What's the deal?
Paddle the West Coast and feast on gourmet food.
Where's it at?
Experiencing the beauty of the Canadian wilderness has long meant dining on dried food and trail mix. Edible Canada, a culinary tourism business based on Vancouver's Granville Island, aims to change that. Now in its fifth season, it has partnered with Sealegs Kayaking to give guests the best of a backcountry camping experience in the Gulf Islands and the finest of local fare.
Within 20 minutes of leaving the launch site south of Nanaimo, you'll reach a seal colony on a rocky islet. Awakened from their slumber, they'll prop themselves up on their flippers as you pass. Black cormorants, wings upheld to dry, inhabit the other side of the islet. Then you'll make the 30-minute crossing to De Courcy Island, with its sandstone cliffs resembling giant petrified waves. Here you'll stop for a lunch of smoked tuna Niçoise salad, with bacon aioli dressing, as a resident blue heron fishes stealthily in the shallows. Your guide will recount how the island was once the site of a bizarre cult in the 1920s, led by Brother XII and his whip-wielding cohort, Madame Zee.
"It's a trip for food lovers who want to get outside and experience the adventure of B.C.'s coast," says Eric Pateman, Edible Canada's lead chef and founder. Ingredients are organic, locally sourced and each year two-thirds of the menu is changed. Dinners are paired with B.C. wines selected by a staff sommelier.
At the base on Valdes Island, a further two hours paddling, your guides will construct a kitchen while you pitch your tent in the forest overlooking a shell beach. On a typical weekend expect such dishes as B.C. spot prawn curry paired with a Gray Monk Pinot Gris, pasta and Pemberton beef meatballs with a 2008 Gray Monk Merlot, and puréed carrot, curry and crab soup as an appetizer. Desserts make use of fresh Okanagan fruit and locally made chocolate paired with B.C. fruit wines. Breakfasts include Mascarpone and blackberry stuffed French toast with blackberry-infused maple syrup, double-smoked bacon and duck confit with poached farm-fresh eggs, roasted potatoes and wild mushrooms.
When you're not paddling, explore the beach at low tide and marvel at the myriad of life in the tide pools, or relax with a well-worn book on a driftwood log. Nights are spent imbibing even more wine around a bonfire, a truly comfortable way to experience the wilderness.
Who's it for?
Foodies who like kayaking and kayakers tired of the usual camping fare.
Special to The Globe and Mail