Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clandestine Dinner Kitchens of Distinction - Amazing!

Last night we attended a “Clandestine Dinner”.  To keep things a secret, we find out where to go at the last minute.  We meet the other guests when we get there, and the menu unfolds once we sit down at the table.  I grew up on meat and potatoes, so a secret menu is kind of scary. 
This dinner was hosted by Kitchens of Distinction Culinary Arts and owner and head chef Shirley Lang.  The dinners are small and intimate with around ten guests and are designed to give talented local chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills.  The real trick is getting invited to one of these events.   Well, that is really not too hard to do, apparently!  To get your name(s) in the pool, just email Shirley at and soon you will be receiving notifications of these exciting, delicious and mysterious “clandestine” events.
Our dinner turned out to be a “Journey to Morocco”.  Moroccan cuisine is considered one of the most influential cuisines in the world.  Located in North Africa, it influences date back in history of its many colonizers and immigrants.  The first inhabitants, the Berbers, left staple dishes of tagine and couscous.
The Arab invasion brought new spices, nuts, and dried fruits, as well as the sweet and sour combinations.  The Moors introduced olives and citrus while the Jewish-Moors left behind their sophisticated preserving techniques that we see in the frequent use of preserved lemons, pickles, etc.
The Ottoman Empire introduced kebabs and even the short-lived French Colony, left behind cafes, pastries, and even wine.  Over time, cooks in the kitchens of the four royal cities (Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat) have developed and perfected the dishes that blend each of these distinctive tastes.  Every Moroccan dish has its place in society and varies with the market, the season, and the region.
As we arrived at the table, we were provided with a menu.  Each course was unique and for me, surprisingly delicious.  Our pictorial will demonstrate the quality of the dinner.  To get into the tastes, you will have to sign up for one of Shirley’s Clandestine Dinner.  Till then, it will be a secret!
If you are a tourist coming to Victoria, then it is unlikely that you could tie into one of these dinners, but you can still try.  It certainly is worth more than a try.  If you are local my recommendation would be to move on this one as quickly as you can.  If you don’t you may get no closer than these pictures.
 For more pictures of the Clandestine Dinner, visit our Facebook Page.
It was that good!  Visit Shirley's Web Site

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rialto Hotel celebrates Victoria's 150th Birthday Party

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

VolleyFest - Enter your team today!

The VGSN along with the Rooftop Surf Club proudly presents
*The Fourth Annual VolleyFEST 2012!*
A Charity Roof-top Beach Volleyball Tournament and Food Drive!

***Sunday, August 19th 2012***

*Benefiting The Mustard Seed and Our Place Societies*
A canned food drive will also be taken, so please
bring some when you arrive for the tourney!

Teams of 6 plus 1 sub.  Max of 7ppl. 
Co-ed Tourney: 2 persons of the opposite sex
on the court at all times.
$250 per team.  That is approx. $35 per player. 
*All proceeds go to our two charities!

Please show up by 11:30pm at the Rooftop as game play starts at 12noon.

               Please contact Maureen from the Hotel Rialto if you are interested in enter a team, this promises to be one of the best hospitality events of the summer, play, network, win!

For more pictures from last year's fun event, please visit our Facebook Page.       

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Buskers Festival Victoria 2012

The buskers festival is now on in downtown Victoria.  It runs from July 20-29, so get down there soon to take some of it in.  For more amazing pictures of the festival, go to our
Facebook Page.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Victoria's 150th Celebration - Toast it with a new cocktail at the Veneto Tapa Lounge

Those of you that have met Head Bartender Simon Ogden, understand he is given a project related to cocktail history, he won't take it lightly (to be completely understated). So when the Rialto challenged him to do his research and create a cocktail to pay tribute to the City's 150th celebration...he went missing for a while.

When he emerged back into the light, he was holding the recipe to his "Incorporation Cocktail" inspired by local ingredients that were all the fashion to bar patrons of the era. Here are his notes (courtesy of the hotel):

The Incorporation Cocktail is constructed and presented in the Spirit-forward and nuanced style of the cocktails that were being served in fine Victoria bars in 1862, the year Fort Victoria was incorporated into the City of Victoria. The locally-distilled premium gin from Victoria Spirits drives the drink, combined with the honey and ginger-spice of Tugwell Creek Solstice Mead, the juicy citrus tang of Victoria-made New Theatre Tonic concentrate, all balanced with local organic lavender bitters. Top aromatics are supplied by a spanked basil leaf from my garden. A love letter to our delightful city.

So if that peaks your interest, join the staff at Veneto as they do their best to recreate the experience of cocktailing and hob nobbing back in the day. The Incorporation Cocktail will be available at a featured price as will be other beverages common in the period to try as well. Chef is going to pass out some complimentary nibbles that might have been seen in local public houses at the time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suddenly Sasquatch Now on at the Muse Winery Don't miss it!

