Olive This & More

“I buy extra virgin olive oil by the case (much less expensive this way) and reach for it several times a day. I use it to marinate and cook my protein, saute my vegetables, and drizzle on my salads.”  —  Suzanne Somers

 

Running errands in Victoria’s core downtown,

I stopped at Olive This & More to pick up

another bottle of Tuscan herb

infused olive oil, a staple in our cupboard.

 

This was supposed to be a quick stop.

Not so…………I was soon side-tracked.

 

 

 

 

The rows of stainless steel urns with their informative labels begged closer inspection.

As I was processing the information on a label of extra virgin olive oil, a helpful staff member urged me to try a series of three different olive oils.  The first one was made from the arbosana olive, a Spanish cultivar grown in Chile, and was noted as a mild flavoured olive oil.

Next was an oil of the picual olive, a Spanish cultivar grown in Australia.  Immediately I could taste the difference.

Then I tried the oil from the picholine olive, a French cultivar grown in Australia, yielding a strong flavoured oil.  The difference was remarkable!

Just like the the taste of wines

varies according to the grapes

(among other factors),

so it is with olive oils.

So much to discover! 

The shop offers ready-made gift baskets,  or you can choose products to have a basket put together.

  

Olive This & More offers other tantalizing culinary fare as well, such as jars of various olives……….

……….salsas made by Tasteful Essentials in Parksville, above, and their sauces, below……………

  
………….smoked oysters from Campbell River,  Gunpowder Sauce’s flavoured pepper sauces from Nanaimo…………
…………….flavoured finishing salts from Saltwest Naturals in Sooke…………..

……………..and concentrated sauces from That Extra Touch in Qualicum Beach.
Saltwest Naturals in Sooke also offers a line of bath salts, below.
What an array of very distinct products, all made right here on Vancouver Island!
And of course, Olive This & More offers specialty oils, as well as white and dark balsamic vinegars, plus infused balsamic vinegars.

These are some of the oils and vinegars already in our cupboard.
Picking up my Tuscan herb infused olive oil, for which I originally came, I added some small gift packs which are always appreciated by the recipients.

Visit this tiny shop with its world of information and flavours!

Olive This & More
619 Broughton St, Victoria
778-265-5045
www.olivethisandmore.ca

Mon-Fri 10 – 5:30,  Sat 10 – 5,  Sun 12 – 4.

Art in the Barn Gallery

“Great art picks up where Nature ends.”  — Marc Chagall

Tucked onto a natural, forested acreage just off West Saanich Road is a most unusual barn.
No question, it’s a barn;  inside, you can see the concrete curbs on each side of the main aisle which formed the footings for the horse stalls.  The floors slope toward this middle aisle — that was a functional slope.

What is unusual is the contents.
This former barn now houses horses differently – horses painted on canvas.

It also houses other animals, painted on canvasses…………..
   

………because, as no doubt is apparent,
this is a barn converted into a gallery.

The proprietors are Jacqui and Gabriel.

Jacqui is a painter, and all the paintings
featured in this post are hers.

In addition to her own resource material,
Jacqui also paints animals by commission,
such as the two portraits of dogs, above.

Gabriel is a photographer.
Several of his matted and framed photographs are exhibited in the gallery.

Nature figures strongly as a resource in
Gabriel’s photographic work.

Other local artists’ work is also welcome to be exhibited in the gallery.

The art pieces, above and below, are examples of Gabriel’s photographs taken in nature.

Linda tried to gauge the size of this creation by Jacqui.
The art piece depicts a sight that’s so typical of our Peninsula outside Victoria.  It is this aspect of nature that Jacqui continues to capture in her paintings.

Gabriel also spends hours to get the “perfect” shot of a specific aspect of nature that he wants to share.
He also photographs “found” items!

Matted prints of Jacqui’s paintings and Gabriel’s photography work are available unframed as well.

         

The painting above, right, is one by Jacqui of Gabriel.

Art in a Barn is a true gem………local artists creating, displaying, and making available to others the personal creations of Nature that they want to share.    Check it out!

 

Art in the Barn Gallery
4578 Hughes Road
Victoria

778-977-2895

www.artinthebarn.gallery

Thur – Sun 10 – 4  or by appointment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cottage Bakery & Cafe

“When I was 16 and arrived in France, I discovered chocolate mousse.  I was crazy about the bread, too.  Every morning, I’d go to the bakery and get a fresh croissant.  It made me feel very sophisticated.”  —  Jerry Hall

The folks in the Fairfield area of Victoria must feel very sophisticated indeed!

They line up every morning for the fresh croissants at the Cottage Bakery & Cafe, and the latecomers leave sans croissants.
This ham & cheese croissant was all air and butter and cheese and ham!  Such a tough choice to make among the chocolate croissant, cheese croissant, and the plain croissant.  Good thing I arrived early enough to have a choice!
Of course, the Cottage Bakery has breads…………..

……………..and pastries…………….

………………..and savoury baked items………………….

……………..and salads……………..

……………….and decadent cakes, like this layered carrot cake, yet they’re not too sweet.  Perfect!

The patio is a sunny way to break up a morning — or afternoon.

I was attracted to the flowers at the patio’s edge………..nothing to do with the fine baking, but a lovely complement.
   

I strayed ‘way off my comfortable chocolate path and tried the macadamia nut shortbread.

Not much left, is there?!  So yummy!

The Fairfield community surely knows what a gem they have in their midst in the Cottage Bakery & Cafe.

It’s surely worth a stop!


