twitter account @winebloggerscon.


View south from Naramata Bench to Penticton, home of the #WNC13



PSA: Meet Your Maker farmer-chef event in the Okanagan, April 16, 2012

Photo courtesy of FarmFolk/CityFolk.I just got a press kit from FarmFolk/CityFolk, a Vancouver-based Canadian organization that puts on great events that brings city consumers together with farmers, about a new event in West Kelowna on April 16. The event is called Meet Your Maker. It's a networking event tailored to small businesses, like independent restaurants, to encourage them to use locally produced foods on their menus.

I've been to a number of their wildly successful Feast of Fields events. Now FarmFolk/CityFolk is having a networking event for chefs and farmers to meet and hopefully generate some economic activity on the local foods and independent restaurant level. I'm pretty excited that one of the guest speakers is Chef Michael Lyon, from Kelowna's Hotel Eldorado’s Lakeside Restaurant. (Cross promotion: The Hotel Eldorado is the host hotel of the 2012 Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop that I am currently in the midst of organizing. And I chose "The El" because I LOVE it. It's the perfect indie boutique hotel and restaurant in the Okanagan's Wine Country.)

Here's a quote from the Meet Your Maker press release itself:

Meet Your Maker is modeled after Portland’s annual Farmer-Chef Connection event that started in 2000. Since then, their network has grown to over 250 producers and 150 buyers who are collectively doing more than $19 million in annual business. Meet Your Maker has expanded the idea to include farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors, distributors, retailers, food delivery, restaurants and caterers. You are all part of our food system. Total sales & business deals generated at our Vancouver MEET YOUR MAKER event was $268,000 … and, we’re growing!


  • Keynote speakers Donna Dennison, Little Creek Gardens and Chef Michael Lyon, Hotel Eldorado’s Lakeside Restaurant
  • Green Table Network – Greening the restaurant industry, interactive workshop
  • Moderated Panel: From Farm to Fork: Building a sustainable supply chain
  • 2 Structured networking sessions (Speed-dating style) – Session 1: PRODUCERS stand at your table and greet Buyers.  Session 2: BUYERS stand at your table and greet Producers.  Producers (farmers, ranchers, food processors, fishers, etc.) we suggest you bring products (if you have any during this time of year), photos of your farm, etc. to put on your table when you arrive in the morning.
  • Delicious local potluck lunch – suggest what you can contribute when you register!

Monday April 16, 2012
9am – 3:30pm
Westbank Lions Hall Community Centre
2- 2466 Main St, Westbank (West Kelowna)

Registration is $50 for all attendees. Advance purchase only.

Registration deadline April 9.

Visit the Meet Your Maker webpage to purchase tickets and for more info.

Click this thumbnail to see the event poster in full size.


Okanagan Feast of Fields 2011, Van Westen's Farm and Orchard, Naramata

OK, this is the sign from the 2010 Okanagan Feast of Fields at Brock Farm, but you get the idea.

Feast of Fields, an annual four-hour gourmet outdoor harvest wandering event, is a big food and wine event in the Okanagan. (It happens elsewhere, but it seems to be the perfect marriage of event and location, feast and field in Okanagan wine country.)

This year, as it happened, it was just down the road at the Van Westen's cherry orchard on Sunday afternoon. The Van Westen's have been Naramata farming and growing fruit in the Okanagan for three generations, already with a fourth generation growing up on the Naramata Bench wine region. Van Westen Winery owners Rob and Tammy Van Westen have a well-received wine label under the family name. They work hard and have earned every bit of success they have had.

Yes, we're roaming around in a cherry orchard while aating and drinking, with a million-dollar view of the lake.

The Van Westen's offered up their Naramata cherry orchard as the location for the 2011 Feast of Fields. This likely involved untold hours (days? weeks?) of behind-the-scenes work for them, but that's the kind of people they are.

The event brings together 65+ chefs, food purveyors, wineries, patisseries, and cheesemakers from the Okanagan Valley to one crazy event. It has a hell of an event coordinator, the ever-organized and certified Master of Wine, Rhys Pender.

As my friend and fellow food/ travel writer Sue at FoodieSuzTravels noted in her blog post about the event, it's "the good humour and spirits of the chefs and their obvious camraderie with each other," that makes the event so remarkable.

Sue in the background of my husband's pulled pork taco from Local Lounge*Grille from Summerland.

In fact, I suspect that the participating food and wine purveyors have just as much fun at this event than the attendees. I certainly liked chatting with my pals Cynthia and David Enns, owners of Laughing Stock Vineyards, as we tossed back some of chef Thomas Render's tomato and watermelon gazpacho with a lovely poached BC spot prawn tail at the Naramata Heritage Inn & Spa tent.

And I certainly caught up with a number of good, but busy Okanagan people like Alison Markin, social media guru of All She Wrote Consulting, food-wine-travel-golf writer Roz Buchanan, food blogger fantastico Val Harrison of More Than Burnt Toast, and my pal Sue and her men: Mike and Aaron.

OK, I'll let the photos tell the story of the food, etc.

It's totally acceptable to eat dessert first, especially when it's Darin Paterson of Bogner's of Penticton making dark cherry sorbet and hazelnut oat-cookie sandwiches!Another busy chef was Ned Bell of Cabana Grille and Four Seasons Vancouver's Yew restaurant with his simple and incredible crookneck squash salad with cherry tomatoes, pecans and fresh basil.

See Food Below.One of the stand-out food offerings at the event: line-caught fresh albacore tuna on organic peppers and tomatoesChef Rod Butters' (of RauDZ Regional Table in Kelowna) take on bacon and eggs. Yeah right! It was a rich, heavenly liver pate in a delicate egg, with a topping of breadcrumbs and a crispy bacon strip garnish.

Dana Ewart "manning" her Joy Road Catering table, presiding over the pavlova with local berries, and a pulled pork bunwichLordie yes, it goes on and on, but I'll end with these photos, of organic vinegar maker and farmer at Valentine Farm in Summerland, John Gordon, host of the inaugural Feast of Fields in 2009....and me, burning to a crisp under SPF 75+, hat and sun goggles but not caring one wit.

As my friends, John and Kim at The Vinegar Works/ Valentine Farm in Summerland (and authors of the great recipe blog The Vinegartart) like to remind us (rightfully so!) that no farms = no food, so give some farms and some farmers a little love now and again. Feast of Fields allowed us to do that.




Bartier Bros. winery launch in Penticton, Saturday night

(I'm going to depart a bit from the urban ag scene for the next couple of blog posts in light of the other good stuff happening in the Okanagan at the moment.)

The two wines. World premier. Soon to be avail in winestores, briefly.This weekend was a big weekend for food and wine people (producers, chefs, winemakers, and consumers-alike!!) in Penticton and Naramata.

On Saturday evening, I attended the launch of an exciting new winery venture, Bartier Bros.

Exciting because it's always great to see another excellent local wine in the Okanagan Valley, and even moreso when it's a labour-of-love of winemaker who oozes craft and passion for dirt, grapes, and wine who gets to launch his own brand. And when the launch happens at a burger joint?!

Bartier Bros. is joint-venture between Michael Bartier and his big brother, Don. And let me say that holding the launch at Burger 55 in Penticton was pure genius.

I've know Michael Bartier for a few years now, as he's been making excellent wines at Township 7 and Road 13 among other places. And he's got a very strong philosophy that drives his winemaking, which will undoubtedly guide the direction of Bartier Bros.

"There's a cultural mindset that we want to articulate in our wines. And we are what the rest of the world is scrambling to do define themselves as, farming families." Bartier then went on to talk about his lifelong roots in the Okanagan Valley. (Michael was born here; Don was born elsewhere but moved here "as a very young child.") And how he really believes that what might be considered disadvantages--the northern climate relative to other world-class wine regions and the small-scale of the grapegrowing and wineries here--are the two characteristics he wants to articulate in the wines that Bartier Bros. makes.

Bartier Bros., is a very small-production label for its first year: 255 cases of The Cowboy (a 50:50 Schonberger-Sauvignon Blanc white; $23) and 50 cases (not a typo) of the The Goal (41% merlot, 22% cab franc, 19% syrah, 18% cab sauv; $30). It's also, at the moment, a virtual winery, meaning they don't yet have their own vineyard or own facility. So the brand is made through Okanagan Crush Pad, which describes itself as a "small lot, custom winemaking facility with the resources and expertise to take product from field to market – including branding, marketing, communications and distribution and sales." (This is a new concept in the Okanagan and so we're all watching to see how it all shakes out.)

And the Bartier Bros. wine? Well, it's great is the short answer. I thought the red was a good match for the food, because the big flavours at Burger 55 can be a force to be reckoned with in themselves. I'm not a wine critic, my pals over at Cherries and Clay were there, so I'll keep you posted if they have something to say about the Bartier Bros. wines / launch.



Happy New Year's Day: Sunset over Summerland, BC, Canada

I'll take this as a good omen as the New Year begins today. The sunset across the lake over Summerland, British Columbia, tonight was a show-stopper. Happy 2011 everyone.