I was invited down to Oliver BC, to cover fall’s largest spirit and wine festival: “Cask and Keg” and “Festival of the Grape”. A day of celebration for each the weekend of October 5th and 6th. And for my two day over night stay, I was treated to the fine accommodations of “Spirit Ridge”, one town over in Osoyoos. I have explored the property at its exterior, so was delighted to be able to get a more fulsome experience through this weekend stay.
However, time was limited and the weather was cold, so I missed out on enjoying the full amenities of the property. Like the warmth of their heated pools, especially the one dedicated to adults only. If we had more time we would l have explored the “Nk’Mip” dessert and cultural centre through a hike, and a visit to their museum for some education. Or maybe fully relaxed with a massage at the resort’s spa, followed by a tasting and tour at the on site winery: “Nk’Mip Cellars”.
Although, even though I missed majority of the above, I was still able to enjoy plenty of “Nk’Mip” wine during a visit to their bistro, and again with a welcome bottle in our suite.
“Spirit Ridge” is a lakeside resort and a winery, located on sacred land. With Osoyoos Lake and the Okanagan mountain range as its backdrop, this luxury resort is in Canada’s only desert, a place sacred to the Osoyoos Indian Band. If you are looking for a room, majority of them are full suites, so you are basically choosing your view and how many beds you want; and they even have pet friendly accommodations, so the whole family can visit.
Our suite was 337 in the “Lavender” building, 1 floor out of 4, and 1 building out 10 to stay in. The adobe-style structures gives you desert aesthetics, and the home furnishings within, help to settle you in right away. We had two bedrooms, two baths, a fully furnished kitchen and living room. Basically, our accommodations had everything you needed to live on site.
The threshold leads you directly to the kitchen, where a dining room table sits at the centre of stocked cupboards and a collection small kitchen appliances. A two slot toaster, full sized oven, microwave, and compact dishwasher; with enough cleaning pods for 3 loads. There wasn’t a hotel room bar to snack from, but the coffee maker included filters and beans. Or it served as a vessel to boil water for tea bags. Tea that would be sweetened with packets of sugar on the counter, and milk and cream in the full sized fridge. There was even a pantry, should you decide go stock up on some non perishables during your stay. As a whole there was a lot more closet and cupboard space than expected. 3 doors in the master bed room alone, one with an ironing board and the other with robes.
There were two bed rooms, the master with a king sized bed and a washroom with individual toilet room, a bath tub, and single-person shower.
The second was double the size with space for two queen beds. Its washroom only had a shower stall, but it was double the size of the other. Something we only learned of on our last day, after spending two days awkwardly cleaning ourselves in a shower stall that had us staring at its wall.
Both bedrooms had their own flatscreen televisions, but the one in the living room is the largest. It even pulled out and extended for a closer view from off the couch or lounger. A comfy setting with an office desk and a fireplace to boot.
From here you can exit out on to the patio. Our perch had us overlooking the outdoor pool and fire pit. If the weather was only warmer, we could have fully utilize the patio table and barbecue available.
We didn’t have time to cook, and just as well, because what we did enjoy on the resort was even better. As a welcome reception we sipped and snacked on the patio of “The Bear, The Fish, The Root, & The Berry”. Taking in the warm summer-like weather and looking out over their adults only patio and pool.
There, we got to connect with their new Executive Chef, Murray McDonald who educated us on the inspiration for the name of their new signature restaurant and the food it served. “Spirit Ridge proudly sits on the traditional land of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation.” The name “comes from a chaptik story passed down through the generations of the First Nations people of the Okanagan.” “The Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation approach to food is based on the creation stories of their culture… based on their story of the Four Food Chiefs.” “Skimxist the Black Bear (chief of animals, representing self-sacrifice, leadership, giving), Ntytikxw Chinook Salmon (water creatures, perseverance, hard work), Speetlum Bitterroot (plants below the round, relationships to the land) and Seeya Saskatoon Berry (plants above the ground, growth, strength, community) are legendary.” (As taken for their website)
The menu strives to bring in as much local produce as possible, with much of it being forage by Chef Murray himself. The following are small portions and variations of dishes from off their regular menu.
I especially enjoyed “Chef Ian’s world famous in east Osoyoos vegan almond cheese thing” (and yes, that is its actual name, coined after the dish was described as such.) It was such a vibrant plate, beautiful in appearance, taste, and textures. Whipped almond ricotta, maple squash, raw root vegetables, toasted farro, charred scallions; and a juniper and hibiscus salt that made all the difference. Thin slices of root vegetables used to scoop up dry clumps of the cheese product, that ate like a stiff hummus. So delicious that I wish I had another serving while I was there, and will live in regret because I didn’t.
The “Askawa” tartare of the land” was made before our eyes. A mix of bison and egg yolk emulsion over wild rice, served with pickles and mustard. It was very dark and refined, tangy and earthy. Given the crumbly texture of the firm rice against the soften meat, I would have liked more crostini served with it instead.
The “Rabbit pasta” was a pride point for our Chef-host. It featured hand cut chestnut noodles with braised rabbit, walnut, kale, lemon, chard chutney, and a berry pan sauce. The pasta is what made the difference, thin and chewy sheets with some texture to chew through. He declared that he doesn’t make any money off of this dish, given the $26 a kg for the chestnut flour used, with barely any white flour added. Chef Murray is looking into making this into a rabbit meat stuffed ravioli in months to come. This was a beautiful, well defined dish. Tender pulled rabbit meat with refreshing tomatoes and peppery greens.
I also really enjoyed the “Pow wow taco”, an exclusive at this event, with talks of it eventually hitting the menu. Crispy and spongy bannock topped with duck confit, white bean sumac spread, squash, and a mint dressing. I didn’t get the duck and didn’t miss it. There was so much flavour in the spread and vegetables, and it all well complimented the doughy base. Its freshness helped cut into some of the bannock’s slight greasiness.
To drink we had our choice of white and red, between “Nk’Nip Cellar’s” light white “Dreamcatcher”, and full bodied red, “Talon.
And followed it with liquid dessert. A tasty cocktail that drank like an apple pie with a cinnamon and sugar rim with actual apple spices for garnish.
But for those who want a quicker meal, “Spirit Ridge” also has a market place/cafe serving up premade sandwiches and pastries, pairing it with hot beverages.
In short, this all-suite resort, with its natural landscapes and delicious food and wine makes “Spirit Ridge a true wellness-centred oasis”; one worth experiencing for yourself. However, if you can’t stay the night, at least visit for a great meal at “The Bear, The Fish, The Root, & The Berry”. Or their soon to come, steakhouse!
1200 Rancher Creek Road Osoyoos, BC, V0H 1V6