– Roslyne Buchanan
Let’s get straight to it: I’m a book hoarder. I love all kinds of books and take great comfort in being surrounded by them. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved libraries.
In my collection, you’ll find dusty old English Literature texts that have joined me through my journeys since school days, fantasy and fiction, encyclopedias and reference journals, and many wildlife, architectural, native and ethnic books.
By far though, it’s the culinary themes that comprise the bulk of the real estate on my shelves. I speak from the heart when I suggest the best gifts are tasteful reading. Recently, a particularly fine crop of such books was released. Here are a few of my favourite that champion the Okanagan in British Columbia.
Food Artisans of the Okanagan
My dear friend and writing colleague, Jennifer Cockrall-King, published the delectable Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare, Includes the Similkameen with TouchWood Editions. Find it through touchwoodeditions.com ISBN 878-1-77151-153-7
If you’re wondering if I’m a little biased, yes, I am. We travelled many of these culinary trails together and she even surprised me with a kind acknowledgement on page 293. That said, you don’t have to take just my word that’s it is a great book. It took Gold in the Culinary Narratives (English Language) category of the Taste Canada Awards 2017. http://tastecanada.org/2017-winners/
Plus, the talented owners, Kevin Bojda and Victor Laderoute of QB Gelato that opened in Kelowna this year said that part of their inspiration to bring their business to the Okanagan came from Cockrall-King’s book. How’s that for an endorsement?
https://www.qbgelato.com/ They both trained in the art and science of Gelato in Italy and leverage the finest ingredients – locally-sourced when possible – to create artisan gelato and sorbetto. It’s worth the drive from Penticton to Kelowna just to get a taste of their innovative creations. One time when I did such a drive, I ran into neighbours on the Naramata Bench, Wendy Rose and Jay Drysdale of Bella Wines, there in the kitchen as the QB Gelato team were designing a gelato from Bella sparkling!
Food Artisans of the Okanagan is a guide to the culinary craftspeople complete with detailed maps and contact information. Cockrall-King digs deeply into the background of these individuals and provides insight why you need to meet them. Pick up a copy for a companion and plan some self-guided tours to the various regions of the Okanagan. This is one book you’ll want to take along with you to savour every detail.
The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker
Then there’s the stunning work of my friend and former Food & Wine Trails editor Jennifer Schell. http://www.winetrails.ca/
Again, I must declare my bias given I had a little piece in her The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker in the Okanagan, available through TouchWood Editions, ISBN 978-1-77151-156-8. On page 189, you’ll find my article, History of Farms and Vineyards. By the way, you’ll find an article, What is an Artisan?, by Jennifer Cockrall-King on page 53.
The first release by Schell, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker: An Okanagan Cookbook, in 2012, was a Canadian bestseller and won national and global awards. This new edition, too, has been nominated for numerous awards and has been highly praised as more than a cookbook with recipes and profiles. It delves into the region’s new crop of farmers and their impact on the food culture.
What fun to get to know these folks and gain access to some of their favourite recipes! You’ll also want to look for her coastal edition, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker By the Sea. Schell has been an organizer for Garagiste North Small Producers Wine Festival and along with her family decided to be part of it as winemaker, too, by launching Schell Wines.
The Okanagan Table
Living in Penticton cuts into my opportunities to frequent the restaurants of RauDZ Regional Concepts Ltd. owned by Audrey Surrao and Chef Rod Butters including RauDZ Regional Table and micro bar bites in Kelowna and Terrafina by RauDZ in Oliver by Hester Creek Winery. Imagine my delight when Butters was finally convinced to put out his own cookbook, The Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking. He wrote it from the perspective of the home cook and in addition to his family favourites, he has adapted some of his famous restaurant recipes for people like me to replicate them. It’s the next best thing to getting to the restaurants!
The Okanagan Table was named “Best Local Cookbook in Canada” by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and advances to compete for best in its category in the world in Spring 2018. Catalogued ISBN 978-1-77327-002-9, for availability check out his website www.rodbutters.com
Butters says, “I want you to get this book dirty – dog ear the pages, write in the margins, stuff your grandmother’s best recipes for Swedish meatballs and zucchini loaf between these pages.” The ease of following the recipes has been rewarding for me, and with David McIlride’s stunning photography, you know how the dish is supposed to look when you’re finished. A few of us had a little Instagram fun of posting and comparing our rendition of the Cauliflower and Saffron Wedding Soup, found on page 125. It’s divine!
