For the past decade the Okanagan’s wine festival in summer was only for those interested in going to Silver Star Mountain Resort.
This year, we can all participate in events up and down the valley over a 10-day period, beginning July 8.
The emphasis will be on outdoor events, from wine and cheese beach parties to barbecues and tastings under umbrellas—in all sorts of different places.
It’s a grand opportunity to invite friends and family to come and visit and you can enjoy the Okanagan’s beauty and taste some wines with them while they’re here. In fact, you might suggest a wine pairing dinner out while they’re here and get a break from the kitchen yourself.
It’s also a good chance to taste some wines and talk to the winemakers about what might go well with the dinner you’re planning to cook that night, or the next one, so you get the perfect pairing.
Almost all wineries will have their tasting rooms open to the public, and some offer nibblies or even meals along with that. Some of the best restaurants in the valley are at wineries.
For festival event details, pick up a brochure at tourism centres or wherever wine is sold, or go to the website at: www.thewinefestivals.com
While you’re out and about, plan to take your visitors to the Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm, where Andrea McFadden and her staff have a variety of events planned for the whole family during Lavender Discovery Days, Saturday, July 9, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from aromatherapy to kids scavenger hunts; organic lawn and garden tending to making lavender wreaths or wands and bouquets. There’s always excellent eats and treats to drink as well.
For details, go to the website at: www.okanaganlavender.com
And, congratulations to Chef Willi Franz at the Grapevine Restaurant at Gray Monk Estate Winery on bringing home to the Okanagan the first Canadian Chef of the Year title in 46 years. This is an honour bestowed by the Canadian Culinary Federation by his fellow chefs for his outstanding contribution to the culinary arts.
Known as dals in India, dried peas and beans, often split, are a popular part of the cuisine, and make a nutritious substitute for meat in a vegetarian diet. They’re very versatile and vary from black-eyed peas and chick peas to lentils, moong dal, toor dal or urad dal. They take time to cook but the results are delicious. Spicy foods pair well with many of the fruit forward wines that are typical of the Okanagan, including gewurtztraminer, a fruity viognier or a riesling with lots of bright acidity.
1 c. (250 ml) split lentils
1/4 c. (60 ml) dried black-eyed peas
2 tbsp. (30 ml) ginger
drizzle of oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. (5 ml) garam masala
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) cumin
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) coriander
1/2 tsp. (2 ml)cayenne
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) turmeric
1 celery stalk
3 c. spinach leaves
fresh cilantro, to garnish
Rinse the lentils in several changes of water, discarding any debris.
Soak the dried legumes (lentils and black-eyed peas) in about three cups of cold water for three or four hours, then drain and simmer them with about three cups of water for a half hour or so, or until they begin to soften.
Chop onion, mince fresh ginger and garlic and add the onion and ginger to a drizzle of oil, warmed over medium-high heat in a large frypan.
Stir until softened, then add the garlic and spices, continuing to stir.
Meanwhile, slice celery and carrots, and add to the onion and spice mixture, stirring well.
Then chop tomato and add, along with the cooked, drained lentils and peas.
Bring to bubbling, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 to 30 minutes, uncovered, adding a bit of water if necessary, until it reaches the consistency you like.
Chop the spinach leaves and add into the lentils at the last minute.
Vegetable Rice Pilaf
Serve this under the lentil curry or any other curry or meat dish with a sauce. You can put a variety of vegetables in this, and you could substitute brown rice for the basmati, but then it must be cooked for 40 minutes rather than 20 or so.
1 c. (250 ml) basmati rice
1 tbsp. (15 ml) ginger
1 garlic clove
1 small zucchini
1/3 sweet red pepper
1 tsp. (5 ml) garam masala
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp/ (2 ml) salt
2 c. (500 ml) water
Rinse the rice well, then soak it for a half hour in cold water.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and mince the ginger and garlic. Slice the mushrooms, cube the zucchini and dice the pepper.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger and stir occasionally until they are softened, adding the spices and stirring them into the onions to cook a bit.
Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, then add the zucchini and well-drained rice and stir for a minute.
Pour in the water and bring to bubbling, then cover and cook on the lowest heat for about 20 minutes, or so without lifting the lid.
Remove from the heat and add the pepper bits. Let it sit for five minutes or so before combining and serving.