After breakfast at our air bnb we joined in a Historical Food Tour (with samples!), starting at Victoria Public Market. It was so great! There will be more details about this in a future blog post. Suffice it to say if you enjoy sampling local food and hearing stories from the purveyors, this is an activity you want to take in.
For lunch we wandered up to the Irish Times Pub. I ordered a lamb burger with a side house salad while Mike ordered the Times Cheese Burger with an Irish Flight of beer. We sat outside under a big red umbrella and enjoyed the activity going on all around us. For dessert we shared a Guinness Chocolate Brownie.
The lamb burger was delicious. I wasn’t sure if the apple chutney would be too sweet for the burger but it was, in fact, a perfect complement, even though it was a bit messy and "slidey"- it kept sliding out of the bun. And I highly recommend their house salad. If you’re going for beer, the Smithwick’s Red Ale was the right pairing with the lamb burger out of those 4 beers.
Mike enjoyed his Cheese Burger but it was the different kinds of beer that he enjoyed sampling the most.
Dessert was another story, however. We were rather disappointed and didn’t even finish it. The brownie was good, absolutely, but the whiskey toffee sauce was so granular it felt like we were biting into chopped up sugar cubes, and there was so much of it (the sauce) there was no real way to avoid it. It could have been amazing, but it wasn’t.
This was our actual 20th anniversary, and we enjoyed some time walking along Willows Beach. I think I could stay there forever- in fact, I found my next house- just $2.5M! It’s going to take a little time to save for that, right? I would love to live right there on the beach and have that kind of day every day. Who’s with me?
For our anniversary dinner we enjoyed dinner at “Lure”, the Delta Ocean Pointe hotel in-house restaurant. The view from the windows was amazing, the staff attentive, and the tables large enough that none of us felt crowded in. We were able to watch the float planes fly in and see Victoria from an angle we don’t normally see it from.
We shared a starter of mussels with my brother and his family and I ordered the Columbia River Steelhead. What caught my attention (besides the fact that steelhead trout is my favourite fish) was the bacon jam and duck-fat roasted potatoes it came with. Mike ordered (halibut) fish and chips. For dessert we shared an ice-cream sandwich.
The mussels were delicious and the broth spicy. There wasn’t enough bread to soak it all up with though, and they happily provided more so that none of that goodness went to waste. It’s definitely a starter dish meant to be shared as there was a lot served.
Yes to the Steelhead! It came with corn succotash which was ok, and the duck-fat potatoes were nothing to write home about (I like my roasted potatoes way more, in fact). But the trout was cooked perfectly, a lovely crispy crust even, and the dollop of bacon jam was to die for. I actually put it on my list (well, my husband’s) to learn how to make.
Mike thought the fish and chips were good. They would satisfy anyone who doesn’t like a “fishy” fish because Halibut is nice and mild. It was cooked beautifully, not overdone and dry, and the fries were good as well.
I think we’d both say “no” to the ice cream sandwich again. I fully appreciated the level of imagination that went into creating it, but the cookie was so rock hard it was difficult to actually get a piece of cookie to eat with the ice cream, and I didn’t fall in love with the flavour or texture. I actually think I would have preferred the cookies my nephew and niece got to enjoy after their dinners instead.
Our last day of Island Life was spent wandering the beach in Gonzales Bay. We even got to see a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish that had washed up on shore. My absolute favourite thing about Vancouver Island is hanging out with the ocean. There is something magical about how the water pulls away anything negative and just replaces it with calm. I will always love the ocean- I'm pretty sure it's in my blood.
For lunch we returned to Bin 4. This time I ordered the “Chicken of the Sea” with house potato chips and Mike ordered the Pre-Season Favourite and fries. We ate at the location that’s right in Victoria. Same great service and food as the other we visited our first night.
Oh, for all that is wonderful and good, eat the Ahi tuna burger. It was so fresh, flavourful, and satisfying. I think I will probably go back to eat that burger every time we go to Victoria: it was that good.
My husband knew exactly what he’d order because he tasted my leftovers our first night there, and he was just as impressed with the Pre-Season Favourite hot and fresh as he was when it was day 2 leftovers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my food adventures as much as I enjoyed eating and experiencing them myself. If you head to the Island, be sure to drop me a line and let me know where you ate and what you ate- and what you thought about it!
Next time I post I will tell you about some of the fun stuff you can do in Victoria. Until then, ciao, friends.
My husband and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage this year. We took a week off from real life to head to Vancouver Island to celebrate and to jump start some new creative thinking for my cooking.
Our host city was Victoria, British Columbia. We opted to stay in an air bnb because I wanted the option of an entire suite with a working kitchen. My goal for our journey was to enjoy as much fresh seafood as possible. Living in landlocked Alberta, fresh fish isn't something we see often.
We wanted to eat out and enjoy food from places we haven’t been to before, but also do a good amount of cooking at our home for the week- breakfast and lunches for the most part, but a dinner or 2 as well. We also planned on eating in with family since they live in that beautiful city and surrounding area.
I thought it would be fun to document our food journey so that the next time YOU are in Victoria, BC, you will have some suggestions on what to eat and where.
On our day of arrival, tired from travel, we opted to eat out. All we ate for breakfast and lunch before boarding was a handful of nuts, so by the time we arrived, rented our car, and hit the road we were seriously hungry. The first place google maps suggested was closest to the airport- about a 90 second drive or something- called The Spitfire Grill. Mike ordered the West Coast Tacos and I ordered the Blackened Sockeye Salmon Sandwich, which we then divided and shared. This way we both got to try both menu items.
