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A taste for Victoria

Taste, Victoria's festival of food and wine, sets the table for July 25 to 28
Hotel Grand Pacific executive sous chef Ian Gaord holds a tray of grilled vegetable bruschetta at the launch of Taste

Gastronomy can be easy on southern Vancouver Island, but you have to know where to look.

Enter Kathy McAree, the culinary expert behind Taste, Victoria's festival of food and wine. For the past five years, McAree has been bringing together many of the Capital Region's restauranteurs and food suppliers who have embraced the renaissance of locally sourced food and wine.

"I don't know of many places who have the incredible ability of chefs and farmers and suppliers who work together as well as they do here on south Vancouver Island and in Victoria," McAree said.

"We live in a very special place and that is what Taste is all about."

The culinary festival takes place July 25-28, and features food and wine pairings from the likes of Zambri's, Bistro 28, Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and dozens of other restaurants, cheese makers and wineries.

On July 26, get a peek behind the scenes at Finest at Sea's operations and learn how fisherman and owner Bob Fraumeni finds the best seafood in the Pacific Ocean.

Other events include a sampling of lesser-knowng grape varietals like Auxerrois, Siegerrebe and Ortega that flourish in Vancouver Island's coolers climate, and a seminar by Silk Road tea experts on the regional characteristics of international tea leaves. Organizers purport the varietals of tea leaves to be as diverse as wine.

The Hotel Grand Pacific plays host to the festival's pinnacle event, Swine and the Vine (July 27), when a full fire-roasted suckling pig will be served alongside unique pork dishes like pork tongue terrine, Swedish potato sausages and steamed barbecue pork buns.

"Everything has a story," McAree said. "In telling that story, we're promoting everything that's happening in our backyard."

For details and tickets, visit