Gourmet Fare, A Dip in the Pool & A Sip of Wine-Experiencing Parksville Uncorked 2012 Part 2

Mussels served at Swirl for Parksville Uncorked (Courtesy of Greg Howard Photography & Tigh-Na-Mara)

Friday morning in Parksville after Parksville Untapped started off uneventful enough. I started off my morning with an amazing breakfast in the Cedar Room at Tigh-Na-Mara before heading off to do my interview with Jenn on how Parksville Uncorked got started and what they hoped to achieve for the future

After the interview, I decided to take a soak at the mineral pool at Grotto Spa. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend it. Not only is it the epitome of luxury at a resort spa, with rain showers and the best tapas grill I’d ever been to where you’re able to sample endless tapas in nothing but a soft bathrobe and slippers; but the minerals inside the pool work miracles. I had been dealing with some shoulder pain from earlier on in the week, but after spending a good half an hour alternating between the mineral pool and the hot tub, my shoulder pain all but disappeared the day after. It was a great way to relax and spend some time pampering myself at one of my all-time favorite spas.

Once I got back to my suite, I prepared for Parksville Uncorked’s signature event, Swirl, by writing down a few more questions I was planning on asking both Wendy & Jenn. I also took another look at my media package to see what sort of wines would be available.

There were several wineries participating that I recognized, including Mission Hill, Jackson Triggs and Sumac Ridge, to name a few. But I was also surprised to see so many other BC wineries and wines being represented at Swirl. All told, over 150 different BC wines were poured at Swirl. 150! It was definitely an impressive number and I couldn’t wait to try as many as I could.

For an event that’s only four years old, it’s amazing how many wineries, food suppliers and breweries have jumped on board. And it’s got nothing to do with revenue. Parksville Uncorked is one of the few wine and culinary events where vendors aren’t charged a cent and neither resort has to depend on sponsorships. It’s entirely independent and one of the main reasons they’ve been able to run the festival in that way is because of the incredible partnerships. As Wendy told me while we chatted at Parksville Untapped, “the cornerstone to the success of Parksville Uncorked is partnership and not just the partnership between Tigh-Na-Mara and the Beach Club Resort. It’s the collaboration between so many partners such as wineries, restaurants, breweries and food suppliers. We are all working together to support not only tourism in the Oceanside Region but to showcase the diversity of our food & beverage.”  And that’s what it comes down to, the reason Parksville Uncorked is so successful is because of the partnerships and the common goal of showcasing BC & the Oceanside region as one of the world mecca’s for food & wine.

Once I arrived at Swirl, I wanted to try as many different wines as I could, knowing that tonight’s crowd was anticipated to be twice as large as the one the night before. I noticed a few more familiar names of wineries on the list and decided to hit them up first as well as few others.

In total, I sampled from Muse, Summerhill, MooBerry Winery, Elephant Island Orchard Winery, St. Hubertus and Calliope Wines. And the wine that became the absolute love of my life was the 2010 Framboise from Elephant Island, followed closely by a tart yet delicious Cranberry wine from Mooberry. The framboise was just fantastic, it was the taste of sweet raspberries that turned tart as soon as I sampled a strawberry with the chocolate fountain. I’d also highly recommend the Gewurztraminer from Muse as well as St. Hubertus. The Rose from Summerhill also paired well with the amazing grilled cheese sandwich courtesy of Tigh-Na-Mara’s amazing chefs.

Overall, I loved Parksville Uncorked. It was an amazing firsthand experience of an upscale wine and culinary event in a region I’m only briefly familiar with. Personally, I can’t wait for next year and another opportunity to experience what Parksville Uncorked has to offer!

And what does the future for Parksville Uncorked look like? Jenn had this to say when I asked “Parksville Uncorked is truly a celebration of all things BC. The spectacular wines and amazing cuisine come together in this festival of tastes. Our goal is to continue to provide festival goers with the opportunity to experience the incredible products right in their own backyard.” And that’s definitely something I want to be a part of.

 

Coming up within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences with Dine Around and Stay in Town 2012 as well as the CHBA Victoria Home Show 2012.

 

Cheers and always, happy reading.

 

-Lilian

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Gourmet Fare & A Pint of Cider-Experiencing Parksville Uncorked 2012 Part 1

Chocolate fountain, strawberries & beer cupcakes by Tigh-Na-Mara @ Parksville Untapped

Months ago, I was invited by Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, Director of Sales & Marketing at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Conference Centre to attend Parksville Uncorked for the first time. I’ve always been interested in getting more involved in travel and tourism and she thought that inviting me to cover the event as a freelance writer would help me learn more about the industry and gain an opportunity to become more well-known as a writer who can cover tourism/hospitality & culinary related events.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when I finally arrived in Parksville and it didn’t hurt that my suite also gave me an amazing view of the beach and the water.  It was the perfect environment to be in for a wine & culinary festival, even if the weather wasn’t warm enough to actually spend any time on the beach.

