It was 1983. Adolf Kruger, recently of Germany, purchased 10 acres of land in the middle of the Okanagan Valley. There was nothing there. Sage, tumbleweeds, trees, desert. But Kruger wanted to make a winery–wanted to grow the grapes of his homeland–Reisling and Gewurztraminer. Wild Goose–so named because Kruger witnessed a flock of geese taking off one day while surveying his property–became only the 17th winery to receive a licence in the Okanagan, and were the first family-owned winery. Today, Wild Goose produces 12-14,000 cases of wine annually.
I got to have lunch with Adolf a couple weeks back, joined by his son, Roland, as well as Allison Markin and Marc Smith (you can read Marc’s account and see more photos from our lunch here). Although he’s mostly now retired, his sons now run the winery. On May 22 of this year, they opened The Smoke and Oak Bistro, serving traditional German favourites, and old-school BBQ.
Chef Sarren Wolfe utilizes old Pinot Gris vines and scraps from wine barrels in the smoker to give the meat an authentic winery twist. The menu consists of smoker favourites, like ribs, hen, brisket, and homemade sausage. Added to that are German foods–specifically the Spaetzle, which Chef Wolfe prepares traditionally, and then jazzes up with whatever is seasonal. The day I was there, it was finished with a zucchini mince and 4 types of oregano from his herb garden. There is also a gluten-free version available.
This is not your saucy Texan BBQ. Sauces are primarily vinegar-based, and Chef Wolfe integrates wine into his dishes wherever possible. The brisket, with a cocoa and cumin rub, is smoked for 4.5 hours, the ribs (which were among the best I’ve ever had in my life) are smoked for 3, and the hen, for 2.5.
What makes this salad different from ones you may be used to is the absence of mayonnaise. This is a vinegar-based dressing, and it incorporates bacon fat (OMG yum) and chicken stock into the dressing, as well.
I added my own twist to this recipe by quick-pickling the onions before adding them to the salad. I’m not a fan of raw onions, this takes the edge off them.
Traditional German Potato Salad
- 2 lbs yellow potatoes (yukon golds or small, new potatoes)
- 1/2 red onion
- 4 strips bacon, cut into bacon bits
- 2 dill pickles, minced & 1/3 cup pickle juice
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs–parsley, flat leaf parsley, dill or chives
- 3/4 cup chicken stock (homemade if you have it, otherwise, whatever you got)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pickle the onions. Cut the onions thinly into half-moons, using your knife or a mandolin. In a small pot, place 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring up to a boil, just until everything is dissolved together. Place the onions in a ceramic bowl or a mason jar, and pour the hot pickling liquid over. Allow to remain at room temperature while you make the rest of the recipe.
- In a large pot, place the scrubbed potatoes. Add cold water enough to cover, plus an inch. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Allow to cook about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. You want them to be done, but not mushy. Drain and allow to cool enough to slice into 1/4″ slices.
- In a frying pan, fry up the bacon. When it’s done, drain on paper towels, but reserve 2 tbsps of the bacon fat.
- Place the bacon fat, chicken stock, pickle juice, sugar, dijon and pepper in a mason jar, and shake well to combine. Add the dressing to the cooked and sliced potatoes, fried bacon bits, drained pickled onions, pickles, and fresh chopped herbs in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning (salt and pepper) serve at room temperature, or cold.