Cold Comfort Ice Cream
It was 13 degrees in Victoria last weekend and honestly it felt like summer in Tofino (especially after this never ending winter.) I promise I'll stop complaining about the weather soon. I said to Dave we had to celebrate by getting ice cream at Cold Comfort Ice Cream! I know most people would think I was nuts to go out in the 13 degrees and eat an ice cream cone outside, but it was perfect. I was also wearing my "ice cream" coloured sweater, so I couldn't resist doing a post about my favourite ice cream shop in Victoria.
Cold Comfort makes real ice cream. In small batches with the best ingredients out there. They work with seasonally inspired flavours that give their ice cream both a creative and delicious twist! Their ice cream uses organic ingredients that are locally sourced, which is something I appreciate so much in food these days. I try to buy as much local produce and products, which can be hard living on the very West Coast. However, you can really notice it in some items, especially eggs, which I get from my aunt's farm in Duncan. Anything you can do to buy locally and support local businesses is a step in the right direction, including eating Cold Comfort's amazing ice cream!
Cold Comfort is located at 1115 North Park Street off of Cook Street and are easy to find. Next time you are in Victoria visiting or if you live there, I highly recommend picking up some of their ice cream. They have something for everyone, from dairy free flavours, to gluten free ice cream sandwiches and even vegan ice cream and pints available, you are bound to find something for you! Their best selling products are their ice cream sandwiches, which I didn't have that time but I've had before! Dave had an ice cream sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream in the centre and chocolate chip cookies on the outside. We also picked up two of their famous sandwiches for my parents, one of the choco chip ones and a salted caramel one for my mum (she is addicted to salted caramel.) I decided to get a cone and two scoops because it had been ages since I had ice cream! I went for the Horchata flavour, which was absolutely divine. It was seasoned with so many delicious spices, each bite (or lick,) was different!
Check out their website: https://www.coldcomfort.ca/ for more and their Instagram to get tempted by their delicious photos: @misscoldcomfort.
Thai Cooking Class
While we were in Bangkok Dave and I decided to sign up for a cooking class. We both love Thai food and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to make our favourite dishes. I'm so glad we took one of our afternoons to do this and I can't wait to recreate everything we made on the course. Dave has already perfected one of the dishes we learned and makes it once a week usually (we can't get enough!)
We first met our instructor at one of the train stations in Bangkok where we told him what dishes we would like to create. He brought the 7 of us to a local market where he taught us about the different produce you can find in Thailand. We learned about the different types of ginger, how many different flavours and spices Thai people use while cooking and so much more. It was fascinating! Then we headed to the cooking school where everything was ready for us to start prepping. Each person was able to make 5 dishes: one curry, one stir fry, one salad, one main and one dessert. That wasn't even the best part, that was definitely the eating we got to do at the end!
The instructor explained each vegetable, spice or fruit that sat in front of us. Each dish had different components to make it taste exceptional! It was fascinating learning all about the different types of food Thai cooking calls for vs. what we use in our cooking. Some people ended up cooking the same dishes, but sometimes we were on our own making something completely unique. Dave and I decided to each do 5 different dishes so that we could in the end learn how to make 10 total. As we make them and perfect them I will post the recipes and directions on here to show you how we recreated them after learning in Bangkok.
After chopping everything for each dish we headed to the dessert station. I know dessert before dinner? That's something I could really get behind! However, there was a reason behind it. The dessert could sit for longer and not loose it's flavours or textures, whereas the savoury dishes were better eaten right after cooking. For dessert there were three different options: deep fried bananas, banana in coconut milk (which Dave did,) and my all time favourite: sticky rice with mango.
Each of us had our own station where we cooked our own dishes with the help of the teacher and assistants. Below are my four dishes: Larb Gai, Pad Thai, Stir Fried Morning Glories, Kao Saoi. Each dish took a little bit of prep but once you got cooking it was quick and easy and ready in just a few minutes!
My creations were all very delicious. Some a little bit spicier than others, which I did not manage to finish but I have to say I did eat most of what is in the photograph below.
Kao Soi is a Northern Thai dish that is a curry noodle soup. It has salt, turmeric, garlic, shallot, coriander root and chillies, all of which you grind together to make your own curry paste. When you cook it up you had coconut milk and coconut cream, noodles and whatever protein you'd like. Top it off with some deep fried noodles and coriander and you've got a delicious and warming soup I really can't get enough of.
Larb Gai is a Thai salad of sorts. It is made up of coriander, shallot, green onion, chill powder, lime and fish sauce. These delicious flavours mix with ground chicken and you can eat it warm or cold for a more salad effect. Beware of the chili powder though, that was my mistake, I definitely put the whole lot they gave us in and couldn't eat any of it because it was just too spicy for me!
Pad Thai is probably the most well know of the Thai dishes I cooked. It's one of my favourites and such a comfort food that I almost always seem to order. Other than the noodles it has green onion, shallot, firm tofu, dried shrimp, bean sprouts, pickled Chinese radish, lime, egg, chili powder and peanuts. We have already made it once since being back but we are having a hard time getting it to taste just right.
Stir Fried Morning Glory is something my sister introduced me to and ever since we first ordered it at a restaurant I have wanted it again and again. It was the most simple of the dishes I made because it was really just the morning glory, which is a type of vegetable that you do not find here. Then it is flavoured with garlic, red chili, peanut sauce and dark soy sauce. You cook it at a very high heat for a short amount of time and then the vegetable is left crispy and delicious!
Sticky Rice and Mango is a traditional Thai dessert that I ate a lot of while I was traveling. It is absolutely delicious and simple. This dish is a little more time consuming as making sticky rice takes quite a bit of time. Topped with coconut milk to make it creamy and a tangy but sweet mango on the side makes for a delicious mouthful each time.
Basic Goodness Pizzeria
A new restaurant has opened in town, and it's a proper Italian pizzeria. Needless to say I was beside myself with excitement and I could not wait to get in to try it for myself. As you know by now, my Italian heritage is quite important to me, as is my love of Italian cuisine. Whether I am cooking it or going out for it, I am quite a tough critic!
Last week Dave and I had a much needed date night at Basic Goodness Pizzeria and we were happily surprised at the quality of pizza we ate. The owners, from LA and Naples decided to settle down on the West Coast, here in Tofino and in turn opened their new restaurant. The husband, Marco, who comes from Naples has brought his true Italian roots to this pizzeria. The restaurant and menu are minimal in nature but it works perfectly. As you enter the restaurant there are simple yellow chairs and plain white tables with a beautiful Italian wood burning oven in the back. We were lucky enough to get a table when we arrived, around 6.45pm. Make sure to arrive earlier rather than later as they have been running out of dough lately as the town of Tofino feasts on their delicious pizzas.
We decided to each order our own pizza, a must if you decide to try this restaurant. Sure we did leave quite full but it was the good kind of full. I opted for my favourite pizza, Arugula & Prosciutto and Dave went for Cappriciosa, a type of meat lovers of sorts. His was covered in fennel sausage, spicy salami, tomato sauce, fontina cheese and more. Each piece had a different and unique flavour and it was delicious! Next time you are visiting Tofino you have to make sure you stop in for a real Italian feast! Make sure to have the homemade Tiramisu for dessert after your pizza, no matter how full you are! I'm already looking forward to our next meal there, with my Sicilian dad, the real critic of Italian style pizza!
Must Try: Tofino Licks
When a new restaurant or shop pops up in town I usually make a bee line for it, excited to see what's on offer. When I heard there was a new ice cream/frozen yogurt joint in Tofino I was VERY excited. I love ice cream but frozen yogurt is my jam. Tofino Licks is an organic soft serve ice-cream and frozen yogurt shop located at 605 Gibson St. Tofino. The small store front greets you with a chalk menu that has the choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream (or a swirl of the two) or plain frozen yogurt. The next step is to choose your locally sourced toppings and finally a sauce to top it all off with. I chose the plain yogurt with Sobo's famous Key Lime Pie on top and opted out of the sauce option. Dave went for the swirl choice of chocolate and vanilla ice cream topped with RedCan gourmet Fudge Brownie and locally sourced Strawberry sauce. Thomas and Ali both got the same, plain frozen yogurt with Jupiter's Skor cookie dough and caramel sauce. We enjoyed them on the small patio in front of the shop after hiking the bomber trail. Definitely a deserved treat that was absolutely delicious. Before summer is over and the colder days roll in head down to Tofino Licks for a treat!
Brunch Spot: Burgoo
A few weekends ago Dave and I were in Vancouver for an old friend's wedding. After a night of delicious food, dancing and an open bar we were in need of some serious brunch. Whenever I'm in Vancouver I try to see as many friends as possible, which at times can be quite hard but worth it. So after gathering quite a few hungover friends together we headed to Burgoo for brunch. I love trying new brunch spots and when they take a reservation that's even better, especially on a busy Sunday morning! The menu was small, which was nice and lots of us tried different things.
Burgoo started because they believe everyone needs a little comfort and a place to enjoy some great comfort food. The restaurant has an old world, countryside ambience to it with dim lighting, earth tones, and natural materials. The original bistro opened up in Point Grey in 2001 and since then they have expanded to Burrard Street, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant and North Vancouver.
Each menu item is unique in flavour and next to the item the restaurant has written which country it originated from. Jay had the Ricotta Toast (ITL), which had whipped lemon ricotta on toasted ciabatta with red grapes, honey and walnuts on top. I had to go for the sweetest thing on the menu: Caramel Apple French Toast (BUR). My dish came with egg battered and baked ciabatta, cinnamon roasted apple, maple caramel sauce, and whipped mascarpone. Dave went for the BBQ Pork and Tater Skillet(BUR), which came with pulled pork, tasty taters, spinach, free run scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and their own bistro BBQ sauce. Emily opted for the Croque Monsieur (FRA) which had smoked ham, spinach, fresh herbs, baked with a dijon, gruyere, emmenthal fondue on toasted baguette with a side salad. Needless to say everything I had a taste of was delicious and beautifully presented. This will definitely be a brunch spot I'll go back to, just to try the rest of the menu!
Tough City Sushi
The Inn at Tough City has got to be one of the most interesting places to visit in Tofino. Last week Dave and I went for a date night at their Sushi Bar before heading to a Monday night movie at the local theatre. When you walk into the restaurant you are surrounded by vintage toys wherever you look. The restaurant overlooks the Clayoquot Sound and if you're able to get a table on the patio if the weather is nice because the view is amazing. The restaurant serves top quality sushi using fresh fish from the waters around Tofino. The eclectic dining room houses artifacts from around the world, including vintage Japanese memorabilia, hand-crafter war-era model planes, comic books, rescued stain glass windows and wood beams from Vancouver's Old Town. The menu is both classic and modern, with unique sushi rolls inspired by the town of Tofino.
Dave and I both were very excited to eat some fresh sushi from a local spot. We ordered a Goma-aesalad to share, which is a spinach salad with a tahini sauce with sesames on top. After eating it quite quickly we realized we had forgotten to take a photo but trust me it was absolutely delicious. Next side we ordered was the Tuna Kara-age, which is a different take on the Japanese deep-fried chicken dish. In came with the perfect sweet teriyaki dipping sauce which made the perfect pairing. Once again we forgot to take a photo, whoops! Finally our three rolls came out. We went with the classic Yam Tempura Roll, the modern Tofino Roll and the High Tide Roll. The Yam Tempura Roll came with so much more than just yam tempura, it had spinach, shitake mushroom, avocado and yam on top (this was my favourite that we ordered.) The Tofino Roll was freshly cracked dungeness crab, salmon, prawn, avocado, tamago and tobiko and was a delicious taste of local seafood all rolled up together. Finally the High Tide Roll came with smoked tuna (something I had never tried before,) shrimp, avocado and tobiko, the smoked flavour of the tuna gave the roll a really unique flavour. Next time you're in Tofino definitely give Tough City Sushi a try, it will definitely be one of my go to restaurants in town from now on!
Best Brunch Spot: The Ruby
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, hands down. I would eat breakfast items every meal if I could, but let's be honest I would never eat enough fruit and vegetables if that was the case. So you can only imagine how much I love brunch. A few weekends ago when I was visiting Victoria my mum invited me out to join her and the ladies for a friend's birthday brunch. I couldn't say no to brunch. I suggested The Ruby because it is one of my favourite spots in Victoria. Even though it was far past brunch time (1pm) I still went with one of my favourites, the Ruby Oatmeal. It came with candied seasonal berries, which were strawberries and it really was delicious. My mum went for the lunch menu and chose the Ruby Chicken Taco Salad. She said it was amazing and couldn't finish her plate. It was piled high with spiced pulled chicken, mixed greens, black beans, roasted corn, pico de gallo, shredded cheddar, avocado, tortilla chips and their creamy house dressing. Debbie had a birthday mimosa and the Chorizo Benny (she can never say no to a benny.) It came with two poached eggs, house ground chorizo, sauteed peppers, sweet onion and topped with classic hollandaise. My godmother Ann went for the Duck Confit Hash, which is a house favourite. Ruby is known for their duck and chicken dishes and they do not disappoint. This one comes with pulled duck confit, 2 poached eggs, Red Barn bacon (the best in Victoria,) pickled onion and herb garnish, gastrique. We all left brunch happy and very full and had fun walking around their parking lot and the Hotel Zed. The perfect place for some cute photos ops! Next time you are in Victoria you have got to try The Ruby, it has a brunch dish everyone will like and the atmosphere of the restaurant is fun and relaxed.
Must Try: Slick Licks
Slick Licks is a locally made, locally sourced, dairy free frozen popsicle made in Tofino. These delicious frozen pops can be found at the Tofino Market or at the Tacofino food truck. Instantly refreshing on a warm summer day, they come in numerous flavours depending on what's in season.
A few weeks ago when we had friends visiting we wandered around the Tofino Market and stopped right away when we saw the delicious flavours on offer that day. We all tried different flavours from one another. I had the Coconut Lime, Anna chose the Mocha and the boys both went for the Mango Blueberry. I have to admit I tried a bite of everyone's and they were all equally delicious and refreshing in their own way. You definitely have to check them out next time you're at the market or Tacofino and you won't be disappointed! Check out their Facebook page and Instagram for more: @slicklickpops
A Night at Wolf in the Fog
Wolf in the Fog is currently rated the No. 1 restaurant in Canada and it's in the town I live in. Needless to say I go a lot! Especially when we have visitors in town. When my friends from Toronto were visiting the other week we had an early dinner, which was perfect because it wasn't too busy yet and we were able to walk the beach after filling up on delicious food. It was a perfect evening. If you are visiting Tofino this summer and plan on trying this restaurant (which I suggest you do) make sure you make a reservation because it gets booked up pretty quickly.
