Monday, June 28, 2010

Victori-as Part 5: Local Eats

I know you're all dying to hear about the fabulous food we ate in Victoria. Especially because British Columbia is known for its commitment to fresh and local eating. My favorite kind.

Thatmom loved her first Tapas experience. So I thought it would be great to include a great small plates restaurant in Victoria.

Stage Wine Bar features wines by the taste, glass, and bottle, as well as small plates made with locally sourced ingredients.

They describe the setting as open and industrial - which means interesting art and giant chalk boards which list the day's specialty wines. Since the bar only seats 50 people, we went for an early dinner. By the time we left, each seat was filled.

We began with one of the special plates, a duck confit spring roll. SO delicious, a really great start to the meal. The duck was rich and sweet, the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy spring roll wrapper.

We kind of went crazy with the cheese plate. We ordered one, with all Canadian cheeses, and they were so delicious, we got a second plate.

I think we tried every cheese on the menu - which changes daily. I have no memory of what we ordered, which cheeses. But really, can you go wrong with cheese?

Stage Bar makes their own sausage. HOLY MOLY - You can buy this stuff to take home, and if we weren't traveling internationally I completely would have. So much of it. I would have brought home bags of it. But something tells me it would have driven those drug sniffing dogs crazy. We began with the heirloom pork sausage over pommes puree with a roast garlic reduction. We were planning on just having one sausage, to try them out. And it quickly required we try another.

The chicken sausage with pistachio, apple and sage was just as good. Served over roasted local squash, we kept trying to figure out which we preferred. There was no real winner. Except us.

I've been really good about not posting random pictures of bread baskets when we eat out. But here, the rustic house made bread was just too good not to. We originally got it to enjoy with our cheese, but we might have eaten it all before the cheese got there. So we ordered another basket.

I've been trying to get Thatmom to try Halloumi for a while now. And when I saw there was a grilled halloumi on the menu, I made sure we ordered it. Served over local tomatoes with an herb vinaigrette. It was another winner. Thatmom was as big a fan of halloumi as I thought she would be, and Thatboy was thrilled to discover that the "local tomatoes" were heirlooms.

Thatmom was NOT interested in the pork belly with spiced pepitas, but she was quickly outvoted. She had a couple bites before she asked what she was eating. When we told her THIS was the pork belly she didn't want, she was shocked. It was so much better than she thought it would be. Crispy, glazed, sweet, and insanely tender. And I do love the pepitas they sprinkled overtop.

When I saw gnocchi on the menu, I knew I wanted to get it, no matter what it came with. Luckily it came with lamb - oh delicious lamb. And goat cheese. Could you ask for three more perfect foods to enjoy together?

Thatmom decided we needed another vegetable dish. And we're both huge fans of dark greens. UDubb and I had earlier mentioned how delicious the braised winter greens sounded, so they were on our list of vegetables to try next. And having them topped with crispy goat cheese was just a bonus. Have you noticed how cheese centered our dinner was? The greens came in a nice vinaigrette, giving the whole dish a good vinegary flavor which was balanced by the tomatoes.

We were going to skip dessert, until the server told us the Creme Brulee was some of the best he'd ever had. And so we ordered one to try it. It was creme brulee, but layered over a warm fruit confit, so you had the contrast of the silky cream and the sweet warm fruit. A really interesting combination.

The next morning we had our final meal in Victoria, some would say it was the most important meal of the day. For a group of people planning on spending a day on the plane, it kind of was the most important meal of the day. We therefore took the meal very seriously by dining at Shine Cafe.

There's a note on the menu of Shine that they are more than happy to accommodate any modifications or substitutions. And we very much took advantage of that situation.

Thatbrother made his own egg white omelet with peppers, mushrooms, and sausage.

Thatmom saw that they made benedicts and had them create one especially for her - an english muffin with a slice of cheddar cheese, and a poached egg on top. Both Thatmom and I both loved the fact that you could get half a benedict, because neither of us can finish a whole one.

UDubb went with the Quesadilla del Sol - a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and melted cheddar.

Thatboy went sweet as always and ordered the french toast, with cinnamon sauteed apples on top.

As for me, I got the maharaja benedict. It was so good I didn't even want to give Thatboy a bite. But I did anyway. Chicken breast with caramelized onions and avocado, topped with a curry hollandaise. The hollandaise was both spicy and sweet, so delicious. Those weird shaped pita looking things were scottish potato scones. Thatbrother and I both got some to try, and they were pretty interesting. Similar to a scallion pancake I make at home, but obviously without the scallion. Just a nice potato-ey pancake. It soaked up my extra hollandaise perfectly.

So that's it folks, the end of our Victoria travels. We spent the rest of the day traveling back to our respective homes and getting ready to get back to our regularly scheduled lives. But it's always nice to get away, and we're already looking forward to our next trip!


  1. Victoria is definitely one of my favourite foodie towns. I hope it wasn't cold enough to wear wool hats:D

  2. It's been a while since I've been here - where the heck have I been. What a wonderful culinary experience. I love Victoria - it's ambiance, it's food offerings and especially how much people actually care about their yards. I also get a kick out of being able to be able to buy things in half portions.