Food festivals: No fruit is forbidden here...
by Bobby Lax, Tofino
I love to eat. I am somewhat hedonistic in my food indulgence. When I am at a restaurant I coax friends into sharing dishes so I can try as many different flavours as possible. Tapas were created for people like me. For this reason I become giddy with the anticipation of a food festival. Having that many taste sensations in one place has consistently left me culinarily inspired, joyfully stupid and inevitably wanting more. In the last two years I have made a point of involving myself in more of these celebrations. Whether for work or play, these festivals have produced some of the best days of my life.
In Duncan at Feast of Fields last year, I had my first religious experience after eating a piece of pizza. It enhanced my perspective on food, traditions and life in general. It was a thin crust Margherita pizza with the softest dough only ever touched by human hands, a simple tomato sauce, rich specks of Buffalo Mozzarella and some deliriously fragrant basil. It was cooked in a wood-fired brick oven at 800 degrees for only 90 seconds leaving the outside crispy yet the middle supple and droopy. Needless to say, I ate a lot of pizza that day.
At The 2009 Playhouse International Wine Festival in Vancouver I endeavored to taste every single wine on offer from lightest to heaviest over a three day span. Thank you to whoever taught me that spitting was socially acceptable. Although I was not able to accomplish this Dionysian feat, I definitely collected some serious air miles while traveling the expansive world of wine. From the Vinho Verdes of Portugal, to the mouthwatering Rieslings of Germany to the Malbecs of Argentina, it was actually a pretty cheap around the globe trip. I must have looked crazy though charging across the room back and forth looking for the next wine to swirl, smell, sip and then ponder for a moment. In those three exhausting days I received an education in science, geography agricultural studies and flavour perception but mostly I learned that it is really important to eat something substantial before indulging in that much fermented grape juice, even when you are spitting a lot.
The best day of my food life, however, came at my first Tofino Food and Wine Festival in 2006. It was my second year in Tofino and my first time at any food festival. I was working but allowed 20 minutes to go learn. Learn about tasting, learn about passionate producers and learn about what made a couple hundred people so whimsically happy. I did not have time to waste. I promised myself I would not interrupt my eating to talk to anyone unless we were waiting in line for food/wine or were walking towards the next booth. I have since dubbed this strategy 'speed tasting'. It is not motivated by reckless consumption, but rather a sense of duty to use the allotted time for absorbing all that the festival has to offer. I was told to begin with an oyster. It was raw, fresh and sent a blissful shiver through my system. Then some bright sparkling wine was offered. I tasted it and realized that I was just a recipient of a very easy lesson in matching food with wine. It was simply explained to me like so: a raw oyster is light and fresh; sparkling wine is typically light and fresh tasting; therefore an oyster goes well with sparkling wine. I then wondered if all wine and food pairing was that logical.
I discovered a new booth around every corner of the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Even when I thought I was lost in the fun maze that is the gardens, I would invariably stumble upon another unexpected culinary delight. It was like Halloween and everybody was home. The purveyors smiled, gave me free tasty food and understood when I quickly dashed off to trick-or-treat from someone else. During that faithful chicken-with-my-head-cut-off run I remember a scallop sweetly slapping me of the sea, a pinot warmly blanketing my tongue and morels (they were my first) chewing me into the forest. At one point though I just stopped, looked around at all the faces full of delight, took a deep breath and smiled.
For the first time in Tuff City, I was home.
Bobby Lax has been working at SoBo Restaurant on and off for the last four years. This Summer he can be found teaching cooking classes at both the Ukee and Tofino community centers, working with the newly formed culinary guild (TUCG) and cooking for friends whenever the opportunity arises.
Tofino food & cuisine articles
- The First Feast! Tofino-Ucluelet culinary festival Apr. 2011
- Tofino Chocolate: A sweet Treat! Feb. 2011
- Tofino festival food: No fruit is forbidden here... June 2010
- Tofino nutrition: Top 8 Foods to promote Longevity Feb. 2011
- Tofino wildfood recipe: Nettle Pudding Sep. 2002
- Tofino recipe: Ziggy’s French Toast Sep. 2002
- Tofino food: West Coast Shrimp June 2002
- Tofino food: Wine Pairing April 2003
- Tofino recipe: Vincent Fraissange's Tuna Tartare May 2009
- Tofino recipe: Lisa Henderson's Roghan Josh Aug. 2008
- Tofino food: Lisa Ahier's Killer Fish Taco Recipe Aug. 2006
- Tofino chef Rob Wheaton's Ahi Tuna Recipe Feb. 2007
- Tofino chef Nigel Davidson's seafood cannelloni Sep. 2006
- Tofino chef Matthias Conradi's Squid & Potato salad Apr. 2007
- Tofino recipe: Mark Wrigley's Leg 'o' Lamb Oct. 2006
- Tofino chef Mark Wrigley's shortbread cookies Dec. 2005
Tofino food & Tofino restaurant profiles
- Tofino business profile: Chocolate Tofino May 2008
- Tofino business: Common Loaf Bake Shop Sep. 2005
- Tofino business profile: Melanie's Greens Aug. 2002
- Tofino profile: Chef Mark Wrigley Sep. 2005
- Tofino business profile: Trattoria Conradi July 2005
- Tofino Film Festival: February 17-20, 2016
- Pacific Rim Whale Festival: March 12-27, 2016
- Artsplash PRAS Art Show: March 12-20, 2016
- Tofino Shorebird Festival: April 29 - May 1, 2016
- Feast! Tofino-Ucluelet: May 6-22, 2016
- Clayoquot Island Open House: May 21-22, 2016
- Tofino Public Market: May - September, 2016
- Tofino Food & Wine Festival: June 3-5, 2016
- Pacific Rim Summer Festival: June 30 - July 9, 2016
- Ukee Days: July 22-24, 2016
- Tofino Lantern Festival: August 14, 2016
- Tofino Beer Festival: September 26, 2015
- Queen of the Peak: September 30 - October 2, 2016
- Tofino Oyster Festival: November 17-19, 2016
- Tofino Winter Celebration Artisan Festival: Dec. ?, 2016
- West Coast Winter Music: Nov. 2, 2015 - April 2, 2016
- Tofino Artist Studio Tour: March 17-19, 2009
- Tofino Art in the Garden: September 8 & 9, 2009
- Westcoast Maritime Festival: September 22-28, 2009
- Tofino in June 2010
- Surf Etiquette introduction for surfing in Tofino
- Captain Vincente Tofino: How Tofino got its name
- Tofino Bears: Ursus Americanus - the American Black Bear
- Ucluelet Aquarium: Things you can't see in the Wild
- Tofino Food & Wine Festival 2010
- Tofino festival food: No fruit is forbidden here...
- Tofino concerts in June
- June 2010: movies in Tofino
- Tofino event calendar for June 2010
- Tofino fishing report for June 2010
- Horoscope for June 2010
- Tofino tide chart for June 2010
- Tofino surf reports for June 2010
- Directory: Tofino Accommodations & Services
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Food festivals are Bobby Lax's favourite events, from pizza at Duncan's Feast of Fields to the Tofino Food & Wine Festival.