Seafood plays a huge roll in the culinary creations of chefs and cooks alike. For aficionados of Japanese food, the B.C. roll incorporates cucumber, barbequed salmon glazed in a sweet sauce and grilled with the skin on till it is crispy. Dungeness crab is a local delicacy prepared many ways by local restaurants in everything from crab cakes to tacos. Simpler tastes will love the fresh Pacific caught halibut, especially in a lightly-battered fish and chips. Spot prawns are the largest commercial shrimp in the Pacific North West and are highly prized for their firm, sweet flesh. They appear in a variety of dishes from the complex to the simple. West Coast Fish Chowder is a treat, especially after a chilly walk on one of the many beautiful beaches. Smoked candied salmon and rockfish make up this creamy, comforting soup that will warm you down to your toes. Albacore tuna is another local delicacy, delicious just seared, its meaty texture very satisfying! The star of the show, however, must be the locally caught wild Pacific salmon. This flavourful fish comes in a variety of species, each with its own unique flavour. Versatile in the extreme, salmon can be candied as the First Nations have for centuries, smoked, barbequed, grilled, baked, and made into soup.
If seafood is not for you, then locally grown Saltspring Island lamb is well worth partaking of. This delectable meat is said to have a unique flavour due to Saltspring’s unique terroir where the sheep graze on black berries, salal and Oregon grapes. Sea air rounds off this unique farm land, where the sheep are happy, well fed, and unstressed. Also from Saltspring, locally made cheeses made with sheep’s and goats’ milk are delicious, and perfect with a crisp glass of white locally made wine. In part of downtown Victoria is North America’s second oldest China Town (only San Francisco has an older one!). Here the hungry visitor can find traditionally prepared Chinese food, teas, and groceries to suit every taste from fine diner to street-food lover. Further north on the island, farmers produce local cheeses, jams, chutneys, and tempting tasty delights for those with a sweet tooth too, such as the world-famous Nanaimo bar, a chocolate and custard icing phenomenon that must be tried. Fresh local produce rounds out the many wonderful tastes available and incorporated into locally prepared food.
Bigger centres such as Victoria and Nanaimo have a wide variety of restaurants catering to everything from the very casual to the very formal, and serving everything from breakfast, brunch, high tea, afternoon tea, and dinner. Elegant surroundings abound in fine dining establishments such as the Empress Hotel, the Hotel Grand Pacific, and many others. For the more casual diner, Victoria and Nanaimo offer foods from almost every corner of the globe, often created with local flair and flavour. Smaller towns offer more limited choice, but don’t skimp on flavour. Local chefs take great pride in their creations, presenting the traveller with only one dilemma: What to try tonight? Try any meal paired with a delicious local wine, perfectly suited to the flavours of the local food!