After settling in with drinks we decided the best way to taste most things on the menu was to share a bunch of small plates. The food is always amazing when we go and it really is difficult to just pick one dish so I suggest if you're ok with sharing you should! We started with the Potato Crusted Oyster (no photo because we ate them so quick!) These are a must when you visit Wolf in the Fog. Not only are they unbelievably tasty they are also beautiful. Then came the Butter Baked Shrimp. This was just what it sounded like buttery shrimp that were so sweet and fresh we couldn't get enough. After the shrimp was gone we continued dipping the bread in the butter, because it really was that delicious. Next we tried the Fried BC Herring, which no one in particular enjoyed except me because I love all fish. For our mains we chose the Corn Fried Cod Cheeks, which came with peas, a modern twist on the English fish and chips. We also went for the vegetarian special, aptly named the Green Soul. This was a gnocchi dish with vegetables like beets, slaw, and many more. For a lover of all pasta I was so excited to try the homemade gnocchi (potato pasta for those who do not know) and was not disappointed. Finally we finished the meal off with the Lime Cheesecake, Michael's favourite and it was unlike any cheesecake I have ever had. It had a graham cracker crust and fresh, local berry compote.
We left happy and full up. My friends were so happy they had the chance to try and experience the Wolf in the Fog, one not to be missed when you are in Tofino.
Tofino Wine & Food Festival: Cocktail Show
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go to the first night of Tofino Food and Wine Festival at The Schooner Restaurant in Tofino. We had friends visiting so we all met at the restaurant for an outdoor event. The event had numerous mixologists making a signature cocktail for the night, as well as spirit, wine and beer tastings. There wasn't only alcohol though, The Schooner Restaurant provided tapas all night long and they were absolutely delicious and went perfectly with the drinks. Our favourite drink of the night was the "Seaside Sorrel" by the mixologist Chuck L'Ecuyer from Wolf in the Fog. Although this cocktail took a bit longer to make, the mixologist was very knowledgeable and explained each and every ingredient in the cocktail. The drink was perfectly refreshing and if I had had the chance to go back for another I would have! However, for the rest of the evening he had a line up for people waiting for his delicious drinks.
Hot Brunch Spot: Chambar
While we were in Vancouver celebrating Dave's birthday with the U2 concert, we were also celebrating Mother's Day. And what better way to celebrate Mother's Day then with brunch! My boyfriend's sister-in-law had gone to Chambar a few weeks before this weekend and said their brunch was to die for. Brunch in Vancouver or Victoria is hard on the weekend because you end up standing in hour long line ups, getting hangry with no one but yourself to blame. Not only was the food amazing, you can make a reservation for brunch, which is usually never the case.
When we arrived we were seated in a beautiful red leather booth at the back where we were able to chat and feel like we weren't being rushed. My mum, cousin and I all ordered three waffles and sides to go with them. It's a fun way to have waffles because the waffles come plain with a little bit of icing sugar on top and then you can choose whichever side you'd like for $1. My mum is a little caramel crazy so she chose the three caramel options, my cousin chose berry compote like me, the classic maple syrup and dark chocolate. I tasted the chocolate and it was definitely a must order for next time we brunch there. I loved my sides because they made the dense, cake like waffles a little lighter. However, saying that, I could have probably eaten another one or two waffles (but I am always starving at breakfast time.) If you are more into the savoury breakfasts there are still lots of options for you to choose from, like the Omelette of the Day, Dave's sister-in-law chose. It varies with seasonal selections of ingredients.
Next time you're in Vancouver and don't feel like waiting for brunch, make a reservation at Chambar and order the waffles, they are a must! Chambar is located at 568 Beatty Street, Vancouver. Check out their website for their menu, https://www.chambar.com/
Feast Tofino: Basho Dinner
For the month of May, Feast Tofino took place. Dave and I were lucky enough to get tickets to one of the evenings, at Kuma. Hiroshi and Miju Kawai from Basho Cafe took over Kuma for one night, which included a delicious four-course meal including sushi and Basho sweets. We were celebrating Dave's 'Birthday Week' so he opted for the selected sake pairings with each course, while I enjoyed hot green tea. After tasting the amazing dishes served up by Hiroshi and Miju Kawai, I can't wait to try Basho Cafe in Vancouver next time I'm visiting. Basho is a family run Japanese Cafe in Vancouver. Known for their creative confections, their cafe is meant for enjoying good food and company, something we definitely got a glimpse of at the Feast Tofino event.
