Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. Western News file photo

Okanagan Taste: Favourite food and drinks of the past year

When it comes to food and drink, the most frequent questions I get are “Where should we go eat?” and “What’s your favourite winery?”

So when I was recently asked if I would do a “best of” list, I thought I’d give it a shot. You may not like what I like, but as long as you enjoy the experience and the company you’re with, isn’t that what matters?

Comfort food: grilled cheese at BRODO Kitchen, the “Pink Lady” at Lee’s Overseas, or the truffle-potato pizza at Terrafina at Hester Creek. What I will have more of in 2018: Thai peanut butter noodles at Stix Bao, and the Scotch egg at Craft Corner Kitchen.

Where I send visitors for the views (plus wine): Arrowleaf in Lake Country, CedarCreek in Kelowna (get tickets to a summer concert), Evolve Cellars in Summerland, Poplar Grove above Penticton, Bench 1775 on the way to Naramata, Liquidity and Noble Ridge in Okanagan Falls.

Date night dinner: a highlight of 2017, perfect steaks at the Hooded Merganser with a bottle of Ardua, an exquisite red blend from the MacIntyre wine label produced by Lake Breeze Vineyards. What I will have more of in 2018: albondigas (meatballs) at Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek or the Kitchen at Misconduct, and duck confit at Front Street Brasserie.

Spend an afternoon at: book an experience at Mission Hill, Nk’Mip Cellars, or Quail’s Gate (have the truffle fries at the Old Vines Restaurant), especially if you want to wow first-time visitors. Something more casual? Visit Pentâge winery above Penticton for a tasting, then raid their selection of treats for a picnic on the patio, or have pizza from the wood-fired oven at Upper Bench.

Where I send wine writers because they will be impressed: there are many I could include, but for the sake of brevity: Burrowing Owl, Blue Mountain, Wild Goose (also for the cornbread at the Smoke & Oak Bistro), Kraze Legz, La Frenz, Tightrope, Terravista, Okanagan Crush Pad, TH Wines, 50th Parallel, Township 7, newcomer Roche, Little Engine and pretty much any others mentioned above. Phew!

Finish a day of touring at: save the spirits for the end of the day and visit distiller Stevely at Dubh Glas where you will very likely get a hug when you leave.

Most memorable moments: on a more personal note, of all the incredible moments I had in 2017, here are my top three. The first time I sipped M, a Madeira style fortified wine from CedarCreek so good I kept the bottle hidden. An afternoon spent on the private deck of the owners of Mirabel Vineyards, Doug and Dawn Reimer, sipping their outstanding pinot noir and rosé. And every time I took anyone to VinAmité Cellars. Cheers to the year.

Save the Date

(click the links for more information)

Fridays, Penticton: Enjoy Three-course Fridays at Play Estate Winery from 5 p.m. Three courses for $29.

November through March, Oliver: Join Intersection winery’s Vinstitute classes and learn about wine and winemaking. Full schedule online.

Select Fridays and Saturdays, Penticton: Throughout December, the B.C. Wine Info Centre hosts pop-up tastings with wineries from around the Okanagan. Schedule:

Dec. 16, Penticton: Join Penticton’s largest small office party at the Lakeside Resort.

Dec. 16 and 17: Visit Township 7 for their open house, featuring live music, local nibbles, and mulled wine.

Dec. 17, Penticton: Join Tavis Weir for an evening of free entertainment at Cannery Brewing on Ellis Street from 6 to 8 p.m. No cover.

Dec. 22, Penticton: Head to Save-On-Foods to sample wines from Evolve Cellars and TIME Winery from noon to 6 p.m.

New Years Eve: the list below features options for celebrating Dec. 31.

The Penticton Lakeside: enjoy a buffet dinner, DJ, party favours and fireworks.

Cannery Brewing: Celebrate the end of 2017 with a free concert by Justin Koshman, performing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Grab some friends and enjoy a lovely evening of live, local music and toast the end of the year.

Craft Corner Kitchen: A five-course meal, a glass of bubbly, and a glass of pinot noir from Forgotten Hill Wine Co. Limited tickets.

Mile Zero Wine Bar: 80s Hot Dog Ski New Year’s Eve Party. Dress up in your favourite retro ski gear.

Play Estate Winery: Join a Mad Men themed party at one of two seatings, 6 or 8:30pm, for as four-course menu and a glass of champagne. Call to reserve: 236-422-2675.

Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek: A four course gourmet meal, a glass of bubbles at midnight, plus a DJ starting at 9 p.m. for dancing.

The Dream Café: Rann Berry’s, the soul of Motown plays The Dream for NYE. Doors at 7 p.m., two intermissions to enjoy food and drinks.

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. She can be reached at Allison@AllSheWrote.ca and on Twitter @OkanaganTaste.

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