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Tourism British Columbia


Let's Dance!

Dance companies, performances and classes on Vancouver Island.

Photo by: In Ho Sung - David Ferguson and Jung ah Chung of Suddenly Dance Theatre perform their COURTYARD FOR A BIRD

From ballroom competitions and Scottish country dances to hip hop classes and performances by professional companies in modern, jazz and classical ballet, Vancouver Island loves to both watch and participate in dance. Growing in popularity as both an art form and as a great way to stay fit and have fun, interest in dance is also being fueled by TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and movies from Dirty Dancing and Strictly Ballroom to Shall We Dance.

A sampling of Island dance activities…

Formed in 2002, Ballet Victoria has been providing Island dancers with a professional dancing experience close to home. Their latest productions include a new one-act ballet created by Artistic Director Paul Destrooper set to Jospeh Haydn’s piano trio for The Secret Garden, and Cinderella presented on stage at the Royal Theatre in December. In the spring, BV will take on the challenge of Carmina Burana centred on Carl Orff’s epic score with live music and choir accompaniment.

More Romp! continues through the month of November with an eclectic and intriguing mix of dance and collaborative art performances and events. Now in its 12th year, this festival of independent dance has been expanding its program. Suddenly Dance Theatre’s “Courtyard for a Bird” by David Ferguson and Jung Ah Chung, featuring a premiere solo by Toronto’s Da Hoskins is one of many events planned for dance lovers to enjoy.

The Canadian Pacific Ballet based in Victoria is dedicated to the performance and preservation of Romantic and Classical ballet and has a comprehensive apprentice program, as well as educational outreach activities. Join them in December for the Nutcracker Suite & Sugar Plum Fair at the McPherson Playhouse.

Based in Nanaimo, the mission of the Crimson Coast Dance Society is “to develop and support contemporary dance creations, productions, performances and educational opportunities at both grass roots and professional levels in Central Vancouver Island.” To that end, their Infringing Dance Festival begins on November 19th and features performances, workshops, dance classes and Random Acts of Dance. One of the highlights of the festival will be the presentation of Klok combining moving images, performance and sound, a co-production with The Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.

If you are looking for even more dance passion and drama, keep an eye out for performances by the Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company… or give it a try yourself and enroll in one of their classes or workshops.

If African dance and drumming intrigues you, there are classes in both offered at the Dancing Moon Multicultural Arts Company in Victoria. “The younger we start to dance” says instructor Ilana Moon, “the more core strength, flexibility and freedom of movement we attain.” So shake things up a little with some African, hip hop or Afro-belly dancing.

Ballroom dance studios abound on Vancouver Island and you can find classes, workshops, competitions and dances in almost any community that you visit. From Latin and Ballroom to Swing, there will be something to get your feet moving! You’ll find that “the best things happen when you’re dancing” on Vancouver Island!


What's Cooking?

For your main course we recommend learning from the experts at cooking schools and classes throughout Vancouver Island.

Foodies have been finding their way in increasing numbers to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The bounty and beauty of this area has made it a natural choice for the growing “culinary tourism” market. If cooking is your passion, a trip to the Island will be well rewarded. There are cooking schools to suit every area of interest and level of ability, including world-class training for those hoping to move cooking from obsession to profession.

At Fairburn Farm Culinary Retreat and Guesthouse, chef, instructor and culinary activist Mara Jernigan runs her students through their paces at culinary bootcamps and other hands-on cooking classes. The emphasis here is on locally grown, farm fresh ingredients and includes outings to local cheesemakers, bakeries, and wineries. In 2008, Gourmet Magazine declared Fairburn Farm to be one of 45 Top Culinary Vacations in the World.

Nearby, at Deerholme Farm, Bill and Lynne Jones offer cooking classes and other culinary events. Bill, the author of nine cookbooks, including The Savoury Mushroom, is considered an expert in local regional foods and often leads mushroom and wild food foraging expeditions into the surrounding woodlands. Classes in their renovated 1918 farmhouse are inspirational and educational and the Farm to Table dinner series allows you to observe the preparation of innovative local cuisine, ask questions and then partake in the oh-so-tasty results. Gourmet Magazine also took note of this culinary destination, showcasing Bill’s recipe for Lemon Bread Pudding with big leaf maple syrup infused whipped cream in their August 2009 issue.

