City Eats Up Island (March/April)

Vancouver Islanders got a rude awakening with news of a possible tsunami in Alaska, causing me to reflect as I write this, on just how sustainable our food supply is and how we’d fare in the event of a true disaster…

Basil’s Pizza – new on Salt Spring – has been putting on a great show so far with lots of local ingredients and a 5-year-old sourdough starter nurtured solely on the Island for use in their dough. Dedication went into clearing the land for this unique trailer, as does daily sourcing of the best ingredients – think boar sausage and local kale! – Order your pie for pick up but prepare to wait a few minutes when you arrive since it won’t be fired until you show your face to ensure the freshest pie possible.

In Nanaimo, the Farmers Markets you all know and love have ventured online. Get yourself set up to receive all the things you used to pick up on weekends, delivered to your door midweek and never miss out on your faves again!

Seadrift Fish Market has been around for 20 years but they are making a few changes. Since the New Year, their Southgate Mall location has been closed and they are relocating to the Country Grocer mall across the street in the former Serious Coffee location with plans to reopen by the end of February. Their Terminal Park location has moved into the Mall to accommodate an eatery with a few tables at which to enjoy the freshest Dungeness crab sandwich, Seafood crepes, Greek chowder, and Curried shrimp chowder among other swimming delights. Supporting the commercial seafood economy is a big part of their west coast living.

While only in their 2nd year, Fiddlehead Bistro has left a mark on Nanaimo. Owner Tchadas Leo along with his wife, has made sure to stay true to the original founding chef’s menu (Bryce Cowan) and continue to create Vancouver Island, west coast inspired dishes for their valued customers. Check out their site to see their new spring menu designed by executive chef Curtis Corbett.

News about two old-timers in Nanaimo; local favorite The Granary closed permanently recently when it’s owners retired and The Bold Knight steakhouse celebrated its 41st birthday in January.

While you’re visiting Parksville, be sure to check out its new take on dairy; while craft breweries offer us a chance to fill growlers with beer, a local dairy farm previously known for its’ cheese, milk is on the menu. They’ve added a dispenser that’s believed to be the first of its kind on the continent. “They’re ubiquitous in Europe,” says Raymond Gourlay of Morningstar Farm. “And there isn’t one in Canada or North America as far as we’ve been able to find” The expensive dispenser was custom-made in Switzerland. The milk is quite a bit richer and you can taste the changes that occur with the seasons depending on what the cows are eating. It doesn’t get more local, than this.

There’s a new fine dining restaurant in Cumberland with some Greek, a dash of Finish, a little Italian, and a touch of Indian – 4 Quarters Resturant, the freshest, best possible ingredients with international flavours produced in-house.

And finally, in Courtenay, the old home of Tita’s Mexican Food has been repurposed as Il Falcone, a fine dining Italian restaurant featuring Gunter Brothers charcuterie, Natural Pastures Cheeses and Island of Eden fresh produce to compliment handmade tagliatelle and sweet San Marzano tomatoes – this place is sure to take your taste buds all the way to Italy – with a West Coast twist!

Thankfully, the above producers have resettled my heart, proving to me that we are a sustainable Island, and a community of people that continually push boundaries towards a fertile future.

~ Kirsten Tyler

Pictured above: The dining room at Il Facone


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