A Day of Food, Fun, and Facing my Fears, in Beautiful Vancouver

vancouver-skyline

During a recent visit to Vancouver Island, we took a 2 hour ferry ride from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver. We set out at the crack of dawn to make the early ferry so we would have lots of time for adventures and sight-seeing.

Once on the mainland, we headed for the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. None of us had been there before, so we were ready to explore.

Now, I have a confession to make; I am terrified of heights!

The Capilano Suspension bridge runs 450 feet across the Capilano River, suspended 230 feet in the air. Crossing the bridge was a personal challenge for me that I was thrilled to meet. Once you are across, the only way back is to walk the other way back across the bridge. Walking over the first time was the most frightening because another visitor decided to run across the bridge sending it into a sway that felt like we were walking across a moving floor.

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capilano-bridge-sign

The bridge is not the most challenging activity in the park. There is also a Cliff Walk that is a narrow walkway that runs along the side of the cliff facing, which has been described as “not for the faint of heart”. I know what you are thinking; and yes, I did the cliff walk as well. I moved slowly across the walkway, stopping every so often to take a photo of the magnificent view. By the time I got to the end I was shaking. It was difficult to tell if it was from fear or the excitement of completing the crossing.

Sometimes, facing your fears can be liberating.

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After some time at the park and some shopping downtown we headed for Vancouver’s Granville Island. I love the rows of shops selling unique artisanal work, gourmet treats and wonderful treasures. I think to do Granville Island justice you need to really make a day of it. You could visit the public farmer’s market and wander the stores for hours without getting bored.

We wandered around until it was almost dark and then decided to try an interesting looking bistro.

Granville-island-market

Edible Canada at the Market offers a prixe fix dinner menu for $28 that is a wonderful selection of local BC and Canadian cuisine. The restaurant has an upscale bistro look, with a relaxed atmosphere. There is a long, open kitchen facing the dining area so you can watch the chefs as they work their magic.

We were greeted by a pleasant group of staff and seated by the window. It was decided that we would each order something different for each of the 3 courses so we could share and taste more of what was offered.

The first appetizer was a rich and flavourful Celeriac and Apple soup with a hint of garam masala. The second was Fried BC Mountain Scallops that were served with brown sugar, bacon, baked beans and cornbread. They were not as I expected, due to the name, but the complex flavours were very interesting. Finally, we tried the Yarrow Meadows Duck Rillette, a Rougie fois gras served with Saskatoon berries, mustard, pickled onions and crostini. It was more rustic that any fois gras that I have experienced in Provence but the combination with the berries was perfect.

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For the main course we tried three more dishes. The first, a Butternut squash and Cheese Ravioli served in brown sage butter with toasted walnuts. This is a dish that I often make at home but their version also included slices of roasted winter vegetables that added enough interest to make it seem like a whole new dish.

The second main was a Sear Lois Lake Steelhead fish from the Fraser Valley. It was accompanied by winter kale, wild boar bacon and roasted sunchokes from a local farm. Another hit!

The last main that we tried was the Head to Tail Lamb and Barley Stew. This rich and delightful stew included carrots and parsnips and was served with slices of local baguette.

All of the mains were enjoyed with a glass of Market Red 2012 wine that was blended specifically for the restaurant from a variety of reds from the Okanagan Valley. It was such a wonderful blend filled with notes of black cherry and plums. We had hoped that it was not a private blend as we wanted the take a bottle home.

Chef's-station-edible-canada

The last course consisted of a Canadian butter tart and a Bacon Ice Cream Sundae. Need I say more?

The staff were attentive without making us feel rushed. They were knowledgable about the ingredients and very engaging in conversation. It felt as though they were as proud of the food as the owners must have been.

I don’t usually write restaurant reviews but Edible Canada was the kind of place that you want people to try when visiting Vancouver. They also offer culinary tours and a lovely food shop for those who want to take home some local cuisine.

We ended our visit to Vancouver with a late ferry ride back to the island. It was a great day filled with adventure, new experiences and great food. I cannot wait to go back.

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Hiding from Old Man Winter at the Beach House

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We decided that we had had enough of the winter weather in Toronto. This year has been particularly bad for snow, freezing rain and below freezing temperatures, so we made our escape to our favourite beach house on Vancouver Island. We had spent a week there last summer and could not forget how much fun we had, while staying there. We knew that the weather would be much milder than in Toronto and we needed a break. The island days were much warmer so I did not need to wear boots, hats or scarves for the entire week.

Seagull

The beach house is nestled in a quiet strip of land on the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. We have relatives and friends living a few minutes away, in Courtenay, so we visit with them during our stay.

