Part 2 – “The Savoury Saanich Peninsula – A Unique Culinary Journey”. Join TIDES this summer to explore the ‘Secrets of the Salish Sea‘ tour. Follow your senses to Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula where you can sip, sniff, swirl and indulge in the richness of locally grown food and drink.
A short 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula offers a unique culinary experience — blending urban and rural to create the perfect mélange of locally grown fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, seafood, wine, cider and spirits. Experience this invigorating journey on bicycle or plan a fun road trip by car.
Whether starting your journey by land, air or sea, (Victoria’s International Airport, BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay Terminal and Washington State Ferries’ Canada/US Sidney Terminal are all located on the Saanich Peninsula) begin your culinary experience at The Roost Farm Bakery located near the airport on East Saanich Road. The ‘Roost’ is a neighborhood bakery and café that takes their scratch baking seriously, growing their own wheat, milling their own flour, and creating some of the best scones and pies on the Island (the scones that look like cinnamon buns are to die for, especially when enjoyed with a cup of organic coffee!). www.roostfarmcentre.com
Continue south along East Saanich Road visiting the Vantreight Farm Market where you can purchase seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, and colourful flowers. Vantreight Farms supply many local markets and restaurants with naturally grown, organic produce. http://www.daffodil.com/farm_site/DIRECT_FROM_THE_FARM.html
Along Central Saanich Road, Veyaness Road and further inland along Oldfield Road, you will find flower stands where you can shop based on the honor system, dropping loonies and toonies into roadside boxes. Visit Silver Rill Corn or stop in at Dan’s Farm & Country Market where you will discover a vast selection of locally grown produce. Venture further along Oldfield Road to Sun Wing for their specialty – beautiful, ripe tomatoes. Try robust and hearty San Marzano’s, a key ingredient in the making of rich Italian sauces. http://www.islandfarmfresh.com/farms/
Looping back north, visit Starling Lane Winery located on Old West Saanich Road, near the junction of Oldfield Road. Here, three families have combined three separated vineyards to form a unique partnership founded on the belief “that quality wines begin with a commitment to producing high quality grapes.” Starling Lane offers one of the most delicious Ortega white wines, a cool climate varietal grown widely across Vancouver Island. www.starlinglanewinery.com
Continuing north along Old West Saanich Road, drop in at Dragonfly Hill and de Vine Vineyards or tour Victoria Spirits, open for the public to tour on weekends from Spring through Fall. With rave reviews from around the world, Victoria Gin has become one of the peninsula’s most renowned products. The next stop on the journey is Church & State Wines located on Benvenuto Road, at West Saanich Road. Enjoy a personal tasting at the wine bar or sip a glass of award-winning wine on the patio overlooking the vineyard and surrounding Peninsula farmlands. http://www.dragonflyhillvineyard.com/; http://www.devinevineyards.ca/; http://www.victoriaspirits.com/; http://churchandstatewines.com/our-wineries/brentwood-bay/
As you travel north along West Saanich Road, turn left at Verdier Avenue to visit Breadstuffs Bakery. Head toward the water and take pleasure in a leisurely meal at the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa. Sample casual West coast cuisine and enjoy a great selection of local craft beers and regional wines in the Marine Pub, or delight in dinner featuring seasonally inspired ingredients harvested from the sea or grown fresh on Vancouver Island. Pair wine with your selection, choose from a wide array of the finest local wines. www.breadstuffsbakery.com; www.brentwoodbayresort.com
From here the trail divides in two separate journeys.
The eastern leg continues on a culinary theme north along West Saanich Road. At the corner of West Saanich on Stelly’s X Road, enjoy a memorable meal or snack at Zanzibar Café. Continue along West Saanich Road and head east at Mount Newton X Road making a stop at Marley Farm, a family-owned farm and winery located in the tranquil Mt. Newton Valley. Take Mt. Newton X Road to Central Saanich Road where you can visit Sea Cider family farm and cidery. The views are stunning and the ambiance is comfortable in a modern-medieval surrounding located at the base of Mt. Michel Road. Taste delicious hard ciders then sit on the deck with a tasting plate looking out towards the ocean and Mount Baker. Learn about the tradition of cider making on this organic farm. www.zanzibarcafe.ca; www.seacider.ca
The alternative route is the western trail from Brentwood Bay, following the winding beauty of West Saanich Road as it weaves towards the top of the Saanich Peninsula. Visit the Deep Cove Market featuring unique and delectable culinary creations. The Market offers local seasonal produce from numerous Peninsula growers, including local artisan cheeses, free-range eggs, poultry and organic fruits & vegetables. Sip on a Saltspring Island coffee or latte and savour an array of locally baked treats. www.deepcovemarket.com
From the Market, head west on Birch Road and head north on Chalet Road, which snakes its way around Deep Cove. Stop in and enjoy Muse Winery, a small self-sustaining 3-acre boutique winery. Adhering strictly to the organic practices ensures only the finest fruit is used in the making of Muse’s award- winning wines. Through the Spring and Summer, Bistro Muse features foods from local farmers, growers and fishermen. www.musewinery.ca
Follow Landsend Road toward the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, but don’t miss a visit to the Stonehouse Pub on Canoe Cove. The building itself is cottagey and
cozy, featuring leaded glass windows and rich wood floors. The ‘made from scratch’ menu boasts large portions of delectable ‘pub-like’ fare – well presented and memorable! www.stonehousepub.ca
Next on the culinary tour, follow the Pat Bay Highway by car, or cycle the Lochside Trail, winding into Sidney along the Salish Sea shoreline. Take McDonald Park Rd. meandering past Shoal Harbour and head to the heart of this beautiful seaside resort town and experience the local flavours offered by a variety of bistros and cafes.
Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula is a cornucopia of tastes and flavours awaiting your next visit.
Note: Wineries and farm markets often have seasonal hours. Check individual websites for detailed hours of operation.
Article by Dale M. Ryan
Dale Ryan is well respected in the arenas of public relations, sales and marketing, serving in senior positions with a number of major Island-based corporations.
Her appreciation of and interest in the Saanich Peninsula is apparent in her articles.
Photos by Steve Duck