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

SheShe Shoes

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” —  Harry Winston

This 4-metre topiary in downtown Victoria made me stop in wonderment this past summer, but admittedly, it was due to the green thumb in me, not so much to the fact that I had shoes on my mind. But since that seed was planted……….yeah, the pun is intended!………we did go over to She She Shoes.

On offer we found ankle boots…………and prim ‘n’ smart loafers………

……….and flat-heeled ankle boots, such as these by Blonde.

There are practical items such as these flats from Butterfly Twists…..
……..aptly named, because the heel tucks into the toe of the flat, like a cocoon, taking up little space when travelling.

 

Socks are offered too.

 

 

 

And there are the warm-weather
sandals……….

 

……………like these sandals from Miz Mooz………..

……………and these lace-ups from Sacha London.

The shoes in this shop could almost be considered commonplace………….almost………

……………but then we noticed these very comfy and colourful flats, and these pumped-up lace-ups….

………….and these booties…………….

………….and these flats from Poetic Licence………….

……………and these almost-staid polka dotted pumps…………….
…………….and these almost-practical shoes from Shoe the Bear:

……….and then it got interesting.

You love animals, and you want to put that forward?  Try these!

Or these, from Irregular Choice.

And then the heels kicked it up a notch…………

……………..moving to the ice creams, …………………….

 ………….to Bambi, ……………….

…………the stacked dice…………………..

…………….the pink flamingos………….

……………and even an adorable bride & groom pair in which to kick things up in style at a wedding!

Those heels made these shoes look tame by comparison:

Even the flaming red embellished pair looked almost demure!

I HAD to try some…………….
   

……….and walked out, a delighted customer!  Even the shoe box is unique!

She She Shoes
618 View St
250- 383-1883
www.shesheshops.com

Mon – Sat 10 – 5:30,  Sun noon – 5

The Roost

“If you go back to the Greeks and Romans, they talk about all three – wine, food, and art – as a way of enhancing life.” – Robert Mondavi

 

Who on the Saanich Peninsula — and beyond — doesn’t know about The Roost?!

    

There are plenty of chicken motifs around, but none wears it more proudly than these gorgeous kings of the roost!

Maybe because it’s close to home and close to the Panorama Rec Centre with indoor and outdoor tennis, maybe because my visitors can easily find it — it’s the place I frequent the most for casual dining or just coffee.
Not to mention that the food and coffee are reliably good!
Baked quiches, meat pies, Mac ‘n’ cheese bakes………..

    

……………muffins and cookies, fruit pies and tortes, and so much more!  Everything is house made and SO good!

Get your coffee and snack and enjoy the fare and surroundings at the outdoor front awning-covered tables, or in the picnic area…….
      

        

…………….or in a separate “room” created with hedging……..
     

……or in the iconic bus which has its ever-present, faithful driver, watching over the tables behind him.

Or have breakfast, lunch or dinner served to you inside the Bistro………

……with the familiar smell of good quality, fair-traded coffee and the changing artwork by local artists surrounding you.
    
On this occasion, some of the pieces on offer were chicken paintings by Catherine McLeod,

and landscapes by Mary Pearson.

You can dine outside near the fireplace in a screened-in area,

or around the rear of the building in a secluded, sunken dining area…..

……the sunken dining area from the other side………….


………….adjacent to a pleasant water feature.

On this occasion I had the spinach & pear salad

and my husband had the ham & cheddar sandwich with a Caesar salad.   Perfect!


The Roost sits (give me credit for not saying that it roosts!) on about ten acres of farmland owned by Hamish, below.
That’s a combine behind Hamish’s right shoulder, and the dust behind his left shoulder is from another combine, harvesting the wheat that will be made into flour which will be used to bake so much of the great fare offered at The Roost.

His daughter, Sarah, grew up here, and now she and her husband, Dallas Bohl, own and operate The Roost.
But clearly, this is so much more than just a coffee stop, or even just a local restaurant.
This auger moves the wheat up into the grain bin for storage until it’s needed.
The tractor is a working piece of equipment……

…….as is this vintage Chevrolet truck.
    
The wheat is milled and finished on-site and is used to bake the breads offered at The Roost.

In addition to milling their own wheat for flour, this family keeps chickens for fresh eggs and meat…………..

………sheep for milk, cheese and meat,,,,,,,,,,,,,

……..and bees for their honey.
The honeybee boxes are in the fruit portion of the farm, which includes the blueberry bushes behind the boxes……

…………green apple trees…………..

…………..red apple trees……………..
    

