Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The meals of Hollyhock

As promised - a visual sampling of the meals that I ate while at Hollyhock (Friday, August 15-Sunday, August 17). A grand total of two dinners, two breakfasts, and one lunch. All the meals were prepared with fresh ingredients, and many of the ingredients came from the large garden that sits in between the reception/registration hall and the kitchen/dining hall.

I still have a real shyness when it comes to taking pictures of food in public places, as well as asking too many questions about the food. So I apologize to those of you reading, because I know that would provide an additional dimension to the stories of my visit.

Here's a photo of the board that lists all the ingredients that are used in their dishes on a daily basis.

We arrived in time for dinner on Friday night, after having left Vancouver first thing Friday morning. Travelling by car/ferry to Cortes Island is an all-day event. It took us a grand total of three ferries to get to the island, and at least 4 hours of driving up Vancouver Island and across Quadra and Cortes Islands to finally arrive at Hollyhock.

The scenery, however, is breathtaking. Cruising alongside the sights and smells of the Pacific Ocean on Highway 19A from Nanaimo to Campbell River brought back many childhood memories of summers spent on the beach, digging for clams and building sandcastles.

We were also fortunate enough to gain the company of a lovely woman from Calgary (who I will call the PR lady) who had taken the bus to Campbell River to catch the ferries to Hollyhock.

We'd like to thank the "Ferry Godfather" (the BC Ferries employee in the tollbooth) who sized us up and deemed us suitable travelling companions for the PR lady. This seemed to us to be a common occurance at the Campbell River ferry terminal. In our case, my friend the doctor and I found that we had many common bonds with her beyond our shared destination, which made for some lively conversations and a feeling of true kinship.

Friday August 15: DINNER

As mentioned, the food is all freshly prepared with many ingredients coming right from the Hollyhock garden. It's not super fancy or gourmet, but it certainly was delicious.

Because of the sheer amount of people who attend (during our stay, there were 3 courses running and an assortment of people like us who were just there for a break), meals are served buffet style.

Feeling the effects of the three hour timezone difference, I went to sleep very soon after dinner.

Our dorm, the Carousel, was nestled in the trees, just up the pathway from the dining hall. There are also private cottages available for individuals and couple who want more privacy. All the accomodations at Hollyhock are simple, clean and rustic.

Saturday, August 16 : BREAKFAST
I really enjoyed the meals when there were cheery messages on the board. This was the menu that greeted us on Saturday morning. The eggs were a real success with everyone -- every time I went to serve myself, or try and get a picture, they were almost all gone.

Saturday, August 16: LUNCH

The salmon polenta casserole and sesame home fries were the only dishes I recognized from the cookbook I own. I was pleased to discover that it tasted just like when I made it. It speaks highly of the cookbook in two ways: one: the recipes have been well tested, and two: they are easy enough for someone else to make them at home. I have since discovered the recipes for the granola, the wheat bread and the ginger iced tea in my cookbook - so I will be able to make them myself the next time I feel homesick for the Hollyhock experience.

The whole wheat bread was very hearty and tasted great with the peanut butter they offered. The ginger tea was mild enough that I was able to recommend it to a mother who was trying to find something for her young child to drink with dinner. Both of these items were part of their 24-hour self serve bar.

That was another great thing I loved about Hollyhock. I went on my own without the Bean and the Boo, but many people brought their children with them. One parent would take the course, while the other could take the kids off for a walk in the woods, or down to the beach to play.

Saturday, August 16: DINNER

I had never heard of red quinoa before, so this was an exciting discovery. It also gave me an idea of something I could do with some Adzuki beans I have in my kitchen. Taratour sauce is a middle Eastern sauce served with falafels or shwarma that is like hummus, but without the chickpeas. Basic ingredients include tahini, water, garlic and lemon juice. Other recipes I found online include olive oil, cumin and parsley as other ingredients. Although I did not ask for the recipe, my sense is they stayed with the simple basics.

Saturday night we signed up for a Bioluminesence paddle. Imagine the beauty of kayaking into the direction of a brilliantly-setting sun, and in behind, the light the full moon. Bioluminesence refers to the phtyoplankton that were in the water. When we moved our hands back and forth, or dipped the kayak paddle in, they would light up like fireflies, giving the impression of sparkles in the water.

Sunday, August 17: BREAKFAST

My last meal at Hollyhock, and one of the simplest announcements of what would be served for that meal at Hollyhock. I missed out on the Blueberry muffins (shocking, I know, since they had chocolate in them), but today was the day to try the famous Hollyhock granola.

mmmmmmm....wholesome, hearty granola.

The essence of my visit: it was hard to leave such a peaceful, secluded and natural surrounding. Hollyhock is a great place to get away from the stuff of life and find areas of peace and quiet. I found a place where I could swim, hike, and kayak, but return to a sense of luxury (massages!), healthy, substantial meals and conversations with a wide variety of very interesting people.

Leafing through their catalogue, I discovered that they offer a 5 day course in their kitchen. Anyone interested in signing up with me? ;-)

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