Best of Both Worlds, now at Fan Tan Alley

“When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives.” — Yo-Yo Ma

Linda and I visited Best of Both Worlds at the Quadra Street location in the fall of 2015.  http://www.victoriassecretgems.ca/best-of-both-worlds-imports/
However, this new location in popular Fan Tan Alley is proving to be a good move, due to the enhanced foot traffic.

 

The first thing that caught my eye upon

entering the store was this silk lamp

from Thailand.  Striking!

 

 

Then there was the collection of  small

lidded boxes — a weakness of mine! —

made of mango wood.

Of course, there were Thai silk scarves……………

………………….beautiful hand crafted paper parasols………..

………………..picnic baskets from China………….an elephant table from Thailand……..
   

……………..Thai silk cushions……………….

……………..carved statues and figures………….

……………wall carvings…………………bamboo ladders for climbing or for displaying throws, etc.
  

And then there was the furniture, such as this 12-drawer teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this 30″ saddle stool from China,
        
or this reclaimed teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this substantial warrior chair made of monkey wood from Thailand, or this armoire from China.
         

There were several styles of carts from India.

There were unique shelf units or bar storage units from India made of reclaimed wood and iron.
          

Reclaimed wood items from India seemed to be particularly popular.

Perhaps because I’m a newly minted grandma, I was drawn to this child’s rocker from Thailand,
     

and this, my favourite piece, a unique chest from India made of reclaimed wood.

Do visit this charming store in Fan Tan Alley or the warehouse on Quadra St and let your senses experience some of the unique products from the Far Eastern world.  Your sense of smell will let you know when you’ve crossed the threshold!

 

Best of Both Worlds

19 Fan Tan Alley
250-590-0695

2713 Quadra Street 
250-386-8365

www.bestofbothworldsimports.com

Mon – Sat 10 – 5,  Sun Noon – 5

PERRO NEGRO Tapas and Wine Bar

This is the dream of all the world. The dream is to live in Granada. You know, work in the morning, have a one-hour nap in the afternoon, and at night go out and have that life. Go out and see your friends and eat tapas and drink red wine and be in a beautiful place.

My dream is isn’t to live in Granada but I do like the idea of working in the morning, having a little rest in the afternoon,  and eating and laughing with friends.  Lil and I visited Perro Negro, a tapas and wine bar in downtown Victoria, during the last days of summer.

Come on up…

and take a seat in this cosy, intimate dining area…

 

 

 

We were served a bubbly…villa conchi cava and handed the tapas menu.

 

The tapas for two menu was extensive so I will highlight the ‘to die for’ dishes that we enjoyed.

Warm Bacon Wrapped Dates: ‘Could we have another 50 to go, please!’….they were SO good. Stuffed with cheese and drizzled with honey, a pop of salty with the sun drenched taste of dates.

Chorizo puffs: Chorizo enveloped in puff pastry. Delicious! Thank goodness there were two each….I would have hated to arm wrestle Lil for another one.

Ensalada verde: Apples, pecans, goat cheese and lemon peel vinaigrette on greens. Light and tasty.

Tuna montadito: Whipped ricotta and smoked albacore tune…. a delightful match!

Gambas al ajillo: Prawns and garlic…. a winner any time.

Estofado de Carne: braised beef shortribs with mushroom and brandy. Oh my goodness, the shortribs were so tender and moist. Lil and I looked at each other as we bit into them and nodded in unison as our taste buds sent happy waves to our brain.

It was a most satisfying evening.

Perro Negro: Spanish Tapas Bar
536 Yates Street
Victoria BC

250-360-1824

Thurs: 5-10
Fri-Sat: 5-11

POINT ELLICE HOUSE AND GARDENS

 The bus turned onto Pleasant Street. … But Pleasant Street didn’t seem very pleasant at all. There was a jangle of ugly, grim metal warehouses, a dusty recycling plant and, at the far end, a huge towering pile of rusted car parts that loomed like some kind of nightmarish mountain. But it was the right street…And right in the middle was Point Ellice House, the only house on the entire street. Somehow the garden still managed to seem hushed and peaceful. Tall trees screened out the rest of Pleasant Street. There were carefully manicured lawns, flower beds edged with thick, ivy  borders and a sweeping, gravelled driveway. It was a house that sat comfortably in the garden, the way a contented cat curls into a warm and sunny spot.

The Olden Days Locket by Penny Chamberlain (page 8&9)

 

POINT ELLICE HOUSE is a gem! Trees, shrubs and bushes seclude this 1861 home from the 21st Century. Behind the foliage one is swept back to the late 1800’s where afternoon tea was served on the back lawn after a game of lawn tennis or a brisk game of croquet. The Arbutus trees shields one from the direct sun and the intoxicating smell comes from roses that are roses in more than name only.  The O”Reillys lived in the house for over a 100 years from 1867-1975.

Relaxing on the back lawn after a game of tennis.

“When the O’Reillys lived here, this neighbourhood was very different. There were beautiful homes on both sides of the Grange. And there were dinner parties, and boating parties and tennis tournaments and afternoon teas. It was a genteel neighbourhood and a lovely way of life.” The Olden Days Locket pg.9 & 10

The back lawn now….still used for afternoon tea and croquet.

The Point Ellice House hosts a Picnic Afternoon Tea.  I phoned and made a reservation for Lil and I for the Saturday. On our arrival we were asked if we would like a tour of the house (for an extra $8.00) before our tea and we immediately said “Yes”. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the former owners, the eras in which they lived and the possessions which were left in the house. The last of the O’Reillys sold the house to the BC government lock, stock and barrel which not only included furnishings and clothing but newspapers, receipts and diaries dating back 90 years.

THE HOUSE: Designed by John Wright in the Italianate style, the house is a single story dwelling with gables.

Dining Room with set with Minton “King’s Border” China. Notice the wicker shields that are fitted over the chairs. They would protect the guests from the heat of the fire.

The Drawing Room:  This was a stunning room; rich in fabric, furniture and gold trim.

Butler’s Pantry where more of the Minton china was kept.

The kitchen: Coal and wood were used to fuel the cast iron French Range. It was made in Victoria at the Albion Iron Works.

A Bedroom

Lavatory

Faux Marble Wallpaper with pencil lines drawn on top to imitate marble blocks.

THE GARDENS: The gardens “…contain one of the finest Victorian-style gardens in Western Canada.” (Point Ellice House)

Kitchen Garden

Rose Garden…. beautiful fragrances!

Hollyhock Garden: so lovely!

AFTERNOON TEA

The picnic tea is so named because it is catered by Truffles Catering and arrives in a cardboard box. Tea/coffee is served in a paper cup and the delicacies are eaten off a paper plate. Why??? We asked that question. Point Ellice House does not have a kitchen or more specifically an industrial dishwasher so they are not allowed to serve food and beverage in washable containers. They must serve them on disposable containers. What a shame because the afternoon tea was absolutely delicious. The tea included savoury finger sandwiches (egg and cress, BC smoked salmon with cream cheese and coronation chicken),  scones, awesome white and dark chocolate truffles, summer tartlet (fabulous), macarons and a lemon slice. Our gratitude and applause go to Truffles Catering for creating a very tasty repast!! (Please note: Afternoon tea must be reserved 48 hours in advance.)

Afternoon Tea can be served in the Barn or on the back lawn. It was a coolish day so we opted for the Barn.

The Barn

VINTAGE SHOP

The secret vintage shop sells wares from as far away as England. Many items are available for purchase including tea services, quilts, embroidered linen tablecloths, purses and pillows.

Lil and I had such fun exploring each nook and cranny. I discovered (and bought)a lovely quilt, a linen tablecloth and four crisp tea napkins.

BONUS: VICTORIA Harbour Ferry and Water Taxi makes a stop at Point Ellice House during the summer.