Each course was carefully selected to give the customer a taste of something new and tantalizing. Although it was a four-course meal, it was more like a six-course meal because there were two courses with two separate parts to the course. The first course was an Oden Daikon with Yuzu Miso Glaze paired with a Chijimi Vegetable Pancake with Ponzu. While the daikon was crunchy and a unique texture, the sauce on top paired with the asparagus was unique and delicious and I wish their had been two! The vegetable pancake was equally scrumptious with a spicy ponzu sauce on the side to add another element to the dish. Next came the second course which was Braised Pork with Butter Lettuce and Fresh Vegetables. It was served in a bowl and before the server let us know we were to make our own lettuce wraps I thought it was just a salad with some pulled pork on the side. The lettuce wraps were just what we needed to cleanse our palette before the next course, which was easily my favourite aside from the dessert. For our third course we had Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, Spicy Scallop Roll and Tuna Sushi paired with a Mini Chirashi. The mini chirashi was like a deconstructed sushi roll in a bowl form. It was topped with a prawn, had edamame, ginger, lotus fruit, egg and nori sheets throughout and the rice had the best flavour imaginable. This was something I will always dream about eating until I have it again, it was that good. The sushi that came after the bowl was mouth watering. The salmon sushi was done so that the one side of the salmon was grilled and the other side was slightly raw, which reminded us of tuna tataki. Finally came the plate of Basho sweets, two mini miso brownies, two matcha profiteroles and one cheese mochi. I love anything matcha so that dessert was my favourite, while Dave's was the miso brownies which were so deliciously gooey.
I can't wait to go to Basho Cafe in Vancouver and to Feast Tofino next year when it's back! Check out Basho's Instagram to see their beautifully curated foods: @bashocafe
Best Bakery in Ucluelet: Zoe's Bakery
Dave and I have been living in Ucluelet for just over a month now and we have definitely found our favourite place in this little town. Zoe's Bakery and Cafe is located at 250 Main Street and easily the local spot of the locals. This cafe is a family-friendly place where the bakers use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Their treats and menu change every day depending on their products and keeping their customers on their toes! The bakery boasts some of the best bread I have ever had, and my dad even commented on how much he enjoyed their baguettes (and that's saying something!) They bake it daily with a different twist on their famous sourdough. Serving lunch options like deli salads, daily soup, sandwiches and flatbreads, there is something for everyone. If you prefer just popping in for a coffee and treat, their cinnamon buns, croissants and numerous other treats are all equally delicious, trust me I've tried a number of them already! If you are headed out this way for a weekend away this summer, you must stop in at Zoe's for a treat or two! Check out their Instagram feed to get a little taste of what they have to offer: @zoesbakeryandcafe
Best Ice Cream in Tofino: Chocolate Tofino
Last weekend my parents came to visit, our first visitors of the year! The day they arrived was beautiful and sunny. We walked Wickaninnish Beach for almost two hours, then decided we deserved to treat ourselves with some ice cream from Chocolate Tofino. People had been telling me how delicious their ice cream was and I finally had the chance to put it to the test. They were right! It was absolutely delicious!
Chocolate Tofino has been around since 2003. They make hand-crafted chocolates made with high quality and fresh ingredients. Some of their specialties are their Organic Lavender Truffle, Wildflower Honey Ganache and Wild Blackberry Buttercream. Their chocolates aren't the only thing made in house, so is their ice cream and sorbet.
Dave chose to taste the Dutch Chocolate Gelato, rich and chocolatey, each bite you could taste the high quality cocoa they used. While my dad opted for his favourite flavour, Pistachio, made from Italian pistachios, it was creamy and delicious. I chose my favourite flavour too, Stracciatella, which is a combination of sweet cream, vanilla beans and dark chocolate flecks throughout. I could not put my cup down! However, my mum decided to really go for it, and got Salted Caramel Sundae in a waffle bowl with chocolate on the bottom, Salted Caramel Gelato, topped with chocolate shavings and a dark chocolate surfboard. We all tasted each others and each flavour was just as good as the next. If you find yourself in Tofino this summer, definitely try Chocolate Tofino out for their homemade gelato!
A Long Happy Hour at Long Beach
Dave and I were recommended to try Long Beach Lodge for their delicious cocktails and appetizers, and their amazing views. We were not disappointed, as you can see by my overly excited face below. It had been a really long week for both Dave and I and the sun had finally came out. We wandered over to Long Beach Lodge and treated ourselves to some of the best cocktails I have ever had.
The first cocktail I had was the Pisco Sour: Arbutus Distillery Grand Visco, Lime, Egg White, Pineapple Demerara Syrup and Amargo Chuncho Bitters. It was the perfect mix of flavours without any one being overbearing. The pineapple and lime flavours really complemented each other and there was a definite kick to the drink. While we were tasting cocktails we ordered a few appetizers from the Apres Surf menu. The Great Room Plate was a definite must try, stone oven bread accompanied by hazelnut goat cheese, olive tapenade, prosciutto and roasted cauliflower. The Roasted Cauliflower was the star of this dish, a curried roasted cauliflower with a serious kick. I definitely recreated it a few weeks later at home because I could not get enough.
