Search

naramata-blend

Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

Tag

Cittaslow

Slow down and smell the whisky at Naramata’s Legend Distilling

One of the things in life that gets better with age.

Naramata is world-renowned for taking it slow. Our little village is one of only three Canadian communities with a special status as a “slow city” bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999. We just get better and better and living up to our slow status.

Here is a new and most wonderful way to celebrate life in the slow lane in eight painless steps:

  1. Saunter up to the bar at Legend Distilling.
  2. Order a dram of Wyatt Whisky.
  3. Take your time, decide if you want it neat, with a splash of water to open up the flavours or on ice if it’s a hot day and that’s your jam.
  4. Stroll on out to the patio with the best view in stunning Naramata overlooking vineyards, Okanagan Lake and Giant’s Head mountain.
  5. Pull up an Adirondack and place your tumbler on the arm.
  6. Leisurely contemplate the amber colour of the whisky as the sun lights it up.
  7. Get your nose involved and appreciate the aromas of dried fruits, vanilla and spice.
  8. Take a sip…savour.

It took Legend Owner/Distiller Doug Lennie four years to make this beautiful Wyatt Whisky, we owe it to him to push pause and fully immerse ourselves in the tasting.

“Making whisky is why I wanted to get into distilling in the first place,” says Doug as he talks to me on the sunny patio in early spring about Legend’s inaugural 1,400 bottles of Wyatt Whisky. “It’s special because it’s named after our son. It’s special because it’s made with British Columbia wheat and aged in oak barrels that previously held local wines and ports. It’s special because we are excited about good food and wine and we are making something unique that is full of character.”

Wyatt Whisky joins a growing list of hand-crafted spirits the Naramata distillery is garnering a loyal and enthusiastic following for. It’s best known for its range of legendary gins.

Doug describes his first whisky as very much a Canadian style whisky made from 90 per cent wheat (Red Wheat from Peace River), 10 per cent rye and aged in toasted French oak barrels. The grain is milled, mashed, fermented and distilled at Legend Distilling in its gorgeous copper beauty, the centrepiece of the distillery’s front window.

Wyatt Whisky is 40 per cent alcohol and is non-chill filtered which Doug says makes for a more flavourful, full-bodied whisky. To ensure the first release was amazing, Doug waited a year longer than the three-year cycle many new distilleries are on for their whisky programs.

“The art comes into the blending,” he says. “The whisky is stored in barrels from different cooperages with different char levels.” His Canadian-style,”…is not as aggressive as an American whisky which is aged in barrels with a 1/4 inch of charcoal. My style is more subtle. You taste the wood flavour and the fruity notes from the barrels along with the lovely caramel and wheat flavours of the grains.”

For those still working on acquiring the acquired taste whisky drinkers talk of and aren’t quite ready for a neat or nearly neat taste, Legend Owner and cocktail genius Dawn Lennie came up with her own take on a whisky sour in collaboration with Naramata’s Elephant Island Winery.

ON NARAMATA THYME
2oz Wyatt Whisky
1oz Elephant Island Apricot dessert wine
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Ice
Add all but 1 sprig of thyme to a shaker full of ice and shake shake shake.
Strain into coup glass and garnish with fresh thyme.

Each of the beautiful packages and bottles of Wyatt are numbered. It retails for $69 and is available online and at the distillery.


Part of the packaging and my mantra while I took way to many whisky photos in the beautiful spring sunshine.


Roxy, the distillery dog will begin welcoming visitors for the season April 18. The next batch of Wyatt will be released this summer.

If I had made a fine whisky that I hovered over for four years it would be a grand Tom Hanks, “I made fire” moment shouted at full volume. Doug Lennie, in his humble, laid-back style says, “I hope everyone loves it as much as I do.” Give it a taste, take your time.


Five Naramata secrets too good to keep

25317339_1526847730685464_1539636960_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light
1.Where the Universe Aligns

For a fleeting time every June, around the time of the summer solstice, the setting sun lines up to shine its dying rays through the Kettle Valley Railway’s Little Tunnel, above the Village of Naramata. Photogenic on any day of the year, this tunnel engineered by Andrew McCulloch more than 100 years was blasted out of a rock cliff that hangs dramatically over the Okanagan Lake.

