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U.S. Airways Magazine

Salt Spring Island, A Gourmet Gem in British Columbia

By Sarah Doyle

It is Friday afternoon on Canada’s Salt Spring Island, and baker Heather Campbell is hurriedly sowing seeds atop a family of plump bread loaves. Here, amidst a grove of towering pines and fragrant lavender buds, Campbell’s al fresco bakery is a favorite stop for visitors to the island, who weave between rows of daisies and twirling thyme to sample chunks of Callebaut chocolate bread, ginger nut loaves, and bricks of Asiago cheese focaccia.

Billing itself as "the organic capital of Canada,” Salt Spring Island is famous for its Saturday farmer’s market, where 700 loaves of Campbell’s artisan bread will sit amongst a feast of locally-produced organic foods and artisan wares—all made directly on the island. For those interested in a more comprehensive look at the island’s prolific, organic food industry, both Crush Wine Tours and Island Gourmet Safaris offer private guided excursions to a selection of the island’s best farms, creameries, wineries, and artisan food producers, including an organic lavender farm, tofu producer, and organic coffee roaster.

As one might assume, dining poorly is not an option here, especially at Hasting House’s restaurant, which has been named one of the best restaurants in British Columbia. Focusing on regionally-inspired, Pacific Northwest cuisine, chef Marcel Kauer’s menu is based on what is at peak in the property’s garden. On a recent visit, a salad of candy-striped beets and fresh local chevre arrived with fiery-orange nasturtiums and delicate cornflowers, while a creamy bisque of celeriac and new potatoes came garnished with a swirl of local crème fraîche and garden chive confetti.

“Our most popular dish is definitely the Salt Spring Island lamb,” says Kauer, who often accompanies the meat with rosemary polenta and braised red cabbage. “The salty ocean air makes the lamb taste much sweeter and more mild in flavor. I’d say over 70% of our customers order it.”

Not only is Hastings House an excellent place to dine, it also offers the most extraordinary accommodations on the island. Overlooking the banks of Ganges Harbour and surrounded by 22 lush acres of gardens and forests, the luxury country estate’s main building and restaurant was designed to resemble the original owner’s 11th century English manor house in Sussex, England. Guests can choose from 18 different accommodations on the property, including the deluxe Greenhouse, which features a sunken living room overlooking the gardens and a deep soaking tub, as well as the Churchill Cottage, where a private driveway welcomes guests to three bedrooms, a spacious living room adorned with a fireplace, a full kitchen, and a private deck. The Hasting House’s on-site spa is also not to be missed.

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