Stop for a tour of the house and gardens, make reservations for afternoon tea (must be made 48 hours in advance), and/or peruse the vintage shop. A lovely way to spend a summer afternoon in Victoria. And as one young man stated as he entered the Barn, “This is a hidden gem”. It certainly is, come and discover it!!

 

Point Ellice House and Gardens
2616 Pleasant Street
Victoria BC

250-380-6506

www.pointellicehouse.com

M-W closed
Th-Sun 11-4pm

Books of interest:

Point Ellice House: A Victorian Household

The Olden Days Locket by Penny Chamberlain

 

 

 

 

IMAGINE STUDIO CAFE – Giving Youth a Chance

You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.

Jamie Tworkowski  (founder of To Write Love on her Arms)

 

Imagine Studio Cafe is a cozy coffee cafe. The decor is airy and neutral: soothing and relaxing and inviting. But it is much more than a coffee shop. It is hope and a belief in better things.

 

Dorothy Morrison is the proprietor of Imagine. In a soft spoken voice she explained her vision in opening Imagine Cafe. She wanted to help young people at risk and give them opportunities to learn marketable skills and to imagine a better life. The young people that work for her are given this opportunity and many have come back to thank her for believing in them and giving them hope.

 

The cafe serves simple fare: soups, salads and sandwiches.
And local vegetables, fruits, kitchen supplies and artisan products are available for purchase.

 


My Brie and Black forest ham sandwich served on bread from La Tana bakery was delicious!
There are bite size sweets to accompany your coffee or tea.  The mini butter tart I had was a perfect end to my meal.

 

 

 

 

It’s a welcoming spot for browsing

the Internet while having a meal

or a coffee, and board games

are left for patrons as well.

 

 

 

Imagine……..feeling good about your meal as well as knowing you’re helping to support young people learn marketable skills.

 

Imagine Studio Cafe
31 Erie Street
Victoria BC

250-812-7651

M-F: 8:00-5:00pm
Sat-Sun: 9:30-5:00pm

THE VERY GOOD BUTCHER

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I believe the 50+people, who lined up for the opening of The Very Good Butcher shop at The Victoria Public Market on Feb. 25th, were hoping to discover new dishes from this vegetarian shop. And it didn’t disappoint because in one day the shop had sold their entire week of inventory. Amazing!! The shop specializes in producing and marketing plant based meat alternative dishes.

Lil and I never had an opportunity to sample the dishes but we were able to take pictures of a few. ( We were #52 and 53 in line, respectively)

This is the Smokin’ Burger

and Beet Balls

The Pricelist

The Opening Week Menu

Display Case of Deli Meats

We are hoping someday, when the line up is down to 2-3 people, to experience the vegetarian dishes of this unique shop.

The Very Good Butcher
1701 Douglas St #6,
Victoria, BC

(250) 465-1542

Mon-Sat 10:00-6:00

Sun: 11:00-5:00

VENUS SOPHIA – Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery

“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

On a rainy, blustery Saturday, I met with a university friend for a long walk on Dallas Road. As we neared the end of our walk my friend suggested that we sup at the Venus Sophia. “The Venus Sophia?” I queried, “what is that?” “It is a quaint restaurant that serves afternoon tea and lunches located in Chinatown,” was her reply. As soon as I heard afternoon tea I was in. Really, what is more civilized and more soothing than sitting down to a plate of savouries and sweets with a steaming pot of tea placed in front of you.

Venus Sophia is a vegetarian tea room and cafe. There are cosy nooks and upholstered chairs to lounge in as your meal is served. The restaurant has the ambience of an English sitting room with cushions, lamps and pictures scattered throughout.

 

The Sweetheart Afternoon Tea was in honour of Valentines Day. The Signature Tea is served daily.

 

The finger sandwiches were tasty (all with vegetarian fillings) and the cranberry scones were delicious. The sweets were not too sweet. On the second tier there are chocolate covered strawberries.

 

Ah!! I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my friend and her hubby enjoying their tea.

