There is a mystical place on the west coast of Vancouver Island that embodies nature’s most spectacular landscapes and creatures, the unique artistry of local craftsmen, and the blissful pleasures of home grown organic food. This place is Sooke Harbour House and every year during the Christmas holidays my friends and family visit their restaurant for a meal that can only be described as out of this world.
This romantic getaway has 28 oceanfront rooms and is nestled into the banks of the Pacific Ocean with beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. I`ve stayed overnight a couple times even though my home is just 30 minutes away. It`s just that irresistible!
The property is on two and a half acres and beautifully landscaped. The rooms are true to west coast design and the furniture is made by local craftsman. I`m particularly fond of the chairs in the restaurant and after my first visit here, I inquired about the designer and was told he lived just down the road. His name is Rusty Sage and I went to visit him and was so impressed with his work that I commissioned him to do my kitchen table and chairs and staircases in my home that I was renovating at the time. Before I met Rusty I was so close to purchasing an extending glass dining table and chairs that my friend recommended to me, but once I saw his designs, I knew they were for me. The ones in my kitchen are almost identical to the ones below.
Whether you`re curled up watching winter storms or hoping to catch a pod of killer whales swimming by, these rooms are so cozy and romantic. I love the variety of woods they have used. Everything is hand crafted.
The inn has a beautiful art gallery and they actively promote local artists from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. There is a very large and diverse community of artists in the area from sculptors and painters to jewellers and wood craftsmen and stone masons. You can also find the art throughout the inn, in the rooms, the restaurants and even in the gardens.
If you`re a foodie, this is the place to be. Most of the produce is grown right on the property and their seafood is local and fresh. If you live in the PNW, it is worth a visit just for the food alone.
The owner, Sinclair Philip, is the Canadian representative to Slow Food in Italy and some years ago was a Slow Food Vancouver Island Convivum leader. His commitment to offering the best in freshness, flavour and creativity is evident in the pictures below.
Sooke Harbour House Salad
Wild & cultivated herbs, lettuces, flowers and blossoms from their certified organic garden.
Early Winter Salad
Roasted Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, phyllo wrapped potato & caramelized onion terrine, kale with pancetta, green beans & baby carrots, rhubarb & sundried apricot chutney, rosemary & red wine bordelaise sauce.
Parsnip, Turnip & Borage Soup with smoked Albacore Tuna loin & leek oil.
Chocolate torte, rainier cherry compote, white chocolate basil ice cream.
The best way to walk off all that delicious food is to take a stroll along their beachfront. There are also kayaks available and if you are staying overnight there are plenty of whale watching and fishing charters available. I am passionate about the killer whale population around Vancouver Island and Puget Sound and there plenty of opportunities to view them here. There are also grey whales, humpback and a few years ago a rare blue whale was spotted along this coast. If you are a bird watcher, there are plenty of bald eagles, golden eagles and blue heron.
No matter where you are, the Pacific Northwest is always in your heart and it was a pleasure to revisit such warm memories.
I originally guested on Haus Design with this post and wanted to share it with my new readers here because this special spot is always on my mind at Christmas time. Cheers!
Photos are courtesy of Sooke Harbour House
- 1 Cup Sunflower seed oil
- 2oz Apple cider vinegar
- 2oz Maple Syrup
- 1 Tbsp. Stone ground mustard
- 1 Medium Shallot (Minced)
- 1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- Flaxseed, Candied Walnuts:
- 1 Cup whole walnut
- 2 Tbsps. of flax seeds
- ½ Cup icing sugar
- ¼ Tsp. Sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. of cold water
- 1 Fennel bulb shaved paper thin on a mandolin or with a sharp knife.
- 2 Medium red beets (Cooked, sliced and peeled)
- 1 Large Metchosin apple
- ½ Head of radicchio (Cut into thin ribbons)
- 1oz Toasted Pumpkinseed oil
- 12 Paper thin slices of Coppa or Prosciutto
- A handful of wild herbs like chickweed, Miner’s lettuce, oxeye daisy greens and peppercress
- 3 Heads of Belgian Endives (Leaves removed individually)
- In a large bowl with a whisk start by adding the stone ground mustard, minced shallot, maple syrup and the parsley. Whisk together thoroughly, then add chopped parsley and apple cider vinegar and continue to whisk. Slowly drizzle in the sunflower seed oil while whisking at an even rate, Drizzle slowly in an even stream to emulsify your vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until you plan to use your vinaigrette. If using a food processor add the ingredients in the same order as above.
- Flaxseed, Candied Walnuts:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with spray oil. In a bowl combine icing sugar, cold water and mix into a paste. Add flaxseeds and mix thoroughly. Add walnuts and mix them in the paste to coat all of the nuts. Place glazed nuts on baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake at 350° F for approx. 10 minutes or until the nuts have stopped bubbling and are not over toasted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool all the way before using.
- In a large bowl combine shaved fennel bulb, radicchio ribbons, sliced Metchosin apple, Belgian endive leaves and dress heavily with the vinaigrette. Add Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
- Presenting Your Winter Salad
- Put a nice helping of the dressed, seasoned, tossed salad on the center of a plate, garnish with shaved Coppa, candied flaxseed walnuts, wild winter herbs and arrange cooked beets around the plate. Drizzle more of the vinaigrette around the outside of the plate then drizzle very lightly with toasted pumpkin seed oil.