Summer is when people flock to the sunny lakes of British Columbia’s interior. Here’s a couple of great eateries from my own recent trip from the Trans-Canada Highway down Highway 97 into the heart of the Okanagan Valley.
Entering *Saint-Germain Café Gallery, in the southern Okanagan city of Penticton, I hang back to stare up at the menu. This prompts co-owner Stephano Liapis to demonstrate for me that in a Japanese restaurant, I’d be greeted with a bow and a short shout. Then a customer beside me utters a few words in Cantonese. I’ m hoping to extend the international theme with a weekly special, a baked Cuban pork sandwich, but, alas, they’re sold out. So I switch to French and order a Le Jardin, featuring a fresh baguette laden with double brie, roasted peppers, pesto and, a great touch, slices of house-made pickles. I add a small bowl of the day’s Albondigas soup—beef and pork meatballs in a vegetable broth—for a fabulous, filling lunch for less than $10. I conclude things with the best espresso I’ve had in the Okanagan, accompanied by Stephano’s own biscotti.
As the name suggests, Saint-Germain doubles as a gallery, but artist Brigitte Liapis has been too busy with the restaurant side of things to do anything but hang other artists’ pieces on the walls. I can see why. Brigitte and Stephano are a lovely couple, working hard to produce first-class food.
Saint-Germain Cafe Gallery
102, 449 Main Street, Penticton, B.C.
Monday to Friday 8 am-5 pm, Saturday 8 am-3 pm. Closed Sunday
When Mary Jo Beirnes opened *Shuswap Pie Company a couple of years ago, I don’t know if she intended to employ half the youth in Salmon Arm, bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway. But when I go there on a late summer’s morning, at least a dozen young women are bustling around the open kitchen, assembling fresh cherry, blueberry and strawberry-rhubarb pies, pulling meat pies from ovens and serving paninis and quiches to the gathering lunch crowd. I dig through a flaky, buttery crust to reach my steaming steak and stout pie, a rich, flavourful dish that goes well with a fresh-baked muffin and cup of strong coffee. I leave with a whole cherry pie for dinner with friends, who can’t restrain themselves from eating a slice, and then a second, before the main course is ready.
Shuswap Pie Company
Unit A, 331 Alexander Street, Salmon Arm, B.C.
Monday to Wednesday 7:30 am-5:30 pm, Thursday and Friday 7:30 am-7:30 pm, Saturday 8:30 am-5 pm