Celebrate spring in a local vineyard with one of the country’s most popular small festivals, the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, May 4 through 13, with more than a hundred events throughout the Okanagan Valley.
Of the four seasonal wine festivals, this is my favourite for locals to attend and meet the winemakers, when they’re not madly trying to harvest and crush grapes while talking to you about the resulting wines—and spring is a most exciting time of year, when the new year’s growth begins to unfurl and the sap starts to run.
This year, along with the ever-popular Westjet Wine Tastings this weekend and the Best of the Best Wine Awards and Reception at the Laurel Thurs., May 3 at 2 p.m. to kick off the festival, there’s a new event being put on in the south of the valley that intrigues me enough that we’re planning to head down there.
Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country is preparing to Pig Out at Covert Farms, nestled in the shoulder of McIntyre Bluff, on Saturday, May 5, from 1 to 4 p.m., and you’re invited to join in.
Chefs from five local winery restaurants will prepare pork in different ways, while all 24 wineries from the area will be on hand to pour samples of their wines to pair with the dishes. Tickets are available online at www.baneepigout.eventbrite.com
Participating chefs are from the Mica Restaurant at Spirit Ridge; Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek, The Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars, The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl and Terrafina at Hester Creek. The event is part of the Banee Weekend, a celebration of the end of the pruning and beginning of a new season in the vineyard.
For details of other festival events around the valley, go to the website at: www.thewinefestivals.com or pick up a festival brochure from a nearby chamber or tourism office, winery or liquor outlet.
For suggested wine pairings for some of your favourite foods, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which includes margin notes on his thoughts on B.C. wines to pair with many of the 200 or so recipes, by renowned wine writer and critic John Schreiner.
The book is available at many wineries and wine shops, as well as bookstores and the B.C. Wine Museum.
Shiraz Pork with Rosemary, Grapes & Mushrooms
Pork tenderloin is frequently available for a good price, yet it’s incredibly tender, fat-free and succulent, particularly roasted quickly and smothered in a red wine sauce. We used the 2009 Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Shiraz for the sauce and to accompany the dinner and it was a perfect pairing, with its dark fruity flavour, spicy overtones and the smooth and velvety feel in the mouth.
1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh rosemary
1 tsp. (5 ml) cumin powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) brown sugar
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) sea salt
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) five spice powder
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) cayenne pepper
drizzle of oil
1 pork tenderloin
16 small mushrooms
4 large green onions
2 garlic cloves
16 large grapes
1 c. (250 ml) shiraz
Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
Finely chop fresh rosemary and combine with other spices for the pork rub.
Remove the silverskin from the pork tenderloin and clean small mushrooms.
Cover the outside of the pork with the rub and set aside.
In a cast iron frypan, or an ovenproof one, heat a drizzle of grapeseed oil over high heat.
Quickly brown the pork on all sides, add the mushrooms and turn them about for a minute. Put the pan in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pork is barely cooked through.
Meanwhile slice up the onions, mince the garlic and halve the grapes.
When the pork is just cooked, remove to a board, cover with foil and let it rest for a few minutes while you make the sauce.
Over medium-high heat, deglaze the pan with a glass of wine and add the onions, garlic and grapes to the mushrooms. Let it bubble away while the liquid evaporates for a few minutes and the sauce thickens.
Slice the pork, arrange on a serving plate and drizzle the sauce over top.
Liam’s Sweet ‘n Sticky Pork Ribs
This 24-hour recipe was contributed by the chef at The Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars, Liam McNaulty, but there’s no guarantee this will be one of the dishes at the Pig-Out!
He suggests this dish be paired with the Qwam Qwmp Syrah. “It weaves intricate flavours of wild field blueberries, spice aromatics and cedar shavings,” he says. It is a medium structure with the obvious tastes of cracked pepper, classic smoked meats and dried plum; well-balanced with a supple vanilla finish, he concludes.
4 sides pork back ribs
2 c. (500 ml) brown sugar
2 tbsp. (30 ml) salt
1/4 c. (60 ml) ground gaujillo (dried chili pepper)
1/4 c. (60 ml) black pepper
1/4 c. (60 ml) water
3/4 c. (175 ml) honey
1 bag wood chips
Combine dry ingredients and spread over the ribs. Marinate in the fridge overnight.
Remove from fridge and mix together water and honey. Turn on the smoker, add the wood chips and wait for a good smoke to develop.
Place ribs on racks in smoker and start smoking.
Baste ribs with honey mixture every 45 minutes for six to eight hours or until meat is falling off the bone.
Serves a crowd.