By Roslyne Buchanan
The culinary team at Summerhill Organic Bistro, with the influence of culinary and hospitality director Jeremy Luypen, has been refining their cuisine to best match the internationally acclaimed organic wine produced at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. They are excited to share the full menu at last. “Since the beginning, the Cipes family made organic winemaking practices an integral part of Summerhill and have championed the cause to tread lightly on the environment,” says Chef Luypen. “They have proven that these techniques create exceptional wine with the many awards they have received. Since 2012, the property has been a Demeter-certified organic property. In the kitchen, our goal is to celebrate the Okanagan’s local bounty with that same reverence.”
In developing the menu, Chef Luypen has created “Mediterranean-inspired soul food that promotes a healthier way of eating while layering in the flavours and textures. The approach is a perfect fit for what the Okanagan provides, and allows for a lot of creativity.”
When you think of the Mediterranean, the cuisine has lots of cultural diversity with key ingredients such as olive oil, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, legumes, herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. Soul food conjures up basic, down-home cooking with roots in the rural South, with staples such as greens, cornmeal, root vegetables and pork.
Plant-Based –– Local Focus
Rather than focusing on the protein on the plate, selections will be more plant-based, capitalizing on the abundance of local organic vegetables, particularly those from the winery’s biodynamic gardens. The Summerhill culinary program sources organic, ethically raised meats and poultry, sustainably farmed fish and organic aquaculture, and will continue to present them thoughtfully. However, Chef Luypen notes, “At Summerhill, we fundamentally believe a plant-based diet – with better, not more, meat – is the way to go.”
Expect clean, simple dishes representing the region that pop with colour, flavour and texture on your plate. They pair magnificently with Summerhill organic wines and other local beverages. For example, west coast mussel saganaki with tomato, garlic, crushed peppers, mint leaves and feta cheese is paired with Cipes Blanc de Blanc sparkling organic wine. Think vegan options such as spinach and mushroom spanakopita with tzatziki; sweet potato bravas with romesco sauce, fresh herbs and slivered almonds; vegan calamari or tempura oyster mushrooms with tzatziki and pickled red onions; spinach and sun-dried tomato pasta; and grilled artichoke hearts.
Organic Take-Home Dinners
Additionally, chef-prepared, hot, organic take-home dinners are offered daily, with grocery needs including fresh produce, frozen soups, frozen meats and frozen entrees available to order online. The weekend family-style dinners, created for two, four or six people, have also proven popular.
“When you think about it, the Okanagan is similar in many ways to the Mediterranean. We have the climate to create great wines and grow superior fruit and produce. And we can live a healthy lifestyle with lakes, rolling hills and mountains to keep us entertained,” said Chef Luypen.
The approach ties in perfectly with Summerhill’s vision, as described by founder Stephen Cipes: “Be a conduit and allow your vision, your dream, to come through, and fortify it every day. We are all connected and it is our sincerest hope that we can enhance your life through extraordinary organic pyramid-cellared wines, organic local cuisine, and all of our interactions together.”
Summerhill Pyramid Winery reopened its tasting rooms and Summerhill Organic Bistro this season to offer guests a reconceived, “more intimate (as in a little less busy) and even more caring” welcome, says CEO Ezra Cipes.
Table space has been increased in the outdoor and indoor dining areas, with increased vigilance in sanitation procedures to ensure you can relax and dine in comfort. Summerhill has posted its safety protocol and its WorkSafeBC safety plans are available for your review.
Tasting stations in the wine shop are well-spaced, with every precaution taken to protect everyone’s health. Rather than cozying up to the bar as in previous years, your group is led to its own tasting station at least six feet from the next group.
For further details, current hours and news, see summerhill.bc.ca.