The summer solstice,  June 21st, is the longest days of the year for anyone living north of the equator and marks the beginning of summer. If pagan rituals are your thing, how cool would hiking up (or driving) to the tunnel to mark the occasion be?

No one really knows why Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago. But one possibility is that it was used to mark solstices and equinoxes. That’s because during the summer solstice, the sun rises just over the structure’s Heel Stone and hits the Altar Stone dead centre. I wonder if McCulloch knew about the solstice magic he created?  Bring your camera. Preserved Light‘s Caillum Smith often offers photography workshops at Little Tunnel during the solstice.  If you go, don’t touch the tunnel walls when the sun’s rays pierce through it as you will likely be transported through the stone and back in time and find yourself in the middle of the Battle of Culloden. Right?

IMG_2049.jpg
The views from the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, called the KVR by locals, are so stunning that I can still conjure up the feeling I had when first gob-smacked by them. The KVR is a notable part of the Trans Canada Trail.
2. We Love our Public Art 

25323057_1526847754018795_1800959651_n-1.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light
 

Although I don’t want to reveal the exact location of this amazing art to help preserve it, Naramata has some very special rocks.  Some of the most intriguing images of Canadian rock art or pictographs are painted on cliffs in interior British Columbia. The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia was the traditional territory of the Interior Salish peoples, hunters and gatherers who followed a seasonal migration. Their material culture was simple and easily transportable, and they had very little impact on their environment. They did leave behind one sign of their presence however – their paintings on stone, or pictographs.

Painted in red ochres, iron oxides mixed with clay, the designs were applied with fingers or sticks and were thought to be painted by teenagers as part of their puberty rituals or by adults painting images from dreams.

3. We Aren’t Afraid of the Dark

IMG_2635 2.jpg
Photo taken in my very dark yard.
A big part of the appeal of Naramata is what we don’t have such as no fast-food outlets, no traffic lights, no industrial development and very few streetlights. It’s dark at night, inky black in some spots and this is rare today and valuable.

Star gazing, Northern Lights watching and awareness of the phases of the moon are a special part of life here and should not be undervalued according to Elizabeth Griffin, Visiting Astronomer at the NRC, and also Member of the Light Pollution Committee, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Victoria Centre. “Light pollution affects astronomy in a big way. Stars are faint and distant and the scattered light from our cities makes them hard to see. Observation now requires costly equipment in remote locations,” she says. “All this light is bad for us as well. We don’t sleep as well when its not dark meaning we have less melatonin that we need to repair our bodies. Light pollution damages sensitive eco-systems like those of insects and birds, and eventually damages the whole bio-system upon which we depend for food.”

(This helps explain why our guests from urban areas talk about how well they sleep here…)

Dr. Griffin tells me a story passed on by the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. “There was a significant earthquake in 1980 in the LA area and it disrupted electrical cables plunging LA into darkness. The switchboard at the observatory became jammed with calls by people reporting that they had seen something unusual. It turns out that they were able to see the Milky Way for the first time. There is something so sad about that.”

We can see the Milky Way here and many other constellations and planets by lying on our backs on our lawn and gazing up. “You are lucky,” says Dr. Griffin. “Municipalities are doing quite a lot like ensuring street lights are angled down and shutting off sport’s field lights at night but there are no laws regulating the use of domestic lights. All we can do is try to educate people that all this light is damaging and unnecessary and that they are missing out on something special.

“The Okanagan is good for star watching,” adds Dr. Griffin. “You are relatively sparsely populated there and there are a lot of pockets behind the mountains where you are quite well shielded from lights.”

Along with embracing the darkness, Naramatians are also treated to quiet that allows us to hear birds and wildlife. My current favourite thing is opening my deck door early in the morning to listen to a pair of owls talking to each other. Also part and parcel of life in our Village are the wonderful scents of sage and pine that are released in summer evenings on hot days.

