Saturday, October 30, 2010

Darth Fiddler - every day is Halloween in Victoria!

Two years ago, we dedicated a blog post to Darth Fiddler, one of Victoria's most unique street performers whose image had gone viral on the Web. Since then, he has continued to grow in popularity and is now approaching legendary status. This month, his opinion was sought out for an article on Victoria's economy in Focus Magazine, and just last week, The Zone 91.3 FM gave him his own radio show, where he played music from his Darth Fiddler CD and gave a stunning live performance. The Zone's Facebook page filled with cheers and a few brave souls even called in to tell him how much they enjoy him.

Darth Fiddler also has his own Facebook page, with over 3100 "Likes" (and growing!) That's where this image of Victoria's Zombie Walk appeared this week, captured by Victoria photographer James Parrott at Everlasting Memories Victoria.

Zombies attack Darth Fiddler... Darth Fiddler plays on!
Photo Courtesy of James Parrott at Everlasting Memories Victoria

Since Darth Fiddler's presence seems to make Victoria the land of eternal Halloween, we thought it the perfect time to catch up with him for an interview. We find him down at his usual place, on the corner of Wharf and Government, playing for a group of kids in Jedi costumes.

"How did all of this get started, anyway?"

"Well about 8 years ago, I found a floppy old Vader mask at the Salvation Army. I bought it, went busking on the spot, and it was an instant hit. The persona has an attraction for people. I never got that much attention playing as myself."

"What about the rest of the costume?"

"It's evolved over time. I got one of the sturdier masks that came out when Episode III was launched. The cape is from a Dracula costume, the padding from an old football uniform, and many of the other pieces I've sewn together from leather scraps, kind of like Frankenstein's monster."

Photo Courtesy of James Parrott at Everlasting Memories Victoria
"Did you choose the name Darth Fiddler?"

"No, I didn't name myself at all. People started calling me that on the Web, and it just caught on."

At this point, the young Jedis are growing impatient, and the Master must get back to work.

"Did you ever plan on gettting this famous?"

"Absolutely not! I never factored the Internet into it, that so many people would share their videos and stories. I'm astounded, really. It's taken on a life of its own."

For another Halloween blog post on Darth Fiddler, visit Darth Fiddler's Mythic City.

Many thanks to James Parrot for sharing his great photos!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magnolia Inn and Spa's Facebook Contest - what's your most favourite memory of Victoria?

Well, today we got wind of The Magnolia Hotel & Spa's amazing Facebook Contest that runs from now right up until November 23rd.  They're asking you to Like them on Facebook and contribute your most favourite thing to do in Victoria, or your most favourite Victoria memory.

So!  For a chance to win a luxury Victoria getaway at The Magnolia Inn and Spa, with incredible prizes from Harbour Air Seaplanes, Verbena Floral Design, the Royal BC Museum, IMAX Victoria, Prime Steahouse, and Spa Magnolia, check out their Facebook contest running until November 23rd. 

Don't forget to invite your friends!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yummies and Gyros Cafe Courtenay BC

For lunch in Comox we visited Yummies and Gyros Café at 279 Puntledge Rd. We thought after a big meal the night before and a hearty breakfast that morning that we should consider a light lunch. Hah! Katherine Kirk warned us we would be full and indeed we were. Lunch was also educational as we learned the difference between a Gyros and a Donnair. Ron craves a Gyros as comfort food especially when they are properly made, as they are at Yummies. Here are the goods on Gyros and Donnair.

A Gyros (pronounced yeer-ro) is a Greek Pita (Katherine imports hers from Chicago) which is gently grilled and then wrapped around a filling of thin slices of beef and lamb shaved from a 20 pound cone of meat which is broiled on a vertical cooker. It is then topped with Tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions. Feta cheese and hummus can be added to spice it up.

