Il Falcone (Courteany, BC)

Via: https://www.ilfalcone.ca/

I recently sat down with farmer, philosopher and garlic guru Brent Garstin at his bucolic Comox Valley farm for a secret project that hopefully I’ll be able to share in a bit. Brent dropped all kinds of knowledge on me, including where to get some of his award-winning garlic to eat.

Crystal was then gracious enough to pick me up from the middle of nowhere so I treated us to dinner at the restaurant Brent suggested. Neither of us had ever eaten there, but I had high hopes after Brent said, “they do things there the right way, authentic… People that I trust say it’s the best in town.”

Those people were right.

Located at the end of the main drag in Courtenay and easily spotted thanks to its copious grape vines and nearly-neon orange paint job is Il Falcone. We arrived around six and scored a couple of seats in their small dining room just before the dinner rush hit. On the way by I peeked in the open kitchen and saw a guy laying out sheet after sheet of fresh pasta and knew we’d made the right choice.

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The Cascadian Smash Cocktail

It didn’t take long for summer to pack it up. It went from T-Shirts to raincoats practically overnight, the temperature dipped into the long pants zone and no-one is still wearing flip flops in all this muck. *sigh*It’s time for me to stay inside and organize all the late summer fruit ‘n veg harvested from our garden and out in the wild.

The latest bit of foraging I did yielded three large mason jars full of Oregon Grape Syrup, which retains much of the wild berry’s natural sourness tempered with just a hint of cane sugar. It’s very similar in taste to a Blackberry-Balsamic Shrub which is a type of fruit and vinegar syrup or cordial used to give cocktails a sexy sweet ‘n sour kick. (more…)

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Oregon Grape

Nothing makes an amateur forager feel more like a rock star than passing some scrumpy-looking bush in the neighbour’s yard and telling your friends, “See that there… You can eat that.” And you probably have a friend or two who’s down to try anything and immediately pops whatever berry you just pointed out into their mouth.

“Bleeeeaagggh! Why would anyone want to eat this!?” comes the response, followed by the look of betrayal. “This tastes nothing like a ripe blackberry. It’s sour! Why did I listen to you? You’re not a rock star! What if this is poison?” It is a scene we foragers know all too well… I’ve had it happen a couple of times to me and still recall the sting of recrimination and weird looks. *laughs*and it always seems to be thanks to Oregon grape.

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Spot Prawn Tortelloni

My parents are coming from Ontario to visit so we’ve been busy this week cleaning up the yard, trimming back the encroaching  forest and sowing the last crop from the garden so when they arrive they’ll have a place to lounge in the sun and something to snack on. I intend to do quite a bit of grilling for them, but not every meal. Here and there I’ve packed away freezer bags full of pre-made nibblets for the nights when we’ve had a bit too much adventure.

One of these instant meals includes a heaping helping of our local Spot Prawns, which I’ve still got frozen in water-filled bags from back in June. I mentioned that spot prawn makes a fine stuffing for dumplings of all shapes ‘n sizes and that goes for stuffed pastas as well!

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Moon Under Water Brewpub (Victoria, BC)

My wife and I hadn’t visited Victoria in about a year ‘n a half so when we decided to ramble down the Island last weekend there were three things we weren’t prepared for: One – Hotels cost more than University tuition. Two – Half of Vic is being knocked down and remodeled so the roads and sidewalks (or lack thereof) are an apocalyptic mess of crumbled concrete and rebar spaghetti. Three – Electronic bikes that you rent with your phone are freakin everywhere!

To avoid the first problem we stayed outside the city center and spent as little time downtown as possible to avoid problem number two. The Ebikes were what saved us! We found a couple discarded bikes at the foot of the galloping goose trail (seriously people just leave them any old place) we fired up the U-Bike app and unlocked ‘em. Two hours and two dollars apiece later we had biked ½ the trail, looped back, met a bunch of new friends, pissed off some spandex-biker types and rolled up on the Moon Under Water Brewpub to enjoy some craft beers. (more…)

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