 

25286074_1526847710685466_432652713_o.jpg
A requirement to see and photograph the Northern Lights is darkness. Photo by Preserved Light
4. We Let it All Slip Slide Away

There is a little-known spot on Naramata Creek where a waterfall has some chutes and pools suitable for a little sliding.  Tucked away up Arawana, an old forest service road, and along a trail, these rock slides provide a bit of cool fun.

25319843_1526847747352129_2109159726_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light
 

5. We are Internationally Recognized for our Slow Pace of Life

Naramata is one of only three Canadian communities with a special status as a “slow city” bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999.  We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.

To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”

As a way of celebrating our Cittaslow status, Naramata holds a harvest dinner in the fall. One of the organizers of the dinner, Miranda Halladay, said, “ Naramatians have an encyclopedia of reasons why they feel lucky enough to call this place home, covering the spectrum from peacocks (a secret for another day…we have resident peacocks that wander around in our Village) to people. The Cittaslow designation prompts us to think and to talk about these aspects of our community, to protect and foster these elements that are integral to living NaramataSlow.

“Creating and sharing a meal focused on the immense and delicious bounty our community produces with friends, neighbours and visitors alike feels like a natural tradition in the making, and the right way to foster conversation.”

Thanks to Preserved Light for collaborating with me on this post!

IMG_1970.jpg
My photo from the first dinner in 2016 now well on its way to being an annual tradition.

25317016_1526847727352131_294299294_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light

Hyper local, hyper fresh, hyper delicious Urtica Eatery at Legend Distilling

Urtica & Legend (36 of 38).JPG
Photo: Cedar Photography

Chef Josh Bender and his new restaurant Urtica Eatery at Legend Distilling in Naramata are taking eating local and sustainable to a whole new level. He grows or forages as many of the vegetables and herbs as he can and sources the rest from neighbouring farms. In addition to lovely local fruit the Valley is known for world-wide, Chef Josh serves only sustainably farmed meats, seafood, dairy and eggs.

After a busy day serving guests at Urtica, Chef Josh unwinds at his Naramata property by tending his 12 garden beds and 100 containers of vegetables and herbs and the containers he has planted at the restaurant itself.

“I cooked as a kid,” he says as he offers me a first dish of roasted beets with cumin yogurt, nettle pesto, pumpkin seeds, orange and wild fennel.

IMG_6969.jpg

Urtica, Chef Josh tells me, is latin for the stinging nettles he used in the most amazing tasting pesto I’ve ever had. “It’s my favourite wild edible and its a super food for plants as well. I ferment tons of it to feed to my vegetables. I love foraging for it.”

1200px-Illustration_Urtica_dioica0.jpg

“My mother had a big part in my cooking,” he says. “She was my first teacher and I was lucky to grow up surrounded by nature. Blackberries lined our two-acre property in Langley where we had a creek you could walk along for miles in the forest.”

Josh, a guy of few words, describes his Urtica menu as comfort food with a twist which is better tasted than explained in any case. Who needs words? The beet cured organic spring salmon with cucumber carpaccio, radishes, whipped goat cheese and olive crumb was as fresh, bright and luxuriously creamy tasting as it looked on the plate. Each bite was a pleasure and the flavours and textures worked beautifully together.

IMG_6977.jpg

Other choices on the ever-changing seasonal menu included a roasted carrot hummus with pita, dandelion honey ricotta, hazelnuts and chili oil, mushroom bruschetta with local cultivated oyster mushroom, herbed ricotta and aged balsamic and a farm kale salad with Upper Bench King Cole cheese, honey walnuts, apple chips, pickled onion and anchovy dressing. A selection of focaccia sandwiches included a buttermilk poached chicken with slab bacon, spring greens, tomato, pickled onion and caramelized onion mayo. A braised beef neck melt and goat cheese & beet were also tempting. The featured entree was a vegetable curry stew served with kale chips, spiced yogurt and pita.

“Urtica is a dream come true for me,” says Josh who put his culinary degree to work for him in various restaurants for the past eight years. “I knew since I was 16 that cooking is the only thing I want to do. I’m coming at this out of a place of love versus building a brand. I want to make good food and be happy with what I do. I’m lucky not to be ‘working for the man’ but able to pursue my passion and learn more and more as I go.

