The Olympics are here! After years of anticipation and preparation Vancouver is finally playing host to the 2010 Olympic Games. I’d paid little attention to all the hubbub as the day of the opening ceremonies grew closer, but this week I have finally been caught up in the excitement of it all. The part that I’m looking forward to the most? For the world to see what an amazing city Vancouver is, and that British Columbia is one of the most spectacular places on earth.
The night before the opening ceremonies, I was fortunate to attend a media event for food and wine journalists sponsored by Tourism Vancouver Island. The region of Vancouver Island–along with B.C.’s Sunshine Coast–is considered an area of unparalleled natural beauty and is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Readers of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine have voted Vancouver Island Best North American Island for eight years consecutively, and it has also been voted Best Island in Continental US/Canada by Travel & Leisure Magazine. The event showcased the fine wines and fresh seafood of the region and featured cooking demonstrations by world renowned chefs, including Bob Blumer from Food Network’s Glutton for Punishment.
The highlight of the evening was the seafood supplied by Pacific Kiss, purveyors of sustainable oysters, scallops, clams, and mussels. British Columbia is known as the “oyster capital” of Canada and its cold, nutrient-rich waters are optimal for growing shellfish. Pacific Kiss provides product to local and international markets. From February 12 to 28, local growers are showcasing twelve of B.C.’s best oysters in the Pacific Kiss oyster platter available at select restaurants: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House and Monk McQueen’s Fresh Seafood & Oyster Bar in Vancouver, and at Smitty’s Oyster House in Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast.
With a bounty of fresh, natural ingredients at our doorstep, it’s easy to see why Vancouver is oft-voted one of the ten best restaurant cities in the world.
Also on sample was a wide selection of local wines, including those from the family-run Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery. Susan and Jeff Vandermolen’s handcrafted wines have won awards internationally.
They produce small-lot wines on their vineyard in Vancouver Island’s beautiful Comox Valley, and offer a tasting room, a picnic area, and tours of the winery and vineyard–which has an amazing view of its namesake Beaufort Mountains.
The Vandermolens are actively involved in special events and fundraisers benefiting the local community. Take a look at their website for more information on these special events and the story of the Beaufort Winery.
For the cooking demonstration portion of the evening, Chef Bob Blumer alongside notable chefs from the region, prepared oysters on the half shell smothered in a light and buttery Hollandaise sauce and geoduck (pronounced gooey duck), a species of a very large saltwater clam native to the Northwest coast of the United States and Canada. The “neck” and siphons of the geoduck can measure up to a meter in length. It is the largest burrowing clam in the world and is considered a delicacy, particularly in Asia, where it commands around $30.00 US a pound, or $65.00 per kilo.
The evening was highly enjoyable and a great success. A reminder what a wonderful place Vancouver is to eat. With such abundant natural resources, a strong tradition of multiculturalism, and a growing passion for local and sustainable food, it’s no wonder it’s one of the best eating towns to ever host the Olympic games.