As a part of our function collection on solo journey in Western Canada, I want to introduce you to Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. Lindsay and Dana are authors and freelance meals writers primarily based in Vancouver. They’re passionate in regards to the meals and wine of Western Canada, and right here they share with us their suggestions for having fun with the native delicacies whereas touring in British Columbia and Alberta.
It’s time you had been let in on a little bit secret: as a result of it sits within the shadow of California and Oregon’s bigger and extra well-established wine areas, not everybody thinks of Western Canada as a meals and wine-lover’s dream. However British Columbia and Alberta are precisely that. Quiet and unassuming, they’re locations for these searching for distinctive New World wines and creations by award-winning cooks. Right here’s a information for solo vacationers seeking to sip and savor their approach via the easiest of Western Canada.
Lower than 5 hours by automobile from Vancouver, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the nation’s second largest wine area and the largest in Western Canada. BC’s wine business has seen unprecedented development during the last 26 years, having developed from simply 17 wineries in 1990 to greater than 250 at present, all supported by over 10,260 acres of planted vines. With its Tuscan-like hills, orchards, and pristine blue lakes, the panorama is cause sufficient to make the journey—the unimaginable meals and wine are only a bonus! Any native city will sit close to an incredible collection of wineries, however Penticton is an optimum house base; sandwiched between two giant lakes, it gives entry to vineyards in all instructions and acts as a culinary middle for the area.
A simple and enjoyable solution to tour the Okanagan and (the additional south) Similkameen areas are with an area wine touring firm; Grape Escapes and OK Wine Shuttles are each in style choices. Round Penticton, in the direction of the aptly named city of Summerland, you’ll be able to discover the northwest aspect of Okanagan Lake the place notable stops embody Haywire at Okanagan Crush Pad–answerable for making among the finest pure wines within the area–and eightth Era.
Heading Northeast alongside the lake, the Naramata Bench gives probably the most accessible assortment of wineries within the area. As a substitute for touring by way of shuttle, you’ll be able to pack sunscreen and hire a motorcycle to get round. Dozens of wineries sit inside just a few miles of Penticton, and the views of the lake and surrounding vineyards are effectively well worth the pedaling, to not point out the urge for food you’ll work up! Tasting charges are minimal—often between $three to $5 at every vineyard–and waived with the acquisition of a bottle. Stops alongside the Bench may embody Kanazawa, Three Sisters, Kettle Valley, Nichol, Lock & Value, and Bench1775. Along with the wine, there’s wood-fired pizza at each Higher Bench (the place in addition they make and promote their very own cheese) and Joie Farm, all served in fabulous out of doors eating areas.
Inquisitive about a hyper-local, one-of-a-kind eating expertise? Attend one in every of Pleasure Highway Catering’s Sunday night time al fresco dinners on God’s Mountain, an property about ten minutes southeast of Penticton by automobile. You’ll be able to simply taxi to and from the bottom of the mountain, the place a free shuttle service brings visitors to the highest. Overlooking Skaha Lake, you’ll dine on a multi-course meal served family-style whereas sipping wines from the encompassing hills. The dinners are seasonal, elegant, and pleasantly communal—a superb approach for solo vacationers to satisfy different vacationers or locals.
In case you’re not capable of get out of city, there are many methods to expertise Okanagan life inside Penticton. On Saturdays, you should definitely try the Penticton Farmers’ Market, the place you’ll discover dozens of native meals artisans and wineries providing tastings. The BC Wine Information Centre is a beautiful store filled with nice native bottles, they usually additionally run frequent occasions together with tastings, meals pairings, guide signings, workshops, and extra. Loads of eating places on the town serve native meals and drinks, together with Craft Nook Kitchen and Entrance Avenue Brasserie.
Avid foodies also needs to cease into one of many dozens of produce stands across the Okanagan, most of that are marked by charming, hand-painted classic indicators. They provide a various number of meals together with handmade samosas, recent pies, preserves, and an abundance of native fruit and greens.
From Penticton, head south to Okanagan Falls, Oliver, and Osoyoos for extra wine choices, and watch because the panorama provides solution to sagebrush, types of cacti, and toasty scorching temperatures.
Nk’Mip Cellars, the primary Aboriginal-owned vineyard in North America, and Moon Curser Vineyards are must-visits close to Osoyoos, or take a tour down Black Sage Highway. Because of the sandy topsoil and additional daylight, among the finest reds in BC come from the wineries alongside this stretch. Take a look at Black Hills for his or her well-known Nota Bene and engaging lunch choices, in addition to Highway 13 and Church & State for his or her always-reliable bottles. For a novel meals expertise, go to Hester Creek for his or her 30-minute meals and wine pairing programs ($10, supplied each day from July via to September) or one in every of their intimate, multi-course cooking courses ($120, free shuttle choices obtainable).
