Sunday, November 7, 2010

Autumnal Alchemy: The Genius of KeriGlen

This late October when my garden is but a ragged corpse, betrayed yet again by flirting summer, I open my email and my eyes light up like its Christmas morning with a fresh falling snow…it’s a message from Elsie.

“The wine is ready to be bottled! Would you like me to label them or do you want to design your own label?”

Wow! Design my own label! Name my own brand? Isn’t that a once-forever event like naming your firstborn or your yacht? Did not the ancient Hebrews’ naming of a newborn child also bestow upon that child its future destiny? My breath shortens and my chest tightens from the pressure – this is not an endeavour to be taken lightly, these solemn words intoned by the pastor at my niece’s wedding for some strange reason, came back to me.

It was a glorious bright blue and brilliantly sunny August day when I had just finished my final yoga pose on Elsie and Fred’s wonderful new deck. Blissed-out and ready for the adventures of another perfect day in the Okanagan, I selected an Elsie specialty- a beautifully plump blueberry muffin from the overflowing basket on the table and poured a cup of Dancing Goat, a deep, dark and rich South American and Caribbean blend with mocha overtones. (one of the coffee treasures I found at the Saturday market from Backyard Beans, the local micro roaster). As I settled down in the lounger, coffee in one hand and the breakfast muffin in the other, I noticed that Elsie was busy at the table scribbling on a notepad and adding up a list with her calculator.

So, do you want to go with the Riesling you had last night for dinner with Fred’s roasted chicken or the Merlot that we had with the grilled New York steak the night before? I could only squeal “yes, please” before I realized that Elsie was putting together her KeriGlen wine order for the 2011 season. Or she mused, the Cab Sav was lovely last year – or maybe you would like to split case of each?

What great fortune had landed me back at KeriGlen for this precise moment? What stars had aligned and planets had spun to bring me to this inaugural time? I would love a half case of Riesling and a half case of Merlot, I sputtered…this was truly a day to be seized! Great, Elsie replied, tallying my order on her paper, I’ll let you know in the fall when it’s ready to be bottled.

Three months later in the depths of the soul-grinding fall start up of a new semester, Elsie’s email arrived...the wine is ready for bottling

Hmmm… the possibilities flooded my mind as the long ago packaged and stored memories like seasonal ornaments boxed in the depths of the basement were opened a crack...yes, there were all there again - yoga on the deck, the fresh and still warm blueberry muffins and Dancing Goat coffee, against the backdrop of Elsie’s riotous red and orange and yellow roses and the sapphire blue lake waving in a 32º brilliant August afternoon. And these memories warmed me along with the thermostat kicking in the gas fireplace in my chilly room sunroom in what is now November.

Two weeks later, I was still pondering the ideas of colours and graphics and clever names when the doorbell rang. Here’s the first box Elsie greeted me with a huge grin and her arms full of a bottles of wine...there’s three more in the car. Now remember you can’t touch the Merlot until April!

And just like that, the bottles of Okanagan sunshine and dirt and rain and wind and grape became our own. And yes, after all that agonizing over naming this first born miracle, the bottles now sit happily nestled in the racks downstairs, oblivious that they are naked of label or nomenclature. And there they will rest in an August-to-April Alchemy.

But the greatest miracle is this – that thanks to the genius of Elsie and the marvel of the Great Ideas of KeriGlen, I have discovered that it is indeed possible to time travel and that resurrection, for my garden and for me, is a certainty.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe for Success

What does it take to create a wonderful B&B experience?

Reflecting on this question while recently returning from a trip to KeriGlen, three essentials come to mind:

Location: You are beat. You have been driving for a few hours. You are heading south on Highway 97 and as you are about to turn east into Penticton, you realize your bed is three minutes up the mountain on your right. From KeriGlen you are also five minutes from Starbucks, Quality Greens and T-Bones (ready to BBQ food). KeriGlen sits at the end of the road, overlooks a golf course and is one hundred steps from the KVR hiking trail. You can walk the dogs to the mailbox and back, 1 km return, and not see a car. From the deck, you have an unobstructed view of Lake Okanagan. The closest winery is 12 minutes away. You start to uncoil.

Detail: Did you know that Elsie hand irons the sheets on the beds? That she hand makes fresh quiche tarts in the morning if you have ordered the continental breakfast...I mean whose continent is she from? Continental breakfast is typically coffee, a roll and jam! After your wine touring you can pick up ready-to-BBQ meats at T-Bones store, cook your own supper on the Weber grill and test that new wine- test it in the hot tub if you like. Did you know that as the stars emerge and the lights of Penticton begin to twinkle across the lake, Fred often lights up the propane campfire on the deck and offers glasses of wine, inviting relaxing company and conversation to those guests who are inclined?

