Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Vancouver Island’

The “Point” revisited

Our previous visit to Point No Point Resort was the topic of one of my posts when the blog was still in very early days.

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So for sentimental reasons I felt it made sense to tell you about this visit too.

Click here to see my original visit

The restaurant at Point No Point is a popular “Sunday Drive” type location for lunch and is always full.  But the Chef and I found ourselves both with a Wednesday afternoon off and a beautiful day, so we thought why not take a drive out and grab some lunch!

Boy were we surprised to find at 2:30 in the afternoon on a nondescript Wednesday in September that the parking lot would be full!  So much so that we had to park precariously by the side of the road.

It is about an hours drive to downtown Victoria and a good forty-five minutes to other restaurants and we were starving by the time we arrived, so turning back didn’t really seem an option.  And then they told us it would be a twenty-minute wait!   What on earth??

But luckily it didn’t seem to take all that long to get seated.   Another great table, right by the window, looking out to the Juan de Fuca Straight, the Olympic Mountains and the open Pacific Ocean off to the West.

Perfect!

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There is a fairly limited menu for lunch but that’s fine because then you don’t spend too much time tormenting over what to get.

Today we made it simple and ordered two of everything!

We started with the soup of the day.  A wonderfully delicious, velvety, curried chicken soup topped with toasted shaved almonds.  Served with fresh-baked bread and butter.

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Then we both had the Croque Monsieur
grilled emmental and ham with caramelized onions on shredded wheat molasses bread with a side of grainy dijon aioli, served with fresh garden salad.

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It was a perfectly satisfying and comforting lunch.

Along with the spectacular view, it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon!

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The Circle of Life

On the weekend The Chef and I took a drive out to Goldstream Park just outside of Victoria, here in British Columbia.

It is very popular this time of year because it is the “Salmon Run“.

You hear about this phenomenon all the time, but until you actually see it in person, it is hard to grasp what it is all about!

The salmon some how find their way back, from where ever they have been, to the spot where they were born.

The swim against currents, rocks and frankly all odds, just to spawn and then die.

What is up with THAT??

So many questions.

The thing you notice the most as you approach the stream is…..well…..the smell.

I remember the first time, before I lived here and was just visiting, a new friend took me out there to show me what was going on.  As we approached even from the highway you could smell it!  Putrid dead fish smell.  It was overwhelming.

And then when you get right up to the stream, there are dead carcases everywhere and the seagulls and even the eagles are having a field day tearing at the newly deceased.

But then if you look closely, into the what seems like very shallow water for this kind of activity, you will see these big salmon, all lined up, like airplanes on the tarmac waiting to take off.

They line up, waiting for their turn to somehow get “up” the stream.   They are all blotchy from where their scales have been scraped off as they have portaged themselves over the sharp rocks.

They just keep at it, till they get there.

But where?

I’ll admit, it is troubling to see.  But it is nature, the circle of life.

So next time you eat some salmon, that isn’t farmed salmon, give thanks for the sacrifices made for your meal.  Not just from the salmon you are about to eat, but for all the ancestors that came before.

Road side surprise

This past weekend the Chef and I headed “up island”  ( that’s what they call pretty much anywhere that isn’t Victoria, or more North than where ever you happened to live on the island!) to do a little family visiting.

We usually only make one stop on the way, to get gas at the place where it is always cheaper and to get a coffee at Tim Hortons  ( for my non Canadian friends, that is an essential part of Canadian culture!).   But due to timing and what have you, we found ourself needing to stop for a meal of some sort.

We didn’t want to venture too far off the highway and lose too much time, so we pulled over into a strip mall in the city of Nanaimo.  There were a few choices that seem to have sprouted up in most mall parking lots across the land, but we settled on a place called “Original Joe’s“.

I have seen one in a local mall parking lot, but it had never come up for us to have a chance to try it.

We were very pleasantly surprised.  We were expecting your typical parking lot style family restaurant or roadhouse type thing but it was much more inviting.

They had a simple, but nice menu and we both very much enjoyed our choices!

The Chef is very partial to a place called J & L Drive-IN in Port Alberni.  He loves it cause you can get a hot dog ON your hamburger!!

So imagine his delight when he found a similar product at Original Joe’s!!  Only this one came with a fancy sausage of some kind and two delicious sides, garlic roasted mash potato, topped with crispy onions and a tasty Caesar salad.

Big burger

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I got the fish tacos, a dish I have recently become quite fond of and these ones did NOT disappoint.  Full of fresh toppings and a nice side salad.  I was very pleased.

