When I plan a vacation, I tend to use what I refer to as a “foodie perspective”. If I am going to the Okanagan I want to find fresh fruit stands and visit the local wineries. If I am in Hawaii then tropical fruit & fresh seafood is a must, as well as Maui onions & Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes (and Mai Tai’s of course!). My trip to Italy obviously had to include pasta and wine, and in Greece, Cyprus & Turkey we were on a mission to taste the best Mediterranean Meze!
Vancouver Island has become a haven for culinary tourism, and we have visitors coming to explore not only the amazing scenery and outdoor activities, but also the local restaurants, fresh produce, fruit, wine, honey, sea salt, coffee, yogurt, seafood, and more. The problem is, not every traveller has the time nor the knowledge to source out the local specialties.
When I first visit an area, I start online to learn as much as I can. But I still have a hard time finding everything and everybody. How nice it would it be to order ahead of time, and have all those items delivered to my vacation home shortly after I arrive! We have all made it to the last day of vacation, when we finally find that bakery with the perfect cinnamon buns or the bison pepperoni to die for. If only we had known sooner!
There are other challenges of being a travelling foodie. When I go on vacation, my first stop upon landing is often at a grocery store to grab coffee, milk, and bread – a few basics so that I am prepared for the next morning. Ok, first would be wine, and then a few groceries! On one of my recent trips, I arrived at my destination around 9:00 pm. It was mid-winter, pitch black, dumping rain, and I had to stop and buy coffee. Grocery store coffee. What I really would have liked the next morning was locally roasted coffee, fresh yogourt, blackberries, and homemade granola. But no, that was the next day, which was spent grocery shopping instead of exploring. And since I arrived on a Sunday evening, I missed the farmers market and couldn’t grab other local specialties.
Over the course of the week I did manage to prepare an amazing seafood chowder one evening with local spot prawns, scallops & salmon. A few potatoes, onions & garlic, a splash of wine, some cream and a loaf of wood-fired bread were really all I needed to complete the meal. I sat looking out over the ocean and was in my glory. I am sure I was the only person who had every dirtied so many dishes in that hotel room! Pasta with prawns one day, omelettes with fresh farm eggs the next, a few amazing dinners at local restaurants – a perfect balance for someone whose vacation is best spent enjoying good quality cuisine!
Don’t get me wrong. My family is perfectly happy with breakfast from Timmy’s and Old Dutch Ripple Chips with French Onion Dip! This is not about excluding those cravings, or steering travellers away from the amazing restaurants that the Island has to share. It is about offering options. Personally, I would like to sip my coffee out of a large ceramic mug, and eat homemade jam made with local berries. Perhaps a pub lunch on the dock somewhere and a nice dinner out. Or switch it up and enjoy a huge breakfast at the local café, with a simple dinner of smoked salmon and local cheeses on my deck! Options.