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SAVOURING VANCOUVER ISLAND-ONE BITE AT A TIME
By Colleen Friesen
For Travel Writers' Tales
"This," says Rose Lee with a grin, "is a bike tour where you won't break a sweat."


Rose Lee of The Pedaler

Along with some fellow travel writers, I've arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. We've been outfitted with some cool cruiser bikes from The Pedaler, along with the aforementioned promise of sweat-free city-riding. In retrospect, I wish Ms. Lee had taken us on a hilly marathon to help combat the calories we were about to take in, because this bike-propelled food tour was merely the start to an epic four-day Savour Vancouver Island culinary press trip.

As promised, we cruised through Victoria's flat streets, gorging on tasty-treats like Zambri's hand-crafted pizza, two (!) ice cream tastings, Stir It Up Jamaican patties, delightful brews at Fernwood Coffee, beers at The Guild and topped it all off with Bon Macarons.

After leaving our bikes, and, just in case we were feeling a little peckish, we headed over to the Victoria Public Market. The market opened in September 2013, housed in the historical and very-renovated former Hudson Bay store. There's a farmers market each Wednesday, but the rest of the week is for visiting the permanent food vendors like the delectable food at La Cocina de Mama. I slurped back tortilla soup that rivalled any I've had in Mexico and then hoovered a plate of sinfully-caramelized plantains before we went on for pastries, pie, Indian food, roasted pork and artisanal goat cheese.


Tortilla Soup

By the time we left the market, had drinks and appetizers at the Magnolia Hotel's Catalano Res-taurant and then bellied up to the platters of pork and beef at the busy North 48 Restaurant, I was drop-dead dizzy with caloric overload.

By the middle of the second day I made a call home to complain. My phone call did not go at all like I planned. I wanted sympathy from my husband and clearly he was not going to deliver. "Look," I tried again, "this Vancouver Island culinary tour is just so exhausting. I can't eat any more. I can't have one more freshly-shucked oyster, tuck into any more Cold Comfort ice cream or eat another speck of Salt Spring Island goat cheese.

He laughed.

I tried again.

"I'm too old for this. We've eaten our way through Victoria, Saltspring Island and Cowichan and it's only just past noon. I want to come home and flop on the couch. I don't want to try one more cocktail with appetizers after spending a day grazing through food markets. I don't want another glass of Prosecco or a special martini...no matter how perfectly dry."


Prosecco at Long Beach Lodge

He chuckled annoyingly and said, "You know you love it."

I tried not to sound huffy when I said goodbye. Besides, it was time to tuck into the Merridale Ciderworks for the charcuterie platter and then go out for dinner.


Cowichan Bay

The next morning we arrived in Tofino and enjoyed a couple of food-free hours to walk on the surf-pounded beach. Thankfully, the fresh air helped create a little belly space so I could enjoy what would turn out to be one of the best dinners of my life.

The Wolf in the Fog restaurant had a great vibe; woodsy, hip but without pretence…but the food! Oh my! I've always loved Tofino, but if there was nothing else in the entire town but this restaurant, I'd make the trip. (Subsequent to this tour I found out that Wolf in the Fog was named the best new restaurant in Canada in enRoute's annual top 10 list; a very well-deserved honour).


Dogs on Long Beach

Finally, after an entire long weekend of feasting in Tofino, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Salt Spring Island and Victoria, I arrived home; knackered, thicker and quite determined that I would make up for all those debauched hours by sipping only water and nibbling on kale leaves.

Instead, I tugged on my sweat pants, settled into the sofa beside the man who refused to under-stand my hard life, and opened up the box of Rogers chocolates that had somehow snuck into my bag.

Flipping open my laptop, I scrolled through the past four days of photos and smiled. I licked some chocolate off my fingers and adjusted my waistband to their largest big-mama setting.

Kevin bit into another chocolate, "Honey. I'm sorry about your phone call the other day. Please tell me again how tough it all was?"

Seriously. What I have to put up with would try the patience of a saint.

I need another chocolate.

IF YOU GO:

More information: www.vancouverisland.travel.com & www.tourismvictoria.com

PHOTOS by Colleen Friesen

1. P1110642 - Rose Lee of The Pedaler
2. P1110671 - Tortilla Soup
3. P1110755 - Cowichan Bay
4. P1110780 - Dogs on Long Beach
5. P1110785 - Prosecco at Long Beach Lodge

 


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