Beautiful terraces that spill out into the street, bistro tables filled with warm crusty bread, richly flavoured cheeses and delicate wines, and the soft sound of laughter and friendly chatter wafting through the air might make you think that you have accidentally stumbled into Paris, but really you might just be in Cowichan Bay.
We adventure-seeking toads love nothing more than exploring our extended neighbourhood, and one of my favourite things about being an avid urban explorer is finding that special “something” that in some small way reminds me of my native Quebec while allowing me to continue to avoid the cold weather and blackflies that are, unfortunately, a large part of the Quebec experience. Having grown up in Montreal and being lucky enough to have visited Paris has left me with an intense appreciation of the art of people-watching and sipping good wine. Considered almost a sport along the cobblestone alleyways of Old Montreal and the frenzied streets of Paris, many an afternoon has been happily wasted arguing politics or discussing art over baguettes and cafe-au-lait. So, if like me you crave a little “Paris” in your springtime, let me introduce you to Hilary’s Cheese.
The only thing more welcoming in this authentic little cheese shop and bistro than the wonderful aroma is the warm smile of owner Sonja Todd. Formally trained in Hotel and Restaurant Management as well as obtaining her sommelier designation, she leaves no detail overlooked in providing an authentic Parisian experience right in the heart of Cowichan Bay.
And while we may be a bit liberal in borrowing a certain “feel” from our French cousins, the experience itself is distinctly west-coast. Peering out over the marina through delicate beads of rain streaming down the window with the warmth of the fire at your back and a lovely glass of your favourite wine in hand leaves little desire to hurry back to the hectic pace of everyday life. Time moves slowly and conversation flows easily over an elegant platter of cheese and charcuterie complemented by good friends or perhaps even a budding romance! And if you are not quite ready to leave the experience behind, oodles of goodies are available for you to take home and create your own special moments.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this quaint little shop, we look ever so forward to returning when warmer winds prevail, when you will surely find us nestled comfortably on the terrace, watching the hustle and bustle of life unfold over the rim of our wine glasses! As always, please do feel free to leave your wonderful thoughts and comments for us to share as everyone agrees that good wine is best served with great friends!
Until next time, bon appetit!