Let’s start with a list of some of the amazing food events in our region. I’d first like to congratulate the organizers of Flavour: the North Island’s Gourmet Picnic [@GourmetPicnic +FB] for selling out 3 weeks before the event starts! As one of the sponsors, I’m very excited that there’s so much interest in our region’s premiere local food event. Watch our channels at @EatDrinkComoxV, Instagram, Flickr, etc as we continue our coverage. Still want tickets? You could earn some via Union Street’s “frequent diner” contest. You could win a pair of tickets via our food foto contest. Note that Island Soda Works upped the stakes in our contest by throwing in a case of their product (if the winning foto features ISW of course – any other #FlavourSept23 exhibitors care to match that?). ISW is making a very cool product (way low on the sugar, way high on the “interesting flavour” meter). Try Mandolyn’s “Green Goddess-meets-gin-n’-Chartreuse cocktail for super sophisticated flavour hit.
The Annual Pollinator’s Picnic takes place Sunday, Sept 9 at Nanoose Edibles Organic Farm, co-sponsored by Nanoose Edibles and mid-Island Harvest Bounty Society. Displays, demos, guided tours & pot-luck supper. I’m told that “you’ll want to ‘bee’ there.”
If you can’t “bee” there, you might want to catch Marine Harvest’s final fundraising BBQ of the season on Sept 9th at Nunns Creek Park [465 -16th Ave]. All proceeds go to the BC SPCA “Paws for a Cause” fund. Kudos to MH for raising a lot of money this year for regional good stuff.
Billed as a trip to the “land of exotic spices” Spices: Kitchen Pharmacy is a food-meets-medicine workshop on Sept 11. The workshop features Chef and author, Joseph Forest and Medical Herbalist, Chanchal Cabrera in Innisfree Farm’s teaching kitchen [3636 Trent Road, Courtenay 250-336-8767 ]. Call or check Facebook for details.
On Sept 14 Chef Ronald St. Pierre of Locals will be offering a 5 course wine pairing evening at Blue Moon Winery [250-338-9765, 4905 Darcy Road, Courtenay @BlueMoonWinery +FB] at Natures Way Farm. Reservations are required and seats for these events go fast!
Given that some up-Island folks won’t have #FlavourSept23 tickets in hand, the September 8 – 16 Cowichan Valley Wine & Culinary Festival [@Cowichanwines] is a good option. #CWCF12 is a full-on week of wine and food events at various venues throughout the region. I like that they’ve got daytime and a reference to “dancing the night away at a variety of evening soirees.” Food, wine, dancing… yum!My #VIFeast tickets came in the mail the other day…
One of the #CWCF12 daytime events is the Vancouver Island Feast of Fields [+FB @VIFeastofFields] on Sept 16. If you weren’t able to get tickets to #FlavourSept23, tickets to the 15th annual celebration of Island food and drink are still available. We’ve also got a little contest going where you can enter to win a pair of tickets. Go to j.mp/VIFeastTweetToWin. Watch for it by following #VIFeast on Twitter.
There’s a little mystery here as the certified organic growers in the Comox Valley will be unveiling an “exciting new initiative” during Organic Week (Sept 22-29). Not sure where this news will pop up. If you know, please be in touch.
I found out about #WineWeds by following Cindy on Twitter. Her Courtenay VQA Wine Store [7 – 3195 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay (across from Future Shop)250-871-1444 courtenayvqawines.com @courtenayvqa +FB] has 400 BC VQA wines on the shelf. Watch for guest pourers including winery reps, winery owners, and after hours food and wine pairings with local chefs. On Sept 27 they host a Riedel Wine Glass seminar: “What’s in a glass?” BTW: #WineWeds was a summer thing. For the fall it’s back to tastings every Fri and Sat from 3-6pm. How many weeks to taste all 400?
On Sept 28 (2-3pm) Blue Heron Books is hosting a talk and book signing by Sharon Hanna, author of The Book of Kale at the Comox Public Library [1720 Beaufort Avenue, Comox]. FMI visit BHB at 1775 Comox Avenue, call them at 250-339-6111 or visit harbourpublishing.com/event/390.
Who’re the “Mayors” of sushi venues in this town? It’s not the owners or the employees. It’s tech savvy regular customers. Go online to Foursquare and you’ll find out who knows what’s what about sushi, or any other food venue in the region. I found the Mayor of Kobo Sushi [250-339-3222, 1733 Comox Avenue,Comox www.sushikobo.com] and we had a picnic lunch of his choosing on the Comox Pier. I was daunted by the “special” dish that Chef Sam makes for him alone (a Mayoral privilege?). I was thrilled by the Caterpillar Roll. BTW, my GirlWLGG is also a fan of Kobo (but not on FS so no threat to the current Mayor).
The biggest “social media” channel in this region is still word of mouth, but it’s amplified by what gets said online, particularly Facebook. Martine’s Bistro [250-339-1199, 1754 Beaufort Ave, Comox www.martinesbistro.com] is “social media shy.” That doesn’t stop people from singing the praises of what owner Marcus Aartsen’s kitchen and front end crew put out every night: “fabulous food and great service.” Agreed. Which reminds me, it’s time to drop by…
A venue I’m always happy to recommend in Comox is Avenue Bistro [2064 Comox Ave 250-890-9200 www.avenuebistro.ca +FB + @AvenueBistro]. The habit of good service and consistenly good flavours that I’ve come to expect at sister resto Atlas in Courtenay has in the past couple of years become the standard here as well. Chef Aaron Rail’s fresh sheets are always an interesting exploration of the region’s fresh product, from the Comox docks or neighbourhing farms. But the wine? I’m curious if the updated Sept wine list will add some Old World to balance a list that leans a little too heavily on New World for my taste. I do know for certain that a couple of customer faves will be back by the glass: Liberty School’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Gray Monk’s Pinot Noir. AveB notes that Gray Monk’s Heiss family is celebrating 30 years of winemaking, 40 years of growing grapes and 50 years of marriage this year. That definitely deserves a toast!
We liked what #1 Hana Korean Restaurant [250-334-0868, 526 Cliffe Ave] did in it’s old location, and I love the new space they’re moving into. I drive by that huge deck they’re building and wonder, how long to wait before I can taste the new menu?
My source on Mex cuisine likes what’s happening at the recently relocated La Cabaña de Marcos [1320 Cliffe Av. Courtenay 250-703-2639 +FB]. Great buffet, lots of variety, good prices, and responsive service. I’ll be tasting it soon.The gluten-free Almond Torte – part of a recent Galloping Gourment luncheon at Locals in Courtenay
The “Galloping Gourmet” menues aren’t new at Locals [250-338-6493, 364-8th Street, Courtenay www.localscomoxvalley.com + FB + @eatcomoxvalley], but they’re def worth mentioning. With the seasonal bounty flowing in from places like Pattison Farms in Black Creek [pattisonfarms.com +FB] the Galloping menues are an excellent reason to drop in for lunch or dinner. Three courses at great value. Me n’ some of the Girls Who Love Good Grub Club lunched there recently. Verdict? Much love. Nothing like local and organic to up the flavour quotient, bring a smile to the faces of the GWLGG. Locals will be pairing with Pattison Farms at #FlavourSept23.
Another thing that brings a smile to my fave member of the GWLGGClub is cycling to the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market on Wed’s and Sat’s. We buy lots of tomatoes. I usually buy the best cinnamon bun in the world. We meet lots of friends and have an impromptu brunch picnic. Very fun. You’ll find directions to the market, and even the occasional hot tip, online [+FB @CVFarmersMarket]. If you’re interested in being part of a cadre of “local food social media volunteers” please be in touch with me via @EatDrinkComoxV. Or just go ahead and take local food fotos, tag them #CVFarmersMarket, and post them to Flickr or Instagram. Super easy way to help local growers, members of the CVFarmersMarket, and our local economy.
