Get to know your Millionaires from your Lord Derby’s at the Annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival
Before apple trees were planted in the Okanagan Valley, Salt Spring Island was growing an assortment of the fruit as early as 1860. To celebrate, the Island holds a festival celebrating the apple with apple displays, pie sales and apple orchard visits each harvest. There are now over 350 varieties grown on the Island, all organicallly. We joined the celebrations on Salt Spring Island this fall as it was a great opportunity to fully test drive another vehicle, stay at one of our favourite hotels and, of course, eat our share of apples.
We tested the Honda HR-V, a subcompact SUV with plenty of cool feaures. The vehicle model is new for this year and has an attractive and sporty design. It is super roomy inside, has top of the line safety features and zips in and out of parking spots easily. For all the specs on the car and more check out our full review here.
October is generally a good month to visit Salt Spring Island as the sun is out most days and the air is crisp but still fairly warm. It can rain, but luckily for us, it didn’t. The sail over on BC Ferries is easier if you take just one ferry, instead of changing over in Swartz Bay but you’ll have to plan and reserve ahead to get the best route.
I was traveling with my girlfriend Tess and it was her first time to the Island and the farmers market was at the top of her list, so we made sure we had some time to check it out and sampled some apples, apple fritters and apple tarts to get us in the festive mood. The cheeses on the Island are unbelievable, both Salt Spring Island Cheese and Moonstruck Organic, so don’t leave the market or the Island without trying and buying a few types.
We also went for a quick shop in the stores around the small town, and I even found an vintage James Beard book and a punch bowl at the charity store!
We were staying at Hastings House, which is a gorgeous ocean front
country hotel with a restaurant that grows much of it’s own produce. The property is Relais and Chateau and their standards are indeed set high; even the cot that Tess stayed on was insanely comfortable and there’s a daily complementary afternoon tea in the manor. We had dinner booked at the hotel as I’ve had some fantastic meals there and went for a pre-dinner drink just down the Hill Unfortunatley, the very moment we returned for dinner the power went out, and stayed out, so we had to quickly grab one of the few taxis on the Island and make other plans! A bit of drama, but we took it in stride!
Fortunately there was only a brief wait at Auntie Pestos, a favourite of mine on the Island and the meal was fantastic. We went for the a spinach salad, Salt Spring Mussels, an incredibly butter-like tender steak that we are still talking about and headed back to Hastings House for bed.
A little bit on the Honda HR-V and the festival in this “super” video!
From there the options of apple viewing were vast, but we plotted a route and hit some of the larger orchards and thankfully one where not only was lunch served, but where I purchased some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted. We sat on the patio with a stellar view out across the Island and enjoyed some BBQ pork and chicken. I learned later that this was the home of Salt Springs famous Bread Lady and I am hooked on the garlic and cheese bread. Sadly, I had only bought one loaf!
While there’s several worthwhile wineries to visit, the newish Salt Spring Ales Brewery was right on the route and they’d even done an apple beer for the festival. When in need of gifts for my partner, Michael, I can always count on beer!
The ferry took the long route home, stopping at a few other Gulf Islands but we had plenty to read and it was a nice wind down to a rather special apple-filled weekend.
*Honda provided the HR-V for our test drive and supplemented our trip expenses.
*Thank you to Hastings House for the lovely accomodations.