My next and final cocktail was definitely my favourite and I was sad to not see it on the menu anymore. Quiet Hibernation As We Wait For Spring was a long, rich and refreshing cocktail, made from Stump Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, Ruby Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon, Giffard Creme de Violette. It was definitely refreshing with all the fruit flavours within it and was the perfect drink to finish our meal of appetizers off with. Dave ordered the Duck Wings and I ordered Nanoose Edible Greens and finally we shared the special vegetarian pizza. The drinks and food were perfectly paired with the setting sun, after all the sunsets in Tofino are not to be missed. Try their Happy Hour from 3-6pm daily in the Great Room for half price ginger beer cocktails and champagne cocktails and stay for dinner and the sunset like we did!
Gatwick Airport: Grain Store Cafe & Bar
This blog post comes about 4 months late as I was organizing my photos but I had to post it because the brunch Dave and I had was absolutely delicious.
This past Christmas Dave and I flew to Ireland to spend the holidays with his family. The journey to Dublin was far too long but we made it in the end, with numerous layovers. No one likes to spend hours in an airport, especially after they have been travelling for almost 24 hours. However, this brunch spot Dave and I discovered in Gatwick airport made the 7 hour layover that much better (along with multiple naps). Airport food, in my opinion, is often very disappointing so when we had a delicious breakfast in a really cute restaurant I thought I had to tell my readers about it.
We had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated as it was a pretty popular spot, but it was well worth the wait. Dave ordered a typical full English breakfast, with sausage, bacon, beans, eggs and toast, while I ordered mashed avocado and toast with two poached eggs. The avocado on the side was easily two avocados and tasted perfect, especially with the poached eggs on top. We sat silently across from each other so happy to be eating real food and coffee. The decor was unique and kept me looking around the restaurant wondering where each person was going. I would definitely suggest The Grain Store next time you find yourself in Gatwick airport with a few hours to kill, even if it is just for a coffee and a pastry.
Sea Monster Noodle Bar
When you move to a new place there is nothing better than discovering the best restaurants and coffee shops in town. A couple people I work with kept telling me how I had to try Sea Monster Noodle Bar on my lunch break that Dave and I finally made it there. Located at 421 Main Street, Tofino, BC, Sea Monster is a casual and delicious lunch and early dinner spot. As you enter the restaurant you look at the menu painted on the wall and try to make a decision before you make it to the counter to order. There isn't too much on the menu but enough to question what you think you should order. They have three types of food available at Sea Monster: Noodles, Poke and Steam Buns. Dave and I both wanted to try the Poke since we never had. Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a bowl of either white or brown rice or vermicelli noodles. Each bowl comes with different ingredients within it. Dave chose the Octopus option which came with: onion, seaweed, avocado puree, cucumber, ginger-scallion, furifake & tobiko. I opted for the Black Bean Tofu: onion, seaweed, edamame, cucumber, ginger-scallion, furifake. Of course we both ate each others but they were both equally different and delicious. We have also tried the Steam Buns on another occasion, which were both mouth watering. I can't wait for our visitors in the summer months so we can go back and try the other flavours. A must visit when you're in Tofino.
Tofino Brewing Co.
Since moving to Tofino a few weeks ago, I've been exploring this small but magical town. When it's not raining, I've been walking along the many beaches, running, hiking and enjoying the outdoors. However, a few weeks ago on one of my rainy days off, Dave and I decided to go see what the brewery had to offer. Lately every time I come to visit Tofino, I make a stop off to taste their delicious beers and relax in their warehouse style tasting room. Now that we're living here I can definitely see myself stopping off for a drink after work or picking up a growler for a weekend to enjoy at home. Tofino Brewery Co. is located just on the outskirts of town, at 681 Industrial Way.
The brewery has lots of different beers available and that's why a tasting flight is such a great idea. You can choose the four beers you want to taste and see which one is your favourite. Dave's choices were: Tuff Session Ale, Blonde Ale, Kelp Stout and Dark Lager.
Tuff Session Ale is a pale ale with a toasty malt palate and is available all year round. I really liked this one and it's good for a non-beer drinker.
Blonde Ale is a light ale with some earthy hop undertones. It has a crisp finish and I can definitely imagine enjoying a couple of pints of this beer when the sun comes out.
Kelp Stout is a dark, rich and full bodied ale brewed with locally harvested kelp. This one is Dave's favourite since it's the closest thing to a Guinness here on the West Coast.
Dark Lager is a beer that combines the lightness of a lager with a dark and rich flavour of a dark beer. It was a very interesting beer and we enjoyed our taster, however, I don't think I could drink much more than a half pint of this one.
When I saw that they brew their own in house Kombucha I opted for that! I like beer, don't get me wrong, but I am much more a warm day, camping trip, kind of beer drinker. This Kombucha was calling my name especially because of the flavour: Peach & Ginger. Dave thought it was a little sweet for his liking but he knows I have a sweet tooth and I thought it was perfect. The peach undertones reminded me of an iced peach tea and the ginger evens the sweetness out. I have been drinking a Kombucha a week and finding that it really helps me feel great and it's a great alternative to an afternoon coffee or matcha.
