Siwash Lake Ranch Wilderness Resort, 70 Mile House, British Columbia
When we first met, Chef Derek Bendig was cooking and managing the cheese-making programme at Toronto’s Pangaea, once one of that city’s most lauded restaurants. Now, as the Executive Chef at Siwash Wilderness Resort, Derek has landed in culinary heaven and is once again making cheese and sharing his talents with some very lucky guests.
His menus feature ranch raised beef and pork, fresh eggs daily from a flock of ranch chickens. Rainbow trout come from their trout pond and smoked on site. There are herbs and heirloom tomatoes from the green house, wild game, berries and exotic mushrooms are harvested from the surrounding forest. The vegetable garden is really quite incredible. He uses mostly goats milk for his cheeses – St. Maure and Valencay style (ash rind), a “goatgonzola” and a goat cheddar. There are a few cows milk cheeses as well, mainly Brie, Camembert, Gouda and a Stilton style blue.
He ferments his own wine vinegars from Okanagan Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc and makes lusty malt vinegar using a dark ale from a brewery in the cariboo region. He began using a live culture vinegar and from there saved the “mother” from each batch to start the next. He is a dedicated forager and hence there are many ranch-inspired condiments, rose hip, crab apple, spruce tip, wild mint jellies; wild onion, and dandelion pestos; juniper and spruce scented mustards.
He writes: “Everything we serve is prepared from scratch in our open country kitchen, using the very best ingredients. Our Bacon is cured and smoked on site from our own pigs raised right here on the ranch. In fact I make all of our cured or smoked proteins here at the ranch. Fresh baked breads are served with rose hip jelly, or a salad that is garnished with home made pickles, candied spruce tips and fresh cattail hearts. River caught salmon and wild venison from the forests nearby, are among our ranch specialties.”
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is nestled at 3,500 feet (1200 metres) above sea level, high on the Bonaparte Plateau at the foot of the Cariboo Mountains, between the larger Coastal and Rocky Mountain ranges- 80,000 acres of raw wilderness. Amid the world’s high-end resorts and ranches, family-operated Siwash Lake is the wild card, resplendent as a rare, rough-cut gem – halfway stop along the way between the Rocky Mountains and BC’s Pacific Coast. There’s superb trout fishing; mountain biking and a back-country paddling. The awards and kudos for this private, exclusive property are multitudinous.
Siwash Lake is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada.
Siwash Lake est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort
Box 39, 70 Mile House,
British Columbia, V0K 2K0