B.C. Shellfish Festival


B.C. Shellfish Festival

Posted by Mathew Wright

Comox, BC – Shellfish lovers have the chance at winning one of two getaway contests to the BC Shellfish Festival this June in the seaside town of Comox to enjoy all the sights, sounds andflavours at the largest shellfish festival on the West Coast.

Contest#1 – Not open to residents of Vancouver IslandTwo return tickets on Harbour Air from downtown Vancouver direct to Comox on June17, 2011, returning June 19, 2011 (45 min flight)Two night’s accommodation in a one-bedroom suite with jacuzzi at the Crown Isle Golf& Resort Community, June 17-18, 2011 Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011 featuring chefs Robert Clark of CRestaurant in Vancouver; Andrew Springett of Black Rock Oceanside Resort in Ucluelet; Andrew Stigant of Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community; Garrett Schack of Vista 18 in Victoria; Richard Verhagen of Market Street Grill on Salt Spring Island and Belinda Jonesof Gatehouse Bistro in Cumberland Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more

Deadline to enter is May 1, 2011 Entry details at:

http://www.bcshellfishfestival.ca/BCSF/weekendgetawaydetails.htmlContest#2

– Open to allTwo night’s accommodation at the Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community, June 17-18,2011Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more

Deadline to enter is May 16, 2011Entry details at: http://www.discovercomoxvalley.com/promotions/contests.htmMore information about the festival and all the events taking place can be found on ourwebsite at www.bcshellfishfestival.ca and our FB Page at <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/BCShellfishFestival.

http://www.facebook.com/BCShellfishFestival.</p&gt;

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Cooking Local

Here’s all that a day of gathering cooking ingredients, locating a place in which to cook, and finding some regional cooking “advisors,” can be when you’re on The Island:

Book yourself into a farmstead that doubles as a B&B. We found Smith Lake Farms in the Comox Valley to be an ideal setting, especially if we had brought the children with us. Upon check-in we were handed two fresh eggs just gathered from the coop for our breakfast the next day.

Pattison's Organic - the stuff of legends!

Pattison Farms of Black Creek in Comox Valley, run by Gerry and Dagmar Pattison, is the stuff of legends. The certified organic farm keeps two gigantic greenhouses under year-round cultivation and grows three kinds of cauliflower, “but none of them are white,” Gerry will tell you. White cauliflower is too mundane for Pattison Farms purposes where Gerry has firmly established himself a niche of growing the absolute best varietals of spinach, tomatoes, heritage apple trees, blackberries and loads more for renowned B.C. Chefs such as Ronald St. Pierre of Locals and John Bishop of Bishop’s.  St. Pierre even features a picture of Pattison on the wall of his Courtenay flagship Locals Restaurant.

John Bishop's Cook Bible Book

Out on that quaint country road in Comox Valley it’s not surprising to hear Gerry talk about the farm stand he keeps open for most of the year right at the gate of his property that operates on the honor system. “The most we’ve ever had go missing is two heads of purple cabbage,” he says, clearly communicating that he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. What is surprising to hear is that this unassuming organic gourmand ingredient farmer hosted racks of news crews and a sit-down lunch on the patio and in his backyard/ farm fields when John Bishop launched his cookbook several years back. What you’ll find over and again in the Comox community is that people who know, know; and your best bet is to make friends with those people who are in the know.

Beaufort Estate Winemakers, Comox Valley

Some of those people you’d be lucky to know are the ones who run Beaufort Vineyards. They are an Island culinary destination and have focused their 27 plus years of wine making toward crafting vineyard and winery practices that are people, animal and environment-friendly.

Just a hop skip down the road and you’ll find yourself in Courtenay, the jewel of the Valley. Grab yourself a cup of coffee at Mudshark’s and be sure to pop in next door to Bramble’s Market. Opened last summer by husband and wife Angeline and James Street (www.bramblesmarket.ca) it is B.C.’s only grocery store stocked with 100% local food and products, promoting a “50 km diet” of eat local, something that is actually quite possible to do when you live in the Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley's 50-km Diet Can Be Achieved at Brambles Market In Courtenay

The notion of eat local is a popular one throughout the Island. However, as James and Angeline, hard working new business owners, will confide, “The people you would expect to come in and buy from us regularly…don’t. Our regulars are people who drive up in old beater cars but who really love good food. They’ll come for the meats, the cheeses, the breads and the other quality fresh ingredients we keep stocked because they just really love good food… and they know they can count on what they buy from us to taste great.” We stock up for our cooking class that we’ve scheduled for later, with informational assistance from Tourism Vancouver Island.

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

On our drive South, we pass Wal-Mart, Thrifty Foods, which is locally owned and does stock some local foods, and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, an artisanal cheesemaker who specializes in “squeaky cheese,” which is really a form of curds and which Canadians love to liberally sprinkle on hot french fries, slather in gravy and call “Poutine,” a veritable national dish. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks also makes a goat cheese that Tigh-Na-Mara’s chef is using for his April “Earth Month”-inspired 100-mile diet menu in the Cedar Room.

