Destination Bowen Island for Italian Cashmere

You read that right!

Artisanal cashmere – crafted in a country built on the fur trapping, canoe portaging, down-filled coats, Hudson Bay blankets, and Kodiak boots! Artigiani Milanesi established its bespoke Italian cashmere tailoring on Bowen Island in 2014.

Rosa, Davide and Rebecca Artigiani Milanesi

The story of how luxury Italian-inspired weaving ends up on Canada’s wet coast began with a girl in a convent in Cremona, Italy. Rosa Palmira Feroldi (Rosetta) was only two-years-old when she and her five sisters, orphans of WWII, were taken in by the nuns at the Cremona convent. The nuns would knit clothing for the children, and Rosetta insisted they teach her how to use the knitting machines – a skill she honed for the next chapter of her life. At 21 years old, she left the convent and headed for the industrial city of Milan in 1958.

Rosa Artigiani MilanesiMilan was booming in the 1960s, rapidly becoming recognized as a fashion capital. Rosetta quickly put her knitting skills into practice and establishing her business (1959) catering to local Milanese clients and international brands (Prisco, Kiton, Doriani and others). Davide Bizzarri, Rosa’s son, apprenticed with his mother gaining an understanding of their business, the competitive local marketplace and international demands – he officially took over Artigiani Milanesi in 1995.  Davide shares his mother’s enthusiasm, ruthless attention to detail and quality, and her design flair.

Artigiani Milanesi yogi coatMilan is still booming today, frenetic, is the word Rebecca (Davide’s wife) used to describe the city. A change of pace, a sense of adventure and the potential of new markets prompted a move to Bowen Island. Artigiani Milanesi was packed into two 40-foot-long shipping containers destined for its new Howe Sound head office, a 1,600sqft boutique and workshop. Their concept is to offer tailored cashmere knitwear made by Italians in Canada. According to Rebecca tells me that they were seeking a slower pace of life on Bowen Island, but says, “Ironically we are busier now than when we were in Europe!” – proof that the appreciation for artisanal cashmere is strong in North America.

Davide Artigiani MilanesiAlmost, two years into living on Bowen Island the team at Artigiani Milanesi has established roots and gather inspiration for cashmere colour palettes from their natural surroundings. Rosa is still very much involved in the operations, training their group of local weavers, hand-tailoring some of the most complex designs and she does all the hand finishing. Davide and Rebecca are focused on expanding their market reach and North American awareness of their brand, which uses only the purest natural Italian cashmere yarns and artisanal methodology.

Artigiani MilanesiArtigiani Milanesi invites clients to invest in a part of Italian history and style, choosing authenticity and discerning luxury. You can order from the website or for those readers in the Vancouver area, head on over to Bowen Island for a day trip.

Davide and Rebecca Artigiani MilanesiRebecca shared a few of her favourite things to help you discover this destination:


Cates Bay Beach a great bay for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding

Mount Gardner a day hike with extraordinary views over Howe Sound

The coastal walk along Cape Roger Curtis


Pain au Chocolat at Artisan Eats, buttery and divine, made by a French patisserie chef

Organic homemade hot chocolate at The Chocolate Shop

The French onion soup at Rustique Bistro


Take a class at Bowen Island Yoga a studio that Rebecca established with two partners in 2014

Shop for Cashmere!

Hike the Killarney Lake trail and hang out on the beach in the evening with friends for a potluck picnic dinner and fire pit

Image Credits: all photos provide by and published with the permission of Artigiani Milanesi

The Call to Lake O’Hara

Summer is short-lived in Calgary.

The dying days of May are often peppered with pelting snow flurries.

June can show early promise of the warm days ahead – or a month of misery sheltered under rain gear.

Finally, by August hardy residents are able to enjoy a few warm days and the mosquitoes have even started to drop off.

Then the letter arrives…Winter is not far off.

Lake O'Hara winter


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Rimrock Cafe at Whistler

It has been years since Ginger and Nutmeg had last been to the Rimrock Cafe in Whistler. So all it took, was for some Vancouver friends to suggest that it was their favourite restaurant in the valley, for Nutmeg to make a reservation.  The restaurant has been around since 1987, it specializes in fish and game.  The inside is very cosy with two operational fireplaces in the winter months.  Outside they have two patios, a garden patio in the back and a deck out front.  Ginger and Nutmeg lucked out with a sunny evening, so chose to sit on the front deck.

The wine selection is broad and includes a very good base of BC wines (which you should try).  The restaurant has been featured in the Wine Spectator for their selection. Many wines are offered by the glass and they even have a decent selection of half bottles.  Ginger chose a lovely 2007 Laughing Stock blend called ‘Portfolio’ from the Okanagan – yummy!