“I am making food that I would be happy to feed my family. Food that is sustainably farmed that is good for you.”

Urtica aligns perfectly with Naramata’s status as an international Cittaslow member town. Cittaslow is an organisation founded in Italy and inspired by the slow food movement. Cittaslow’s goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace.

Talking about slow, the view on Legend’s patio makes the dining experience one you want to linger over. I paired my lunch with a refreshing summer cocktail, the new Legendary Cup featuring their just released Amaro.

IMG_6990.jpg

IMG_6982.jpg

Urtica Eatery is serving lunch Tuesday through Sunday 11:30am – 3:30 pm and beginning today dinner service Wednesday through Saturday 5-8 pm.

Urtica & Legend (29 of 38).JPG
Chef Josh Bender, a Naramatian, grows much of his own produce and forages for ingredients such as the nettle his restaurant is named after. Photo: Cedar Photography

Cook together, eat together – no better way to Celebrate Terra Madre Day

img_1966
Naramataslow Thanksgiving dinner.

Terra Madre, slow food, Cittaslow … What’s the deal with all those names?

“It’s all about creating community, about why we all live here in this special place,” says chef and proprietor of Joy Road Catering Dana Ewart when asked to explain Terra Madre, the slow food movement and Naramata’s Cittaslow designation. “There are a lot of terms used to describe what we are all about and our philosophy around feeding people with great food but it can be much more approachable and less cerebral. It comes down to people sitting around a table enjoying themselves.

“For me personally, I get the most energy and joy out of creating beautiful food and sharing it with people,” says Dana and she has been doing this for more than 20 years.

IMG_8026.JPG
Dana at the Penticton Farmer’s Market.

Terra Madre

Saturday December 10 is Terra Madre Day. With its origins in Italy, the land where food is worshipped and quality of life vigorously defended, Terra Madre is a network of food communities of small-scale food producers committed to producing quality food in a responsible and sustainable way. Translated as Mother Earth, the slow food network has biennial conferences bringing together farmers, fishers, food producers and cooks. Dana and her partner Cam Smith have attended two of these conferences. “We have brought back so many ideas about how we can better share and showcase our regional cuisine.”

Terra Madre Day promotes the diversity of food traditions and production. It’s a day to show how our network is using its creativity and knowledge to express our love for the planet and defend the future for next generations. It’s a day to celebrate local eating, agricultural biodiversity and sustainable food production summed up as good, clean and fair food.

Naramataslow

As far at Terra Madre goes in Canada, Naramata gets it.

We get it so much that we are one of only three Canadian communities with a special status as a “slow city” bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999.  We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.

To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”

IMG_1974.jpg

Terra Madre Day Cooking Class

Slow food or local food of high quality with connection to the local land made into traditional recipes where the community comes together is what it’s all about and this year we are marking Terra Madre day by hosting the first of a series of cooking class. The Naramata-Blend classes bring together Okanagan Valley chefs, local ingredients and people passionate about food who will cook together and eat together.

IMG_3572.JPG
Brioche!

The Terra Madre Day inaugural class lead by Chef Dana, will focus on brioche in its many wonderful forms including the unveiling of a new Naramata Loaf recipe (recipe will be shared in an upcoming post) featuring local dried fruits and nuts. Mulled wine made from Cliffhanger Red from Naramata Bench Winery Association featured member Moraine Winery and warm spiced apple and cherry juice from orchardists  Amanda Perez and CC Orchards will keep the slow food convivia fuelled as we learn to bake this special buttery egg bread.

“Ten years ago fewer restaurants in the Valley were using local produce in their restaurants,” says Dana. Now a lot of us are using are only using pretty much everything produced here. It takes a lot more effort but the quality of what we have here is amazing and the caliber of the producers and chefs is incredible.”

She says she has made it her mission to spread the word about the Terra Madre principals that were first ingrained at the Stratford Chef School where she learned her craft and to let other young people know that the Okanagan Valley is a great place to set up shop to produce and prepare amazing food.

“We (Dana and her partner Cam Smith and their business Joy Road Catering) have shown that its possible to have a successful business. Our community here is very supportive. We are a product of this great community coupled with our hard work.”

