The Salt Spring Island SalonFriday, March 25, 2011
On Thursday I stayed but a stone’s throw from the very famous (and very expensive) Hastings House Hotel on Salt Spring Island. The restaurant at Hastings House is supposed to be one of the best in BC.
But if you add good conversation, the friendly demeanor of the owners, and throw in three lovely black cats called Black, And, Decker, it all trumps Hasting House by more than a stone’s throw and perhaps by at least a mile.
I stayed, by invitation, at the new guest house attached to Celia Duthie and her husband Nick Hunt (many say he is Duthie’s most valuable asset) sprawling property which includes an art gallery, a separate cabin that is home to Salt Spring Woodworks, purveyors of fine handmade furniture and their home.
Where else, but at a Duthie home would you find art on the wall, books (and good books) in all shelves and the latest New Yorker on a footstool not far from a sleeping Decker?
And I have yet to mention the food. The cook happens to be Nick Hunt, who drives a tractor, climbs ladders, does windows and is a marvelous carpenter and handyman. His cooking is divine. For the first time in years I had the pleasure of eating large steamed artichokes (the dipping sauce was a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard concoted by Duthie). The main course (there was a good Pinot noir, Tio Pepe and ginger beer served) consisted of potatoes and yams baked in the oven with duck grease (sprinkled with Hunt’s favourite spice of the day, parsley), fresh steamed asparagus and a red snapper (caught that morning) smoked with oak and smothered with a parsley/béchamel sauce. Dessert, after the salad was served, consisted of bitter chocolate, Stilton and I turned down (it would have been wasted on me) a vintage port.
If all that weren't enough the other guest was the new relocated to Salt Spring, author C.C. (Chris) Humphreys who entertained us with the story of her Norwegian mother who was a spy in WWII.
Duthie always presses and pushes me to do things I really do not want to do or feel I know how to do. Last year she persuaded me to pho (ever so gently with that smile of hers) to photograph(the photo here I took during that visit)some large wooden lanterns. I was nervous about it but in the end I discovered I was good at it (a quick amateur I was!). This time around she wanted pictures of the interior of her new guest suite. I am not into architectural interiors. But I think I managed and I will know quite soon to what extent. At this present rate, with Duthie’s gentle push I will soon become the renaissance person (at least in photography) that she and Hunt both are!
My experience in Salt Spring, thanks to Duthie and Hunt Nick was a most pleasant one. Paradoxically some might say that Salt Spring is far from culture since it is certainly not as active as Vancouver in theatre, concerts, dance, etc. But staying with Duthie and Hunt was like attending a good Parisian salon, where the food, the drink, the conversation, the scenery and the company could not have been any better.