We spent the long weekend on Saltspring Island that hosts two really good cheese makers, one good winery (and one bad) and a great bakery.
Moonstruck Cheese – Organic, delicious, cow’s milk cheese. It is a working farm so the store is not attended, samples and descriptions are displayed on the table and a well cheese stocked fridge is right by their side. You sample, you pick your favorites (and believe me its difficult), put the money in a box and record your purchase in the book. It is possible to pay by a credit card but for that you have to go get on of the employees working in the cheese room right next door; they will also provide ice-packs if you need those. I picked the Beddis Blue and Savoury Moon which incorporates summer Savoury in the rind.
Saltspring Island Cheese Corp. owned by the famous David Wood – the cheese is made of Goat’s milk and the place itself is very nice with outside tables where you can eat what you have just purchased, a little garden you can walk in as well as a 5 minutes self guided tour through the cheese making process. Here, less varieties of cheese are produced but they have a different way of making a difference. The soft Goat cheese is packed with some sort of an infuser which gives it a unique taste and aroma – Lemon, colorful peppercorns, white truffles, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and a few others making for a beautiful presentation when the cheese is turned out onto a board. Other types include Feta (regular and Chili infused), Juliette (regular and bleu) which is a soft, white mould surface ripened goat cheese as well as a Manchego style cheese. All cheeses are available for tasting and purchase, along with crackers, marmalade and olives.
Gary Oaks Winery – is located on the Ganges Fulfurd rd. (right by the Saltspring Island winery); tastings are at $2 per person but the fee is waived with a purchase and it is really not that difficult to make one. We sampled four wines Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Zeta – Zweigelt grapes (Austrian) and Fetish – a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, the only grapes not grown on the island and are imported from the Okanagan valley. It was a hot summer day and I favoured the two lighter wines, which I have purchased, but it speaks nothing of the other two which I enjoyed as well.
Saltspring Island Winery – The wines are offered with some local cheese (from the two cheese makers described above) which seems like a nice gesture at first but the lady doing the tastings is watching for you not to make any attempts to take more than one tiny piece of cheese by removing the plate from the “bar” as soon as possible; the other problem with this is that when you taste the cheese with the wine you are thinking “what a great cheese” nothing about the wine crosses your mind…and when you take the second sip and the cheese is gone you are even less impressed. The grounds are nice and the outside tables are inviting but the wine sold at about $10 per glass when you can buy the whole bottle for $25 also give you the feeling you are being tricked and ripped off.
Embe Bakery – in Ganges, at the outskirts of town at 174 Fulford-Ganges rd. there is a small bakery witbread and great pastries. I especially recommend the Nanaimo Bar that is fresh and delicious.