Sip & Savour Salt Spring Island

Sips_Savour picI savour the moment when my eyes feast on a dish—beautifully grilled lamb for instance—and can “taste” the sweet, succulent, charred bits and tender red meat just by looking at it. I smell the herbs as I bring it to my mouth and then I finally taste the nuances that can’t be seen; the hint of fennel and kick of garlic.

This years’ Sip & Savour weekend on Salt Spring Island (SSI) was the perfect place to experience these sensations. Friday night kicked off with Winemaker dinners at several local restaurants; lucky enough to dine at Hastings House, I sampled a steak that was beyond tender—a steak seemingly too simple, yet utterly perfect in its simplicity. With it came Gruyère potatoes bubbling with cheese, and vibrant local vegetables cooked al dente A glass of Mistaken Identity Vineyards Debut with its dark red fruit complexities balanced the meal. At the end of the evening, I marveled at Chef Marcel Kauers’ ability to cook this way, and make it seem so easy.

Under Saturday morning rainy skies, off we went to the market. The riotous colours of blood red beets, pumpkin orange carrots, and forest green kale brightened the day immediately. I knew I’d get to taste some of them later.

At the Grazing event, Fernwood Café caught my eye with their SSI goat cheese tart and spicy tomato jam from Simply Salty Kitchen (jam available at Victoria Public Market). Chef Chris Coates of Salt Spring Mercantile served up sweet, salty Korean pork belly tacos with homemade kimchi that had everyone talking. Murray Hunter of Salt Spring Island Ales poured their new Heather Ale, brewed with Scottish heather instead of hops, and the young chefs from the Gulf Islands Secondary School Culinary Program served wonderful North End Farm smoked tomato soup. Rawsome Living Foods’ Hibiscus flower stuffed with goat cheese and balsamic reduction was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat! I finished with something very different from Salt Spring  Coffee Co.—their 2013 Africa Blend cold brewed for 16 hours, then combined with a blueberry reduction to perfectly balance the acidity.

Moby’s Pub’s Locavore Dinner on Saturday night closed the festival on a high note with a dessert of lavender poached pear, goats’ milk Chantilly cream and honey sponge toffee and Jose Sanchez and the Cuban Party Band kept the place dancing and partying till the wee hours of the night.

Sunday dawned on the Apple Festival which, after last years’ cancellation due to a non-existent harvest, was highly anticipated. Local SSI farmers grow 350 varieties of heritage apples, most of them displayed at Fulford Hall that day. I fell in love with a Russian Red Crab apple—dark red skin, blood red flesh all the way through, and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  After a slice of pie from the Women’s Institute Pie Ladies, off on the farm tour we go. A few hours later, tired and happy with bags of apples for eating, baking, and juice to drink, we headed home on the ferry, already anticipating what next year might hold.


—Text & photos by Kirsten Tyler





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