Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: Mazda

Comox Valley in the 2019 Mazda CX-5

We set off for Victoria Island, Father’s Day weekend, and had the “Mazda CX-5” to get us there. It was a good sized SUV for our lengthy drive. Plenty of room for ourselves and our over packing. With safety and comfort in mind it got us to our destination and our check-in.

We stayed at the “Holiday Inn Express” in Courtney, conveniently located in the hub of all our weekend’s worth of activities. Our room was equipped with two firm, queen sized beds with cloud-like sheets, a television, mini fridge, and coffee maker. Everything that we would need for a 3 night stay. And best of all, it included access to their complimentary breakfast bar. A buffet style offering with juice, toast, bagels, cereal, yogurt and a pancake making machine. The hotel also has a gym, swimming pool, hot tub, and water slide to take advantage of, but we were far to busy for any of it.

We came to take in the seafood festival, but also took the time to explore what one might do if not visiting during the festival. So for more on the actual BC Seafood Festival, check out my vlog for the highlights, and the blog for all the details.


BC Seafood Festival 2019, Events & Tours


When looking for places to eat outside of the festival, there are two restaurants worth considering for their view alone. “Blackfin Pub” and “Ocean 7”.

“Blackfin Pub” is nestled by the beach, overlooking the Comox marina and all of its boats. It offers slushed drinks and a bevy of bar favourites.

The “Louisiana Chicken wings” were tangy with a vinegary zip and a dull hot sauce flavour.

The two pounds of dry ribs seasoned in sea salt, cracked pepper, and lemon were extra meaty and surprisingly not dried out like they are at other pubs.

The lightly floured calamari was kettled fried and topped with red onion and tomato chunks. It was crispy with a nice chew, but on the blander side without a dip into tzatziki sauce.

I wanted rice with the “Thai coconut curry clams”, but made due with the grilled focaccia. A delicious warming broth to enjoy the fresh seafood in.

“Ocean7 Bistro” is located at “Kingfisher Resort & Spa”, their property boasts an unobstructed water side view and delicious ocean inspired dishes, best enjoyed on their scenic terrace. During the BC seafood festival run they were voted as the “BC seafood on your plate” winner by judges and fans alike. For more on this dining experience, visit the link below.

Ocean7 Restaurant, AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar


We also stopped at “Liquid” in Courtney for some late night eats, which we would learn was the Friday night hot spot. Bumping music, a fully seated bar, and a patio that stayed opened late.

There, we enjoyed the “Bourbon BBQ Makers Mark Ribs”. Baby back slow braised pork ribs, bourbon bbq sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. A class with fall off the bone meat and a lick your fingers clean sauce.

We partnered this with some slushy cocktails: a Bellini and what the restaurant has fondly named a “Bubblini”. It had the same house made peach slush as in the bellini did, but mixed with a mini bottle of sparkling wine.

We left long before the party ended, only to head to another, just as busy spot. Apparently Courtney’s local “Dairy Queen” is the place to go for some late sugar. There aren’t many dessert options in a small town, so this is where we and everyone else visited for some ice cream on a warm night. And it was here that I finally got to try and fully enjoy “DQ’s” new orange dreamsicle dipped soft serve cone.

But my favourite spot for ice cream on the island was “Love’s” in Cumberland. A cute little blue and white trailer parked permanently in out front of a house, using its lawn as their make shift patio seating area.

This was so good that they are now my new favourite ice cream place, with plenty of gluten and dairy free options. It is just a shame that they are all the way out in Cumberland and requires a ferry to get to. What sets them apart is their ability to swirl hand scooped ice cream. First you choose your base between coconut milk or vanilla cream, and then the frozen fruit you want to flavour it with. Wild blueberry, strawberry, mango, or a berry mix. Together they go into their special machine and what comes out is a perfect swirl. And best of all you can mix two flavours together for a double scoop. Or do what I did, and get a regular hard scoop of their “backyard mint chocolate chip”, and top it with a swirl of their wild blueberry with a vanilla ice cream base. Both ice cream flavours weren’t too sweet, just creamy and tasty, I can see why the line was forming well before they opened, and continued at a steady pace throughout our time there.

While waiting for them to open, we grabbed a couple of tacos from their neighbour, “Old Library Taco”. From what I gathered, the building was converted from an actual library to this cute little tacoria. The chicken and al pastor tacos were colourful, but not as tasty as they looked. I liked the space, but wouldn’t revisit for the price alone. $6 a bland taco seems steep.

Most of our free time in Comox Valley was spent exploring the sights and taking in the scenery.

Like every Saturday from April to October, Comox hosts its own farmer’s market from 9am to 1pm. This is a great way for locals to support small businesses in their community, and for visitors to try something homemade or home grown.

