Tofino Food and Wine Festival 2014

That’s it. I’ve been Tofino-fied, or Tofinated. Whatever it’s called, I’m pretty sure it happened to me this past weekend at the Tofino Food and Wine Festival. A dizzying combination of ocean air and coastal rainforest mixed with world-class seafood and BC’s finest wines had me under a delicious spell.

I couldn’t help but chuckle then, when George Patterson, founder and executive director of the Tofino Botanical Gardens (location of the festival’s main event: Grazing in the Gardens), said “You’ll be leaving Tofino with the wrong impression!” He was, of course, referring to the gorgeous sunny weather we were blessed with for this year’s 12th annual Tofino Food and Wine Festival, which sold a whopping 700 tickets.

The weather forecast called for overcast clouds and showers. Then, just as the gates opened, the sun came out blazing. For my first year at the event, I was already enjoying the initial impression, rain or shine.

Botanical Gardens

Renowned local chefs, sustainable winemakers, microbrewers, bread makers, and chocolate creators all came together in the beautifully tended gardens to showcase the very best in food and beverage. Vendor tents are situated throughout the 12-acre property, while attendees followed a map that meanders along forested pathways, past sculptures, ponds, indigenous plants, medicinal gardens, a dug out canoe, Evian a “shipwreck” boat, and a moss covered “hippy bus.”

As the guests poured in, the gardens quickly started buzzing with a mixture of happy chatter, floral prints, floppy hats and flip-flops. Mingling from vendor to vendor, wine glasses were filled and bite after bite of local food was sampled.

Upon entering the gardens, the immediate aroma of Wolf in the Fog’s BBQ was a powerful enticer. Chef Nick Nutting and his sous chefs served up big, juicy samples of barbequed pork and spot prawns with Asian mustard greens on focaccia. So delicious, they were swamped with lineups in no time. Some of the other real showstoppers included:

Volunteer FeastRedcan Gourmet with a traditional smoked salmon BBQ served on a crispy wonton with pickled cucumber vermicelli and sesame vinaigrette. As I downed my piece, I heard several “Oh my gods” and “You’ve got to try the salmon!” exclamations.

The Schooner Restaurant brought their traditional spicy, local side stripe prawns in sambal butter served on fresh baked sourdough. How could you not come back for more with this buttery little gem? Good thing they came prepared.

Spotted Bear Bistro put together a delicate, pickled Saltspring Island mussel on a wonton cracker with lemon crème fraiche and crispy fried leeks. It was pure magic.

Other greats were the Outlandish Shellfish Guild, a great multi-family run organization. They were shucking 3 Discovery Island oysters: Black Pearl, Marinas Top Drawer, and Beach Angel—fresh as fresh gets.

The Six Hundred Degrees Bakery, a local Tofino bakery, served wood-fired bread with handmade chive butter that was hard to pass up, especially when situated next to good-sized samples of Natural Pastures Cheese.

Spotted Bear Bistro Mussels
Traditional Smoked Salmon (Redcan Gourmet)

For sweets, the Be Raw Chocolate, a fair-trade, raw, artisan handmade chocolate won me over hands down.

With over 70 vineyards being represented, there was no shortage of variety or skilled winemakers to seek out. BC’s grape growers were really showcasing the diversity of our regions, evident in the many blend wines. From the variety of soils and slope of the vineyard to the microclimates, we are seeing some exceptional, complex, and unique flavours being produced. Some of my personal favorites were (but not limited to) Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Hester Creek Estate, Burrowing Owl, Noble Ridge, Rustic Roots, Bench 1775, and Gehringer Brothers.

Funds raised at the event support the non-profit Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation and the Silent Auction proceeds went to support the Wickaninnish Elementary School Garden Project. For a list of 2014 participants, click here.

Looking forward to next year!

For tickets to next year’s event check the website: http://tofinofoodandwinefestival.com/

Note: This a car free event with a shuttle bus service provided by Tofino Bus.

Volunteer party (owner George on left)

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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