I love driving through the Okanagan Valley at this time of year; everywhere you go things are changing color. The grapes are going through veraison, the apples are tumbling all over the orchards in a bountiful frenzy. I love it! Even the air smells ripe. The fruit stands can hardly be seen for all of the signs in front advertising all of the fantastic local produce on offer. Some of the signs are even funny (although I was taken aback by a sign along the highway the other day advertising fresh Russ Berries – frankly I’d rather not know!).
I’m lucky enough to work at a luxurious new resort in Osoyoos, and I must say, the vibe in the air at this time of year is great! Every morning when I go to work, someone is at the desk sharing all of the wonderful things they discovered the day before, or the fabulous plans they have for that day.
Yesterday, I got to take a little time out to do one of the things I’m always telling my guests that they should do. ¬†I set out on ¬†a mission to Vernon; my end goal being a bottle of Taboo Absinthe from Okanagan Spirits.
It was well worth the drive on a sun-dappled afternoon. ¬†I got to see the still in action, which was pretty cool…
We sampled the full range of products, with an eye on the absinthe the entire time. ¬†The poor¬†beleaguered gentleman in the tasting room had to keep telling us to wait; just wait for the right moment. ¬†I was diverted from my mission momentarily by the liqueurs….as the raspberry liqueur is absolutely the ghosts of raspberries past! ¬†The cherry liqueur was totally enchanting, with an amazingly almond-y nose; kind of like amaretto, but not quite. ¬†The Aquavit was an a revelation as well; I had no idea a spirit could be so very smooth and soothing. ¬†It is flavored with caraway and cumin and it would make a stunning Caesar. ¬†It would go just as easily the other way and be a cracker jack addition to a gingerbread latte too!
Finally, we got down to what we came for……the absinthe! ¬†Absinthe is a spirit that I have never tried before, despite longing for it for many years. It is the stuff of legend; banned in some countries for it’s apparently psychoactive properties. ¬†I asked the question while at the counter, did the absinthe drive Vincent Van Gogh insane, or would the mental illness and lead paint have done that without any assistance at all? ¬†This was quite an educational visit! ¬†As it turns out, absinthe was an innocent victim of a conspiracy between the temperance movement and the (gasp! ¬†Dare I say it…) wineries! ¬†Anyway, enough said about evil empires and dire plots…. ¬†Rodney poured a little absinthe in a special tasting glass. ¬†It was a clear green liquid that exhibited lively odors of fennel and anise. ¬†We smelled, we tasted and then Rodney did a magic trick! ¬†As he slowly added plain old water to the spirit in the glass, it began to swirl and look a little menacing, then it clouded over and turned white. ¬†Hey presto! ¬†It tasted like a different drink!
Needless to say I bought a bottle. ¬†I have to try that little magic trick at my next dinner party for the amazement and amusement of my friends and family. ¬†Next time that Aquavit is coming home with me too! ¬†And maybe some of those liqueurs….Oh it’s a good thing that Vernon is kind of a long drive from my house!