Whether your tastes lean to the fresh-grown flavours from our Island farms and wineries or world-class dining from celebrated chefs, foodies will have plenty to write home about from their Vancouver Island vacation.
From beautiful cheeses and exotic meats to homemade breads, pies and preserves, farmers’ markets are a great way to capture the real flavour of a region, while also picking up some yummy treats for a picnic lunch or summer supper on the beach.
Favourite Victoria-area markets include the Moss Street Market near downtown Victoria and the Peninsula Summer Market on the Saanich Peninsula. Duncan offer several farmers’ market to offer visitors the bounty of the Cowichan Valley while in Nanaimo the Downtown Farmers’ Market welcomes shoppers to Pioneer Waterfront Plaza every Friday from late May to October.
One of the finest farmers’ markets on the Island is in the Comox Valley, where you can sample the delicious bounty from “the Land of Plenty,” while Campbell River’s Pier Street Farmers’ Market is located right in front of the entrance to the Discovery Fishing Pier, surrounded by the stunning scenery of Georgia Strait, Fisherman’s Wharf, Discovery Pier, and the new Maritime Heritage Centre.
For winery and cidery enthusiasts, most of the Island’s vineyards have sampling rooms and wine shops. Farm tours are available from several areas, particularly Victoria, Duncan and the Comox Valley. For details about agriculture tours and market locations, stop by local Visitor Centres.
Artisan brewing is a growing area of expertise on the West Coast, and beer lovers will find much to please the palate, while for festivals of a foodie variety, it doesn’t get any better than the inaugural Victoria Spot Prawn Festival, May 25 and 26. A celebration of seasonal, sustainable and local seafood, the festival will fill the historic Roundhouse at Bayview Place with the tastes, sights and sounds of sustainable food and lifestyle choices, with a special emphasis on spot prawns and other sustainable seafood.
If your travels take you to the Sunshine Coast, be sure your to-do list includes the May 25 and 26 Lund Seafood Festival, and the yummy Blackberry Festival Street Party Aug. 16, while wine afficianados will want to make a note of the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival in September. Farther north, Mt. Washington Resort celebrates the end of summer with an Alpine Food and Wine Festival Aug. 9 and 10.
Luckily foodies won’t have to wait until festival season to sample their favourite fare, thanks to the excellent array of dining options, ranging from casual fare to fine cuisine. And with more chefs also embracing the benefits of local ingredients, the flavours of the Island are always close at hand.