There is something remarkable about waking up to the view of the ocean right outside your door. Even in winter, it can be good for your soul. We did; however; have a couple of days where the fog set in and we could not see the water that was only across the street. We walked over and watched the ducks and gulls floating softly on the water. It was almost as if they had also come to the beach for refuge.

I love spending my vacation days sourcing out new and interesting places to eat. One of those days we tried a little spot for breakfast in Courtenay that turned out to be a real treasure. The Ohhh So Yummy Cafe at 1190 Cliffe Ave. sits in front of the Comox Valley Inn, but is independently run.

It is one of those truly special breakfast places that serve up memories on a plate. You may have to line up to get in but it would be worth the wait. I had a special Eggs Benedict that was served with roasted yams, feta and grilled mushrooms. The owner talked me into trying the hollandaise sauce with a hint of curry. The combination of the yams and the curry was extraordinary!

Yummy-eggs

Another day we decided to explore Qualicum Beach which is father south on the coast. We spent a leisurely afternoon exploring shops and antique stores then decided to head north on the Old Island Highway. We found a rather unique spot just outside of town called the Shady Waterfront Restaurant, Pub, and Liquor Store.

It was time for dinner and we were intrigued by the combination of pub, liquor store and restaurant so we stopped to check it out. The place, built in 1924, was run by 3 generations of the Kinkade family over a 61 year period. In 1985 Wane Duncan, a restaurateur from Victoria bought the business and has run it ever since. It is a favourite of the locals for its casual, welcoming atmosphere and breathtaking views.

The rustic pub sits at the water’s edge with a bank of windows facing the spectacular beach that runs the full length of the dining room. The menu looked like a list of every comfort food you could imagine from fresh oysters and pot roast to schnitzel and ribs. Many of the dishes were made with local fish, oysters, meat and produce from the area. The striploin sandwich served on a garlic focaccia with tomato confit and a mound of beer battered onion rings was like a marriage of comfort food and modern bistro cuisine.

We left with that warm feeling you get after a wonderful family dinner. I will definitely go back on my next trip to the island.
Shady-steak-sandwich

After wandering around downtown Courtenay we stopped in at the Cardero Coffee and Tea Company on 5th St. for a latte and a snack. We tried the signature Cardero Latte flavoured with hazelnuts along with a strawberry tart. The latte was rich and creamy and nutty, all at once. If you ever find yourself in Courtenay on a Saturday I suggest you have breakfast at Ohhh So Yummy, followed by a trip to the local farmer’s market and a latte at Cardero’s.

Latte-Courtenay

No trip to the island would be complete without a drive to Campbell River. There are wonderful water walks and parks along the sea wall that go on for miles and the views are spectacular. We were lucky to hit it on a clear and beautiful day.

I loved walking along the waterfront while soaking up the sun. I cannot wait to return to Vancouver Island for another adventure.

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Lazy Summer Days and Peach Lemonade

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here”

Songwriters: C. TOBIAS, H. CARSTE

That song brings back memories of my childhood when my mother played Nat King Cole at summer BarBQs. Life was free and easy and summers were filled with fun in the sun.

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Campbell-river-beach

We just got back from a fun-filled vacation on Vancouver Island. We rented a charming beach house in the middle of the island that had views of the Comox Harbour and the ghost ships of Royston.

Our vacation was so amazing. I was really ready for a break from the city so when we arrived and I saw the breathtaking views of this island, I was in heaven. Every place we visited had wonderful views of the ocean and the mountains. I knew instantly that I was going to love this place.

Comox-Harbour-sailboat

We filled our days with touring, kayaking, photography, hiking and surfing. Our evenings were spent dining out or cooking for family and just relaxing under the stars.

Cape-Mudge-Lighthouse

One day we took a drive to Campbell River and took the ferry to Quadra Island. That is where I found this amazing lighthouse at Cape Mudge. I love lighthouses. There is something nostalgic and mysterious about them.

We spent another day checking out the farmers markets in the area. Summer is a great time to experiment with fresh ingredients from the market.

Vancouver Island is filled with treasures. I know I am going to need more time there to find them all.

peaches

This Peach Lemonade makes a cool, refreshing drink for a day at the beach or a picnic. The adults may wish to add Rum or Bourbon or just drink it as it is. Either way it is delicious.

Peachlemonade

Peach Lemonade

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

4 cups water

2 cups coarsely chopped peaches

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

4 cups ice

1 peach, pitted and cut into 8 wedges

Directions:

Combine the water, peaches and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.

Place peach mixture in a blender; let stand for 20 minutes. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Press peach mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Stir in lemon juice.

Place 1/2 cup ice in each of 8 glasses. Pour about 2/3 cup lemonade into each glass; garnish each glass with 1 peach wedge.

(For the adults only-Can be served with an ounce of Rum or Bourbon )

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine