If you’d like to indulge your inner foodie in Kelowna, B.C., without expanding your waistline, consider padding your dining itinerary with plenty of cycling. That’s what my friend Jocelyn and I decided to do on a recent getaway to this land of artisan farms, family-run orchards and prolific gardens. But we added a second twist. After renting road and mountain bikes from Kelowna’s Fresh Air Concept store, we asked three local chefs to take us on their favourite food-friendly rides.
Three days, three chefs, three routes—all starting from our home base at the Hotel Eldorado. Here’s a taste of each one.
He may work as a chef and culinary instructor for a living, but lean, spandex-clad Geoffrey Couper looks more like he belongs at the front of a peloton. Luckily, he assures us there will be no old-school tight-cycling terror on this trip. Instead, he leads us on an easy climb through the tidy hills in the southeast of Kelowna to Sunshine Farm—a favourite fresh-produce spot for local chefs. We meet up with farmer Jon Alcock, who tours us around his 12.5-acre spread, pointing out his seven colours of carrots, Malabar spinach and Dragon Tongue mustard—just some of the organic produce he supplies to restaurants in town.
We then nab a spot at one of Alcock’s Earth to Table meals, held outside next to his wood-fired oven (which, on this day, is producing walnut pesto pizzas). After too many courses to count, we take our homemade sour cherry panna cotta popsicles on our bikes and head to our next stop, Arlo’s, where beekeeper Helen Kennedy awaits. Take a pre-booked tour here and you’ll learn that Kennedy gets her queen bees every May from Kona, Hawaii, that your average busy bee produces less than half a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime and that Kennedy’s 14-acre farm supports 200 beehives, each one home to 60,000 bees.
The rest of the day’s cycle is a gentle downhill cruise back to town where we slurp Gewürztraminer slushies on the lakefront patio at the El.
On the morning of Day Two, Chef Ross Derrick greets us in the El’s parking lot with empty knapsacks and panniers, eager to beat the Saturday crowds at B.C.’s largest farmers’ market. Soon we’re riding along his favourite city bike route, the 17.5-kilometre-long Mission Greenway that hugs the leafy banks of Mission Creek. We take the Greenway for just under 10 km to the Kelowna Farmers’ Market, where more than 165 vendors are selling everything from twists of furry red sumac to endless buckets of cherries, apricots and peaches.
We pick up some of Derrick’s favourite market bites, then ride for a few minutes to two of his other regular Saturday stops—Codfathers and Okanagan Grocery Artisan Bread, both in Guisachan Village. Like any true-blue fishmonger, “Codfather” Jon Crofts regales us with stories, as does his next-door neighbour Monika Walker, the head baker, who uses only sourdough starter for the roughly 800 gorgeous loaves she makes each day. With heavily laden bikes, we wobble off to the grounds of the Delta Grand for an extraordinary picnic and a slice of cabana culture.
Jeremy Luypen’s favourite area to cycle is south of town, along Lakeshore Road. He leads the way as we spin past wineries and orchards. While we ride, it becomes clear why the 250-km-long Okanagan Valley is home to one of the longest running triathlons in North America, the Kelowna Apple Triathlon—before us lies a huge lake and sweeping mountains. We chug up the hills along Okanagan Lake, marvelling at the multi-million-dollar manses that hug the rocky shoreline. Luypen comes to a stop at Carmelis Goat Cheese, where we sample 10 types of locally made, additive-free goat cheese for $2. Soon we’ve knocked off 60 km, so we stop at one of Luypen’s top patio picks, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, where we take in the sprawling views of the lake, pounce on the charcuterie platter (which includes chunks of bison sausage and candied salmon) and toast to a safe ride back with a flute of Cipes Brut. We also toast to Kelowna, the cycling mecca and foodie’s paradise that has provided this perfect, savoury summer getaway.
Getting there: WestJet flies to Kelowna 16 times a day from six Canadian cities.
British Columbia’s Best Wine Regions (and Where to Sip)
The Okanagan Valley is emerging as one of the world’s most exciting wine regions, thanks to its range of climates and terroirs. Meanwhile, the Thompson Valley’s Kamloops area is on the rise. Sip aromatic whites at the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival (Sept. 28 to Oct. 8) or Pinot Noir at Privato Vineyard & Winery in Kamloops.