OKANAGAN FOODIE TOURS LAUNCHES EATS & ALES PENTICTON TOUR
By Roslyne Buchanan.
I had the opportunity to check out the Penticton Eats & Ales Tour. After a successive launch in Vernon earlier this year and five years of success in Kelowna, Okanagan Foodie Tours have gone live in Penticton. These tours are a great way for locals and visitors to become more familiar with the local food scene.
The Penticton Eats & Ales Tour “for foodies 19+” is three hours long and starts at 1 pm on Thursdays. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a jacket and or umbrella because you’ll hoof through downtown rain or shine. The tour offers five different taste experiences including refreshments from the popular craft brewing scene.
As Okanagan Foodie Tours develops in Penticton, the experience and establishments involved may vary. What I most appreciated was that our tour guide Sean, husband to founder Nancy Quinton, added informative tidbits about Penticton along the route pointing out some street art as well as significant buildings. Okanagan Foodie Tours calls its guides “Experience Hosts” and it is a goal to make each tour memorable with interaction by its tour partners such as restaurant owners, managers, chefs and their teams.
Our rendezvous point was the Gyro Park Bandshell on Main Street where Sean facilitated introductions and briefed us on what to expect for the afternoon.
First stop was Ashoka Indian Cuisine and traditional Indian cuisine on Martin Street and Westminster Avenue. We quickly learned that this cuisine is a personal favourite of Sean’s. After a short wait in this family-owned restaurant, we were served platters rich with aromas of freshly roasted spices that included garden salad, butter chicken, channa masala, basmati rice, and naan. It was a taste bud symphony of intricate flavours – who knew chickpeas would be my highlight? The staff were attentive, however, it would have elevated the visit if the owners had been on hand to tell us more about themselves and the opening of this restaurant. To learn more about it, see ashokacuisinepenticton.ca
We didn’t have to walk far for our next adventure, which was at Slackwater Brewing, kitty corner to Ashoka. Here, Liam Peyton who recently opened the brewery with his wife Kelsey was on hand to greet us and lead us through our experience there. He poured us a couple of selections – Tight Lines Lager and Sawmill Sour – then led us to bar stools overlooking the brewery hub. He served us crowd-pleasing house made chips and aioli, and pointed out Chris Vandenberg, brewmaster, who was busily creating new beer batches to keep up with the demand. Noted Liam, “We knew Penticton was a great craft beer centre, however, we’ve still been overwhelmed by the positive response.” See slackwaterbrewing.com
While not our destination that day, Sean showed us Penticton’s urban Time Winery and pointed out some other downtown attractions before we made our way to Smugglers Smoke House on Main Street. It is owned by Shayna Merritt and Josh Shulman with culinary team Damian Mischkinis and Daniel Johansson. Shayna, baby in arms, was on hand to greet us and give us some of the background of the years of working on their technique for smoking meat and creating complementary sauces. As we were served house made lemonade and presented a red BBQ pulled pork slider topped by a house pickle, Shayna pointed out meats are sourced from Two Rivers and breads from Wouda Bakery. Details at facebook.com/smugglerssmokehouse
After that it was north on Main to Block 300 Casual Steakhouse owned by Fred Trainor. The space was formerly the well-loved Elite Restaurant and while it has been completely renovated, it gives homage to its roots. Given Block 300’s stance to support local brews on tap, we were served a Bad Tattoo Cerveza Negra to pair with our sampler plate. Our sampler included the Block Nachos made with cheddar cheese, steak bites with arugula, Pan Seared Scallop and Champagne Garlic Prawn. Full menu is posted at block300steakhouse.com
By then, we were all pretty stuffed so Sean had us waddle a back route past the fish sculpture and Tacos Del Norte. Our designation, though, was Ogo’s Ice Cream, home to over 60 flavours of ice cream sourced from Island Farms and Foothills Creamery. Sean had collaborated with the owner in the custom built Ogo Cakes to create a special one for the Foodie Tour. Our ice cream cake highlighted peach, mango, cherry flavours with chocolate cookie and all sorts of candied delights. You, too, can build your own at ogos.ca
Unlike my tour companions, I was not quick enough to request a half portion of one of the six slices so I’d have been in a sugar coma, if it weren’t for the collaboration with next door Seis Cielo Specialty Coffees. Founder Sara Turner delivered us two choices of coffee from beans roasted on site. She shared the story of the struggles for rural farmers and their communities in the Honduras and why the partnership was so important. To learn more, see seiscielo.ca
We said goodbyes there and were invited to check out the coffee shop. A short walk away, I headed to the beach to meet a friend for a late afternoon swim. I warned my companions if they heard about someone sinking in Okanagan Lake, given how much I had consumed, it could be me!
It was a fun and ‘fulFILLING’ way to spend an afternoon. Tours in Penticton are off to a good start with a little tweaking. I look forward to seeing the Okanagan Foodie Tours flourish and evolve throughout the Okanagan.
Book ahead at okanganfoodietours.ca for the tours and check out the slate of options.
Featured photo: At Slackwater Brewing, Liam Peyton, shares the brewery story over beer and house made chips. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.