Sargeant Bay Saved

 It’s birding season and when the skies cleared yesterday afternoon, I set out with my camera and tripod in hopes of capturing some of our recently arrived visitors. Unfortunately the wind was conspiring against this, and I was a bit early in the season, but who cares, it was a good excuse to spend some time in one of my favourite places.

If you’re looking for a place where you can enjoy a walk in solitude, Sargeant Bay is pretty well guaranteed. It has been a favourite of mine for a long time.  A perfect horseshoe-shaped bay with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along the pebble beach… and more often than not, I’ve had the whole area completely to myself.

Sargeant Bay was established as a provincial park in 1990 after a decade-long, heated struggle by local residents to prevent an outside investor from developing it. The plan was to  subdivide the property into 145 lots, dredge out the bay and build a large marina. A prime example of paving paradise to put up a parking lot and local Sunshine Coast resident Joni Mitchell would have been proud of the efforts to prevent this from happening .  

The park can be reached by following the main highway from Sechelt for about 5-minutes, turning off at Redroofs Road, and following this for another 3-4 minutes. There are two parks actually. The upland section is an extensive network of well-planned connecting trails. The lowland section has a trail along a raised berm with the curving pebble beach on one side and marshy wetland on the other.   The combination of boreal forest, saltwater and wetland provides a rich habitat for birds with 157 species identified in the park

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Sirens of the Sea fail to seduce

A buddy invited me out for brunch yesterday, and since he was buying he got to choose the restaurant. When he suggested Sirens of the Sea, my curiosity notched up a few levels  .

Sirens of the Sea opened last May, in Davis Bay across from the seawall and have what is arguably one of the best restaurant views on the Coast. There was a good strong southeaster blowing that blustery morning and our window seat provided a bit of drama as we watched a small tug boat trying to tow a large barge, as it pounded into the waves. The west-facing Davis Bay view is also great for enjoying colourful evening sunsets.

Now, back to the reason for my curiosity.  My mandate for Everything Sunshine Coast is that it will be a place where readers can get an insider’s perspective on the Sunshine Coast – the good and the bad – in other words, the truth.  And that’s why my curiosity about Sirens of the Sea was piqued, because I’d heard mixed reviews from others, and I needed to find out for myself.

The morning special was a Blackstone Benny and this also caught my interest (I know… I’m just a curious guy)  When I asked about the name of this special offering neither the server nor the chef knew the answer (a Blackstone Benny is made with ham instead of bacon and a slice of tomato)  

My Blackstone arrived and the poached eggs were perfectly cooked. The Hollandaise, however, looked and tasted like it came out of a tube; the oven roasted potatoes were devoid of any flavour – no spices or herbs had been used; and… there was no ham in my Blackstone Benny!!

My buddy ordered the Complete Breakfast, which came with French Toast made from a good crusty baguette, together with bacon, sausage and eggs. The fruit garnish for both dishes was basic, however – the ubiquitous orange slice – and that seemed to sum up my feeling about the experience itself – satisfying but nothing special.

So in the interests of being true to my mandate: the location provides a  great view, and our server was extremely attentive. Breakfast, however, was just average. As mentioned earlier, I’ve heard mixed reports on their dinner. Two good friends have had very good dinners; others were not so impressed.  

The bottom line – here are many other better dining experiences to be found on the Sunshine Coast, so stay tuned.

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April Fools Run Coming Up – April 3rd

The April Fools Run is a great Sunshine Coast tradition that began as a bet between two reporters from the local newspaper. It’s a great story, best appreciated when you know the characters involved, so I won’t go into the details.

I will confess, however, that my own participation one year certainly lived up to the name of the race. An old knee injury was giving me grief and I had managed to get an appointment with a top rated orthopaedic surgeon. The week before the race, I foolishly cancelled this coveted appointment, thinking he might tell me that I shouldn’t go into the run.  

Fast forward 34 years (and three knee operations later) this 13.1 mile, half-marathon run has grown to 600 participants. It has also gained the reputation as one of the best half-marathons in the country by Canadian Runner. The race takes place on Sunday, April 3rd and is open to runners, walkers and relay teams. Off-coast participants can take 7:20am ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, or arrive Friday or Saturday and take advantage of a number of pre-race activities.  

Check this link for full details on the race as well as registration.

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Looking for an excuse to celebrate?

You don’t need to go to New Orleans to celebrate Fat Tuesday. While Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) is typically celebrated on the last day before the start of the ritual fasting season, you could save your celebration until a little later in the week, if it’s more convenient. Having any excuse to celebrate in the dog days of winter is what’s really important here, and that’s what Mardi Gras has come to represent.  

I always enjoy the special foods that go with any special celebration and Fat Tuesday has a particular appeal. Here are two of my favourites:

Creole Ham, Sausage, and Shrimp Jambalaya

Gonzales, a small Cajun town between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, proclaims itself “The Jambalaya Capital of the World” and sponsors a major festival and cooking competition every June.

Smoked ham, spicy sausage and fresh shrimp are the stars in this classic Mardi Gras dish. With easy to find ingredients and minimal preparation you can share the stage in your own Mardi Gras celebration. Follow this link for the recipe, courtesy of Fine Cooking.

