September 28, 2015


Almost always, every fruit vendor will tell you the goods in his store was freshly picked that day or a few days ago.  Never will you hear, “10 days ago”.  But that is what exactly Soni said when I asked her about the peaches displayed at Peach King Fruit Market, a fruit stand in Keremeos, the Fruit Stand Capital of Canada.   

Soni, the honest sales lady

I was astonished at the seller’s honesty.  I commended Soni who said the store has to be (truthful) in order to attract and maintain customers.  With that guarantee, I did my shopping of peaches, tomatoes, onion, and russian garlic.  How are the watermelons?  Soni pointed out those green watermelons with black stripes called “Sugar Baby” were yellow inside and good.  Yellow?  Really?

The last time I had yellow watermelons was as a kid in tropical Philippines.  They were referred to as La Mallorca, after the passenger bus line with all-yellow coaches.  The red ones were called Victory Liner or Philippine Rabbit which have red-colored coaches.   Across the US and Canada, even Mexico, I have never seen yellow watermelons, red being the only one.  Although if you google it, some stores do carry the yellow variety.  So I got two at $3.99 a piece (regardless of size or weight though more or less everyone were comparable in volume).  This was mid-September at the doorstep of the end of the season.  Soni said at the start of the season, both red and yellow are sold by weight a t$0.49 - $0.79 cents per pound depending on the bounty of the harvest.  The watermelons range from 4 lb to 7 lb in weight.  When to expect it next year? Red and Yellow start rolling off the fields the first week of August until the end of September.  All local watermelons have seeds, only the imported ones from the US and Mexico are seedless, said Soni.  “The seeds variety are juicier.”

A few days later, sure enough, when I bludgeoned the chilled watermelon with a cleaver, the San Andreas size fault revealed a bright golden flesh spotted with black seeds.  Crisp, sweet, cool, thirst-quenching, and most importantly firm not mushy.  It was a terrific rebirth of a young boy’s gustatory joy.

Peach Fruit King Market also carries cherries (the Lapin variety are bestsellers – middle of July), nectarines, summer and winter apples, pears, berries, pepper, tomato, plum, prunes, pumpkins, and other vegetables -  all grown from their huge orchard behind the store. and other properties in the Similkameen Valley.

As to the tastiest peaches, Soni said in addition to Harbrite (an early variety that starts 1st week of August), the other flavorful peaches are Red Haven (also 1st week of August) and Glow Haven (2nd week of August).

The retail and wholesale store opens annually around June 10th and closes end of October. Seven days a week even long weekends and holidays from 8 am - 7 pm (longer depending on daylight)

Call Jessi or Soni at Tel. 250 499 7053.   E-mail:

Location: 990 Keremeos Bypass Road (at the corner of Highway 3A going towards Penticton), Keremeos BC

There are many fruit stands in Keremeos and along the Okanagan Valley (Kelowna, Summerland down to Osoyoos) – which will give you a smorgasbord to choose from.   It is fun to fruit-stand hop.

September 13, 2015


It will soon be over.

Overshadowed by fruit stands that Keremeos is known for, is a Dutch and European products store.  After so many years of operation, since February 1981, DutchMill Imports will close this November 2015.  It was actually a fruit stand till five years ago. 

Cheese (the goat gouda was good) and licorice are the most popular.   Other items include Maatjes herring, smoked mackerel and eel, Delft Blue giftware, housewares, and wooden shoes - all from Holland.

But the pi├Ęces de r├ęsistance are homemade in Keremeos, Canada: the apple pie, and DutchMill’s specialty butter shortbread called “boterkoek”.  Owner Cor Kriekaart, who migrated from Holland and is retiring, said the shortbread has fans from all over the world.  He will not reveal the recipe but the name tag did say "made daily from farm fresh eggs and European butter".  

Cor Kriekaart with his delightful "boterkoek" butter shortbread.

He did share what makes the apple pie exceptional.  The secret?  Of course, the apples.

