Outstanding in the Field

A table for 120, set at North Arm Farm in Pemberton, BC. More pictures here. Right: full moon over Okanagan vineyards, Meyer Vineyards.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinner on God's Mountain

Carafes of pinot noir from Blue Mountain Winery
 It's called God's Mountain Estate, at the top of an unmarked driveway off Skaha Lake, a 14-room private hotel with a spectacular sunset view. Twice a week during the summer season, they have dinners here, prepared (because there's no kitchen) by an outfit called Joy Road Catering. The creative energy of "Joy Road" emanates from Dana Ewart, a cheerful, 34-year-old woman with an intuitive sense of taste and texture, and a caterer's ability to roll with the punches.

Shaved fennel salad with goat cheese

Clouds and showers? Set up on the covered veranda. A couple of last-minute guests? Bring up another table from the basement. No bouquet of flowers? Peonies in a jam jar. The result, as you can see, is a convivial table for 36 diners, convened on this summer evening to showcase the wines of Blue Mountain Winery.

With the winery's owners, Ian and Jane Mavety looking on and beaming proudly, the Brut Rose was poured with appetizers of mussels and pissaldiere. With the sauvignon blanc, a salad of shaved fennel and goat cheese. (This sounds like the biggest cliché in the business, but it was one of the tastiest salads I've had lately.) With the chardonnay, seared scallops. The sun came out (as it has off and on all day) and there was some talk of moving back down to the edge of the bluff overlooking the lake, but the consensus of the guests was to stay put, on the terrace, with the music of clinking glasses and lively conversations between diners who were strangers half an hour earlier.

But Dana decided it would be much nicer under the trees overlooking the lake, with fairy lights hanging from the branches as the last rays of the sun lit up the sky. "Bring your forks, napkins and your wine glasses, " Dana instructed firmly, and everyone meandered down the steps while her staff (a permanent group of ten, each one as goodnatured as the next) swiftly move chairs, tables and place settings.

Out came the platters of roast pork and carafes of Blue Mountain pinot noir, roast pork, and as the sky turned dark, pastries filled with lemon-flavored marscapone andsour cherries (picked that afternoon from trees along the drive).

Some of the diners were fortunate: they were hotel guests and wouldn't have to leave until morning, if ever.

God's Mountain Estate, 4898 Lakeside, Penticton, BC, 250-490-4800. Rooms $150 to $320 per night.

Vineyard dnners on Thursdays are $95, Al fresco dinners on Sundays are $110 (Canadian, plus tax). Reservations required.

Blue Mountain Winery, 2385 Allendale Rd., Okanagan Falls, BC 250-497-8244

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