Kelowna freestyle: Cycle, forage, eat, drink
Like Our Facebook Page
Without hesitation, Chef Michael Buffett of Start Fresh Kitchen declares his pasta-making classes the most popular.
After all, you can't go wrong making tender noodles from scratch with Nona's recipe and smothering it in a sauce made of tomatoes, herbs and garlic grown at Start Fresh's own Wise Earth Farm.
"We have foraging tours that can be booked anytime where we cycle from farm to farm, enjoy the scenery along the way and eat a catered lunch at Spearhead Winery," says Giro owner Gord Hotchkiss. "But it's ultra-special when we combine it with a cooking class at Start Fresh. We forage at all the farms and show up with the ingredients for the meal."
There are some hills on the bike ride, but lots of breaks at beautiful orchards, Arlo's Honey Farm, Tantalus Winery, Caldwell Heritage Farm, Soma Craft Cidery and Dendy Orchards for award-winning cherries.
Then there are the pedal-halting stops to drink in the views along the way.
Hotchkiss's favourite is on Hart Road where the vista spans from Harvest Golf Club, orchards and farms to the city, Okanagan Lake and mountains. "The theme may be foraging, but really it's a fun and educational way to ride a bike and strengthen our ongoing connection with the land," he says.
By the time you arrive at Start Fresh Kitchen with your farm haul, Chef Buffett has a charcuterie board ready to greet you.
You'll be asked to do some hands-on work in the kitchen, but you'll be rewarded with your collected farm-to-table meal, family-style, with wine, if you so choose.
The farm and culinary focus, particularly when combined with wine, has become huge for Tourism Kelowna.
The original farm-to-table notion has been reimagined and rebranded as Local Flavours. There's a 20-page hard-copy Local Flavours brochure outlining all the farms, orchards, markets, wineries and farm-to-table restaurants you can visit.
But all the information and suggested itineraries can also be found on the TourismKelowna website.
If Giro's foraging cycle is to culminate at Start Fresh Kitchen, a swing by the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market is apropos. Since Kelowna is an agricultural and city-living hub, the market, every Wednesday and Saturday, is the one of the biggest in Canada with 300 vendors.
- Rail Trail provides plenty of opportunity for a sip and a nosh
- Perfect pairing on a perfect day: Okanagan views from a helicopter followed by food and wine
Certainly, you'll find oodles of farm-fresh fruits being sold, but also locally made fare and artisanal goods ranging from baked goods, eggs, honey, chicken, beef, cheese, hot sauce, snacks and smoothies to flowers, jewellery, furniture, clothing, lotions, potions and even a booth where you can get a massage.
"It's a destination," says market coordinator Frances Callaghan. "It's like a festival here every Saturday and Wednesday."
To showcase the diversity of the market, Callaghan leads a Taste of the Okanagan food class at every market.
The day my wife and I dropped by it was a signature spinach salad made of greens from Zelaney Farms in Coldstram, strawberries grown at Hoamai Berry Farm in Vernon, green onions from ASG Farms in Armstrong and cheese from Bella Stella in Lumby. It was topped with grilled chicken from Sterling Farms in Falkland in a honey glaze from Brainy Bee in Kelowna. There was a choice of two salad dressings, the cranberry-strawberry vinaigrette from Kelowna's Taste of the Okanagan or strawberry-rhubarb balsamic vinegar from Rad Jamz of Kelowna.
The best part is anyone who wants to sample the food can.
Callaghan's thinking the next creation will be a hyper-local and incredibly stuffed breakfast sandwich.
When You Go
Check out the Tourism Kelowna website to start exploring the area.
Uncover more about the Okanagan’s offers for adventure. Check out ZenSeekers #OkanaganExploring Expedition page to see how you can have an adventure like this.