To Sarah Walsh on re-opening our favourite fresh pasta factory. Prontissima Pasta [250-338-3636, 2384 Unit C Rosewall Crescent, Courtenay – that’s in TinTown www.prontissimapasta.com +FB] re-opened in early December. They’re also selling amazing fresh-frozen mid-coast seafood from Nusi Seafood [250-957-2324 +FB]. We love the pasta. We love the cleaned, ready-to-eat crabs. We love that it’s in our neighbourhood.
To Mark and Danielle Duncan: This January marks 19 years for Union Street Grill [250-897-0081, 477-5th Street, Courtenay +FB @UnionStreetGril] in downtown Courtenay location. Watch for reprises on historic favourites during the anniversary month. But Mark and Danielle aren’t just innovative and enterprising restauranteurs, they’ve emerged as important players in the “local food” scene and in the reinvention of my downtown. Thanks for that!
Next: the New Year’s Eve lineup
Locals Restaurant [250-338-6493, 364-8th Street, Courtenay + FB] will be busy and if there is still room reservations are strongly suggested. Immediately after New Year’s, Locals launches its Customer Appreciation month with a January is customer appreciation month a Locals Restaurant and we will be offering a special 3 course dinner for $28. They’ll also be giving away a Valentine’s Dinner for 2. (pssst: BIG rumours around about some Spring changes likely coming to Locals, our flagship “local food” restaurant in the Comox Valley. We should know more for our February or March column.) Also: stay tuned for Chef Ronald St. Pierre as part of a “wine panel” feature we’ll be launching soon.
“Candlelight New Years Eve Dinner” at Union Street Grill builds on the popular dark and sparkly series at USG (see our review here). The success of downtown’s Delicious December and WinterFest have got Chef Mark Duncan thinking big about local food: clams, oysters, Butchers’ Block [319-4th Street, Courtenay 250-338-1412 ] meats – venison sausages, Tannadice Farm bacon, ham –, and Natural Pastures’ cheeses [250-334-4422 635 McPhee Avenue Courtenay ]. USG is the first venue to carry Island Soda Works [250-203-1072 +FB] on tap. We’re big fans of what Mandolyn does at ISW, creating flavourful local, organic, all natural soda pop and interviewed her as part of our Flavour coverage here. USG staff changes see Jasmine, Vanessa, and Serena joining the USG team and Dannielle Goulet taking a 3-month Thai sabbatical.
South of town recently appointed Executive Chef Philippe Gagne is ringing in the New Year with a Gourmet Seafood Buffet at The Breakwater Restaurant [at Kingfisher Resort 4330 Island Highway 250-338-1323 and 800-663-7929 +FB].
Up the hill at Crown Isle, Chef Andrew Stigant is preparing 3 and 4-course New Year’s Eve dinners and New Year’s Day brunch menus at the Timber Room Restaurant [399 Clubhouse Drive 250-703-5050 www.crownisle.com]. Crown Isle’s Director of Operations Gregor Mowatt comes with a background in wine. Watch for him as part of our upcoming “wine panel” feature.
Typically, neither Atlas Café [250-6th Street, Courtenay 250-338-9838 atlascafe.ca +FB] nor Avenue Bistro [2064 Comox Ave 250-890-9200 www.avenuebistro.ca +FB + @AvenueBistro] are open for New Year’s Eve. This year you’ll find both open and serving customizable 3-course menus. Sommelier Connie Earl brings her expertise to bear on wine lists at both venues. She’s the third member of our “wine panel.”
Later in the month we’re looking forward to what Chef Joe Volk puts together for the Alderlea wine pairing dinner Angler’s Dining Room [at Dolphins Resort, 1-800-891-0287, 4125 Discovery Drive / www.dolphinsresort.com +FB @DolphinsResort] on January 25th and 26th. Note also that the popular “3 for $30” menu is back January 7.
Across Discovery Channel, Taku Resort on Quadra Island [616 Taku Road, Quadra Island 1-877-285-8258 www.takuresort.com +FB] is making itself a destination for culinary tourism. The resort is hosting chefs from BC and abroad to teach cookery and work with Quadra Island’s fresh local food. Feb 2-6 features a “5 Day Advanced Cookery Course” with Chefs Benedict Haines and Maynard Harvey from France. Their Loire Valley-based Walnut Grove Cookery consistently ranks among the top 10 for “Culinary Holiday Destinations in Europe.” Kudos to Taku for bringing this kind of talent and attention to the local food from our region!
A month of special menus and good food deals kicks off in the Comox Valley with the 4th annual Dine Around Comox Valley event Feb 17 – March 20. More details and menus to come. FMI on menus and accommodation packages contact Discover Comox Valley at 1-855-400-2882 [www.discovercomoxvalley.com].
Later in February it’s the 5th annual Parksville Uncorked [ @PksvlleUncorked 1-855-254-WINE] from Feb 21-24 starting with an “untapped” (beer) event and flowing into a series of wine and food adventures. It’s usually a “sold out” event so early reservations recommended.
And, we’re holding our breath as Tita’s, our favourite ever Mexican restaurant, [250-334-8033, 536-6th Street, Courtenay +FB] is still up for sale (meanwhile delivering the service and complex flavours that make it an Island treasure). Magic for the right restauranteur.
Local Food Hero promotion update
Our focus is on good flavours, good service, and local food. Since the summer of 2012 we’ve been working with several organizations and restaurants to help sing the praises of the Island’s “local food heroes.” Thanks to our 2012 #localfoodhero sponsors: Vancouver Island Feast of Fields, Flavour Gourmet Picnic, Avenue Bistro, Union Street Grill, Dark Side Chocolates, and Courtenay VQA Wine Store.
Our 2013 #localfoodhero season kicks off with a challenge: What is a “local food hero?” Once again we’ll give you a month to respond. Every response is entered to receive $100 in dining at what many believe is one of Vancouver Island’s best places to eat, Atlas Café in downtown Courtenay. (Thanks for sponsoring, Atlas!)
29 December 2012