EAT Buzz Up-island & Tofino July|August 2019

The Buzz Up-island July 2019
“First we EAT, then we do everything else”(M.K.Fisher) – at least I do anyway. Never short of favourite places to stop at, it’s sometimes hard to talk myself into trying someplace new, the tantalizing thoughts of remembered flavours strong on my tongue. Yet I can’t help myself, I experiment and am often happily rewarded.
You may remember Cowichan Bays’ The Happy Goat Cheese Company. From their Parsonby, a semi-soft cheese washed in Spinnakers’ beer to the traditional French Alpine Tommy de Vallée, Cory Spencer and Kirsten Thorarinson had no problem making regulars of their customers. Now also using the delicious Ayrshire milk produced by happy cows living at Bale Ayr Farm, the duo recently started making cow’s milk cheese varieties and renamed the whole venture Haltwhistle Cheese Co. I am enchanted by their Thombury, the cows’ milk counterpart to the goats’ milk Tommy de Vallée. You’ll find all their offerings at the Duncan Saturday market, or at
When you live on a 27-acre farm with lush orchards and a long tradition of growing apples, it would seem criminal not to make cider. Out of that idea came 9 diverse ciders to satisfy every palette. Try them all—one at a time of course—at Valley Cider in the Cowichan Valley and find the ones that make your taste buds sing.
The new Ainslie Restaurant location in Duncan has a long, rich history as a place to eat good food, most recently as Bistro 161 and The Gourmet Gardens. Chef Ian Blom and wife Kimberly met in culinary school and having been raised in the Cowichan Valley, it was inevitable they’d plant roots where they knew the abundance of the natural bounty and great producers. Involving 3 generations, the Blom family aims to be on the leading edge of the local culinary scene sooner rather than later.
People who love bread rejoice! Salt Spring Island is home to a new bakery that already has a cult following; the bread is simply that good. Meet Francis Bread, where the naturally leavened, organic, wood-fired bread is made with a live sourdough starter and is worth the trek through Hastings House grounds. Follow your nose, and it will take you there without a doubt. Find them electronically on Facebook.
These days there are countless options locally for sampling spirits, particularly gin and vodka. When they are small-batch, artisan-style distills such as the ones produced by Salt Spring Shine Craft Distillery, the care and attention applied by the two Cordon Bleu chefs shine through. Their use of only pure honey results in Hive vodka while the Honeycomb Moonshine represents a raw spirit derived from the fermentation of honey, water, and yeast.
Burnt Honey Dessert Company in Nanaimo was started by Kara and Fiona Shedden. With flavours like miso butterscotch, rose, and mango sriracha, to name a few, these are not your typical macarons. Of course, Burnt Honey ice cream is a staple on their menu, but small-batch means they often sell out so try every flavour they have every chance you get.
Cooks Restaurant in Cumberland serves up comfort food on a different level. Their burgers are just the right mix of crispy-edged, broiled ground chuck, freshly smashed to order and dripping with gooey cheese or their insanely crunchy spicy chicken sandwich paired with a frosty cold glass of local brew. Sometimes, you just need to feed your soul, even if it drips down your chin.
Blue Spruce Ice Cream Shop in the Comox Valley is definitely worth a visit. The lemony Spruce Tip ice cream they created gave them their name, while Krupnik Caramel, made using a spiced honey liqueur from local Wayward Distillation and swirled with sweet and salty caramel, is their addiction, as well as mine! Each batch, whether dairy-free or not, is handmade with thoughtful consideration of your taste buds by chef Jonathan Frazier and Kirsten Wood.
It’s easy to see how my list of favourites gets longer every day … so many inspiring, forward-thinking chefs, so little time.

The Buzz Tofino July 2019
EAT readers already know Tofino has rapidly been morphing into a dining destination as well as a storm and wildlife watching leader. And it’s attracting the best. Like Carmen Ingham, formerly from Victoria’s Olo, Villa Eyrie and Meat & Bread, who 5-star Wickaninnish Inn snapped up for their restaurant, The Pointe. Chef Ingham has been very busy employing techniques that emphasize the quality of the ingredients he uses, resulting in inspiring menus that are handmade, creative and inspirational.
Soon to be a spectacular reality, Howard’s Wine Cellar, also at The Pointe, will feature a 20-foot-long yellow cedar table and three temperature-controlled rooms divided by floor to ceiling glass, destined to be a haven for wine and those with the curiosity to appreciate it.
Barely 2 months old and still in transition (the boutique hotel portion) Ucluelet’s newest addition, Pluvio + Rooms, is owned and operated by Warren Barr & Lily Verney-Downey. Named after the Latin noun ‘Pluviophile,’ meaning; ‘for a lover of rain or a person who finds joy, solace and peace of mind in rain or during rainy days’ it is definitely poised to be the next big thing. Along Warren’s path to Pluvio, he was awarded the first-ever North Star Award for Continued Culinary Excellence by Food Day Canada, cooked at the acclaimed James Beard House for “The Flavours of Canada” event, took part in Canada C3 for Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. He also participated in hosting and cooking for the 2018 International Congress “Rendez-Vous” of Relais & Châteaux in Quebec City. Barr and Verney-Downey are effortlessly headed for culinary greatness.
Long Beach Lodge, another of the iconic Tofino dining legend, recently welcomed Chef Shaun Snelling as their new Executive Chef. As Chef de Cuisine under the mentorship of Chef Wayne Martin of the upscale eatery, Fraiche, Bin 941/942, and the Opus Hotel, Shaun fine-tuned his love for dining and realized his personal cooking style. He adds a touch of West Coast flair to every dish while maintaining the high-quality experience guests know and love.

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us, life is so endlessly delicious.” Ruth Reichl

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