Dejected Amelia feels something is missing in her life.  She lives at the bottom of Mount Douglas (about 100 years ago) and is bored silly.  Her mother is pressing her to marry a weep from Vancouver named Roderick, who is being forced by his domineering mother to marry Amelia.  Roderick has the hots for Lila, a maid.  Amelia's dad has Alzheimer's DiseaseIt gets even more zany!  A professor chasing the elusive Sasquatch thinks everyone else is nuts and invites himself to stay at Amelia's on the eve of the wedding.  Amelia's mother is an alcoholic.  Amelia's over-sexed nanny shares stories that shock the innocent Amelia!  Then Amelia suddenly meets a Sasquatch who lives on Mount Douglas, who is passed off as Nanny's cousin Harold from Sooke.  Wait, there is more....this is a musical! 

This whimsical and absolutely hilarious love performance is playing now at the Muse Winery in North Saanich (11195 Chalet Road).  The play was written by Sasha Moriaty-Schieven and uses music cleverly adapted from many sources and previous musicals such as Sound of Music, Girl Crazy, Guys and Dolls, Beauty and the Beast, Batboy, and All Shook Up. 

The cast and crew of Peninsula Players did a masterful job of entertaining a sold-out opening night crowd at Muse Winery's great outdoor theatre venue.  There were stellar performances and lots of laughs from an appreciative audience.  The rousing finale of Burning Love from All Shook Up brought the audience to its feet with a standing ovation.  Additional performances are scheduled for July 28, 29, Aug. 11 & 12.   When word gets around, they will bound to be sold out, so make your reservations soon. 

If you want to make the evening even more special make a reservation for dinner ahead of the 7:30 PM performance.  The buffet dinner included two choices of soup, bread and crostini, unique salads, prawn cocktails, hot entrees, and delicious desserts.  We also enjoyed some award winning Muse Winery wines.

This was truly a pleasurable experience that we whole-heartedly recommend.  If you have not been to the Muse Winery you are missing out.  There is no better time to visit than during the warm summer days.  If you can't make the play, then go out for lunch.  For more details visit the Muse website  and the Peninsula Players Website.

For more pictures please go to my Facebook page.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This week I visited the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific with friends and found a quiet gem of a display garden just waiting to be discovered. While waiting for everyone to arrive, we wandered through the tiny Gift Shop, filled with all sorts of goodies for the nature lover. The shop features a number of unique items for sale by local artists and crafters. We found the Lily Garden to be a riot of colour at this time of year, and the roses to be as happy to see the sunshine as I am. There is a special garden for every season, including winter, as well as a Japanese Garden and a Native Plant Garden. There are quite a number of interesting sculptures dotting the garden, which reminds me that their annual Arts & Music in the Gardens is set for the weekend of August 11th and 12th this year. I attended this a few years back, and enjoyed the variety of artists and musicians who share their passion with those of us less talented. Following our stroll through the gardens, we enjoyed refreshments at the Nourish Cafe and Bistro on site. The beautiful warm weather allowed us to enjoy the patio for the occasion, and the menu served up some unique takes on traditional fare. I believe a return to try out their lunch menu is in order. The Gardens were quiet on our midweek visit, I hope you enjoy my photos enough to visit yourself. Dogs on leashes are allowed, and the entry fee of $11 is very reasonable, considering it would be easy to spend half a day there. The Gardens are staffed and maintained by volunteers, quite an undertaking considering the size of the gardens at 505 Quale Road. You can see their website at Enjoy!

For more pictures of this amazing gardens, see our Facebook Page.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Rialto Hotel - A Victoria Jewel

Last night we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tour the newly renovated Rialto Hotel on Douglas Street in downtown Victoria, across the street from Victoria's historic City Hall. In its last life as the Douglas Hotel, it had been in a run down condition. Wow, you should see it now. Following are pictures that give you some idea of how beautiful the hotel is. The rooms come in all sizes from some small economy rooms to some more large and spacious. All are tastefully decorated with comfort in mind. Two to the amenities worth a visit are the Cafe Veneto and the Veneto Tapa Lounge. We were lucky enough to taste some of the delicious creations of Chef Todd. When you are in, try Chef Todd's delicious Tapa Trios. The food was absolutely delicious and they serve up some of the finest cocktails in Victoria. Check it out you will be very glad you did!  
For more pictures, please visit the VGSN Facebook.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

National Marine Conservation Area - You can help.