Farm raised beef that is government inspected, grass fed, and hormone free. Various meat sausages and whole roasting chickens. Plenty of pesticide-free, organic fruits and vegetables. Home made chips and salsa, loaves of bread, pastries and pretzels. Honey, barbecue sauces, spreads and preserves. Even ointments, soaps, and creams. It had everything including live music and food trucks for lunch.

We enjoyed getting up close to the fighter jets and all the rescue planes at the “Comox Air Force Museum Heritage Air Park”. You walk the laid out paths that bring you to each plane and a written description of it and its accomplishments. This self guided tour is offered Tuesday to Sunday from April to October.

For more on these planes and others, the Comox Air Force museum is nearby, marked with a statuesque fighter plane.

Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park was where majority of the seafood festivities were held, but outside of the annual affair, the space hosts beautiful views, and a bit of history.

Here, water side scenes unfold before you, best enjoyed on a quiet bench. And you are able to enjoy a self directed tour of Filberg Heritage Lodge, which also serves as a gift shop filled with antiques.

The house was decorated with photos and plaques offering explanations on the first floor. And on the second, bedrooms and bathrooms with collections of dishes, flatware, tea cups, soaps, creams, and vintage jewelry for sale.

But for views of green, water, and mountains in the background there are plenty of options. Most of which we found by using the Mazda’s built in navigation system, using it to exploring the unmarked roads.

On our drive we saw plenty of marshland during high tide, and the birds that dwelled there.

And plenty of beaches. Rocky beaches with stones covered in barnacles and seaweed.

Sandy beaches revealed during low tide.

Beaches with wind blown ridges in the sand.

And all the marine life to explore within the water that got caught in the tide pools. Mostly small crabs and mini fish.

My favourite spot was “Goose Spit Park”, a narrow coastal park with a sandy beach, and walking trails. During the day there were picnics, sandcastles, and folks digging for horse clams.

And during our visit, we just so happened to walk in to the 32nd annual Father’s Day kite flying competition. A family fun event with sign up sheets and prizes to be won.

At night, with plenty of pull up parking to stop your car by the water, “Goose Spit” made for a great place to watch the sun set from.

But for a view of the valley from above, we drove the “Mazda CX-5” up Mount Washington. We sadly didn’t make it in time for the sunset, but did catch a few streaks of colour in the sky.

On the way up the mountain we caught glimpses of deer, but sadly none of the marmots that the caution signs told us to watch out for.

We were too early in the season for their new chairlift, however those visiting the Comox Valley area now will be able to take a ride up and down for spectacular views.

In short, there is plenty to see and do in Comox. So Seafood Festival or not, they are definitely worth your vacationing consideration. And thanks to the “Mazda CX-5” we got to enjoy it all, and in full during our stay.




Mazda CX-5 Gran Touring review

Given the unpredictable weather of Vancouver in winter, I find driving around in an SUV most comforting. The raised view and the secure feeling of being behind a larger cabin puts the mind at easy, which has you only worrying about everyone else on the road. However, I am more partial to the easier maneuvering of a sedan. So the Mazda CX-5 Gran Touring, a mid size cross over is the perfect blend of both worlds. And for this 2017 edition, Mazda has made a few changes, improving this year’s model overall.

Starting with the exterior, they have redesigned the front grill, lowered the headlights and fog lights, and pushed back the A-pillar; the result is a wider looking profile with more appeal, when compared to its predecessor. And as we know, how we look behind the wheel is just as important as how we feel behind it.

As for the interior, everything you see and touch is new, using high quality materials. With top notch fits and finishes, it reminded my partner of an Audi in design, but keeping with the Mazda nuisances. Overall it looked fantastic, “truly a class above his competitors”, he declared. Elegant when coupled with the fact that the cabin is practically sound proof. You are able to disconnect and enjoy a smooth ride given how peaceful it is within the cabin while driving. A nice benefit when dealing with sloshing water raining down, and the gridiron screeches and honks.

Since this GT model is at the top of its line it comes equipped with many bells and whistles. The power driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure-warning and lane-keeping-assist system, automatic headlights, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, premium audio, and a navigation system. Pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Every modern amenity you have grown accustom to and look for in a new vehicle purchase, plus a few more to have you feeling like you have been missing out. You don’t have to worry about turning on your head lights or flicking your wipers on with the first drop of rain. To have a more intuitive car, has us one step closer to self-driving vehicle.

Under the hood, the CX-5 is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5L inline four, producing 187hp, and mated to a 6 speeds automatic transmission. The torque is mostly distributed to the front wheel, but up to 50% of the power goes to the rear when needed; making the cross over capable in all weathers and all terrains. A car you get drive in all seasons.

