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A Culinary Adventure: Experiencing Parksville Uncorked 2012

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When you think of culinary destinations in North America, you conjure up images of New York, Vancouver or Boston. Vancouver Island as a culinary destination might not automatically come to your mind, but it may surprise you.

With great local products such as Little Qualicum Cheeseworks in Qualicum Beach and Blue Moon Winery in Courtenay, Vancouver Island is definitely on its way to making an impact on the culinary map. After living on the island for nearly four years, I can definitely attest to the fact that there are some amazing products and culinary experiences, from the amazing dessert wine at Dragonfly Hill Vineyard to the cheese from Salt Spring Island Cheese and everything in between.

It’s one of the reasons I was so excited to personally receive the invite from Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, Director of Sales & Marketing for Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre to attend and cover Parksville Uncorked 2012. I’d stayed at Tigh-Na-Mara previously but never attended an event at the resort so I was eager to see what Parksville Uncorked would have in store.

I attended Parksville Untapped and the festival’s signature event, Swirl and they were two of the best culinary events I’d ever attended both for the value and for the vendors. Parksville Untapped is in its 2nd year, but you would never know that it was a 2nd year event. Held at the Beach Club Resort, Untapped had over 18 microbreweries and 10 food vendors in attendance.

The venue was packed, filled to the brim with people in cowboy gear, fitting in with the Western theme. I sampled decadent chocolate truffles supplied by the Beach Club Resort as well as shrimp “spoons” chilled on an elaborately hand carved ice shelf. The food highlights for me included the porcini mushroom risotto ball made by Sysco Foods and the chocolate fountain supplied by Tigh-Na-Mara. Dipping strawberries into the fountain was just divine but I also loved the chocolate covered pretzels supplied by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I never knew that salty and sweet could work together so well in one item.

The big four Island breweries of Driftwood, Lighthouse, Vancouver Island & Phillips were definitely well represented and in attendance and there was also a Lower Mainland presence for breweries with Stanley Park Brewing, Granville Island & Whistler Beer in attendance. Though I’m not a beer drinker, I did manage to find a beer that I ended up enjoying. The Beach Club Resort had an ice luge that allowed beer to flow through it and directly into the glass. I just had to try it, as I’d never had what I call a “drink performance” before. I tried the Ephemere Pomme Beer after it flowed through the luge and the delivery method did impact on the taste of the beer, it was definitely more refreshing.

I also discovered a cider that has become my favorite. Although I’m usually not much of cider drinker, I was attracted to the board at Merridale Cider’s table that described their Meri-Beri cider with apples and variety of BC berries. It sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to try it. With each sip that I had, I could taste the distinct flavours of raspberry, strawberry and blueberry.

To cap off the night at Parksville Untapped, a country cover band performed a variety of songs, my favourite of which was “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, which was also their best cover, in my opinion.

As someone who is learning day by day to love wine, Swirl definitely fit my tastes even more than Untapped did. With over 150 BC wines being poured at the event and over 50 wineries showcasing their wines, I couldn’t wait to find some new favourites.

I was happy to see some standby favourites on the vendor list, including Jackson Triggs, Inniskillin, Mission Hill and Sumac Ridge, but I also noticed the presence of a few smaller wineries that I’d tried before like Elephant Island and St. Hubertus and I wanted to try more varieties from them as well.

With a jazz band playing and over 500 people sampling the wine as well as the chocolate fountain with desserts and strawberries to dip, I wanted to sample as much as I could and avoid the crowds. I loved the grilled cheese sandwich that Tigh-Na-Mara supplied and it paired beautifully with the Cranberry wine from Mooberry Winery.

On the list of wineries that I tried, I would have to say that my ultimate favourite was Elephant Island’s 2010 Framboise which was sweet without being overpowering and had just the right amount of tartness. It paired wonderfully with dessert and was followed by a close second, MooBerry’s Cranberry Wine and then St. Hubertus’s Gewürztraminer. Rounding out the tip five I had Muse’s Pinot Gris, Summerhill’s Rose and Calliope Wines’ Rose.

For a festival that’s four years old, it’s definitely impressive that Parksville Uncorked has attracted so many different food vendors and wineries but how does a four-year old festival continue to grow and become more successful?

According to Wendy Sears, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Beach Club Resort, it’s all about partnership. “The cornerstone to the success of Parksville Uncorked is partnership and not just the partnership between Tigh-Na-Mara and the Beach Club Resort,” she tells me over drinks at Parksville Untapped. “It’s the collaboration between so many partners such as wineries, restaurants, breweries and food suppliers. We are all working together to support not only tourism in the Oceanside Region but to showcase the diversity of our food & beverage.”

So what’s next for a culinary festival that wants to make Parksville & the Oceanside region the go-to destination for the tourism off-season? Jenn had this to say when I asked her. ““Parksville Uncorked is truly a celebration of all things BC. The spectacular wines and amazing cuisine come together in this festival of tastes. Our goal is to continue to provide festival goers with the opportunity to experience the incredible products right in their own backyard.” And that’s definitely something I want to be a part of.

