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A couple of weeks ago the Similkameen Wineries Association generously gave me a ticket to attend the 2013 Similkameen BBQ King, held at the Old Grist Mill in Keremeos.DSC_4028 This is an event that J and I had been looking forward to ever since last year and we were not disappointed! In fact, we both agree that this year’s event was even better than last year’s. We arrived and grabbed our complimentary Riedel wine glasses and made our way over to the Benja Thai tent to sample some amazing food. DSC_4042For anybody who has not made their way to Keremeos for a Thai meal, please do so immediately; you will not be disappointed. It is well worth the drive, plus it’s a gorgeous drive from any direction. To pair with the food from Benja Thai I selected some Cinq Blanc from Eau Vivre Winery. This is a lovely aromatic white blend of Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Chardonnay and Riesling and it was a perfect pairing with the slightly spicy food. We walked around to the winery tents doing a bit more pre-dinner sampling and a few other wines that stood out to me were: Fameuse sparkling wine from Rustic Roots, Misceo from Cerelia, Gamay from Orofino, Red Fusion from Sage Bush (the newest winery in the Similkameen Winery Association), and Grower’s Series Makepeace Merlot from Clos du Soleil. DSC_4038There was another tent set up with an assortment of salads, breads and dips where people could have a bit of food in their bellies during the initial wine tasting before dinner started. The delicious breads of farmersdotter organics were on offer. This has become one of my regular stops on any Saturday morning that I am able to attend the Penticton Farmer’s Market. Their breads are made with certified organic ingredients wherever possible and are naturally leavened, that is without using commercial yeasts. These lovely breads are baked in a giant wood-fired oven.DSC_4016DSC_4018This year’s Black Box of ingredients included:

DSC_4048The chefs each managed to come up with very different and creative menus. One thing that I sadly forgot to do once I was actually faced with all these delicious mini meals was to take photos of them. However, if you would like to see each of the final products please follow this link for some lovely photos from Erick and Erin of ET2 Media that have been posted on the Similkameen Wineries Association’s Facebook page.

DSC_4056Chef Natasha Schooten from Terrafina Restaurant, along with owner April Goldade presented a menu of house made chicken sausage with apricot and blueberry basil, served with peach risotto, rosé-pickled red cabbage slaw and grilled chard slaw. This was paired with the delicious Rosé from Clos du Soleil. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Who knew that peach risotto would be so tasty?!

Chef Greg Fuchs (BBQ King 2012) from Gregor’s Gourmet presented brick chicken with peach and rainbow chard slaw, chicken and basil sausage with apricot and cabbage relish and finished with a dessert of apricot and walnut cake with lemon and basil ricotta. This was paired with the Chardonnay from Seven Stones Winery.

Chef Derek Uhlemann from Covert Farms offered another favourite: grape cane-smoked peach and apricot brined organic chicken smothered in peach and apricot BarBQ sauce, served on bright lights chard and purple cabbage coleslaw with farmersdotter garlic scape salt, drizzled with blueberry basil and Rustic Roots plum wine syrup, on top of a Covert Organics “Red Ace” grilled beet chip. This dish was paired with the fabulously sweet-tart Plum Rosé from Rustic Roots Winery.

Chef Justin Paakkunainen from Walnut Beach Resort presented a delicious version of a mini chicken burger. The garlic scape seasoned chicken was served on a blueberry basil bun with peach apricot bbq sauce, swiss chard and red cabbage slaw, and topped with crispy chicken “bacon”. This was J’s favourite dish of the night and he later went back for seconds. This was paired with the Lieutenant Governor Award-winning 2010 Pinot Noir from Eau Vivre Estate Winery.

Chef Marianne Abraham of the Whitewater Cooks team presented grilled cabbage and chard slaw with smoked paprika, pulled chicken with grilled apricot bbq sauce, topped with a grilled peach. This was paired beautifully with the Home Vineyard Old Vines Riesling from Orofino Winery.

Chef Jonas Stadtlander from Watermark Beach Resort presented blueberry basil and peach sausage on Gamay-braised cabbage on a garlic scape cracker and Robin Ridge Chardonnay-marinated chicken on apricot swiss chard compote. This was paired with a choice between the Robin Ridge Chardonnay or Gamay.

Chef Karl Schorb, and his son Jeremy, from the Branding Iron in Keremeos presented brined chicken with black garlic maple glaze, German-style red cabbage slaw, Orchard Blossom honey sautéed rainbow chard, smoked apricot-peach-blueberry basil jam, and garlic scape salt chicken jus. This was paired with Forbidden Fruit’s Speachless peach wine.

DSC_4059Chef Ross Derrick from the Delta Grand Okanagan presented Cherry wood smoked chicken with peach apricot bbq sauce, swiss chard pesto, rhubarb-braised cabbage, sage flatbread, crispy-fried chicken skin, cooked with love. A dessert of roasted peach upside down cake with basil ice cream followed. This was all paired with the delicious Rosé from Sage Bush Winery.

Finally, Chef Chris Van Hooydonk (BBQ King 2011) from Artisan Culinary Concepts presented chicken, apricot and blueberry basil ballotine with garlic scape salt, cabbage slaw with peach and wildflower honey vinaigrette, and Artisan Culinary sourdough, mushroom, swiss chard bread pudding with apricot natural jus. This was paired with the Rosé from Cerelia Vineyards & Estate Winery. Sadly by the time we made it around to this tent, the food was gone. We managed to just taste a bit of the cabbage slaw with the wine. I was a bit disappointed as I’ve eaten Chris’ food before and it’s always so delicious!DSC_4069

This year’s silent auction, in order to help raise money for the Old Grist Mill, a BC Heritage site, had some fabulous items on offer, from wine (couple bottles to a bucketful), to concert tickets, to weekend getaways and everything in between. This year’s entertainment was the talented Karen Fowlie from Horseshoe Bay, who played the guitar and sang throughout the evening. It was highly enjoyable music to listen to while sampling the amazing food on offer.DSC_4071

Each and every person in attendance was given a poker chip upon arrival in order to cast their vote for the best overall dish of the evening. A big congratulations to this year’s Similkameen BBQ King: Chef Karl Schorb, from the Branding Iron Pub & Grill! The trophy was made once again by Okanagan Stoneworks and was presented to Karl and Jeremy by George Hanson, President of the Similkameen Wineries Association. Also awarded was the Media’s choice of Best Food & Wine Pairing. This went to Chef Ross Derrick from the Delta Grand Okanagan and Sage Bush Winery – congratulations!DSC_4065DSC_4096

DSC_4087Once again, a big congratulations and thank you goes to the Similkameen Wineries Association for putting on such a successful, fun and delicious event! I am already looking forward to next year’s competition!