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
Technically, a fruit has to contain its seeds to further propagation. We typically consider fruit to be sweeter than vegetables, although tomatoes, pumpkins, and zucchini are also fruit. As are those weird little maple “helicopters”.
Which are edible, by the way, so if you’re excited to try something new…
Tomatoes are high in Vitamin C and Beta Carotene (Vitamin A). According to one article, even better for you then apples! I haven’t compared apples and tomatoes myself, but I can agree with what they say about heirloom varieties. I have one of those growing in my garden right now and it is producing the most deep red fruited tomatoes that I’ve ever seen.
Tomatoes are savoury rather than sweet, so when we cook with it we consider it a vegetable. It tastes amazing with other typical savoury foods, like cheese, meet, and herbs. But it works surprisingly well with other fruit as well. I've got a salad in my brain that I'll be sharing with my private members group next Friday. Come join us! We'd love to have you.
This week I tried grilling grape tomatoes with gruyere cheese and fresh basil. While I enjoyed the taste, it lacked the “zoom” I was looking for- perhaps this week you can play with similar flavours and come up with your own new recipe.
All the best this week, friends.
A few weeks ago I posted about why I like to use romaine lettuce in a different way than just a salad- and this is true of swiss chard, too. I really enjoy my weekly test kitchen because it challenges me to think about food in a different way than I usually do.
This summer I’ve used swiss chard as a topping for my burgers, in a salad, sliced up and cooked into a Vietnamese Noodle Soup, and now as a rolled appetizer, stuffed with strawberries and fresh cheese, and served with a balsamic reduction for dipping.
I know it may sound complicated to try new things. It can be scary, and maybe (like I used to be) you’re a little bit worried it won’t turn out and you’ll be wasting food by throwing it away.
While that IS a possibility, I would like to pose another perspective: trying something new is never a waste, even if you have to throw it away (and that’s a rare occasion!)
Most of the time the finished outcome will not be so bad it has to be tossed, and consider the alternate outcome- you may discover something new you love!
When testing my swiss chard appetizers, I started small, making just 2- one for my husband to try, and one for me. Both of us enjoyed them, so I plated a few and brought them to a family event so I could test them on other people too.
The overwhelming consensus was “these are really good”. And if they weren’t good? I would have known before I made a bunch and brought them to the party because I started with just 2. A few ingredients and a little time means it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out.
Here are a couple of ways to introduce something new to your cooking repertoire:
Hopefully you’ve got some interesting ideas cooking up in your head now! Enjoy your day, friends.
We’re using Nasturtiums in our house this week to help make our food taste good and look pretty, but the question that I hear from people is “why?” What difference does it make HOW your food looks? Isn’t taste the important part?
Well, sure. Taste is a HUGE part of your meals. But it is not the only consideration.
Something as plain and simple as a bowl of oatmeal can look appetizing or unappetizing, depending on how you dress it up. If my kids finally eat oatmeal, I know it’s going to be because it looks like it might taste good. There’s no way they’d be willing to try a bowl with oatmeal just slopped into it. But if I top it with some delicious blueberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted pecans, and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup, I’m almost willing to bet at least one of them would be willing to give it a try. And of course, my ultimate goal is to get both of them eating it.
There are differences of opinion, of course. This is strictly mine. But I find it a fun experiment to play with in our home. My oldest son in particular appreciates how good a food looks before he tells me how it tastes.
Think about the presentation between McDonalds and The Canadian Brewhouse. Both places serve burgers. But one is wrapped sloppily in a paper wrapper or cardboard box with fries spilling out of their wrapper on a plastic tray, and the other is plated nicely with a gently arranged salad or interestingly wrapped fries. They even have their signature Canadian Flag toothpick stuck into the top of the burger. You know which one looks more appealing and which one you’d rather eat, right? Most of the time the difference in price is overlooked because the perceived value is higher, in part due to how it looks when presented.
The next time you serve dinner, consider plating it in a way that makes it look visually appealing. You might be surprised at what your picky people are willing to try if it looks nice.
For an interesting article about this with more viewpoints and discussion, click here.
Have a great day, friends! If you haven't started following me on Facebook yet, please hop over there and "like" my page. I post interesting food and nutrition stuff on a regular basis and I'd hate you to miss out on my test kitchen recipes each Friday!