When visiting Sooke, food-lovers can join former Culinary Team Canada member Angelo Prosperi-Porta at his cooking school at Cooper’s Cove Guesthouse. Located on a craggy bluff overlooking the ocean, this classic west coast setting provides the perfect backdrop for his informal Saturday classes, and three-day cooking retreats where you can learn the secrets of preparing fresh and flavourful cuisine. Chef Angelo also welcomes bookings for interactive dinners for small groups, and welcomes your questions as he prepares a delicious meal for participants to savour.

In Saanich, Kallayanee Glover leads Thai cooking classes that feature the classic dishes of her native Thailand where she learned to cook from recipes that have been handed down through generations. Learn to prepare a wide range of Thai appetizers, entrees, and even desserts including Pa Peeit Soot (Vegetarian Salad Rolls, Gang Per (Thai Lamb Curry) and Sangkaya Fak Thong (Pumpkin Custard). Classes with Kallayanee are offered at the Thrifty Foods Cooking & Lifestyle Centre, the Panorama Recreation Centre and also in her home.

Chef Heidi Fink was the Executive chef of Victoria’s notable eatery ReBar Modern Food and now shares her expertise and love of cooking at a variety of locations throughout the Greater Victoria region. Courses include delving into pie-making and vegetarian soups, as well as holiday entertaining and creating memorable festive treats for the upcoming season.

And if you are interested in one of the fastest growing trends in healthy eating, Jennifer and Joslynn, of J&J’s Living Raw Foods, share their expertise through regular classes and events including a Green Smoothie Workshop in November.

Up-island in Courtenay, quality kitchenware retailer Beyond the Kitchen Door also presents a wide range of cooking classes and events for Island food lovers at their in-store studio featuring the talents of noted chefs from the Comox Valley and beyond. Victoria-based chef and food journalist Erik Akis will be there in December to celebrate the release of his latest book and share the secrets of his kitchen.

If joining the ranks of professional cooks is your ultimate goal, the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island, located at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, has an international reputation for turning out highly skilled and innovative chefs that have been making their mark on the food scene for many years. Students can earn a certificate (one-year program) or diploma (two years) in culinary training and management. There are also a number of Leisure Courses offered including Stocks & Sauces, Sausage-Making, Decadent Chocolate Desserts and Artisan Baking, that utilizes a recently constructed wood-fired brick oven, inspiring a whole new dimension to the program that you can explore.
Just remember to pack your apron and a whisk on your next visit to Vancouver Island and be inspired to deliciously new culinary heights.


Your Home Away From Home

Long term stays & vacation rentals.

Planning an extended vacation? Considering a career move or maybe searching for the perfect place to retire? Long stay accommodations can be found throughout Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. From resorts and hotels with weekly and monthly options to vacation rental properties including home, cottage, apartment and condo living, staying on the Island for a week or more can certainly pay off. Hotel and resort rack rates are often substantially reduced when you are staying for more than a night or two and during the shoulder season the savings can increase even further.

First consider what kind of lifestyle you want to enjoy while you are here. Are you looking for a chic urban loft, a seaside cottage, a condo close to a local university, or a full service resort? Whatever and wherever you choose, long-term stay properties provide you with a home away from home and a chance to get to know the islands up close and personal. A long-term stay is your chance to experience life the way we do and become one of the locals. Many use a visit to Vancouver Island to simply kick back and do nothing, or to escape the less than hospitable winter weather back home. For others the opportunities to become active and involved are endless… study art history or baking at a local college, take a ballroom dance class, learn how to kayak, immerse yourself in a scuba diving program or write that novel you’ve been considering!

The best place to start your search is with regional tourism organizations and local Chambers of Commerce who can provide lists of long-term rental properties available.

Tourism Victoria has a complete listing online or you can contact them directly. You might be interested in a condo unit like Juliet on Johnson, an architecturally unique and elegantly designed building located right downtown and offering plenty of amenities including a rooftop garden with stunning views. Or possibly one of the suites in a newly renovated and restored 1907 character house with spacious, fully appointed suites available through Ocean Island Suites.

Start your research for the Cowichan Valley region (including Shawnigan Lake, Malahat, Cobble Hill, Duncan, Cowichan Lake, Cowichan Bay, Mill Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, and Ladysmith) at the Tourism Cowichan website or contact the Duncan Visitor Centre at 1-888-303-3337.

In Nanaimo, many downtown hotels and condos offer weekly and monthly rates. And properties such as Absolute Oceanfront Luxury Condominiums offer large units (some over 1400 sq ft) and you can even moor your sailboat at their deep-water pier out front. Lakeview Vacation Homes lists a number of homes, condos and studios to choose from, while the Painted Turtle Guesthouse has a variety of flexible accommodation options available for hostel travelers, couples, families and groups in a classic European-style hotel/hostel. For more options be sure to check out the Tourism Nanaimo website.