Classic Bananas Foster

 This one has Mardi Gras written all over it and is the perfect ending after the spicy, savoury dish above. Created at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans in 1951, this classic dessert was named after loyal customer Richard Foster. Firm, ripe bananas are sautéed in a rum-infused caramel sauce, then flambéed in front of diners and spooned over vanilla ice cream. For extra pyrotechnics, throw a pinch of cinnamon onto the sauce as it flames. Once again, special thanks to the folks at Fine Cooking for supplying this recipe – click here

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Who will be the first??

There’s a huge event happening right now among birders throughout the Pacific Northwest. One of the popular misconceptions of birders is that they are not competitive, win-at-all cost individuals. But I know that this is not always true.

As a novice birder, I’ve approached this new-found interest with enthusiasm, and one of the great things that I’ve learned about birding is that it has a season. Migratory birds set off from distant points south, and arrive here on a schedule that has been in place for eons.  One of the most anticipated arrivals is about to happen.

The Rufous Hummingbird will make its appearance any day now and there is great competition among birders to be the first to see this bird. This will be gleefully announced, instantly through our local Yahoo News Birding Group. As a competitive strategy, I’ve decided to monitor two others  – Vancouver and VanIsland – it’s my early warning system.  

Hummingbirds are of course, attracted to feeders and I just freshly filled two of these and hung them out this morning – did I mention the competitiveness.

Stay tuned and if you happen to have a visit to your feeder, please leave a comment below and I’ll pass on your bragging rights.

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What About Breakfast?

Breakfast is really important to us at Coracle Cove Waterfront B&B, and we take a lot of care and pride in creating a great morning meal to start your day.  Judging from the comments our guests have made on  Trip Advisor  we’re hitting the mark – our guests love our breakfasts. But if you haven’t stayed with us before, here are some questions you may have:

1. do we serve a full breakfast? Oh Yes!! There is nothing Continental about our breakfasts – Eggs Florentine, Benny’s, Belgian Waffles, Blueberry Pancakes are a few of our favourites 

2. do we serve meat with our breakfast? YES. We serve some great Apple-Pork sausages, but if Benny’s are on the menu, we usually serve ham; smoked salmon; prosciutto or maybe some fresh crab that we’ve just caught. But if you’re not meat eater, just let us know and leave it off.  

3. do we serve sweets at our breakfast? YES and NO – we usually alternate daily between a sweet and a savoury main course. If you’re travelling with your kids, we know that they’ll always like something sweet (happy kids = happy parents) but we’ll let you make that choice. We always include some fresh fruit.  We won’t serve you a stale pop tart, but we usually finish off with something fresh-baked like a blueberry-lemon loaf or cranberry-orange muffins.  

4. can you serve breakfast in our suite? YES,  that’s the way we’ve been doing  it at Coracle Cove for the last eleven years and our guests love it.  We’ll arrange the time you want the night before and then deliver your breakfast the next morning. We’ll  begin with some juice and a steaming thermos of coffee (or tea), and we’ll bring down your main course a little later. When we come back to clear your table we can talk about what you want to do that day and we’ll happily help you with the planning.

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What’s your addiction??

Addiction is viewed from different angles by different people, however, if you often find yourself thinking about your next fix, then it’s pretty clear that you’ve got an addiction. I stand guilty as charged – I start thinking about my first coffee before I’m even out of bed. Fortunately, I’ve got the means to satisfy that fix – a Gaggia with a good supply of great beans gets me started on the day.  But like a junky in search of the ultimate high, I often find myself making excuses to visit my favourite caffeine den.

Strait Coffee moved into its current location about a year ago, after it had decidedly outgrown its old location of ten or more years.  The new location is significantly expanded –  it’s bright and colourful with lots of wood detail throughout and it’s quickly become a very busy place, throughout the day…for good reason

Strait Coffee has created a coffee culture on the Sunshine Coast. They begin by doing their homework to source out great fair trade beans. With over a decade of experience, they have mastered the complex task of roasting these beans to perfection. Their baristas are trained and take pride in every cup they serve. Finally, they have created an environment that simply allows you to savour that perfect cup. And I love the little touches, like the spring bouquet of flowers atop my double shot latte, that I enjoyed earlier today.

But it’s more than just the coffee. Double chocolate chip or gluten-free ginger cookies, tangy lemon bars and a cheesecake menu that changes daily. If you’re there at lunch time, there’s always a choice of hearty soups with a good thick slice of fresh-baked multigrain bread. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up later in the day, or just a place to meet up with some friends, you can now order from their wine list.The good news is that the Strait Coffee culture is spreading.  Wherever you go on the ‘coast,  you’re pretty well assured that your beverage of choice will be made with these perfectly roasted beans and  you can buy their beans in a number of locations. We serve a rich, fragrant Ethiopian Yirgacheffe at our B&B.  For those living on the other side of the water, don’t despair. IGA’s got you covered – at least two of their Vancouver stores have joined the Strait Coffee team.

The bottom line: Definitely two thumbs up

Strait Coffee is located in the Wilson Creek Shopping Plaza. They’re open 7am to 6pm.

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