We pull up to the Painted Turtle Guesthouse just a block up from the harbor walk in Nanaimo with our appetites barely in check. We’ve heard about the Mon Petit Choux bakery that supposedly does croissants better than anyone this side of Paris. Lucky for us, it’s just adjacent to the Painted Turtle so we tuck into it for a quick pick-me-up and indulge in not just the coffee (fantastico!) and a butter croissant, but also a Brioche that’s filled with pastry crème and fresh blueberries. The organic bread, and in fact all the baked goods, are made using only local ingredients and the roomy interior invites you to hang your hat for awhile. Owner Linda Allen is a throughbred of the Island Foodie Tribe and her other venue, the Wesley Street Cafe’, was rated a top-five Vancouver Island restaurant by Vancouver Magazine.


Karen and Carrie, Local Food For Nanaimo's Heart & Soul

A sip, a chomp and we’re off. On the second floor of the Painted Turtle there is a spacious communal kitchen that is clean and bright and inviting. There is a comfortable sitting room adjacent to the open walled kitchen that looks out over the boutique-laden Bastion Street from airy corner windows that span from wall to wall.

Cooking Class Kitchen At The Painted Turtle, Nanaimo

Carrie and Karen, our cooking “advisors,” are a.k.a. Local Food For Nanaimo and are the resident Local Food Champions and experts. After just a few minutes of talking with them, it seems there’s nothing they don’t know about the local food scene on the Island, in particular in Nanaimo.

Here are some of the facts they readily shared and more can be found on: http://localfoodfornanaimo.blogspot.com

  • Nanaimo has 10% of the farmland within the Vancouver Island Health Authority
  • The majority of Nanaimo cropland is for grains and 72% of that grain goes to livestock feed.
  • The most commonly produced vegetables are sweet corn, pumpkins, broccoli, squash/zucchini, green beans and beets.
  • Most commonly produced fruits are grapes, apples, raspberries and blueberries.
  • In 2006 there were 41 hectares of fruit farms, 25 hectares of vegetable farms compared to 2,120 hectares of grain farms.
  • More Info: http://www.nanaimofoodshare.ca

They boast a wealth of knowledge about local food in the region which is a little surprising given that both young women are trained Marine Biologists and have undertaken extensive research assignments at prestigious facilities such as Rutgers University in the U.S.

But food is their passion and it’s never more apparent as when Karen’s face lights up as she describes to you the last poultry swap she went to which takes place every 1st Sunday of the month. Carrie is just as quick to jump in and tell you about Seedy Sundays where 300-400 people show up to swap seeds and talk to seed experts.

They’ll tell you all this, mind you, as they teach you how to prepare fresh Gnocchi flavored with “Nesto,” the Island Pesto made from Stinging Nettles. Both women regale you with the fun they’ve had teaching kids this recipe, as the youngsters especially enjoy rolling out the dough and splaying the little nubs with a fork. It’s a disarmingly simple recipe and is mostly potatoes, flour and an egg.

Karen and her beau have recently taken to farm living so she’ll tell you all about the over-abundance of potatoes they planted – and are still harvesting – this year and how they’ve learned more than they need to know about “headlamp farming,” (note: headlamp farming refers to farmers who hold down full time jobs and work a farm as a hobby. Meaning, after “work,” you put in your hours in the field. There have been times, she says, when she’s looked up and realized it has gotten pitch dark out somehow….). The Gnocchi is delicious, the Nesto a mild and sweet flavor, the Qualicum cheese salad with tender baby kale greens a fresh delight. The Painted Turtle Kitchen and “Great Room,” a perfect place in which to enjoy it all.

Nanaimo-style Dessert

Nanaimo-tini at Nanaimo's Modern Cafe

Unbelievably, we still have room for a bit more. So, since we’re in Nanaimo, we head out in search of a Nanaimo Bar. This is a chocolatey, creamy, coconutty bar that you see at nearly every coffee shop in Canada. No one really knows its origins for certain, but everyone knows and has eaten at some point, a Nanaimo Bar. We don’t have to wander far before we find ourselves in what feels like a Vancouver hipster joint, with exposed brick walls and trendy, large pieces of art hanging on the wall. We are in the Modern Cafe’ in downtown Nanaimo. We glance through the menu at the bar noting that the place is packed for an early dinner seating. And then, we spot it, the perfect top-off to our perfect Comox Valley/ Local Food Nanaimo Day: the Nanaimo-tini. And right at that moment, that’s perfectly local enough for us!

