Where to Go Next: Vancouver Island
A 20-minute water-taxi ride from the ferry town of Sidney, Poets Cove Resort & Spa on Pender Island is the latest luxury hotel to open in British Columbia's Gulf Islands. At the resort's handsome neo-Arts-and-Crafts Aurora Restaurant, talented young chefs Brett Huber and Meaghan O'Brien serve delicious wild-lavender-roasted local lamb (whose unique salty flavor comes from the seaside grass the sheep graze on) and wild white salmon with red wine-braised onions, cooked native North American-style, on a cedar plank. DETAILS 9801 Spalding Rd., Pender Island; 250-629-2100.
The Aerie Resort
Set in the hills of Malahat, overlooking the ocean, this Relais & Chateaux property in southern Vancouver Island has one of the province's finest restaurants. Chef Christophe Letard's menu plays up local ingredients in edgy dishes like sweet anise-cured weathervane scallops and yellow plum sake-poached halibut. Brand-new at the Aerie are cooking classes, which range from tasty cocktail-hour hors d'oeuvres to three-course all-seafood menus. DETAILS 600 Ebadora Ln., Malahat; 250-743-7115.
Established as Canada's first organic farm cooperative in the mid-1950s, the 130-acre homestead in the peaceful Cowichan Valley is now home to a lovely inn, a cooking school and even a water buffalo dairy. Highlights of the six-course Italian-style Sunday lunches, which are open to the public as well as to guests, include any of the handmade pastas and seasonal selections such as asparagus with a rich fonduta cheese topping. DETAILS 3310 Jackson Rd., Duncan; 250-746-4637.
Sooke Harbour House
Twenty-six years ago, Sooke Harbour House put Vancouver Island on the culinary map. It's still an exciting innovator, with fascinating seaweed toursbeach expeditions that spotlight the island's 200-plus varieties of seaweed. Chef Edward Tuson features the ocean greens in delicious dishes like apricot-mint dumplings in minerally alaria broth and sea lettuce-wrapped halibut with briny goose-necked barnacles. DETAILS 1528 Whiffen Spit Rd., Sooke; 250-642-3421.