A Donnair is made the same way but topped with a sweet sauce consisting of condensed milk and sugar. Other toppings include lettuce, tomato, onion, feta cheese, hummus and mozzarella cheese. This business has been locally owned and operated for the past 12 years and has quite a following in Courtenay and Comox. It is apparent if you spend time in the café and certainly if you flip through their scrap book that they are very involved in the community. The restaurant is centrally located just across the river from downtown Courtenay. We recommend you give it a try. Drop in and see the beautiful owner goddess Katherine who will be more than happy to make you a yummy gyros to fill up your tummy and she will even add that special ingredient that makes every gyros special, a teaspoon of love. Her gyros are delicious, nutritious and leave no dishes! For more pictures,
ick Here.

Oh Spa at the Old House Hotel in Courtenay BC

While in Comox, we visited the Oh Spa at the Old House Village Hotel. This is one of the most beautiful spas we have seen. It is superbly decorated with every amenity a spa guest could want including fireplaces in some of the treatment rooms. Linda was awed by the tile and stone work. There is an impressive variety of treatments available to choose from. The Spa offers some unique treatments such as the Rainforest Vichy Shower, the Hydrotherapy Tub (beneficial for circulation and oxygenation of the blood) or the Chromatherapy Effervescent Tub for Two. Before our treatments we relaxed in the outdoor pool and hot tub. Ron chose a Swedish-style Massage with Sherri and Linda had a Traditional Reflexology treatment from Debbie, which took place in one of the couple’s rooms. We were both pleased with our choices and the quality of service rendered. The Oh Spa has recently made an effort to hire only the best practitioners. We had a tour of the Spa and the Old House Hotel from Marketing Manager Jenny Deters. There are 79 rooms ranging from deluxe studios, and one and two bedroom suites to a penthouse suite. The Oh Spa left us both feeling pampered and relaxed but ready to embark on our next adventure. For pictures of the Spa and the Old House Hotel, Click Here.

The Union Street Cafe Courtenay BC on Vancouver Island

The Union Street Grill and Grotto on 5th Street is centrally located in the shopping mecca of Downtown Courtenay. It is the goal of owners Mark and Danielle Duncan to ensure that guests receive good food, good drinks and good times. Union Street offers an upbeat casual environment with food that ranges from simple basics to complex fusions of delicious flavours resulting in outstanding meals. BC wines, delicious specialty coffees, beer, signature martinis and cocktails are available from the bar. The menu includes pastas, stir-fries, steaks, burgers and seafood from local waters. The restaurant is divided into two sections, the Grill, where we ate, and the Grotto, a funky licensed coffee house. Ron enjoyed a very tender Monterey Jack Burger garnished with jack cheese, back bacon (Ron loves back bacon!), lettuce and tomatoes while Linda tucked into two of the day’s specials, a Grilled Halibut Remoulade Salad and a Blueberry Lime Soda. Our server Kathy was very attentive, making sure we had everything we needed. We have enjoyed the food at Union Street several times in the past and we were not disappointed on this visit. Food is freshly prepared with attention paid to the finer details that turn local ingredients into an enjoyable dining experience.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blackfin Pub Como BC on Vancouver Island

The Blackfin Pub is located next to the Comox Marina. Most people have a preconceived notion of pub food. It is always good but fits a certain category. Not so at the Blackfin. Here pub food is elevated to an impressive level. The interior décor includes rich Honduras mahogany with nautical features and local artwork. We were greeted at the door by a courteous and friendly young man named Alex who escorted us to a window table overlooking the marina. The panoramic ocean and mountain views from our table were spectacular in the evening light. Our celestial waitress Angel arrived with water and menus. Ron informed Angel that she had a reputation to uphold with a name like that, and she did not disappoint. The pub has a definitive West Coast theme and the bar is stocked with global wines, an impressive list of martinis and scotches and at least 10 draught beers. Linda chose wine and Ron needed a pint of beer. Linda enjoyed all two dozen (!) Thai Coconut Curried Mussels for an appetizer while Ron had their excellent Halibut Chowder. He ordered battered Halibut Fish and Chips for his entrée, accompanied by a delicious coleslaw. The batter was light, tasty and perfectly done. Carrying on with the halibut theme, Linda chose oven-baked Queen Charlotte Halibut coated with sesame seeds accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes, tiger prawns and fresh steamed vegetables. After a meal like this, we had absolutely no room left for dessert although we were tempted as their desserts are made on site. The Blackfin has a newly renovated patio that would be an ideal place to enjoy a drink or a meal on a warmer day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Avenue Bistro in Comox BC on Vancouver Island

