A fine dinner in a very fine location on the Sunshine Coast

The Blue Heron Restaurant is a wonderful small country inn on the Sunshine Coast and is located just a short drive from Coracle Cove. It has been operated by a husband and wife team for almost twenty years. Manuel is an award winning chef who escaped from the hectic restaurant scene in Toronto to return, with his wife Gail, to her hometown on the Sunshine Coast.

The Blue Heron

The portions at the Blue Heron are always generous so sharing is a good strategy. The plate below is actually my half of the Digby Scallops wrapped in Proscuitto and it was the perfect starter for what I knew would be an evening of sampling many interesting dishes.

BLUE HERON APPETIZER

The restaurant is intimate, seating perhaps 25-30 and features a warm cedar post and beam interior with expansive west-facing views of Sechelt Inlet. We were able to enjoy this lovely sunset with a glass of wine. The menu offers a limited selection of decent wines, however,  you can bring your own and pay a $20 corkage fee.

ocean view from Blue Heron

Several of my guests have previously ordered the Seafood Trio and I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed.   This entree comes with a choice of soup or salad. I chose the latter and was served a small caesar, carefully dressed. Next came four perfectly cooked prawns, a fresh salmon filet, and smoked black cod with tarragon sauce. Entrees are served with a side plate of steamed vegetables.

Seafood Trio at Blue Heron

My wife loves scallops and doubled up with her entree, Digby Scallops and Prawns, also served with the tarragon sauce.  Scallops are best when they’re just seared and while this can be a problem in a busy kitchen with getting them to the table, the chef and servers teamed up to nail it perfectly.

Prawns & Digbey Scallops at Blue Heron

Sheila is also a great fan of creme caramel and this demanding dish is frequently on her wish list, both at home and when we are dining out. Tonight’s dish, unfortunately, didn’t quite measure up to my own creations, so I guess I’ve still got a job.

Creme Caramel at Blue Heron

The raspberry tart that I ordered, however, was over the top. The fresh, tangy raspberry filling was just the right contrast after my seafood trio, and a perfect ending to this fine dinner.

Raspberry Tart at Blue Heron

All in all, this was a very fine meal and a wonderful treat for ourselves after a couple of very busy weeks. We’re so lucky to have this little gem, just a short ten-minute drive away.

Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s so relaxing here you may not want to leave… a survival guide to staying at Coracle Cove

We’ve noticed that a lot of our guests don’t want to leave Coracle Cove once they’ve arrived. It’s quite understandable – it’s very relaxing here and the view’s not too bad either…

Winter Sunset on Four Mile Point

Choosing between the hot tub on the waterside deck and the big Adirondak chairs on the dock  may be the toughest decision you’ll make all day. It can get pretty comfortable, and like others you might want to just stay put…

Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite

…because when the sun starts to set, that’s when the sky gets really interesting…

Falling for the Sunshine Coast

So, before you arrive at Coracle Cove, you might want to make sure that you have all of your necessary food supplies.  Here’s a few of our recommendations:

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 10.59.09 AM

Claytons Heritage Market is a full-size supermarket and is located in the Trail Bay Centre Mall, in Sechelt. They feature the freshest produce, quality meats, a unique bakery, and a fabulous deli.

You’ll find a government liquor store right beside Claytons.  The store was remodelled and expanded this past spring and has a great selection of wines and craft-style beers.

On the other hand, you may just want to pick up some take-out and we’ve got some great recommendations:

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 11.08.40 AM

Daphne’s Restaurant, on Wharf St. offers a  Mediterranean and Italian menu and has a 91% Urban Spoon rating. 604-885-2008

The Old Boot is across the street from Daphne’s and describe their food as having a Western feel with Italian flare. 604-885-2727

Sushi Bar 5517 is just a few doors down the street and boosts a 96% Urban Spoon rating. They have an extensive Japanese menu and the sushi is great.  604-885-0220

… and if by chance you find yourself needing to do something about dinner, you can always order in and have it delivered. Saffron ( 604-740-0660) offers an eclectic menu of East Indian, pizza, pasta, ribs and burgers and you can order online.

So with a little bit of advance preparation you don’t have to leave – just stay put and thoroughly enjoy your precious getaway time.

