Life

Restaurant/Grocery Store Review: One Big Table

October 6th, 2017

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Seger Nelson/ The Phoenix News

Kelowna grocery store encourages the community to participate in local food

On 1440 St. Paul Street sits the unique grocery store-restaurant hybrid called One Big Table. Upon entering, I was immediately struck by the intimacy of the space. The dining and shopping areas are separated by a mere few steps. My familiarity with supermarket giants such as Superstore had conditioned me to expect long aisles and vast produce sections, but the atmosphere at One Big Table feels more like a coffee shop or a bistro. At the front counter, which doubles as the espresso bar, bins of pears and apples lie below baskets of fresh baguettes and pizzas. Roma tomatoes are placed alongside onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, and shelves along the walls offer ready-made sauces, ketchup, and even Caesar mix.

Chef and owner Giulio Piccioli greeted me warmly and offered me a seat by the window. I ordered the soup of the day—tomato, rosemary, and chickpea—and a latte from a bare-bones menu of rotating seasonal ingredients. When the food arrived, I was astonished by its fresh simplicity. The tomatoes were bright and acidic, the rosemary aromatic, and the chickpeas, an ordinarily bland ingredient, offered a savoury balance. But, according to Giulio, this is how food should be.

 

“Giulio takes full advantage of the wonderful and diverse flavours that are possible in the Okanagan.”

Part of his philosophy is the idea that when you buy fresh, local produce, flavour comes naturally, regardless of how common the ingredients are. At One Big Table, everything is local, from the coffee roasted at The Bean Scene and Canoe Coffee Roasters, to the fresh-dried farro from the Lower Mainland.

Giulio takes full advantage of the wonderful and diverse flavours that are possible in the Okanagan. At the end of my meal, he offered me a fresh almond grown right here in Kelowna. At that moment I realized something—I had never seen a whole almond before, with its plush, yellowy-green hull, and brown, fibrous shell still intact. As I peeled back the layers to expose the fleshy white kernel, Giulio commented on how people usually aren’t aware of the meticulous labour involved in the mass production of almonds. Hours of work go into producing a ready-to-eat bag that will probably be consumed in considerably less time. Experiences like these show that food is more than a means of sustenance. It is a method of transmitting knowledge and culture, a way to build relationships and understand geography.

 

Seger Nelson/ The Phoenix News

Seger Nelson/ The Phoenix News

 

Before I left, a fresh shipment of produce arrived. Giulio greeted the supplier with as much respect and appreciation as he had shown me, realizing that every step in the process of delicious food is just as important as any other.

Before I left, I couldn’t help but purchase a baguette. And having enjoyed said baguette with peanut butter and coffee (non-traditional, I know) just prior to writing this, I can attest to its unparalleled freshness. If you live in Kelowna, this has to be at the top of your list of restaurants to try.

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