Food for Thought

Just Grill It!

Tips for better barbecuing this summer…

BC Shellfish Festival: June 17-18

When you live on an Island, anabolics days are defined by the ebb and flow of the tides.  Not to mention the catch of the day.  And during two days in June, stomach the community of Comox not only revels in the daily catch, stuff but boasts an all-out party to celebrate sustainably-harvested food from the sea.

The largest of its kind in the province, the BC Shellfish Festival will lure the seafood set June 18 with a full day of cooking demos by the region’s cutting-edge chefs, live beats and local entertainment, and select sea-worthy competitions.  Vying for hard-earned hardware and some cool cash, competitors will wield the blades for the BC Oyster Shucking Championships and stir it up during Comox Valley’s Best Chowder competition.

And we can’t forget about the annual Chef’s Dinner—a perennial crowd-pleaser—sure to draw the masses to the shores of Baynes Sound at the historic Filberg Lodge & Park.  Here, an entourage of up-and-comers and culinary pros, including Robert Clark of Vancouver’s iconic C Restaurant will create an impressive six-course shellfish spread for eager guests.  For more information visit

Comox Cup: June 17-19

The Comox Cup Adult Road Hockey Tournament is back, with a twist.  This year the event is being held on Comox Avenue.  There will be three rinks and three divisions of hard-hitting action, a beer garden and prizes galore.  New this year is  a mini rink for the kids so they can sign up for a free shooting clinic and mini games, bounce castle and much more.  Don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of history  If you love hockey, you’ll love the Comox Cup!  For more information visit

National Aboriginal Day & Summer Solstice Celebration: June 21

Share in the Celebration!  Canadians from all walks of life are invited to participate in the many National Aboriginal Day events that will be taking place from coast to coast.

Celebrate the summer solstice along the beautiful shores of the Courtenay Estuary.  National Aboriginal Day is a fun-filled day for the whole family to enjoy together and share in the celebration.

Experience the stories, songs and traditional dances from the Komoks First Nation and the Kumugwe Dancers.  The Kumugwe Dancers take great pride in preserving ancient traditions of their ancestors.

Drop in and meet guest artist George Littlechild in the I-Hos Gallery.  Enjoy local delicacies on the barbeque, as well as Pentlatch Seafood Chowder from Tria Culinary Studio.  Try the tasty local food like our famous traditional sockeye salmon cooked on cedar sticks on an open fire.  There will also be clam chowder, buffalo stew and bannock.  The performances and concert are free and the food concession has affordable and delicious dinner options.  Everyone is welcome to be part of this day and to learn, share and celebrate National Aboriginal Day and the Summer Solstice.

Then sit back and enjoy the music by Vancouver Island MusicFest on an outdoor stage from 6-8 pm.  Bring a blanket or lawn chair for the live music.  Keep in mind the cool winds off the ocean and bring along a nice warm sweater!   For more information check out the I-Hos Gallery page on Facebook.

Vancouver Island MusicFest: July 8-10

The 17th annual Vancouver Island MusicFest is shaping up to be a memorable one at the beautiful Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds!  Performers gracing the stages this summer include David Crosby, Randy Newman, Holly Cole, Arrested Development, John Jorgenson and Albert Lee, Corey Harris, Jon Anderson (the voice of Yes), MarchFourth Marching Band, Red Horse, Dick Gaughan,The Lee Boys, The Travelin’ McCourys and over 60 other acts from across the big blue world!

Organizers have also added a special concert event on Thursday July 7th with 26 time Grammy Award Winner Alison Krauss and Union Station.  Tickets to this concert event are only $50 with the purchase of a weekend pass or $65 for the Thursday concert only.

If you’ve never been to Vancouver Island MusicFest before make this summer the one where you discover a world class music festival in your own backyard!  Camp out for the weekend and enjoy a ‘staycation’ with friends and family that includes river swimming, hands-on workshops, roving performers, magicians, food and crafts, art projects, interactive kidzzone and 6 stages of truly incredible music!  Early Bird Festival Passes (day passes or weekend passes) on sale now till June 30th.