Www.tourismnanaimo.com * www.investcomoxvalley.com * www.bcculinarytourism.com

Twitter @LocalFoodWine

Vancouver Food And WineOkanagan Food And Wine

Local Food And Wine

Foodies, Faeries And Super Natural Blueberries

Vancouver Island could easily be nicknamed Ceres Island. “Ceres,” Goddess of agriculture and growth, has blessed the Island many times over. For me “the island” was somewhat shrouded behind a veil of mystique. For starters, you have to take a Ferry to get over to it.  And then there were the people on the “Mainland,” that is, Vancouverites, mostly, who often refer to “the island” as a place they retreat to when life feels too fast.

Correction number one: The B.C. Ferries are more like cruise ships, with spectacular scenery, seamless drive-on, drive-off, and roomy, plentiful seating. There’s even talk of spa services being added to the on-ship diversions.

Merridale Picnic Grounds and Spa, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

Correction number two: Yes, Island pace is a bit slower. However, when you are a culinary traveler searching out the island’s delectable gems, there’s little rest for the adventurous!

And there’s no doubt about it, Vancouver Island is a foodie mecca. In fact, another nickname, one perhaps even more fitting, would be “Island of Foodies.” And not just any foodies, Local Foodies; the island is filled with such distinctive tribes of locavore foodies, farmers, winemakers, cheesemakers, bakers and blueberry cultivators that they’ve pretty much coined the idea of “local food” and just about made it into a religion. Them and their guardian Faeries…

Merridale Cidery, Vancouver Island, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

Little under an hour North of Victoria, in a pastoral setting nestled between Mill Bay and Cobble Hill, there is Merridale Estate Cidery.

Merridale, the first cidery on the island, is owned by Rick Pipes and Janet Docherty who readily admit that the undertaking is a “labor of love” and has been since they first bought the 20-acre property in 2000. No one else at the time was doing cider on the island. So Rick, Merridale’s cider maker, got in touch with Peter Mitchell, the U.K. -based “cider guru” to teach him some tips.

Read More HERE on Local Food And Wine/ B.C. >>>

Twitter @LocalFoodWine

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Tria Culinary Studios Outdoor Full Moon Feasts, Photo Courtesy Tria

Tria Culinary Studios

Tria is a triumvirate of Chef Kathy Jerritt, and husband and wife team Marla Limousin and George Ehler of Nature’s Way blueberry farm and Blue Moon Estate Winery. British Columbia’s (other) cash crop is blueberries. But few have had the vision to make wine from their blueberries as George of Blue Moon Estate Winery has done.

“We were lucky,” explains Marla, who also teaches a Cultivating Your Garden class at North Highland College on the island,”When we bought the farm about a decade ago, it was just about the time that there was this run on blueberries. So we quickly found ourselves sitting on a cash crop,” she says with a shrug and a smile.

Nature’s Way Farm, soon to be know as Blue Moon Farm, has about 2,000 blueberry bushes that produce about 30,000 pounds of blueberries from about 6 acres. They also cultivate an herb and vegetable garden on site in their greenhouse that Chef Kathy uses in her on-site cooking classes and demonstration dinners.

On a recent afternoon while walking the property with Marla and Kathy and meeting their resident four llamas, Kathy picked a leaf of the tender arugula and mustard greens for a sampling of the kinds of fresh ingredients she uses for her dishes. What a difference fresh makes! My eyes started watering from the spiciness of the mustard greens; Wasabi is grown fresh on the island but if you want to kick your taste buds out of this world, chomp on a leaf of Kathy’s mustard greens!

Nature's Way Farms Field of Greens, Tria Culinary Studio's Raw Ingredients

Now that Spring is warming up and summer is around the corner, make a note of these important Full Moon Feast Dates: Milk Moon, May 27; Strawberry Moon June 27; Mead Moon July 25 and then there’s Wort Moon and Corn Moon to follow in August and September respectively.

Read More HERE on Local Food And Wine/ B.C. >>>

Twitter @LocalFoodWine

*Local Food And Wine*

Okanagan Food And Wine * Vancouver Food And Wine

Culinary Tourism Anyone? Try Vancouver Island

By Paige Donner

Culinary Tourism makes perfect sense…at least to us!  When you travel for pleasure, at least half your time and itinerary are taken up with decisions like where to eat and what to eat?  When you plan a trip around destinations known for their exquisite culinary offerings and wine pairings, you’ve already done most of the hard work before you’ve ever left home. Then all there is to do once you arrive is…Relax and Enjoy!

Can’t see the VIDEO? CLICK HERE>>>


Spring and Summer mean Blooming Gardens in Victoria and all over Vancouver Island…

Can’t see the VIDEO?  CLICK HERE>>>

The Comox Valley – also on Vancouver Island – is a Must See, Must Do, Must Eat and Drink and Be Merry kind of destination…

Can’t see the VIDEO?  CLICK HERE>>>

Twitter@LocalFoodWine

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