Sea Cider on Vancouver Island

June 22nd, 2009 @ 8:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Nestled up on a hill overlooking the peninsula, Sea Cider in Saanichton is an orchard oasis.

Sea Cider

Sea Cider

Producing almost a dozen varieties of cider this 3-acre orchard, and 7-acre forest, creates delicious and refreshing organic spirits year-round. For Kristen Jordan, who founded Sea Cider with her husband five years ago it was a natural move when they took over the farm, both of them having a connection to cider-making and orchards in their past.

Sea Cider

Sea Cider grows various varieties of apples on their 1,000 trees, while also using their wooded acreage to grow complimentary products such as stinging nettles for tea, lavender, honey, and mint. It seems that every bit of land is used to grow and cultivate the fruit and the Sea Cider products, even the spent apples are composted and Kristen mentioned some local chefs are interested in working them into some menu items.

Sea Cider

Sea Cider

The operation is modest but they have a great group of helpers including volunteers that come to them from the WWOOF program. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms connects people who would like to work the land or learn how to run organic operations with those currently in business.

Sea Cider

Sea Cider

The cider house is perched at the top of the land with a fabulous patio that looks out over the land and water. Once inside, surrounded by lovely woodwork, towering ceilings, and local artwork, you’re able to enjoy tasting flights and local pairings prepared on-site.

Sea Cider

Sea Cider

During our visit we sampled the following ciders that were poured by Kristen while she provided history and background for each of the drinks:

  • Flagship (certified organic in 08)
  • Wild English (that John compared to a Hefeweizen ale)
  • Kings & Spies (that is supported by a local non-profit called Lifecycles)
  • Pippins (my personal favourite, ‘prohibition style’)
  • Perry (made with fermented Perry Pears from North Saanich)
  • Rumrunner (fermented in Kentucky Bourbon and screech barrels)
  • From the ‘sweet tooth’ series:

  • Pommeau (Normandy-style made with snow apples)
  • Cyser (fermented honey blended with organic cider)
  • Pomona (made with very dry apples, giving it an ice wine texture)
  • The alcohol in the ciders ranges from 8% to 16.2% in the Pomona.

    Sea Cider

    Sea Cider

    Sea Cider

    Sea Cider

    Sea Cider

    Our samplers were paired with Saltspring Cheese Company cheese, smoked bison, North Island tuna, two kinds of chutney, sea asparagus, and sponge toffee.

    Sea Cider

    The ciders are crisp and refreshing, crossing the spectrum from very light apple tastes and nuances to deep, dark, and lusciously sweet. The entire experience at Sea Cider is an education in eating local and discovering just how many foods are created by Island farmers and artisans. “It’s a humble drink,” said Kristen. “There’s a cider tradition that’s been lost and we want to help bring it back.”

    Sea Cider

    Flanked by lush forests, farms and orchards, Sea Cider’s location is tranquil and picturesque. Whether you’re heading to Victoria, up Island, or to catch a ferry back to the mainland, Sea Cider is definitely on my list of recommended stops.

    Sea Cider

    You can visit their website to find out more about where you can purchase their ciders outside of the cider house including Uva Wine Bar on Seymour St in downtown Vancouver, the Alibi Room, and Liberty Wine Merchants.

    Sea Cider

    You can also find Sea Cider at local festivals and markets this summer including the Organic Islands Festival & Sustainability Expo and don’t miss their birthday party July 18th.

    Our stop at Sea Cider was during our Coast Hotels ‘New Victoria for New Media’ tour – view my Flickr set for more images.

    Review: Silk Threads

    June 21st, 2009 @ 2:39pm (PT) by Guest Author

    The following was contributed by guest theatre blogger, Megan Stewart

    Bill, the inspiration for this one-woman play, might have said, “That was nice, Andrea,” and kissed his granddaughter on the cheek.

    “He certainly appreciated the arts,” said playwright and actor Andrea Loewen, the creative force behind Silk Threads, following an affectionate tribute to her grandfather.

    At the yesterday’s opening, the audience was largely composed of friends and family who knew Bill personally. They laughed as Andrea put his idiosyncricities on stage, drawing attention to his sparse phone etiquette and affinity for logarithms.

    Andrea plays a slightly fictionalized version of herself and delivers a biographical portrayal of her grandfather, Bill, who died in 2006. A Mennonite who emigrated from Russia to Canada as WWII escalated, he found comfort in numbers when English was a challenge. Finally settling in Abbotsford, he had three daughters and was an integral part of the lives of his grandchildren.

    But as the mostly biographical play explores, Bill needed convincing that his granddaughter would find success pursuing her dreams of being an artist. As a girl, she wants to be a ballerina, movie star, model, dance teacher and everything else that would put her in the spotlight.

    “We don’t all want the same things,” a teenage granddaughter tells her grandfather. I can be more than a wife and a mother, she says.

    Family is the heart of his existence, the granddaughter comes to learn, and this guidance was his way of helping her find happiness.