If you're visiting Tofino soon, definitely make a stop at the brewery either for a flight taster or for their Kombucha. Also for the next four weeks, the brewery is tapping an experimental cask every Thursday. Check out their Instagram for up and coming flavours: @tofinobrewco
Best Brunch: The Village
This past weekend was my last weekend in Victoria. I had lots to do, people to see and brunch to eat. My friend suggested we go to The Estevan Village for brunch and it was a great idea. I hadn't been to this restaurant in a long time and it was in the neighbourhood I grew up in. We were able to get out of the rain and enjoy our bennys over tea. Elyse had a 'Just Benny,' which is just that: poached eggs and hollandaise. After trying to decide what to have, Elyse convinced me that the benny was the way to go and I opted for a 'West Coast Benny,' which consisted of wild pacific smoked salmon, baby spinach, fresh dill and hollandaise. The bennys can be done on either your choice of a mount royal bagel or their signature gluten free house made latkes, which we both chose and were not disappointed by. Next time you want to try a new brunch spot, try The Village, at Estevan, Shelbourne or Royal Oak.
The Fine Diner Bistro
A few weeks ago I was in Calgary/Canmore/Banff for my best friends Bachelorette party and although it was a whirlwind trip we managed to fit some delicious brunch in Sunday before flying back to the island. The Fine Diner Bistro is located in the cutest neighbourhood in Calgary, Inglewood, surrounded by beautiful boutiques, delicious restaurants and much more. Sunday Brunch is never easy, not in Victoria, Vancouver or even Calgary, and that's why this place was such a find, they take reservations! My favourite part about my dining experience was that the staff of Fine Diner Bistro have decided that they do not need/ask for gratuities and if you feel inclined to tip they will donate it to the community. They also have numerous items on the menu dedicated to MealShare, which means if you order that item on the menu, they will provide one meal to someone in need.
After struggling with what I wanted to eat, a real struggle for me who's favourite meal is breakfast, my friend and I decided to share two items off the menu, one savoury and one sweet. The savoury one came out first, and we were both so ravenous we dug in before I could get a picture. It was delicious though! We ordered the Wild Mushroom Frittata, which had mixed mushrooms, arugula and truffle oil. Then came dessert (pretty much). The most decadent french toast I had ever had, and it was gluten-free! This french toast was truly amazing, it was made with house-made banana bread, brûléed bananas, berry compote and fresh whipping cream. Needless to say, we did not need to eat again till after our flights that evening. Next time you are in Calgary I recommend making a stop at The Fine Diner Bistro and indulging in something delicious for brunch!
The Surly Mermaid
My birthday is a few weeks after Christmas and everyone is still coming down from the craziness of the holidays so I always find that people are less inclined to celebrate. However, I like to use this to my advantage by taking my birth day and turning it into a birth month. My final celebration fell at the end of January, where I celebrated over lunch with my godmother. We went to a restaurant in Sidney I had not discovered yet and I was pleased with what I found.
The Surly Mermaid (what a great name for a restaurant in the marina) is located at 1A-, 9851 Seaport Pl, Sidney, BC. When you walk into the restaurant you get a comfortable and casual dining vibe. The view is beautiful and it is complimented by the marine inspired decor.
My mum, godmother and I all had a different salad, which were all equally delicious. The menu boasts a delicious variety of foods, from tasty tapas and share plates to delicious meals and unique cocktails. However, the best part of our dining experience was when we shared the Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bites. A twist on gnocchi, an Italian pasta made from potatoes, these gnocchi were made from Sweet Potato and covered in cinnamon sugar. With a side of vanilla ice cream, this dessert is a must for anyone who visits the restaurant. Each gnocchi tasted a little like a mini donut with a delicious and unique taste of sweet potato in each bite.
Union Pacific Coffee Co.
I love discovering coffee shops in my own hometown and was delighted when I walked into Union Pacific Coffee Co. on Herald St in Downtown Victoria. Dave and I stopped in to warm up after running some errands in the cold wintry rain this past weekend. Their special of the day was a Maple Latte and I can never say no to anything maple flavoured! Dave had his usual cappuccino and we both sipped and enjoyed them over dominos. When was the last time you played dominos? Needless to say, it was the perfect, cozy afternoon spot for a coffee and a board game or even a great place to study. The interior was unique and I immediately thought how perfect it would be to a host a party there! I gave a few hints to Dave about hosting my 30th there, so we'll see what happens...
I came to the donut game late. Growing up with Tim Hortons donuts kind of ruined them for me and the idea of an overly sweet donut was not my cup of tea. Until I discovered a real donut. I think the first time I really enjoyed a donut was at Rhino Coffee House in Tofino, however, nothing compared to the donuts we tasted this past weekend from Empire Donuts. Yes I know it's January and I have been posting a lot of sweet things when I should be posting New Years Resolutions, but that's just not me. On the weekends I like to find a new place to try in Victoria, and this past weekend it was Empire Donuts.