……..strawberries, black tomatoes…………..

…………and grapes.  Oh, the grapes!  Rows of vines hanging full of grape clusters!
The Roost farm produces both red and white wines, available in The Bistro with your meal, or for sale to go.

Tastings of The Roost’s wines are available here, as are other mementos and gift items,


just inside the main Bistro entrance — next to the piano.

This is also where you can sign up to paint your own chicken!
Indeed, The Roost is so much more than what meets the eye!

There’s the large outdoor tent for private functions………….
  

……another area for private functions……..
………a games area with a bull riding simulator for kids of all ages………..

………………..and a ping pong table, plus a soccer billiards game.

And then there’s Hamish’s private collection of vintage cars and tractors…………

—————and the pumpkin carriage in the back corner!

And if you haven’t already figured out that this family loves having fun, and loves providing a venue for others to have fun, you have got to see [….ominous music here…..]……..

………the Dungeon!
What lurks behind those imposing doors, you ask?

The first room is deceptively benign, with its long tables (crafted by Hamish) ………..but look to the far end, behind the door with steel bars where there should be windows………
   

…………standing guard over the wine aging barrels beyond his right shoulder is a full suit of armour, and behind that is a somewhat uncomfortable-looking standing squeeze box……..

…………..and a true, functional rack!…………..

   

…………….and a throne to which none wishes to ascend, and the remnant of some hapless one, hanging on the wall!
Do you see the humerus?!

    

Full of tasty, wholesome, home-grown food and drink — plus plenty of room for a good time — Welcome to The Roost!

 

Roost Vineyard Bistro & Farm Bakery
9100 East Saanich Road
North Saanich

250-655-0075
www.roostfarmcentre,com

Sun – Thur 8 – 8,  Fri & Sat 8 – 9

 

Cold Comfort, Kid Sister, and Parachute Ice Cream Makers

“Believe me, I love a good chocolate chip ice cream. I’m not going to go for some lousy version of it. If I’m going to have it, I’m going to have a really good one. I believe in treating yourself occasionally to something.”  — Christie Brinkley

I knew this was going to be good — I just didn’t realize how much of that good I’d have!

Another typical Victoria summer day:  wonderfully  warm and sunny!
So unsurprisingly, after errands  in Cook Street Village, we found ourselves craving a cold treat.

Happily, we were near Cold Comfort……….a small, independent ice cream company that makes some unique flavours.

 

On offer today, for example, were Peach & Bourbon, Pineapple & Mint, and
Hoyne Dark Matter &
Happy Hour Bar Nuts.
No kidding!

 

We shared a cup of the Peach & Bourbon ice cream and remarked on both flavours coming through individually and also working so well together.

 


         

I like their loyalty card which gives me one free ice cream sandwich or pint for every ten purchased.

I also appreciate that Cold Comfort uses organic and locally sourced eggs, milk and cream, and local sea salt. They also use organic & fairly traded cane sugar and cocoa for their chocolate.

And here’s a truly unique offer!   Cold Comfort sells postcards that are good for a custom-made flavour delivered to the door:  I give a postcard to a friend who fills it out, drops it in the mail and when Cold Comfort receives it, they make the requested flavour and delivers!
I daresay, this is one instance where it may be more blessed to receive than to give!

 

Outside the shop,
two kids were happily dipping into their Pineapple & Mint
ice creams,
and their Mom
is clearly a
Cold Comfort fan
as well!

 

Need a warm, fuzzy feeling?
Cold Comfort delivers!

 

 

We were blocks away before I realized that we had pretty much inhaled our cup of Cold Comfort ice cream – and I had forgotten to catch a photo……..so this is all I had left!

After a somewhat lengthy stop at MEC to find new tennis shoes, we badly needed another cold treat.
We crossed the street and in Fan Tan Alley, we found Kid Sister.
    

Kid Sister has been making ice cream for seven years and moved to Fan Tan Alley about a year ago.
Once again, we were impressed with the diligence of Kid Sister’s owners to source organic ingredients, where possible, and to source locally.

We had a taste of the Quince & Creme Fraiche Ripple and it was so fresh on the palate!
The very pleasant Kid Sister attendant insisted we try the Classic Grapefruit Sherbet.  Truly, that was grapefruit juice perfected!

And then, we had to make a choice………….

………………..we watched the “makers” work their magic, but still had to make a choice…………

………….and the Pistachio Almond Chocolate was the chosen one!
I wanted to see whether I could distinguish each flavour, and yes! the pistachio, almond and chocolate were all present in creamy glory!
Again, we left, smiling!
Welcome to my family, Kid Sister!

