Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strawberry Season - June 22, 2009

I love strawberries and local strawberries are now in season!

Monday, I travelled to Aldergrove which is in the Fraser Valley just east of metro Vancouver. Travelling by ferry means that this is a once a season adventure, so you have to make the trip count. My partner and I managed to pick 38 lbs of berries which will be come pie, shortcake, stawberry-banana bread, smoothies, and my favourite...fresh berries in a bowl. I'll freeze enough to last all winter for breakfast smoothies and french toast and/or crepes topping.

It was a perfect day for picking with clouds and cool temps in the morning. Krause Berry Farms is my favourite farm to visit. It is just off highway 1 and has built facilities to make for a pleasant tourist experience as well. You can buy pre-picked flats or you can get out in the fields like I did and pick your own berries.

There is a market for fresh veggies as well as delicious looking strawberry pies. There is a concession stand where I treated myself to a fresh strawberry milkshake for lunch.

It is fun to see the 3-5 year olds being so excited to see fresh berries and learn how food grows. They chatter endlessly showing each other the delicious bright red berries they've found.

This farm will have raspberries available by mid-July and blueberries at the end of the July. For more u-pick farms in the Vancouver area, visit the BC Strawberry Grower's Association.

By afternoon, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day to sail home to the Sunshine Coast.
This picture is taken near the end of the trip looking back over Bowen Island and the Coast Mountains. We spent the entire trip outside on the very top deck enjoying the sunshine and the amazing views. The photo just doesn't do the scenery justice. Every shade of blue and green surround you with forested islands on all sides and mountains stretching off to the north. A sight to behold....


Monday, June 15, 2009

Gibsons Landing Jazz Fest - June 13-14, 2009

Gibsons Landing Jazz Fest is my favourite festival of the year, and there are a lot of community festivals to choose from. Every genre of jazz is covered and there is a mix of great local talent and big names. Jazz week is 7 nights of live jazz in most of Gibsons's restaurants. Excellent entertainment for the price of a meal.

The official 14th annual Jazz Fest kicked off Friday with Sibel Thrasher backed up by 4 excellent local musicians. Sibel really knows how to entertain and leaves the audience wanting more. A true professional and an inspiring spirit.

Saturday we were blessed with sunshine and 25C for our main event in the park...5 groups and 5 hours of music. Easily the most entertaining of the day was East Vancouver's Carnival Band.

Endless energy fills this group playing Dixieland Jazz. Not to be limited to the stage, they marched through the park around the audience getting everyone out of there chairs and dancing. In true carnival style, clowns and ringmasters filled their ranks.

Sunday afternoon features free jazz in Winegarden Park for everyone to enjoy. Three hours of jazz from very talented local performers.
Definitely Divas always puts on a great show. Great harmony and energy help them cover a wide variety of tunes, from Bugle Boy of Company B to Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics.

The final act of the festival was the Elphinstone Jazz Band, from our local high school. This is a very talented group of kids, many of whom have a future in music if they choose.

Winegarden Park is the perfect setting for an outdoor concert. The hill makes for a natural amphitheatre to sit an enjoy the sunshine. And then there is the view....great music with a picture perfect backdrop as we watch boats come and go in the marina.

I can't wait until next year!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fiddlehead Farmers' Market - June 13, 2009

My favourite Saturday summer activity....the Fiddlehead Farmers' Market in Gibsons.

Today was the first market of the season and there was a record turnout of produce vendors. This is the Fiddlehead's 3rd season and it has grown and improved so much since the first market. There is a core of faithful farmers and vendors who attend every week with tasty salad greens, herbs, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and fresh berries.

This week there were also turnips, fresh flowers, potatos and rhubarb. A few new members were welcomed this week and the consignment table was huge.

The consignment table is where backyard gardeners are encouraged to bring in some of their garden extras, even if they don't have enough for a whole stand. Market volunteers take care of the selling and you get paid for your extra produce. Everyone wins and it is always a surprise as to what will be available each week.
Live music is also a part of the market featuring local talents. Our park setting mixed with music creates a fabulous atmosphere. Children run about with plenty of room, music fills the air, and customers visit with vendors over how the food is grown and other community topics.
I have a baking stand at the market most weeks. Rhubarb from my garden was the feature this week: rhubarb pie, rhubarb bread, rhubarb cakes and pineapple-rhubarb muffins. A successful day with only 2 items brought home...one of which was perfect for a Sunday picnic.
The Fiddlehead Farmers' Market continues every Saturday until Thanksgiving from 9-1 behind the curling club in Gibsons BC. Come check it out!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gibsons Marina - June 3, 2009

Today was clean air day. To celebrate, we rode free transit into Gibsons after dinner for a leisurly stroll around the marina. A marina full of boats is a sure sign summer has arrived. It is always an interesting stroll to see all the new boats that have arrived and all the different styles. The fishing and prawn boats are always around, but the pleasure craft just get bigger and more numerous.

Note the houseboat in the front of this picture. Yes, the entire house floats year-round and is a regular residence for some lucky person.

Gibsons Marina is a center of activity. Outdoor dining is available at Smitty's Oyster House, Molly's Reach and Sita's Italian. Gramma's Pub and the Waterfront Restaurant overlook the area as well. Music in the Landing begins in July and offers free concerts in the park on Friday and Saturday nights all summer long.