This glorious donut 'shop' is located at 736 View Street and originally came from a donut delivery service. They still deliver, which you should definitely consider if you love your co-workers or are hosting a party and they are available at numerous cafes and grocery stores around town. Check out their website for more information: http://www.empiredonuts.ca/ Each donut is made from scratch with some serious love and thought and quality ingredients because you can taste them in each bite! Make sure to get there early because when they sell out they close shop, and you do not want to miss out
Dave and I decided on two very different flavours, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chai Vanilla Glaze. The Mint Chocolate Chip donut was the perfect mix of mint and chocolate, it reminded me of a mint Oreo blizzard that I used to love as a kid. But I have to say the Chai Vanilla Glaze won me over, it had the taste of a Chai Latte with the different spices but mixed with a smooth vanilla flavour. Next time you're in the mood for something sweet, head to Empire Donuts, you will not be disappointed!
I had never been to Borough Market before this trip and I was missing out! My sister told me I had to eat there when I was in London for the day so naturally I planned my day around eating. After visiting the National Gallery, Dave and I headed to Borough Market, hungry and ready to check out all the different foods on offer.
I would suggest to any of you visiting London and want a really great experience to head to Borough Market. Whether, you're just out and about and want to have a quick snack or coffee, or whether you want a decent sized lunch, this market has everything to offer! When Dave and I first walked in, it was a mad house with people everywhere, however, after we weaved our way through the crowds and worked our way through the stalls it calmed down. (We had arrived at prime lunch eating time). We decided to walk around to see what was on offer and enjoyed numerous samples from the stalls, in the end only making us even hungrier.
Our first stop was Pate Moi to pick up some of their delicious mushroom pate to bring to my sister and her husband. Next we picked up some tea to keep our hands warm while we kept wandering around.
After taste testing lots of different cheeses, olive oils, and much more, we settled on sharing a vegetarian Indian. The cue was quite long, but needless to say, it was well worth the wait. On a bed of rice there was dhal, potatoes and cauliflower with peas served with an onion bhaji on the side. The flavours were unique and truly delicious.
To finish our day off on a sweet note we stopped and picked up a piece of pistachio baklava from a Turkish vendor and a goat milk hot chocolate from the Greedy Goat.
Christmas Craft Beer Show
I don't have any staff Christmas parties to go to this year, which is fine by me, awkward Christmas dinners with co-workers aren't my thing. However, I felt like I wanted to get into the Christmas spirit and what better way to do so then sampling beers. Dave and I joined my cousin Anna and her boyfriend Devon at the Christmas Craft Beer Show at Save-On Foods Arena and had a great time tasting all the local beers. I was excited to wear a new sweater I got on Black Friday, which was both cozy and fashionable, a perfect alternate to the holiday dress.
We started with Persephone Brewing Company out of Gibsons, BC, here I tasted one of their pale ales which was delicious. I really enjoy sampling beers because I can't say that I am the biggest beer drinker so if I don't like a sample I can just get rid of it and move on. The Craft Beer Show used a token system, for each beer you tasted you left a token, which was only $1.50. I'm going to be honest with you when I say I can't remember the exact order we tasted but each and every beer or cider we had was really interesting in taste and flavour and showed us that there are so many breweries not only on the island but also all over BC. We had some samples from Riot Brewing Co, out of Chemainus, BC, and Moody Ales, from Port Moody, BC. Also tasted Bridge Brewing Company from the North Shore in Vancouver, which had fake tattoos available that Dave was very excited to get. Of course we went to Moon Under Water, from Victoria, BC. I was very impressed by their clothing they were selling, which you should definitely check out if you're interested in beautiful designed graphic tees. My favourite sample I had was from Spinnakers, Victoria, BC, who were pouring beers despite the fire they had only a week before. They had a Belgium beer that was like no other sample I had and I would definitely suggest it to you next time you're wanting to try something new. These were just a few of the samplings we had and I would suggest to anyone who enjoys beer or even just wants to taste some different types to try a Craft Beer Show next time they get the chance.
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop
A few weeks ago some friends and I tried La Taqueria, 766 Fort St, for the first time and we were not disappointed. Everything we tried was delicious, which was a lot. We went on a Wednesday night and to our surprise we found out it was 'Taco Wednesday' which meant we got 6 tacos for the price of 4. As we stood in line trying to make our minds up on what we would have, we decided we couldn't pass up the offer of 6 tacos for $9.95. The menu is up on the wall and is divided into meats: chicken, pork and beef and vegetable: which there were many (including vegan options) to choose from. These tacos were 3" corn tortillas, which may sound small but were the perfect portion. You could also choose from a 6" fish taco for $5 or quesadillas. The restaurant is quite large with the kitchen in the centre so you are able to see the chefs at work. Overall it was a really great experience, a casual dining environment, perfect for students to grab a bite to eat or a casual date night. Next time you're downtown in Victoria definitely give it a try!