It’s hot. The squash plant has taken over the garden. The tomatoes are finally turning colour. Trees are full of fruit. Salmon are moving from ocean to smoker to canner. It’s the beginning of harvest time in the greater Comox Valley – Campbell River region. That means: good eating all ’round.
Thanks to a friend biking through my town a week ago I know about Vassili’s Bread Shop [556-5th Street, Courtenay 250-871-0880]. Bill and Erica Marler have owned the reknowned Denman Island Bakery for 13 years. They’re recently moved it off-Island and just-off downtown Courtenay. Open Sundays, with a full range of breads, as well as “take and bake pizza.” Call in, they make the pizza, you bake it at home.
The big news, however, for everyone in the food industry in the Comox Valley is the opening of the very spacious Prime Chop House & Wine Bar [1089 Braidwood Rd, Courtenay 250-871-7292 +FB @PrimeChopHouse1 ] just off Ryan Road. They’re set to launch their Grand Opening at 4:30pm on August 10. If you get to Vassili’s or Prime before me, please let me know what you think.
My gal and I like to cycle to the Saturday and Wednesday Comox Valley Farmers’ Markets. On Aug 11-12 we get to do a big-time version of this with the #CVFarmCycle – the 2nd year that host Comox Valley Cycling Coalition has organized Comox Valley Farm Cycle Tour [+FB]. With partner organizations the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market [@CVFarmersMarket +FB] and the Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute, #CVFarmCycle offers 3 distinct self-guided tours of the lush and luscious Valley. Online registration is encouraged. For out-of-towners, “Farm Cycle Tour and Stay” packages as well as bike rental opportunities are available. If you’re not able to attend, I’ll be reporting “live” on Twitter. Just follow the #CVFarmCycle #tag on my Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram feeds.
The following weekend, on Aug 24-25, it’s the 14th annual Alpine Wine & Food Festival at Mount Washington Resort [www.mountwashington.ca 1-888-231-1499]. Friday evening at Raven Lodge features regional foods, and wines from Blue Moon, Coastal Black, and Averill Creek, among others. Saturday evening it’s the wine pairing dinner at the Alpine Lodge ($25). Call or buy tickets online. I’ll be #tagging with #AlpineWine
On Aug 31 Locals Restaurant [364-8th Street, Courtenay + FB 250-338-6493]is hosting a special Blue Moon Feast at Blue Moon Winery [4905 Darcy Road @BlueMoonWinery 250-338-9765] on Nature’s Way Farm in celebration of the “blue moon” (a full moon twice in one month). It’s a beautiful and rich setting in which to eat, wander, and learn about what this region is able to produce. A white linen dinner service will be laid in the garden, weather permitting. Otherwise it’s an intimate “chef’s table” indoors featuring Chef Ronald St. Pierre’s reknown talents (I’m a fan).
Many of the #CVFarmCycle participants are also featured exhibitors at #FlavourSept23 – the first Flavours [@GourmetPicnic] event hosted by North Island College Foundation and partners at Coastal Black Estate Winery this September 23. Billed as the North Island’s Gourmet Picnic it’s an opportunity to taste local product, prepared by local chefs, in the context of a beautiful estate winery. (Excuse if I wax bucolic, Black Creek is my home village, and the farms in the area hold a special place in my heart.) Tickets are $40 and available online. Again, as part of my coverage of local food in the region, I’ll be covering it with “realtime” fotos and tweets. Watch for the #FlavourSept23 #tag on my Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram feeds.
It’s now officially the Breakwater Restaurant at The Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa [4330 Island Highway 250-338-1323 and 800-663-7929 +FB @KingfisherSpa] and it’s got a new look and a new menu to go with it. One of the fine dining destinations in the region, the Breakwater features West Coast cuisine and a view of world famous Baynes Sound. Appropriately, the Sound’s famous oysters are featured in the restaurant’s “raw bar.” Note: The Breakwater is the first restaurant in the Comox Valley using the online Open Table seat reservation system (means you can book online 24/7).
The fruit trees (quince, fig) are loaded at Tita’s Mexican Restaurant in Courtenay [250-334-8033, 536-6th Street], making for exotic but close-to-home Margaritas in the nicest patio around. Note: We just dined on their fish tacos and I’ve got to agree with my girl: the best! Watch the Tita’s FB page for specials and current events.