The Avenue Bistro at 2064 Comox Ave. Avenue Bistro is a neighbourhood restaurant with cosmopolitan flare. The sleek, modern interior, upbeat music and personable service are fresh and inviting. The menu combines Pacific Northwest innovation and French inspiration using local products to showcase the bounty of the Comox Valley. We arrived for dinner but guests can also pull up a comfy chair in the lounge and choose from a generous selection of local and imported beer, wine and cocktails. The restaurant and lounge areas are separated by a partial wall that creates a sense of space but divides one from the other. We were cordially greeted by Sandra Viney the owner and escorted to a large and comfortable booth. Sarah our friendly waitress recommended wine from the local Beaufort Vineyard Estate Winery and took our drink order. The menu was extensive so we chose a variety of appetizers rather than entrees in order to sample more of the menu. Linda ordered Beef Carpaccio and then a Baby Beet Salad with Feta Garlic Cheese Toast. The food paired well with the Beaufort Winery red wine recommended by Sarah. Ron started with Jumbo Prawns in Tempura Batter and followed by an excellent Caesar Salad. Ron had room for a yummy chocolate mousse for dessert. Trent Viney, chef and owner came out to meet us and tell us a bit about the restaurant. Sandra and Trent treat their customers like good friends, which made for a comfortable atmosphere. We loved the fresh taste of the food at the Avenue Bistro, a multitude of flavours that are not overwhelmed by over-seasoning, so common in less confident hands! For a pictorial on Facebook of Comox Valley Food, Click Here.

Atlas Cafe in Courtenay in the Comox Valley Vancouver Island

While in the Comox Valley, we dined at the Atlas Café in Courtenay. Years ago we enjoyed dinner at the Atlas after hearing recommendations from friends. It has obviously stood the test of time (15 years and counting). We found the menu to be more extensive but one thing remains the same. This restaurant serves great food and as a result is always very busy. We were glad we had a reservation. Sarah the hostess greeted us with “You must be Linda and Ron!” Very impressive! She ushered us to a table by the window and we met our waitress Toni. Toni expertly answered our questions about the menu and made recommendations from the wine list. Her service was exceptional and the food was superb. Linda chose the Lamb Sirloin with potato mash and fresh farm veggies (no frozen or canned here), and Ron chose the Beef Burrito and Caesar Salad, his favorite from a previous visit. We noticed that most of the diners left the Atlas with a “doggy bag”. The portions are more than sufficient which explains the take-homes. We couldn’t quite clean our plates although we made a Herculean effort. Of course, not too full for dessert, we shared a chocolate raspberry mousse that bordered on diabolical. It was deliciously creamy. Sandra Viney and Trent McInyre obviously have a great formula and understand the intricacies of restaurant management. They proudly told us that Atlas Atlas just won the most voted restaurant for Westjet’s UP! Magazine Value Award IN CANADA! We know why! Great staff, excellent service and exceptional food are the norm at the Atlas Cafe.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Crown Isle Golf Course and Resort

On a recent trip to Crown Isle we experienced one of Vancouver Island's most beautiful and classy golf courses. It was in great shape, lush and green and the weather cooperated. We really enjoyed our round of golf there and were paired with a couple from Sherwood Park. It was most enjoyable. We urge our readers to make their way to the Comox Valley and try this course. It is scenic, well kept and well run. The staff there are great and treated us very well. The food is very good and we were given a tour of the accommodations. You can see photos of our experience at the following links on facebook: Food Accommodations Activities The accommodations are devine, the food esquisite and the golf exceptional - give them a try.