Dare to Explore: Prince George, British Columbia

Dare to explore? Challenge offered, and accepted.


Where is Prince George????  C-A-N-A-D-A!

At the confluence of two glacier-fed rivers, Prince George is an idyllic spot north of Vancouver. For those exploring Northern British Columbia, summertime festivals keep a steady stream of visitors coming through. With a thriving arts scene, excellent food, and a warm welcome at every turn, by the time I left, Prince George had worked its charm on me. 

Seattle -> Vancouver --> Victoria --> Prince George

From Seattle, getting to Prince George is a bit of an adventure, but the flight provides plenty of eye candy.

Flying over the islands that dot the Inside Passage between the city of Vancouver (on the mainland) and nearby Victoria on Vancouver Island. Bit of trivia? Vancouver Island is the largest Pacific Island east of New Zealand. Getting here is a quick 15 minute flight from Vancouver.

Historically, this area was settled for resources, including fur and lumber. Today, forestry is still a key part of the economy. Along the shoreline, you can see commercial rafts of tree waiting for transport.

Crossing the Coast Mountain Range, we spent our time looking for glaciers and late spring avalanches. Fortunately my travel companion, Jeremy Derksen, is an ace mountaineer and gave me an impromptu lesson. "No, that's not an avalanche. See that spot over there? The side facing the sun? That's an avalanche."

Landing in Prince George, you're greeted by a mural featuring the town's mascot, Mr. PG. The original stands 24 feet high and is a tribute to the region's timber trade.

While in town, I got a chance to check out the local book store, Books & Company. The kids section captivated me with a large section with subjects dedicated to various native tribes, aboriginals, and lore. This far north, you can see the aurora borealis or "Painted Skies."

Quick. Who's the most famous Canadian chef? Michael Smith is a TV chef who has continuously been on the air since 1998. They had several of his books, but this chef-focused book caught my eye.

Understandably, True North is long on fish and seafood, but this dish stood out. Behold. Mortadella made with seal meat. The recipes headnote explains, seal hunting is highly regulated and there are quotas. White-furred baby seals are off limits. I wonder...if you don't hunt, is it possible to get seal meat through other channels? Ah well, I won't be making this anytime soon!

Taking in Prince George's finest bites means a mandatory stop at Ohh Chocolat Cafe. Owner Caroline Longhurst indulged us in an after-hours chocolate dipping class, while we talked about her growing business. "We're perfectly imperfect in everything we do."  Cases are lined with rustic cakes, over-sized confections and truffles, bolstered by hearty lunch and brunch offerings. "We're in a community that cares about taste and value" and she delivers on both.

The bite that haunts me still is this lovely morsel, affectionately known as an Oopsie. A deluxe version of Rice Crispy Treat, Ohh Chocolat's Oopsie begins with honey, white chocolate, peanut butter, and Rice Crispies. Palm-sized portions are cut into bars, then dipped in chocolate. It's a glorious creation and if mail order was an option, it would be on my regular rotation.

Between the flight and a bit of sight seeing, it was time to grab a glass of wine and relax. Fortunately,  we nabbed a reservation at Cimo Mediterranean Grill. Their mezze shared plate is perfect for noshing. Turn your gaze to the lower left hand corner of the photo and you'll see the most delicious lemon-infused risotto cakes. A creamy, feather light interior, played against a crispy pan fried exterior, and with that, chef set a new benchmark.

The beauty in Mediterranean food is that it can be so simple, and yet, extraordinary. At Cimo's, Salt Spring Island mussels were quickly simmered in a beguiling mix of basil, almond pesto, and cream, and I was swiping every last drop from the bowl.


Cheers to exploring a destination! More to come tomorrow....