Tojo’s (Vancouver, BC)

Tucked into an unassuming block of office buildings on Broadway, one of Vancouver’s busiest thoroughfares is a Tardis-like temple of Japanese gastronomy run by one of the planet’s most famous sushi chefs. This itamae titan is Hidekazu Tojo and unlike a lot of chefs with half a century of experience tucked under his apron he can be counted on to be at his restaurant nearly every day with a big smile to greet guests.  

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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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Norwoods Restaurant (Ucluelet, BC)

A decade ago, going to the Pacific Rim for a Summer trip was a relatively simple affair. The most daunting part was navigating the winding, single-lane roller coaster of a road across the island. Once you and your family had arrived it was a simple matter of finding some parking at Big Beach and figuring out which gas station in Tofino had the best ice cream.

Now vacationing along the Pacific Rim is a vastly more complicated affair: The road is still shit, but instead of fearing the local yahoo’s pickup truck swerving into you it’s the endless parade of tourists ineptly driving monolithic motor homes or luxury sedans that keep your knuckles white. The vast expanse of beaches are choked with people and downtown Tofino is like the sweltering crush of Robson Street in Van compressed into four square blocks… Good luck finding any ice cream amongst the Patagonia vendors and gourmet Ramen joints. (more…)

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The White Whale (Courtenay, BC)

via The White Whale on facebook
via The White Whale on facebook

Only a quick forty five minute drive away from our house, the local foods epicenter of the Comox Valley might as well be across the ocean for my wife and me when planning a dinner trip. After we factor in the time and money it takes to get a hotel (dinner does mean drinking after all!) and the commute after a hard work day it just never seems worth it… So, we just go and eat at Beijing House.

And yet, there is always an exception; A day apart , and afternoon perfectly sequenced into our overly-scheduled lives, a dinner-window where we can just kick back and enjoy whatever we damn well please.

So on a rare Saturday off in October there we were: Already in Courtenay, hungry as all get out (early breakfast and no lunch) and in that strange not-quite-dinner time before 7:00pm; plenty of time to have a meal and a couple ‘o drinks before heading home. Finally, the opportunity I’d been waiting for to hit up Chef Aaron Rail’s critically acclaimed new restaurant The White Whale. (more…)

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Araxi (Whistler, BC)

Araxi 1A month ago – Back when blueberries were blooming on alpine meadows throughout the Strathcona Park range – My wife and I were pulling into a hotel on another mountaintop. Whistler was the final stop on our invigorating mountain bike tour of the Caribou Highways and Byways and despite my physical exhaustion I was spiritually elated!

Whistler is home to, among other things, the restaurant that I most wanted to cross off my local bucket list. I’d met the chef of Araxi at the BCSGA Shellfish Dinner months back and had decided that if we ever made an appearance on the mainland that was to be my Mecca. (more…)

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