The Oceanside region from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay including the popular holiday destinations of Parksville and Qualicum Beach has many places to stay. Looking for a place with all the comforts of home plus a sandy beach at your doorstep? Try a week or two at Beach Acres Resort or maybe something cute and cozy tucked among the cedar trees at Oceanside Village Resort. Or enjoy the self-contained units, some with lofts and all with beach views, at the Shorewater Resort in Qualicum Beach. The Oceanside Tourism Association website provides a lengthy list of extended stay options, as well as a downloadable guide to their “Savour Season.”

Out on the wild westcoast the newly designed Tourism Tofino website gives you great access to all of their available accommodations including vacation home rentals. Or check out some of the vacation rental sites that offer access to a variety of privately owned homes, cottages and cabins available.


Westcoast Palate

After harvesting, drying and cleaning my small patch of garlic this year it has been calling out to me ever since to make a fragrant winter recipe. Well, actually garlic calls out to me no matter what time of year it is and just as the flavour of homegrown tomatoes ripe off the vine is incomparable, so too is the fragrance and taste of fresh from the garden garlic!

Cold and flu season is upon us and although this recipe may not have proven medicinal properties it will definitely provide some warmth and comfort on a wet, chilly and blustery winter’s day. Stay warm & healthy!

Island Garlic Soup

1/3 cup butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 to 5 cups chicken stock
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup milk

Melt butter in large stockpot. Add olive oil, onions, potatoes and garlic and sauté lightly over medium for three minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, on low heat until very soft—about an hour. Add cumin, dry mustard and pepper. Simmer another few minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly before running batches through a food processor until smooth. Return to heat and simmer gently as you add the milk. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with fresh biscuits or sourdough bread.



Island Reads

Everyone Can Cook For Celebrations

By Eric Akis
Published by Whitecap Books

The latest release in the Everyone Can Cook series… in Everyone Can Cook for Celebrations, food consultant, chef, and food journalist Eric Akis (a food writer for the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper since 1997) puts the ease and fun back into hosting with over 140 easy-to-follow recipes and 29 menus designed to take the stress out of preparing delicious meals for special occasions. Broken down by season, Everyone Can Cook for Celebrations consists of varied menus made with ingredients readily available at your local grocery store.

Celebrate by preparing great recipes like:

Make-Ahead Eggs Benedict for Easter Brunch
Smoky Glazed Barbecued Ham for a Backyard Father’s Day Feast
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marzipan Jack-o’-Lanterns for Halloween
Turkey Tourtière with Yams and Cranberries for Christmas Eve Dinner
Shrimp Cocktail Canapés for a Retro New Year’s Eve Dinner for Six

Chef's Salad
By Bill Jones
Published by Whitecap Books

From award-winning cookbook author Bill Jones, from Deerholme Farm in the Cowichan Valley, comes a book that proves salads aren't just bowls of lettuce topped with bottled dressings. Bill Jones combines his experience as a chef and a grower of gourmet greens and herbs to inspire cooks with the confidence to choose fresh produce, oils, and vinegars for a sublime salad. Chef's Salad demonstrates how to transform lettuce and dressing into a dish fit for a main course. This unique cookbook also offers scrumptious pasta and potato salads, hand-held salads and wraps such as Pita Stuffed with Tomatoes, Bocconcini and Balsamic Dressing. These simple yet innovative recipes will turn your salad bowl into a playground of global flavors.

Island Inspirations: Fresh, Local, Great
By The North Vancouver Island Chef’s Association
Published by North Island College

This recently published cookbook celebrates the best of Island food, farming  and cooking taking its inspiration from beekeepers and herb growers to wineries and bison farms. The chefs and cooks of the North Vancouver Island Chefs Association share recipes which are easy to follow and delicious to eat. The book also containsa history of food production in the area, a guide to local growers, and resources to help people eat healthy, regional fare; as well as information on local farms, wineries, and more.  All proceeds benefit the programs and bursaries for culinary arts students and apprentices of North Island College. The cookbooks can be purchased locally in Campbell River, Courtenay and Comox.

More info available at: http://www.northvancouverislandchefs.com/Cookbook.html

Call 1-250-338-2720 or email info@northvancouverislandchefs.com

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