Dana is also passionate about trying to expand our way of thinking about the importance of food and those who produce and prepare it for us.

“Professionals with special skills are appreciated. For example, we hold our doctors, accountants and lawyers in regard and pay them well for our occasional visit or meeting. How often do we eat? Why not offer our farmers that same high regard?”

She has a point.

Thoughts over dessert

Some final thoughts about Terra Madre, slow food, Cittaslow…

Alice Waters, the famous Californian slow foodie, gives us this sweet slow food manifesto:

  • Eat locally and sustainably
  • Eat seasonally
  • Shop at farmer’s markets
  • Plant a garden
  • Conserve, compost and recycle
  • Cook together
  • Eat together
  • Remember food is precious

IMG_0617.JPG
Dessert is precious too.

Naramata’s contribution to the Trans Canada Trail – So stunning the scenery looks fake

IMG_2072.JPG
I get the feeling I’m looking at an expertly painted back drop for a movie set on certain days on the Kettle Valley Railway section of the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) looking over the Village of Naramata. I get that same feeling in other special places in the world too…like Venice.

When Canada turns 150 next year our biggest present to ourselves will be the completion of greatest trail in the world. Now called The Great Trail, “this epic trail was created by thousands of dreamers, can-doers, volunteers, friends and partners sharing the same audacious goal of connecting our country,” says The Great Trail site.

Our section of the trail came about by funds raised the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, Trails B.C. and locally the regional district and Naramata Parks and Recreation. An active, amazing volunteer group called the Woodwackers formed in the late 1990s are the stewards of this magnificent remnant of the Kettle Valley Railway or KVR. The KVR opened in 1915 to service the growing mining demands in the Southern Interior of BC. The interesting history of the building of the KVR deserves some posts of it own. Just a couple of facts for now…construction was some of the costliest per track mile of any North American railroad project at almost $20 million and it took nearly 20 years to complete. The core portion of the KVR started in Hope  and terminated in Midway. Fruit from the Okanagan was an important commodity carried on the trains.

IMG_2061.JPG
Photos taken yesterday on my walk show the vineyards leaves starting to turn.

The KVR tracks were removed in the Naramata – Chute Lake area in 1980 and the BC government bought the KVR right-of-way through Naramata from Canadian Pacific Railway in 1990 and the province endorsed the Trans Canada Trail initiative in 1993. Good decisions.

IMG_2039.JPG
My favourite viewpoint is an easy walk from the Smethurst parking lot.

IMG_2038.JPG
This is it…the spot that the really nice trail brings you into a clearing and the view so beautiful that it seems unreal reveals itself…gets me every time.

The Woodwackers roll into action in the late 1990s to help give us this beautifully cycle-friendly, walker, runner, cross country ski, horseback trail. In 2010 things heat up in Naramata as a move begins to make the majority of the trail non-motorized with very vocal and hostile opposition to this plan. Hard work and conflict resolution help win the day. The wise decision to keep all but a small section of the trail non-motorized have given us arguable one of the most beautiful portions of The Great Trail.

IMG_2027.JPG
The spruce that hosts this sign has painted some new routes on the map with its shadows. Road less travelled?

The Great Trail will link 15,000 communities including mine along 24,000 kilometres. However we choose to experience the trail, the result is a connection with the outdoors.

img_2049
Spoiled, the KVR trailhead is a mere kilometre from our house and this viewpoint is a great turn-around point in a five or six kilometre walk. I guess I’m not as unique as I think, about 30% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the The Great Trail.(Maybe not as pretty as this bit.)

IMG_2065.JPG
I often see eagles at this spot on the trail and less often, black bears.

img_2581
This next series of photos is from the summer –scenery also too good to be real right with summer lighting as well?

IMG_2567.JPG
Nice spot for a wine break and some photos.

IMG_2571.JPG

IMG_2594.JPG
This light at the end of Little Tunnel is the reward at the end of a nice bike or a long run from our place.

IMG_2621.JPG
Skaha Lake and Penticton in the distance and Naramata’s bays below.

IMG_2613.JPG

Would love to hear from Canadians about the part of The Great Trail you love in the comments.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