Sunday, July 22, 2012

Old Town Bakery (Ladysmith, BC)

510 1st Ave
Ladysmith, BC
(250) 245-2531

Trapezista and I headed up the coast to check out Ucluelet and Tofino. On our way there, we stopped at Old Town Bakery in Ladysmith. Trapezista had heard that their cinnamon buns were a must try.

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Old Town Bakery.

Trapezista got the renown cinnamon bun with sliced almonds and cream cheese icing. I don't remember how much it was, but definitely under $3, which makes the giant bun a steal. She really enjoyed her bun. There were other flavours, such as a berry one and a peanut butter cream cheese one.

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Cinnamon Bun.

I was a wimp and was overwhelmed by the ginormous cinnamon bun so I ordered the blueberry and white chocolate scone ($1.85) instead. It was quite good and still big. I did eye her bun and wondered if I should have stuck to the bakery's specialty.

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Blueberry scone.

Old Town Bakery seemed to be busy on a weekday morning. Their other baked goods include large square shaped muffins, cookies and freshly baked breads. There was also a small lunch counter with salads.

Old Town Bakery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salt Spring Island Cheese (Salt Spring Island, BC)

285 Reynolds Road
Salt Spring Island, BC

Before taking the ferry back to Vancouver Island, we had to stop at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. The company specializes in non-dairy cheese, i.e. goat cheese and some sheep cheese.

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Inside was a large spread of different cheeses to try out. They offer a variety of soft goat cheese (or chèvre), which is topped with different ingredients to serve with crackers. The chèvre that stole my heart was the white truffle one (and I have one in the fridge right now!). There were other flavours like the spicy chili oil chèvre and the lemon chèvre that combined very well with a sweet preserve.

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Salt Spring Island chèvre.

They also had some hard cheeses like the Montana, an aged sheep cheese, reminiscent of Manchego, and Chevaro, the goat version. Surprisingly, the sheep cheese was milder than the goat cheese. Another one that I brought home was the Juliette, which tastes like Camembert.

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Hard and surface ripened cheeses.

If you ever do visit Salt Spring Island, a stop by the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company is definitely worth it. There's nothing better than to try a product that is made right on the spot. I can't wait to try the cheese, with some BC wine that I've brought back.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Auntie Pesto's Cafe (Salt Spring Island, BC)

2104-115 Fulford Ganges RdSalt Spring Island, BC

Trapezista, her friend C and I took the ferry to Salt Spring Island to go camping. In the morning, we went searching for breakfast in the town of Ganges and found Auntie Pesto's Cafe.

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We picked Auntie Pesto's for their early bird special (from 8 to 9 am) of 2 eggs, bacon, potato, toast & coffee for $8.99. An old hippie patron (it seems there are a lot of hippies in Ganges) also came out while we were looking at the menu outside, encouraging us to come in. Had it been warmer, we would have happily sat outside and had breakfast by the water.

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A nice warm cup of coffee was served. I was impressed by the quality of the foamy coffee that was included in the early bird special.

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The early bird special was quite good. The 3 slices of bacon were crispy. The potatoes were well seasoned and cooked with slices of onion. I seemed to not have photographed my favourite part of the meal. The accompanying fresh peach preserves. It was quite delicious, with large chunks of peaches, and made me want to try my hand at preserves this year!

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While waiting for breakfast, I got tempted by the scones sitting on the counter. We decided to share the walnut and chocolate chip one to end our meal on a sweet note. The scone was nicely warmed up and buttered for us.

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Auntie Pesto's was a perfect stop for breakfast. They seem to offer a very ambitious dinner menu, not something one would necessarily expect in a small town.

Auntie Pesto's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sooke Harbour House (Sooke, BC)

1528 Whiffen Spit Road
Sooke , British Columbia

While researching restaurants near Victoria, I read up on Sooke Harbour House, which offers a 3-course local seasonal menu for $49 on Friday and Sunday evenings. So I made reservations a few days after I booked my flight to Victoria for myself and Trapezista. Like Red Fish Blue Fish (our earlier meal in the day), Sooke Harbour House has a Top Chef Canada connection. This season's winner, Carl Heinrich, is from Sooke and worked at this restaurant! (A propos, just because Trapezista and I loved TCC.)

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View of the back where the dining room is.

Sooke is a little town by the water in the south of Vancouver Island. It has its own garden and uses a lot of its own produce for its menu. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was raining so we did not get to spend a lot of time outside. Sooke Harbour House also offers a great view of the water, that would make a perfect romantic night out.