As I got settled into my room and starting preparing for the first event, writing down questions I’d planned to ask Jenn and Wendy Sears, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Beach Club Resort, I was definitely excited for Parksville Untapped. I knew from speaking with Jenn and looking at my media package that Parksville Untapped was the beer & cider event that they had added to Parksville Uncorked. While I’m not a beer drinker (save for a few brands that I can tolerate), I was looking forward to the gourmet fare that was promised as well as the different types of cider.

So with my stomach rumbling with anticipation, I arrived at Parksville Untapped fully expecting to enjoy myself. And, I wasn’t disappointed.  I was able to sample a smorgasbord of great food supplied by both resorts, Tigh-Na-Mara & The Beach Club as well as other food vendors like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

From an incredible chocolate fountain with beer cupcakes (yes, the batter & the icing had beer) and strawberries to porcini mushroom risotto balls, Tuscan sausage & amazingly decadent truffles, the food did anything BUT disappoint. Out of all of the food, I would have to say that strawberries swirled in the chocolate fountain and the shrimp “spoons” chilling on top of the ice sculpture were my favorites. I also loved the truffles as a final dessert.

When it comes to the beverages, I did find an ice luge carved into a beautiful sculpture that was serving Ephemere Pomme beer, which was quite enjoyable to sip. It was also a novelty to hold my glass up to the sculpture and watch the beer flow through the ice into my glass. Surprisingly, I also found a cider that I enjoyed, which is not usually that simple. I loved the Merri-Berri cider from Merridale Cider and I made a point of writing down the name so that I could pick up a bottle on my way home.

Thanks to Jenn & Wendy, I also learned a lot about how Parksville Uncorked started, how the festival has benefited the resorts and the Oceanside region and it’s made me all the more excited for next year! You can read my article in the Parksville Qualicum-Beach News on it here.

I’ll have Part 2 up by dinner time and you can hopefully enjoy a sip of wine with dinner and my post as reading material.  🙂

-Lilian

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Resorts Reaping Benefits from Parksville Uncorked

Display featuring Elephant Island, Hester Creek, Crowsnest Wineries among others

 

As I’m still working on editing my photos and putting all my experiences from Parksville Uncorked down on paper, I thought I’d share with you another piece that I’ve written about the festival. My feature article for Parksville Qualicum Beach News sheds some light on how Parksville Uncorked came to be and how it’s become a premiere event for Tigh-Na-Mara, The Beach Club Resort and the Oceanside region in general during the tourism off-season. It’ll also shed some light on what may lie ahead for Parksville Uncorked 2013 and beyond.

As always, I hope you read, enjoy and leave your thoughts on the page.

-Lilian

The Inside Look at a Luxury Property-From a Local’s Perspective (Part Three: Tigh-Na-Mara Resort & Spa)

(A/N: Although I experienced Tigh-Na-Mara approximately a year ago now, I wanted to add it to the collection as it’s still a great resort on the island and it’s an experience that needs to be shared)

My partner and I had decided to use our Air Miles for a mini-vacation with an oceanview cabin as well as for a dip in

Oceanview Room

Tigh-Na-Mara’s famous Grotto mineral pool. My mini-vacation last April up island to Tigh-Na-Mara was the first time I’d ever stayed inside a luxury cabin. Well, the first time I’d stayed in a luxury cabin attached to a resort and spa, that is.

Oceanview Cabin

The cabin was both luxurious and rustic, if there ever was such a thing. All the furniture, the full kitchen’s cabinetry and the walls were all made of rustic planks of wood, as close as you could get to an actual tree. The gas fireplace was great when the wind blew up later that night and a balcony with a gorgeous view of the beach and the ocean completed the luxury in the main room.

Our bedroom had a spacious queen-sized bed and just a small window, looking out on the resort grounds and the bathroom was spacious and just the perfect complement to the rest of our suite.

We added a treatment in the hydrotherapy tub to our dip in the Grotto Pool and it was the perfect way to relax at the

Grotto Pool

spa. The minerals within the Grotto Pool cured the slight cough I had and the man-made waterfalls in the pool gave it a luxurious yet whimsical feel. The hydrotherapy tub was the most luxurious soak I’d ever had. Picture the deepest tub you’ve ever been in, with over ten jets giving you an amazing massage and the warmest water ever, heated enough so that it stayed warm for the entire half hour.  It relaxed all the tension and stress out of my shoulders and my back, with the help of some of the minerals in the water and is easily the crowning glory of Tigh-Na-Mara, one that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. Running a close second, however, was the Relaxation Lounge and Treetop Tapas & Grill restaurant.

Relaxation Lounge

The Relaxation Lounge was the first spa lounge I’d ever been to where you could indulge in free coffee, tea, fruit and other snacks-all while reading magazines wearing a bathrobe and slippers. What’s more, the Treetop Tapas and Grill had an amazing tapas menu and an even better drink menu. Our waiter recommended I add mango to my pina colada and it turned out to be the most delicious tropical drink I’d ever had.

We ended our time there with drinks that night at the Copper Lounge and then their

Treetop Tapas & Grill

amazing buffet breakfast the next morning. Tigh-Na-Mara is an amazing resort, steps above others I’ve been to since, because of its tapas and hydrotherapy tub treatment. Next time I go back, I’d love to be able to experience a couples’ treatment package completed with the two-person Jacuzzi tub.