Visa Infinite Dinner at Old Vines Restaurant

How to Create a Lasting Memory
Ever wonder why some memories remain vivid for years while others fade away like a summer tan? The answer is emotion. Occasions like weddings and birthdays are obvious examples of sentimental events that are easy to recall but sometimes the moment is a little less grand – less expected. The emotion might come bubbling to the surface at the glimpse of a spectacular sunset or wash over you in waves after a chance meet with a stranger. Either way, the memory charged with emotion is richer in detail and easier to recall than the one that hasn’t been linked to a strong feeling.
Powerful memories are also associated with the pleasure of sharing truly good food and wine. For many of us, the sight, taste and especially smell of a particular food can hit us like a neutron bomb, triggering memories so potent they could have happened yesterday.
Every now and then you may be lucky enough to have both memory-enhancing factors fire simultaneously and, when they do, you’re guaranteed a memory that will last a lifetime.
That’s what happened to me last weekend when I had the good fortune to be invited to a magnificent, multi-chef collaborative dinner at Old Vines Restaurant, located in one of Canada’s foremost wine regions, the Okanagan Valley.

Start with an Evocative View
Aside from their obvious visual appeal, some vistas are so stunning that they have the power to stir your soul.
There is a place where the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland meet that will stay with me forever. I was standing at the castle gates on a damp November morning, looking across the river to Wallace Monument, where it jutted from the crag like a rocket ready to launch. The history there was as thick as the Scottish mist, and the melancholy it stirred in me remained long after I left Sterling for Inverness. Across the Channel a few years later and out of breath from the climb, I leaned out over the edge of one of Paris’ most famous monuments and was astonished to see the chaos below. In Europe’s craziest roundabout, history and modernity were on a collision course as a dozen 19th-century boulevards converged into ten lanes at the base of the Arc de Triomphe; a situation made utterly insane because the right-of-way belongs to the vehicles entering the circle. As I watched on that hot summer night, car horns blared and the wind whipped my hair. With my cheeks stinging and my ears ringing, I felt intensely alive.
In both cases, it wasn’t the view that made the moment unforgettable. It was the feeling it evoked.
Last weekend, as I admired the splendid panorama of Lake Okanagan from the south-facing slope at Quails’ Gate Winery, I couldn’t help but appreciate how Old Vines Restaurant has capitalized on their spectacular vineyard setting. With a lovely terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room, guests never have to take their eyes off the gorgeous scenery. Near the end of the evening, Kathy (a TV producer from California and all-around fabulous person to be seated next to at a dinner party) remarked on how late the sun set in the summer months this far north. It was nearly 10:00 pm when we looked out the window at the outline of Okanagan Mountain, still visible in the dusk, and that’s when I felt it.

Then Add an Epic Meal
Is there any doubt about the potency of food memories? Whether it’s the sticky-sweet taste of cotton candy as it melts on your tongue, the bliss-inducing aroma of your Mom’s Toll House cookies, or the charred-chewy-soupy crust on the Pizza Marguerite you gorged yourself on in Naples – food roots us in time and place.
On July 19, Chef Roger Sleiman of Old Vines Restaurant collaborated with farm-to-table guest Chefs Chris Whittaker of Forage, Vancouver and Andrew Winfield of Calgary’s River Café to present a special dinner featuring inventive wine-country cuisine; each dish of the multi-course meal paired with carefully chosen, celebrated BC Wines.
Food and drink this incredible, in a setting this intoxicating, are not likely to be forgotten any time soon.

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