A recent trip to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, offered several wonderful surprises. These surprises came in form of tasty cheese samples less than 20 minutes from the buzzing metropolis of Vancouver – a commute done by a sea plane instead of sitting in traffic. In this area, I found amazing wineries, art galleries, a splendid cheese farm, and amazing food experiences.
Salt Spring Island welcomes you to a very peaceful, laid back fair when you land in the Harbor of Ganges. It offers a climate similar to Northern California – temperate, Mediterranean and rare snowfall. You’ll find a great variety of activities, including wonderful wineries open for tastings (where you can linger in their beautiful gardens), a variety of galleries (filled with art to admire and explore), and charming hotels (to rest in after your day’s explorations).
I encountered wonderful surprises when visiting a local cheese company here. The passion and dedication of David Wood, a well known Canadian chef, and his wife, Judy, spoke with me when I entered. They left the hustle and bustle of the restaurant world on mainland Canada for a slowing of pace where he could focus on connecting the amazing cheese producing landscape of the island. The Salt Spring Island Cheese Company opened their gates in 1996 and offers a large variety of goat cheeses. You can see AND taste it the second you walk in.
Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality. — C.P. Fadiman
While cheese tastings might not sound like much, each one came with different stories that gave me insight into the maker, the making of cheese, and the flavors that they created. The flower chèvre, for example, is essentially a soft cheese without any additional flavouring. The flowers are edible but add no extra taste to the cheese. The result is a mild soft creamy goat cheese, with just a little more colour and lots of beauty. The ingredients? Cheese made from pasteurised goat milk, bacterial culture, sea salt, and rennet along with an edible flower placed on top. Simple, beautiful and delicious.
While there, you can learn more about the story behind the place, which, as with wine, adds to your appreciation of what you are experiencing. In this case, Chef David and his wife, Chef Judy, met in Toronto, Canada. Chef David was the successful owner of the David Wood shop and writer of the David Wood Food Book, while Chef Judy began her career in the culinary arts at the Four Seasons Hotel in Calgary; then as a pastry chef at the David Wood Food Shop in Toronto (where they met); and then working as the Head Chef at Buchanan’s Chop House in Calgary. In 1990, Judy joined Sunterra Food group as Executive Chef and Creative Director of “all things food.” In 1996, she too believed that a slow pace life would fit their plans much better.
One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well. — Virginia Woolf
So, why goat milk? As I learned, using goat milk over cow milk is a simple, economic and animal friendly one. Cows need to have calves to produce milk. Goats, on the other hand, do not need to have kids for this process. Additionally, goats require less food and space.
I highly recommend making Salt Spring Island your next getaway destination. And please enjoy some fantastic cheese while you’re there!
[Written by Uly Silkey]