Follow this link to return to our website at Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite 

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your first day on the Sunshine Coast… things to do in Gibsons

The Sunshine Coast is an easy and affordable option for anyone needing a few days away. Imagine taking a stunning ferry ride to another world where the pace is slow, the scenery is breathtaking and the people are friendly.  The  Sunshine Coast is on Vancouver’s doorstep, and it’s only a scenic 40 minutes away, waiting to welcome you to BC’s best kept secret. In this series of blogs we’ll unlock some of those secrets and share our best insider tips on suggestions for “things to do”to help you get the most out of your Sunshine Coast getaway.

Our first piece of advice is to get an early start to the day. There’s less traffic on BC Ferries and you’ve just gained some extra hours for your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, grab your camera and head up to the outside deck. You’ll get some great pictures like this as the ferry winds its way between several small islands.

Lower Gibsons is our first destination, so break away from that pack of cars, turn left as you drive off the ferry and follow this quiet country road. Gibsons was originally a fishing settlement and this area still holds some of that maritime charm.  There’s a good variety of galleries, and casual cafes, including Mike’s Gelato, recently named  as one of the lower mainland’s Ten Best Places to get Gelato. If it’s lunch you’re after give Truffles a try for some hearty, flavourful soups and be sure to have one of their Ultimate Cookies.

You’ve still got lots of time before check-in so have a wander down the street. Just beside the iconic Molly’s Reach is a lane of the same name, where you’ll find one of our favourite galleries, The Beachcomber’s Daughter. Lori Gray is the daughter and her father was an active beachcomber back in the day. The original Beachcomber series based many of their episodes on his lifestyle.

There are several other galleries along this two block stretch as well as a number of interesting stores. Another of our favourites is The Waltzing Whippet which features fabulous home decor, jewelry, art and lots more…

Sechelt is only a 25 minute drive from Gibsons. Along the way you might want to pick up a few supplies before-hand so that you can fully relax on our waterside deck after you’ve checked-in. The IGA in Wilson Creek is a good stop for food provisons, and you’ll find a good wine selection at the Lighthouse Wine & Cold Beer store, just as you come into Sechelt.

Keeping with the relaxation theme, our dinner recommendation for tonight is casual and there’s no need to get dressed up. The Lighthouse Pub & Restaurant (different location) has a new chef and a new menu with lots of seafood options and their new wood-fired pizza oven is creating some delectable pizzas. The view from their waterside deck is absolutely outstanding so head outside and grab a table where you can be entertained with all of the activity of this busy little harbour and the endless vista of Sechelt Inlet, beyond.

After dinner head back home and return to our waterside deck. As the evening sets in you’ll be treated to an amazing display of stars set against the dark, dark country skies. Are you starting to feel relaxed…. wait till you see what we’ve planned for tomorrow.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Five Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast Day 2 – things to do in Roberts Creek

Roberts Creek is one of those small communities with a big character. It has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches, inviting long walks at low tide, a pristine forested park with endless trails, and a vibe that is laid back and full of interesting personalities. You’ve got lots of choices for things to do in Roberts Creek so lets get started.

You’re on a holiday and there’s nothing better for relaxing than a yoga class. My favourite studio is Yoga by the Sea.   The drop-in rate is only $15 for a two-hour class and they’ve got all the gear you need. The instructors provide a great mix of both mental and physical activity, the classes are small, and you get as much attention and help as you want. So don’t worry, be happy – give it a try.

If walking though a forested paradise is more your style, Cliff Gilker Park offers a series of well maintained trails and foot bridges that criss-cross back and forth over Roberts Creek as it funnels its way down to the Salish Sea.

Along the way, the creek bed drops suddenly in elevation forming four powerful waterfalls. There are several viewing platforms and comfortable benches allowing an opportunity to sit and contemplate the beauty of this endless cycle of Nature.

The Gumboot Restaurant, is located in The Heart of Roberts Creek and it’s my lunch recommendation for today.  Try the Buddda Bowl… you’ll get a large healthy plate, mounded high with steamed greens, shredded raw carrots and beets, baked tofu slices, and brown rice with a rich and flavourful peanut sauce.

After a relaxing lunch head down the road toward the ocean where you’ll come first to the large mandala, a community project re-designed and painted every year by local Creekers and committed followers. If you’re there in late July you will be welcome to join in.

A few more steps will bring you to the magnificence of the Salish Sea and this beautiful, deserted sandy beach where you can walk, explore tidal pools and collect interesting pieces of driftwood.

Wednesday afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00 are market days so on your way home stop in at the top of Roberts Creek Road where you’ll find  freshly picked local produce, artisan baking and a tempting selection of jams and preserves.

