Fish and wine make for a great summer road trip

As a kid growing up on the prairies, the great Canadian road trip often took us to the Okanagan Valley. At some time between seeding and harvest we would forge out for a little vacation.

Not much has changed for me. I still love that drive from the Prairies to the orchards. There isn’t a more wonderful time than summer to explore market gardens and fruit stands.

Whether you take the Crowsnest Highway or the Trans Canada, you must drive the 97 between Osoyoos and Kelowna. At one time it was all orchards and market gardens but now vineyards interrupt that landscape. Wineries dot the way and provide interesting stops.

The Okanagan is rated as one of the top wine regions in the world. The number of winery related events has multiplied over the years yet it is still relatively undiscovered compared to the American Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Even it you arrive without a reservation there is surely an event you can join. The one I attended was at Quails’ Gate Winery.

The Quails’ Gate Stewart family have been in the Valley more than a century and purchased this orchard in the 1950s. Ideally situated on a hillside overlooking the Okanagan Lake they gradually converted the orchard into a vineyard. The last trees were pulled in the 1990s.

This evening the winery hosted Chef Ned Bell. Chef Bell spent 10 weeks cycling across Canada in 2014 to raise awareness for sustainably harvested fish and seafood and the health of our oceans and lakes. Then he spent the past two years writing his cookbook Lure.

Quails’ Gate’s Chef, Roger Sleiman, has been serving sustainably harvested fish and seafood at this restaurant for the past 10 years. The two of them teamed up for a stellar evening of dish after dish presenting in-season sustainably harvested BC fish and seafood accompanied with the wines of Quails’ Gate.

Did you know that there are only 17 acres of chenin blanc grapes grown in the entire province and 11 of those acres are farmed at this winery? It is a delicious crisp white wine that I was able to source at my local liquor store in Swift Current. Their pinot noir is also very well done. That is a story in itself.

While we dined on beautiful food and delicious wines, Llane, great granddaughter in the Stewart family, related family stories of growing up on the vineyard. And her husband, Jan, also a chef by training, introduced the wines.

Lure is more than a cookbook. Chef Bell tells stories of his journey to understanding the world’s waters. It took him 20 years, he says. His book is not about avoiding fish and seafood but making sustainable choices. He is the executive chef of Ocean Wise (ocean.org).

Although I live back at home on the prairies this still gives me food for thought. It reminds me that it is crucial we protect our rivers and lakes. Contamination of our waters can potentially take away this food source and a way of life we have enjoyed for centuries.

Shrimp caesar with grilled lemon

2017 Lucy’s Block Rose is the perfect pairing with this salad. Light and crisp served pleasantly chilled it’s perfect with a summer salad. This wine is named after founder Lucy Stewart. She was a ‘real’ lady and loved pink. Gin was her favourite drink. I have a feeling she would give a thumb’s up on this summer wine.

Caesar vinaigrette

If you are not in the cooking mood simply use your favourite store-bought Caesar dressing and croutons.

Always check for the Ocean Wise label when you are buying shrimp. Due to the universal popularity of shrimp, farming has created a loss of about 38% of the world’s mangrove forests. This in turn has created problems with erosion and vulnerability in the situation of a tsunami.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 3/4 c. olive oil, divided 175 mL
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 37 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard 22 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole grainy mustard 7 mL
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. sea salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper 2 mL

Croutons

  • 1/2 loaf rustic artisan bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices 1 cm
  • 1/4 c. olive oil 60 mL
  • sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Salad

  • 1/2 c. finely grated parmesan cheese 125 mL
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 2 romaine hearts, leaves separated
  • sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. chilled pink shrimp, cooked and peeled 225 g

To make the vinaigrette roast the garlic head in a 400 F (200 C) oven by cutting off the top third of the head, lay it on kitchen foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap it in the foil and roast for 30 – 40 minutes or until soft and the kitchen is filled with the aroma of garlic.

Meanwhile heat 3/4 cup (175 mL) of olive oil with the rosemary sprig until the oil bubbles. Remove from the heat and let sit for about half an hour. Discard rosemary.

Squeeze half of the roasted garlic out of its papery skins into a blender. Add vinegar, both mustards, anchovy if using, lemon zest and juice and half cup (125 mL) of olive oil, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Process for a minute or until it is emulsified.

To make the croutons brush the bread slices with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 375 F (190 C) oven until evenly browned on both sides, about 15 minutes. Tear into pieces.

To make the salad caramelize the cut sides of the lemon by first brushing them with olive oil. Place cut side down on a preheated pan or grill and sear for 2 – 3 minutes.

In a large bowl toss the romaine and half the croutons with enough vinaigrette to coat. Squeeze the caramelized lemons over the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss.

Arrange the salad on a platter or in a large bowl. Place the shrimp on top. Sprinkle the parmesan over. Garnish with remaining croutons. Serve. Adapted from Lure by Chef Ned Bell.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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