    Heart: It’s so simple yet so hard to do well-your hosts have to actually enjoy people! And Elsie and Fred do have a desire for their guests’ well-being and comfort. They understand that for many travellers this trip to the Okanagan is their one shot at their precious annual vacation getaway or an anxiously anticipated and sorely needed weekend of R&R. I often hear Elsie saying, “If there is anything you need-please just ask.” 
     But let these words of a guest explain it more

Spring, 2010
Hi Elsie,

I know it’s been a long time and you may not remember me (and my husband E.), but I have been thinking of you and your lovely home for some time now.  It was last Sept/Oct when we came to stay and you gifted us with a bottle of your most wonderful wine.  We stayed in the little queen room, which was just awesome.  E. and I were into the local ice wines and we only could stay a couple of days, but it is one of the most wonderfully memorable trips I have had to date.

I just want you to know that I still think of our stay with lots of warmth and I thought you should know how much I truly enjoyed our getaway at your home.

Blessings on you,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Elsie's Wunder Waffles

What is it about travelling that compels us to crave a fabulous breakfast?

Is it because we finally have that most precious and delicious of all ingredients-the luxury of time- to actually sit and savor?  It is within that glorious context of “vacation” that the dreary workday, soul numbing bore of cold cereal or peanut butter and toast can finally be banished. On vacation, finally one has the luxury of a leisurely breakfast, enjoying the perfectly executed creations that can only come from Elsie’s kitchen.

After our recent delightful stay at KeriGlen I could rave about the breakfast selections– but each deserves its own article. Yet how can one talk about breakfast without remembering the five topping omelets, the sweet or savory crepes, or the creamy cheese blintzes. But I must focus on my favorite of Elsie’s breakfast creations-her Belgian waffle. First though, you must put aside all notions of those egg and flour discs that share the name “waffle” but bear little resemblance to Elsie’s Wunder Waffle!
 As Fred seats you at the breakfast table and you ponder your choices of the fresh fruit from a bountiful platter of the seasonal best cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums that have traveled all of five minutes from the orchard to your plate, Elsie is whipping up a fresh waffle batter to the perfect consistency. Now she pulls out her secret weapon – the gravity, double-sided waffle 
 griddle. This summer Elsie imported this bad boy that has such deep waffle grooves that your waffle is one inch thick. Each waffle square could accommodate a Bing cherry if need be! Imagine the possibilities for keeping your butter, fruit or maple syrup, and whipped cream hidden in the light and golden baffles. Elsie rotates the waffle iron and out slides the most perfect waffle that you thought you could only get from a street vendor in Amsterdam. Elsie’s Wunder Waffle is the perfect contradiction of an outside golden crust and the soft inside that invites the butter and syrup and cream to join together in a lovely medley of summer.

Now if that isn’t enough Elsie, without preamble, slyly offers you her homemade fruit compote. “Try this on your waffle,” she invites casually. “You might like it.” So I scoop out a ladle of fruit syrup laden with cherries that have been warmed with a touch of sugar. As I slide the golden waffle, cherry, syrup and cream laden fork into my mouth I gasp in wonder as my tongue realizes these cherries have spent the night at the wine spa!  Wine-soaked cherry compote on the Wunder Waffle.

Now this is why the traveler travels.

This is how you can truly experience the bounty of the Okanangan-savouring the fruit of the very valley that is spread before you.

And this is the moment I will unwrap in the doldrums of November, when my dreary breakfast choices once again become cold cereal or cold toast. I will think of Elsie’s sun-drenched alfresco dining table and the fabulous Wunder Waffle and wine soaked cherries. 

And it will warm my heart.

KeriGlen Lakeview Bed and Breakfast: Elsie’s Waffles

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup melted butter
3 egg yolks, well-beaten
3 egg whites

1.     Stir all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2.     Combine milk, egg yolks and melted butter in another bowl.
3.     In a third bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
4.     Add liquid ingredients to the dry, whisk till smooth.
5.     Fold in beaten egg whites until just blended.
6.     Cook on hot waffle iron.

Serve with assorted fruits, butter and whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Touring, Sipping, Hot Tubbing and Singing: Your August Wine & Farm Tour!

Check out this event that sounds good enough to make me change my travel plans to be out at KeriGlen on the August long weekend!

I found these tours on Edible BC which is a great site for info on food and adventures for the West Coast and the Okanangan. 

1.6 MILE DINNER Click here for last year's menu
A unique celebration of the beauty of the Similkameen Valley in all her forms. The evening will consist of a six course meal consisting of only the best foods provided by artisan producers from within a 1.6 mile radius of Orofino Winery.  Each course will be expertly crafted by chef Darin Patterson, chef and owner of Bogner’s of Penticton (recently named the top chef in the South Okanagan region by Okanagan Life Magazine!). Delectable surprises, unique produce and world-class flavours will be paired with Orofino`s best wines.
Please join us in our beautiful winery courtyard for an enchanted evening of fine dining, remarkable wine, and good company!
Dates: Saturday, July 31st and Saturday, August 1st
Time: Welcoming wine and canapé`s at 5:30. Dinner to follow.
Tickets: $125 per person. Contact Orofino at (250)499-0068 or for reservations
This is a fundraising event for Cawston’s Kobau Community Park.