My dinner recommendation for tonight is the Old Boot in Sechelt.  This is an easy and relaxing dining experience – the food is good, the servings plentiful, and the prices reasonable. The menu is just the right size with a selection of pastas, steak, ribs and seafood.

After dinner head back to Coracle Cove and down to your favourite waterside seat on our floating deck. Get ready for an incredible sunset. You’ve had a good day, feeding both the body and the mind, so take some time to remind yourself of just how much you have to be happy about.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Five Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast Day 3 – things to do in Sechelt

Today is a Saturday activity and is the third in my series of blogs in which I unlock the secrets of the Sunshine Coast, sharing some of my best insider tips to help you get the most out of your getaway. Sechelt is close to home and offers a variety of choices in the things to do category – the choice is yours, a little or a lot

The Sechelt Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market  is the largest on the Sunshine Coast, taking place every Saturday morning, and it’s a very popular venue for locals and visitors alike. It’s always very satisfying to be able to find locally grown ingredients, picked that morning, to prepare a meal .

To inspire you, here’s a recent meal we prepared, using all ingedients we found at the market. Our starter was a fresh Camembert made from local goats milk, followed by a simple green salad, freshly picked that morning, dressed with a tasty vinegrette. I bought a little jar of pesto made from wild nettles and cashews,  and it was a perfect compliment to go with some fresh asparagus and nugget potatoes. I was also able to find some Halibut which we cooked very simply in a little brown butter.  Dessert was simple – a medley of freshly picked berries with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

But the market isn’t just about food. The Sunshine Coast has one of the highest per-capita populations of artists in Canada, and several of them are set up every Saturday at the Market. The artistic quality is very high and includes potters, photographers, and jewelry makers.

Peggy Collins is a nature photographer, and this image is one of my favourites.  It’s easy to spend several hours at the market and the vendors are always happy to talk about their products.

After the market, you have a couple of great options for walking tours. The first is a tour of the Public Art Sculptures that are immediately adjacent to the Farmers Market. Follow this link to read more.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 1.28.00 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are several First Nations Totem Poles in the area. Walk toward the ocean and pick up the sea wall walk… you’re in for a real treat as the view is outstanding. I like to do a circular route, walking first to the right and then retracing my footsteps and continuing on until I reach these magnificent totem poles. follow this link for more information about a Walking Tour of the Totems of Sechelt.

photo courtesy of Sunshine Coast Tourism

photo courtesy of Sunshine Coast Tourism

You’re probably ready for lunch by now and there are lots of good choices in Sechelt –  Ty’s Fine Food and Wheatberries are my favourites. But if you want to do some more exploring  head down the highway to Wilson Creek. Strait Coffee has been a leader in creating a coffee culture on the Sunshine Coast and they’ve created an environment that simply allows you to savour that perfect cup.

After all this activity it’s time to head back to Coracle Cove. Pick up a nice bottle of wine at the Lighthouse Wine Store and enjoy your fresh, locally sourced Sunshine Coast Dinner on your favourite waterside deck.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Five Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Smuggler Cove is our destination this morning – a half-hour drive up the highway, just past Halfmoon Bay. This morning’s walk should take no more than an hour and will give you a great introduction to the pristine beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

Bring your binoculars, as the first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small marshy lakes, and offering good birding opportunities. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Islands, and at this time of the year, you’re also likely to see several sailboats moored within the protected confines of the cove itself. Follow this link for more information and pictures.

For lunch, drive back toward Sechelt, but turn right at Redrooffs Road, and then follow the signs  to the Halfmoon Bay General Store. Next door you’ll find the Upper Crust Bakery with a good selection of Paninis and baked sweets. Between the two stores you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Then carry on down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

After your leisurely lunch, it’s time to hit the road again, but we’re not going too far.  Continue driving along Redrooffs Road for about ten minutes and you’ll find another Sunshine Coast Secret.

Sargeant’s Bay has been a favourite of mine for a long time – a perfect horseshoe-shaped cove with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along a pebble beach – and most likely you’ll have the whole area completely to yourself. If you’re interested in birding, this is a rich habitat with over 150 species. Spend as much time as you like here – there are  benches and lots of logs on the beach, so pull up a seat, relax and soak in this pristine setting.

Our dinner recommendation for tonight is Sushi Bar 5517 in Sechelt at that address on Wharf Street. If you are a sushi afficionado you will not be disappointed but they also have a great selection of other Japanese dishes. The menu offers a very broad and creative selection of sushi – one of my favourites is the Alaska roll with salmon, crab and avocado. Be sure to order the Gomaae, a wilted spinache salad with sesame-peanut dressing.