I was privileged to be invited to his book launch where many recipes were transformed from page to appetizers for the guests. Next season, I absolutely must get some squash blossoms so I can follow his chef de cuisine Evelynn Braun’s contribution on page 131.
There are family members and several current and past RauDZ team featured in the recipes, each of which Butters has personally tested each in his own home kitchen.
It’s organized into sunrise, midday, sunset, and twilight, and truly reflects the Okanagan lifestyle. Fans of Butters have begged him for years to present a cookbook. At long last responding to the requests, he has gone beyond to create a symphony of love dedicated to the farm-to-table mantra and all that great mojo about how food unites people.
Another exciting release was the Chefs for Oceans cookbook project by Ned Bell with Valerie Howes, Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast. It goes well beyond a collection of recipes to an important reference volume on sustainable seafood practices.
Lure won best Fish and Seafood cookbook in Canada at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It advances to compete in its category for Best in the World in May 2018. Look for ISBN 978-1-927958-92-6 published by Figure 1 Publishing Inc. www.figure1publishing.com
It examines the issue of keeping track of what’s sustainable and provides links to “The Ocean Guardians” that serve as a resource. Listed are Seafood Watch, SeaChoice, Ocean Wise, and Marine Stewardship Council.
Seafoodwatch.org seachoice.org ocean.org/seafood msc.org
The book offers information on the seasons of seafood, provides species profiles, and guides you through how to make sustainable choices, buy fish and shellfish, and how to store and prepare it. Bell explains, “Lure is as much about a healthy and inspired diet as it is about a healthy ocean.”
The photographs and the approachable recipes inspire you to expand your horizons. Who better to offer such inspiration than an award-winning culinary author such as Howes who was born in Scotland and Bell, a talented kitchen maverick who founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014. Bell cycled across Canada as an advocate for seafood sustainability “to highlight the importance of healthy oceans, lakes, and rivers”.
Self-published by The Field Guide with the financial support of sponsors and the participating wineries in the book, Okanagan II: Celebrating the Terroir of the Canadian Wine & Culinary Region, is a gorgeous coffee-table volume lovingly offered by Tarynn Liv Parker.
Catalogued ISBN 978-0-9947661-1-3, get more details on it at thefieldguide.ca
With contributions by Jennifer Cockrall-King, Jamie Maw, and Tim Pawsey, Okanagan II speaks to “The Region Through the Seasons” and adds to the stories of wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries, some descriptions of the cuisine, recipes and the folks responsible.
This book is as much art as reference accented by Parker’s gifted photography. It is best browsed in a comfortable chair with your favourite libation.
Famous for John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide and other region’s wine tour guides, Schreiner takes a modified approach in Icon Flagship Wines from British Columbia’s Best Wineries. Rather than providing an overview of all the wineries in a region and the wines they make, he focuses on what he considers to be the best wine a producer can make.
In this beautiful book with photography by Christopher K. Stenburg, Schreiner features vertical tasting notes to compare vintages of one signature wine. He includes stories from these outstanding producers and takes you through a bit of a history of how the icon wine evolved. Many of the wineries included in his tour guides have not, in his opinion, matured to the stage to present a flagship wine and thus are not included. He does provide a section of “Wines to put on your radar”.
A book best suited to those with a developed wine palate and knowledge of BC wines, it is available through TouchWood Editions, ISBN 978-1-77151-207-7.
Colour the Okanagan
For some lighthearted fun, in conjunction with the Naramata Bench Wineries Association, Joy Whitley Syskakis designed and illustrated a colouring book, Colour the Okanagan: For the Love of Art & Wine – Naramata Bench Country, in 2016.
Geared toward the adult, it’s a fun approach to learning about Naramata wineries. Available, ISBN 978-1-988421-00-1, at www.colourtheokanagan.com where you’ll find a new edition, Colour the Okanagan: For the Love of Art & Sunshine – Penticton – sn’pink’tn – Land Between the Lakes.
Add to My List
This list comprises tasteful or tasty reading brought to my attention, just two were gifts from Jennifer Cockrall-King and Jennifer Schell. There’s sure to be culinary books covering the Okanagan I’ve missed. If so, I’d love to hear about them.