Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I recently participated in an inspiring and mouth watering Thai cooking class at Cook Culture. The instructor was local chef Heidi Fink. Buoyed up by what I learned in the class, and impressed with Heidi's teaching style, I decided to accompany her on one of her culinary tours of Chinatown. 

I have always been smitten with Victoria's tiny but vibrant Chinatown. Heidi's culinary tours are a veritable gold mine for anyone who loves Asian style cooking but finds the array of unfamiliar ingredients on display a little daunting.  Heidi will demystify everything with her warm accessible teaching style.  During the tour, I learned about Asian produce and how to prepare it, the differences between rice, egg and bean thread noodles, where to find the best quality condiments, sauces, rice, and curry paste and much more.  We sampled unique bakery items and some succulent roast duck and bbq pork.  I had been trying for ages to find galangal to no avail and Heidi showed me the light (hint: it is on Government street) The tour concluded with a tea tasting at Silk Roads.  We were given a comprehensive handout full of pertinent information and some mouth-watering recipes to try.  

I strongly recommend Heidi's tour for anyone interested in expanding their home cooking repertoire and knowledge.  I will most definitely be trying my new recipes as soon as I am able.  I can now shop in Victoria's Chinatown with confidence and enthusiasm.  Thanks Heidi!

For more information, check out Heidi's web page:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Brentwood Bay Pub has ambiance to spare.  Floor to ceiling windows flood the room with light.   Whether you choose to sit indoors by the cozy fireplace or out on the heated patio (complete with outdoor fire pit!) you'll have a commanding view of the marina.   This pub offers friendly service and one of the best ocean views on the island.

I must profess I haven't sampled much from Brentwood Bay Pub's menu but I simply had to give a shout out to their superb seafood chowder.  Steve and I have sampled it on two occasions.  At first we balked at the price ($13 for a bowl seemed eye wateringly expensive) but we had a craving so we gave in.  We were glad we did.   We were each served a veritable tureen of smoky creamy broth brimming with chunks of salmon, halibut, ling cod and clams and topped with a garlicky crouton.  Steve orders chowder nearly everywhere he goes and he gave this a big thumbs up.  It is the best we have tried.  This chowder is sublimely smoky and sweet and the creamy rich broth sated our appetite for hours.

While the chowder may be on the pricey side, beer is very reasonable. A pint of craft beer is $4.50. A glass of wine is $4.00.  Brentwood Bay pub also serves up gourmet woodfire baked pizzas, steaks, salads, and burgers.  Given that restaurants face tremendous challenges to meet their costs and retain any profit I am not going to begrudge them here.  The relaxed atmosphere and excellent service go a long way to placating any wallet angst.  

I would suggest for a double bill you head to Oldfield Farm (see previous post) and cap off your afternoon with a cold beer at Brentwood Bay pub.   I can't think of a more rewarding way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon!

Brentwood Pub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Oldfield Orchard Bakery is located in picturesque Saanichton.   It is well worth the drive.  If you do venture out you'll enjoy some of Vancouver Island's most idyllic scenery as you meander along.  Once you reach your destination you'll be glad you made the trip. 

This Bakery, located in the farming community of Saanichton, makes superb fruit pies using their own produce.  And that's not all. Check out their beautiful vegetables and fruit, homemade jams and jellies, soups, tortiere, savoury pies such as chicken or steak and vegetable, golden yoked free range eggs, hanging baskets and more.  On your way out the door don't forget to visit the donkeys and goats in the petting zoo.

Whenever we go to Oldfield Farm we invariably load up on more than what we originally intended to buy yet we never seem to regret it. We discovered Oldfield's pies by accident.  Steve and I purchased a pie at the Saanich Fair last year. It was so delicious we took note of its origins.   From then on we never think to go anywhere else whenever we are craving pie.  Their pastry is outstanding, flaky and light and the fruit has just the right balance of tart and sweet.  Oldfield also makes superb cinnamon buns and if you are lucky you might get one that is still gooey and warm.  Charmingly, Oldfield is unstaffed in the wintertime but they leave their stand open.  You can purchase baked goods from the freezer and leave your money in a jar.  They use the honour system!  I was truly touched that this vestige of rural life remains and it is nice to still be able to enjoy their bounty year round.  

If you are looking for a fun excursion on the island I highly recommend visiting this pretty and friendly farm.   Afterwards head to Brentwood Bay Pub for a bowl of seafood chowder (see separate blog post).  You'll return home both renewed and relaxed!