Two cultivars grown in the orchard behind the store provide the apples that are sliced and layered together in every apple pie with a lattice crust top dusted with sugar  Cor said the crust is a basic Crisco dough.  The apples?  Belle de Boskoop, an apple cultivar that began as a chance seedling in Boskoop, Netherlands in 1856.   And Winesap, an apple cultivar developed in the mid-1800s in the eastern United States.  Both are tart, firm and tangy which as a combo makes for a superb apple pie.  I bought the last two wedges ($2.50 each + gst) that morning.  DutchMill apple pie has a delicious embrace of tart and sweet giving you a tango yummy kick from tongue to palate.  A whole apple pie cost $14.95 and will be available only until mid-October. 

BTW, did you know there is an optimal apple slice thickness that will lessen sogginess in an apple pie?  See Perfectly Unsoggy Apple Pie

DutchMill Apple Pie

As for the butter shortbreads, one can still order them after November.  About 10 inches in diameter, a whole sells $7.50 a piece.  Add shipping if you are not picking up in Keremeos – about a three hour drive from Vancouver BC.   Cor said they will still bake and sell the butter shortbread until mid-November, deliver to Penticton and Kelowna, but not to Oliver, Osoyoos or Okanagan Falls.

DutchMill’s specialty butter shortbread called Boterkoek

DutchMill Imports is at 3010 Highway 3, Keremeos – right side if you are driving towards Vancouver.    You will see on the roadside a cardboard cut-out of a Dutch Maid in a Volendam costume with her peaked and winged cap.   

DutchMill Imports is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Other days – the shop is open from 10 am till 4 pm.

To order, e-mail, or call  250 499 5791 or  250 400 6306
See for just a few more details.

September 10, 2015

Good Breakfast at Okanagan Falls

Okanagan Falls is a small town amidst small towns in the Okanagan Valley about five hours west of Vancouver, British Columbia.  I was in the region doing a vineyards and wineries tour the valley is famous for.

I was also on the lookout for hometown eateries – local and Canadiana.  And at OK Falls, the moniker, I hesitatingly peered in at Caitlin’s Homestyle Diner next to Caitlin’s Thrift Shop.  It was a nondescript eatery with a Philippine carinderia look and vibes.  Almost full except for one table out of seven, I decided to try.   

The open kitchen showcased a heavy-duty countertop griddle plate bristling with eggs, sausages, bacon, and potatoes.  Run by a daughter Debbie Atkinson (cook), and a mother Margaret (server), the duo made me feel I mattered even though I was only one in my party.  

Would you like to have coffee?
A glass of cold water would be fine.  I would like to have the All Day Breakfast please: sausages and the eggs basted.

Hard, medium or soft?
Medium please.  What kind of bread do you have?

We have white, brown, rye or marble.
Rye please.

Five minutes later, Margaret came over and said endearingly, “It is coming.”

The hash browns (shredded, can be diced) were golden at the tips, crunchy and tasty. The sausages from a supplier were mildly spiced with a pepperoni-like flavor.  The eggs properly basted – a style of cooking I have never heard of until I came to BC.
Best of all, the warmth of the kitchen was demonstrated in the hospitality.

Oops, I almost forgot.  It didn’t look appealing but I had to try it.  The steamed and baked plum pudding cake was good.  Debbie said she likes to bake especially pies and customers like her strawberry apple rhubarb all-in-one pie and cinnamon buns.  Her e-mail address confirms her passion:

Caitlin’s Homestyle Diner, truly homestyle, is named after Debbie’s 7 year old daughter.  It has been in operations for almost seven years.   

A certified Canadiana establishment.

Highway 97 runs through OK Falls and becomes Main Street – Caitlin’s is at 9408 Main Street kitty corner from the Esso gas station next to the pub.

To call for hours of operation dial 250 497 6555.  Open from 8:30 am till 8 pm, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; 8:30 am till 4 pm, Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Closed on Sundays.