Jan 1, 2019 | 2019, Marmot

A Trend in Good Taste

The Comox Valley is becoming known as a mecca for foodies looking for unique dining experiences, from quick treats, farm to table products and fine restaurant dining.

Blue Spruce Ice Cream

Jonathan Frazier and Kirsten Wood of Blue Spruce Ice Cream have been involved in the foodie trend in a variety of ways. Frazier is formerly the chef for Atlas Café on Sixth Street, but he hung up his
chef whites earlier this year in order to play with ice cream.

“It’s a natural next step and an incredibly fun way to play with flavours and seasonal ingredients, and make people happy,” says Frazier.

“I’m able to enjoy my days more instead of cooking all day, meet people, help out at the salad bar at Huband Elementary School, run ‘Young Cooks’ programs, run my ‘Edible Valley’ podcast and am still inspired and able to cook food!”

Both Frazier and Wood are passionate about using local food, and proud of the ingredients and flavours they find in the Comox Valley. “We have exceptional, hard-working farmers here, so naturally we experiment and like to use whatever we can that comes out of here,” says Wood.

What ingredients are available at a given moment tends to drive their ice cream flavours, which change on an almost daily basis. “Having an ice cream shop allows us to be very creative, seasonal and experimental,” she says.

Wood often writes down flavour combinations and shows up with random ingredients for Frazier to experiment with in the kitchen. Frazier held a “farm to fork” dinner in late summer of 2017 and he and his cooking team came up with a Sitka spruce tip sorbet. “That was our first spark for opening up our shop,” she says.

“We knew that Sitka spruce had to be on our menu when we opened so we scoured the woods here and picked a few in preparation. We ran out quickly and bought a lot more from Clever Crow  Farm and they’ve managed to sustain us so far.”

With their signature Blue Spruce ice cream, Frazier and Wood have created a fundraiser for the Kus Kus Sum Park Site, located beside the Courtenay River. “The Kus Kus Sum site is literally in our
backyard, and we owe a lot to the estuary, the river and our woods. It was a no brainer to donate to that cause,” they said. Wood, who is from Saddle Lake Cree First Nation, and Kus Kus Sum being on traditional Ko’mok’s First Nation land, is an even bigger incentive for them to lend their support.

Blue Spruce Ice Cream is open late, and their products can also be found at Dark Side Chocolates in Cumberland. “We like serving our small batches of ice cream, soups, cookies and baked goods from our shop the most, though. Then we get to see people smile when they try a flavour for the first time.”

Bigfoot Donuts

Bigfoot Donuts opened on Fifth Street in downtown Courtenay a couple of years ago, when Lyndsey Bell and her husband, Jay Valeri, left their corporate jobs to do something they loved. Bell grew up in the Comox Valley and Valeri moved there when he was five years old, so they have memories of visiting the old Courtenay Bakery.

“We wanted to bring quality, handcrafted, made from scratch doughnuts to the Comox Valley,” the couple says. They offer three types of doughnuts; brioche-style, yeast raised doughnuts, cake-style doughnuts and crullers – and offer monthly flavours. Their café is a welcoming, outdoors-inspired space that smells heavenly throughout the day.

The bakery had some silver screen exposure last summer when the crew filming the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie on Vancouver Island requested that Bigfoot provide goods for the week they were filming in the Comox Valley area.

Bell created a special Sonic the Hedgehog doughnut for the occasion. “Jay and I are big movie buffs, so naturally we were stoked,” Bell said on the bakery’s Facebook page.

The couple is always asked why they named their bakery Bigfoot Donuts. “Bigfoot is one of those images that truly captures the spirit of the Pacific Northwest, the place we love and call home,”
they say. “Not only this, but that classic footprint-shaped doughnut dipped in chocolate is basically a doughnut icon, right?”

Natural Pastures Cheese Company

Natural Pastures has been producing artisanal cheese in the Comox Valley since 2001. Swiss Master Cheesemaker Paul Sutter and his team handcraft numerous types of cheeses, from soft brie and camembert to firm cheeses, and even water buffalo cheese and verde lait artisan cheese. Natural Pastures’ products can be widely found in grocery stores across Vancouver Island, and are an ideal staple to have on hand for après ski.

Il Falcone Restaurant

If it’s a fine dining and wine experience you’re looking for, Il Falcone Restaurant fits the bill. Chef Andrey Durbach has more than 20 years’ experience operating some of Vancouver’s best-loved neighbourhood restaurants, including Etoile, La Buca and The Sardine Can. He and his wife Sian bring their love of Italian cuisine, wine and restaurant culture to their charming yellow house and orchard garden on Fifth Street in downtown Courtenay. Il Falcone offers a frequently changing menu of Italian dishes and fine wine pairings.

Taqueria Guerrilla

Visitors to Gladstone Brewing were introduced to Pizza Guerrilla when the microbrewery first opened. Beer and a pizza after work became a social event. Now, Taqueria Guerrilla has replaced pizza
with locally-inspired tacos. Snacks, add-ons and unique tacos pair well with Gladstone’s beer flights.

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