Category Archives: Travel Tidbits

Penticton Land of Libations – Eat, Stay and Sip in Wine and Beer Country

Where to Eat, Stay and Sip –  Savour the Good Life in Penticton!

We are often in the Okanagan, as my parents, sister and all her crew live in Kelowna and Michael would move to Osoyoos if he could, he loves it so much. So, we often find ourselves in the middle of the valley, traveling to and from destinations and stay a night in Penticton to enjoy some great food and their local craft beer!

Where to stay?

Barefoot Resort

Penticton Barefoot Resort

The coolest spot to stay in Penticton is the Barefoot Resort in a Yurt! What’s a yurt you ask? “Most yurts are portable, tent-like structures. They have circular lattice walls (reminiscent of baby gates tied together) and cone-shaped roof, supported by rafters that meet in a center ring.” According to Yurts: Living in the Round. The yurts at Barefoot are high-end, they’ve got skylights, hardwood floor and French doors opening onto private decks with personal barbecues.  The resort is right next to the beaches of Skaha Lake, but it’s also next to the highway and the air strip so can get a little noisy at times. There are different sizes and they range from about $250-$350 a night.

Penticton wine country rentals

Penticton Wine Country Rentals

We’ve also stayed in a cozy condo with Penticton Wine Country Rentals; they have four condos available, all located right in town, near the beach and with full kitchens and plenty of room. Our condo was perfect, right near the breweries, and with a lovely balcony and super comfy bed. We didn’t want to leave!

Food

You won’t go hungry in Penticton. From casual eateries to fine dining and everything in between there’s lots of deliciousness here.

Penticton - The Bench Market

Let’s start with breakfast, and The Bench Market. Their breakfast wraps rule and you can grab some sandwiches for later or stock up on some locally-sourced groceries if you’ve got a kitchenette.

Penticton Taste Brodo

We also love Taste Brodo, for lunch, or an early dinner, they’ve got the best soups and make their own bone broth, which I’ve become a big fan of of late.

Penticton The Vanilla Pod

If you are wine tasting on the Naramata Bench, don’t miss The Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove winery, and beer lovers should check out the pizzas and brews at Bad Tattoo Brewing.

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Penticton The Hooded Merganser

We love our oysters, so never miss a chance to sample a few at Salty’s Beach House and have had some great dinners at The Hooded Merganser right on the lake, which also does a great Sunday brunch and has a lunch menu that looks excellent too.

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For Mexican we checked out the Vallarta Grill and found a super festive mood happening along with some pretty authentic cuisine, and Burger 55 is insanely good.

Sip

This is wine country, they say, but there’s also no shortage of craft beer and even spirits in Penticton. We ventured up in April 2014 for the Okanagan Feast of Ale and it’s grown vastly since.  Wine lovers will want to plan for the Naramata Tailgate Party in the beginning of September.

penticton the cannery blackberry porter

We make sure to stop in for a beer tasting at The Cannery and don’t miss their Blackberry Porter. You’ll also want to stop in at Tin Whistle and the above mentioned Bad Tattoo Brewing, as well as The Barley Mill Brewpub.

penticton the legend distillery the defender

There are now three distilleries in the area too, Legend Distilling (don’t miss their smoked rosemary gin), Maple Leaf Spirits and Old Order.

Wineries are so plentiful in the area that I don’t really even know where to start. A drive along the Naramata Bench is a must and we’re awfully fond of Howling Bluff, Bench 1775, Pentage, Lake Breeze, La Frenz and Elephant Island, but you can’t go far wrong in these parts.

Penticton

A couple summers ago we took a lake cruise on the Casabella Princess and loved it, if you have some time, it’s a must.

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In the summer the Saturday Penticton Farmer’s Market is worthy of at least an hour of your time. So much goodness here!

We’ll be back in Penticton again in April, and we look forward to some new discoveries.

Brookside Inn – Escape to Abbotsford

Boutique Hotel in Abbotsford Offers Welcoming Retreat

Over the holiday season we drove up to Kelowna to visit the Anderton clan and decided a stop in Abbotsford on the way back to Vancouver would be in order. We could catch up with some good friends and take a break from the rather stressful highway driving. We booked into a recommended local bed and breakfast, the Brookside Inn Boutique Hotel. The Inn is not far off the highway, but in a country setting, with particularly festive decor and the biggest Christmas tree we’d seen; at least this year.

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Situated in Pepin Brook Vineyard Estates, Brookside Inn is run by Chris and Sandi Buis, a charming couple who were readily available when needed and completely out of site when not. Will a views to the local mountains, this area is known for great hiking and bird-watching. Who knew?