Market Day: July 16 & Local Colours Festival: July 15-16

It’s 41 years now for this annual Downtown Courtenay Market Days celebration.  From 9am to 7 pm, the downtown streets of Courtenay will be filled with wonderful things to do during this all day event.  You’ll find handmade, one-of-a-kind products along with some of the best deals from favourite downtown shops.  The streets will be full to the brim with more than 90 vendors—some of the Comox Valley’s very best!  Visitors will find face painitng, goodies to eat, roaming entertainment, clowns, and a bouncerama.  Market Day is a perfect outing for the entire family.  There’s something for everyone and it’s free!

Come out and join us on the streets of Downtown Courtenay to celebrate the 6th annual Local Colours Festival.  Local Colours combines the talents of local artists working in a variety of media, creating works from July 15, 11-4 pm and July 16, 9-5 pm.  On July 16, the artists will join the downtown merchants during Market Day, along with a variety of street performances by local musicians, singers, dancers and drummers.  A vendor fair of local craftspeople, artisans and home-based businesses will integrate with the merchants of downtown to create a unique shopping experience.

On July 16 from 9 am to 7 pm, the main stage at the corner of Fifth Street and England Avenue will feature a variety of performances by local musicians, singers, dancers and more, celebrating our community and showcasing the extraordinary talent the Comox Valley has to offer.

For more information visit

Filberg Festival: July 29-August 1

Enjoy arts, crafts, food, music and fun at the 29th annual Filberg Festival July 29 to August 1 in Comox. The Filberg Festival has established a world-wide reputation for the excellence in all forms of arts and crafts, and to assist in the promotion and sales of quality work. Immerse yourself amongst the 130 artisans and makers of fine art in a variety of media ranging from metalwork, pottery, toys, woodcrafts, jewellery, mosaics and specialty foods.

This year’s Guest Artist is Coral May Barclay, a Northwest coast landscape painter, who will be showcasing her oil paintings of light and colour in the Filberg Heritage Lodge during the festival.

The weekend’s entertainment line up includes: Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Eric Bibb, James Kellaghan, Lunch at Allen’s, Michael Kaeshammer, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart.

New for 2011 is the “Sip & Bid”.  Enjoy hand-crafted wines and beer from local Vancouver Island wineries and breweries while having an opportunity to bid on original paintings by MONK, Marion Webber and Brett Varney, Mary Fox pottery, a $1,000 travel voucher from Transat Holidays and a return trip for two from Harbour Air Seaplanes/West Coast Air with overnight accommodation at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.

The Filberg Festival is the major fundraiser to support, repair and maintain the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park. For more information visit

Comox Nautical Days: July 30-August 1

Captain Cracker hopes you’ll join him at Comox Marina Park to celebrate Nautical Days 53rd annual festival celebration!  The action kicks off Saturday morning with the 25th Annual Bullhead Derby, the largest catch-and-release fishing derby in the Pacific Northwest.  Last year’s derby drew nearly 500 young and young-at-heart participants angling for top honors in categories ranging from largest fish to strangest catch.

On the same morning kids of all ages, whether anglers or not, will enjoy Captain Cracker’s Kids Festival.  This is always a blast for the young’uns, with games, races, crafts, clowns, pet parade, face painting, rides and more smiles than a grade school yearbook.  Saturday afternoon, Canoe Jousting is back.  Remember King Arthur’s Court?  Two person teams—a paddler and a ‘jouster’—combine agility, balance, teamwork, speed and striking power to stay afloat.

The much-anticipated Dragon Boat Races will be held on Sunday.  Watch the impressive boats glide through the waves while the deep beat of the drums keep time for the paddlers.  Teams from across Vancouver Island and the lower mainland will be competing, so come and cheer for your favorites!  The Build, Bail & Sail will take centre stage on Monday.  More than a dozen two-man teams will try to craft any sort of sea-faring vessel with the meagre materials and hand tools at their disposal, and then race them around the Comox Marina entrance.  The hilarity is always intense in this competition where simply staying afloat often wins the race.

