As the harvest season winds down and Thanksgiving feasts are being planned, it’s still picnic on my mind. We just got in from a late September moment at Goose Spit in Comox: salad furnished from the garden and Grassi Point Market [4066 Island Highway South, Royston 250-338-7546], mains from Yummies and Gyros [279 Puntledge Road, Courtenay 250-338-2299 +FB ]. Blessed with a lingering summer, it’s a time for much celebration – and feasting.
Celebrations and events
We’ve enjoyed #VIFeast (Vancouver Island Feast of Fields ) and #FlavourSept23 (Flavour: the North Island Gourmet Picnic). Now it’s time for the 2nd Annual James Barber fundraising feast at Providence Farms. This year’s event has a “savour, spicy, and sweet” theme featuring local honey. Tickets can be purchased via email or telephone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-746-4204.
With their focus on in-season and local, it’s a busy busy time of year for Locals Restaurant [364-8th Street, Courtenay 250-338-6493 + FB + @eatcomoxvalley]. October 5-7 sees a weekend of Thanksgiving dinners featuring Tannadice Farms turkey, wild chanterelle mushrooms, and much more for $23.95 (the regular menu is also available). Mid-month expect a shift in the menu to reflect what’s in season locally. On Halloween night, Locals is cooking up a “Murder Mystery Gourmet Dinner” at Blue Moon Winery. [250-338-9765, 4905 Darcy Road @BlueMoonWinery]. The Locals/Blue Moon events sell out. Reservations required.
Beauty and the Feast is one of the fun, pot-luck events that sometimes happens via our Facebook page. It’s happening Oct 8 and it’s all about sharing food, being social – with some dancing afterwards.
At Anglers’ Dining Room [at Dolphins Resort, 1-800-891-0287, 4125 Discovery Drive +FB @DolphinsResort], Campbell River’s “fine dining hidden gem,” the month’s feature event is “Comfort Foods with a Twist” on October 26th and 27th. The 5-course menu pairs product from Victoria’s Phillips Brewing Co‘s with Chef Joe Volk‘s take on foods that warm from the inside out. It’s a cozy room. Reserve early.
One of the “big guys” at both #VIFeast and #FlavourSept23 was Avenue Bistro’s [2064 Comox Ave 250-890-9200 +FB + @AvenueBistro] Chef Aaron Rail. Earlier this year he launched the OBTEs – One Big Table Events. I’ve been to a couple. I’m coming back for more. They’re fun. They’re flavourful. And: they’re a good deal. After a summer break, Chef Aaron’s planning one for Monday, Oct 29. He’s working with Manager Connie Ear to a “best of BC Pinot Noir” pairing. It’s a notoriously fussy but fantastic grape. Watch the AveB FB page for details, or call or email to make a reservation. They sell out.
After the end-of-month sticky sweets n’ costumed shenanigans we’re saved from November doldrums by at least a couple of food and wine events. One is the 11th Annual Wine Fest at Crown Isle [399 Clubhouse Drive 250-703-5050 ] on Saturday, Nov 3 6-9pm. It sells out and is always packed. Lots of wines (regional and out-of-country). Lots of folks who know what they’re talking about when they pour your tipple. Delicious tastes from Chef Andrew Stigant and company to go with the vino. It’s a United Way fundraiser and tickets are $65. The rub? That same evening (Nov 3) I’ll also be enjoying fine fodder from Tria Fine Catering [250-871-8716 @triaculinary +FB] at the Comox Valley Art Gallery’s first masquerade fundraiser. It’s a “Cirque du Soiree” themed event with dinner, dance, show, and silent auction filling the bill. Tickets: $35, available at the CVAG gift shop or call 250-338-6211.
More good stuff happening at The Breakwater Restaurant [at Kingfisher Resort & Spa, 4330 Island Highway 250-338-1323 and 800-663-7929 +FB] as Meghan Walkerjoins the team as Sales & Events Coordinator. Most recently she was Membership Manager at the Qualicum Beach Chamber. Before that, Tigh-Na-Mara Resort. Tourism smarts and experiences from Oceanside are a welcome addition to our local scene. Note that The Breakwater is participating in this year’s “Candlelight Conservation Dinner” event on October 25.