Brookside Inn

The bedrooms have a movie theme (ours was Midnight in Paris) and they are then styled around that. The suites are spacious with a sitting area and television, a soaker tub and uber comfy beds where a good nights sleep comes easy.

The Buis’ were having an open house and invited us to join in, so we of course obliged and got to know a few of the neighbours.

Hana Sushi

Hana Sushi

Craving sushi, we went to Hana Sushi nearby for a couple rolls with our pals Summer and Patrick, who are also recently engaged. Lots to celebrate these days!

Brookside Inn

In the morning breakfast is served in the dining area, we had a deliciuous plate of fruit atop French Toast and a few good cups of coffee before we departed.

Brookside Inn

While your in the area we’d recommend:

Dining at Restaurant 62

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A visit to Old Abbey Ales for some Belgian-Styled Brew.

 Circle Farm Tour Abbotsford – Don’t miss Taves Family Farm

Mount Lehman Wines

Tanglebank Gardens

Lepp Farm Market

Ann Arbor – Vitamin Daily

I journeyed to Ann Arbor, Michigan last winter and highly recommend you check this lovely city out during the holiday season. My full article published on Vitamin Daily. A snippet here.

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Fly into Detroit and continue on to lovely Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a unique blend of Midwestern U.S. charm, including a lively theater scene, stellar art galleries, great boutique shopping, excellent restaurants and many many (many!) microbreweries.

stay: With free Wi-Fi, a fitness room and pool, a lobby bar that serves local craft beer and large, luxe rooms, the Courtyard Ann Arbor is a solid choice (with plenty of things-to-do-on-site-between-sightseeing options) for those who aren’t keen on a bed-and-breakfast experience. Courtyard Ann Arbor,  3205 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor, 734-995-5900, www.marriott.com

drink: Start sipping at one of two Arbor Brewing Company locations, where stellar ale and a great menu are served. Jolly Pumpkin is a must for lunchtime brews and chews, while nearby Chelsea boasts both the aptly named Chelsea Alehouse Brewery and, for those who prefer vodka, the Ugly Dog Distillery (where you can actually meet Ruger, the distillery’s namesake who’s more cute than uncouth). Grizzly Peak, Original Gravity and Wolverine State Brewing, which specializes in lager, are also musts for craft-beer lovers. Local wines are featured at VinBar on West Liberty, and tea lovers ought to visit TeaHaus for a different sort of brew—after all, you can’t live on alcohol alone … or can you?

 

Kamloops Wine Country – Vitamin Daily

We visited Kamloops Wine Country and reported our adventures on Vitamin Daily and the story got picked up by the Huffington Post.

Once home to fur traders, gold miners and infamous train robber Billy Miner, Kamloops, B.C., now boasts lush farms, a stunning riverfront and the recently created Kamloops Wine Trail. Not one to miss out on a day of wine tasting (not to mention exploring, shopping and spa-ing), we packed our bags and drove straight there.

Kamloops Wine Country

stay: The Plaza Hotel, Kamloops’ oldest tall building, is right in the thick of downtown, with spacious rooms and beds we were hard-pressed to leave in the morning (had it not been for the promise of wine). Check out the hotel’s Fireside Steakhouse & Bar for delicious, locally sourced beef. The Plaza Hotel, 405 Victoria St., Kamloops, 250-377-8075, www.theplazahotel.ca

explore: Downtown Kamloops exudes a cool “antique” feel, meaning every visit should include a stop at the Kamloops Museum & Archives, where you can currently catch a fascinating exhibit by Mary Spencer, one of Canada’s first female photographers. Kamloops Museum & Archives, 207 Seymour St., Kamloops, 250-828-3576, www.kamloops.ca/museum

Read the rest of the story here:

Costa Mesa – South Coast Plaza #TravelCostaMesa

My second day in Costa Mesa I decided to do something I infrequently do, shop. Luckily for me  South Coast Plaza was a just steps away from my hotel, so after a bit of time in the gym, a hearty breakfast and a small prayer that I’d find something that fit, I was off.

You can win your own $2500 getaway to Costa Mesa until May 6, 2015 Just click this link to find out how.

South Coast Plaza Hermes Shopping Image Expires Aug 2015

South Coast Plaza has 250 stores and restaurants and is set in the heart of Orange County, it’s more like a shopping theme park than a mall. 23 million visitors have been through the plaza since it opened in 1967 and it boasts annual sales of $1.5 billion.

South Coast Plaza is recognized as one of “America’s Most Famous Streets to Stay, Shop and Dine,” a distinction shared by only a select few cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Dolce and Gabana is about to open here and you’ll find a Bloomingdales, Macy’s and top dining options including Marche Moderne, The Capital Grill and Din Tai Fung.