The Sockeye Sandwich was amazing, and that’s all I have to say about that. There was just enough blackening seasoning to complement- NOT overwhelm with too much spice. It was filling, flavourful, stuffed full of goodness.
The Tacos were good, but not really lunch sized. An order comprised of 3 tacos, and they weren’t very big. The corn tortillas were delicious and I suspect freshly made. They were topped with mostly baby greens and a little bit of mango and fish (Alaskan Halibut). If I had to choose again I’d order the sandwich for sure, and so would my husband.
Our hostess at the Air bnb, Marianne, suggested Bin 4 for dinner. They are known for their gourmet burgers- from bison, ahi tuna, chicken, and lots of beef. Almost anything you can imagine topping these burgers, and completely customizable. Mike ordered The Dirty Bourbon with a side of red onion rings. I ordered the Pre-Season with a side of their seasonal Almond Praline Blue Cheese Salad. We each drank mint lemonade, ordered their house-spiced potato chips as an appetizer, and shared a sour cherry cheesecake for dessert.
The Pre-Season burger was delicious- all the flavours combined to make one seriously tasty and amazing burger. You wouldn’t think that jalapeno guacamole and bruschetta are food matches made in heaven, but they were on this burger. The salad was disappointing, though. Too much blue cheese and praline, and I didn’t even notice the almonds, to the point where I’m not actually sure they were in there.
Mike thought The Dirty Bourbon burger was “ok”- a little too sweet, with some of the flavours a jarring combination. He enjoyed the onion rings and I tried a bite, but to me they were nothing special- onion rings are onion rings, and these didn’t surprise me or wow me. If we were to eat dinner here again, we’d both order that Pre-Season burger, and I’d probably stick to the house salad or fries.
The lemonade was tasty but sweet, and the fresh mint added another layer of flavor which we both enjoyed. The sour cherry cheesecake was rich, decadent with chocolate shaving, and perfect for sharing.
We enjoyed a coffee down at The Nest, a neighborhood coffee shop. Here we got to enjoy the main show- #eclipse2017. Got some great indirect photos of it, too.
The Halibut from Nautical Nellies came highly recommended, so we ordered the Halibut Burger for lunch.
Situated down where Wharf Street meets Broughton, the outdoor patio was a lovely place to eat, with tables situated in both sun and shade.
Yes, order this!
The other halibut choice was fish and chips, and to be honest we’ve already enjoyed some great fish and chips near home. Ordering the burger was the only real choice here.
Both Mike and I ate the same thing. It came topped with lettuce, bacon, and tomato, as well as a balsamic honey vinaigrette. It was a bit sticky and drippy and slightly too salty for everyday enjoyment but worth every bite. The halibut was cooked perfectly.
Sidebar: the only place I’d fly to enjoy fish and chips is Scotland…unfortunately I have no idea where we were when I enjoyed those there.
End Part 1
We drove to Vancouver Island for our family holiday this year. It took 2 days of driving each way, though it could have taken longer- accounting for construction, breaks, rest stops, and filling for gas, one day each direction was about 10.5 hours, and the other around 7. My general maximum time on the road is about 6 hours and then I get cranky.
But arriving on Vancouver Island and spending time soaking up the sun and inhaling the ocean breezes made the travel time worth it. We spent a lot of time on Mount Tolmie. The view was breathtaking all the time, even when it was foggy and grey. Sunsets there were incomparable. Morning coffee was even better with a view like that! Spending time with my brother and sister in law, getting to know my niece and nephew, and watching the kids enjoy the company of their cousins was the icing on the cake.
Unaccountably for me, the planner, we went without a plan. We woke up each morning and decided what we felt like doing that day. A couple of mornings we left the kids at my brother's home and wandered in downtown Victoria along the harbour or browsing shops for a couple of hours. We had coffee on Tolmie a few times. We took the boys to Port Angeles, WA for the day, and were gifted a Whale Watching tour for another. We saw 3 humpback whales, but no orcas.
We visited with old friends, enjoyed a meal and a few hours at and around Fisherman's Wharf, went fossil hunting, spent some time at Oak Bay Marina, and caught Pokemon everywhere we went. A few hours were spent at Beacon Hill Park, and while we ate our share of the usual fast food, we also enjoyed unique meals at places we haven't been before, such as West Coast Waffles.
I even shared an oyster with my husband at Smugglers Landing in Port Angeles. It wasn't as bad as I expected...but I'm not sure it's something I must eat again.
We earned our keep by helping out with groceries, cooking a few meals, giving my brother and his wife a couple of nights out by babysitting, and helping out with their dog. One morning we spent a couple of hours blackberry picking- that was an eye-opening experience. Those bushes are deadly! But it gave me an opportunity to do some #testkitchen #recipedevelopment while I was gone, and I developed a blackberry and maple pudding recipe just for my newsletter subscribers. I recreated it at home with raspberries, because I couldn't find blackberries. At least it's versatile! If you want in on that, I'd be happy to share that recipe with you! Sign up here :)
Our last day away we spent a few hours in Sooke honouring my dad in a ceremony off of Whiffen Spit. He passed away late November of last year and my step mom took the opportunity of all of us being together to set up a really lovely ceremony to say good bye. My dad had always loved the ocean, and it was the perfect place to honour his memory. Whiffen Spit was one of his favourite places to go,and while I'd never been there, I can see why. The kids all enjoyed looking out over the water and tossing stones into the ocean, and it was a really nice walk to get there. I enjoyed meeting family I hadn't met before. It was so good to see my stepbrother and my sister in law, and my stepmom was really happy to have us all together.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into our family holiday! How did you spend your summer vacation?
All the best, friends.
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