7 Canadian Taste Awakening Adventures!
France like you've never seen it before!
Salt Spring Island
Sylvia Hotel, Vancouver
Canada's Pacific Northwest is one of the world's most beautiful and varied geographies, with the richest natural reserves, eco-tourism destinations and vibrant organic food cultures. This 13-day all-inclusive tour package takes you to the insider's best of Canada's West Coast.
The spirit of place through taste is what travel is all about. The idea behind The Taste Awakening Tour is that only organic, locally sourced food, fruits and vegetables straight from the farm and food that comes straight from nature has real taste and vitality. So we will take advantage of the rich variety of gastronomic, locally sourced, organic, biodynamic and fresh-from-the-farm food experiences and end our odyssey self-sustainably cooking for ourselves by foraging, fishing, beach-combing and harvesting directly from the sea and the woods in the heart of nature in Bamfield on Vancouver Island's wild west coast.
The first leg of the tour is set in Vancouver, the gateway to the Pacific and one of the worlds most attractive as well as one of its greenest cities. Our time here will be a blend of international, contemporary culinary experiences focused around Bishop's, Vancouver's best gastronomic restaurant that sources all of its vegetables from Hazelmere Organic Farm. We begin our adventure with an exclusive private tour of Hazelmere Organic Farm, accompanied by John Bishop. Traditional tourism ranging from walking tours, museum visits, cycling and picnicking on the beach will compliment our visit to the farm located in southern Surrey, just an hour from Vancouver.
The second leg, which is set in Victoria, ‘The City of Gardens’ imbued with strong British influences, focuses on locally sourced organic food and also includes a number of the classic tourist activities the city offers such as whale watching and a visit to the world famous Butchart Gardens. The culinary highlight here will be the internationally renowned Sooke Harbour House, combined with visits of their livestock farm, vegetable and herb gardens and seaweed garden. Victoria is a city one has to visit to really appreciate as it has undoubtedly one of the most pleasant climates and lifestyles of any place in the world.
The third leg of our journey is set on Salt Spring Island, which has become one of the most popular organic food destinations in the Pacific Northwest and is known as ‘the organic capital of Canada’. Organic farms produce a cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, wines and meats that draw visitors from around the world. Staying at Stowel Lake Farm, we will be in direct contact with the food we eat and have the chance to learn more about the island's organic farming practices while enjoying the beauty of its incomparable land and seascapes.
The final leg of our adventure takes us to the remote marine station of Bamfield, which is accessible only by logging road or boat. Here we will confront the true meaning of natural, sustainable, ecological and fresh as we forage, fish and gather our own food from the sea, the beaches and the woods. Lodged in rustic wooden cabins, we will cook outdoors on barbecues or on the beach and discover the flavours of nature at their finest. Fresh west coast salmon grilled on an open fire, side stripe shrimp, Dungeness crab, wild berries, wild plants for salads and fresh baked bread or bannick from a wood-fired clay oven will provide unforgettable taste experiences that are the culinary apogee of the tour.
Our last day will be spent travelling back to Vancouver with a stop in Port Alberni or Nanaimo for anyone wishing to carry on independently or to return to Victoria.
Vancouver, ‘the gateway to the Pacific’, is consistently on the top ten most beautiful cities in the world and considered one of the best cities in the world to live. We will be staying close to Stanley Park, a 300 acre natural reserve on the point of Vancouver's bustling west end with a view of the ocean and some of the best bathing beaches. Visits and activities will include a visit to Hazelmere Organic Farm, accompanied by John Bishop, the farm to table source of all of Bishop's produce; outdoor markets, cycling along the sea wall and around Stanley Park, international and ethnic cuisine with the possibility of picnics on the beach and swims, walking tours, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Commercial Drive and the city's historic downtown.
Our welcome dinner will take place at Vancouver's finest gastronomic restaurant – Bishop's, renowned for its emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced organic ingredients and purity of flavours.
Granville Island Market is a food lover's paradise with an inspiring range of local organic produce set on the waterfront of the inner harbour. A comprehensive walking tour will acquaint us with the city's historic downtown through Gastown to Yaletown and the harbour.
If time permits, we will also visit the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, which strives to ‘connect people to plants and the natural environment’ and lunch at the Shaugnessy Restaurant in the gardens, which features inspired innovative seasonal contemporary west coast cooking with many of the ingredients coming from the gardens themselves.
The one hour and forty minute ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria is one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the trip as the ferry travels through the wild and unspoiled scenery of the gulf islands.
‘The City of Gardens’ is indeed an apt description of the city of Victoria. Our four days in Victoria will be a relaxing overview of this elegantly civilised world of old world charm and modern vibrancy. Our culinary focus here will be the magical setting of the internationally acclaimed Sooke Harbour House.