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View from the dining room.

The menu changes daily. To start, Trapezista picked the smoked beet, leek & potato soup. I had a taste of the soup. The smokiness of the beets added another layer to the soup while not overpowering it, which is always a risk with smoke. I ordered the stellar bay Kusshi oysters, a small size West Coast oyster. I enjoyed the small oysters and the toasted dill seed mignonette. Trapezista tried her first oyster and was not too impressed by the texture.

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Starter: Beet soup and oysters.

For the main course, Trapezista ordered the grilled Berkshire pork tenderloin, that looked perfectly cooked. Trapezista thoroughly enjoyed the locally sourced pork, on a bed of spaetzle and accompanied by cauliflower. She also ordered a glass of the 2009 Meritage, Lake Breeze that was the recommended wine to the pork dish.

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Grilled Berkshire pork tenderloin.

I ordered the panfried silver grey rockfish, which our server informed us was quite ugly but delicious. The server also recommended the 2010 Noble Blend, Joie, for a fruity white wine that I thoroughly enjoyed – I even bought a couple of bottles to bring back home. He described it as a perfect summer wine, that tasted similarly to Gewrustamminer. While I did enjoy the fish, my favourite part of the dish was the smoked tuna, potato and quinoa fritters. The smoked tuna really added a nice smokey touch to the fritters and quinoa makes for an interesting filler for fritters. I also really liked the asparagus and bok choy as accompanying vegetables.

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Panfried silver grey rockfish.

For dessert, Trapezista ordered the crème brulée that was infused with mable grey geranium with a strawberry square. When I tasted the crème brulée, I thought it tasted like lemongrass and we remembered the geranium infusion; I didn't realize geranium had such flavour. (On a side note, I think lemongrass could be an interesting touch to crème brulée, just like the pandan flavoured one at Nonya).

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 Crème brulée and strawberry square.

I debated between the dark chocolate butter sponge cake and the cheese plate since the desserts didn’t interest me much. The dark chocolate cake and bittersweet chocolate ice cream was good but didn’t wow me. Complimentary sweets were a nice end note.

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I really liked that Sooke Harbour House focuses on serving local food and sources from their own garden. All the dishes looked very nice and were well executed. The restaurant is quaint and the views cannot be beat and is a great place for a special dinner. The four course menu is offered daily I believe for $74.

Sooke Harbour House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Fish Blue Fish (Victoria, BC)

1006 Wharf Street
Victoria, British Columbia

During my first full day in Victoria, my old roommate, aka Trapezista, showed me around downtown Victoria. Before heading out to the wharf area, we saw a (relatively) short line before opening hour at Red Fish Blue Fish and decided to give it a try (and wait). Red Fish Blue Fish is an outdoor eatery in an up-cycled cargo container that has been featured on Eat St and its owner was also a competitor on the latest Top Chef Canada.

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Red Fish Blue Fish.
The wait still ended up being 50 minutes, and we were unfortunately followed by two very loud-speaking obnoxious people. It was slightly amusing at the beginning, as listening in to strangers’ conversations can be, but quickly grew annoying. Snippets of conversations included gems such as “girls who date online are 90% princesses of everything” and “you could totally date a younger girl and it would not be creepy”. Sometimes I really wonder about people…

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View from the pier.

Onto the food… I had my heart set on ordering the BBQ Qualicum scallop tacones but was very disappointed to find out it was not available on that day. After pondering it for 50 minutes, I made up my mind to order the chipotle shrimp tacones. When we got to the ordering counter, I asked how the shrimp was cooked and was told it was served cold. This did not appeal to me so I ordered my third choice of tempura cod tacones ($5). I was very happy with my choice; you can never go wrong with ordering deep fried fish and I liked the combination of the slaw, pea shoots and chili adobo sauce.

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Tempura Cod Tacones.

Trapezista ordered the BBQ salmon tacones ($5) as British Columbia is well known for salmon. She didn’t love her choice of fish.

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BBQ Salmon Tacones.

We decided to share a serving of sweet red-curry slathered chips ($6.00). The chips were very good and we wished we had ordered them on their own. I had imagined a spicy Thai red curry but the sauce was an overly sweet tomato sauce that caused our chips to become soggy. We were sorely disappointed by our chips choice.

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Red Curry Chips.

I love that Red Fish Blue Fish prides itself on only serving local fish. It also set up a station so organic waste could be composted and plastic trays reused. It is very popular so expect a long wait, at least an hour on a beautiful sunny day!

Red Fish, Blue Fish on Urbanspoon