After 8 years prepping breakfasts, brunches, and soups First Cook David Marayatt is leaving Atlas Cafe [250-6th Street, Courtenay 250-338-9838 +FB]. Thanks David: your breakfasts are among the best in region. On another front, Executive Chef Jonathan Frazier and Blayne Prowse are teaming up with local radio station Jet FM to deliver the Edible Valley series of podcasts about food in our region. Note: Atlas is one of the restaurants participating in the #FlavourSept23 event.
September cooking classes are in the air as Thai Village Restaurant [2104 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay, 250-334-3812 + FB] responds to a stream of requests for recipes and “how-to” adivice. The Facebook page features their latest specials.
A note from Avenue Bistro in Comox [2064 Comox Ave 250-890-9200 +FB + @AvenueBistro] explaining the “slightly vague” summer fresh sheets: It’s because Chef Aaron likes to have the “wiggle room to bring in the up-to-the moment flavours.” Works for me: I like what he does with fresh and local. On the wine side, AveB is featuring Beaufort Vineyard [a potential summer picnic destination at 5854 Pickering Road, 10 minutes north of Courtenay] Blanc de Noir Rose this month. Nice summer berry flavours with a refreshing, off-dry finish. Avenue Bistro is also participating in the #FlavourSept23 event.
Take outs and picnic opportunities
As much as I like to prep food, the hot days of relaxing river and beachside are invitations to do take out. Here are some recent take out highlights, include a glowing review from one Foursquare commentator on her red curry with beef, black pepper beef, and drunken prawn picnic courtesy of Kinaree Thai Cuisine [526A Cumberland Road, Courtenay 250-898-8639]. Unplugged Foodie food truck launched in June of this year and can generally be found on Puntledge Road in Courtenay 11-4:30ish next to the bottle recycling depot. They’re serving a “new American- South Asian fusion” takeout. My gal is a HUGE fan of fish n’ chips at Chips Ahoy on Dyke Road (next to Portugese Joe’s Fish Market – a great resource for fresh and smoked fish at 3025 Comox Road 250-339-2119] and thinks the beachside dining there can’t be beat. Summer tour hours at 40 Knots Winery [2400 Anderton Rd, Comox 250-941-8810] at Fri-Sun 12-5 pm. Coastal Black Estate Winery [250-337-8325 at 2186 Endall Road, Black Creek @CoastalBlack + FB] are doing pizzas, cheesecake, and fresh berry desserts on weekends on their expansive patio in Black Creek. The tasting room & wine shop are open Fri + Sat, 12-5pm until Sat, Aug 18. And I want to note that Avenue Bistro saved our picnic plans a couple of weeks ago because they’re open later than anyone else we tried in Comox (sleepy town or what?). The Niçoise Salad and Cod Fritters were perfect for a beachside nosh on Comox Bay.
… and beyond
Every once in a while I wander outside of paradise (AKA the Comox Valley-Campbell River region) to sample what’s going on elsewhere. On the Powell River side of the Salish Sea a friend treated me to tasty and well-priced fish tacos (and wonderful atmosphere) at Costa del Sol [4578B Marine Avenue, Powell River 604-414-7463] and told me good things about Little Curry Hut [4623 Marine Avenue, Powell River 604-485-2601]. In Vancouver, my daughter treated me to flavourful (and cheap) streatside tacos at Chronic Tacos [1812 West 4th Ave. 604-558-3666 @eatchronictacos], I reminded myself how much I love to watch David W at work behind the bar at West while nibbling on the kitchen’s delectables. I also discovered that I love what the folks who own one of my YVR #faves, Campagnolo on Main, have created with Fat Dragon BBQ [566 Powell Street, Vancouver 604-558-0880 @fatdragonbbq +FB]. I wrote about that here… Bringing it back to the Island, I’m looking forward to being part of the annual Vancouver Island Feast of Fields [@VIFeastofFields +FB] in Duncan this September 16. I’ll be #tagging that one #VIFeast2012.
8 August 2012
- Summer Eating! Mid-Island Food News July-August 2012 (urbandiner.ca)
- Mid-Island Food News: June 2012 (urbandiner.ca)
- Brunching Around the Comox Valley, Part 2 (bonvivantvancouverisland.com)