Like AveB, Atlas Cafe in Courtenay [250-6th St. 250-338-9838 atlascafe.ca +FB] is exhibiting at #FlavourSept23 at Coastal Black Winery [2186 Endall Road, Black Creek 250-337-8325 www.coastalblack.ca @CoastalBlack + FB]. They’re also pairing up with the Comox Valley Art Gallery’s presentation of the Toronto Film Festival. Chef Jonathan Frazier will be preparing a fresh sheet item to pair with the theme of the evenings’ film, and ticket holders will receive 15% off their meals. Dates and details available at the CVAG website at j.mp/CVAGatlas.
The Union Street Grill’s “Frequent Diner Contest” is a way to earn a $100 Family Ticket to #FlavourSept23. The draw date is Sept 18. It’s one example of how Mark and Danielle are doing good stuff for local diners and producers. Another is their roster of weekly menues: Family Night on Sun, Burger Night on Mon, Jamabalay on Tues, Caesar Caesar on Weds, Neighbourhood Night on Thurs, Seafood Fri, and Ribs on Sat. My fave? Thurs because it’s a good time and place for downtowners to mix n’ mingle – and thetapas and sangria are discounted.
With my Mom about to visit it’s time for me finally check out the Common Ground Cafe just down the road from me [596-5th Street Courtenay 250-897-1111 +FB]. She likes it, and lots of folks rave about the soups and salads. Open Mon-Fri.
Cumberland’s Dunsmuir Ave. has become a “flavour stroll” destination. Take your pick of Riders Pizza [250-400-7433, B-2730 Dunsmuir www.riderspizza.com +FB], Seeds Natural Food Market [250-336-0129, 2733 Dunsmuir www.seedsfoodmarket.ca FB], Wandering Moose Cafe [250-400-1111 2739 Dunsmuir www.wanderingmoose.ca +FB], the Waverley Hotel [2692 Dunsmuir Ave. 250-336-8322 waverleyhotel.ca +FB], Cumberland Village Bakery [250-336-2411, 2747 Dunsmuir], Carmie’s Catering and Cafe [2699 Dunsmuir 250-336-2667 carmie.jigsy.com +FB]. Enjoyed a delish picnic from a recent newcomer to Dunsmuir: Mar’s on Main [2744 Dunsmuir 250-400-6277 +FB]. Just off the high street, the Gatehouse Bistro [250-336-8099, 3rd & Penrith] delivers a different example of Euro fine dining every weekend.
I’m liking the local food energy coming from the Edible Valley crew [ediblevalley.podbean.com]. Blayne Prowse is a local and a self-described “hesitant foodie.” Jonathan Frazier is homeboy made good as Exec Chef at Atlas since 2005. As Edible Valley, they’ve just completed their first month recording and broadcasting at the Jet FM studio in Courtenay. Interviewees include local luminaries in yogurt, soda pop, and oysters. Watch for a series on #FlavourSept23 exhibitors this fall. I also really like Blayne’s FB “$100/month” local food challenge at facebook.com/ComoxValley100.
We should be seeing Royston’s Tree Island Yogurt [cultured-dairy.com +FB] on grocery store shelves soon. Merissa and Scott have been working on this product launch for several years (lots of hoops to jump through to make artisan dairy products…). I interviewed them recently for EatDrinkComoxValley.com as #FlavourSept23 exhibitors.
Here’s a restaurant opportunity in Qualicum Beach: Giovanni’s Restaurant is selling as the current owners want to spend more time with family. I love the food and will be sorry to see Giovanni go – a great chef and a consumate host. If you’ve got a hankering to step into his shoes, call his agent Frank Kusmer at 604 909-1271.
and a head’s up for October…
Moreka Jolar (co-author of the reknown Hollyhock Cooks) will be leading a 5-day food and cooking seminar at Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Centre, Oct 12-17. FMI: contact Hollyhock [Cortes Island, 800-933-6339 www.hollyhock.ca +FB @HollyhockLife]
- All sold out – but we still have tix to #FlavourSept23(eatdrinkcomoxvalley.com)
- Put your favourite Vancouver Island restaurant in the mix and you could win #VIFeast tickets(bonvivantvancouverisland.com)
- Gerry Pattison talks about local food and #FlavourSept23(eatdrinkcomoxvalley.com)