100-Mile Book Club: Food Artisans of the Okanagan

Heather Allen explores the food producers of the Okanagan in the latest 100-Mile Book Club.

In the Okanagan, we love our abundance of fresh fruit, market greens, local wines and craft brews. But I bet most of us would be surprised to learn just how much is grown and produced here in our special valley.

A new book, Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare by Jennifer Cockrall-King, features more than 125 food artisans and producers ranging from the North to South Okanagan, including the Similkameen.

Meet local bakers, beekeepers, butchers, chefs, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, distillers, farmers and coffee roasters, who are featured in beautiful colour photos and accompanying personal stories.

Cockrall-King delights with well-crafted storytelling, and mouth-wateringly beautiful book design. The artfully arranged pages are reminiscent of early Okanagan fruit packing logos, crossed with current and clever craft food and brewery labels.

Locals will recognize many of the faces and places featured in this book – and probably could add a few paragraphs of their own to the profiles. Food Artisans of the Okanagan features fixtures in the South Okanagan such as Poplar Grove Cheese, Ogopogo Meats and Sausages, and Backyard Beans.

Some producers are lesser known and further afield, such as seasonally appropriate asparagus farms in the North Okanagan, and newer ventures such as Dubh Glas distillery in Gallagher Lake.

“I had total control in which artisans I included, and this was based solely on the quality and craft of their product,” said Cockrall-King. “I didn’t care if they were the first to do something or the biggest, all I cared about is whether their products tasted great and were produced, grown, fermented, distilled, or what-have-you with the highest possible quality in mind.”

Food Artisans of the Okanagan will help us learn more about what’s in our own backyard, but is equally designed for tourists. In fact, it’s currently  No. 1 on the Edmonton Journal’s bestseller list. “That means that a lot of Albertans are planning a trip out to the Okanagan soon.”

Cockrall-King also expects that with the low Canadian dollar, more Americans will be venturing north. “The Okanagan is the most exciting food and wine destination in Canada, and culinary tourism here will only grow.”

Food Artisans of the Okanagan is for sale in more than 40 local shops, wineries and bookstores including at the VQA Wine Info Centre. If you’d like a signed copy, Cockrall-King welcomes readers to her book launch on May 21 (2 to 4 p.m.) at Bench 1775 Winery on Naramata Road. She will be featuring her book along with another popular and updated local foodie book by Jennifer Schell, The Butcher, the Baker, the Wine and Cheese Maker in the Okanagan.

“I am so happy that it’s a co-launch with Jennifer Schell,” says Cockrall-King. “It’s going to be a fabulous afternoon of wine, bites from various producers in the book, and us telling stories about our books.” Please RSVP by May 16 to jennschell@shaw.ca if you would like to attend.


Penticton Western News