The chassis is 15 percent stiffer than its predecessor, and thanks to some other tweaks to it and the steering rack; you get a precise and rewarding feedback from your steering, while not sacrificing on the comfort of your ride. Great for long distance drives or ones where you are in a stand still with construction.

In conclusion the Mazda CX-5 is a very enjoyable SUV to drive, with great exterior styling and a quiet interior. Both halves bestow the driver with a sense of luxury, along with all the tech and safety features, to make it one of the best in its class. Thanks for the opportunity Mazda, this was drive to remember.



Mazda 6 GT review

This week we got to put some mileage on the beautiful Mazda 6 GT. It is easily the prettiest mid size sedan on market in my partner’s opinion. He believes that once again the designers at Mazda have nailed it. It is aggressive in a subtle way, and easy on the eyes with its curvature.

We tested out the GT (Grand Touring) version, which came with bunch of standard features. This included a head-up display, LED grill lighting, a six-way power passenger seat, driver’s seat memory, and paddle shifters. All this and a full suite of active safety gives you the bells and whistles package. It has features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, and automatic emergency braking. All the above, help to raise the driving experience and our safety to new heights.

The interior was as alluring as the Mazda CX-9’s, which we had the chance to drive few months back. It came equipped with beautiful nappa leather-trimmed upholstery, heating for the steering wheel and the rear seats, a black headliner, bright finish interior trim, and LED accent lighting for the shifter. All together it made for a chic ride.

And the fuel economy is superb. We were averaging 9.7L/100km, and were expecting to spend a lot more on gas due to the size of the vehicle; seeing as usually a bigger car means more weight to carry around, however this was not the case. It was surprisingly as good on fuel, if not better than the Mazda 3 we had few weeks back.

Powertrain wise the Mazda 6’s only engine option is a 2.5L. There isn’t a V6 or turbocharged option available, but the little 4 cylinder makes 185hp and 184pounds of torque, and it felt faster than any 185hp we have tried. To be honest, most competitors in its class have more powerful engines, but put the Mazda 6 in sport mode and ditch the automatic lever for the paddle shifter, and you end up with a vehicle that is very capable and very enjoyable to drive. There is plenty of fun to be had with the 6’s sporty suspension. With it you have less body rolling and improved cornering control. Coupled with great steering feed back. Such sporty suspensions are usually hard to find on mid size sedan, as we understand that most people would prefer a softer and more quiet ride. However for those who enjoy driving and can be considered car enthusiasts, this is more than just an A to B transportation apparatus. All these little intrinsic touches would have my parter choosing a Mazda over their competitors.

With all that said, he gives the Mazda 6 GT a big thumbs up! Thanks Mazda for the test drive. Looking forward to the next one.


Mazda CX-3 Review

This week we had the pleasure of test driving the 2017 Mazda CX-3, which falls into the subcompact crossover class of vehicles. For both my partner and I, this was a first.

Its exterior styling was guided by “KODO, the Soul Of Motion” philosophy. Where Mazda designers sculpted the CX-3 with well‑balanced proportions. And like the other vehicles in the 2017 mazda line up, the front end is defined by its long and aggressive look.

Comparing the interior, it was very similar to the Mazda 3, that we had a few weeks back. Except that it came with an extra pedal. For those unfamiliar, this was the clutch on their 6speed manual transmission. My partner was excited to drive a manual car since most of the modern vehicles we have been steering lately have been automatic. He appreciated a taste of analog, where modern connivence has replaced many with their digital counterparts. I used this as a good opportunity to brush up on my manual driving skills.

As expected the short wheelbase and Mazda’s well designed chassis made this little car handle more like a kart. We found it easy to zip around town with. And the SKYACTIV-G 2.0L engine produces 146hp, which is class-leading in fuel economy. So naturally it was good on gas, making it ideal for longer drivers and road trips. That and the fact it is surprisingly quiet at higher speeds. This was a treat and a great way to flex your driving muscle.

Once again thanks to Mazda Canada for giving us the opportunity to try their line of little road monsters, it has really opened our eyes, giving us a finer appreciation for the brand.

Mazda 3 Sport GT Review

This week Mazda gave us a chance to test drive their Mazda 3 Sport GT. The 2017 model most noticeably has been updated with some styling tweaks at its front and rear end. This includes sharper lines, and LED head and tail lights. They have also added a g-vectoring feature; which in layman’ terms, is smart program that matches the engine’s power to the steering’s input for improved handling by the driver.