The commitment to locally sourced organic foods and fresh fish began here more than thirty years ago when the ideology of the 100 mile diet was implemented as a founding philosophy before anyone had ever even heard of it. This commitment to real taste has evolved to the point where they keep their own farm and seaweed garden. A night at the Sooke Harbour House and the outstanding culinary achievements of chef Edward Tuson is a memory to savour long after this outstanding taste awakening! The very comfortable, beautifully appointed and decorated rooms with sea views will complete this spectacular highlight. In terms of the famous Michelin guide, a meal at the Sooke Harbour House is worth the entire journey.
Rebar, has become another of the city's culinary institutions and is among the best organic dining establishments on the West Coast. Original pairings and imaginative taste combinations of only seasonal and locally sourced foods assure unique savoury sensations.
The spectacular natural environment of Victoria with its snow capped mountain vistas and endless variety of beaches makes it a unique and thrilling location. The verdant calm of the city's well tended parks and gardens and the leisurely pace of its golf and lawn bowling inhabitants provide a welcome contrast to big city life and offer a haven of peace and tranquillity.
Apart from our culinary adventures, we will take advantage of the best the city has to offer – strolling around the inner harbour, a walking tour around Beacon Hill Park, a driving tour along Beach Drive, a combination day outing whale watching and a visit of the world renowned Butchart Gardens, downtown shopping and site-seeing. Other activities might include beach picnics, local organic wine tasting, canoeing, sailing, swimming and sunbathing and a visit to some of the Saanich Peninsula wineries.
Salt Spring Island is the jewel of the Southern Gulf Islands and renowned as the organic capital of Canada. It is nestled up against the east side of Vancouver Island and is about half way between Nanaimo and Victoria, the capital city of BC. Our focus here is direct contact with food production and the experience of enjoying the intense flavours of farm-fresh produce that is sustainably grown. Local farmers, growers and gatherers are the backbone of the Salt Spring market. The rural island community relies on market farmers for a regular supply of the best-tasting, freshest organic produce and fish products. With 225 farms, the island is well established in agriculture and is well known for the local sheep farming.
Our farm tours include the incredibly beautiful Stowel Lake Farm, surrounded by forest, pastures, and creeks and bordered by pristine Stowel Lake and the magical Foxglove Farm surrounded by protected woodlands and forests, located on one of the island's original homesteads. Accommodations at Cusheon Lake Resort are in comfortable cabins and out buildings with private or shared facilities, while all the food we eat will be coming directly from the local farms. The range of island produce includes tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, melons, greens, roots, and a wide range of annual Mediterranean vegetables.
Other culinary adventures will include winery visits as well as a tour of David Wood's internationally acclaimed goat cheese production. Recreational activities on the island are numerous and there will be something for everyone. Hikes through one of many trails with spectacular vistas or swimming in one of the refreshing lakes or a sheltered ocean cove will connect us further to the beauties of nature.
Bamfield is a charming blend of wild frontier and civilised overtones that combine with a breath-taking setting to create one of nature's most perfect paradises. On the west side where we will be lodged, accessible only by boat, there are no shops other than the general store, which also functions as the social meeting place. This is one of the west coast's best salmon fishing resorts as well as being the home to the Marine Sciences Centre, Canada's premier coastal and marine facility for teaching and research.
Our time here will be a busy and relaxed combination of pedagogical experiences related to sourcing food for our meals, whether that means heading out to sea to fish for salmon, setting crab or shrimp traps, gathering edible seaweeds, foraging in the woods for edible plants and berries, preparing and baking bread in Bamfield's hand built clay bread oven or simply strolling along the boardwalk, chatting with the locals or sun-tanning on the beach and swimming. There will also be time for sailing, hiking and studying the wild flora and fauna. But the flavours of all that we will eat, cooked in the open air over wood fires, will provide the most intimate and rewarding connection to nature and taste souvenirs that will be cherished forever.
*All inclusive tour price per person double occupancy – $3825 for 12 nights / 13 days based on a minimum of 12 paying, $4865 single.
Airfare*, maps, personal effects, battery-less LED flashlights (highly recommended! ), pen knives or Swiss Army knives, telephone or camera chargers, electrical adapters, beach towels, beach bags, umbrellas, rain gear, any entrances not included in the itinerary, meals not mentioned, gratuities and transfer from Nanaimo or Vancouver at the end of the tour to any other destination.
Air-conditioning, bottled water, plastic bags, plastic anything, unnecessary packaging, disrespect for the environment, grumpiness, surliness and no sense of humour.
More information: 33-9 82 22 25 03
*Airfare - should a minimum of 6 people be flying at the same time from a given airport, we will try to negotiate a group fare.
• If you are four friends travelling together and willing to share 2 bedroom accommodations (in Victoria, Salt Spring and Bamfield), we can offer a 5% per person reduction on the overall tour cost.
• Though we will make every effort to include everything described in the itinerary, it is subject to change and cannot be guaranteed.
The Spirit of Place through TASTE!