My family took advantage of the great hotel and festival package deals that were being offered for this event. We go to Tofino about once a year to recharge in its hyper-oxygenated environment. The first time we went was 11 years ago for our honeymoon. Back then, the food scene was lacking. Beyond the high-end restaurants at the resort hotels (The Pointe at the Wickaninnish Inn for example)...Tofino was a gastronomic ghost town. I can see why - the town's population in the winter collapses to about 1,800 denizens - hardly enough to support chain restaurants (thank goodness - Tofino is still a Starbucks-free Zone), let alone some high-end ones.
It's a very different scene now. Over the last three or so years, some great places to eat have opened up in town. SoBo (review forthcoming on a different post), which started off in a converted lunch truck, signaled great things for this town. Now we have Shelter, Raincoast Cafe, Trilogy (at the Botanical Gardens cafe formerly occupied by SoBo), and Wildside Grill.
This is my first time attending this event. Since it was being held outdoors in the middle of a rainforest, I was worried about the inclement weather. Tofino is notorious for unpredictable Pacific Coast weather. The weather reports did not look promising. We were lucky - it was stunningly sunny the whole time we were there. The weather for the event could not have been better.
The event itself, which was held at the Botanical Gardens, was actually quite small. Despite its diminutive size, some heavy-hitters from the BC wine biz showed up to support. Joie, Quail's Gate, Sandhill, and many others offered flights of their best stuff. The wine tasting alone more than made up for the cost of entry. My favourite spot was the Joie - Oysterman gazebo where you were can sip Joie wines and have freshly shucked oysters. I lingered there for quite a while. Lesser known wineries, plus some meaderies and cideries also represented.
The "food" side of the festival was a little lacking - some of the town's restaurants served samples of their appetizers; Chocolate Tofino, Sweet T's were there to round it out with some dessert fare. I'm hoping that as the event grows in stature, the food tastings will balance out the already great wine tastings.
We had our children with us. Luckily, the event organizers set up child care at the hostel right at the Botanical Gardens. They had fun playing with the other kids. I snuck out some seafood brochettes for them to eat.
Some off-site events were held during the evenings that I chose not to attend (eg the Winemaker Tasting dinners at Shelter, Long Beach Lodge, and the interesting sounding sustainable fisheries dinner held by Red Fish Blue Fish at the Trilogy. Perhaps next year.