Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lunch at the Pioneer House south of Duncan

The Pioneer House is an iconic log building in the Whippletree Junction shopping district just south of Duncan BC. It's a huge and impressive structure in the old frontier log style, and I had the pleasure of dropping by for lunch this past Sunday on one my many trips to and from Victoria.

It was a spring break Sunday and the joint was jumping, but I managed to get a table for 1 quite quickly. There were lots of families there enjoying Sunday brunch, some large tables of 8 or more and a steady stream of diners coming and going. Any place that serves Phillips Blue Buck on tap is aces in my book, so I relaxed with my frosty mug of locally-brewed nectar and enjoyed the folksy decor while I waited for my meal.

The menu is quite extensive, typical west coast pub and diner fare, but they also offer a mexican food menu for those who like it spicy. I ordered the lunch special, a BLT with Swiss cheese and a bowl of curried chicken and rice soup, plus a side of fries and gravy. The sandwich was as tasty as  expected, not much you can do with a BLT, but the soup was very good, obviously home made with big chunks of chicken, lots of vegetables and a tasty curry flavour. Even the fries and gravy were perfectly done, worthy even of a mighty poutine.

The Pioneer House should go into your list of must visits for a casual hearty meal when travelling up or down Vancouver Island

Monday, March 5, 2012

Parksville Untapped, A Sudsy Event.

This was the second year for the beer tasting and food pairing night of the Parksville Untapped event, an annual epicurian extravaganza that's threatening to change the impression of this small mid-Island city as a stodgy, no-fun retirement community. Last year's incarnation was at Tigh Na Mara but this year it switched to the Beach Club, allowing the former to host Swirl, the wine-tasting portion of this 4 day festival.

I'm not sure how many tickets were sold in total, but they were completely sold out by the day of the event. The theme this year was a western one, with the serving staff, and many of the guests, dressed up in jeans, plaid shirts, hats and boots. Hay bales and other cowboy motifs littered the room. A great live band was set up, banging off the country covers to an appreciative crowd.

The real star of the event was the beer, all of them craft style from BC and many of them from Vancouver Island itself. Some winners in my opinion were the Howe Sound 'Total Eclipse of the Hop' IPA and Nanaimo's Longwood Brew Pub Framboise, not to mention the boilermakers made with Glenfiddich and Cream Ale from R&B Brewing. Other brewers on hand were the Canoe Brew Pub, Lighthouse Brewing, Driftwood Brewery, and at least a dozen others. The food, prepared by the chefs of both the Beach Club and Tigh Na Mara, was plentiful and delicious, with pork sandwiches pulled from a complete roast pig, local oysters on the half-shell, chili, a chocolate and fruit fountain as well as chocolate from Nanaimo's Rockey Mountain Chocolate Factory, and local sausage sliders.

The mood of the crowd cheered and livened as the beer and food flowed freely and the casual western atmosphere helped make this event a must attend social event in the mid-island. Mark it on your calendar for next year, late February 2013 in Parksville. Watch the website for dates and details.