The Rimrock Cafe has a great selection of appetizers, mains and a few daily specials.  Ginger tried the gazpacho soup with lobster (daily special) – excellent.  Nutmeg had the buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad – it was good although heavy on the ratio of cheese to tomatoes (they are in season right now so load them up)!  The main courses were good and our waiter was excellent.  The best part for Ginger was the side of spatzle (excellent) and the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream to finish.

If you are in Whistler or planning to go, add the Rimrock Cafe to your list of restaurants.  It is off the beaten track, it is a bit more of a locals gem and it is no where near the craziness of the main village base.  Good food, reasonable value, great service and Ginger would like to confirm excellent desert!

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A Cuppa Joe in Whistler

If your daily coffee cravings are satisfied by the retail chain with the green and white signage, you do not need Nutmeg’s help.  For that, there is an app you can download on your phone, and several locations to choose from.   If you want to support some local businesses, and experience a bit of the Whistler Village culture, while drinking your favourite cuppa joe then read on. Continue reading

Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver

Nutmeg almost did it…she almost Googled Markets in Vancouver, then she remembered…. Granville Island Public Market.  Of course!!!

It is possibly the best market in Canada, and definitely the best in Western Canada. The Granville Island Market is of course, located on the spit of land by the same name. The public market is open daily from 9am to 7pm and features: a food court, specialty stands with fantastic breads, fresh bagels, seafood, cheeses, antipasto, prepared meals, unique spices, coffee bars and many permanent stands with really fresh fruit and vegetables.

Granville Island Public Market

On Thursdays, June through October they have a farmers market outside (unfortunately Nutmeg was there on a Tuesday).  The list of farmers is updated weekly, as the season progresses.

Beautiful beets

The island of has many other great features; a focus on the arts (4 pages of artisans on the web site),  the Emily Carr University, a focus on Maritime activities (sailing, whale watching, kayaking etc.), a brewery, a hotel, a music scene and restaurants.

Granville Island started “life” as two sandbars in False Creek, these were used for fishing by the native inhabitants.  The sandbars were problematic for the new settlers as water was not deep enough for navigation, nor the land dry enough for building.  So the area caused disputes and claims for many years.  Eventually, in 1915 a reclamation project was approved for the 35-acre site and almost 1 million cubic yards of fill was removed from the location for the cost of $342,000.  The island then fell into a pattern of industrial uses for the mining and forestry sectors.  The years that followed, were far from a picture of economic or eco-sustainable health.  The depression hit, a fire destroyed a number of factories and the False Creek was seriously contaminated  – this time the price tag was $50 million to clean up the area and many millions more to create the vibrant scene and island life that exists today.

Whether you are a first time tourist, a regular traveller to Vancouver or a lucky native, GO and visit Granville Island, it is like arriving in another world. See the full photo gallery.

View from Granville Island

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Lake OHara Lodge a Slice of Paradise

For eight years running Ginger and Nutmeg and a crew of very spicy friends have trudged up the Lake O’Hara access road in March.  The conditions have varied every year from deep winter to nearly spring.  The equipment ranges from light to touring to teli and alpine touring – this year the gals got really smart and went in on snow shoes.  Everyone arrives parched, hungry and feeling like they have accomplished something and they have – 11kms of hills!!  This year’s crew included Cilantro and Mr. High Maintenance, Curry Murray and Mr Curry, Mountain Pepper and Cayenne, Cinnamon, the salsa twins, Oregano and his lovely wife.

Why is Lake O’Hara a slice of paradise?  So many reasons;

  1. An endless amounts of great BC wine – the group tried very hard to get to the bottom of the supply
  2. Gluten free offerings included a flour-less dark chocolate cake on arrival from Mrs Oregano
  3. Arrival snacks including; salt/pepper/lime chicken wings and mini croque monsieurs (ham and cheese melts)
  4. Four course dinners including; sesame crusted halibut, cauliflower soup, NY striploin, 120 strudel, blueberry custard tart
  5. Hot showers
  6. Steamy saunas

More than anything it is the incredible scenery, lack of crowds and the chance to get into the back-country for some turns.  This year was over the top!  We lucked into 25cms of snow early in the week topped off by 20cms on Friday through Saturday morning.  Then the sun came out and the group was treated to two “blue-bird” days.  So the hangovers were quickly cured and the blisters quickly forgotten.  Our trusty and very patient guide Mike got the daring and energetic into “epic” powder on Saturday.

The weekend was full of laughs, a guitar concert by the staff, a raging dance party and the requisite gals vs boys charades game.  The gals were victorious again, in case you were wondering.

Lake O’Hara is paradise summer or winter.  Check it out for yourself.

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