Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moveable Feast Part 4: Cowichan Bay

This is part of a series of posts chronicling a recent food adventure in the Cowichan Valley organized by the lovely and talented Doug Grant

Part 3: Drumroaster Coffee

True Grain Bread

The last stop of our epic journey was to visit the lovely little strip of shops along Cowichan Bay. My first visit to Cowichan Bay was earlier this year when we made it our food stop on the way down Island from Nanaimo.

Cowichan bay is about as long as a city block with a variety of restaurants, food producers and ticky-tacky-touristy shops which make for a lovely wander about. It was pretty cute by first impression, even if the parking is a mini-nightmare! On our first visit, it a holiday, which meant that most of the shops were closed (which I always kind of am confused by in tourist-centric areas).

This visit the parking was a little better, and both True Grain and Hilary's were open, so I was happy. We also took a little wander down the docks and checked out some of the international naval crockery (so cool!) and other maritime artifacts. I'd like to come back again and check out more of the restaurants... I hear there's some good seafood on the strip!

Hilary's Cheese
Hilary's Cheese

I've blogged about the Victoria location of Hilary's in the past. The Cowichan Bay location is the original, and is it much bigger with more food options that I remember seeing at the Victoria spot (but I haven't been back since they first opened, so this might have changed!). 

Their cheese selection also seems bigger here, including many more non-hilarys brand cheeses. I opted to get the soft, mini-cheese in goat instead of cheddar. This style of cheese (brie-like, but better) is my absolutely favourite kind. The staff at Hilary's apparently refer to it as "the crack of cheese." I think the cow is probably more 'crack like' than the goat, but the goat was still epic, especially if left out to soften up and spread on top of artisan crackers. 

True Grain Bakery

True Grain is an artisan bakery & mill (yes, they mill their grains on-site!) with everything from cookies to pastries to flour. The space was comfortable and friendly, including a cute kids book by a local author in the cosy seating area.

I ended up walking away with some Red Fife wheat.  I recently joined my local Slow Food Convivium (more on this in a future post) where I learned that Red Fife wheat is a variety of wheat that leant its genetics to the majority of Canadian wheat strains, and was the standard for wheat in Canada until the 1900s, meaning it's a part of our Canadian agricultural history! Kind of cool.

I've been holding off writing this post until I tried making something with it. After doing some research, I discovered it's a whole wheat flour. I ended up making something akin to a cornish pasty (but done in the style of my Granny, which she calls "pennie wallies"). I have a serious hate on for most "whole wheat" so I wasn't too sure how I was going to like the red fife, even blended 50/50 with white, but the end result isn't anything comparable to any "whole wheat" I've ever had before! I've scavenged some bread recipes that specifically list red fife wheat, and I'm kind of excited to try making them... this might change my opinion about bread (and whole wheat, especially!).