This GT model also comes with a Skyactiv-G 2.5L engine, making the fuel economy better than what we expected. This model in particular also has a 6speed automatic transmission. We were surprised at the push back that this little hatchback had. It was quick and peppy, yet smooth in its transmission shifts when on sport mode. That and the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel made it almost feel like you are driving a sport car. A luxury for many of us and the closest most of us would ever get to being behind a real race car. I know it had me amused.

Given the above, the handling was superb, as expected. The vehicle was nimble. Easy to navigate on busy streets, and charming to drive on those twisty and windy roads. The car had an odd light, yet dense and stable feeling; all at the same time. A good mix, making for an enjoyable ride.

The hatchback and 4 doors configuration the Mazda 3 Sport makes it particularly practical for everyday driving. There is plenty of cargo space when the rear seats are folded down. And it great to sit in for an extended time (say in rush hours traffic), given how nice the interior us set up. For example, the joystick and a few buttons on the center console makes it easy to navigate the center display screen.

We were hoping it wouldnt be too much of a downgrade compared to the CX-9 that we tested a couple of weeks before, but we would be mistaken in our preconceived perception. In truth this smaller car had many features that resembled the CX-9. They handled similarly and both were fun to drive, easy to park, and cheap on gas. The hallmarks of a great daily driver. Thanks Mazda for the opportunity, looking forward to the next one.



Mazda CX-9 Review

Over the past week my partner and I have had the pleasure of test driving the “2017 Mazda CX-9”, utilizing it as our daily driver. We ran errands with it, drove it to work, and took cruises up and down the sea to sky highway with it. All to get a good assessment of how it handled and if we could imagine it in our own lives.

In truth, we have tested a few cars prior, and this is the one he was most excited about upon picking it up. And I tend to believe him when it comes to anything automobile related, seeing as his works with various makes and models and they are his passion and expertise. So this review is written heavily in my description of his interpretation.

He described the body of the car as being “Sleek, modern and menacing looking”, “like an angry animal ready to be unleash in the wild”. Apparently all these are great attributes to have for a vehicle to cruise around on the streets with. I unfortunately couldn’t see it. He especially loved the “CX-9’s” “beautiful 20inch wheels”, claiming that are “hard not to notice”. And as any car guy can tell you, how you look in the car is just as important as how it drives.

Although it was the interior with its beige leather seats and wood detailing that had him looking to me with puppy dog eyes asking “can we keep it?” For him the interior was “flawless”, a big compliment for someone who spends his entire day working on cars, and his down time looking at and talking about cars. He described it as “something you would expect from a luxury brand SUV at double the price”. Whereas here everything is within easy reaching distance, designed for the driver’s comfort and their convenience in mind. All wrapped in a modern and chic package. Although we did not make use of the second and third rows of seats, the latter made the “Mazda CX-9” highly practical for those with larger families. Especially if they are planning road trips or need to move, as it has plenty of cargo space, with easy to store seats.

It was only missing one thing on his must have checklist: cooling seats. Although the seats did heat to warm, and with individual knobs you and your driver side passenger are able to have the temperature set just as you want it. He liked the air conditioning to blow at him, and to be directed at his feet. Whereas I want to be submerged in the cooling effects of air conditioning, but not have it aimed directly at me, and typically at a much lower setting. This way we weren’t fighting, but got to have it just as we liked it. In my opinion this is a must for a happy relationship and when considering a lengthy road trip.

As for the engine and the way it handles, he only continued his parade of praise. “Don’t be fooled by the “CX-9’s” smaller 4cylinder turbo engine” he warned. Although the competitors in its class have themselves bigger v6 engines, what keeps “Mazda” in the running is their “skyactiv” technology. He declared that it “is no joke!” Equipped with 310foot pounds of torque, the power delivery is smooth, with plenty of low to mid range power produced by its turbocharger. All this and it still has the best fuel economy in its class.

He especially appreciated the “growl” coming from the engine, each time he put his foot down on the accelerator’s pedal. And with the extra luxury of sound deadening technology in the cabin it really doesn’t sound all that loud, an added feature since this “CX-9’s” predecessor. In fact with all the windows closed you don’t hear much of any of the traffic and noise coming from outside. Ideal for those who appreciate crisp music quality from their satellite radio.

The ride is smooth thanks to how low the suv sits, compare to some of its competitor’s. The result, no need to lower it yourself for that aesthetic, and the vehicle is a lot more planted on the road. This smooth drive is furthered by a sharper steering response, which makes it feels more like you are driving a sedan than a full size 7 seater SUV.

In conclusion he found it very hard to find any flaws to this vehicle. And he did try, so for that, he and I say “well done Mazda!” and thanks for the sweet ride. When can we have it again?

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