I had to follow up on an errand near the Gorge, and, true to form, my friend suggested we pick up a half-pint of ice cream to take home.  (Are you kidding me?!)
Being the staunch trooper that I am, I agreed, and I suggested Parachute Ice Cream.

    

I had enjoyed Parachute’s ice cream before this so I was already aware of Parachute’s advice, written on the wall of their ice cream shop:


Parachute varies their flavour offerings according to available ingredients.
For example, today they offered Vanilla Jasmine, Passionfruit, Lychee Black Tea, Blueberry, Chocolate Coconut Vegan, among others.  When the container of a specific flavour is depleted, they move on to offer another one.
We chose a half-pint of Brown Butter Brownie ice cream to go.

Not much left of that either, is there?!

Too much of a good thing?  Perhaps, if it was a daily habit!  But for an occasional treat — true bliss!

I defer to Parachute’s sage words: “Every problem has a solution and more often than not, that solution is ice cream.  One spoonful of our carefully crafted confections triggers the ultimate release.  Two will save the day.  Ice cream is love and love is all you need.  Let it go.”    Amen!

 

Parachute Ice Cream
105-2626 Bridge St, Victoria
778-265-1999
www.parachuteicecream.com
Mon – Sat 11 am – 7 pm,  Sun Noon – 7 pm

Kid Sister Ice Cream
 #10 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria
250-590-6888
www.kidsistericecream.com
Sun – Wed  noon – 6 pm, Thur – Sat  noon – 9 pm

Cold Comfort Ice Cream
1115 N Park St #2, Victoria
778-433-5215
www.coldcomfort.ca
Sun – Thur  11 am – 9 pm,  Fri & Sat  11 am – 10 pm

Runway Fashions

“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” — Ralph Lauren

Stepping into Runway Fashions shop reminds me of mainland European clothing shops.
   
At first glance, I couldn’t readily see any items that beckoned me.

But Eun, the owner, remedied that in no time at all.

     
She showed us her Danish clothing lines, French-made clothing, and her own designs.

  

The dress, above, is one designed by Eun.  Lauren Vidal is  line from the UK that Runway carries.

     
Eun studied fashion design in Germany before moving to Canada.

    

Linda was drawn to this sweater with the geometric buttons.

 

 

   

She continues to design, produce, and sell her own designs alongside unique pieces from European designers, including shoes and accessories.
     

Runway is located right in the heart of the Inner Harbour walking district, at the rear of the Empress Hotel block.

And the best part?  In addition to Eun helping her clients find items that truly suit them — perhaps pushing the boundaries just the right amount! — the prices are happily affordable!

 

I’ve already been back for a second must-have item!
Let Eun help you find your “new look” too!

Runway Fashions
702 Douglas Street
250-380-6553
www.runwayfashions.ca

Mon – Sat 10 -6, Sun 11 – 6

Jurassic Gems

I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.  — Mother Teresa

Yikes!  Those are harsh words from a saintly one!

Do you recognize your Mom’s silver fork?  Or your Grandma’s silverware spoon?

Joanne and Brad of Jurassic Gems take vintage 100-year-old forks and spoons such as those originally made by Rogers Bros. or Birks and fashion one-of-a-kind bracelets and rings from them.

     

They also design earrings with pewter details and silver french hooks.

Their sales and observations indicate that gold is making a comeback with younger women, as evidenced by the popularity of their gold bracelets — clearly not made from forks or spoons!.

I was dashing through the Victoria Market on downtown Douglas Street to pick up an item from Olive the Senses and was lured to the Jurassic Gems kiosk…….yes, like a crow to a shiny object!


Joanne showed me a number of unique items.  The one that hooked me was a bracelet made from a Rogers Bros. gold spoon.

It’s so similar to my own set of Rogers Bros. “Reflections” gold cutlery — I could NOT resist!

Find your own specific treasure — or take your handed-down silverware to Joanne and Brad.

                                     Yes, you CAN have your silver spoon — and wear it too!

Jurassic Gems
Victoria Market at the Hudson
1701 Douglas, Victoria

www.facebook.com/jurassicgem

Wed 11 – 3,  Sat 11 -5

 

Mercedes Lane Too

Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress.Karl Lagerfeld

No matter how good the piece of clothing looks, it’s got to FEEL good when wearing it — usually for hours on end!
My confident recommendation to find look-good / feel-good pieces are at Mercedes Lane Too on Cook Street.

