28 August 2009
On Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend Feast of Fields held at Valentine Farms in the Okanagan Valley.
The feast can best be described as “a gourmet wandering picnic harvest festival,” and has been held at different venues across Canada such as Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa for nearly 20 years, helping to cultivate an increased appreciation for local and organic food production. The event is the joint creation of Michael Standlandter and Jamie Kennedy, and it was originally created as a way to connect urban consumers to the food they eat.
Feast of Fields acts as a catalyst for bringing a region’s food and agricultural communities together while raising awareness of the importance and enjoyment of eating locally. The idea for the very first Okanagan Feast of Fields was spearheaded by Cabana Grille Chef and Co-owner Ned Bell. Bell remained a part of the board and organizing team that comprised of passionate local volunteers who were excited and committed to shine a spotlight on the many producers, creators and artisans in the area. Ned Bell was at his booth for Cabana Grill and served guests homemade honey icecream with raspberries and chocolate sauce.
The variety, abundance and quality of British Columbia’s bounty ranks with some of the best agricultural regions in the world and the Okanagan is no exception. Feast of Fields provides the public with an up-close-and-personal opportunity to sample and swirl local products while supporting a not-for-profit organization FarmFolk/CityFolk’s that has been committed to food security projects in British Columbia since 1993.
British Columbia’s best known region for vines and orchards, hot summers and beachy family getaways got ready to stage its very first Feast of Fields. Here in the Okanagan Valley twenty-five of the top chefs of the Okanagan-Similkameen paired with local farmers, wineries and breweries to create this celebration of local food. On arrival, guests were handed a linen napkin and a wine glass. Then, everyone was free to roam and discover the great food and beverages of the region at their leisure. The Feast of Fields experience takes guests on a delicious journey through the area’s many faces and flavours. Wandering throughout the farm, patrons are able to meet the chefs and farmers, the vintners, brewers and food artisans, to taste their products, ask questions, and learn more about where their food comes from. Feast of Fields was set in the beautiful fields of Valentine Farm in Summerland, surrounded by hillside vineyards, gardens and orchards. It was a dream come true for food lovers who wanted to experience the best of the Okanagan culinary scene and meet the producers and chefs that create it together.
Everyone from local butchers and grocery stores to the top chefs in the best restaurants seemed to be a part of this event. I stopped by Passa Tempo’s booth to sample fare created by Brad Lazarenko, one of last year’s Maverick Chefs in Tidings Magazine (October 2008). They served Riverside Farms Summer Squash Terrine with Goat Cheese alongside Riverside Heirloom Tomato Chutney. I wandered over to the Bonfire Restaurant & Bar booth where I was offered Apple Wood Smoked Okanagan River Sockeye Salmon with Falcon Ridge Organic Honey-Jalapeno Glaze with Jicama Slaw. This gives you an idea of gastronomic adventure that awaited us during this event. If the event is held again here in the Okanagan in 2010 I would love to be a volunteer who were treated to a pig roast after the event and schmooze to my hearts content.