Editor’s Note Summer 2011

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Welcome to the summer edition of Island Times Magazine! We have been looking forward to this season all year long. It is our absolute favourite time of year because there is just so much to do on the Island when the weather is this nice. The staff here at Island TImes hope that all of you get out to experience the many things to do and see here on the Island and surrounding areas. We’ve highlighted just a few of them here in one of the biggest issues of the magazines to date. We’ve included features on Quadra Island and Oceanside, and covered such activities as mountain biking, horseback riding, and whale watching.

You will recognize some new names within this issue, including new writers and new advertisers. We are very fortunate to have support from all of you out there. It is because of you that we are able to produce such a varied magazine that appeals to both locals and visitors. Thank you for the support, and thank you all for reading.

This year marked Canada’s 144th birthday. Many of us celebrated the big day either by attending an outdoor concert at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, catching the parade in Port Alberni, or by watching the fireworks in downtown Victoria.  Being Canadian has meant a lot to us all, particularly this year as we anxiously watched the polling stations at the beginning of May and followed the Canucks games up until the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Below are a few select things you may not have known about this amazing country:

Throughout our history, Canadian inventors have patented over one million inventions. It’s popular knowledge that notable Canadians have played key roles in inventing the telephone and the light bulb, as well as the technology to broadcast voices and music over radio waves, but we’ve also created 5-Pin Bowling, Basketball, Lawn Sprinklers, Pacemakers, Imax Movies, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Paint Rollers, Zippers, and yes –  Snowblowers. A few other noteworthy items created by Canadians are: Electron Microscopes, Electric Car Heaters, and Goalie Masks.

During a brief period, Canada had its own brand of national comic book heroes, dating back to World War II. A foreign exchange crisis led to a ban being placed on the importation of US comics, including popular titles like Superman and Batman. But the demand for graphic stories didn’t just disappear, and that’s when Nelvana, Johnny Canuck, and Canada Jack emerged. Story lines had these superheroes battling against the Axis Powers, both abroad and on the home front.

The year Canada was born was the same year our postal service as we know it was born, yet its roots go back farther than Confederation. In fact, mail was being delivered in Canada as early as 1693 when the Portuguese-born Pedro da Silva was paid to deliver mail between Quebec City and Montreal. Official postal services began in 1775, under the control of the British Government up to 1851. The first postage stamp entered the scene that same year. Then, in 1867 the newly formed Dominion of Canada created the Post Office Department as a federal government department to provide uniform service.

Canada is known for many things, one of which happens to be our large fresh water supply that comes from our extremely large quantity of lakes. The Atlas of Canada says that the number of lakes larger than three square kilometres is estimated at close to 31,752. It would seem there are too many to count. There are also 561 lakes with a surface area larger than 100 km2. For the mathematicians, this means that almost nine percent (891,163 square kilometres) of Canada’s total area is covered by fresh water.

To visitors, Canadian spelling may seem a bit “off.”  This isn’t because we are making up our own conventions, it is because we have adopted Canadian English from waves of immigration that spanned two centuries. Just think: Our language has been influenced by First Nations, French Canadians, British Loyalists, and the Irish. We came to favour British spelling in most cases largely because of Canada’s first prime minister, John A. MacDonald, who once ordered that government papers be written in the British style.

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Fire and Ice Street Festival, May 7, 11:00am – 3:00pm Qualicum Beach

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Every year the main streets of the village are closed to traffic as up to 5,000 people from mid-Vancouver Island and Vancouver’s Lower Mainland visit for this fun-filled family event. Along with the festival, Qualicum Beach offers a unique mix of gift & specialty shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. This area is also home to an array of artists and artisans, many of whom welcome visitors to their studios. Qualicum Beach is located on the sheltered eastern shores of Vancouver Island, just 40 km. north of Nanaimo, and an easy ferry ride from Vancouver.

 

Chili Cook-Off

Vancouver Island’s famous chili cook-off is once again one of the centrepieces of the Qualicum Beach Fire and Ice Street Festival. Join us to see up to 25 teams in their decorated booths compete for the best tasting chili served by enthusiastic cooks. Teams must prepare a minimum of 75 litres of chili with each team having its own distinct flavour. A one-time cup purchase for $3.00 from the festival ticket sellers will allow you to go from team to team on the streets of our quaint and friendly town sampling the culinary fare and voting for your favourite. The teams, all from local restaurants, supermarkets, golf courses, organizations and businesses, are competing for the “Best Professional”, “Best Amateur”, and the coveted “PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD”.

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Historic BC Ferry Becomes Vancouver’s Newest Wedding and Special Event Venue

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Formerly called “Queen of the Islands”, this decommissioned BC ferry was the first ferry built to service the new routes to the Southern Gulf Islands and made its maiden voyage in 1963. After undergoing two years of extensive renovations and upgrading, Celebration On Water is now ready to receive the public again. Permanently anchored at Mosquito Creek Marina in North Vancouver, the location offers guests of the venue 360 degree views of the downtown cityscape, Vancouver Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore mountains.

