2019 is bringing big changes! Babbling Bottles has a new home on the supremely lovely Westside nestled amongst the heart of the Westside Wine Trail!A fresh season has been coloured by a new vistas of sprawling vineyards, rugged mountains, crystal blue waters and open skies stretching clear beyond Squally Point. This has ultimately served as inspiration for my new logo that incorporates okanagan mountains and a plethora of bottles to babble about!
I am so excited to introduce a new series, a westside [wine] story, where i’ll dive into everything that makes my new home in west kelowna so special! And, to top it all off, I am set to start a new wine season with one of Canada’s most prestigious wineries, Mission Hill.
Truth be told, its been less than a month and I am already having so much fun exploring the plethora of outdoor experiences and premier food, wine & craft beverage adventures that are just waiting to be had! So my mission this summer is to bring you all some of my favourite highlights from around this beautiful neck of the woods that is filled with all sorts of hidden gems – from strolling the Gellatly Bay Promenade to highlights from the breadth of gastronomic experiences - not to forget the many wineries just waiting to tantalize guests with a glass of Okanagan sunshine! There really is so much to share with you all.
I had a perfect day last Friday. It was one of those days where you wake up with nothing to do and everything you want is waiting just outside your doorstep. It was my fiance’s 28th birthday (Happy Birthday babe!), and while he slept in I had a master plan to make him a last minute birthday card and throw on his favourite breakfast – eggs, hash browns, and thick cut farmer’s bacon, straight UP. While the bacon slowly simmered in the pan I couldn't help but look around at my new surroundings, a modest one bedroom condo framed by a stunning view of Okanagan Lake and the rugged peaks of Okanagan Mountain Park, the scars of fire decades past still evident on naked, exposed bedrock. As I stepped out onto our lovely second story patio I felt the deep, unmistakable glow of happiness as I exchanged a mutual glance with Stella, our resident bulldog, who has made the deck the ‘place to be’ since our move. She spends countless hours lounging on her oversized dog bed lazily taking in her daily account of the comings and goings of the building in true guard dog fashion, observing unseen from her vantage point.
We are new to apartment life, and so far I think all of us have taken quite naturally to our new surroundings. It certainly helps having all our amenities just a minute up the road while a bounty of open natural space, walking trails and a quiet family-oriented neighbourhood balances the hustle and bustle of the highway town. Located just off Gellatly road, our new home is in the perfect location for a summer filled with impromptu wine tasting adventures, bike rides alongside breathtaking vineyard landscapes, and excursions to the highly coveted Peachland Farmer’s Market among countless other activities.
But - let’s get back to the bacon! Thick-sliced and glazed with honey & jalapeno, it was the classic mouth-watering waiting game situation as I sat watching it sizzle away on low heat. Patience is key to getting the fat rendered out properly so I’ve learned, and now I much prefer to stick my bacon in the oven at 300 for about 45-50 minutes, flipping once. I always opt to to pop into our preferred local butcher, L+D Meats, in Guisichan Village Centre. The selection and prices are always stellar and the customer service brings you back to what I imagine to be the good old heydays of shopping at local small businesses. It really is a pleasure to support them along with all the other small businesses around town. Even though I have shifted over to the Westside I will no doubt continue to make the trip back across the bridge for bacon like this. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know that my favourite watering hole, Urban Liquor, is just around the corner as well! ;)
As we sat enjoying breakfast, or what I would term a heart attack on a plate, it appeared evident that we were in for a wee sprinkle of rain – the first of April showers – but that wouldn’t keep us away from our plan to explore the now dormant volcanic mountain that is our neighborhood hiking spot. Mount Boucherie has a rich history that extends far past settler memories and has an important place in the folklore and histories of the local indigenous peoples. Before it was ever known as Mount Boucherie (named after one of the area’s earliest cattle ranchers) it is told that the mountain was once a fearsome monster that was constantly in conflict with others around him. One day tempers flailed and it came to blows, the beast was fully decapitated - the debris sent flying as far as the lands of Black Knight mountain! Now subdued by the forces of time, Mount Boucherie sits as a watchful sentry and a reminder of how dramatic geologic changes characterize the landscape from time to time. Many of the Syilx nation refer to Boucherie as the sleeping bear, referring to the dormant volcano the lays beneath. We didn’t scale the peak, but left our own little inukshuk as a marker to pass next time around!
Poor Stella was feeling the brunt of our hike with her bad knees, so afterwards we decided to spend the afternoon building our epic James Bond 007 Astin Martin LEGO set! This is one of many of my ultra nerdy indulgences, along with researching all things paranormal and producing a bi-monthly podcast dedicated to the unexplained mysteries of our world. Check it out here if you’re a lover of all things paranormal like me! However, its the LEGO that’s on another level these days. Our collection has quickly expanded to include the full Flintstones rock abode (complete with Fred’s foot-powered stone-age vehicle), a three-storey Parisian café with artist garret, an adorable 3-1 pug & fire hydrant, and now this – part of the official James Bond collection – which is definitely the epic centrepiece of our collection. The model is nearly fully functional and comes with working doors, extendable bullet-proof screen, optional tire slashers, flip up guns, ejector seats and so much more!
We went all out with our first furniture purchases (yay Wayfair) and got an emerald velvet green sofa for the centrepiece of our living room – an impulse purchase I’ll admit, but I haven't the slightly regret thus far and was very pleased to find that velvet is actually one of the most pet-friendly upholstery choices on the market! With gorgeous George in the household it is a relief to know that he won’t be tempted to stretch his claws on the short cut fibres of the velvet – unlike woven linens with provide an extremely satisfying surface for clawing.
A View to a Kill starring Roger Moore and a young (BLONDE!) Christopher Walken set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. I must say we were both feeling pretty badass after completing the model and getting all dressed up for a lovely dinner at the highly esteemed Old Vines restaurant of Quail’s Gate Winery. Our server Stephanie was incredible helpful with everything from the wine selection to relaying all my options as a celiac (chef can modify just about anything on that menu!). The kitchen was even so kind as to provide gluten free bread for myself and my celiac mother, something that I rarely encounter at restaurants that serve bread as a starter on their menus. And I bring this up because it was GOOD bread, not that tasteless, token cardboard gluten-free bread that is oh so common – this was fresh and savoury, loaded with flavour and with a delicious consistency that brought to mind freshly baked herb & cheese scones.
Literally everything on the menu had my mouth watering, the only way I could narrow it down was by choosing the wine first! Each dish came with a suggested wine pairing, and the salmon alongside the 2016 Estate Chardonnay was simply divine. Lemon from the creamy risotto sung in perfect harmony with the exquisite rich freshness of a lighter oak program that allows all the fresh citrus and Okanagan stone fruit notes to shine through. I was so hungry that I committed the cardinal sin of food bloggers – I forgot to snap a photo before digging in! The only way I justify this is by saying it's a great excuse to visit again, which we certainly will do (and have already!) many times this season. If your looking for something a bit more casual you’re in luck, as the Old Vines restaurant has a daily happy hour from 2:30-5:30 featuring $5 glasses of wine and super affordable (and delicious!) small bites to pair with. I mean, $3 bread is hard to pass on – am I right?!