Cottage Bakery & Cafe

1267 Fairfield Rd, Victoria
778-433-2412

Mon – Fri 8 – 5:30, Sat 9 – 4

Spiral Cafe

“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”
—  Johann Sebastian Bach

And, as if waiting for Mr Bach, we spotted a vintage white upright piano!
Vintage piano
The Spiral Cafe is actually a coffee shop, but music seems to be a big part of the life here.  Live music is featured on weekends and on some weekday evenings as well.

Check out this sidewalk outside the cafe!
Sidewalk outside Spiral CafeThere’s blue glass embedded in the concrete…..in a spiral pattern!
And it’s in front of — the Spiral Cafe!  Coincidence?  I think not!

Tent card on sidewalk      Outside

The spiral theme is on the sidewalk, in the windows and on the signage.
Art work 3

The walls are adorned with pieces by local artists, lending a colourful and homey feel to the room.

 

Homemade Moroccan split pea soupAs it was lunch time, I had a bowl of the homemade Moroccan split pea soup — so tasty!  It had just the right amount of heat, but not enough to make me overheat.  Just right!

Cheese & herb scone, split           The cheese & herb scone from a nearby bakery was the perfect accompaniment to the soup.

Bliss chocolate ice cream bar              Enjoy! Bliss ice cream bar

Linda chose a Bliss ice cream bar to finish her meal.  Bliss ice cream bars are hard to find, apparently. They’re made in Vancouver and if Linda’s oohing and ahhing are any indication, they’re the best packaged ice cream bars around!

Bliss, indeed!  At the Spiral Cafe!

Spiral Cafe
418 Craigflower Road, Victoria
250-386-9303

Mon – Thu 7 am–9:30 pm,  Fri 7 am–10 pm,  Sat 8 am–10 pm,  Sun 9 am – 6 pm

Fol Epi

Food, glorious food!
Eat right through the menu.
Just loosen your belt
Two inches and then you
Work up a new appetite.
In this interlude —
The food,
Once again, food
Fabulous food,
Glorious food.

 Lionel Bart, Oliver Twist

 Fol Epi: Literal translation……wheat and grass, my translation…… delicious and amazing.

 

One the left side: Pastries that include many flavoured macarons, maple walnut butter tarts, lemon tarts with fresh berries, exquisite fudgie mousse cake, pain au chocolat, buttery croissants and more….

Fol Epi 2

One the right side: Breads…whole wheat, baguettes, rye, boule, ciabatta and more….,

Fol Epi

Middle: order from five or so different wood burning baked pizzas. They arrive piping hot and delicious.

Fol Epi 3

Not into pastries? Try the organic ice cream with their homemade sauces and toppings: chocolate, caramel, toasted almonds and more…..

IMG_3886

Delicious, fabulous, glorious foods!

 

Fol Epi
Organic bakery
101-398 Harbour Rd.
Victoria, BC,
250-477-8882

AND a brand new store at  700ish Yates Str.

www.folepi.ca

M-Sun 7:30-6:00 pm

 

 

Varsha Sips & Nosh House

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”  ~  Orson Welles
We dashed into Varsha Sips & Nosh House to duck a sudden blustery rain squall in downtown Victoria.
The aroma hit us as we opened the door.  Good, lucky choice, I thought.

Dahl 1

As an antidote to the weather outside, we ordered dahl and settled at the windows overlooking Pandora and Government.

The server was welcoming and pleasant and told us that the Dodd family owns Varsha restaurant, which is named after the matriarch of the family.  She also offered us a sample of an appetizer the cook was planning to add to the menu:  spicy roasted cauliflower.
Well, suffice to say that the sample was a complete hit with us!  We even asked the cook how it was prepared, as we enjoyed it so much.  (It’s actually cooked twice to infuse the flavours!)

Our dahl was a comforting bowl of soup made from pink lentils roughly pureed with spices such as garam masala and cumin, giving it an appetizing yellowish green colour, and garnished with feta cheese and cilantro.

Varsha dahl (soup)

The smell was enticing, and with naan on the side, this was absolutely yummy!

Good lucky choice?  Absolutely!

Varsha Sips & Nosh House
1600 Government Street (at Pandora),  Victoria  V8W 1Z3
250-590-6252
www.varsha.ca

Tue – Thur  11:30 am – 9 pm
Fri  11:30 am – 10 pm
Sat  noon – 10 pm
Sun  noon – 9 pm.

bin 4 Burger Lounge

To eat well, I always disagree with critics who say that all restaurants should be fine dining. You can get a Michelin star if you serve the best hamburger in the world.

David Chang

 

Gourmet Hamburgers- check

Locally grown products- check

House cut Kennebec French Fries-check

Freshly made House Salad-check

House made Dip for Fries-check

Buns from Irene’s Bakery

 

What is not to love about bin 4’s menu! 17 uniquely styled burgers including the classic Heritage, the Dirty Bourbon, Mr Bean and the The Angry Bull.

 

Bin 4 bourbon burger

 

The Dirty Bourbon

I ordered the Heritage burger with aged white cheddar, a freshly made salad with a divine lemon champagne honey vinaigrette and piping hot fries…. crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I chose the roasted garlic aioli dip….one of 9 dips and it complimented the fries beautifully. The gene pool chose the Dirty Bourbon and The Angry Bull with fries for their side. We all agreed that the burgers were awesome!!

bin 4 cheese burger

 

 

The Classic Heritage with Bacon

 

Bin 4
180-911 Yates Street
Victoria, BC
250-590-4154

&

3271 Maple Street (across from Home Sense)
Saanich, BC
250-590-6565

&

107-716 Goldstream Avenue
Westshore, BC
778-265-5464