The Buzz, Cowichan and Up-Island

Eating together and enjoying the good life with good people is the epitome of ‘Hygge’, the Danish word pronounced ‘Huega’. What better way to celebrate our treasured relationships than by exploring new places that are sure to add excitement to the day? From Cowichan to the Comox Valley, this new crop of delights waits for nobody…

While there are many ethnicities and related food choices on our Island, authentic Italian food, in general, is not as well represented. So it is with great relish that we call Cowichan the home of Grovehall Farms Italian Kitchen & Deli. In addition to traditional Italian baked goods, Chef Matthew’s mission is to bring his community fresh made sauces, pasta and bread. The Market and Deli is well stocked with Italian imported oils and vinegar, sweets, deli meats and cheeses and the Brizzi family is excited to bring the essence of Italy to Cowichan for your pasta craving.

While Salt Spring Wild Cider has been around a couple of years now, they are always evolving. Their ciders are always interesting and creative – think Burnt Apple Tequila made from organic apples and the finest reposata —try a sample flight, or choose from their recently added, delightfully different Farm Style Tapas menu—I can’t pass up the cider stewed local Chorizo and dates!

Having spent some of my earlier life in Montreal, I crave smoky, warm, corn beef towering between homemade rye bread smothered in sauerkraut and cheese and topped with a salty brined pickle. I never expected to find one that rivals—wait, no, surpasses—Montreal’s famous Jewish Deli Schwartz’s on Salt Spring Island, but find it I did at Buzzy’s Luncheonette. To the creators of The Food Network’s ‘You Gotta Eat Here’ – eat your heart out!

New cafes and coffee shops open up every day, but it’s not often that a wonderful Persian Iranian one opens up in Nanaimo. The Bees Knees Community Cafe offers up great Persian flavours served with the warm hospitality that Persians are known for.

The location was once home to the Korean restaurant Namul, then to Thai Orchard. This time around, we welcome Nanaimo’s first vegan restaurant Eve Olive, which offers handpicked wine, beer and cocktails to complement their locally sourced, organic, 100 per cent plant-based dishes. Without compromising taste, presentation or nutrition, the creative dishes can be ordered tapas-sized, or entrée portion and most dishes are gluten-free.

While not a newcomer, I can’t let a year pass without mentioning the wonderful, fun-filled four-day food and drink event, Parksville Uncorked Wine and Culinary Festival. It’s one of the very best collective representations of our Islands’ products and producers. If you’ve thought of attending before and haven’t, I urge you to do so this year – you will thank me. The first event, held at Tigh Na Mara Resort, offers a night of regional brewery and distillery tastings paired with a full appetiser party at Untapped. Follow that with the 2nd event, Swirl Signature Event at The Beach Club Resort, featuring BC. wineries and gourmet tasting. This year’s 3rd event at Tigh Na Mara, the Winemakers Dinner, features a multi-course gourmet dinner carefully paired with Black Hills Estate Winery or La Stella Wines at The Beach Club. After a relaxing morning of spa delights, enjoy Bubbles & Brunch, the fourth and final event of the weekend. February 21st- 24th.

I’m always in search of the best Vietnamese Pho, so I was delighted when Pho 54 opened in the old Mad Chef location in Courtenay. Classic pho served in a big bowl wafting rich broth and silky noodles with fragrant Vietnamese basil alongside a traditional, chocolaty iced coffee – my idea of heaven.

About two months ago, Land & Sea Brewing Co. opened its doors in Comox, serving the Valley a selection of house-made, small-batch brews and fresh light fare in an inviting atmosphere.

Family owned Bigfoot Donuts on 5th Street aims to re-create fond childhood memories of the old Courtenay Bakery while providing the community with an awesome gathering place to munch on handcrafted, made from scratch doughnuts fresh every day. Try a cup of homemade chai—not a premade concentrate!—with a flavour of the month doughnut.

Original owners of Blue Eyed Mary’s Restaurant on Bowen Island, Chef Carol Wallace and Stephen Biddiscombe, recently relocated to the Comox Valley to open Frankie Jo’s Bakery featuring rustic baking and thoughtful cooking. They hope to bring pleasure to people through food in a comfortable environment.

And finally, recently opened Church Street Taphouse in Comox already has a following for their on tap collection of local brews poured at their beautiful new building on Church Street. Along with as-yet-to-be-opened New Tradition Brewing Co. (making its debut in the Comox mall soon), locals will have two new great venues to enjoy in the coming summer months.

Explore a new place, support passionate small business owners making a difference, and most of all spread the Hygge.

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