The weekend concludes Monday night with the cadets and staff of HMCS Quadra presenting the Sunset Ceremony of the Flags and Quality Foods Spectacular Festival of Lights, the biggest fireworks display on Vancouver Island.  Also returning will be King—or at least the next best thing.  Elvis is in the house!  Elvis impersonator Steve Elliott performs the ‘Gospel of Elvis Sunday afternoon, Elvis’s Family Show Monday afternoon and ‘Viva Las Vegas’ Monday evening as part of the Nautical Days finale.

If you need more excuses to check out this year’s Nautical Days celebration, here are several: a car show, bistro-style beer gardens each day, the longest-running foot race in BC, more than 100 artisan and craft booths, and enough food booths to keep your tank topped off throughout the weekend.  Nautical Days festival-goers can start each day with a pancake breakfast, enjoy upbeat stage entertainment every afternoon and groove the night away at Captain Cracker’s Family Dance.  For more information visit

The Big Time Out: August 12-13

The Big Time Out is returning August 12 & 13 to Cumberland Village Park and it has renewed its mission to prove that little villages really can do big things.

Juno Award-winning trio Bedouin Soundclash will headline the Friday night’s festivities with their reggae-tinged pop. Saturday’s sounds will range from the orchestral pop of Vancouver’s Brasstronaut to the dance floor-friendly music of international acts like OKA and Beats Antique.

The Big Time Out stands apart from other festivals. A cross section of generations and musical styles attracts an eclectic mix of people, all united in their love of really great music. Beyond the music, dancers, acrobats and circus performers appear out of nowhere and help set one of the coolest festival vibes anywhere.  See videos, check out the performers and buy tickets online at or

It’s that time of year once again—time to clean off the barbecue and get all set for another summer of enjoying food cooked right on the grill. Here are a few things you can do to make the food come out just perfect each and every time you pull out the grill:

• Before you even start to grill, tuberculosis
keep your BBQ clean and free from any greasy build up. This makes for good cooking and prevents greasy deposits from catching fire. Before cooking, discount close the lid on the BBQ for approximately 10 minutes, physician which will burn off any residue, then open and brush with a good steel brush to clean off any remaining particles.

• Keep a stray water bottle beside the BBQ and be ready to give a quick squirt when necessary to prevent flare-ups.

• Be organized. Have everything you need close by before you begin. More food has been charred when the cook runs into the house to grab a serving platter!

• Marinate the meat. Simply marinating the meat for at least 20 minutes not only improves flavor, but tenderizes all cuts of meat. You can marinate meat, poultry and pork overnight in the refrigerator, but fish should be marinated no longer than 20 minutes as marinating actually starts the cooking procedure in fish.

• When you are marinating, never use the marinating sauce again for basting as this can cause contamination. If you want to use some of the sauce for basting, remove some before marinating and set aside.

• When basting—if the sauce or glaze contains sugar, only apply during the final part of the grilling, otherwise the sugar will cause burning and charring.

• Direct cooking is what most people refer to as grilling. It is the technique where the food is placed directly over the flame to cook. Good choices for this are steaks, vegetables, fillets and kabobs.

• Indirect cooking is where the food is cooked away from the direct flame. In most cases, the burner is lit and the food is placed on the other side of the grill and the lid of the BBQ is closed. This provides an oven-like atmosphere for your cooking.

• To tell if those steaks are cooked to perfection, professional chefs generally use touch to tell when a steak is done. Press down the centre of the steak with your finger. A rare steak will feel quite soft to the touch. A medium-rare steak will have some resistance but yield to the touch. A medium steak starts to feel firm, but still will have some give in the centre and a well-done steak will feel very firm.

• Try putting a sprig of fresh rosemary into the charcoal fire to add flavor to barbecued food.

• If you can keep your hand over a fire for three seconds, it means you have medium heat. At this temperature, most foods grill without burning on the outside.

• Above all, take precautions to refrigerate any leftover meats to avoid any contamination. This is such a great time of year to be able to enjoy eating outdoors, and with a little care and attention to detail you can start to create meals where everyone is asking for seconds!