Tasting the Okanagan, at Home
Thai and Gewürztraminer
As our culture shifts to a small bubble, virtual and at-home world, we are exploring more ways to stay connected while keeping some familiarity with what we used to do and love.
Take food and wine for example. I used to dine out at restaurants or pop into a winery on an afternoon whim. Now, I put a little more forethought into my plans before heading out or I simply do not go out at all.
My stepfather turned 64 last Sunday and our family celebrated with a feast and wine at home. Was this any less of an Okanagan food and wine experience? Absolutely not.
In our family, the birthday person chooses their birthday meal – tonight we ordered from family owned and operated Zabb Thai Restaurant. Thai food is a harmonious balance of salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy, creating savoury and soul-warming flavours – perfect for an autumn dinner.
To complement our meal, I reached for the well-rounded, flavorful gewürztraminer from Ancient Hill Estate Winery.
Ancient Hill owners Richard and Jitske Kamphuys tired of big city life in the Netherlands and decided to seek out a lifestyle more in tune with nature. They settled in Kelowna in 1992 and turned orchard land into their now thriving winery. On the south-facing bench above the Kelowna airport, this boutique winery and vineyard soaks in long hours of summer sunlight.
Their gewürztraminer, a German varietal, is unlike many others in the Okanagan. Richard, with his consulting winemaker Christine Leroux, produce a European-style gewürztraminer that allows the characteristics of the grape to express naturally.
Unlike other grape varietals, gewürztraminer is not suppressed by the spices in Thai food. The floral aromas and tropical notes hold up and the essence of the wine is not lost.
Zabb Thai Restaurant has brought authentic Thai cuisine to Kelowna for more than 8 years. Owner Mon Chowchong moved from south Thailand to Kelowna in 1993 and opened Zabb in 2012. He uses family recipes and traditional ingredients to create a variety of well-loved dishes.
The Panang Red Curry is my personal favourite. A bright red curry with coconut milk is rich, creamy and spicy. The slightly sweet and aromatic gewürztraminer compliments this dish seamlessly and provides a refreshing finish to prepare my palate for the next oh-so-delicious bite.
Arguably the most well-known Thai dish is Pad Thai – a classic rice noodle sautéed in brown sugar, tamarind (a pureed fruit pod) and a touch of fish sauce, topped with peanuts, sprouts and prawns. Pad Thai leans towards sour and sweet, rather than spicy, and gewürztraminer’s lychee and melon are a perfect match.
Dinner for five, clockwise from top: Drunken Ginger Chicken, white rice, Pad Thai, Panang Red Curry, Beef Peanut Sauce, and Chicken Satay in the middle. Missing from photo: Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimp.After our hearty meal we ate homemade, Okanagan apple pie – sipping on wine and together as a family.
Pondering what to do and where to go may leave you scratching your head, but savouring the sweet and spicy tastes of the Okanagan, from the comforts of your home, is easier and more appealing than ever.
The Ancient Hill Estate Winery 2016 gewürztraminer is available for sale at the winery and at Public Liquor, across from the airport. It’s the winery’s best-selling white with limited production, so get your bottle before it sells out. Ancient Hill winter hours are by appointment only: http://ancienthillwinery.com