 

I didn’t dare go into Louboutin in case a pair of those red soled shoes “accidentally” made it into my bag, but Macy’s had several things that I picked up without breaking my less than overflowing piggy bank. Thank god for the woman who helped me in Macy’s as I was almost trampled in the shoe sale. No shopper am I!

So what’s a gal to do when the stress of shopping gets too much? Lunch, of course. I am far better at that. Marche Moderne is amazing and I had several very well crafted cocktails there to calm my nerves. The three course is excellent, don’t miss the superb scallops, and the salad choc full of freshness and binded by goat cheese and avocado. There’s also a VIP Lounge in the plaza that you can visit if you are weary. Husbands can lounge while their wives shop and here is where you’d meet with your private shopper should you choose to go that route. Perhaps that would have saved me from the shoe department trample.

After an afternoon rest back at the hotel, I went back to the plaza. I avoided the shops but was ready for some more drinks and dinner. The Capital Grill is the way to go for steak lovers. Excellent beef and superb service here. You’ll want to stay a while and linger over a bottle from the wine list and dessert.

Chalked up over 20,000 steps on my Jawbone UP24 this day and had a very good night’s sleep.

More About South Coast Plaza from the Plaza

Renowned as a major global shopping destination, South Coast Plaza is home to more than 250 prominent boutiques, critically-acclaimed restaurants and the adjacent celebrated Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Its unparalleled collection of diverse retailers, from Balenciaga, Cartier and Hermès to Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Roger Vivier, J. Crew, Zara and more – along with its customized concierge services, makes it Southern California’s premier shopping experience. South Coast Plaza is located in Orange County, California, in the city of Costa Mesa. Information: www.southcoastplaza.com

*This trip was made possible by Travel Costa Mesa, John Wayne Airport and Avenue of the Arts Hotel. All thoughts on this site are always my very own. 

Costa Mesa – Avenue of the Arts Hotel #TravelCostaMesa

Whether you are heading to Costa Mesa to shop at South Coast Plaza, play at Disneyland, hit the nearby beaches, or attend an event at one of the city’s many art centers, you are going to want to spend a few days to explore the vibrant area. I suggest you book into the Wyndham Avenue of the Arts Hotel and stay a while. The hotel is on the “Avenue of the Arts,” just across the street from Segerstrom Center for the Arts and a quick 3 miles from the John Wayne Airport (Orange County).

You can win your own $2500 getaway to Costa Mesa until May 6, 2015 Just click that link! 

Wyndam

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The property is just steps from South Coast Plaza and set on a tranquil lakeside property. A full gym, onsite restaurant and bar,  granite baths and hardwood flooring, and an executive work desk with ergonomic chair, wireless internet, flat screen television, organic bath toiletries, complete the package, and all guestrooms offer charming views of the lake and private gardens, and full walk-out balconies. Here I am enjoying the warm weather and my view of the lake.

SilverTrumpet_Lounge

I checked into the hotel for my adventure and booked it to the bar for a local craft beer before dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, The Silver Trumpet. You will definitely want to put aside some time to linger in the comfortable lounge and dine on Chef Eddie Garcia’s tasty cuisine.

Lucky for us we did a menu sampling and my only complaint? So much food. Especially loved the scallops and the roast chicken.

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Spacious rooms and the comfy desk chair meant I could get some work done.

Breakfast Tacos

I took advantage of the in room dining and ordered up some hearty short rib breakfast tacos to prepare myself for a day of serious shopping at the nearby South Coast Plaza.

Win your own $2500 getaway to Costa Mesa until May 6, 2015.

*This trip was made possible by Travel Costa Mesa, John Wayne Airport and Avenue of the Arts Hotel. All thoughts on this site are always my very own.

Staycation – Escape to Richmond

Last year we gave up the car meaning our lengthy getaways have taken a back seat to more local pursuits within a convenient reach via a leisurely cycle ride. However, thanks to Lincoln Canada we had the use of an MKC for a week, and took the opportunity to take a mini vacation in nearby Richmond. More on this car from us here.

Lincoln MKC

We checked into the Hilton Richmond a mere 20 minute ride from Vancouver, and dined at Cavu Kitchen Bar.  Great place to stay if you have an early morning flight or are coming in to explore Richmond itself.

Be sure to order the tandoori-spiced calamari and the CAVU BURGER. More on this meal here.

King Bed

It’s awesome to have a King Bed as we only have a Queen at home, and there’s plenty of room in the sitting room to relax before bed, or get some work done at the desk if you must. There’s also a nice view of the city from the bedroom if you had time to linger in the morning and enjoy breakfast in bed.

Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival

bald eagle-2014-1018-print-page-001Last year we journeyed out to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival and it’s taken me this long to give it some proper attention on this website. Luckily there’s still time to plan your trip out to Harrison Mills and Harrison Hot Springs for this year’s festival. I recommend planning for a day or two to honour these amazing birds and spend some time in an incredibly beautiful part of our glorious province.

It’s a quick and scenic drive out to Harrison Mills, just ninety minutes from Vancouver along the Lougheed Highway/BC-7. Just head east to Mission and follow the signs to you reach Harrison Mills.

 

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We checked into Rowena’s at Pretty Estates, an historic property situated on the Fraser River consisting of a main manor and a several rustic cottages filled with restored antiques. This time we were in the main building, but there’s still a very private feeling and the walls are well-insulated so you feel as if you are the only people around, unless you require anything and then the service is brisk.

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You will rest well here atop glorious bedding in either the manor rooms or the cottages with barely a noise to be heard apart from the occasional eagle or a swing of a golf club connecting with a ball from the nearby course.

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Upon arrival there’s always a tasty local cheese plate and local wine to sip while you get comfortable and begin to wind down. We took ours out onto the balcony with views of the river and began our search for the bald eagles, assisting with the binoculars provided.

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Nothing yet, but it was getting dark, so perhaps they, like us, were resting.

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Dinner at Rowena’s is easy; we just hopped next door to the River’s Edge where diners can choose from casual West Coast fare or go upscale with dishes such as the Escargot, French Onion Soup and excellent Lamb Chops. Our meal was lovely; service attentive, dishes well executed, we wish this place was closer.

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After a well deserved sleep in, we headed out for a walk to catch some of the bald eagles and the salmon that bring them to the area. We saw salmon, beautiful forest greens and a number of other interesting articles such as this abandoned toiled, but no eagles.

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Somewhat disappointed, but at we at least had a nice breakfast to look forward to back at the resort. An omelette full of farm fresh fresh range eggs, eggs benny and locally made pork sausage energized us and put our minds back in positive mode.

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After a drive about the area to observe fall country colours, we returned for afternoon tea. The scones are amazing, sandwiches and special bites delicious but some of the sweet other items that weren’t made at Rowena’s weren’t as nice as the homemade goods, as is usually the case.

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Finally out for another stroll, hopeful and keen to catch these damn birds we had success. They are obviously more active later in the day here.

That night we decided to drive out to the nearby Harrison Hot Springs for a soak in the hot springs, and dinner in the Copper Room.

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The prime rib was excellent and it’s always such a flash back in time to sit in the Copper Room and listen to the old school band and watch couples of all ages hit the dance floor. There’s always some serious talent out there.

This year the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival, begins November 15th and ends December 6. During this time the entire area celebrates the beauty and biodiversity of the Fraser Valley by honouring the majestic Bald Eagle and the Cycle of the Salmon. Harrison Mills is home to the world’s largest concentrated eagle gathering. The raptors are drawn to the area by the millions of spawning salmon that travel up the Fraser River to tributaries, such as the Harrison River. The estuary is also home to incredible wildlife such as trumpeter swans, ducks, seal, bear, coyote, deer and the great white sturgeon. Situated on the banks of the Harrison River, Pretty Estates Resort is the perfect place to watch this phenomenal eagle gathering! You can book your room , watch the eagles though their live cameras  and view the eagles from the patio at River’s Edge Restaurant or the estate’s eagle viewing gazebo.

The Sts’ailes BBQ Salmon Lunch or Fundraising Dinner, is also organized and hosted at Pretty Estates. Purchase tickets  Sts’ailes BBQ Salmon Luncheon on Saturday, November 22nd and buy tickets for the fundraising dinner on Saturday, November 29th.

 

 

 

Tricky Travel Trinkets

Travelsmith LuggageAfter my last trip to Toronto where I over packed and ended up lugging heavy things around, straining my shoulder and drastically annoying me, I decided to look into travelling smartly. After intensive research I came up with these excellent items that are sure to make your journey a less stressful one.

