The Okanagan adventure starts now
Or so we thought. Unfortunately, this long-awaited road trip started a little rough. Just as we were leaving, we noticed that our car had a flat. We quickly filled it and raced over to our mechanic, hoping he’d be able to perform a quick fix and get us back on the road. To our dismay, we learned that not only did we have a flat, but the rim was cracked as well. I have zero clue how this happens, but I knew immediately this wasn’t good.
With no chance of fixing the issue that afternoon, we threw on the spare tire and limped our summer convertible home, where we transferred our things from one car to the other and we were right back out onto the road.
Only about two hours after we had planned…but who’s counting?
I had been pretty relaxed up until that point, but as the afternoon hours ticked away, I began thinking about our 7pm reservations at the Naramata Inn. This was a meal I did not want to miss. Thankfully, Russ loves to hug the corners of the road, and we made it to the beautiful Okanagan Valley with 52 minutes to spare.
Upon first arrival at The Naramata Inn, one immediately notices that the place is as quaint as its pictures present. Its character and charm are abundant. The inn has only been open for a short period of time under its new owners, Canadian chef Ned Bell, Kate Colley, Paul Hollands, and Maria Wiesner, but it’s clear they’ve devoted much time, resources, and care to crafting a beautiful experience for guests.
The two-story inn has a total of 12 guest rooms. 11 of these rooms are located on the second floor, all with access to expansive verandas. On the first floor, there is a beautiful grand two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite located just off the lobby, with two terraces all to itself, a large sitting area, and a dining area. We had the pleasure of enjoying this guest palace on the second night of our stay, and needless to say, it was pretty sweet.
Russ and I checked in, and after a quick refresher, enjoyed a glass of local Bubs from Haywire from Okanagan Crush Pad Winery before dinner.
I started my meal with a gorgeous Gimlet (that matched my dress) made with Okanagan Spirits Essentials Gin and garnished with a sprig of rosemary. The fresh bite of gin and citrus went perfectly with my salad of local mixed greens, beautifully presented in an oval pottery dish adorned with local hazelnuts. For my main dish, I took to the seas and ordered the wild pacific halibut accompanied by local mussels and a smooth and flavourful butter broth. This was all accompanied with a glass of Riesling from Synchromesh Wines.
Russ started with the duck confit rillettes together with a sweet, sour, and fermented fruit, and two milk buns. For his main, he opted for the gnocchi. I was under the impression that this pillowy pasta tossed with bright summer peas was to be shared…but he had other ideas. I did get a taste though. Adding insult to injury, his gnocchi was topped with D Dutchman sour cream (handmade in Sicamous) and King Cole blue cheese from the Upper Bench Winery + Creamery. Delicious!
I didn’t even look at the dessert menu – I just asked if there was Panna Cotta, and by a stroke of magic it was on the menu. For the record: Panna Cotta is acceptable at any time, and with any meal.
The Panna cotta, also made from D Dutchman Dairy, was served with miniature meringue peaks and peaches. We have just transitioned from the berry season into the stone fruit season, so the peaches were perfect. I want to mention that the oat shortbread finger that was served with my Panna Cotta (by the way, it’s pronounced Paaanna Cooooota; love saying that) was out of this world. Another food item to add to my “I wanna eat this every day for the rest of my life” list.
Russ had the warm milk chocolate cake with a sidecar of sour cream glace and diced peaches. Both our desserts were served in pottery dishes that are beautiful and simply structured, reminding me of a solid foundation. A foundation like that of the Naramata Inn itself – over 100 years old and still standing proud.
After indulging in the last few bites of our meal, Russ and I made our way back to our room. We had been warned that the portions would be plentiful, but we hadn’t listened. Full and satisfied, it was time to get some rest ahead of another beautiful day in the Okanagan.
The next morning, we awoke just in time for breakfast. Breakfast is included in your stay, and guests have the option of taking it in their room or the dining room. We chose our room both mornings, so we could sit out on the terrace and enjoy the natural beauty. I should point out that breakfast is available only for guests staying at the Inn.
Options included a power cookie and overnight oats (great plant-based choice) or house made granola and yoghurt with a scone. Let me tell you about these scones. Perfect layers of flake all the way through, and a delicate paper-thin exterior that held an impactful crunch with each bite. Plus, rhubarb puree jam – holy yum!
I loved this choice of terrace dining. It’s easy to settle in and enjoy one (or several) cups of delicious coffee. In fact, I had 3 cappuccinos the morning we were leaving. Barista Kamal had me chock full of energy…the smart choice would have been running beside the car all the way home!
After breakfast, we made our way out to explore the many local wineries. Upon return, we realized that we had not made reservations for dinner that evening. Thankfully the kind staff was able to offer us a table for an early dinner.
Back for round two, we ended up at the same table with the same waiter (hey Aggie!) as the night before. And knowing what was in store for us, we couldn’t be more excited.
Dinner started with some bubbly from Bella Wines in Naramata in coupe-style champagne glasses. Legend has it that the coupe was shaped after the left breast of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France. True or not, I’ve always been fascinated by this legend!
To pair with the bubbly, I came right back to the mixed local salad. Did I mention this salad has 33 types of local lettuce, and is topped with a pickled spruce tip vinaigrette? Amazing! Plus, it goes perfectly with the house bread, served warm on a locally handcrafted walnut board with a smear of butter.
For my main, I opted for aged and roasted duck served with Medley’s organic beets, grown in Summerland. Crispy skin, rendered and slightly pink – most excellent!
Russ had the stone fruit and Great Bear scallops with fennel cream and elderflower vinaigrette. For his main, Blue Goose organic beef, direct from their ranch located in the South Cariboo, with Béarnaise and balsamic from Venturi-Schulze Vineyards on Vancouver Island. He didn’t want to share this with me either. Figures…
For dessert, we did a repeat from the night before. Because, hello, why mess with a good thing?! Though this time we opted to go for a walk beforehand, and then have dessert and coffee on our terrace. This was a great idea and added to the already enjoyable evening.
Throughout the Naramata Inn, there is an intertwining of the old and new, both in the decor and design. Keeping much old for the charm and character, I see a contrast that is visually appealing as well as comfort based. The colours in the Inn reflect the shades of the peacock; the rich blue hues transitioning into their magnificent tail feather colours with turquoise, shades of green, cooper and honeyed yellow. It is beautifully done.
This was our first experience in Naramata, and the Naramata Inn was a beautiful setting to enjoy a peaceful and scrumptious few days away. Local and seasonal eating is quite copious here, and chef Ned Bell does a tremendous job showcasing the British Columbia local farmers and food purveyors. There is a passionate community here tied to local food, with generations of families devoting themselves to their craft. And it’s a passion you can taste with every bite off your plate.
If you are looking for a local adventure for all things Okanagan, I highly suggest you lay your head the Naramata Inn. With beautiful, comfort-filled rooms and local food options and sips, there is much to be enjoyed.
Things to note: We were unaware before we arrived that there are no tv’s in guest rooms, or anywhere else on the property. This certainly adds to the charm of this historic inn, but you may want to consider bringing a deck of cards. What could be better than sitting on the terrace taking in the gardens with a glass of local wine, listening to the peacock calls while playing a game of crib? Not much…