    Silk Threads moves between Andrea’s childhood until she is headed to Paris as a young adult to pursue acting. Complimenting her growing understanding of her grandfather’s life, the play visits Bill’s childhood in Russia and the wartime strife and religious persecution of his family once he has left for Canada.

    The movements between place and time are not seamless, but Andrea’s performance is breathlessly energetic and engaging. The script is personal and entertaining, with a committed and courageous, 40-minute solo show coming from Andrea.

    A tribute from a granddaughter to her late grandfather, Silk Threads is not only about the love of family but also the dedication to faith. Indeed, a portion of the Mennonite congregation from Central Heights Church in Abbotsford attended the performance. Andrea’s questions about the afterlife bring us the title of the play and the most poignant scene of the performance. The closing moment is tender and enchanting.

    Editor’s Note: Silk Threads was only showing until June 20th but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Andrea Loewen and the Pacific Theatre.

    Megan Stewart is an independent reporter currently at the UBC graduate school of journalism. She has covered arts across Canada and Australia and also writes for

    Farmers Markets: A great way to explore the city, get healthy, and support a good cause

    June 21st, 2009 @ 2:28pm (PT) by Guest Author

    The following is a guest post, contributed by Paulo Vallejo of the IStyleU blog.

    Summer is definitely here. Well, outside of the rain we had this weekend. Nevertheless, shopping at your neighborhood farmers market is a worthwhile activity. What exactly is a farmers market? Essentially, it is a place where local farmers commune to sell fresh meat and produce, a lot of times organic. More recently, its also been a place where local artisans sell their craft to the public.


    You’re probably wondering why should buy your food from the back of someone’s truck than going to your local grocery store. People who frequent Farmers Markets do so primarily because of the freshness of the products that are being sold there. The local produce is usually picked inside of 24 hours. You see it ripe, fresh, and full of flavor. Most supermarket food are picked, packed and shipped for weeks and sometimes months before it gets to your plate. Farmers markets also allow you to connect with your community. You get to meet local chefs, artists, and food connoisseurs. And most importantly, not only do you get to eat healthy but also give back to the local economy.


    So what are some of the best farmers markets in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland? Here are my favorites:

    Trout Lake Farmers Market (E.15th and Victoria, East Vancouver) – I find the quality and variety of the produce and dairy products here to be one of the best in the city. If you like goat cheese, this is the market to go to. Open Saturdays 9am-2pm. May 16-Oct 10, 2009.

    Main Street Farmers Market (Station Street at Thornton Park, Vancouver) – This is a great weekday only market. If you’re coming home from work and need something fresh for dinner, this is the place to go. I was there last week and they had a great selection of fruits, vegetables, flowers and fish. Wednesdays, 3pm-7pm. Open from June 10-October 21, 2009.

    Ambleside Farmers Market (On Bellevue between 13th and 14th streets, West Vancouver) – If you like to try some spiced jams, home made curry sauces, artisan bread or a cold glass of yerba mate tea, you’ll definitely enjoy this market. There are also some great artisans showcasing their crafts. Open Sundays 10am-3pm, June 7 to October 25, 2009.

    To find a Farmers Market in your neighborhood, visit the BC Association of Farmers Markets and Vancouver Farmers Markets websites.

    Guest author bio: Paulo Vallejo is a Vancouver-based style artist whose work graces various print media in fashion and advertising. He’s also a freelance writer who pens on topics around personal style and the latest fashion trends across the globe, as well as a personal shopper who works with individuals to define their image and create their unique style.

    New Victoria for New Media with Coast Hotels

    June 19th, 2009 @ 5:22pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    This weekend John and I are on a new media press trip courtesy of Coast Hotels. Along with Ianiv & Arieanna, Duane, Anny, Karen, Lorraine, April, and guests we’re experiencing some of the best summer treats and events Victoria has to offer.

    New Victoria for New Media Group

    BC Ferries

    We started out early this morning aboard the Spirit of British Columbia as we enjoyed the Pacific Buffet brunch offered up by BC Ferries. It’s a nice alternative to the cafeteria and has an ideal location right at the front or back of the boat. The brunch is $19 for all you can eat throughout the 95-minute crossing.

    Pacific Buffet

    Pacific Buffet Brunch

    We went for a photowalk along the deck of the boat before disembarking at Swartz Bay and piling into a mini bus to head over to Sea Cider (for which I’ll have a dedicated post later on).


    BC Ferries

    We then checked into the Coast Victoria Harbourside & Marina where we’ll stay for the rest of the weekend and enjoy the 15th Annual Wine & Oyster Fest tonight.

    Coast Victoria Harbourside

    Coast Victoria Harbourside

    I’ll have a separate post up about each of our adventures this weekend (with photos), which should prove to be a really fun getaway for the entire group.

    Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival 2009

    June 19th, 2009 @ 10:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Last year John and I were able to fully cover the Dragon Boat Festival, from land and the water. We’ll be out of town this weekend however it’s a fantastic free event for all happening June 20-21st in False Creek that is definitely worth checking out this year.

    The races are fun to watch, participants are up-beat, there are entertainers, food vendors, a marketplace and there are tons of activities on the shore for the whole family. As a side note, if you’re interested in following someone who lives the Dragon Boat lifestyle, check out @PaddlingGeek on Twitter, or check out her blog.

    Whalley Community Festival 2009

    June 19th, 2009 @ 9:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The 11th Annual Whalley Community Festival is happening this Saturday from 10:00am until 6:00pm. There’s no shortage of activities happening this weekend, from the Ride to Conquer Cancer, to Chip’s Not Dead Yet, and Vancouver’s first ChangeCamp however, this one’s special for me. I’m proud of my hometown, and to say that I’m a former West Whalley Trojan, so I think community events like this are great.

    Winterfest 2009 in Surrey

    Highlights include entertainers, bands, crafts, magician for the kids, a strawberry tea, silent auction, and a barbecue. The City of Surrey has plenty of fun, free, family events this summer and this is just the first of the season. I’m a media partner and official blogger of Surrey’s Canada Day celebration as well as the Fusion Festival so stay tuned for updates about these festivals in the coming weeks.

    Metro Vancouver Park Series: Belcarra Regional Park

    June 18th, 2009 @ 2:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    I was inspired to create an entry for my Metro Vancouver Park Series after my recent kayaking trip so here’s what you’ll need to know about exploring Belcarra.


    Metrics: 1,100 hectares (2,718 acres) with 22 km of hiking trails and 9.5kms of bike trails.

    Lake Sasamat – Photo credit: jkaneda on Flickr

    How to Get There: There are three main destinations in Belcarra Regional Park that include Buntzen Lake in Anmore, White Pine Beach at Sasamat Lake, and Belcarra beach / day-use recreational area.

    If driving, head into Port Moody and take Ioco Road North/West, continue to 1st Ave and turn right following 1st as it becomes Bedwell Bay Road where you’ll find White Pine Beach (often crowded since it’s so popular). Continue on Bedwell Bay Road to the three-way stop, turn left, then keep right to the picnic area parking lot. By transit you can take the C26 community shuttle from Port Moody Station to Belcarra Road right down to Midden Road or hop off earlier if you have another destination along the way.

    Belcarra Picnic Area & Ocean Beach – Photo credit: bchow on Flickr

    Features: Dogs are allowed on-leash, there are picnic areas (two covered), concession, swimming, tour bus access, boat launch, and many more facilities.

    History: On August 22, 1979 the Village of Belcarra was incorporated but the history of the region runs far deeper. “Belcarra was a traditional camping area for the Tsleil-waututh, the First Nations people whose territory it is in.” [wiki] Mr John Hall from Ireland purchased the a land in 1882 (Lot 229), which included the entire present-day Belcarra picnic site, more than half of the Belcarra Peninsula and all of the Turtlehead and Whiskey Cove areas [pdf]. Hall got caught up in a murder and promised his attorney, William Norman Bole, all of his land in exchange for his defense. “William Norman Bole gave Belcarra its Celtic name that means “the fair land on which the sun shines”. In 1886 he became an MLA and in 1889 a judge of the County Court of New Westminster. In 1908, he subdivided Lot 229 and it was registered in the name of Belcarra-Bedwell Bay Land Company.” [pdf]

    Photo credit: Cheryl_J on Flickr

    Notes: When I was little I used to affectionately call Belcarra’s picnic area the “goose poop” park because of all the Canadian geese that would hang out on the lawn. There’s plenty of wildlife, from geese to sea stars, and it’s the ideal beach for an afternoon nature walk. Take a stroll along the water’s edge, making discoveries in tide pools, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

    Death Cab for Cutie at the Pacific Coliseum

    June 18th, 2009 @ 12:13pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    If you’re a long-time reader of you’ll probably know that the band Death Cab for Cutie has a special place in my heart. John introduced their music to me when we were dating and a song by Ben Gibbard will forever remind me of him. We even played Death Cab at our wedding and we walked out to the receiving line to a song by The Postal Service (one of Gibbard’s side projects).

    It just so happens that Death Cab for Cutie will be playing the Pacific Coliseum on July 16th, and we’re going to be there. Here are some tunes from their latest album, Narrow Stairs, that you might have heard on that fine local radio station, The Peak.


    I Will Possess Your Heart

    Ra Ra Riot from Syracuse, NY along with Vancouver super-group The New Pornographers will be opening up the show.

    Ra Ra Riot

    The New Pornographers

    The New Pornographers are comprised of solo artist Neko Case, members of Limblifter, Age of Electric, The Evaporators (I swear that’s Nardwuar in the video above) and other talented individuals. Tickets are still available for the concert on July 16th so if you’re planning on attending I’d be all for a Death Cab Tweetup.