Scott E Vest

 

 

Scott E Vest Trench$150 http://www.scottevest.com/v3_store/Womens-Trench.shtml

 

Heys Portal Smart Luggage

Heys International Portal Smart Luggage Smart $199 http://shop.heys.ca/products/portalsmartluggage30

Eagle Creek Paking Cubes

Eagle Creek Pack It Starter Set $48 http://shop.eaglecreek.com/packit-starter-set/d/1344

Lug Life Bags

Lug purses, carry bags and lunch bags $ various  http://www.luglife.com/

Eagle Creek Morphus Suitcase

Eagle Creek Morphus 22 $395 eaglecreek.com/morphus-22/d/1384_c_112

sidekicks

Sidekicks Hellin Good Various Stores $20

Travelsmith Luggage

Travel Smith Tote and Rolling Carry On $149 http://www.travelsmith.com/travelsmith-360-degree-spinner-rolling-carry-on-with-free-tote/luggage-bags/luggage/22411

gotoob1

GoToob http://www.humangear.com/

Stephanie Johnson Toilet Bag

Stephanie JohnsonWish List Boutique Jewelry Case, Toiletry Bags www.wishlistboutique.ca  2811 West Broadway

http://www.stephaniejohnson.com/

Escents Roll on Head AidEscents Stay Alert InhalerEscents Therapy Spray

Escents Wellness Spray/Inhaler/Head Aid roll on http://www.escentsaromatherapy.com/

RISE Jumper-Blue-OpenAngle

Rise Weekender $79 http://www.risegear.com/

Train Reaction Device - new

Train Reaction $14.95 http://trainreaction.com/

Sleepphones

SleepPhones Pajamas for your ears $40 http://www.sleepphones.com/

vinni

VinniBags! Wanderlust $29 http://www.wanderlustore.com/

Wally Bag

Wally Bag $59.99 http://www.wallybags.com/products/selproduct.php?pid=3&seriesid=3

Sip & Savour Salt Spring Island

IMG_9088Each September Salt Spring Island gets festive with Sip & Savour Salt Spring Island. This year the events take place during National Organic week from Friday, September 19th to Sunday, September 21st, 2014. The festival brings together growers, food providers and chefs from Salt Spring Island and partners them with vintners representing the wine growing regions of British Columbia and the finest Vancouver Island Craft Brewers. Three days of sipping, savouring and living the Salt Spring Island farm-to-table dream! Last year Michael and I joined in on the fun and had a great weekend getaway.

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Getting there:

The current BC Ferry schedule to Salt Spring Island means that unless you have all the time in the world on your hands, you should fly. Salt Spring Air has three flights a day from the Vancouver Airport as well as right from downtown through Coal Harbour. Pack light and jump on the float plane for a scenic twenty minute flight and you’ll arrive in style.

mariners loft

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Stay:

We love love love, did I say love? Hastings House, but last year we checked out Mariner’s Loft and I am going to suggest you book into here for the festival as there are full kitchens and you’ll want to shop the local market and make some meals of your own with the local bounty. I also did check in to Hastings House the following night for Chefs Across the Water and it was once again an entirely pampered experience with top notch food and service, but you don’t get to do your own cooking!

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Home Cooking

We picked up some peppers, squash, green onions, tomatoes and Salt Spring Island Cheese and made a simple pasta that we enjoyed on the patio looking out to the Harbour. Or should I say Michael made the pasta as I think I just watched. Thank you!

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IMG_9042 lamb

On the Friday night we chose to dine at Auntie Pesto’s, one of my musts every time I visit the Island. They did a spectacular job of showcasing the local farmer’s products with a squash soup, fish cakes, beet carpaccio and tender local lamb. This year there are many more dinners for both the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights including the Hastings House, Harbour House, Auntie Pestos, Moby’s Pub and Rock Salt Restaurant. Make your choices here.

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In the morning we checked out the Salt Spring Farmer’s Market and gathered our produce for our Sunday night dinner and then made our way to the Saturday Grazing Experience.

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This year the event is held at the Salt Spring Island Farmers Institute and will be a similar casual afternoon of craft beer and cider from the islands a samples of delicious local food prepared by island chefs.

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After a nice break back at our loft we headed to Moby’s Pub for their Sip and Savour Meal, another well done meal consisting of a savoury zucchini panacotta, a delish and rather overwhelming pork chop with squash and roasted apples with locally churned ice cream and sponge toffee sprinkle.

Harbour House

Harbour House

Harbour House

If you enjoy exploring gardens, you should arrange to have a look around that of Harbour House Hotel’s Organic Garden while on the Island. This amazing acreage provides the majority of the produce for the Harbour House Hotel’s restaurant. They also serve up some flavourful Salt Spring Island mussels which you of course have to have while on the Island.

This year the Harbour House hosts a sparkling brunch on the Sunday should you wish to extend your feasting to another day, as well as a dinner on Sunday and Monday night.

It’s hard to leave this idyllic spot where farms and local food are always front of mind. Details on 2014 Sip and Savour Salt Spring Island here.