Bought by Happy Hour Eats & Drinks Ltd., its future was undecided until a chance comment by a visitor launched it towards its present purpose. Looking around at the big space and the panoramic views, the visitor remarked that it would be a great place to get married and the idea was born from there. With over 8,500 square feet of public space between the newly renovated dining room, the covered main patio and the upper sundeck, the venue can hold receptions for up to 500 people and sit-down dinners for up to 250 people.

A Grand Opening reception will take place on Friday May 13th, 2011. Anyone interested in being added to the guest list is urged to contact Michelene Skakoon at 604-980-8594.

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The Basics

The concept behind backyardbc is simply to encourage residents of British Columbia to travel more within the Province. What this means for you is that participating hotels & resorts offer rates and specials that are available exclusively to residents of BC, essentially a “be a tourist in your own backyard” type of program.

In order to take advantage of these savings, you need to be a resident of British Columbia (proof of residency required upon check-in), and you need to book your accommodation directly with our participating properties. Each offer has its own unique reservation code attached to it, and you simply need to mention this code (for toll-free reservations), or enter the code into the properties’ online booking engine.

Each offer is tied to BAR (best available rate), so you don’t need to worry about shopping for a lower rate on another website. At www.backyardbc.com, each participating property offers residents of BC a discount off of their best available rate.

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NEW LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program – Parksville Selected as Umbrella Organization

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Small businesses will be able to access free energy-efficiency advice, equipment and incentives with the new LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program.

The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that they have been selected as the umbrella organization to provide the Services of a Business Energy Advisor to businesses with current BC Hydro costs under $50,000.00/year on the Central/North Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast.
Brian Pasquill has been engaged by the Chamber to deliver the program.

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Fish Philosophy From The Finest

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He’s been a fisherman all his life, and with 70-years of experience under his belt, Courtenay’s Ralph Shaw shows us the “magic” of fishing.

Perched on the tailgate of his 1980 Ford pickup truck, the 84-year-old Ralph Shaw sips a cup of hot coffee, awaiting my arrival.
Mr. Shaw has been at the lake since 8:30 that morning, and our interview wasn’t until 10:00. “It was a good excuse to come out fishing,” says the seasoned fisherman from Courtenay.

Aside from the fishing excursion being an educational and relaxing one, it was also very fascinating to see someone with such a raw passion in action. “Now, maybe you can understand why I’m addicted to this,” he says. A Fish Philosophy from the Finest.

Read more about Courtenay’s infamous Ralph Shaw in our NEW spring issue.

Be sure to find your copy on the streets April 1st!

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Experience Salt Spring’s Finest! Hasting House Resort, Spa and Resort.

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Hastings House is a country hotel and luxury resort, spa, and restaurant covering 22 acres of countryside at the waterfront of Ganges Harbour. The site has a unique history and many personalized touches, but each suite includes all of the modern-day amenities and finishing touches one would expect from a beautiful destination. “Our luxury resort allows guests to return to an era of grace and simplicity,” says General Manager, Kelly McAree. “Eighteen unique guest rooms and suites, each with its own décor and history, are situated in seven lovingly maintained buildings around the estate.”

Be sure to find your copy of this story and our NEW Spring Issue! On the streets by April 1st!

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The Vancouver Island Pet Expo on May 28th & 29th at Pearkes Recreation Centre

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The Vancouver Island Pet Expo is a two day consumer event for pet lovers on May 28th & 29th at Pearkes Recreation Centre. There will be wide variety of pet related exhibitors promoting or selling pet products, supplies and accessories, representatives from breeder clubs, pet adoption agencies, plus much more. In addition to the pet-related products & services there will be fun entertainment and hands-on attractions for the whole family throughout the entire weekend

www.vancouverislandpetexpo.com

Contact:
Jill R. Stefanyk
778-433-5201
jill@vancouverislandpetexpo.com

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The 2nd Annual Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Expo – Pearkes Recreation Centre – April 1,2 & 3, 2011

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The 2nd Annual Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Expo comes to Victoria at Pearkes Recreation Centre on April 1,2 & 3, 2011. This three-day event is a must for the Outdoor Adventure seeker! With a large variety of exhibit spaces featuring camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, whale watching, biking, surfing, outdoor getaways, travel, products and accessories – plus so much more! Try your hand at Archery with the 40ft Range. Experience the first ever mobile Monkido Experience station at the Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Expo. For a minimum $2, guests can get a sample of the primal fun and games available at all WildPlay Element Parks. All proceeds benefit Power to Be.

Adults – $8
Kids– $4
Family of 4 – $20

Want to spend more than one day the expo add $2 and get a weekend pass! For more information, visit www.vancouverislandoutdoorexpo.com

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