One of my favourite bakers hung up her apron years ago. About a year ago, her sister Mary Kornelsen put on the apron when she and partner Innes McColl bought Tarbells’s Deli [2705 Dunsmuir Ave. 250-336-8863 ] in Cumberland. The focus is on “fresh” – Mary’s fresh-baked sweets – plus deli-style sandwiches on bread baked daily at Cumberland Village Bakery [2747 Dunsmuir Ave 250-336-2411]. Check the online menu for the seasonal shift circa Thanksgiving weekend. Open 10am-5pm Mon-Sat. Part of a blossoming food scene on Cumberland’s high street.
A reminder that the “fall tastings” have begun at Courtenay VQA Wine Store [7 – 3195 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay (across from Future Shop) 250-871-1444 @courtenayvqa +FB]. Every Friday and Saturday (3-6pm) get a taste of some of the 400 wines available
Downtown Courtenay’s high street has it’s own happening food and beverage scene, with Union Street Grill [250-897-0081, 477-5th Street, Courtenay +FB @UnionStreetGril] offering daily specials and weekend live music. My fave? The Thurs “neighbourhood nights” with discounts on tapas and drinks.
Just around the corner, Mad Chef Cafe [492 Fitzgerald Ave 250-871-7622 @MadChefCafe +FB] is a busy place with a rich menu of over-the-top flavours. A couple of recent faves: lamb burger, the amazing seafood salad, and of course, the Mad Chef Caesar cocktail: a meal in a glass (seriously, the garnish is a mini-salad!).
You can also find live music and food at the foot of Courtenay’s high street, Zocalo Cafe [208A 5th Street 250-331-0933 +FB]. My gal gives them the “thumbs up” for their breakfast and their coffee. Thurday-Saturday evenings is music and a tapas-style menu.
Across the street from the Zo, #1 Hana Korean [250-334-0868, 168 5th St] has opened in it’s new location with a full-on deck. I love the space – great views, lots of light. “Delicious” is how one friend described recent menu changes. I’m looking forward to updating the (positive) take-out review we did about a year ago. Liquor license in process.
Congratulations are in order to Chef Jonathan Frazier and the crew at Atlas Cafe [250-6th Street, Courtenay 250-338-9838 +FB]: they’ve won (another) accolade, this time for “Best Cafe on Vancouver Island,” thanks to the readers at BC Living! The Atlas team sends a post-event shout out to their suppliers and collaborators at #FlavourSept23: BC Wild Seafood and Eatmore Sprouts and Greens [2604 Grieve Rd, Courtenay 250-338-4860 ] for their “amazing products and flavours.” Watch for a seasonal shift in the menu this month. Note: You can follow some of Chef Jonathan’s extracurricular food activities via Twitter at @EdibleValley.
I’ve mentioned Tannadice Farms [3465 Burns Road, Courtenay 250-338-8239 ] several times now, for good reason: meat that’s local, and full of flavour. You can buy from the farm, or at Butcher’s Block in downtown Courtenay [319-4th Street, Courtenay 250-338-1412 ]. Nice to see that Butcher’s Block has a range of fresh local produce. They also serve what my gal says are the “best sausage rolls in town.”
A new source for one of my favourite meats is located deep in the heart of West Merville, a stone’s throw from where I used to live. Twin Beaks is currently taking orders for fresh or frozen free-range duck. To order contact Laurie Beldam at email@example.com or call 250-337-2019.
Celebrating local food
Social media (posts, fotos, videos, etc) are great ways to celebrate local food venues and producers. We’re running a series of contests that’ll win some folks tasty prizes at a few of my fave regional venues. In October Union Street Grill has put up $100 worth of dining. In November, Avenue Bistro’s the prize. For more info and updates…
Got food news?
Am I missing something? If you’ve got food news to share, please send a note to me via Twitter at @eatdrinkcomoxv, our Facebook page, or this online form. I look forward to hearing from you!