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Naramata fields a culinary sensation

Chef Ann Kirseböm of West Vancouver prepares one of her dishes of halibut barbecued with her special Grand Marnier gourmet sauce on the Van Westen farm in Naramata Sunday during the annual Feast of Fields. Hundreds of people attended the sold-out event which featured a wide variety of culinary delights and numerous products from Okanagan wineries. - Mark Brett/Western News
Chef Ann Kirseböm of West Vancouver prepares one of her dishes of halibut barbecued with her special Grand Marnier gourmet sauce on the Van Westen farm in Naramata Sunday during the annual Feast of Fields. Hundreds of people attended the sold-out event which featured a wide variety of culinary delights and numerous products from Okanagan wineries.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

A wine glass, hearty appetite and hiking boots.

Those were must-have items for those attending Sunday’s Feast of Fields outdoor culinary extravaganza on the sloping Naramata Bench property owned by the Van Westen family.

While getting to the various tents interspersed throughout the ripening vineyard and lush, fruit-laden cherry orchard was a bit difficult, most agreed the extra effort was worth it.

“Sure, I guess it takes a bit more work getting up and down the hill, however, when this is what waits for you at the top, mmm, mmm,” said Burnaby’s Bev Saunders before quickly taking another bite of Chef Bernard Casavant’s unique cone-filled creation.

“But what do you expect? This is not a fine-dining restaurant, it’s a working farm. I’m not complaining.”

Neither were many of the others lucky enough to get tickets for the sold-out event that has attracted a loyal following since it first came to the Okanagan two years ago.

Beginning in Ontario in 1989, the concept eventually moved west where it was taken on by Vancouver’s FarmFolkCityFolk Society which first hosted events in the Lower Mainland.

The purpose of the gourmet wandering harvest festival is to improve the connection between farmers and urbanites through the creative use of various products, especially those from the local region and ones which are sustainable.

Net proceeds fund a portion of the society’s work throughout the province.

Just part way through the day, host family member Tammy Van Westen was already pleased with the results.

“This has been absolutely way beyond our wildest expectations,” she said while serving up another glass of one of the family’s award-winning wines.

“The response so far has been fantastic, especially because it’s a surprising venue. Usually it’s held on a very flat surface, and with this incline up the orchard a lot of people didn’t think this would work out, but they have been pleasantly surprised and we’re getting lots of very good feedback.”

Other than some manual labour to spiff up the grounds beforehand, there was really little else for the family to.

“You never know really how to prepare for a day like this so you have to keep an open mind and right away get into a positive frame,” she said. “Rob (her husband), his father and brother are such proud farmers and this is really neat for them to be able to showcase their labour of love. I asked his father (Jake Sr.) if he had ever imagined 50 years ago this gong show was going to happen in his backyard, and he said no but it’s great.”

The site of the 2012 Okanagan feast has not been announced yet.

 

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