Good news! The forecast is calling for a hot, sunny weekend–they are predicting temps of up to 30 degrees!
That’s cool, though. I’ve got your back. What you want to to do is co-opt your children’s kiddie pool and sit in it all weekend in your lawn chair and sip on one of these bad boys. You’ll be just fine.
I’m primarily a red wine drinker most of the year, but in late spring and early summer, I start to turn towards lighter, more refreshing beverages. Like ciders, white wines, sangrias, and even beer. But there are few drinks that are more refreshing and simply made for summer than the margarita.
You see, tequila comes from Mexico, a traditionally hot country. So they get it. This drink is a simple mixture of ice, tequila, acid (primarily lime), sweetness, and salt, which makes it really the perfect drink to hit all your tastebuds and every single one of them happy.
When I was in Mexico in January, let’s just say I drank… ummmm a lot of these.
I recently had the opportunity to attend another Tequila Tasting, this one put on by Sauza. We got to try 5 different tequilas, ranging from your standard, perfect-for-margaritas (Sauza Silver) variety, to one that had been barrel-aged three times, and had similar tasting notes to a scotch (Hornitas Black Barrel).
I happily came home with a bottle of my favourite sip of the night: Sauza’s Hornitos Reposado. Reposado is my favourite kind of tequila, as it is aged in oak for 2-4 months, which makes it very smooth to drink, and gives it a slightly golden colour. Tasty.
I haven’t had a margarita since I got home from Mexico. Partly it’s because the experience of drinking a margarita in Mexico was such a special one, I didn’t think anything here could stand up to it. But I did get busy in my kitchen the other night, and the end result took me back to to those warm pool-side days with a view of the Ocean.
This recipe, by the way, is for a classic margarita, which is made in a cocktail shaker, not a blender. I’ll likely do some experimenting with blended margaritas and the fresh strawberries that are in season this weekend.
This love affair started in the spring of 2007, when I was part of a team that made a movie in and around Penticton and Kelowna. I’ve managed to return almost every summer since, and it’s always been a treat–visiting old loves (see: Raudz in Kelowna), and discovering new ones (like Liquidity Winery last summer).
There is nothing not to like about Lake Country. The weather is beautiful; sunny and hot. There are gorgeous, pristine beaches on fresh water lakes. There are wineries everywhere. And there is an abundance of fresh produce. Those things all add up to making it one of my absolute favourite holiday destinations.
Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and around Kelowna, Kamloops and Penticton/Naramata/Okanagan Falls/Oliver. But I had only been to Vernon once, a couple summers back, to visit my friend Kazia, who lives there.
Last weekend, though, I got to see a whole other side of Vernon–one I had no idea existed.
You see, Vernon is not a huge town. With a population of about 50K, it still really has that “small town” feeling. But hidden in this “small town” is are two world-class resorts: Predator Ridge and Sparkling Hill (which I will write about in the future).
Predator Ridge opened in 1991, but the current owners acquired it in 2007. Bridging over 4 acres of land, it includes two golf courses, a hotel, vacation homes, a fitness centre and pool, and out door pool, and several restaurants.
It’s located just outside of Vernon–the town itself is about a 10 minute drive away. It is tucked up in the hills, making 4 acres seem very private and remote, even though you aren’t really that far away.
I was in a 1-bedroom suite. I’ve written extensively about this in the past, but I love staying in a proper suite with door on the bedroom. I didn’t have Michael with me this time (I really want to go back with him, though!), but it really is a bonus when you can put your kid to bed, and have a door to close so you can watch TV in the living room. There was also a full kitchen (which I did not have time to take advantage of), a fireplace, and a huge deck, looking out over the golf course.
My favourite part, though? The bathroom. Check out the massive soaker tub with jets, which has a louvered window, so you can look out over the golf course from the bath.
Beyond a few games of mini-golf with my son every summer, I’ve never been golfing before. Ever! I know, seems hard to believe, but it’s just never been something that I had an opportunity to do.
Predator Ridge is one of the best golf courses in Canada, and they have, on staff, professional golfers (AJ Eathorne and Brodie Carle) to coach you. They even have this whole Swing Like a Girl program to appeal to female golfers. So, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to golf–this is the place to learn.
Duck confit salad with yucca chips, chocolate pots du creme (I ate 2. Of both).
There are three restaurants here: The Range Lounge and Grill, Commonage Market, and Pallino’s. The Range is the main place to eat and drink; it’s open from breakfast to late night–with the most extraordinary views of the rolling green golf course. Commonage is more casual–coffees, sandwiches, baked goods and the like. They are adjacent to the outdoor pool, so a great place to grab snacks. Pallino’s is an Italian-themed bistro (I didn’t get to eat there). The executive chef here is Jeremy Luypen, and I had an in-depth conversation with him about sustainability and eating local. They regularly order in an entire cow (from a nearby farm), and break it down–proof of his nose-to-tail philosophy. (As we had this conversation, several deer walked by, causing our conversation about “eating locally” to go to a whole new level!)
That view, though…
When I was a kid, I had a rule, and my son has the same rule: we have to stay in a place with a pool. The end. There are two here to choose from: an indoor pool for laps (there’s an alcove for fun, too), which also includes a large hot tub and a deck for sunning yourself, and an outdoor pool, as well, for hot sunny summer days. There is a huge fitness centre that looks out over the pool, and they offer yoga up in the woods, as well. You can also rent bikes and hit the nearby trails. The only thing they don’t have here is a spa, but that’s okay, because perhaps the best, European-inspired, wellness spa in the world is only a few minutes drive away at Sparkling Hills (and there are shuttles).
The weeks leading up to my Predator Hills getaway were some very stressful ones. I’ve been teaching extra hours, and this is a really busy time for one of my clients. I was feeling really burnt out. I needed a break, and this weekend was exactly what I needed. There are few things more restoring and relaxing than opening your balcony door and seeing the sweeping green of the golf course in the sunshine and feeling the warm breeze. And then pouring yourself a glass of wine and putting your feet up…
Predator Ridge would be a great spot for a girlfriend’s getaway weekend, or a special anniversary celebration with your sweetie (especially if one or both of you like to golf). It would also be a great vacation spot with your kids (I really want to return with Michael).
There is no way you can come here and not relax. Not leave feeling restored. And that feeling is priceless.