The mist still hugging the shoreline, and the day barely yet lit, we set off onto the sea. The first item on the agenda for Owner/Designer Jessica and her partner and Captain for the day Eric, was to toss the crab traps over the edge to say hello to the crawly bottom-dwellers. Then on to open waters. Two staff pick-ups were made: one on a beach on Salt Spring Island to grab Claire, SSI Store Manager Emily and her husband Nick, and the second at the Canoe Cove Gas Dock to load in Robin, Madi, Victoria Store Manager Stacey and her husband Sean, and Meghan of Sweet Heirloom Photography, all prepped to capture our day from behind her lens.
With everyone piled in, we got our rich, locally roasted Fernwood Coffee brewing on the boat's propane stove. The boat's collection of Falcon Enamelware Mugs were topped up and passed around to warm fingers and bellies. Paired with incomparable delights from Victoria's Crust Bakery, our day was off to a pretty great start.
We couldn't have asked for better weather. The sun, the wonderful winter sun, was as bright as could be above our heads. It bounced off the water and made everything sparkle, and luckily stayed with us all day. It was a beautiful West Coast scene.
We pulled the crab traps up from the depths to find all kinds of crawling critters inside. Apparently chicken bits make excellent bait, which was news to many of our staff. We loved that this day was getting our team together, but also getting them out into the environment that we hold so dear. Even though the ocean is at our fingertips so often living on the coast, not everyone has the opportunity to get out on a boat (that's not a ferry) to interact with the sea.
Speaking of the boat, you have definitely seen pictures of her before on our Instagram. Her name is Tralee. She was born in 1952 in Nanaimo, BC of Canadian labour and yellow cedar. Her current Captain is the third owner she has had; her history is long and we're sure she would have some great stories to tell. At one time, she could have been seen trawling along the coast with a fishing crew. Now she is more of a pleasure craft, providing peace of soul to our Owner Jessica and her partner, and on this day, a way for us to make our group adventure day a reality.
Our final destination was Sidney Spit, a long sandy stretch of beach located on the north end of Sidney Island, part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Many of our staffers, even the ones who had grown up nearby, had never been to the spit. We loved sharing one of our favourite spots with them!
Our first task after unloading was to get a fire roaring so that we could cook. The menu for the day was probably one of the main reasons everyone was excited to come along. Our inspiration for the food was of course the ocean, and Sarah Glover's WILD Adventure Cookbook. Sarah is a chef with talents hailing from restaurants on multiple continents, but her real love is cooking outdoors. This woman's outlook on food and creative cooking techniques will inspire you and change the way you approach your food. She offers you simple, delicious recipes that get you outside and connect you to what you're eating. From WILD, we chose to make the Smashing Pumpkin, Sea Pizza Sticks, and Chargrilled Cheeses with Endive & Wild Honeycomb. We may not have followed every one down to the tee, but they were all executed with joy and the results were mouthwatering.
Nearly every recipe we made was contributed to by the ocean, and the ones that weren't, probably got sand in them at some point anyways, but we didn't mind much. On top of Sarah's recipes, we also had the fresh crab, and oysters, which we topped with Salt Spring Kitchen Co's Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce (and thus began the collective addiction to this decadent spicy elixir). Everything was cooked either in or right over top of the beach fire. Cooking on the open flame was so satisfying!
Everyone said that the recipes we tried would change the way we cooked. It really opened up our idea of what it meant to cook outdoors. Even when you camp, you still pack so much stuff to make a meal, but the things we made and ate required very little equipment and only a few ingredients each. They expanded everyone's concept of cooking on the go, cooking outside. And they all washed down nicely with a can of Salt Spring Island Ales Heather or Golden ale.
When we weren't toasting ourselves around the fire and downing every delicious thing in sight, we did get to play a little with new product, and get our staff to roam the sand and tall grasses in styles we were really excited to bring to our line this year, like our Ren Button Ups. Having our staff wear our clothing helps show us how the styles perform, and connects everyone to the fabrics that we use. It's extra fun to do it as a group and talk about our favourite pieces, and how we each style them.
Even though the day itself was chilly, having the fire going made you forget about your tingly toes. We had warmth coming from so many places: from the sun, the fire, the hot sauce, the new friendships being made. As the sun began to hide away for the night, we covered our fire, packed up everything we brought in, and filed back to Tralee in the dinghy. Huddled in the cabin together, we gathered around a cast iron pot filled with WILD's Nuts For Buns with Oozing Orange Choccy (sort of like a citrusy, chocolatley, rustic bread pudding) that was cooked in the fire earlier in the day. It was the perfect treat to end our day of feasting.
Throughout the day, Jessica asked everyone in attendance what their favourite part of the day was. It was great to hear the different things that made an impact on each individual. Top votes were the cozy fire, the fresh + creative food, being by the ocean, and getting to know each other. A big part of our brand philosophy at SALT is about valuing our people. We want our team to always be a collection of humans that believe in what we stand for. Making time to connect with them and create experiences that show them the lifestyle that SALT wants to promote is part of how we show we value them and appreciate the way they show up for us.
A big thank you to all our staff for such an incredible day, that will be a collective memory for us all to enjoy. A thank you to the ocean, for all that it gives to us, and the many ways it sustains us.