Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your guide to the best locally crafted fare

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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.



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Reader Comments (2)

Very well said Jenn. It's always fun to see an event through others eyes. ( I am here at work, but shhhh, no one but me here.) It was a special day for over 300+ participants. A great day!!!!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbellini

This all looks indeed obscenely yummie. Darn, missed another good event. Well written and illustrated!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJVA

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