‘Take your taste buds for a walk’ on the Vernon Downtown Discovery Tour
By Roslyne Buchanan.
In its 5th season in Kelowna, Okanagan Food Tours is expanding to Vernon with this new culinary experience led by Loretta Friedrich, Experience Host.
I had a sneak-a-peek to the Vernon Downtown Discovery Tour, which will run Thursday and Friday afternoons, 1 to 4 pm, starting on July 11. The walking food tour explores the Okanagan’s oldest community, Vernon. Ticket holders will visit farm to table eateries, locally owned restaurants, artisanal food shops, and tasting rooms for fresh baked breads, tangy southern barbecue, unique power bowls, sweet and savoury chicken and waffles, and more in the heart of the city.
Okanagan Food Tours was founded by Nancy Quinton who was inspired by participating in food tours in Vancouver and Arizona. After a 25-year career managing customer service excellence in the telecommunications industry, Quinton was ready to set a new direction in bringing this foodie venture to Kelowna.
She notes, “A foodie is an affectionate term for anyone who enjoys food! Food lovers, food enthusiasts, food explorers and regular people – our tours are designed for everyone!”
“Why Take an Okanagan Foodie Tour?” the website explains:
- Food tours are a memorable way to experience the Okanagan’s tantalizing foods, cultural commentary, and to learn fun facts along the way.
- Tour guides are foodies themselves and pay attention to every detail to ensure a fun and relaxing, yet satisfying and informative adventure for fellow foodies.
- Chance to meet, support and engage with local food artisans, chefs and restaurant owners.
- Indulge yourself with unique culinary insights and sample delicious foods – taste the “best of the best”.
- Great way to try new foods and learn about new restaurants that you can visit again for the full meal experience.”
Tours in Kelowna include: Trendy SoPa (south Pandosy); Patios ‘n Pubs; Kelowna Kravings; and Bites on Bernard. Private group tours can also be arranged.
Friedrich had followed the Okanagan Foodie Tours on social media and contacted Quinton about adding Vernon to the tours. Says Friedrich, “I fell in love with Vernon decades ago when my grandparents first moved to the area and I wanted to showcase this area of the Okanagan valley.”
Quinton saw Vernon, home to orchards, lakes, murals, arts, history and now foodie sensation as a natural expansion to the Kelowna tours and Friedrich as a good fit for experience host.
Friedrich says she’s always been interested in good food and gardening. “I am a loyal supporter of local farms, growers, suppliers, and passionate reader of food history publications, culinary books, and recipe collections. In my spare time, I develop recipes, actively volunteer with food organizations, and have been a board member for community gardens and food conferences.”
A self-described nutritional foodie/educator and an experienced teacher and holistic nutritionist. Having assisted with food tours and enjoying regional culinary outings herself, Friedrich points out, “My goal is that folks not just eat but thoroughly enjoy a tasty and informative experience by devouring the best food anywhere and learning a bit of history-rich Vernon along the way.”
The tours go rain or shine and are best suited for “Foodies 13+” and normally for two to ten people. To purchase tickets ($75 per person) and more details go to the website okanaganfoodietours.ca Watch, too, for an expansion of the Okanagan Food Tours into Penticton.
While the Vernon itinerary may change some of the establishments working closely with Friedrich to offer participants a behind-the-scenes perspective include:
Olive Us Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room
Sample and buy an array of oils, vinegars, salts and spices in this delicious specialty store.
Hot Bread Shoppe
Small artisan bakery and gift shop. Small batches are made from scratch every morning with organic ingredients.
This popular bistro has a focus on fresh, flavourful, in-season food with ingredients from local businesses and farms as well as its own baked bread and smoked/roasted meats made in house.
This delightful breakfast and lunch spot opened in 2015 and has expanded throughout the former Greyhound Bus space.
Station BBQ Smokehouse
Authentic, slow-smoked southern barbeque with all dishes made in-house and from scratch, including all sauces, dressings and decadent desserts.
Locally owned specialty tea shop with over 130 types of loose-leaf teas, specializing in Persian teas which are blended in-house. It features teaware such as locally handmade pieces, cast iron teapots, and mugs.
Featured photo: Hot Bread Shoppe. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.