 

Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery
540 Fisgard St,
Victoria, BC

(250) 590-3953

Wed-Sun 11:00-6:00

Brasserie L’Ecole

I had my first French meal and I never got over it. It was just marvelous. We had oysters and a lovely dry white wine. And then we had one of those lovely scalloped dishes and the lovely, creamery buttery sauce. Then we had a roast duck and I don’t know what else.         Julia Child

And that it how I felt about my birthday meal at Brasserie L’Ecole …… it was just marvelous!

We lined up at 5:00pm on a cold and windy November night outside the restaurant on Government Street. We were second and third in line and spent the 30 minutes of waiting chatting with a person from Seattle who always comes to this restaurant when she is in town visiting friends. When the door opened at 5:30 the people surged through, finding tables that seated 2 or 3 or 4 people. Those who were near the end of the outside line found seats at the bar. Welcome to Brasserie L’Ecole …. a French casual dining restaurant that takes NO reservations but has customers who brave stormy and windy nights to wait in line in order to partake of a meal that is just marvelous.

img_8286

We ordered:

Deep fried Pork Belly with an incredible sauce.

.

img_8300

Endive Salad, with bacon, hazelnuts, apple, mustard wine dressing … lovely.

.

img_8301

 

I chose Steak Frites, red wine & shallot sauce, Roquefort butter …..quite delicious.

.

img_8303

and Truffled Frites: Parmesan, garlic, parsley, truffle oil …..wonderful, just so good.

img_8305

Hubby ordered a meal close to his Slavic roots: House Sausage, spätzle, cheese & beer sauce, sauerkraut

.

img_8302

and beets with roasted hazelnuts …. Fabulous!

img_8306

Dessert was Creme Brulee…. simply the best.

img_8307

Anniversary, birthday, a celebration, or simply a desire to be pampered with excellent service and amazing food. Brasserie L’Ecole is the place. Meet you in the line up.

Brasserie L’Ecole
1715 Government St,
Victoria, BC

Tues-Sat: 5:30-11PM

250- 475-6260

www.lecole.ca

Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Catalano8 “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” – Anna Thomas

On the recommendation of friends Lil and I made a reservation at the Catalano Restaurant in downtown Victoria.

Outside dining…..Summer eating and the livin is easy!!

IMG_7579

The star plate of the restaurant: Prawns Carbonara: Prawns, crushed chili, bacon lardons, garlic, Pecorino Romano cheese, arugula, and a tempered egg yolk. A tempered egg yolk! Yes and it was Absolutely fabulous!!

IMG_7582

House salad: Tasty and a delightful side to the pasta.

IMG_7583We ate well!!

Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar

619 Courtney St,
Victoria, BC
(250) 480-1824

M-Th: 6:30am-11:00am
             11:30am-10:00 pm
F:         6:30am-11:00am
            11:30am-11:00pm
Sat:     6:30am-2:00pm
            4:00pm-11:00pm
Sun:    6:30am-2:00pm
            4:00pm-10:00pm

Duchess & Duke

“I say dress to please yourself. Listen to your inner muse and take a chance. Wear something that says ‘Here I am!’ today.” —Iris Apfel

Lil and I enjoy consignment shopping. There is such a variety of clothing and accessories: high end mixed with eclectic pieces….something for every age and style.  We had the pleasure of visiting two this past Thursday, and they are only blocks from each other.

The Duchess and Duke is a well organized consignment store. Dresses on one rack, pants on another, shirts, another and once on the racks they are then organized by colour.

IMG_7596

IMG_7598

The shoes are well displayed, as are the purses.

IMG_7603

IMG_7600

The clerk was friendly and helpful and I felt that I could take my time looking through the racks and trying on the articles of clothing.

I tried on this gorgeous light pink dress which fit me oh, so tightly but on the right frame it would be stunning!!

IMG_7595

Duchess and Duke
1824 Government Street
Victoria, BC

778-433-3318

www.duchessduke.ca

T-Fr  10:30 am-5:30 pm
Sat     11 am-5:30 pm
Sun    11 am-4 pm
Mon   closed