Like terroir-driven wines, cuisine du terroir can be translated as food of the earth, and food with a strong sense of place and season. That’s how chefs/partners/locavore champions Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering describe their craft. Luckily for us, the place they’ve chosen to share it is the Okanagan Valley and the season is summer, height of abundant produce. For the better part of the past decade, Smith and Ewart have been popping up at farmer’s markets, catering events, and hosting their perennially sold-out alfresco summer dinners.
They have aligned their lauded, local food philosophy with Slow Food revolutionary Alice Waters. As Ewart reads a passage from her well-worn copy of Art of Simple Food to welcome guests to dinner, its obvious that the tenets of Waters’s beliefs are near to her heart.
01. Eat locally and sustainably
02. Eat seasonally
03. Shop at farmer’s markets
The menu changes weekly for the Joy Road Catering alfresco winemakers’ dinners, held each Thursday throughout the summer season and based on the wines, the season, and what Smith and Ewart have found freshest at the local markets and in their own gardens that week.
At God’s Mountain Estate Bed and Breakfast, they’ve designed a menu around Similkameen Valley’s Little Farm Winery, a tiny family-owned and operated winery helmed by husband-and-wife team Rhys Pender and Alishan Driediger who, too, do everything themselves—sustainably, small-scale, and without compromise.
04. Plant a garden
05. Conserve, compost, and recycle
06. Cook together
The Mediterranean-inspired God’s Mountain Estate B&B overlooks a slope of riesling and the shimmering Skaha Lake below, and provides shelter from sudden summer showers and a comfortable bed for those dinner guests insightful enough to book ahead. The Joy Road Catering team used the B&B’s outdoor kitchen for preparations and the estate’s dangling tree branches for shading the long table from the setting sun’s blinding rays. The night’s menu read like a love letter to vegetables, heritage grains, and locally-raised black Berkshire heritage pigs.
07. Eat together
Guests come from near and far to partake in these special dinners, often booking favourite wineries, or particular summer weeks, as soon as the schedule is released. On this night, along with Little Farm’s personable Pender and Driediger, guests converged from Penticton, elsewhere in British Columbia, Alberta, and even from as far as Montreal.
All feasted together family style over perfect Pissaladière (stunningly paired with the 2013 Little Farm Winery Rosé), salt cod fritters with saffron aioli, tender wild salmon rillet on Grist Mill sourdough, pheasant saltimbocca with two-year prosciutto and sage, roasted heirloom tomatoes, grilled summer vegetables, and—because it’s always smart to save room for dessert—a deeply satisfying organic hazelnut cake with late harvest poached apricots.
By the end of the evening, the sun had long set and our way was lit by glowing paper lanterns hung in the trees. New friends, united by their love of cuisine du terroir, had come together to enjoy handcrafted wines, heart-crafted foods, and a renewed affirmation for one of life’s greatest joys.
8. Remember food is precious
Joy Road Catering events run year-round, and can be booked online.