Fish tacos

And then the Chef ordered something called “chocolate therapy”.  It was an ooy gooy moulton chocolate cake type thing with chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream.  I tried to take a picture but it didn’t work so well….too  decedant for even the camera!!

“Chocolate Therapy”

So if you find yourself in need of a bite and you see an Original Joe’s, give it a try.

Ulla La

This last week The Chef and I had the opportunity to go to Victoria, BC restaurant Ulla.

Ulla caught my attention when it was voted one of the “Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada for 2011 by Enroute Magazine ( Air Canada’s in flight Magazine)

I can’t even really tell you when exactly it opened, but I know it is still considered a fairly “new” restaurant in town. 

Unfortunately like most places these days, restaurants seem to come and go before you even get a chance to try them, but I’d only heard good things about Ulla so I thought we best get at it.

I really liked the vibe upon entering.  It is kind of trendy but not too hipster.  I’d say it seats about 40 depending on the configuration.  But I liked that it was spacious enough that you didn’t feel like you were in everybodie’s business.

Rumour has it, the menu changes frequently because they are really on board with the currently popular practice of eating seasonally and locally.  Both things I am all for!

I’ve had many reports about the polenta fries with truffle mayonnaise.  So we decided to jump in with that right away.

Polenta with truffle mayo

They are actually more of a polenta square but regardless of their shape, they are delicious and I could easily just sit down to a glass of wine and a few plates of those and be very content!

With that we also got the salad of beets, yogurt cream, apple jelly, almond crisp, citrus puree, raspberry vinaigrette.

Beet salad

I really liked this.  So many interesting tastes and textures.

Then it was time for our main courses.

The Chef ordered the short rib steak, mushroom and veal cannelloni, poached endive, crunchy cipollini onions, red wine jus.   Which he very much enjoyed.

Short ribs with veal cannelloni

I ordered the lamb four ways; leg, sausage, lacquered press, bacon, cipollini,  turnip, French beans,herb puree, lamb jus.

The plate was beautiful and I wanted to love it.  I started right away with the little squares of lamb bacon, but I found them desperately salty and gave them away to the Chef.  But I thought that it was just because it was, you know, bacon.

Lamb four ways

But then I went on to the other three lamb products and regret to report that I found them all way too salty for my taste.  But in their defence, the Chef is always accusing me of “under seasoning”.  I cook with too much salt myself so perhaps it is just my palette.

The texture of lamb was wonderful melt in your mouth and all of the vegetable products were superb.   So don’t let my saltiness put you off.

Then then we ordered dessert.  We usually “share” because I don’t care for too much sweet but then it usually leads to someone feeling unsatisfied with their portion.  And then we were going to each order something different and try each others, but no one wanted to be the one who didn’t order the chocolate thing.  So be BOTH ordered the chocolate cake, rice crispy crunch, dulce de leche cream, aerated chocolate, chocolate soil.  Why ruin a perfectly lovely evening with chocolate envy??

Over all it was a very enjoyable meal and evening in general.  

If you live here and haven’t gone, I’d recommend trying it.   If you don’t live here and find yourself in town, it’s worth the trip!

Rifflandia

This weekend was the fourth installment of the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria BC

Check out this link if you would like a closer look:  Click here

But this is what I really was interested in, the food vendors!   Click here  to see a little bit about those!

What was really nice is that they were all selling more or less healthy fare, I didn’t see a hot dog in site!  And there wasn’t even a whiff of that deep fried “Carnival smell” anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, the Carnival smell has it’s place in the world too, but in Victoria where it is pretty “groovy” people love the healthy stuff.

Rifflandia music festival

Now I have to admit that I was a little spoiled at this event because I “know a guy” and had the extreme privilege to spend my time in the VIP area.  Which was pretty much like being at any other part of the festival except there were couches, snacks and our own private food concession!  And no line ups for beer!

View into VIP tent

Hipsters in the VIP tent

The snacks were very nice.

VIP snacks at Rifflandia

The snacks were from Charelli’s Cheese Shop and The Whole Beast Charcuterie.

Food at Rifflandia

I had the most wonderful roast pork Panini from The Whole Beast.  It was the best grilled cheese with meat I can remember having in a long time!

It was so good that I gobbled it up and totally forgot to take a picture!

People were loving the snacks!

People enjoying snacks at Rifflandia

This has absolutely nothing to do with food but I just thought it was so cute and a perfect example of just how “groovy” Victoria is!   An ATM in a hippie van!!

Hippie van ATM

Oh yes, I nearly forgot!   I did eventually make it out of the snack tent!   The music was really great too!  Can’t wait till next year!!!