The storefront is like a siren, beckoning me from down the street!
There are dresses,

                        

tops for leggings,

           

more dresses,

   

pants from Up! — made in Canada  — in different colours and patterns and all oh, so flattering!,

   

and coats.

          

The owner, Tina Robson, has years of experience sourcing her products and carries varied clothing such as silk and linen items from Italy, for example, but she’s proud to note that about 65% of her wares are made in Canada.

For example, Mode de Vie clothing (left) is made in Canada, as is Gitane (right), below.

       

Besides the amazing Up! pants, Mercedes Lane Too also offers Canadian-made lines such as Neon Buddha, Mode de Vie and Pretty Woman, among others.

And while it plays only a supporting role, there’s art available too!

Tina doesn’t have an advertising budget — she doesn’t need to!
Every time I’m in her shop, I see women browsing, trying on the clothing, and they range in age from teens to my Grandma! No advertising budget means more economical prices for us! Maybe that’s why I never see anyone leaving the store empty-handed!
(…….or it could be the no-pressure help Tina and her staff offer us………….this is actual customer service!)

I bought these bernie mev shoes two years ago and they’re perfect when it’s wet underfoot, plus they’re the lightest footwear I own! 

There’s also bling and boot toppers,

      

hats and other accessories.

On this visit, Linda was partial to black-ish choices:

                                

I had to have a shorty sweater and an airy-floaty dress, both in green, on this particular day………..

    

It’s truly worth a stop at Mercedes Lane Too — a different store with different stuff!
Great, irresistible stuff!

 

Mercedes Lane Too
325 Cook St, Victoria
250-590-3584
www.mercedeslanetoo.com

Tue – Sat  9:30 – 8, Mon 9:30 – 6, Sun 10 – 6

 

Sült Pierogi Bar

“This is my unvariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun!”  — Julia Child

My Mom used to make perogies — she loved to try many different kinds with various fillings and sides. And they were SO good!
Soooo………….what about today?  A downtown perogy place?  — OOPS! —  “pierogi” place!
Well, we discovered Sült Pierogi Bar.

Sult Perogie Bar 3 (Medium)

Trust me, this place has pierogies nailed!  No matter how you spell it, I call it “More, please!”

Sult Perogie Bar 2

The menu includes various combinations of fillings, sides and number of pierogies for your order.
Sult Perogie Bar 1
The restaurant is finished in industrial chic style.Sult 7

The walls are filled with artwork by Dallas Segno (www.dallassegno@gmail.com).
Sult 4

And there indeed is  a bar!

Sult 5
This space formerly housed a bank, so the door to the bank’s vault remains in place at Sült — but it looks nothing like your bank’s vault door!
Sult 9         Sult 6

And there’s take-out!  So following this sumptious tasting, we had out-of-province company staying with us, and we treated them to Sült pierogies — this was a BIG hit!

Sult 1Check it out!   You will NOT be disappointed!    Sült !

Sült Pierogi Bar
609 Yates St
778-265-7858

www.sultpierogibar.com

Mon – Thurs 11 am-9 pm,  Fri – Sat 11 am-12 am,  Sun 11 am-6 pm

The Pink Bicycle

“I always say, ‘Eat clean to stay fit;  have a burger to stay sane.’ “ — Gigi Hadid

Yes, there’s a pink bicycle in the window of this casual burger restaurant.  The story goes, the owner used to ride this bike to work every day……… that’s it!

Pink Bicycle 5

 

But this isn’t your average burger joint.

Not only is this one of the best beef burgers I’ve had, but beef isn’t nearly the only burger available here.
The Pink Bicycle offers burgers made from chicken, swine, lamb, bison, salmon, ahi tuna, veggie,  black bean veggie, truffle mushroom, and more.

Sides available include soups, salads, fries and poutine.
Everything is sourced locally where possible.

Pink Bicycle 3

I chose the most popular burger, the Pink Bike Cheese Burger and a side house salad with veggies, sunflower seeds and a fig-balsamic vinaigrette — all yummy!  The buns are baked next door at Bond Bond’s Bakery.

IMG_5699

Linda chose the second most popular burger, the Blue Cheese Lamb Burger with a side of fries.
The locally sourced organic lamb is infused with savoury rosemary and apricot pesto, and the burger is topped with local rich blue cheese and lime mayo.
I’m not a fan of lamb, but I tried this and the blue cheese makes this a star for sure!

IMG_5701

Love that Pink Bicycle!

The Pink Bicycle
1008 Blanshard St, Victoria
250-384-1008
www.pinkbicycleburger.com

Mon – Sat 11:30 am – 9 pm