If you’re not into sushi, there are two other restaurants nearby – The Old Boot and Daphne’s. After dinner, it’s time to head back to your favourite waterside deck to watch the stars come out. Keep an eye out for those of the shooting variety.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Five Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast Day 5 – things to do in Pender Harbour & the Skookumchuk Rapids

This blog continues my series of daily itineraries, in which I unlock the secrets of the Sunshine Coast and share a few of my best insider tips for things to do while visiting the Sunshine Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skookumchuk Rapids could easily be considered the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Twice a day, over 200 billion gallons of water flow through the narrow and constricted opening of the  Skookumchuk Narrows, creating one of the world’s fastest tidal currents.

On a Flood Tide, the water flows in at a far greater rate than the narrow opening can handle, creating a standing wave between the outside and inside waters. Kayakers gather here to surf the wave in their small white-water kayaks. (check out this YouTube video) The best viewing site for this is at Roland Point.

When the tide is flowing out of Sechelt Inlet  (Ebb Tide) large whirlpools are created, strong enough to suck down a large log and send it popping into the air as it frees itself from the swirling vortex. The best viewing site of the Ebb tide whirlpools is at North Point.

You want to time your hike so you arrive when the tidal surge is at its strongest. The hike in takes about 40-50 minutes from the  parking lot (there’s a great little bakery at the trail head) Arrive a little early, take a seat and then watch the Skookum Lady strut her stuff.  Use this tide table link to organize the best viewing time and then it’s a simple matter of working out the rest of the day’s schedule.

Fortunately the Pender Harbour area has lots of interesting diversions to keep us entertained  while waiting for the best tides. Also known as Venice of the North, the area was first settled as a fishing community and water continues to link its small communities. The Slow Cat, provides three daily scheduled tours around the harbour area and Captain Paul will regale you with stories from the past.

There are also over  a dozen galleries and studios in the Pender Harbour area, representing a wide variety of styles and disciplines. Some of my favourites are:

  • Copper Sky Gallery – located in Madeira Park
  • FiberWorks Studio – located along the highway just after Madeira Park
  • Flying Anvil  Studio – at the Garden Bay turn-off
  • Motoko  Gallery – in Garden Bay

Depending on your schedule, you’ll want to stop for either lunch or dinner. The Painted Boat in Madeira Park is a casually elegant restaurant with a distinctly coastal feel and the menu is focused on the freshest of ingredients. Ask to be seated on the deck – the restaurant literally hangs over the water and the view is an extra bonus.

For something a little more casual you can’t beat the Garden Bay Pub with its large waterside deck where you can watch all manner of boats coming and going. Home of two summer music festivals, they also feature live music every Sunday.

So with a little planning and fitting the pieces into a manageable schedule you’ll be able to create a fabulous day – an incredible outdoor experience; interesting galleries to explore; and a great restaurant experience with a view. Your summer getaway just keeps getting better.

Follow this link to see more of our best insider tips or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Five Days on the Sunshine Coast - daily itineraries | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Our resident family of eagles have been extremely active lately. While their nest is hidden  in the forest, as the day begins to lighten they return to their regular perches along our shoreline to watch for breakfast opportunities, and eagerly call back and forth  to each other.

an eagle visits coracle Cove

Occasionally one of the family will perch in our big fir tree and give us a great close up. It’s a magical moment for our guests and a reminder to always have your camera ready.

Bandit

“Bandit” whom I named last year for the band of adolescent brown feathers over his eyes, will now undoubtedly, have a full head of white feathers. His younger brothers and sisters, however, jostle for landing space as they land in the nearby trees. Toward the end of each day, they can often be seen practicing their flight manoeuvres, chasing each other in the sky and calling out with their distinctive high-pitched whistling.

IMG_5785And sometimes, we’ll get another close-up when one of them perches on the railing leading down to our dock… all the better to catch their next meal.

IMG_1752

We often think of eagles as being at the top of the food chain, but only about one in ten actually survive past age three. We’re very lucky as Bandit has several brothers and sisters  Proud Parents

While all this is going on, the parents are never too far away, and should be very proud of their efforts in raising such a large family and beating the odds that Nature so often extracts.