Simply east of the Okanagan is the lesser-known however simply as spectacular Similkameen Valley. The mountains are steep, rugged, and rocky, snugly enclosing the cities of Keremeos and Cawston beneath them. This small area produces distinctive wines with nice minerality, and has been dubbed one in every of “the world’s 5 finest wine areas you’ve by no means heard of” by enRoute Journal. Stops right here embody Orofino, Canada’s solely straw bale vineyard with a tasting room and workplace run completely on photo voltaic vitality; Little Farm, which is by appointment solely; Seven Stones; and Clos du Soleil. The wineries on this area are additionally enjoyable to tour by bike.
Heading additional south, you’ll discover that to expertise British Columbia’s second largest wine area is to expertise the west coast. With a reputation that means “warmed by the solar,” it’s no surprise the Cowichan Valley has grow to be a vacation spot for winemakers and vacationers alike. Located on the southern finish of Vancouver Island, the valley seems to be virtually impossibly fertile with its rivers, lakes, rolling fields, and thousand shades of inexperienced. Its vineyards and a seemingly countless variety of quaint farms make it a calming escape with out the busyness (or expense) of locations like Napa or Sonoma. Vines had been first planted within the 1970’s, and at present the varietals embody Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Ortega, of which Vancouver Island is the world’s largest producer. Guests even have the chance to pattern berry, port-style, and glowing wines and there’s even a farm that includes hints of their well-known homegrown lavender into its blends.
There are numerous nice methods to discover this up-and-coming area, beginning with meals and wine excursions. 12 months-round, Cheers Cowichan gives each day excursions all through the valley, with pickups for his or her visitors at various resorts and simply accessible places. Their half-day, full-day, or customized excursions go to a lot of Cowichan’s finest artisans and producers, together with vintners like Blue Grouse Estates and Averill Creek Vineyards. The itinerary for his or her Farm to Desk Tour consists of the idyllic Alderlea Farm Café, the place co-owner “Prepare dinner Katy” was awarded Rural Lady of the 12 months by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
In case you’d reasonably skip the necessity for a delegated driver, hire a automobile and eat your approach via the valley! Begin in Cowichan Bay, the primary city in North America to obtain the Cittaslow designation by Gradual Meals Worldwide. The village, which rests on a boat-filled harbor that extends in the direction of the mountains, has a plethora of artisan items on the market. Purchase some island-made cheese at Hilary’s, then wander subsequent door to True Grain bakery for bread and baked treats. They mill regionally grown grains onsite, and their recent flour is on the market for buy. Deerholme Farm is one other beloved cease, the place you’ll be able to be part of Chef Invoice Jones for one in every of his famend cooking courses or dinners.
Additional north on Vancouver Island, the most effective of untamed west coast dwelling awaits you in Tofino. A spot of huge seashores, orcas, surfers, and an virtually startling variety of gifted cooks, this rural city has unbeatable eating choices for the solo traveler. Check out the award-winning Wolf within the Fog, Sobo, Kuma, Fundamental Goodness Pizzeria, or The Hatch.
Again on the mainland, Vancouver is house to nice eats on almost each block. Preserve the wine theme going at Grapes & Soda’s intimate however informal bar; for lunch head to Bows x Arrows, Dock Lunch, Jinya, Café Medina, or Tacofino; and for dinner check out Chambar, Homer St. Café and Bar, Sushi Bar Maumi, or Sushi Itoga.
Whereas Alberta isn’t recognized in Western Canada for its wine, it’s price touring to for its excellent farms and culinary scene. In Edmonton, locals love Prairie Noodle Store, Sugarbowl, Blue Chair Café, Bar Bricco, The Marc, or Uccellino for a enjoyable stand-up eating expertise (a few of Canada’s finest Italian meals may be present in Alberta’s capital).
In Calgary, a spot as soon as recognized for its darkish steakhouses crammed with tie-clad businessmen, the eating places now cater to a clientele as various as their meals. The Coup, Mannequin Milk, Pigeonhole, The Nash, Sidewalk Citizen, Charcut, and River Café are all traditional and pleasant with distinctive meals. For an particularly enjoyable solo eating expertise, sit at Mercato’s bar and watch the perpetual dance unfold of their huge open kitchen.
No matter your tastes, you will see that many attention-grabbing and scrumptious choices for native meals and wine in Western Canada.
Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller are authors and freelance meals writers primarily based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Their award-winning culinary journey weblog, www.edibleroadtrip.com, launched in 2013 and went on to win a Saveur Greatest Meals Weblog Award. In 2017 their debut cookbook, Feast: Recipes & Tales from a Canadian Highway Journey, was printed by Urge for food by Random Home and shortly turned a bestseller.
Different posts on this collection embody: Border to Border in Alberta: A Western Canada Highway Journey, Dealing with Worry and Discovering Spirit within the Canadian Badlands, Western Canada Itinerary: Prime Issues to See and Do.
Final up to date: 18th December, 2017