Monday, October 8, 2012



Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows of my affinity for anything dumpling related.   I originally stumbled upon the friendly folks at Hungry Rooster Food Truck at Rifflandia Music Festival.  A generous sized plate of their pillowy cheese and potato perogies sustained me through many hours of concert going.

Recently I was craving some stick to your ribs fall food. To my delight I found that Hungry Rooster routinely park their truck downtown, just steps away from the public library. If you head there (and you should!) try the "Mexicanca" a plate of perogies topped with aged cheddar, lime chipotle aioli, salsa and sour cream.  Alternately, you could opt for the "Polka", served with the traditional accompaniment of bacon, caramelized onion and sour cream.  Hungry Rooster also sell steaming bowls of homemade borscht.  If you are in a carnivorous mood order a smokie topped with onion and sauerkraut and served on a fluffy Portofino bun. All the combo plates are served with an addictive Asian cabbage salad that would convert the most fervent coleslaw hater.  The crunchy slaw adds wonderful textural contrast and lightness.  Hungry Rooster uses quality ingredients and prices are very reasonable. 

Food trucks are a welcome addition to the Victoria food scene and I hope they won't go away any time soon.  Reward yourself for returning your library books with a plate of  cheesy potato goodness.

 a, lime  & chipotle aioli, sour cream, fresh cabbage sl

6  perogies, aged cheddar, tuck made salsa, lime  & chipotle aioli, sour cream, fresh cabbage slaw, cilant6  perogies, aged cheddar, tuck made salsa, lime  & chipotl, fresh cabbage slaw, cilan6  perogies, aged cheddar, tuck made salsa, lime  & chipotle aiolih cabbage slaw, cilantr

Hungry Rooster on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Greenleaf Bistro is a cheerful little eatery located across from the old Bay department store on Douglas Street.  It is one of three terrific restaurants lined neatly in a row in a part of town that is otherwise a wasteland of fast food joints and crummy chain stores.

Here you can sit down in front of a sun drenched window and sip tea while you peruse the extensive menu.  Appetizers such as salad rolls with pork and shrimp and deep fried crispy tofu tempted me. Alas, as I was on my own, I could only try one dish at a time!  I ordered vermicelli with lemongrass chicken and onions.  What arrived shortly after was a pile of tender crisp vegetables and juicy chicken on a mound of gossamer thin rice noodles. At only $10.25 for a huge plate this is a remarkable bargain.  If you like, jazz up your noodles with the condiments at hand. Add a dollop of licorice sweet hoisin sauce. If you like it spicy, try a drizzle of chili oil.  This is part of the fun of eating Vietnamese; you can doctor your plate to your particular liking.

On a separate visit to Greenleaf I tried tofu with crispy noodles.  Once again my lunch arrived promptly. Greenleaf really respects vegetables.  They always serve them at the peak of freshness.  The tofu was puffed and golden.  My only quibble about this dish is that the crispy noodles are hard to eat.   No matter, it was still very tasty once managed to fork the crunchy shards in to my gaping maw.

FYI: the Vietnamese consider plunking a bill down on your table to be rude.  They don't want you to feel rushed.  So, when you are ready to pay, go directly to the till and they will ring in your purchase.  Greenleaf is a great place to bring your vegetarian friends, as the meatless menu is extensive.  Omnivores don't fret; there is lots for you too including meatball pho, ginger chicken, lemongrass shrimp or crispy skinned barbeque quail.  

I think this little row of unassuming restaurants is an exciting addition to the otherwise ho hum Douglas Street.  Why go to Burger King when you can get delicious food quickly and inexpensively?  Give Greenleaf Bistro a try and you'll see why this restaurant has a bevy of loyal customers.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Logans is a neighborhood watering hole located  a hop, skip and jump from downtown. It may seem unassuming on first glance but within these walls beats the heart and soul of the local independent music scene.   Some would say the space is  too lived in.  For me this utter lack of pretension is precisely what makes Logans the perfect hang out.

If you are feeling blue on a rainy Sunday afternoon head down to the Hootenanny.  Cozy up in one of the vinyl booths and nurse a cold one as a bevy of seasoned performers grace the stage.  If you are lucky, local songstress Carolyn Mark will be hosting and she’ll play a handful of hauntingly beautiful melodies.  Fridays and Saturdays are the usual performance nights but other evenings frequently feature live acts.  Check the website (loganspub.com) or grab a copy of Monday Magazine to peruse the line up.  Drinks are affordable and there is a full pub menu available if you get peckish.

Logans is the perfect place to imbibe, unwind and relax.  Head on down there and see for yourself!  You may discover your new favourite band and you are sure to have a good time.