Eat magazine november december 2016

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R E S TA U R A N T S | R E C I P E S | W I N E S | F O O D | C U LT U R E


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Notes from the Editor IT’S OFTEN SAID THAT THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART OF THE HOME, AND FOR GOOD REASON. During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I were renovating an historic seaside home in Shelburne, Nova Scotia (about three and half hours down the coast from Halifax). Our goal was to turn the rambling old house into a country inn and restaurant. During that ďŹ rst winter, before the renovations started, we basically camped out in the kitchen because the only heating in the house was an antiquated kerosene stove (called a Keymac) in one corner of the large kitchen. As the snow and sleet came in from the frigid Atlantic Ocean, we huddled near the stove making plans for our new inn. We mostly cooked stews and casseroles—nothing fancy but comforting. But by Christmas, we were starting to feel a little lonely and isolated. Then just before New Year's, a bunch of friends and family showed up at our door for the weekend and with lobsters and bottles of wine, it became one of our most memorable parties. Never had our kitchen felt so much like the heart of our home. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



This fall, Blanshard St is where all the action has been. First up, Discovery Coee moved from their previous Blanshard St. location to the corner (1001 Blanshard St.) In their own words: “When given the opportunity to build our dream cafĂŠ, we couldn’t say no. Blanshard street is our forth location 2.0‌ Beautiful ďŹ re treated tables and a U-shaped bar, oor to ceiling windows and backlit skylights, and a partially covered patio to seat 40; we took all the aspects we loved about our previous Blanshard Street location and expanded on them.â€? DISCOVERYCOFFEE.COM


Celebrating 20 Years

Gary Hynes


Visit for news and events from:


Perched above the new Discovery is The Livet (201-804 Broughton St.), which opened in late August, and in October extended their hours and are now also open for lunch. Developed by Graham Meckling (Stage Wine Bar), The Livet is a charcoal grill and raw bar with executive chef Benjamin Berwick at the helm in the kitchen. THELIVET.CA Filling the space at 1011 Blanshard St. is the promise of “fresh handmade falafel, delectably tender shwarma and mouth-watering hummus.� At press time, Yalla Middle Eastern Street Eats is preparing to open. FACEBOOK.COM/LETSGOYALLA

VANCOUVER Word on the street is that the empty space between Yalla and Discovery will soon be a new butcher shop. More details to follow.

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CITY EATS: Also new to Blanshard St. is The Cookie Guy. Taking over the space formerly occupied by Mirage Coffee (1122 Blanshard St.) The Cookie Guy is a bakery café, also offering online ordering for special cookie deliveries around town. THECOOKIEGUY.CA

Empire Donuts has just opened its own storefront at 736 View St. These “simple, humble donuts – not fancy, just classic and heavenly” are also available at various coffee shops around town. They also partner with Cold Comfort on occasion, to make donut ice cream sandwiches. (Keeping track of those occasions is reason enough to follow them both on social media.) EMPIREDONUTS.CA

There has been a recent change in management at The Marina Restaurant. Current manager Darby Houliston has relocated to the Oak Bay Marina Group’s Bahamas property, Cape Santa Maria, as the Operations Manager. Corporate chef Jeff Keenliside has now moved into a new


role of General Manager, Marina Restaurant & Dockside Eatery. The Marina Restaurant has also launched a new sushi menu and a new three-course menu. MARINARESTAURANT.COM The owners of Café Bliss and Be Love are opening a new sister location in Whole Foods Market at Uptown called Bliss Juice. Serving fresh organic juices, smoothies, raw chocolates, cakes, and seasonal raw food salads. Opening day is November 2nd. CAFEBLISS.CA WHOLEFOODSMARKET.COM

Celebrate Swiss Week at Ottavio November 6-10. There will be Swiss cheese samplings all week and discounts on all of their Swiss cheeses for the week. Now is the season when the high alpine cheeses really shine, built on the fresh grasses and herbs in the spring and summer fields. Also, perhaps the best grilled-cheese ever served for the week in the cafe with housemade ketchup. OTTAVIOVICTORIA.COM

Mollusks for the Masses! The Wandering Mollusk Oyster Catering Co. is now offering shucked-to-order oyster platters, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Order your platter ahead of time for freshly shucked bivalves delivered right to your door, or opt to pick up your platter from their Esquimalt location. WANDERINGMOLLUSK.COM Fans of the bivalves may also want to make the trip north for the annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival - a memorable celebration of one of the ocean's most coveted culinary delights, the oyster. As a region,

Clayoquot Sound is a great cultivator and consumer of this special bivalve, annually growing over 50,000 gallons of oysters a year and over the festival weekend slurping back over 8,000. From Nov 18-19, the community of Tofino in beautiful Clayoquot Sound will go to great lengths to honour the humble oyster. OYSTERGALA.COM

Ma s t h e a d FOUNDER & EDITOR


Pacific Island Gourmet CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


If Santa’s Workshop were a bakery, I imagine it would look like the kitchen at the Italian Bakery. During the festive period, the workshop is bustling with activity: Yule logs are crafted using rich German bittersweet chocolate, kirsch butter cream, marzipan detailing and sugar decorations; black forest cakes are made in traditional fashion, but elevated with local, organic, hand-picked cherries brined in liquor syrup for three months; croque-en-bouche is piled high with Chantilly filled creampuffs and bound with thread of caramel and created on request for office gatherings, or Christmas Day’s main event; fresh batches of torrone (nougat) are made with local honey and house roasted nuts; marzipan holiday figurines and English mincemeat tarts delight the palate and fill the display cases with festive décor. ITALIANBAKERYVICTORIA.COM Interested in learning more about wine? The WSET Level 1 Award in Wines course is an introductory course suited to those with a basic knowledge of wine as well as total beginners. There are no pre-requisites to take this course. The Level 1 course focuses on learning the art of wine tasting, pairing food and wine, and covers the characteristics of the major grape varieties. Learn about grape growing and winemaking, serving and cellaring wine, and receive an overview on local wines. Wine tastings included in this oneday course. Nov 27. FINEVINTAGELTD.COM






Tofino Ucluelet, Jen Dart Victoria, Rebecca Baugniet Cowichan Valley-Up Island, Kirsten Tyler CONTRIBUTORS

Larry Arnold Joseph Blake Michelle Bouffard Holly Brooke Adam Cantor Cinda Chavich Jennifer Danter Pam Durkin Mike Hughes Colin Hynes Jose Miguel Mendez Elizabeth Monk Michaela Morris Daisy Orser Elizabeth Nyland Adrian Paradis André Rozon Adrien Sala Shelora Sheldan Rebecca Wellman COVER

Jennifer Danter & André Rozon ADVERTISING DIRECTOR





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The Island Chefs Collaborative and 17 Black Events have announced the 4th annual ICC Christmas Shaker on December 4 – an extraordinary cocktail party with a festive theme, in support of the Island Chefs Collaborative food security initiatives. Hosted by Victoria’s best bartenders and chefs; the 4th annual

event will showcase our city’s award winning cocktail scene and the culinary prowess of talented ICC chefs in our region. Barkeeps from the most celebrated and unique establishments in our community will craft, mix, and shake an exciting variety of both classic and innovative libations for guests to enjoy. Delicious canapés prepared with the finest local ingredients will be served to pair with the tasty concoctions, and live music from The Broken Strings will play throughout the night. This year’s event will be held in the Pier A building at Ogden Point, a captivating space at Victoria’s busy cruise ship terminal. Primarily used as a marine hangar, Pier A will be transformed into an alluring venue to host an intimate and exclusive experience for those in attendance. Tickets are $50 + GST. All of the chefs’ dishes and two drinks are included in the ticket price, as well as nonalcoholic offerings. Additional cocktails, beer, and wine, can be purchased for $3 each. Event tickets are limited and will only be sold in advance. A limited number of group packages are available.







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THE ROOT CELLAR: A LOCAL FOOD EXPERIENCE industry standard of 20% waste, the Root Cellar wastes less than 2% with a well-designed and evolving program of recycling and composting. “We use reduced-price carts regularly to move ripe fruit and vegetables,” Adam explained. “Local chefs are all over these peak-flavour products, and for four years we've donated upwards of 500 pounds of fresh produce each week to the Rainbow Kitchen in Esquimalt for their free meals. Local farmers pickup all the trimmings and left-over produce for animal food and compost, so there is literally no organic waste.”

Owners Phil Lafreniere, Adam Orser and Daisy Orser, in their busy McKenzie Ave store. The Root Cellar is a unique, award-winning food market with a local focus offering products of over 250 Island and B.C. growers and producers. Located at the border of the Blenkinsop Valley's farm community, The Root Cellar's “Farm Fresh, Dirt Cheap” motto embodies only part of the independent green grocer's winning retail philosophy.

Both Adam & Daisy were raised off the land in the Kootenays, where a household root cellar was commonplace. Daisy was raised vegan, and Adam's family were hunters; both lifestyles taught them gratitude for the earth, the farmer and the food source. With deep roots in the interior of BC and an extensive history in the produce industry, many of the couple's longest standing relationships with farmers come from this time. As Daisy explains, “We shared a vision of a locally-focused, sustainable, socially responsible business that we hoped Victorians would support, and are so grateful for our customers continued enthusiasm for what we do.”

THE ROOT CELLAR 1286 MCKENZIE AVE., 250-477-9499, THEROOTCELLAR.COM facebook/instagram: @rootcellar

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“We're in the business of building relationships as much as selling good food,” explained Adam Orser, who started The Root Cellar in February 2008 with his wife Daisy Orser and long-time friend Phil Lafreniere. “Adam and I had three kids,” says Daisy, “including a newborn baby when we opened with eight team members and a 4,500 square foot store. The Root Cellar has now expanded to 10,000 square feet and 90 staff serving 12,000 customers a week with the Island's largest selection of local produce, a full service butcher and deli, an extensive bulk foods department, boutique floral and garden centre, artisanal grocery products and locally baked goods and dairy products." The Root Cellar's 'local focus' philosophy shows their loyalty to local farmers and passion for sustainable agriculture, always buying closest to home, then expanding purchasing geographically. Customers will enjoy their shopping experience as the knowledgeable staff engage and inform them on their food sources and choices, offering insights into sourcing and farming practices, and sharing samples, recipes and selection and preparation tips. A visit to The Root Cellar is frequently complemented by live local music in store, and if you're lucky a 'random act of customer appreciation.' In September, The Root Cellar launched The Dinner Restoration project, a community building collaboration with Dan & Micayla Hayes, owners of The London Chef. The sold-out, 80-seat long table dinner at The Root Cellar was hosted by Daisy & Dan and emphasized our relationship with the time spent shopping for, preparing and enjoying our food. The project will deliver ongoing opportunities that drive value to the food experience, including hands on demonstrations, special events and shopping tours.

Celebrating new ways to support sustainable lifestyles choices also includes The Root Cellar's acclaimed food waste reduction program. Compared to an 9


GETTING AROUND THE MEAT OF THE MATTER AT HOLIDAY TIME On a sunny September afternoon, an enormous flat of freshly foraged chanterelles arrives at the kitchen door of the Acorn vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Thirty-two-year-old Brian Luptak has just stepped up to the plate as head chef, and I’ve popped by to get his take on vegetarian Christmas feasts. We pause, chatting briefly, while Brian fingers the delicate, aromatic fungi, looking as happy as a kid on Christmas morning. “These beauties are from the fellow known as the ‘mushroom wizard,’” he says. “It sure looks like a great foraging season.” Although not a vegetarian himself, Brian delights in creating vegetable-forward dishes, particularly with produce as lovely as these orange-hued chanterelles. Turning once again to our chat, we both agree that

many vegetarians just sidestep the bird (or the beef ) and dig into the add-ons—salad, brussel sprouts, carrots, turnips, parsnips, cranberry sauce—maybe Yorkshire pudding if beef is on the menu. Most hosts, too, are OK with preparing a dressing that is separate from the one stuffed into the turkey. (Brian and I are amused however by the number of vegetarians who can’t resist inching their fingers towards that gravy boat, especially when mashed potatoes are involved.) So what about presenting a delicious, homey dinner where there’s nary a morsel of meat at the table? (Or for folks who can’t abide sprouts and turnips?) Brian knows a thing or two about artfully getting around the meat of the matter, having been involved with Acorn’s Thanksgiving menu. “As a northern Ontario boy who spent time sugar bushing,” he says, “a salad of pumpkin (or squash) with a bourbon/maple dressing, made with top-notch maple syrup, is a great opener.” I’m the last to argue. He also comes up with the idea of nutty sweet sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) soup napped with preserved lemon “for a taste of sunshine in December.” (Mashed sunchokes can also step in for mashed spuds.) The young chef is on a roll. “For a stellar main

course, why not a casserole of cornbread and chestnut stuffing made with roasted, slow-poached chestnuts and seasoned with freshly snipped tarragon and sage, surrounded by dilled carrots and candied squash?” Why not indeed? “For me, though,” grins Brian, “real Christmas comfort food is Gruyere cheesy scalloped potatoes. They are hardly vegan and definitely not the healthiest choice, but they were always part of our family Christmas table, and, well, they’ve just got to stay.” Healthierminded folks may want to opt for hen-of-the woods mushrooms slow-braised in mushroom stock and sprigs of rosemary. And just how do you avoid the gravy indulgence (and possible guilt?). Brian parses his method of making mushroom gravy. “Heavily roast crimini mushrooms CREMINI MUSHROOMS

The cremini mushroom is a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom. Their slightly more mature state means that they have a browner color, firmer texture, and better flavor than the younger white mushrooms. -

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THE ACORN’S “EVERYTHING BUT THE BIRD” First Course: Warm Pumpkin Salad w Bourbon Maple Dressing Mains: Braised Maitake Mushrooms w/ Chestnut Cornbread Stuffing, Roasted Parsnips, Candied Beets, German Butter Potato Gratin & House Gravy Desset: Pumpkin Pie Float w/ Salted Ginger Snap Cookie. -

with mirepoix (diced celery, onions, carrot) until the mixture takes on a nice caramel colour. Add vegetable stock, whisk in a bit of tomato paste and blend until silky smooth.” This is the taste of umami in spades. You can even add finely ground and toasted chickpeas for deep, earthy, meaty and really rich gravy, he says. He makes this no-meat gravy sound so good I want to rush home and make it immediately. For dessert, Brian reprises Acorn’s Thanksgiving pumpkin float. Non-dairy pumpkin ice cream made from cashew cream drifts atop sweet pumpkin soda fashioned from a strained syrup made with the pumpkin’s “innards” (seeds, the stringy stuff and bits of adherent flesh) and sugar dissolved in warm water. The “icing” on the float is a glutenfree ginger snap. I am about to parlay these dishes into my holiday menu(s) when a vegan friend pops by. She is Jewish and chimes in with “Don’t forget latkes for Hanukkah—cauliflower and potato, or sweet potato and cinnamon.” Now, I’m far from vegetarian. However, this year I’m giving Brian’s veg-centric menu (and maybe even those latkes) a whirl. I’ll even let the sprouts and turnips go. But the bird stays.

Get fresh

KIWI MAGIC It’s what’s on the inside that counts. The Internet would like us to know that, if given the chance, kiwis could cure cancer, increase your libido and solve global warming. Given that the Internet’s reliability as an oracle is questionable, let’s evaluate the situation for ourselves. Offering more vitamin C than an orange, more folic acid than strawberries and more potassium than bananas, the kiwi gets a gold star for nutrient density. But did we need to be convinced to eat them? A recent visit with a local, second-generation farmer and kiwi grower has left me oozing kiwi gratitude. An early winter harvest, typically the first two weeks of November, kiwi crops offer our local growers a late-harvest cash flow and our locavores something sensational to complement all of the squash and kale they’ve been eating.

If you’ve ever seen a mature kiwi vine, like the ones at Dan’s Farm in Central Saanich, your inner child will be clawing to get out and build a fort. A kiwi canopy is like a magic kingdom for anyone with a functioning imagination: a series of interconnected domed fortresses made of curling vines and thickly dressed in deep green foliage. Climb inside, trust me you won’t be able to resist, to see a ceiling of furry kiwis hanging from gentle tendrils just tempting you to pluck them. But don’t. Let the kiwi magic develop. Farmer Dan routinely tests sugar levels, only harvesting when they reach eight percent and seeds have gone from white to black, achieved by our cool autumn nights. These local kiwis are then further ripened by spending a few days in a warm room surrounded by apples, allowing the

naturally occurring ethylene to do its work. Going to market too soon will leave consumers frustrated at how long the kiwi remains hard on their counter. Grown successfully on Vancouver Island since the late 1980s, when kiwis were introduced in Canada, these vines have been known to produce for up to 100 years so we can look forward to a future full of kiwis. A tip from the front lines; you don’t need to squeeze them all. Every kiwi is a good kiwi. Every kiwi will ripen. Every kiwi will taste delicious. Every kiwi is a nutritional powerhouse. Maybe the Internet is right this time, maybe kiwis will save the world.

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HOW TO KIWI The skin of all kiwi varieties is edible. Exceptionally nutrient dense and enzymatically active. Due to its enzyme activity, the kiwi is best eaten promptly once cut as the texture will deteriorate. Offers a smooth, creamy texture smattered with edible seeds. A kiwi’s flavour when ripe is sweet and subtly tropical. Best eaten out of hand and in smoothies but also makes a delicious jam. One of the most alkaline of fruits.

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book your table today: 250. 2 5 0. 3 360.1171 6 0.1171 / 820 yates st, victoria bc


Chef Jason Clifford Introduces His New Winter Menu At Table 21

left: Hot Cambozola Tartine right: Chef Jason Clifford


s the rain and the November chill hit the air, Table 21 is just hitting their stride. Many of us will vehemently defend summer on the odd hot day in July but the people of Victoria love a good change of the seasons. Time to get sweaters on, lace up those boots, stomp some leaves and shift our food focus towards well-made comfort food.

Jason Clifford, chef at Table 21, cracks a warm and easy smile as he talks about the new menu being launched this November. “I like rustic cooking with classic techniques that update and improve on the foods we know and love”, says Clifford. The Nanaimo-bred chef is looking forward to a season that highlights some of his most beloved dishes such as his classic succotash and delicate raviolis.

on the town. Restaurant manager, Keith Bechervaise, has set up a stellar double happy hour from 4-6pm and 8-10pm with specials on both food and drink. The central location (Douglas and Humbolt) and proximity to some of Victoria’s best nightlife makes Table 21 a natural choice for a little warm up session among friends - as Bechervaise puts it “its almost always happy hour at Table 21”. Cocktails created by bartender Zach Adams, feature fresh ingredients and inspired versions of old classics which pair perfectly with Clifford’s dedication to using fresh ingredients and inventive approaches to home cooking favourites. With the winter months rolling in everyone is getting into the spirit of enjoying good food, good cocktails and good company. Table 21’s stylish and relaxed layout will be a coveted locale for holiday bashes offering a spacious yet warm layout that invites a fun and festive atmosphere to wind down the year with friends and co-workers. You could snap up the long communal table made of raw-edge wood – aptly named “Table 21”- and order up a round of delectable tapas-style dishes, such as savory mushroom toast, fresh tuna antipasto or a plate of carefully selected local cheese and charcuterie. If you really want to send off 2016 with a bang, Table 21 is offering up the penthouse suite for pre-receptions, where Chef Clifford will provide a bevy of appetizers for your private party to enjoy as you wait for the dinner festivities to start.

“Table 21 is quickly becoming a favoured destination for locals and visitors alike.”

Clifford has a simple approach to food: “make it with good ingredients, do it from scratch as often as you can, and keep it classic”. The chef’s simple attitude towards food keeps the dishes grounded in traditional styles, which can be found in his tender gnocchi dish featuring Little Qualicum Blue Cheese with a brown butter sage sauce or his seared bay scallops resting atop a deeply delicious bed of double smoked bacon risotto. His love of Southern and West Coast flavour profiles bring approachability to his elevated take on comfort food which fits perfectly into the small plate menu of Table 21. The restaurant showcases local, sustainable ingredients to fulfill any diner’s comfort food cravings. The classic wrap around bar is the perfect spot to post up after a heavy work day and enjoy a Victoria Sour, made with local favorite, Victoria Gin. The casual yet elegant atmosphere invites intimate conversation with good company over a tasty bundle of prosciutto-wrapped grilled asparagus or a shared plate of hot cambozola cheese tartine. The warmth of the dishes and Clifford’s penchant for southern food served in smaller portions makes Table 21 an ideal setting for a pre-dinner gathering before a night out 14


The wintery months are crying out for a local haunt to fill our need for comfort food, warm red wines, and finely crafted cocktails. Whether you are looking for a happy hour to kick start your weekend, an upscale yet comfortable venue for a holiday get together, or just an intimate dinner among friends, Table 21 is quickly becoming a favoured destination for locals and visitors alike. —by Jill Van Gyn TABLE 21, 777 DOUGLAS ST., VICTORIA, BC., 250-940-3127, TABLE21.CA TUES - SAT 4PM TILL 10PM, FACEBOOK.COM/TABLETWENTYONE



A TRIO OF MOUTH-WATERING COOKBOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING If you want to give the gift of health to your loved ones this holiday season, consider leaving a cookbook brimming with healthy recipes under the tree. These collections, with their ravishing photography and recipes that are both health-enhancing and delicious, are sensory delights sure to please even those deemed “hard-to-buy-for.” Be forewarned—these tomes are so superb you’ll want copies for yourself.

A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious, by Diana Henry I absolutely adore this cookbook—it’s become my kitchen bible. In fact, I use it so often, the pages are sadly food-stained and worn. Penned by award-winning British food writer Diana Henry, it offers up a bevy of globally inspired recipes that draws on cuisines from the Far East to Scandinavia. While there are some meat dishes in the book, its focus is on fish, seasonal produce, whole grains and legumes. Henry’s philosophy does not involve eschewing any specific food group, and there’s nothing abstemious about her recipes. She simply celebrates delicious food that “just happens to be healthy.” Standout recipes that have become personal favourites include a soul-satisfying Russian Black Bread, Salmon Grilled in Newspaper with Dill and Cucumber and a sublime Greek Yogurt and Apricot Ice Cream.

YUM: Plant-based Recipes for a Gluten-free Diet, by Theresa Nicassio, PhD YUM is one of the prettiest cookbooks I’ve read in a long time—it’s also one of the most practical. This is not Cordon Bleu—YUM features healthier versions of the everyday familiar favourites we all enjoy—comfort foods like mac-n-cheese, snickerdoodles and salted caramel swirl ice cream. Nicassio, a Vancouver-based psychologist and certified raw food chef, takes readers on a transformational journey, showing them how they can enhance their health, honour their bodies and still feed their families the foods they all crave. All the recipes are 100 percent vegan, gluten-free and, judging by what I’ve recreated so far, utterly YUM indeed. Beautifully photographed, this stylish and thoughtful book, which includes a heart-warming narrative on Nicassio’s own personal health struggles, is without question a “good-for-you” winner.

Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi A follow-up to Ottolenghi’s bestseller Plenty, this book is a must for those wanting to include more fruit and veg in their diet—be they paleo or vegan. Intoxicating to thumb through, the chapters in the book are divided by cooking method (steamed, baked, etc.). And, while some of the recipes may sound complicated at first glance, each one features easy-to-follow steps that render them surprisingly simple to recreate. Ottolenghi’s infatuation with Persian cuisine, so predominant in Plenty, is still evident in Plenty More, but this latest work takes inspiration from healthy cuisines around the globe. What’s more, like its predecessor, it showcases Ottolenghi’s unrivalled ability to elevate even the most humble vegetable to heights of unparalleled deliciousness. The book’s Stuffed Peppers with Fondant Rutabaga, Sweet Potatoes with Orange Bitters, and Pea and Mint Croquettes are just a few examples of this culinary alchemy. 15



please don’t call this a

TREND story by JILL VAN GYN illustration by JOSE MIGUEL MENDEZ

BEYOND THE TACO WARS OF VICTORIA. Let’s just come straight out with it: Tacos are dominating Victoria’s food scene. In fact, most major cities have been inundated with a diverse selection of taco shops ranging from the obsessively authentic to the wildly creative. I tried to avoid writing this article. We get it. Everyone loves tacos, everyone has an opinion on tacos and everyone considers themselves a connoisseur of tacos. Yet as a food writer I get asked all the time: “Who has the best tacos?” followed by (and say it in a nasally voice) “but who does the most authentic taco?” When we start to talk about creative expression versus authenticity, inevitably it becomes a question of “who is right?” The “bro taco” or the “anything goes” taco have seemingly been pitted against the more traditional and culturally accurate taco, rendering this conversation all but unavoidable. Well, kids, we’re going to explore this together. I talked to five shops chosen for their popularity and their distinct approaches to tacos ranging from the die-hard traditional to the eccentric and extreme. I hopped around town, eating tacos and meeting with the owners and managers of La Taquisa, Norte, La Taqueria, Taco Justice and Tacofino to get their perspective on this so-called “taco war” and to find out if there is more to this story than just a beefed-up taco throwdown. There is. More on that later. Before I get down to business, I do want to tip my hat to Hernande’z, the much-loved and much-missed El Salvadorian taqueria that really started it all. As I did these interviews, many of the owners mentioned Hernande’z as one of their greatest inspirations, and it must be made known that we would not have the tacos we have today if it were not for this oddly placed yet beloved restaurant. A moment of silence for the Godfather of Victoria tacos.

La Taquisa La Taquisa owners Sindy Martinez and Scott Demers were one of the first to take a crack at a Mexican taco shop in Victoria. Starting with a food truck in 2010, they sought to bring Mexican casera (home-style) cooking to the streets of Victoria. Martinez’s aunt owned a taco shop in Puerto Vallarta, and the idea was to bring the feel of a taco shop to the city featuring the recipes of the Martinez family. “We knew we could bring something better to Victoria,” says Demers. Expanding to two brick-and-mortar restaurants, one in Vic West, the other on the Blanshard Corridor, La Taquisa has become an anchor in the taco scene. They are driven by local ingredients but always circle back to honouring the family tradition, hand-pressing tortillas and staying within the bounds of what might be considered a local take on authentic Mexican cuisine, unifying the flavours of Puerto Vallarta with the West Coast. Their use of fresh, regional product such as local grey cod, Fraser Valley pork and Cowichan chicken provide a flavourful base to their tortilla soup, al pastor and chicken tinga, with the spices that could be found on the shelves of the Martinez family kitchen bringing life to their dishes. 1017 Blanshard St. and 176 Wilson St., #202

Norte Street Food Norte is not as well known as the others on our list— yet. Owners Claudia Garza and Ryan Acheson have been slinging tacos for about six years now, starting in local markets, moving to Fernwood and recently moving to the parking lot of the new Shoreline Surf Shop on Douglas. The bright green caravan-style trailer houses a straightforward mission: simple street food heavily rooted in the traditions of northern Mexico. “Norte is northern Mexican, and that is all we try to do,” says Garza. The foundation of their endeavour has

been placed firmly in the tortilla, which they also sell through Torterillia Monterrey, and in the flavours and style of northern Mexico. Garza learned to make tortillas back in Monterrey, comparing the family rite of passage to learning how to make pancakes. “It’s just a thing you know.” She bats not an eyelash at this whole taco craze: “It’s just what we eat, every day, all the time … tortillas are our bread. Technically, anything you put in a tortilla is a taco.” The menu is rustic, makes no excuses for what it is and aims to be nothing but good, tradition-bound, northern Mexican street food. Their tacos are simple, using traditional cuts such as pork chicharrones (pork belly) and barbacoa (head meat such as cheeks) and are served on handpressed corn tortillas with pickled pinion and salsa verde. Occasionally, you will find frijol y queso (beans and cheese) and papa dorados (potato tacos), exemplifying the simplicity of street food in northern Mexico. 2121 Douglas St.

La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop La Taqueria has brought the fast-paced street food culture of the Mexican metropolis right into downtown Victoria. Owners Marcelo Ramirez and Alfonso Sanz hail from the vibrant and cosmopolitan streets of Guadalajara and Mexico City, respectively, and have built a mini-empire of taco shops (Vancouver has two locations, one on Cambie, the other on West Hastings) that reflect the busy, slightly grubby style of your runof-the-mill food stall in Mexico. Perhaps a jab at us gringos or maybe just an apt descriptor for what they are going for, the name pinche taco shop roughly translates to “fucking taco shop.” And this is what they have achieved—a good, perhaps more general expression of straightforward, traditional Mexican street food. “For many, this is their first experience with real Mexican food,” says Victoria manager Juan Vergara. “We focus on the locals … because locals know their food scene.” 17

When La Taqueria selected their Blanshard area location earlier this year, they knew full well that La Taquisa and Tacofino had already staked a claim. “Some competition is good,” says Vergara, “as long as it’s fair.” There is a lot of pride wrapped up in the tacos they provide, and La Taqueria seems unfazed by increased competition. “It’s a good time to be proud [of Mexican food] … it really belongs to us.” The food is served in a fast and furious style, just like a busy taco shop. The flavours are drawn from all over Mexico: beef cheeks and braised tongue from the north, mole and al pastor from the central region, and some pescada (fish) from the coasts. Salsas and other toppings are self-serve much like you would find at a dime-a-dozen taco stall in Mexico City. 766 Fort St.

Taco Justice Owner Temperance Fair isn’t from Mexico, has no real ties to Mexico and is not necessarily trained in making Mexican food (but is a Red Seal chef ). And guess what? He doesn’t give a care, and neither do his customers. As the Norte crew said it best: “Technically, anything you put in a tortilla is a taco,” and Fair is putting anything he damn well pleases into a tortilla. It could be Thai or Vietnamese inspired, it could be Polish, West Coast or who the heck knows. “Anything goes” is the mantra of his iconic Victoria food truck. Fair’s creative take on tacos came out of the fact that he was looking for something interesting to serve at big music festivals: Tacos are cheap, fast and easy-to-pro-



duce festival food that people can take in hand. The allure of tacos for Fair? “Everyone is familiar with tacos. They’re easy to identify. Tacos are a part of pop culture, and it’s no more a trend than the burger is a trend. There is a piece of flatbread and we just put whatever in it.” Current offerings include The Green Bastard, featuring deep-fried avocado, crispy cheddar and charred salsa, and the Korean Krippler, complete with Bulgogi marinated beef and a smattering of kimchi. 1580 Cook St.

Tacofino Kaeli Robinsong and Jason Sussman moved to Tofino in search of perfect waves and a place to set down some roots. Many a surfer in search of a consistent surfing lifestyle has set down tracks in Tofino, surfing throughout the year and travelling south in search of more shoreline when the opportunity presents itself. Tacofino was born out of the idea that the growing surfer population in Tofino needed fast and tasty food that could fill them up after surf sets. The vast majority of surfers would have lived off tacos during their offseason travels to the south, so setting up a taco truck seemed like a good fit. “It connected Mexico and California with Tofino,” says Sussman. Sussman and Robinsong prefer not to be bound by tradition. The couple are born and bred West Coasters and being heavily influenced by their travels to California, Mexico and Southeast Asia meant combining the

West Coast with their experiences in international waters was a natural progression. The success of Tacofino has been felt throughout Vancouver and Vancouver Island and resonates deeply with the muchdesired laid-back West Coast surfer lifestyle.

Technically, anything you put in a tortilla is a taco.” NORTE

The Victoria taco shop (which started as a food truck) staked its claim on the Victoria taco scene in early 2015. It has a distinct bright and beachy vibe complete with communal picnic tables, which could easily translate to an open-air taco stand on the shores of southern California. The tacos and burritos put on no airs. Simple fish, tuna, beef, crispy chicken, yam and beans offerings are accompanied with ingredients and flavours that could be found on the Baja Peninsula, the shores of Phuket or, perhaps more rightly, along the road in Tofino. 787 Fort St. So here we are, five taco shops with only one commonality—the humble tortilla. The larger question at hand

here is not “which is best?” it’s not “who is right?” and it’s definitely not “who is the most authentic?” These are silly questions, so stop asking me. No one is right because we have it on good authority that tacos are whatever you put into a tortilla. The word “best” is subjective and should be taken with more than just a grain of salt when discussing food. And who is the most authentic? Well, I hate to break it to you but no one is: Victoria is not Mexico. We do not have the wealth of culture, heritage and tradition to drive authenticity. Authenticity can’t be found in food, it is found in experience. To do that would be to oversimplify the connection people have with their national cuisine. In a place where the taco is the cheapest form of food for all walks of life in a country with endemic poverty, corruption and drug violence, the taco symbolizes a rich heritage and deep cultural pride. Westerners have a penchant for taking the best parts of a culture and turning a blind eye to the rest. We love tacos, margaritas, sugar skulls and tattoos of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but we are definitely not sold on this whole poverty/drug war angle. If you want authenticity, you will have to go to Mexico. Better yet, be Mexican.

R A I S E Y O U R S P I R I T S Buy Local N O R T E TAC O S

Chicharron w/ organic blue corn tortilla R I G H T:

Papa Dorado

This is a story we will see again and again with ramen, pho, poke, etc. However, as one of our taco entrepreneurs said it best: “Culture is not static … and authenticity is bullshit.” The underlying truth to all of this is that the cultural adaptation of food is universal, but having a conversation about whose taco is best and who is more authentic is not the conversation we should be having. Let’s talk about how food influences our culture and how culture influences our food. Let’s talk about how we can exercise the cultural appreciation of food instead of the cultural appropriation of food. Food is political no matter which way you slice it, and I think the popularity of the taco in Victoria is a good place to start. Tacos are not a trend. They are not the “new thing.” They are part of a way of life for people living all over Mexico, Central and South America. Let’s all just try to keep this in mind the next time we decide we want to ask the question “but is it authentic?” Now go eat a taco.


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THERE AREN’T MANY PEOPLE LIVING IN CANADA WHO AREN’T aware that enjoying a fresh strawberry on a cold February morning is generally bad for the planet. The strawberry in question, like so many of foods we love (I’m looking at you, bananas), was most likely grown thousands of kilometres away, gassed and packaged and put on a truck to be delivered north to fill the fruit bowls that look so pretty against the cold winter sky. And while we all know it’s bad, it’s a deal we seem to have collectively made: we won’t pretend strawberries taste like potatoes in winter if the farmers keep us well stocked at a halfway decent price. But lately, that price has been getting a little steep. Not so much in terms of dollars, although that is happening, but in terms of us being able to pretend that the largest fresh food region in North America isn’t suffering from the worst drought it has had in centuries. Whether you realize it or not, California has been feeding us for decades. We get a majority of our inexpensive fruits and veggies from the state. In fact, more than 90 percent of the strawberries, olives, nectarines, celery, garlic, broccoli and cauliflower grown in the U.S. comes from there, as do 50 percent of all the rest of the fruits and vegetables in the country. Combined, that makes the state not just a breadbasket, it’s a lifeline. But things in California are not good. Every part of the state is experiencing some kind of drought, most of it severe. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, at the start of 2016 a full 69 percent of the state was considered in extreme drought, which has been going on since at least 2013 and isn’t predicted to abate anytime soon. The intensified wildfires we see on the news are a result, as are stories about incredible water restrictions, like mandatory 25 percent reductions for everyone and fines in the tens of thousands for those caught breaking the rules. For anyone living through it in person, it’s brutal. Fields of sun-charred fruit trees have dried out and fallen over due to the lack of water. Seriously, search Google Images for pictures of “California drought before and after” and you’ll know immediately how bad it is. For many of us this isn’t news, but for some reason there’s a dissonance among a lot of foodies in the north (not you, of course) who claim to care about eating what’s good for the planet, yet think nothing of adding “guac” to their chicken tacos. But that guac, and quite possibly the chicken, are likely to have come from California. The birds are thirsty and the avocados dry.


Dinner: But we had a deal, right? Well, yeah, but the terms have changed. It’s like an open relationship that starts off great, but then someone starts spending a little too much time with another person and suddenly one half of the relationship isn’t benefiting from the arrangement (in case you’re wondering, we are the ones taking advantage in this scenario). It can only go on for so long—and we’ve reached that point where we can’t ignore it anymore. It’s time for some plain talk. S O W H AT A R E W E T O D O ?

First up: forget about almonds. Sorry, but it’s true. It is estimated that every single almond requires a gallon of water to produce. Think about that: a handful of almonds could literally suck up 15 gallons of water. California produces roughly 80 percent of the world’s almond supply, and according to the New Republic magazine, they use up roughly “10 percent of the state’s annual agricultural water use—or more than what the entire population of Los Angeles and San Francisco use in a year.” Another victim in this dusty new reality is the avocado (ugh). California produces nearly 90 percent of them, and they grow on trees that require immense amounts of water. According to National Geographic, a pound of avocados—that’s about two— requires 100 gallons of water to grow. That’s like filling your bathtub with water every time you eat an avocado. You could still get avocados from Australia, but if you believe that the drought in California is largely related to climate change (it is), then adding guac from Down Under isn’t really helping with the whole carbon footprint thing either. But before you start feigning hunger pains, relax. It’s not like there aren’t other options, ways of satisfying the craving to eat things in the winter that aren’t root vegetables and preserves.


Meat production requires an immense amount of water, so land animals from California are definitely not the best. But have you ever considered another protein that exists in abundance? In the face of a diminishing meat supply at a decent cost, some chefs are turning to insects to pad out the protein quota—and people are loving it. During a campaign called “Bugs on the Menu” earlier this year, six restaurants added something made with bugs. Olo chef and co-owner Brad Holmes included a Caramel Crunch Cricket Sorbet at his restaurant while Big Wheel Burger did a Critter Fritter. Insects are considered a potential saviour when it comes to the food chain, and if you can stomach the shift, you’ll be joining the nearly 2 billion people already bugging out.

S O L U T I O N N U M B E R T W O : P I C K Y O U R B AT T L E S

Look, we all know you’re not going to stop doing everything that has a hint of “bad for the planet” to it right away. But you can start by finding out if there other options to the food you love. “Instead of almonds, there’s a hazelnut farm out in Saanich that we use for a lot of our dishes,” says Garret Shack, executive chef and food and beverage manager at Chateau Victoria. That kind of thinking will put you on the path to guilt-free dining. There are also creative substitutes, like avocado-free guacamole. Recipes abound on the internet for “edamole” and “broccomole” in which you substitute a steamed green vegetable until then blend it with all the usual guac ingredients (no word yet on the Brussels sprout version). CONT’D ON PAGE 23

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Christie’s Pub under new ownership with a new chef & some new menu changes!!

Christie’s Carriage House Pub 1739 Fort St. Victoria 250 598-5333 Open daily from 11:00 am till 11:00 pm on weeknights and 12:00pm on weekends 33 Beers on tap Sunday Brunch 11:00 a.m. To 2:00 p.m. Year round patio Reservations Available





Yes, it’s a dead horse that keeps getting flogged, but this is one the best ways to limit your impact on California’s drought. Vancouver Island is a mecca for great food, and people travel from all over the planet to come and enjoy the abundance, so there’s got to be something to it. It’s hard to go wrong when consuming fruit, veggies or meat that you could literally drive to the source to get.

“That $2.50 savings is costly.” S O L U T I O N N U M B E R F O U R : R E T H I N K W H AT Y O U P AY F O R F O O D

Part of the reason so much of our food comes from California is that we have a skewed version of what it is meant to cost. People will often balk at a $6.00 pint of local berries but are willing to spend $3.50 on some imported from the U.S. That $2.50 savings is costly. There are environmental costs and quality costs. And not only does it require cheap farm labour to produce cheap food, it also means that less is being purchased from local farmers, keeping their costs high. Until there is a collective shift toward paying more for food, the economy of scale is going to keep everyone looking south. Think of it as an investment in better berries. SOLUTION NUMBER FIVE: LIVE IN DENIAL

What drought? Denial is a legitimate coping mechanism for a lot of different issues. Not to suggest it’s a healthy option, but if you can comfortably push the images of scorched almond trees drying up and turning to dust out of your head while you get your almond milk latte, power to you. Let’s hop in your hummer and go drive over some cabbage patches.

BACK TO THE garden Let’s get planting, weeding, and cooking - because even before you taste it, nothing is more delicious than what you grow. Our cookware, classes, and recipes will help you bring your harvest to the table. “It all starts in my garden. It’s not only the source of my food - it’s the source of my inspiration.” Cosmo Meens Chef/Instructor

victoria 1317 blanshard vancouver 377 howe & 1548 w broadway north vancouver 1230 lonsdale



The Livet Jones Bar-B-Que Han Korean


Shelora Sheldan Adrian Paradis PHOTOGRAPHY


Rebecca Wellman Adrian Paradis

The Livet’s Scallop ceviche with hot peppers, celery and avocado R I G H T:

Interior of The Livet REBECCA WELLMAN



The Livet


into Victoria’s dining landscape, and Graham Meckling of Stage Wine Bar is no exception. His well-rehearsed second act is a rooftop restaurant, The Livet, the crowning glory atop downtown’s Fort Common complex of eateries at Broughton and Blanshard. The space is slick and contemporary with cedar and blond wood, and shiny copper and glass offset by the blackest paint ever (a nod to its charcoal grill, the cooking method at the heart of the Livet menu). Similar to Stage, the spirit is lively, with the affable Meckling and his brigade working the room. The menu is small plates-focused with the exception of the meaty dishes off the charcoal grill, which can be ordered either small or large. A covered stairway leads diners to the 43-seat rooftop patio space, with 54 seats indoors. It’s a perfect spot for al fresco dining and brilliant for taking the sun’s rays with a cocktail, or glass of wine, and something from the raw bar, another menu feature. Indoors takes centre stage during the winter months with cozy banquette, booth and bar seating.

201-804 BROUGHTON ST., VICTORIA 7 7 8 - 2 6 5 - 3 0 3 3 | T H E L I V E T. C A

The menu, overseen by Ben Berwick, is tidy and concise and divided into three parts: a seafood raw bar featuring tataki, half-shell oysters and ceviche; vegetable sides including plump, juicy onions cooked in ash; and heartier proteins off the grill. Berwick, previously at Stage, brings a wealth of experience to the table: from Vancouver’s Bishop’s to a four-year tenure at Hapa Izykaya, where he reconnected with his Japanese roots. Next came stages in Europe and at the acclaimed Pujol in Mexico City. But it was under Peruvian super-chef Gastón Acurio at Astrid y Gastón in Santiago, Chile, that solidified Berwick’s cooking approach. “I grasped the essence of Peruvian cuisine,” says Berwick, speaking of the place where he was first introduced to the charcoal grill and the world of ceviche. “It’s a fusion and really relates to my background.” (He is part Japanese and fluent in both Japanese and Spanish). Leche de tigre (tiger milk), a classic citrus-based Peruvian marinade, gets a star turn in Berwick’s fresh ceviches. With a spark of ginger in the mix, it is a stellar standout in the scallop ceviche, with colourful hits of celery and hot pepper providing crunchy heat and


avocado for creaminess. It also wows half-shell oysters, complementing their briny goodness. The grill, using a slow-burning lump charcoal that creates a radiating heat, “locks in flavour,” says Berwick, “along with a wonderful smokiness.” House-made longaniza sausage proves the point. It’s delicately smoked and accompanied with a roasted red pepper relish for sweetness. The pork belly rib is equally luscious with an herbaceous chimichurri, and the lamb rack, accompanied by a grilled radicchio purse revealing tender lamb fat, is divine. The dish keeps company with a mint and cucumber quinoa salad providing healthy counterbalance. The cooking throughout is restrained and balanced and shows great respect for ingredients. The Livet is a triumph and performs nightly. SHELORA SHELDAN


Jones Bar-B-Que

1725 COOK ST., VICTORIA 7 7 8 - 2 6 5 - 4 2 2 7 | J O N E S G O T M E A T. C O M

JONES BAR-B-QUE IS THE LATEST CULINARY venture from Chris Jones and Josh Goyert. The boys

that brought us that breakfast haven The Ruby are keeping things down home country Texas-style at their new joint, where a whole lot of ribs, brisket and pork butt are the order of the day. The long narrow space is inviting with rough-hewn wood walls, tables with vintage church hall chairs and old swivel stools in front of windows overlooking a parking lot. “It’s the closest thing to a food truck,” notes Jones. Inspiration for the concept happened late one night over brisket in Austin, Texas. So taken with the flavour, Jones sought out a pit master who would take him on as an apprentice. For free. After repeated refusals, Kyle Stallings of Austin’s Rollin Smoke agreed, and earlier this year Jones showed up with backpack and chef’s knives and set to work. He learned incredible discipline, starting the pit fire with the traditional pecan and oak woods at 2 a.m. each morning and cooking the meat through the night. Other hallmarks of the Central Texas barbecue style are a dry rub but no sauce to better showcase the meat, and a lighter smoke, again a technique that doesn’t stand in the way of the ingredient. W H O L E L O T TA M E AT ABOVE:

Chef/owner Chris Jones R I G H T:

Mama Jones’ Platter for 2

Jones continues to start his day in the early hours, keeping watch over the smoker’s temperatures and cooking times. Meat is dry-rubbed and smoked for five hours and rested for two, ready for the 11 a.m. opening and serving until they sell out.



Brisket Sandwich w\ Pit Beans & Watermelon Aguas Fresca


Back home, Jones tried out his new chops during a Dine Around event and gained increased confidence during Pemberton’s Rock the Shores festival. He and his catering team barbecued more than 2,000 pounds of meat to feed the festival’s musicians.


Third, half or full-pound orders for ribs, brisket and pork butt are placed at the counter. The brisket provides a great ratio of meat to fat and just the right amount of smokiness. The pulled pork butt is juicy and flavourful and the meaty ribs, larger than normal, yield easily from the bone. Platters for two or four showcase the entire menu, a proven hit to share. If you really need sauce, a dark, tangy concoction shows up if you prefer your meat in a taco or a brioche bun, but can also be added tableside. Sides from old-school potato salad to tangy slaw to deeply flavoured pit pinto beans hit the right spots, and watermelon agua fresca refreshes the palate. There’s nothing chefy here, just good eats served with the spirit of hospitality. “We’re not trying to compete with anybody,” says Jones, “we’re just trying to do something right.” And right they are. SHELORA SHELDAN



Han Korean


The Korean Specialty Salad at Han

FLOUR POWER. Award winning patisserie, and classic cuisine that’s 100% ONE THE EDGE OF THE TRENDY AND BUSTLING JOHNSON STREET

lies the comparatively quiet Han Korean Restaurant. Occupying the space formerly filled by Skinnytato Polish Restaurant, Han has been up and running for a few months now offering up casual Korean fare that is well worth venturing off the usual Lo-Jo path. Owner and chef Danny Chan is a Korean national minority from China who comes by the business naturally. His parents run a chain of Korean restaurants in China, and this is the first one he has opened on his own. While Chan has limited English, his manager spoke about the Chinese influences on his cooking. “In China, where it borders Korea,” she says, “there are Korean national minorities. Their nationality is Chinese but their ethnic background is Korean. Kind of like how we have French Canadians.” Han is on the cozy side of small, only about five tables, with a sparse yet casual decor. A few Korean masks hang on the far wall and the light fixtures are bound in orange wicker baskets. Little else decorates the space. Banchan (the side dishes you get with most Korean meals) are presented before the rest of the food arrives and include spicy kimchi and refreshingly crunchy bean sprouts. Like the rest of Han, the menu is a bit sparing, though it includes some choice options. The Korean specialty salad, for instance, is a delightful hodgepodge of flavours and textures. The dried tofu skin and Chinese black fungus mushroom are chewy and salty, the cucumber and roasted peanuts crunchy and spicy. There’s a lot going on in this salad. While the special salad is piled high, the baked pork belly dish is not as generous. Nevertheless, the pork itself is meltingly tender and is offered along with lettuce for wrapping, garlic, jalapeños and more spicy sauce. The wraps as a whole are delicious, but beware the large chunks of raw garlic as they will overwhelm the pork. All this is perfect for sharing with a group, but for solitary diners there are also a few rice bowls. The bibimbap-style stone bowls are perhaps more commonplace, but still a solid option nonetheless. The crunchy rice baked onto the bottom of the stone bowl is always a treat. Coming in three varieties, (egg, beef, and squid), they are all spicy, fresh, and satisfying. While Han may not be as glamorous or trendy as several restaurant options a few steps away, there’s something to be cherished in the quaint, cozy space it offers. Speaking to its uniqueness, Han’s manager says, “because of the owner’s heritage, the food might taste a little bit different than other Korean restaurants. And there might be some dishes we have that others would not.” Han is offering up something unique under the orange glow of those wicker baskets as K-pop softly plays on portable speakers.

250 598 8555 | | 1327 Beach Drive at the Oak Bay Marina

BACK TO THE table Let’s get everyone to the table: sharing, talking, and eating. We have the cookware, classes, and recipes to help make the most of your time together. “Feeding people is caring for our basic needs, and an expression of love; it brings comfort, health, strength, and happiness. For me there is no greater joy than sharing a meal with those I love the most.” Anna Hunt Chef/Instructor

victoria 1317 blanshard vancouver 377 howe & 1548 w broadway north vancouver 1230 lonsdale




Choice of three cicchetti Glass of Orvieto Classico

AFTERNOON BITES Cicchettis, mezzes and sushi




Venetian culture is front and centre from 4 to 6 p.m. every day, including weekends, at Catalano. Well, the sleeve of Phillips beer for $4 isn’t quite from Venice, nor are the glasses of Wine O’Clock wines for the same price. But the “cicchettis” certainly are. Cicchetti is the Venetian word for “snacks.” From 4 to 6, these little dishes are offered at half-price. For $3, enjoy three—I have to say it—adorable Chorizo Puffs made in-house: chorizo sourced from Whole Beast is wrapped in puff pastry, cooked until it is golden brown and drizzled with rosemary honey. For $2.75, taste the playful Tuna Tonnato Cherry Peppers. These medium-heat peppers, looking innocuously like cherry tomatoes, are stuffed with tuna tartare and presented with a sliced caper berry on top. Granted, this is a dish you enjoy for its elegance, and not necessarily to fill the hunger void.


Crispy squid with romanesco, chorizo puffs with rosemary honey, polenta fries with piquillo aioli, mixed olives, tuna tonnatto cherry peppers, & bacon wrapped dates ELIZABETH NYLAND



The Crispy Fried Humboldt Squid for $5, however, is a step towards meeting that need. Cut in a unique way, in matchsticks rather than rings, it is spiced up with fresco peppers and served with Romesco sauce, a traditional Catalan sauce of roasted red peppers. Weekly features are also offered to keep things fresh for the regulars. I deluded myself that my diet has adequate fruits and vegetables by eating a Strawberry Crostini with whipped goat cheese and mint, and Crispy Brussel Sprouts with capers and pecorino. Wednesdays are an especially strategic day to visit Catalano because when Happy Hour ends, Giro d’Ombra starts. The literal translation is “shady stroll” and refers to the Venetian practice of wandering through narrow streets and tasting bits and bites. Complimentary antipasto is available, music to the ears of those who like to eat well for much less, and includes olives and fried chick peas. The Giro d’Ombra menu has tapas ranging from $3 to $5. Try the Salmon Tartare Crostini on house-made focaccia dough rolled into a baguette shape. Wednesdays are a day to earmark for Catalano, but note too that rare beast of a happy hour on weekends as well as weekdays.


I couldn’t pass up having a Fasolatha, or navy bean soup, as well for $4.95. This paprikainfused vegan soup had more the feeling of a stew and was so rich and hearty it felt like meat. It is hard to pass up the deal on beer, but I was really glad I tried the Kourtaki retsina. I’ve had grimace-inducing experiences with retsina (wine flavoured with pine sap) in the past, but this one was in a whole other category, perhaps no surprise given that Wine and Spirits Magazine gives it 88 points. After having a large appetizer platter in the middle of the afternoon, it seems like gilding the lily to have dessert, but happily the day’s special of Loukoumades, round Greek doughnuts, was surprisingly light and not too sweet. The deep-fried balls of dough were drizzled with fresh peach compote, for a satisfying end to a delicious meal.

The Village Taverna #101-1075 PENDERGAST ST., VICTORIA | 250-592-7373 | THEVILLAGETAVERNA.CA

This pretty and spacious restaurant, which recently opened in Cook Street Village, is inviting any time of day, but especially so during Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. when the Appetizer Platter is knocked down to $12.95 and Phillips beer is on for $4.25. I love appetizer platters for the same reason I love tapas and dim sum— a chance to try lots of different foods while relaxing with friends. This appetizer platter does not disappoint: three bowls stuffed with hummus, black olives and tzatziki surrounded by a generous handful of calamari, four keftedakia (Greek meatballs) and lots of wedges of soft, puffy pita. The hummus is rich, with a coarse grind, so it feels substantial and filling, and the tzatziki tingles with garlic. The calamari is perfectly tender, and the deep-fried meatballs have a minty accent and an excellent texture: crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.


Ground beef meatballs, tzatziki, homous, calamari, pita bread, kalamata olives ELIZABETH NYLAND

BACK TO the kitchen Let’s use our time in the kitchen to keep growing our knowledge, sharing experiences, and enjoying the pleasure food brings us. Our classes, recipes, and cookware are here to help your creativity flourish. “No matter what I’m making or who I’m cooking for, my kitchen is where I share what I know, and show what I believe in.” Peter Zambri Chef/Instructor

victoria 1317 blanshard vancouver 377 howe & 1548 w broadway north vancouver 1230 lonsdale


Presenting… Marina Restaurant

A Victorian Christmas


Come View our Courtyard Winter Wonderland all December! Christmas Dinner December 25th A Victorian Christmas in The Gatsby Mansion Complimentary Hot Cocoa and Cookies in our Drawing Room

Book yo Christm ur Party!as

Winter Afternoon Tea Wednesday – Sunday Group rates for our special Afternoon Tea

Gatsby Mansion 309 Belleville Street Reservations & Inquiries 1-800-663-7557 • 250-381-3456 Fax: 250-382-7666 •

Italian Bakery

Thank you to our customers and friends for your appreciation of our efforts for the past 38 years. We continue to beat as the heart of Victoria’s “Very Little Italy” and always welcome your visits.

In addition to our day to day outstanding day to day fare, during this festive season we will have the following specialty products:

*Panettone *Torrone *Panforte *Buche de Noel *Marron Glace *Mince Meat *Gingerbread *Shortbread *Marzipan Fruits and Figurines *Leone Candies *Specialty Chocolates

NOW OPEN MONDAYS *250-388-4557 * Quadra@Tolmie *Mon-Sat 7am-6pm* 30 NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016


Crispy prawn tempura, avocado, cucumber, topped with crispy fried yam, sweet soy & sour cream sauce ELIZABETH NYLAND

visually dramatic dish with eight pieces Afternoon eaters rejoice. The Marina of rice roll surrounding tempura prawn, Restaurant is now open from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. every day except Sunday, with a slivers of cucumber and avocado, all topped with ebullient orange flakes of “Light Bites and Libations” menu. The crispy fried yam and sweet soy and sour sushi menu is also available then. All of which means you can enjoy a meal at this cream sauce. The sushi prices are the regular prices, simply available now glamorous location with dishes beyond lunch and dinner. Over starting as low as $3. to the Light Bites menu, the Surprised? So was I. The generous Cheese Platter Kappa Maki is a very for $14 has six large, artsimple cucumber roll, fully broken pieces of but don’t confuse flatbread and four simple with boring. Chef David Nakamaya intriguing cheeses Sushi chef David from around the Nakayama has the world. These change Japanese title of “rice depending on what is master,” and the available; the day of house-made vinegar my meal I enjoyed seasoning the rice Perron’s, Meteorite, makes each roll pop Goat Caprano and, with flavour. Add a curious name, La Negitoro roll of fatty tuna Criminelle Noire. Most belly with green onion for elegant of all was the West Coast $5.50, and you’re in under $10. Steamed Shellfish for $16. Inhaling the The Oak Bay Marina has created the scents of white wine and garlic, I felt as if sushi bar as a more casual nook in the I was in a bistro in Paris. upscale restaurant, but it seems they can’t stop themselves from adding their The spaces open for diners enjoying the trademark elegant touches. The accomafternoon menu are the sushi bar and the panying little castle of marinated ginger round bar in the main restaurant. Try to is house-made, tender and a flavour land strategic spots at the round bar experience on its own. looking out over the marina, though you You can still stay in the budget zone with the Crispy Crazy Ninja Roll for $14, a

will be perfectly happy with sushi bar seating as well.

ffeaturing e g

M I LL I ON A I R E’ S CU T 7oz chargrilled AAA filet mignon, white wine sautÊed creole jumbo prawns.

Fall 2016




Chinatown District

From left to right:

Arthur Webb (BAO), Claudio Costi (LA TANA), Leah Blackburn (PURE LOVIN' CHOCOLATE), Sahara Tamarin (OLO), Nicolle Wilkinson - behind (CAFE BLISS), Brad Holmes (OLO), Amanda-Lee Chesley, Joelle Fiorito & Brandon Mullen (JUSU), Marc Morrison (BRASSERIE L'ECOLE), Emily Hatlelid (LA ROUX PATISSERIE), Arun Dodd - in front (VARSHA INDIAN KITCHEN) - PHOTO BY REBECCA WELLMAN




A BRIEF HISTORY Victoria’s Chinatown: yes, it is the oldest in Canada, and second only in age to San Francisco’s Chinatown. This may be a Victoria local’s favourite fun fact for visitors and a dependable defense of our cultural heritage. For many of us who grew up in Victoria, Chinatown offered a departure from the grey streets of downtown and the quaintness of our various villages, tree-lined avenues and terraces. There were back alleyways to be explored, fascinating goods from around the Asian world to be revealed, and colours, smells and tastes that were unparalleled outside of the tiny neighbourhood. Chinatown has always held an allure, like stepping into something that distinctly does not belong to Victoria or to Canada but is a portal to a strong Chinese heritage transplanted here both through colonial force and a desire to rebuild families so brutally torn apart. The history of Chinatown is not a pretty one. In fact, as most of us know, its very existence was born out of the extreme discrimination and penchant for slave labour that characterized the colonial period. This tumultuous

history with its discrimination and segregation kept the Chinese culture confined to the limits of Chinatown. Within these borders, Chinese immigrants created vibrant social and religious organizations, set up restaurants, apothecaries and food markets, and reproduced to the best of their ability the familiarities of their homeland. The neighbourhood experienced what was called a “withering period” between 1920 and 1970 when the Chinatowns of Vancouver and Toronto gained in importance and the universal immigration policy of 1967 saw many upwardly mobile families choosing to move out of Chinatown to take up residence in other areas of the city. As discrimination began to abate, the cultural vibrancy of Victoria’s Chinatown went into decline as many new Chinese immigrants to Canada began to flock to larger cities across the country. Then, just when Victoria’s Chinatown was starting to look like it would become a ghost of Canadian history, a small renaissance took place in the 1980s with the help of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and

various Victoria city councils. Buildings were cleaned up and painted, the much-loved Fan Tan Alley was rehabilitated, sidewalks were repaired and the iconic bilingual street signs and lampposts were erected. By 1995, the district had been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Chinatown still holds a special magnetism for many in Victoria, particular among them chefs and home cooks who seek out unique ingredients, inexpensive produce and inspiration to bring into their kitchens. However, 7for its nearly 400 Chinese residents, Chinatown is their home, their way of life and their connection to their Chinese heritage.

CHINATOWN TODAY Today the Chinatown District is boundaried by Pandora Avenue, Store, Herald and Douglas Streets and is marked by red lampposts and street signs printed in both English and Mandarin. The Gate of Harmonious Interest, which for most casual visitors is the “entrance” to Chinatown, in fact sits at the centre of the neighbourhood and has become an iconic symbol of the vitality that still marks the district. Since its revitalization in the 1980s,



Chinatown has undergone significant changes. Old mainstay businesses such as Don Mee’s, Victoria BBQ House, Fisgard Market, Cathay Living and Jia Hua Trading have stuck to their guns, offering what is, to us, an eclectic selection of goods. However, many of these establishments are steeped in a rich history that vehemently refuses to be forgotten. Loy Sing Meat Market, one of Canada’s oldest running businesses, was established in 1884. Here you will find specialized cuts of meat for Chinese cooking, crispy roasted duck and tenderly barbecued chicken. A whole pig is roasted every day and is usually sold down to the last bone by closing time. You will find simple dishes here that branch no farther out than meat on rice and, as one Yelp review complained, offers “no place to sit,” as if this were something that a business that has been standing for more than 130 years should be concerned about.



elationships are forged over food at OLO. Strong roots on the Island helped Executive Chef & Owner Brad Holmes build up friendships with local producers, and the holidays are a special time to celebrate this close-knit community.


Chef Brad is an active member of the Slow Food Chefs Alliance, dedicated to using local, quality ingredients. “Our culinary program revolves around changing seasons and our menus change daily depending on what comes through the kitchen doors,” says Chef Brad. “It’s an exciting chance to work with our local bounty whilst contributing to more sustainable food systems.” “We’re committed to social change and are excited to be working with amazing local farmers, foragers, fishers, brewers, distillers, winemakers and other specialized awesome people,” says Chef Brad. “Everyone is part of our community and family, and guests are welcomed into it as soon as they step into OLO.” ‘Olo’ means ‘hungry’ in Chinook Jargon, a derivative language native to B.C. Just like the Pacific Northwest was a gathering place for traders, OLO is where the community comes together. “Our menus honour the region and pay homage to the cultures that have influenced the



area – the First Nations, Europeans and Asian traders who shaped B.C.’s rich heritage,” explains Chef Brad. Experience this fusion at brunch and lunch, or ward off the winter chill with Chef Brad’s delightful tour of individually plated dishes with his new evening Tasting Menu. OLO continues to offer their Family Meal, which is a perfect holiday feast for friends and family to share. Behind the bar is an impressive selection of local distilleries, breweries and Canadian whiskeys; and seasonal cocktails feature the best of Vancouver Island product. The thoughtfully curated wine list focuses on small-batch B.C. vineyards, alongside premium International selections. Gather friends and family at OLO this holiday season to taste the stories behind beautiful food produced by the local farmers and suppliers that we are lucky to call our neighbours. 509 Fisgard Street, Victoria, BC, 250-590-8795 Twitter: @OLO_Restaurant Instagram: @OLORestaurant Facebook: @OLORestaurant

Many of us dip into Chinatown to pick up a special ingredient, spice or vegetable, grab a honey bun or some barbecue pork or hit up a late morning dim sum. Often we spend less than an hour in the shops and quickly leave once our prize has been acquired. The language barrier can often be challenging and intimidating. Many of the older shop owners are immigrants who came directly from China years ago and have chosen to stay close to their community and their language. These Chinese-owned businesses were set up to cater directly to the Chinese community, and there is an understanding that when we (non Chinese) shop there, we are merely visitors. In my own experience, it has taken me some time to become fully comfortable shopping in Chinatown. I have found that chatting up the sons and daughters who are learning the business to take over for their aging parents is a great way to overcome the language barrier and to find out how to better use the wide range of ingredients, proteins and produce offered. The younger generation is slightly more open to taking the time to explain to a laowai (foreigner) how to turn a large chunk of unidentifiable salted vegetable into flavourful broth, or how white cloud ears (a type of mushroom) add silky texture to a stir-fry or be used in a sweet and syrupy dessert. You won’t only find Chinese ingredients. One of my favourite Thai curry pastes, a non-descript plastic sachet with nary an English word on it, can only be found in the back of Fisgard Market. You will also find katsuobushi, which are dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna flakes used as one of the main ingredients in dashi, a broth that is the foundation of many Japanese soups and sauces. If you have ever been a fan of David Chang’s Inside a Chef ’s Mind, you will know how much he covets this ingredient and how it inspired a similar pork-based iteration that flavours his famed ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York. There is still much to be uncovered in Chinatown. Most of us know the general history of the neighbourhood but spend little time investigating the nuances of the traditions and cultural heritage that so characterize this shrinking urban enclave. Ask questions, taste the food, pick out an ingredient you have never used before and learn how to use it. This might be a good first step to getting to know Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

THE OLD AND THE NEW Today Chinatown is experiencing a new kind of revitalization. “Gentrification” is one word that comes to mind. Yes, the neighbourhood is being gentrified, but the pillars of the Chinese

community, the shops, the community associations and the food, are far from going anywhere anytime soon. The Design District, closer to the north end of Chinatown, has flourished for decades. More recently, graphic design studios and small tech shops have popped up, taking advantage of the reasonable rents and the eclectic spaces the old neighbourhood offers. As the food scene in Victoria competes for valuable retail space, Chinatown has become a muchdesired locale for restaurants and food producers to set up shop. Old classics such as Brasserie L’école started this trend, with its upscale kin Olo following suit. Mo:Lé, Café Bliss and Habit Coffee carved out a neat little block of on-trend food and beverage offerings and have been joined by the good company of La Tana Italian Bakery and local chocolate purveyor Pure Lovin’ Chocolate. More recently, Bao, Kid Sister Ice Cream, La Roux Patisserie, Jusu Juice Bar and Varsha have joined the crowd making Chinatown a multifarious destination for the trusted old staples of Asian cuisine and the variety offered by West Coast newcomers. As you thread your way through the alleys and streets of Chinatown, you will come across an interesting mix of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Thai massage, yoga studios and metaphysical gift shops. Clothing, handcrafters and jewellery designers fit well into the tiny spaces, as do small marketing and web startups. As you come out through either Fan Tan Alley or Dragon Alley onto Fisgard Street, you are immediately reminded of what makes this neighbourhood so vibrant and exceptionally irreplaceable: The boxes of fresh produce lining the streets, the smell of salted fish and roasted duck rolling out through the doors of restaurants, the people who live in Chinatown chatting in Mandarin over a cup of coffee or a small mug of tea, and the Gates of Harmonious Interest that serve to remind us who this neighbourhood really belongs too.

Jusu’s cold-pressed juicing process grinds and presses four to six pounds of certified organic fruits and vegetables to make 435 mL of juice. They make a thirteen fresh drinks, including The Classic (apple, beet, carrot, celery, ginger, lemon, romaine) and Emerald City (aloe vera, bell pepper, celery, cucumber, lemon, parsley, spinach), almond mylks, smoothies and acai bowls. They’ve also opened stores in Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay and Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal as well as a production and bottling centre connected to their store in Chinatown.

The Jusu Story Jusu Bar is a local company born of family tragedy and driven by a passion to provide healthy, nutritious food. “I lost my stepmother to breast cancer,” co-founder Brandon Mullen explained from behind the counter of Jusu’s Chinatown store. “We’ve seen what happens when your health is taken away from you, and we believe chemical-laden foods play a large part in these all too relatable tragedies.” “We want to offer amazing, 100-percent, non-GMO, raw and unpasterized juice and food,” says Brandon.

“We’re making the transition to healthy, 100percent organic, grab-and-go food that utilizes our juice and almond pulp,” Brandon explained. Wraps, taco shells and crackers are all made with the dehydrated pulp and carrot cakes and cacao bars are made with almond pulp, and almond pulp pâté serves as a ‘rice’ element in Jusu’s nori rolls. Jusu’s Caesar, Mediterranean and quinoa harissa salads come in 24-ounce Mason jars. “We’re opening four more stores in the San Francisco Bay area in the next year and recently acquired Cru, a Calgary juice company,” the 21-year-old Mullen enthused, “but I’m most excited about offering the healthiest grab-and-go for our local customers. I always compare it to putting good fuel in a machine. If you use bad fuel, it breaks down. We’re selling good, organically grown fuel!” BY JOSEPH BLAKE

CAFE BLISS 125 words + Image t Café Bliss we serve fresh made juices, super food smoothies, raw chocolates, local salads, seasonal lunch and dinner specials, and delectable desserts. Everything is gently prepared at low temperatures using organic, raw plant based ingredients sourced as locally as possible.


We are a place where people come to be reminded of who they truly are and rediscover their natural state of happiness. Food is one of the many doorways through which we can wake up to ourselves. By taking the simple action of choosing to eat food that supports health and wellbeing you begin to transmit a very important message to every cell in your body and every being you meet. This message is: you are loved. 556 Pandora Ave, Victoria (250) 590-5733

VARSHA INDIAN KITCHEN 125 words + Image un predominately by a mother son team, Varsha and Arun Dodd, Varsha Indian Kitchen is a family owned and operated restaurant in a heritage building on the corner of Government and Pandora. The Dodd family is Indo Canadian and brings a unique perspective to Indian Food. A fusion of the two cultures brings their own twist on Indian cuisine. When you come to Varsha you experience the families take on food, but you also experience their family. Supporting other small businesses, their taps are exclusively filled with local craft beer. Voted as one of the best Indian and new


restaurants in Best of the City 2016. Also, providing custom catering for your staff lunch, wedding and more. 101-1500 Government St, Victoria 250.590.6252,

513 Fisgard St. , 250-590-7077 35

PURE LOVIN’ CHOCOLATE ure Lovin' Chocolate, created by a passionate mother-daughter team, started at farmer's markets in 2012 and opened our storefront in Fan Tan Alley in 2014. We also operate an online store and are proud to provide Islanders and customers Canada-wide with delicious, high quality chocolates and confections. We handcraft everything in-house using only the highest quality organic, Fair Trade chocolate, and organic and natural ingredients. We're unique in also producing an extensive line of vegan, soy free and gluten free products. We keep customers coming back with treats like our purely delectable Organic Truffles, Peanut Butter Cups, Fleur de Sel Caramels, and Sponge Candy. If you’re looking for an elegant gift or just a chocolate fix, Pure Lovin' Chocolate is the place to find it!


Dispatches from the Hood CREATIVES WEIGH IN ON LIVING AND WORKING IN CHINATOWN Chinatown is an interesting place. Forget about the standard trappings of hanging lanterns, barbecue shops with whole pigs hanging in the window and fruit vendors frantically navigating the sidewalk space with stacked dollies. It also has a history of being a neighbourhood where opium dens once reigned and gold miners could pause for a night or two to relax on their way through. Not surprisingly, it also has a history of being popular among creatives. Perhaps due to its energy, or perhaps due to the affordable rents and large lofty apartments, it continues to attract people working in creative spaces. I caught up with a handful of them and asked them about their hood—why they’re there and what they think about Chinatown today. THE CREATIVES

Alexis Kastner Jovee Handcrafted (104-3 Fan Tan Alley) JC Scott JC Scott Eco Design Associates Inc. (17-1/2 Fan Tan Alley) Aleya Samji (532 Herald St.) Ian Hoar iOS developer at Flow Ltd. (532 Herald St.)

Pure Lovin' Chocolate, 102 - 3 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria 250-590-0414,

Christian Barnard Christian Barnard Land Studio (Suite 241, Market Square) THE QUESTIONS


How long have you been working or living in Chinatown? Alexis: I’ve had my shop in Chinatown for just over a year and a half now. JC: Since 1980.

125 words + Image


Ian: Been living in Chinatown for five years in a 400-square-foot bachelor suite. I also work on Yates Street so I’m basically in a four-block radius around Chinatown all the time. Christian: Eight years. Aleya: I’ve been working in and around the neighbourhood for years with friends that had studios here and enjoyed the cheaper rent, but we just moved here this past July.

How have things changed or evolved since you set up here? JC: Chinatown has seen change in stages, from creatives moving in during the 1980s, then restaurants and stores in the 1990s, and now, after a long hiatus, new accommodations being built all around Chinatown. Ian: Things are getting a whole lot more expensive, that’s for sure. I think the wave of gentrification is starting to reach Fisgard, and the condos are moving in. It’s unfortunate that I consider myself to have a fairly good job, and the condos and rents are getting too rich for my blood. From his farmers' market experience as 'Baker on a Bike' to running a full service true Italian bakery, Claudio Costi and his team are doing things right. A hidden gem two steps down, along lower Pandora's bustling sidewalks, this place gives you an authentic taste of Italy. 85% of all ingredients are either organic or local, and whether it's pizza, a panino, focaccia, or a mouthwatering pastry, you'll leave feeling a little Italian yourself! With the holidays coming up, make sure to try their Panforte, a traditional Tuscan cake, or a Panettone, a sweet Italian Christmas bread that originated in Milan. Both will leave your relatives asking where you got them! 101-3 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, 250-920-6213,

Christian: Mega changes! I think we are starting to find equilibrium between the transient government population and the people living and working in the area. Things are way more vibrant.

What are your favourite things about the area? Alexis: The thing about Chinatown is that it’s a community. All the shops around here are locally owned and we all know each other and everyone supports each other. Aleya: When I’m walking south, I like using the alleys as much as possible. Waiting for a tourist to take their “tiny alley” photo can be a drag, but some of those strange narrow corridors remind me of living in Brooklyn and feeling that weird intimacy when you’re having to squeeze past your neighbours and strangers. JC: Central, walkable, quiet at night, safe due to community friends and heritage character.



Do you have any secret or hidden gems that you love? Aleya: If you’re walking down Herald Street at recess time, you can catch a little glimpse of the kids at the Chinese Public School running around in their beautiful, secluded little courtyard. It’s adorable. Ian: Always feels like there is lots going on between the Pretty Good Not Bad festival, Centennial Square events and Rifflandia. Alexis: It’s no secret that when I am working late in the studio I may wander over to the Brasserie after for an endive salad and a glass of wine. I also love Pure Lovin’ Chocolate.

If you could add one thing to the neighbourhood, what would it be? Ian: I’d really like to see some more pubs and watering holes further up Government, but walking down to the Drake (517 Pandora Ave.) isn’t all that bad at the moment. JC: More green space, an urban Chinese garden like they have in Vancouver would be a winning feature—we don’t need more stores or condominiums. Christian: I was born and raised in Victoria and have watched the downtown core/Chinatown slowly come alive and think the more people living and working in the community will create more pride and vibrancy. Aleya: Because it’s such an old neighbourhood, it’s especially hard to ignore the fact that you’ve displaced someone or something to be here, so if there were a way to magically add that back in some way, that would be great (don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes at myself for you). BY ADRIEN SALA

ao restaurant was opened in June, 2016 by husband and wife duo, Arthur Webb and Kylie Arnot-Webb. Bao was born out of a deep love and respect for Asian food, the menu is a mix of Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean with an emphasis on the restaurant’s namesake bao.


The 26 seat counter service restaurant is located beside the Chinese School in Chinatown and serves up delicious pillowy bao buns, ramen, bibimbap and wings. Bao is fully licensed and has local beer on tap! Up to 13 hours are spent crafting the rich umami broth for the daily featured Ramen. Bao uses ethical meats and buys ingredients from Chinatown whenever possible. 626 Fisgard Street, Victoria 250-590-8688



125 words + Image


or 15 years, awardwinning Brasserie L’école has been serving casual bistro food. Located in a Chinatown heritage building, the long, narrow space with patinarich fir floors and cherry red walls creates a cozy but vibrant atmosphere. Local, seasonal dishes and traditional French menu items such as onion soup, chicken liver mouse, steak-frites and crème brûlée are accompanied by a carefully assembled French wine list. Brasserie l’ecole also features a large selection of French and Belgian beers



e are the “New Kids on the Block” on Fisgard. When partners Emily Hatlelid and Rebecca Godin dreamt up opening a French style patisserie, who knew that would lead them to the heart of Chinatown? Both partners having spent time in Europe knew the style they were going for even before they met. Emily as a head pastry chef in a Paris restaurant and Rebecca… well as a person that enjoyed life.


La Roux hopes to bring to Victoria something you would see in any typical street in Paris. We have a gorgeous shop, with some of the most delicious, beautiful pastry you will find. We endeavor to deliver all with intent. LOVE AND BUTTER… OUR KEY INGREDIENTS.

1715 Government Victoria 250.475.6260


519 Fisgard St., Victoria, 778-265-7689,


The Menu

Share your own photos on Instagram #eatmag

We dare you to eat your way through this entire Chinatown menu. Photography by Sherri Martin

Varsha Indian Kitchen: Varsha Butter Chicken Poutine w/ masala fries topped with cheese curds, marinated chicken breast and house made butter chicken sauce

Bliss Café: Calaboza Bowl w/ steamed brown rice & Kabocha squash, avacado w/ herb tahini sauce and spicy papitas, served with a multiseed cracker. The Illuminated Juice - tumeric and carrot.

Brasserie L’Ecole: Endive salad w/ bacon, hazelnuts, apple, mustard wine dressing. pâté de campagne, grain mustard, cornichon, baguette.

La Tana: Pane al Cioccolato. Pizza Bianca and Sfogliatella Napole Tana (sweet ricotta, candied orange, cinnamon, lemon).

La Roux Patisserie: Pumpkin cheesecake, Pumpkin eclair, Pumpkin pie tart, Macorons - pumpkin, chocolate, sea salt.

Bao: Tan Tan Men - ramen noodles topped with ground pork, garlic, shallots, fried soy beans, chinese laoganmo, roasted peanuts.

Pure Lovin’ Chocolate: Assorted dark organic chocolates, organic sponge candy, packaged chocolates.

OLO: Alder Smoked Wild Salmon w/ beets, creme fraiche, nasturtium, pickled onion, rye cracker.

Jusu Bar: Harissa Quinoa Salad, Must be nuts juice, Kale wrap, Atomic bomb shot, Green machine juice (cold pressed).



Do Good Food

Local non-profits and “triple bottom line” companies (people, planet and profits) are helping to make a difference with tasty, healthy food. You can too.

Woodwynn Farms on West Saanich Road




Cinda Chavich

Rebecca Wellman

B.C IS A HOTBED OF SOCIAL ENTERPRISE. From mission-based businesses to non-profit community organizations, it’s easier than you think to give gifts that “pay it forward.” Why not, then, make your money go further by choosing products with a higher purpose when planning your holidays this year. Local organizations produce delicious food, drink and organic ingredients, run cafés, farms and bakeries and much more, all in the name of the greater good. A recent Simon Fraser University study found that the number of social ventures in B.C. increased by 35 percent between 2010 and 2015, with the social enterprise sector employing 13,000 people and earning more than $500 million annually. UVic professor Ana Maria Peredo, who specializes in entrepreneurship and sustainable development, says social enterprises are “especially important where societies have been unwilling or unable to provide the institutions for delivery of such social goods as health care, education and employment.” But the model is growing, especially in the non-profit domain, where cutbacks have reduced grants and other funding sources. Vancity works with not-for-profit enterprises, from Vancouver’s East Van Roasters to Victoria’s LifeCycles Tree Fruit Project. Moira Teevan, Vancity’s community investment manager, says 30 percent of its investment is in “impact businesses or organizations. B.C. has a vibrant social enterprise community that’s significantly bigger than the rest of Canada’s,” says Teevan. “Working with social ventures aligns with our goals as a valuesbased, financial cooperative.” It’s easy to see you’re supporting a non-profit when you shop at a thrift store, but you may not realize how many tasty local food products are helping to change the world for the better, too. Add local “triple bottom line” companies—those that add “people and planet” to the usual “profit” in their business model—and your purchases can have a broader impact. So whether you’re stocking your pantry, planning a party or looking for a tasty gift, choose local products with conscience. Here’s a taste.


We’re having a creamy espresso at East Van Roasters, the rich, smoky aroma of roasting coffee and cacao beans heavy in the air. Famed for making top quality bean-to-bar chocolate, East Van Roasters (EVR) is a hip spot to hang out and buy your coffee beans, but it’s much more than that. EVR is just one of the social enterprises run by Portland Hotel Society Community Services, a non-profit serving the

Richard LeBlanc, director of the non-profit Creating Homefulness Society 41



people of Vancouver’s lower eastside, providing food, emergency and social housing, addiction and health services, and advocacy for the most destitute. The women making chocolate in the glassed-in EVR kitchen—winnowing, roasting and grinding Fair Trade cacao live upstairs in the Rainier Hotel, part of a program to help them get off the street and break the cycle of addiction with meaningful employment and a safe, healthy home. When you stop at the East Van Roasters café, or buy their single origin chocolate bars, baked goods (from sister company East Van Roasters Bakery), coffee beans or truffles (like the natural honey caramels made with their Hives for Humanity urban honey), you’re helping people change their lives. Coffee beans and EVR chocolate bars are also available at other retailers like The Chocolate Project in the Victoria Public Market.

Make oyster eating great again. Freshly shucked oysters now available for takeaway or delivery.

Catering • Platters • Holiday Parties A P P L E A D AY

When trees in Victoria’s “urban orchard” start dropping fruit in late summer, the volunteers at the LifeCycles Tree Fruit Project spring into action. Teams of pickers arrive with ladders and boxes, harvesting literally tons of fruit from backyard trees before it goes to waste. It’s shared among homeowners, volunteers, local food banks and community kitchens, helping to feed more than 17,000 people. A portion also goes into products that make money for other LifeCycles projects, from school gardens and education to seed saving. When I visit Tim Fryatt in late August, he’s busy stockpiling boxes of heirloom apples in their cold storage space for their latest social enterprise, brewing apple cider vinegar and Backyard Blend hard cider. “Our social enterprise here is an adjunct to the Fruit Tree Project, providing 15 percent of our budget,” he says. It all starts with Fryatt hauling 300 boxes of apples to a local farm to press, and ends with the juices fermented, bottled and sold in partnership with Spinnakers Brewpub. 250.634.3233 • 604.366.0400

1715 Government Street 250.475.6260

Dinner 5:30 - 11 pm Tuesday to Saturday

What began with “a couple of people” concerned with food security and waste 18 years ago, is now a busy non-profit harvesting 50,000 pounds of fruit from backyard trees as well as excess farm produce. The demand for gleaning has outstripped their infrastructure. With more vans, pickers and volunteers, they could save and distribute even more. “This week alone we had 110 homeowners register, some with many trees,” Fryatt says. “Last night we picked 700 pounds of apples. I think there’s more than 100,000 pounds of fruit growing in backyards that we could save, and that’s conservative.” LifeCycles’ Backyard Cider is a complex blend of dozens of local varieties. Find it at Spinnakers Spirit Merchants stores. The naturally fermented apple cider vinegar (newly labelled as “South Island Apples Rescued from Local Backyards”) is sold at the brewery shop and other local retailers, including Market on Yates, The Local General Store and The Root Cellar. LifeCycles volunteers also produce a slow-roasted quince paste made in the Marina restaurant kitchens and sold at the cheese counter at Ottavio’s. Buying these artisan products supports sustainable local food systems while insuring good food isn’t wasted.


There are other ways to fill your glass with a larger purpose. This year, the B.C. chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier produced both a red and a white wine, with all profits going to their Food & Beverage Scholarship Fund for local women. A collaboration between several women winemakers and viticulturists in B.C., the allOkanagan wines include fruit sourced from Anne Sperling’s family vineyard in Kelowna, with help from Katie Holmes of Summerhill Winery and Janice Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyards. Vancouver sommelier Mireille Sauvé acted as winemaker for the 2015 Dames White, an aromatic Pinot Blanc-based blend, and the 2013 Dames Red, an organic wine combining Merlot and Syrah grapes. 43

Sign up for the Organic Veggie Box CSA or visit the farm’s General Store for grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, or free-range eggs. Providence Farm participants also make wooden cutting boards and utensils, handcraft dining tables and host fundraising events featuring top chefs and musicians.

Sauvé herself was a Les Dames scholarship winner and credits it with helping her become Canada’s youngest female sommelier 20 years ago. The wines retail at $25 at private wine stores and on restaurant menus across B.C. Les Dames d’Escoffier is a philanthropic organization with 36 chapters throughout North America and the UK.

Or head to Woodwynn Farms on West Saanich Road, another social enterprise selling local food products fresh from the farm. You might have noticed the big white barn just beyond Brentwood Bay. It’s now home to Woodwynn Farms’ new farm market and café. The bins are filled with just picked heirloom tomatoes and squash, with pastured chickens in the freezer and dried medicinal and culinary herbs on the shelves. A new patio overlooks the rolling farm fields, where you can have a coffee or an ice cream, says Richard LeBlanc, director of the non-profit Creating Homefulness Society that operates this therapeutic farm helping the CRD’s homeless stay off the street.


When Todd and Cindy Ryan opened the original Sally Bun cafés in Victoria, they never imagined their altruistic attitude would someday inspire her son Kane to set up a small charity project in the slums of Mumbai, with his own Vancouver café to support it. The Ryans sold the last Sally Bun café in 2010, but they didn’t take a typical retirement. The couple now spends half the year in the Indian slums running The Dirty Wall Project ( and living by their son’s original motto: “I can’t help everyone, but I can help someone.” With a tiny budget, the Ryans have built a school in the Saki Naka slum, cleaned up a garbage-filled dump site to create a community park, even paid for surgeries and school fees for children and families. The Lost + Found Café, which Kane originally opened in Vancouver’s Gastown to support the charity, was recently sold but still helps raise funds for the slum project while serving savoury filled buns (think Mumbai mash roll, egg and cheddar or sundried tomato, pesto, artichoke) based on the family’s original recipe. Closer to home, you can support local community programs by stopping at the Cornerstone Café, a social enterprise with profits going to the Fernwood NRG’s affordable housing, childcare and other neighbourhood initiatives. Breakfast wraps, sandwiches, soups and locally roasted Discovery Coffee are sold and $5 from every pound of coffee is reinvested in Fernwood community services. After 4 p.m., there’s pizza and Phillips beer on tap (wine and cider, too) with live entertainment on Bluegrass Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Or check out Skookum Food & Coffee at the Westshore Child, Youth and Family Centre—a little bistro run by

youth in the 12-week Skookum Skillz program (teaching everything from food prep and knife skills to safe food handling). Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., it’s a great place for freshly baked cookies and muffins, soups, salads and sandwiches, 2% Jazz coffee and Silk Road Tea. Catering services focus on locally sourced ingredients.


Another altruistic spot is Providence Farm in the Cowichan Valley offering horticulture therapy and vocational training for people with mental health or developmental challenges. Head out to The Farm Table on the historic farm, a seasonal restaurant offering three-course menus of farmraised ingredients prepared and served by Vancouver Island University culinary students.




Agriculture is at the heart of the program, from the farm work providing daily responsibilities, exercise and routine for participants, to the nutritious food that sustains them. Residents have collectively rejuvenated farm buildings, built greenhouses and planted crops, harvested organic vegetables and hay, and raising pastured chicken and pigs with the help of local volunteers. As the organic farm evolves, LeBlanc says they hope to raise cattle and create value-added food products for sale. Today, Katie Wamboldt, the talented cook who is making an aromatic pot of borscht for lunch, is also infusing organic vinegar with plums and cherries from the farm. Home Depot has volunteered to renovate the old farmhouse kitchen, but the immediate goal is to build green, sustainable housing for participants, most now housed in donated motor homes and RVs clustered in a field. Inspired by the world’s most successful addiction recovery program—Italy’s San Patrignano—Woodwynn Farms provides a long-term, healthy home and new start to many in need. Shop at their farm store or buy their pastured meat products at Carnivore Meats & More in Brentwood Bay.


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ridiculous!” Valerie adds with a laugh. “Now I can buy a dessert that is incredibly beautiful at Fol Epi. After a big meal, people are hungry with their eyes more than their stomachs. Some beautiful, sculptural thing with fresh fruit is the perfect visual cue to satisfy that hunger.” Valerie Murray’s visual sense, an outgrowth of her fine arts degree and her passion for mid-20th century art and design, informs her dinner parties from the table setting and floral display to the serving dishes and bowls.

Master gardener and consummate host Valerie Murray talks about the changing nature of feeding friends.


VALERIE MURRAY’S DINNER PARTIES ARE LEGENDARY. One of Victoria’s most gifted gardeners, Valerie’s annual solstice parties were a highlight of the summer season for two decades. Celebrations of the local food scene with live music and more than 100 guests, the parties were a feast for the senses. Close friends know that Bryan and Valerie Murray’s more intimate dinner parties are equally enchanting. The couple recently downsized from their sprawling, 1950s rancher and large, critically acclaimed garden in Uplands to an elegant, third-floor apartment overlooking Beacon Hill Park. As we sat in her sleek but cozy kitchen over steaming mugs of coffee, Valerie reflected on what it takes to create a great dinner party. “It isn’t just about the food. It’s about creating a whole atmosphere and making people feel comfortable. There are parallels with gardening,” she says. “I liked my garden most when it was a backdrop to large garden parties, not when it was on show. I liked the garden most when it looked like it happened naturally, seamlessly. You have to think about it to make that happen, when it just kind of flows, and dinner parties are like that too.” Describing her food philosophy, Valerie credits authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Michael Pollan for helping to refine her thoughts about cooking and Vancouver’s John


Her dining room table is made from a copper door she noticed as a child when her family would drive around Oak Bay looking at Christmas lights. She salvaged it 25 years ago when it was discarded, and furniture designer Allan Collier created a base for it. The table seats eight people comfortably. When she needs more seating, Valerie flips the top of a rosewood games table that she uses for a serving table and puts it beside the copper table to increase seating “to 12 comfortably, 14 very friendly.” “I love soft, warm light when eating and often use candles, but I rely on the dimmer switch to the contemporary light fixture that Ross Taylor of Gabriel Ross insisted on installing himself because, in his experience, electricians usually hang light fixtures too high. Our sculptural fixture is 27 inches from the tabletop to create an intimate feeling in a space with nine- foot ceilings.”

Bishop, Vikram Vij, Mark Miller of Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe and Berkeley’s Alice Waters as other important kitchen mentors such as Raven Hill Farm’s Noel Richardson. “My grannie and mom were great cooks and loved a full table too. Locally there are so many great ingredients now. It’s impossible to go wrong with a good farm chicken, fresh corn from Silver Rill and new potatoes from the garden. It’s not about the cook. I go to restaurants to try something I’d never try at home. In my kitchen, I like to cook familiar things that I want to share. Twenty years ago I remember a neighbourhood kid, I think he was eight years old, telling me, “I like eating at your house. You use ingredients!” Valerie used to have to go to Vancouver’s Les Amis du Fromage for the cheese offerings for her solstice parties. Her husband used to bake the bread.

Such visual detail also guided the design of the Murrays’ new kitchen in the 1912-built Hampton Court apartment. The red marmoleum flooring is soft underfoot and easy to clean. The old room’s high ceilings are accented by dramatic, mid-century fixtures that light work stations with an industrial-sized, integral, stainless steel counter and sink. “I wanted lots of wooden bread boards,” explains Valerie while sliding a pair out from the counter and then turning around in the narrow kitchen and sliding another out from beside the stove. “I have a fourth bread board that pulls out of the old table at the end of the room, so lots of work space. The stainless steel counter is great for making pastry, and all the shelving and drawers in the counter pull out while keeping the kitchen design clean. I even measured the wine glasses to figure out how much cupboard space we needed.” Above the sink are three tiers of horizontal, modular shelving with sliding doors inspired by Le Corbusier’s niece.

“We were spoiled by the bread and cheese we’d discovered in Europe, so before Cliff Leir’s bread at Wildfire and Fol Epi, Brian baked all our bread. He still makes the best pizza I’ve ever had.

“He gets all the credit, but she saw Tansu storage chests while trapped in Japan during the war. I love midcentury design and like to hide my mess!” Valerie chuckles while sliding the shelf doors open and closed. “I played around with colour on the sliding doors too. I spend so much time here that I wanted the new kitchen to bring me joy.”

“I was born here, and I’ve watched how Victoria’s food scene has improved. Now there’s great coffee, tea, cheeses, even local-made chocolates. Thirty years ago I made petits fours for a baby shower ... absolutely

“Art was always more important than appliances. I didn’t want my kitchen counter cluttered with appliances. I’ve got a toaster and a kettle and a Kitchen Aid mixer stored away, but this new piece over my sink,” Valerie adds with

a sigh, “This Herbert Siebner scraffito is the ultimate luxury in the kitchen!” The Siebner scraffito shares the kitchen’s gallery-like walls with a Toni Onley etching from the 1960s, and other local art by Jack Wilkinson, Margaret Peterson, Elza Mayhew, Max Bates, Karl Spreitz, Mark Laver and Flemming Jorgensen. On one wall there’s a large, silver, abstract sculpture that Valerie explains was once the stylized B in a sign on a Government Street restaurant called Brand’s before she turned it on its side as a piece of found art for her kitchen.

“Sharing good company and the ritual of the meal is the most important thing.” - V A L E R I E M U R R A Y Since moving into their apartment, Brian and Valerie’s solstice parties have been scaled back to large picnics in Beacon Hill Park. Frequent dinner parties host six to 10 guests, and more frequent family dinners are even larger affairs with a growing brood of spouses and grand children. “I try to get my extended family of 11 together for a meal once a week. We also have another three dinner parties most months.” When Bryan and Valerie sold Victoria Spirits Ltd. in 2015, son Peter stayed on as general manager and master distiller of what is now called Victoria Distillers. Daughter Anna is a successful chef at her own Bread and

Butter Catering Company. Daughter Mia lives in Toronto and is at University of Toronto doing post-doctorial study in cultural geography. Son Max is at Harvard studying for his PhD in composition and conducting a Harvard orchestra. When all the kids, grandkids and friends come for Christmas dinner, Valerie hosts 40 people. “We’re really spoiled and lucky,” she explains. “I buy vegetables from my sister’s Late Harvest Farm in Cobble Hill and from my volunteers’ vegetable garden at Government House where I’ve been garden advisor for the last seven years.” Before her “part-time job” of managing a couple hundred volunteers in the Government House gardens, Valerie managed Abkhazi Garden for eight years, the winter garden at the Horticultural Centre and UVic’s Finnerty Garden before that. She’s been on the board of the Conservatory of Music for the past five years and helped launch the organization’s From Breakfast to Beethoven, which offers music outreach while feeding kids breakfast in under-serviced areas of Victoria. “Over the last 40 years I’ve been swept along by all sorts of food fashions and trends, which I realize I did mostly for myself to learn to master. Sometimes I did and other times my efforts were less than successful. Now I just want the people at my table to be comfortable. Sharing good company and the ritual of the meal is the most important thing.”

Valerie’s Top 10 Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party 1. Linen napkins tied in a knot with a little bit of style set a festive mood and a relaxed tone for the night. 2. For a flower arrangement, try a single stem from your garden or buy something simple during winter months. 3. Use a good container that appeals to the eye for the flowers, but make sure the arrangement is not in anybody’s way. 4. Use a simple, coloured tablecloth that appeals to the eye. 5. Use big serving dishes that embody a ceremonial quality. I serve my Christmas lamb couscous in a big, super-heavy, copper pot and my summer strawberries in a big mortar and pestle bowl. They create a sense of abundance. I use my mother ’s large dishes and big cassoulet pot for their memories and ceremonial quality. 6. Don’t try new recipes unless you experiment in advance. Stick to three courses. Soup can be made or salad assembled in advance. 7. Background music in our house is often recordings of Bill Evans piano standards or other classic jazz playing down the hall in Brian’s listening room. 8. I love picnics in the park with little children. I use colourful, plastic tablecloths that I found in Paris and London. There’s always a spill and nobody cares. The kids are asked to sit at the table until dessert. 9. When my daughter Anna started cooking professionally, I was afraid—and tried fancy stuff. Never be afraid to ask a chef for dinner. They like simple stuff. They know. 10. Roast chicken or just barely cooked fish is always great, but if time is on your side then I’d go for a slow-cooked cassoulet or braised lamb shanks— almost impossible to overcook. With roast chicken you get to make stock, you get great aroma therapy and more “ingredients” to play with.



Jennifer Danter PHOTOGRAPHY

André Rozon




This is what happens when a classic cocktail meets a much-beloved dessert. It’s a boozy mashup of traditional, date-infused cakey pudding loaded with ginger, lime and lots of dark rum. And of course it’s topped with sticky toffee sauce laced with dark chocolate. Let the celebrations begin. Serves 8-10 with 1 1⁄2 cups of sauce

Dark ’n’ Stormy Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger 1 tsp grated lime peel 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract

TOFFEE SAUCE 11⁄4 cups packed brown sugar ⁄2 cup 35% whipping cream




6 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for oiling pan


11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus extra for pan 11⁄2 cups pitted, chopped Medjool dates 1 cup hot ginger or lemon tea or hot water 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder ⁄2 tsp kosher salt



⁄4 cup packed brown sugar

⁄3 cup unsalted butter ⁄4 cup dark rum

2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped Butter and lightly flour a small bundt pan. Place dates in a bowl and pour hot tea overtop. Cover and microwave on high, until very hot, about 2 min. Let stand for 10 min., and then stir in baking soda. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk 11⁄2 cups flour with baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar, ginger and lime peel until light and

fluffy, 3-5 min. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until mixed. Beat in vanilla. Working on low speed, add half the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Beat in date mixture and then remaining flour just until mixed. Do not overmix or cake will be tough. Turn into pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated 325°F oven until puffy and a cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 35-40 min. Cool on a wire rack for 15 min., then carefully turn out of pan. Cool completely on rack. While pudding is baking, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, stir sugar with cream, butter and rum. Bring to a boil, stirring often, until sauce thickens, 4 to 6 min. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. If making ahead, brush cooled pudding with more rum (if you wish) and store in an air-tight container up to 3 days. Refrigerate sauce up to 1 week. Warm sauce over low heat, stirring often, until smooth. Place pudding on a large plate and drizzle half the warm sauce over top. Serve with ice cream and remaining sauce.



LIGHTER, LOWER ALCOHOL WINES ARE A WELCOME TREND ON THE GLOBAL WINE SCENE The sun is shining and the thermometer is indicating 40 degree Celsius. I am in the middle of what looks like a desert. Welcome to Swartland, one of South Africa’s most dynamic wine regions. At our table I see the glasses getting filled with a pale red to go with the delicious mix of biltong. The wine is slightly chilled, light in body with soft tannins and packed with juicy notes of red cherries and strawberries. Guessing the grape is nearly impossible. I’ve never been exposed to a red wine like this from South Africa. “It’s Pinotage,” says David Sadie of David & Nadia winery. Until that moment, the very last word I would have used to describe Pinotage was refreshing. The next two weeks of my travels in South Africa were going to be followed with experiences like this again and again. Winemakers kept on talking about how Pinotage was not meant to be rich, heavy and over-extracted. It was, after all, a grape born by crossing two grapes (Pinot

Noir and Cinsault) known for producing light, delicate and fruity character. Young and dynamic South African producers are determined to rewrite Pinotage’s story. Earlier picking, shorter maceration time and whole cluster, carbonic or semi-carbonic fermentation are all techniques that are contributing to this change. Stunning Cinsaults from old, dry-farmed vines surprise just as much with their seductive wild strawberries, orange and cherry notes. In the glass, they look almost like a cru Beaujolais. The trend of crafting lighter style wines is not unique to South Africa. As with everything, when the pendulum swings too far one way, it usually comes back the other way. Once upon a time, consumers knew they could count on the warmer climes of New World wine regions to get a rich, bold white or red. It was fashionable. Bigger was just better. These wines were encouraged by some


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wine critics by rewarding them with high scores. Some winemakers even changed their winemaking style and left their grapes to hang on the vines longer in order to reach a higher alcohol level. That coupled with long maceration time (for the reds) meant you had a good chances of getting 90+ points. And the movement spread to European countries. Some red Bordeaux went from 12.5% to a higher 13.5. Ripe, rich and fruit-driven wines were the words on the street. Who’s more to blame? The critics or the consumers? A tough call. But thankfully, things are changing. Currently, one of the hottest wine trends to be witnessed around the world, with both producers and consumers, is a desire to make and drink lighter-bodied wines, often with a lower alcohol content. Rosé has never been more popular. Sommeliers are now listing rosés year-round, proposing creative food and wine pairing. Provence is


the favourite child. God bless its light colour and delicate flavours. This change has been especially notable in New World wine countries like South Africa, Chile and Australia, where many winemakers are committed to showing the world that they too can produce light and refreshing reds and whites. During this past year I’ve had the privilege to be the guest international wine judge at both the Sydney Royal Wine Show and the McLaren Vale Wine show in Australia. We get to taste about 200 wines a day for five days. By the end of the week, you have a pretty good handle on the wine styles and trend. What surprised me the most was perhaps the Grenache in McLaren Vale. If a producer was making wine in the oldfashioned way (oaky and packed with jammy fruit flavour) they did not stand a chance of moving forward and getting a trophy. Judges (oenologists and sommeliers) were encouraging a fresher style. They kept on talking about “pinosity,” meaning they love when Grenache is elegant, fresh and reminiscent of Pinot Noir. I’ve personally struggled over the years with Grenache, and not only in Australia. The new style of Australian Grenache made me rekindle my relationship with the grape. Many of them are even better if slightly chilled. Look out for those from Ochota Barrels, BK Wines and Yalumba. This phenomenon does not stop with Grenache. It’s happening all over Australia and with many other grapes, including Syrah and Chardonnay, thanks to a combination of vision, winemaking, high altitude and cooler sites being explored. Chile is another country that’s been going through a rebirth. First they planted in cooler areas like Casablanca. This started in the early 1980s. Pedro Parra is amongst those producers who keep on pushing this boundary by crafting wines from “extreme terroir.’’ He is seeking vineyards planted at altitude, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and in southern regions. He wants to show a new Chile. Look out for his Clos des Fous label. One of the other exciting things in Chile in the last few years has been the revival of dry-

farmed old vines Carignan and País from the Maule Valley and Bío Bío regions. Winemakers are turning these grapes, which were originally considered poor quality, into juicy, lip-smacking reds. If the New World has been impressing with these major makeovers, the Old World should not be left behind. Sicily has been making some noise with its Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Cerasuolo di Vittoria (blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato). Every cool sommelier on the block has one of these fresh and lively reds on their list. Reds from Ribeira Sacra and Bierzo in Spain are two other areas that are getting wine lovers’ attention lately. Once abandoned, they are being revived by a group who are crafting savoury wines. Mencía, the grape behind these two appellations, is often compared to Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley and Syrah from the Northern Rhône. The list of examples could go on, and to that, we could add those who have historically been known for producing easy to drink and quaffable wines. Think of Muscadet from the Loire Valley. Light and usually at around 11.5-12%, their delicate flavours of wet stones and mineral notes scream for a plate of oysters. Vinho Verde is Portugal’s answer to Muscadet. Basic Vihno Verde is sold at between 8 and 11.5%. And how about those delicious, juicy Germany Rieslings? Even in our own backyard, we have plenty of wines that are fitting this description. Nichol Vineyard’s Syrah and Little Farm Pied de Cuve Cabernet Franc come to mind immediately.

“Celebrating 24 years in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter”

Welcome to a Food Lover’s Paradise! • Exotic Cheeses and Chutneys • Truffles, Olives and Patés • Gourmet Oils and Vinegars • British, European and South African Imported Foods 250.754.0100

In Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter 426 Fitzwilliam St. Nanaimo, BC

This new wave of wine is a real breath of fresh air. It gives consumers many options to choose from. With the numerous celebrations coming up, it’s nice to know that buying a wine that won’t tire your palate after a glass is easy to find. Let alone having the pleasure of enjoying a second glass without feeling tipsy because the alcohol is 13.5%! Perhaps from that will come the next trend: embracing wine at lunchtime. It’s much easier to enjoy a glass when you know you can go back to work sober. That’s the way to live. CONT’D NEXT PAGE 53

Tasting Notes WHITES 2014 BROKENWOOD SEMILLON, HUNTER VALLEY, AUSTRALIA 11%, $34-37 Semillon is one of the great jewels of Australia, but not enough people realize how good they are. It’s all about delicacy and elegance. The beautiful flavours of lime zest and lanolin make

Share your favourite Blue Grouse wine this season

this wine a great match with fresh oysters.



(SKU#433730) Juicy with aromas of lemon, grapefruit zest and laurel, Quinta do Ameal is available year-round and always a good buy. Ideal for sole and halibut.



Well known in the Basque Country to accompany tapas, Txakoli is getting some love from sommeliers in big cities like New York and San Francisco. Light with flavours of apples and

Available A vailable at a

Cascadia Liquor Metro Liquor Liquor Plus Beverly Corners Thrifty Foods Liquor Cook Street Liquor Village Liquor Store Gabriola Spinnakers Spirit Merchants Strath Ale, Wine & Spirit Merchants Cork & Barrel Liquor Planet 17 Mile Liquor Shoppe Lucky’s Liquor

lemon peel, it’s a great partner with ceviche and goat cheese.

2015 LITTLE FARM, RIESLING, MULBERRY TREE VINEYARD, SIMILKAMEEN VALLEY, BC, 12.5% $30-35 Dry, high in acid and a tiny bit austere, Little Farm is one of my favourite B.C. Rieslings. It definitely shines better at the table. Think cheese fondue or fresh seafood.


$29-32 One of the best vintages I’ve had from this producer. Subtle notes of rhubarb, cranberries and wet stones. Your excuse to drink pink in the winter months.


$30-35 (SKU# 957019) If you want to be exposed to a fresher style of Shiraz from Australia this is it. Seductive notes of violet and red plums. Shines with rack of lamb and meat pie. 2014 JUDEKA, CERASUOLO DI VITTORIA DOCG, ITALY, 13%, $28-32 (SKU# 749085)

Liquor Depot

(60% Nero d’Avola & 40% Frappato) Everything I like in a red wine is in that bottle. Charming

Commons Liquor & More

with pretty notes of red cherries and wild strawberries. Love the floral notes. Friendly with

Beacon Landing

salmon, tuna and poultry.

Vancouver Island Liquor



I was served this blind and thought it was a cru Beaujolais. What a great discovery!

Greenrock Liquor Store Nanaimo Caddy Bay Liquor

Appealing flavours of orange and red cherries. Worked well with my charcuterie and pâtés. 2014 JEAN-PAUL BRUN, TERRES DORÉES, BEAUJOLAIS AOC, 12.5%, $23-27 (SKU# 681569) Beaujolais is my go-to for so many of my favourite dish, including roasted chicken and grilled sockeye salmon. You can always count on this producer to deliver. Solid!


@BlueGr @BlueGrouseWines ouseWines




A Beer and a Bite


The Beer Fuggles & Warlock”Bean Me Up” Espresso Milk Stout Big and creamy chocolate and coffee (from Salt Spring Coffee) flavours with a slight sweetness and a touch of bitter. 5.7% abv,

THE Bite We used locally-made in Fairfield Tout de Sweet marshmallows but you could make your own with the recipe below.

The Conclusion Try fire-roasted marshmallows and chocolately beer together for a new take on the classic s’more. Vanilla Bourbon Marshmallows, by Tout de Sweet Confections

The Bloom 5 teaspoons unflavoured powdered gelatin ½ cup cold water 1 tablespoon bourbon The Syrup ¾ cup organic sugar ½ cup organic corn syrup ¼cup water 1 tablespoon bourbon Plus 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract Coating: ¼ cup organic icing sugar + ¼ cup tapioca or organic corn starch (sugar & starch sifted together) Whisk together the gelatin, cold water and bourbon and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. In a medium saucepan (1 1/2-quart pot) mix together sugar, corn syrup, water + bourbon over a high heat. Whisk mixture occasionally until mixture reaches a boil and then let mixture boil until exactly 240 degrees F. Meanwhile (while syrup is reaching temperature on the stove), microwave gelatin mixture for 1 minute on high and then pour it into a stand mixer bowl. Mix on medium-high for approximately 3 minutes or until gelatin turns white and is very light, fluffy. When syrup reaches 240 degrees, take off heat and pour it slowly into the mixer bowl with fluffy gelatin. Beat on medium-high for 10 minutes. Add vanilla extract and then mix for 1 to 2 minutes more on the highest setting. Using a spatula, pour mixture into a 8 x 8 baking pan that is lined with parchment paper. Let set for 6+ hours at room temperature. Sift icing sugar/starch mixture generously over top. Use a knife to loosen the mallows from the edges of the pan and invert onto a work surface. Cut mallows into squares and dip into the coating mixture. 55



Holiday Table WHITES

“Free-Range” Poultry and Game Birds, Quality Meats, Cheeses, Specialty Products & Condiments

ON VIGNETI DEL SOLE PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2015 ITALY $11-13 This lovely little Pinot Grigio from the Veneto is surprisingly concentrated considering its humble price point. Fresh and clean with apple, pear and mineral flavours, soft acidity and a dry finish.

2577 Cadboro Bay Road,VICTORIA


8TH GENERATION RIESLING 2015 OKANAGAN $19-21 I still remember the Okanagan wine industry during the dark ages when most of the Riesling produced in the valley was Okanagan Riesling. Boy, have times changed. British Columbia has earned a reputation for the superb quality of its many wines and Riesling is no longer “an after thought!” Off dry with concentrated apricot, peach and pineapple aromas and flavours nicely balanced with a jolt of bracing acidity. DOURTHE LA GRANDE CUVEE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 FRANCE $17-19 If you are a diehard fan of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc this blockbuster from Bordeaux, is for you. Big, bold and bursting with herbs, citrus and gooseberry aromas that expand through the palate picking up power and intensity. Nicely balanced with good length and a clean, crisp finish.

REDS TRIVENTO RESERVE MALBEC 2015 ARGENTINA $13-16 The 2015 Malbec just recently scored 95 points and won a Platinum award at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Not bad for a wine under twenty bucks! It’s big, it’s powerful and it’s choc-o-block full of ripe fruit flavours. A real mouthful with plenty of flesh and a long lingering finish. CROIX SAINT-MARTIN BORDEAUX 2014 FRANCE $16-18 A great bottle to reintroduce yourself to Bordeaux, at a price that won’t bring you to your knees. This classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is soft and fruity, with ripe berry flavours and supple tannins. Unmistakeably Bordeaux. CH PEY LA TOUR RESERVE DU CHATEAU BORDEAUX SUPERIOR 2011 FRANCE $23-25 Located just outside of St. Emilion, Chateau Pey La Tour’s 2011 is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Aged for twelve months in a combination of new and used oak, this lovely Bordeaux is medium bodied and balanced with concentrated blackberry, vanilla, earth and cassis flavours, soft tannins and long finish.



VIETTI BARBERA D’ALBA TRE VIGNA 2014 ITALY $38-42 Very closed at first but really opened up over the course of an hour. Medium bodied with sweet cherry and earth nuances, great fruit with plenty of heft held in check with a patina of fine grained tannins and a backbone of refreshing acidity. Drinking well now. MASI COSTASERA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2011 ITALY

$52-55 Amarone is the king of Veronese wine and stands among the best of Italy. The 2011 is a wine that shows its pedigree with every sip. Very forward with enticing aromas of ripe maraschino cherries, plums, spice and blackberries. On the palate Costasera is full-bodied with intense fruit flavours, a soft, velvety texture and unbelievable length. CASTAREDE ARMAGNAC XO FRANCE

$108-115 For every bottle of Armagnac, 35 bottles of Cognac are sold. This is not a reflection on quality. At a recent tasting, owner Florence Castarede poured 5 vintages of Armagnac dating back to 1976 (the oldest dates back to 1888) and an XO. Across the board the quality was beyond reproach. Castarede is aged a minimum 20 years before release. Burnished brass in colour, the bouquet comes at you in waves, opening with vanilla and dark toffee followed by walnuts, bacon fat and maple, and the list goes on. Rich and almost unctuous on the palate with simple flavours leaning towards prunes, raisins, almonds and maple. Round and supple with a long, dry finish. Excellent.



The clean, smooth, blue agave spirit deserves to go beyond the margarita. BACK IN 2007, I WAS INVITED to Cancun to judge the Agave Spirit Awards. It was my first judging assignment and one, to this day, I thank for introducing me to some of the best spirits I’ve ever tasted. Five days and 160 tequilas, mezcals and sotols later, I fell in love with Ron Cooper and Del Maguey, Ha cienda Chihuahua Sotol and añejo tequila.

want from anything you have. When they were creating this cocktail at Café Mexico, they were thinking of the classic Mexican dessert, Arroz con Leche: rice pudding with cinnamon and vanilla. This is the basis for the Old Fashioned now on the menu. The Hornitos Black Barrel from Sauza is deep and rich with flavours of vanilla, caramel and oak from double-aging in ex bourbon barrels and heavily charred oak casks. Make a simple vanilla and cinnamoninfused agave with agave syrup and equal parts water in a pot on low heat, adding cinnamon and a sliced vanilla bean, and taking it off the heat to slowly infuse. The kick of the Bittered Sling Plum and Rootbeer bitters gives the drink an overall complexity that complements the other ingredients.

As a lover of cognac, rum and whiskey, this was my foray into the world of añejo (meaning aged) and the small, very new “extra añejo” category. Añejo is a special breed of tequila, one rooted in the clean spirit of the Blanco while adding tones of caramel, toasted oak and vanilla. It’s one of the new “it” spirits for your at-home cocktail arsenal. When training new bartenders or at-home cocktail enthusiasts, I try to simplify the cocktail creation process. The classics are the classics for good reason; they have staying power throughout the generations. I’m not talking about doing an old-school Cadillac margarita using high end ingredients. I’m going to show you that añejo tequila can be substituted for whiskey, cognac, even gin in many classic cocktails. Substituting one base ingredient with another is the simplest way to put a twist on a classic. When substituting ingredients, keep, to a degree, colour for colour. The gin in a classic gin cocktail could, then, be substituted with Blanco tequila, or mezcal for a smokier flavour, while in something that uses whiskey, a reposado may fit the bill. Finally, a cognac-based cocktail would appreciate the substitution of an añejo tequila with the deeper flavours that come along with it.

Tequila is more than just margaritas; it can be complex or simple and clean, enjoyed mixed or straight. Whichever way you like to drink it, it’s a spirit that needs more exploration for many drinkers.

Mexican cuisine has seen a sharp increase in popularity in Victoria in recent years. We even have our own “Mexican District” at Fort and Blanshard with Tacofino, La Taqueria, La Taquisa and La Bogota all within walking distance and all showcasing very different styles of cuisine and drinks. The granddaddy of them all, which was devastated by fire two years ago, has risen in the original location with a whole new feel, a new chef and a bigger, more expansive bar; Café Mexico reopened at the end of September to the relieved sighs of many loyal guests. One of the cocktails on its menu is a perfect example of the substitution model. A classic old fashioned is as simple as base spirit, bitters and sugar. Using this equation, you can create anything you

ARROZ CON LECHE OLD FASHIONED 2 oz. Sauza Hornitos Black Barrel ⅓ oz. Vanilla and Mexican Cinnamon-infused agave syrup Dash Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer Bitters Fill an old fashioned glass with ice, add the tequila, syrup and bitters. Stir. Garnish with an orange twist and star anise. PHOTO BY REBECCA WELLMAN


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Hudson’s On First

Adrienne’s Restaurant & Tea Garden

Award winning dining in a beautifully restored heritage home. Local ingredients, classic techniques and made from scratch cooking are a just few reasons to visit us in Duncan more often. Celebrate Bubbles & Brunch, Lunch and Dinner.

High Tea - Come and visit our Bakery, Deli and Restaurant for Breakfast, Lunch and Afternoon High Tea, we also offer Afternoon Tea plate and Kid’s Tea plate! New in our Deli and Bakery: house made Linzer Cookies, Vanilla Kipferl and Coconut macaroons. We have now available Wildfire organic artisan wood oven baked breads, also as Sandwiches to go! Open daily!

163 First St. Duncan, BC, 250-597-0066,

Duncan Garage Café & Bakery Festive and Funky, The Duncan Garage Café and Bakery features Holiday cookies, fruitcakes, breads, jams and so much more. Gift them. Serve them. Or take a minute, breath, relax and enjoy them one at a time with your favorite beverage. Committed to serving local,organic and healthy vegetarian food and baking for over 15 years. 330 Duncan St., Downtown Duncan (across from the railway station), 250-748-6223

SALT SPRING ISLAND Henri Procter Realtor

WHISK Victoria Public Market 778 433 9184

New kitchen, new home? Henri is an award winning Realtor, serving Saltspring for 30 years. Positive, friendly and professional, Henri will excel in finding your perfect match. Henri Procter, MacDonald Realty, 250.537.1201,

VICTORIA PUBLIC MARKET Whisk Happy Holiday season. Thank you for supporting us for the last three years and making our business a success! Fully stocked with all of your favourites: Fiestaware, Le Creuset and lots of stocking stuffers. At the Victoria Public Market, 778-433-9184,, Facebook and Instagram. Open 7 days a week

THE LOCAL GENERAL STORE 1440 Haultain St, (Corner of Haultain & Belmont) (778) 265-6225 Mon-Fri 9:30-6:00 Saturday 9:30-5:30


5325 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria, BC, 250-658-1535,

VICTORIA The Local General Store Come visit our warm, old-world 21st century general store to find unique locally-made and fair trade gifts for all celebrations. A one-stop sustainable source of seasonal organic produce, as well as household goods, stationery, toys, body care, and refillable cleaning products. 1440 Haultain St, (Corner of Haultain & Belmont) (778) 265-6225,


THINKING OF GIVING SOMEONE A GIFT CERTIFICATE TO STAGE WINE BAR OR THE LIVET? Starting December 1st, for every increment of $50 you purchase you’ll receive a gift card for two glasses of bubbly and an amuse bouche! One good gift deserves another!