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking Tours on the Sunshine Coast – #7 – A tasting tour of Gibsons

Catch our Drift is a new tour company with a novel approach to helping visitors connect with the Sunshine Coast by providing them with unique local experiences. I went along on the Taste of the Landing Tour  the other day, and while I’ve lived here for almost 40 years, I learned quite a bit about my own community and met some pretty interesting people.

smitty's outside plank table

Our first stop was Smitty’s Oyster House where we had a sampling of fresh raw oysters from Gorge Harbour on Vancouver Island. The large plank table that you see in the image above sits just a few feet from the salty brine and we were encouraged to toss our empty oyster shells over the railing to help seed a new oyster bed. The table has an interesting story. When the restaurant first opened, the municipal council of the day were only prepared to allow a single table for outside seating. I guess you can fight City Hall!

taste leos

After following the boardwalk along the shoreline we cut through a beautifully landscaped park and found ourselves at Leo’s Tapas & Grill where a plate of freshly prepared calamari was waiting. Leo’s also hosts a Seafood Festival in January and a Greek Festival in February. I’ll be marking both of these dates on next year’s calendar.

taste mikes

We left Leo’s and walked a few steps down the street to Mike’s Gelato where we were greeted by an impressive array of 64 varieties of gelato. It was tough narrowing my choices down to our allotted three but with a little help from our affable and engaging server I choose the Chocolate Snickers, Radical Rolo and Twisted Sweet & Salty.

taste black bean

We walked a couple of blocks further to the Black Bean Cafe, a coffee shop that uses only organic, fair trade beans, which they roast themselves. I had a caramel macchiato and sampled some strawberry-rhubarb muffin… what a great combination. They do all of their baking on-site and have a very loyal customer base.

taste daffodilly

We crossed over to the other side of the street and were welcomed inside by the owner of Daffadowndilly, which offers an eclectic collection of work by local artists. The building was built in 1928 as apartments for loggers and fishermen and has a colourful history. When we commented on the slanting floor, the owner shared the story that the building had been partially knocked off its foundations by a runaway truck that had careened down the steep hill some years ago.

taste grammas

This is the impressive view from Gramma’s Pub, our next stop, and another business with an interesting story. The pub was the first licenced marine pub in the province, opening over 40 years ago. A family owned business, it was named after the mother who had a penchant for the cool amber fluid.  We were served a glass of Landing Lager, which is the house brew and made by Russell Brewing specifically for Gramma’s.

taste blackberry

The Black Berry Shop was our next stop and as you can see from the image and guess from the name, they offer a lot of blackberry products. We had a sampling of an interesting  blackberry/garlic jam over cream cheese on a cracker and it was delicious.  There was also blackberry chutney, syrup and vinegar as well as some straight up blackberry jam. The store is a cooperative for over 65 local artists and food producers and offers a wide variety of wonderful products.

taste gypsy cove

Gypsy Cove is right next door and we were able to sample some of their food products as well. We started with a refreshing glass of iced tea made from one of their many specialty fruit teas. They offer over 35 different teas for a variety of tastes and needs, including a good selection of “wellness teas” to help with energy, relaxation or jet lag. We also sampled some of their infusion sea salts with some raw veggies – my two favourites were the Spanish Rosemary and the Salish Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt.

What a great day!! I was able to sample some very tasty food products made right here on the Sunshine Coast and I heard lots of interesting stories. All in all it was a very entertaining day and provided me with some unique experiences that helped this long-time resident connect even further with the community.  You can find more information about Catch Our Drift on their website.

Follow this link to return to our Coracle Cove website.

Posted in Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers’ Festival Tickets go on sale May 29th

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 10.58.40 AM

Any festival that’s been happening year after year for over 30 years has obviously found the right formula for success.   The Festival of the Written Arts  has been described as “Canada’s longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers.

This year is the 31st anniversary and another full slate of outstanding Canadian writing talent will be here to talk about their books. If you like reading, then the festival is a great place to hear about new work from your favourite authors, but it’s also a great introduction to others whose names are less familiar and a few about whom you know absolutely nothing.

In fact, in previous years’ festivals some of the new names have often been the best presenters and “in some instances, the hands down biggest hit of the Festival.”

The Festival takes place over a four-day weekend, August 15-19. You can check out the full program at  http://www.writersfestival.ca/  but don’t leave it too long as many of the events often sell out early.

Tickets go on sale by telephone at 8AM on Wednesday, May 29th, and I’ll be ready with  my selections previewed and made, and my telephone on speed dial.

Follow this link to return to our website.

Posted in Arts & Culture on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment