This past weekend marked the kickoff for Savour Cowichan, a rebranding of the 15-year old Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival. I came on board in a big way this year, agreeing to have my mug plastered on the cover of the Valley Voice as well as be the official greeter to everyone coming to the festival on the website and in the official program. One of the local papers took my role a step further and called me the ‘unofficial ambassador’ to Savour Cowichan and I have discovered the name has stuck. Photo galleries of the events are below the main body of this post.
On Friday night and Saturday night my wife Ramona and I took part in two events on the barge that was moored at the end of the Mill Bay Marina. Barge On In was a great kick-off to Savour Cowichan, and the sold out Sip, Savour and Support event on Saturday raised lots of money for the Canucks Autism Network. Canuck’s star defenceman Dan Hamhuis was on hand to help auction off some Canucks sweaters and special game tickets which garnered thousands of dollars once the auctioneer was ‘all done’.
On Sunday we headed to Cherry Point Estate Wines where our gracious hosts Xavier and Maria Clare Bonilla plied us with Xavier’s special paella and glasses of the Cherry Point Coastal Red, made from Pinot Noir grapes but fashioned like a Spanish Rioja and a perfect accompaniment to the paella. Xavier and Maria Clara had been up at 4 in the morning to start the paella, 600-odd servings of it, loaded with chorizo sausage, chicken, mussels and red pepper. So delicious! Apparently making the paella is a ‘man’s job’ in Spain, just as manning the bbq is here in North America, and according to tradition, the grandfather of the family is usually in charge. All the winemakers and grape growers I’ve spoken to over the past couple of weeks have been very happy with this year’s crop and are anticipating a great vintage year.
From Cherry Point we dropped in at The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm, where Hilary Abbott was busy making cheese while his daughter Bronwyn kept busy in the shop, doling out samples of Hilary’s products, beautifully served on delicate Belgian endive leaves, and selling lots of yogurt and flavoured cream cheeses as well as his longer-aged cheeses like St. Michel and Youbou Blue. What a great day!
What’s Ahead: Thursday night marks the launch of the Cowichan Valley Film Festival, a great lineup this year including films about food. The launch film that evening is called More Than Honey, an award-winning documentary about bee colony collapse disorder.
On Saturday, October 4th at noon at the Victoria Public Market I will be doing a free demonstration of the Thermomix cooking machine. It’s a German-designed, French-manufactured device I’ve been using for a few years now on an almost daily basis. It can replace most, if not all of the kitchen gadgets you have cluttering your counter. I’ll show you how it can grind, knead, chop, cook, steam, stir, juice and even make homemade Nutella!
And there may be something happening on Sunday night, but that is still TBC. Stay tuned!
From the Barge:
From Cherry Point Estate Wines:
From The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm: