I’M HOME FROM TOUR! Instead of being in some cute coffee shop in Vancouver or Victoria, I’m at my local neighbourhood haunt in Toronto. Jimmy’s Coffee on Ossington. There’s something about Ossington that calms me and says “I’m home”. Probably because I’ve lived near it most of my Toronto life and it’s home of my favourite place on earth, Bellwoods Brewery.
I don’t even know where to begin. Victoria, BC is a magical place. The weather is always good, the scenery is breathtaking and it smells like flowers. Mother nature febreeze’d the whole damn island! I was staying with my good friend Lisa and her husband Dave. I’m best friends with Lisa’s younger sister Bonnie and very close with the whole family. Let’s just say that Lisa and Dave were the best hosts EVER. When I arrived via ferry on Sunday they picked me up, champers in hand! (A ‘congrats on your wedding!’ gift.)
I was so excited for my week ahead. After settling into their adorable apartment that looks like something out of a magazine we drank beers and caught up. We ordered take-out that night from a pizza place called Standard. It was anything but standard! We got a margarita and this really awesome pizza with spicy salami, kalamata olives and honey. HONEY! It was amazing. I didn’t take a picture because I was too busy stuffing my face while watching the movie “salmon fishing in Yemen” which was cute but pretty corny.
Ok, I did so much and ate so much in Victoria so I’ll try to keep it brief or this blog will turn into a memoir. Let’s talk about the important things like the breweries I went to! My friend Christina Walkinshaw mentioned that I had to try the Electric Unicorn white IPA from Phillip’s brewery. I made the hike to the brewery only to find out they didn’t have it. NOOOOOO. Luckily the dude working was the nicest and gave me FIVE big samples for a “donation”. The quotes made it seem like I did something sketchy for the beer. I did not! I donated 5 bucks. The raspberry wheat was my favourite which was surprising because sometimes raspberry beers taste like lipstick. Not this one! So refreshing. Not pictured is a chocolate stout. The dude recommended I mix that with the raspberry. Wow. They’re delicious on their own, but even better when you mix them together!
After getting accidentally day buzzed I decided I should eat something. Dave and Lisa recommended Canoe Club (they also brew their own beer) because of it’s wicked patio. I ordered the lunch special (no more beer, I had to take boot camp that night with Lisa) which consisted of soup, salad and a greek steak pita. Yummy. I’d like to come back some day and sample their beers. It’s a really cool venue with a spectacular waterfront patio. It would be a fun place to go with a big group of friends.
The next day I walked to Spinnakers brew pub (another brew pub!) to meet my friend Heather.
I honestly don’t know how I made it all the way there on foot because my legs were destroyed from boot camp. Word to the wise, next time I do boot camp I won’t drink a bunch of beer 3 hours before. I’m an idiot. Anyway, Spinnakers is also a grand venue that overlooks the water. It was a beautiful day (because every day is beautiful in Vic) so we sat on the patio. Heather works at Spinnakers so she suggested I try a flight of beers. I obliged. We also ordered a bunch of things to share because I couldn’t make a decision. We decided on a house smoked salmon salad with fried capers, local waters shrimp melt with a kale and beet salad and clams mariniere. We were going to get mussels marinere but apparently it was something called “red tide” where the water gets too warm and the mussels get funky and you shouldn’t eat them. To be honest, I mostly order clams and mussels to dip bread into whatever sauce they’re steamed in so I was a happy clam regardless!
The smoked salmon salad was perfect. I’m obsessed with capers and these ones were crispy like little briny salt bombs. The shrimp toast was a highlight. The little shrimp were mixed with fennel, red onion and amber ale cheese on top of fresh sourdough bread. Mmmmmm. I want to try making this at home! Whoever said seafood and cheese doesn’t mix is a crazy person. I’m a big advocate for cheese of everything and it REALLY worked with this dish. The clams were also incredible. White wine, cream, fresh herbs and roasted garlic. We had to order more bread to soak up all the goodness because it would have been a crime to let it go to to waste. This is probably one of the best lunches I’ve had in a while. It was a perfect mix of fresh and decadent. I was very full and satisfied after, but I didn’t feel gross. If you’re ever in Victoria, please go to Spinnakers.
After our bellies were full we decided it was time to give back. Heather and I ventured to fisherman’s wharf to feed the seals! You can buy some little fishes for $5 and toss them into the mouths of eager water babies. Watch out for the birds though. They’ll swoop in if you’re not careful!
That night I did an open mic at The Mint which is an “eclectic blend of contemporary West Coast meets traditional Himalayan cuisine.”
Minus our food taking over an hour (apparently their machine crashed and they lost all the orders) the food was very tasty. I got a butter chicken pizza which was butter chicken on a soft, chewy naan, topped with cheese. I meant what I said about cheese making everything better. Even butter chicken. Food aside, the show was super fun. “open mics” in Victoria are actually like “super great shows with attentive audiences”. Very different than some of the comedy open mics I’ve done in Toronto!
On Thursday I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while. Go for a bike ride. I haven’t biked (other than on Toronto Island-but that doesn’t count because there aren’t any cars) in about 4 years since I got into a few terrible accidents. I didn’t want my fear to hold me back from a breath taking bike ride along the coast so I took the plunge. I was nervous at first but biking on the streets of Victoria is a picnic compared to the crazy street car track/angry drivers/rush hour/narrow streets or Toronto. My first destination was Dallas Road and I biked all along the coast from there. This is where the rich people live. Holy shit the houses were incredible! After biking for over an hour I popped my head into Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Spa.
This place is faaaaannnncyyyy. They have pools and hot tubs over looking the ocean. I inquired to see if I could have access to the tubs but apparently in order to do so you have to book a $50 service. I was prepared to do that but unfortunately they were all booked up. So, I did the next best thing. I sat on their beautiful patio, drank a delicious IPA from Moon Under Water brewery and ate a huge burger. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I had the entire patio to myself. If I lived in Victoria I’d come back here to stay at the hotel for a special occasion like an anniversary. Even though I was sweaty, wearing yoga pants and a knapsack, I felt like royalty.
After my delicious lunch I continued on to Willows beach to read a book and then I biked home. My legs felt like jelly and my crotch hurt like Hell, but it was worth it! For dinner that night Dave bbq’d some delicious BC salmon and baby potatoes and I made a greek lentil salad. I love salmon so much, especially when it’s fresh like this!
Julia’s Greek Lentil Salad
Green Lentils (you can use canned or cook them yourself)
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Lots of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper
Kalamata olives (I didn’t have any…but I wish I did!)
Mix everything together, using your own common sense about how much of each ingredient you’d like to put in. If you cook your lentils, let them cool first by running them under cold water. Once everything is mixed together let sit for at least half hour at room temperate before serving.
Ok, this blog is already WAY too long so let’s just skip to Saturday, otherwise known as THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. (maybe not the BEST but it was a pretty amazing day.)
We started the day off by going to Shine cafe, featured on “You Gotta Eat Here!”. I was messaging John Catucci himself to ask what I should order. (My friends were super impressed that I’m pals with a celeb.) John suggested any of the bennies and the potato scone which is kind of like a thin potato pancake. I created my own eggs benedict by adding bacon to my smoked salmon and avocado benny. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It was so good. Smoked salmon, bacon and avocado are a match made in heaven. I often get overwhelmed when there are so many choices on a menu but I don’t regret this decision one bit.
After consuming 50+ grams of fat we drove out to Sea Cider, which is exactly what it sounds like. A cidery (like a brewery or vineyard) by the Juan de Fuca!
There were apple trees, lambs and views of mountains. It was also a perfect sunny day. I ordered a flight of their “best sellers”. (if you’re counting, that’s my 4th flight in 3 weeks). It came with the Pippins (dry cider-like a delicious version of Strongbow), Bramble (a fruity, stronger and sweeter cider) and Rumrunner which is aged in rum soaked bourbon barrels and almost tastes like an after dessert wine. I have a lot of friends who are obsessed with cider because they can’t drink beer. This would be a dream come true for them! If I lived in Victoria, I would totally want to get married here.
Once we had a nice cider buzz (not Dave, he was driving) we drove to a beach and had a snooze by the water. After a hard day of eating, drinking and napping if was time to eat again. Duh! We headed to Vis a Vis in Oak Bay Village and ordered a fantastic little cheese plate with a cheddar, soft cows milk cheese and some kind of goat cheese. It was accompanied by a grainy dijon, a delicious chutney and a spiced pear compote.
I know I’ve been saying this about all the places in Victoria, but I want to come back here for dinner! The older gentleman (who looked like a giant Mickey Rooney) sitting next to me was eating a steak and it looked incredible. He told me that I was a very beautiful woman, so I should have asked for a bite 😉
For dinner we headed to Pizzeria Primi Strada, as recommended by Mister Catooch.
I ordered the Salsicca Piccante which was topped with house made sausage, roasted pepper, basil, mozzarella and parm. Wow. I’m not usually into eating pizza crust but this dough was too good. Chewy, tender and slightly sweet. It was especially good doused in their chili oil.
After all of this, we headed back to Hecklers for one last show. Oh yeah, did I mention Hecklers? The whole reason I came to Victoria? It’s an amazing comedy club and I’m so happy I got to play it. You’re probably wondering what it’s like to perform after a solid 12 hours of eating, drinking and sunning. Well, it’s not easy but I’m a goddamn professional. It turned out to be one of my favourite shows of the tour. It felt great to end on such a high note!
And we’re done! I think this is a record breaker of “longest food blog” for me, coming in at just over 2000 words. Thanks for reading to the end and thanks for eating with me! I miss Victoria, but even looking at all these pictures again makes me happy. Stay tuned for next weeks blog where I actually start cooking again because I’m hoooome!