The connection between food production and food consumption will be  clearly illustrated in this unique opportunity for those looking for a true localvore experience. Tour the farms of Cawston, the official “organic capital of Canada” and meet the farmers that grow the world-class produce being used in the 1.6 Mile Dinner that evening. Join John Weber, proprietor and winemaker of Orofino Winery as he takes you on a tour of some of his unique neighbourhood producers. Chef Darin Patterson will prepare a tasty bite at each property visited using the farm’s produce in a special way. Listen to the stories of the farmers and gain intimate knowledge of food production in the Similkameen Valley.
This is an excellent opportunity for those staying in Penticton for the weekend who want to participate in the 1.6 Mile Dinner at Orofino without worrying about transportation to and from the event.

NOON:  Meet at Bogner’s of Penticton restaurant in Penticton for a gourmet lunch prepared by Darin and his staff. Darin will talk of his commitment to using locql food in his restaurant. Tour his restaurant property to see his gardens that supply the produce for his menu offerings.
BUS TO CAWSTON (40 minutes)
TOUR AND TASTE: Visit Cawston’s unique producers and explore the beautiful Similkameen Valley with Orofino owner/winemaker John Weber. Get first-hand experience on the farm. Chef Darin will host a special tasting at each stop. We promise a few surprises!
1.6 MILE DINNER: Orofino’s signature event. Enjoy world-class scenery with an amazing 6 course dinner using only food that is produced within 1.6 miles of the Orofino property. It is an amazing evening of celebrating the Similkameen and its producers.
RETURN TO PENTICTON BY BUS (approximately 11pm)
DATE: Sunday, August 1st, 2010. Farm tour option is only offered on this day!
TICKETS: $275 per person all inclusive
CONTACT: (250)499-0068 or
NOTE: Seating is limited for the farm tour. It is an all-inclusive event. Let us take care of everything from noon until late that night!

Sounds fun doesn't it! 

After the tour though, I would love nothing better that to sit in the KeriGlen hot tub, sipping a 2009 Orofino style Reisling while looking at the city lights reflected on the lake and listening to The Fifth Dimension and that old classic, "Sweet Blindness".

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Season is Upon Us

What do you find 2 minutes down the road from KeriGlen that helps you overcome jet lag, improves your memory, and slows down aging? 
Fred and Beautiful Guest Picking At Elsie's Orchard 
 Well, I suppose you are correct if you said wine, because we all know that it actually is a health food, but it’s even easier than that. In fact all you have to do is walk south down the road from KeriGlen, and there is the orchard that Elsie rented last year….turn right then reach up and pick…

Yes you are right if you guessed the lovely and sensuous cherry. The season is starting right away here in Penticton. Here are your choices that Fred & Elsie will help you navigate the:
Okanagan Cherry Varieties
Rainier Cherries - The 'Princess' of cherries are a large sweet cherry with a red blush similar to the Royal Ann cherry. These types of cherries are firm, with a clear to light yellow flesh, a fine texture and distinct sweet flavor. These are my favorite for eating straight from the tree. You may have to look for hand printed signs on lawns of neighbours that invite you into their backyard to pick by the bucket as these trees are harder to find.

The Van Cherry is another popular cherry fruit that has been grown in the Okanagan for a very long time.
Van cherries are a medium size fruit, slightly smaller than a bing, but are very firm black color, and they are oh, such a sweet cherry. Van's are usually available in the Okanagan at the end of June or early July, and like most sweet cherries, Van's are generally best eaten fresh.
These cherries are also excellent for canning, and in your favorite yummy cherry recipes like cherry cobbler! Put these in your cooler and they will last on your road trip home to can later.

At one time Bing Cherries were the most popular of all the varieties of cherries grown in the Okanagan Valley.
These sweet cherries are extra large in size, slightly heart-shaped cherries with a deep maroon color, and a delicious, sweet wonderful flavor. Bings are one of the common types of cherries that you will find in grocery stores and supermarkets.
It's a good idea to store fully ripe Bing cherries in the fridge, because once they ripen, they will only last a few days. 

Many people prefer Bing cherries fresh, but they are also excellent for cherry recipes such as jams, jellies and preserves, in cherry pie recipes, and desserts like a delicious cherry cobbler recipe. They are one of the most versatile types of cherries around! From


Come back here for more varieties of cherries as they ripen. Right now I need to spread some of Elsie’s delicious cherry jam on my scone…