Only in Victoria, would there be a Feast Concierge. Karma Brophy leads us on a merry three hour tour of Oak Bay and its delightful gastronomy scene, one bite at a time. We taste delicious house-cured meats at Cory Pelan’s Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria and hear his philosophy of the local food security. What better to follow than a glass of Oak Bay’s British heritage at the Penny Farthing Pub and Vis-à-vis Wine Bar and listen to whimsical historical tales.
Just down the street, Andrew Moyer presides over the vast and delectable cheese selection at Ottavio Italian Bakery, Delicatessen and Café. Now there is some excitement afoot at the Oak BayMarina Restaurant on the docks, with Chef Jeff Keenliside. We watch them fish giant crab from the sea, and see the critters combined with other shellfish and mollusks and steamed in a pail that is then dumped unceremoniously on the paper covered table. That, my friends, is good eating. And there is more. Back at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, we taste and compare three spirits, each paired with a sweet bite.
Perhaps it is the stroll in the freshest air in the country that has given us such an appetite a mere few hours later, as we join our hosts, Kevin and Shawna Walker, and Hotel Manager Michelle Le Sage and her spouse Earl for a splendid dinner in the Dining Room. Exec Chef Iain Rennie, acclaimed as the Island Chef of the Year by the CCFCC has outdone himself. Kevin and Shawn Walker are justifiably proud of this hotel and regale us with the trials and tribulations of constructing this magnificent property. But, it is Chef Rennie who is the star of the evening, and it is no surprise that the locals and tourists alike flock to taste his dazzling fare.
In tiny Duncan, B.C., on the road to the BC Ferries Crofton Terminal to take the Ferry to Salt Sping Island, we stop for lunch at an impeccable 106 year old heritage home on a tiny perfect street. This is Hudson’s on First, and here’s a good tip: If you are anywhere near Daniel Hudson’s neighborhood, go out of your way to make a special trip to his splendid restaurant. It is more than a restaurant–this is an intimate dining experience–the kind we foodies spend our lives hoping to encounter. You might lunch on Halibut gravlax with lemon peel puree and Vancouver Island wasabi, inventive pasta, panko crusted fish cakes or choices from his carefully crafted seasonal menu.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.