Rifflandia

A Day on Salt Spring Island Part 2

After lunch we did the town wander.

There are a multitude of art galleries and interesting shops and all sorts of activities.

Big mobile whirling sculpture thingy

View of the marina

View of the harbour

And there is quite a selection of restaurants as well.

So after we saw all that we could see in town, we headed out into the country side in search of other things to eat.

Salt Spring Island boasts several wineries and is famous for lamb and cheese.

Lamb Farm

I guess if there was ever any sort of trouble, they would do pretty well at sustaining themselves there for awhile.

In FACT, Salt Spring Island has what’s called a “seed sanctuary” .  Which is this place that collects all sorts of seeds, so that if something should ever happen, you know, like an “end of the world” type scenario, then they could start over and be able to grow things again.

If you are interested further in this topic,  check out a documentary called “Hijacked Future”  ( click here to get info on this ).

Then we decided to make the trek up Mount Maxwell  (  click here to check it out ).  Well, in the car anyway.  I would recommend if you are going to do this, that you have some sort of 4 x 4 or sport utility vehicle because honestly, that road is the worst!  But the view at the top is quite spectacular.

View from Mount Maxwell

Looking over to Vancouver Island from Mount Maxwell

Finally it was time to head back to catch our ferry.  

What’s strange about the ferry from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island is that you pay to get there but you don’t have to pay to leave.  Strange really.

So we wanted to get down to the dock early enough because this ferry isn’t very big and the last one leaves fairly early.

We arrived at Fulford Harbour and found our place in the line up, parked the car and went to look for something to eat.  It had been hours after all!

There is an interesting little area around the ferry terminal with little shops and restaurants.

There is this one really groovy place that sells all kinds of super healthy stuff including books about healthy eating and enviromental type topics.

Groovy cafe

Groovy cafe

Regrettably we didn’t go there.

Instead we went next door to the other place.

Now, anyone who knows the Chef and I, knows that we are pretty good eaters and are pretty open minded about what we will eat and are always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But I gotta tell you, we had some of the worst food that I have ever had in a restaurant in my life!  I mean, we ate it, because we were starving, but it was just awful.

Regrettable food

 Now, maybe they were just having a bad day but I don’t really see how these things could have been any better.  I normally wouldn’t bother saying anything, but they really do have a captive audience at this place so they really need to step up their game.

We ordered a couple of appetizers.  The first item sounded wonderful, some lamb meat balls with a mango dipping sauce. Sounded great and what with lamb being a local favorite, how could you go wrong?  Unfortunately were dry and tasted odd and came with a weird piece of grilled baguette and random loose lettuce.  Perhaps they wanted you to construct your own meatball sandwich?

The second item we ordered was some sort of baked chicken tortilla thing.   I take it back, this one we couldn’t really eat.  It had unfortunate bits of yellow squash and tasteless chicken and then topped with an even more tasteless sauce and then obviously microwaved to death because the tortillas themselves had gone to mush.   Disappointing wouldn’t even begin to describe this one.    Boo!

So please, when leaving Salt Spring Island, I suggest you skip this one.  Bring your own snacks from town!

Finally we boarded the ferry and sailed away.

Sun setting on Fulford Harbour

Pulling away from the dock

Heading back to Vancouver Island

The sun setting on Mount Baker

A day well spent.

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A Day on Salt Spring Island Part I

There are plenty of islands round these parts, in fact, we live on an island ourselves!  That’s why sometimes it’s nice to go and visit some of the others.

Heading out to Salt Spring Island

It’s about a 35 minute ferry ride from our island to theirs.  And a pleasant one it is.   

View of Mount Baker off in the distance

There are lots of things to see and do on Salt Spring  ( click here to check it out ) but we were particularly interested in checking out the Saturday downtown market with its promise of nice things to see and eat!

So we arrived on the island and headed downtown.

Going down town Salt Spring Island

We decided to check out the market first because it finishes at 2:00 or maybe 3:00.

Bunches of GarlicSomething for everyone

Famous Salt Spring Goat Cheese

Needless to say, after looking at all this food we were getting starving so it was time to pop into a dockside cafe for a bite to eat.

A dock side cafe

Girls on a dock

The Chef and I ordered a couple of sandwiches.

Smoke Turkey, Provolone, pesto and veg on Ciabatta with coleslaw

The Chef got the smoked turkey and I got Chicken Salad.

Chicken salad with pumpkin seeds, craisins on a croissant with potato salad

My sandwich was very tasty but the potato salad was very dull I’m afraid.  Which reminds me that I have a nice recipe for potato salad that I must share with you some time.

After lunch we walked around town a little more.

 

 

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