Sidney, BC, July 7, 2012: We don’t have gold coins or bedazzled crowns hiding in our waters but the colours in the Salish Sea far outshine any pirate’s treasure chest, and Canadians should be anxious to protect this precious resource. The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre's new exhibit “Local Jewel, National Treasure” focuses on the making of a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) in the Salish Sea. Canada lags behind other nations in creating marine conservation areas with only 2 in existence, compared to 41 national parks and national park reserves. Parks Canada and the Province of BC have embarked on the process of creating a third around Southern Vancouver Island. “It’s an exciting prospect for everyone associated with the Salish Sea and especially here in Sidney which is centrally located in the proposed marine conservation area” says Tina Kelly, the Centre’s Visitor Experience Director, “It’s an important project that requires vision and the support of a nation, As Sidney’s award-winning aquarium of the Salish Sea we have a special role in establishing a shared vision and addressing competing interest associated with the NMCA”. The timing for the exhibit was calculated to reach Canadians from coast to coast “The summer is the perfect time to launch this exhibit, we have visitors from all over Canada and this is so much more than a local issue.” Says Kelly. “Canadians need to take ownership of our oceans. If we don’t, who will? It’s a conversation we need to approach at a local and national level. “ The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre will advance the conversation by presenting new hands-on activities, a special display from Parks Canada, and intimate underwater views of the proposed NMCA through the aquariums live exhibits. “Almost everybody has been on the ferry through Active Pass,” says Angus Matthews, Executive Director “But have you stopped to think about the landscape below the water? We’re going to pin point high profile, key habitat locations within the proposed conservation area and show you what that looks like and why it matters.” You can check out the booty beneath the Salish Sea starting July 11th.
We toured the new exhibit today and it was very educational and inspiring.  We learned a lot and certainly found out how we and you can help protect this amazing jewel we have.  To see more pictures and learn more about how to help, please visit our Facebook Page.  You can also learn more at the Shaw Ocean Discover Centre web page. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Peninsula Players & Muse Winery Present their third annual summer show, "Suddenly Sasquatch", an original musical by Saanich resident Sasha Moriarty--‐Schieven, with songs from many sources. Performances are on the Ortega Terrace at Muse Winery & Bistro, 11195 Chalet Road, North Saanich, and are on Saturday July 14, 28, &; August 11 (curtain 7:30pm) and Sunday July 29 &; August 12 (matinee 4pm). Tickets ($25 for evening, $20 for matinee performances) are available at Stonestreet CafĂ© or Muse Winery, or call 250-656-2552. Admission is free for Sasquatches.

Playgoers may also want to enjoy the tasty delights of the Bistro Muse before the show, beneath the clear blue skies of Deep Cove. Reservations for lunch or dinner can be made by calling 250-656-2552.

“Suddenly Sasquatch – A Musical Adventure with Big Heart and Big Feet”, is Sasha Moriarty-- Schieven’s third play performed at the Muse winery. The play is filled with wonderful song and dance, hilarious slapstick, and a touch of naughty. Amelia and Roderick are being pressured by their domineering mothers to marry, but when Amelia meets the Sasquatch, mayhem ensues.

For this year’s performances, the Muse Winery has built a pavilion, the Ortega Terrace, with completely open sides revealing the beautiful woods and vines surrounding the estate, but with a roof to protect audiences from the elements.

More information about the show, tickets, and dinner can be found at  or, or on Facebook at

Contacts: Muse Winery: Peter & Jane Ellman 250-656-2552

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer in Cowichan Bay

Cowichan Bay in the Summer is one busy place.  It is full throttle with the shops and restaurants.  The parking along the road through the village was almost full.  Everything was spruced up with flowers and there were lots of people in Cowichan Bay.  Check it out.  It is an amazing place.  While we were there we had dineer at the Rock Cod Cafe.  Their fish dishes are amazing and very tasty.  We think halibut is the best fish ever.  Go there and give it a try.  Be sure to visit Arthur Vicker's Gallery, Hilary's Cheese, True Grain Bread, and the Maritime Museum.
For more pictures of Cowichan Bay on our summer visit, check out our
Facebook Page.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Take this West Coast Smug....

It has been an unusual Spring on the West Coast for sure!  One of my Alberta "friends" sent this.  Well the great weather is back, so we are smug again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Five Star Catamaran Whale Watching Company

Five Star Whale Watching is Victoria’s oldest and most respected Whale Watching company. The Expedition catamarans are great vessels for responsible whale watching. Whale Watching in Victoria B.C is one of the best places in the world to enjoy this wonderful activity.
The company has been around since 1985, Five Star is a family business offering unparalleled service and location. Five Star Charters Whale Watching makes sure you discover the picturesque West Coast of Canada, and Vancouver Island.  The waters around Victoria are the spring and summer home to the largest population of resident Killer Whales (Orcinus Orca) in the world. Victoria area water surrounding Southern Vancouver Island, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands, is the home of pods “J”, “K”, and “L” numbering approximately 90 whales in total.  As you will see from the pictures on our Facebook page, in addition to whales there is a lot more to see on your adventure.  Great scenery, lots of different wild life, great views of the area, amazing marine traffic, leaving from one of the busiest harbours in Canada that boasts the only water runway in Canada and a whole lot more.  Check out our Facebook Page for more pictures.  The staff are knowledgeable, friendly and will ensure you have a great timer on the most seaworthy boat.  It has great viewing from inside, the bow and up top.  It is a very comfortable ride and handles rough sea well, should those conditions arise.  Safety is a major concern and there mission is to show you a great time and they will.
See there web site at:

CVS Sightseeing Victoria's Finest Tour Company

CVS Cruise Victoria is Victoria's best sightseeing company.  In addition to Butchart Gardens Express Shuttle they now have a Peninsula Attactions Connector that will take you to Butchart Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse and Shaw Ocean Discover Centre...the finest attractions on the Saanich Peninsula just north of Victoria.  They have also just started a Deluxe Victoria Hop-on, Hop-Off multi-day city tour.  The new bus for this service is comfortable and airy with a glass roof, spacious windows and a great speaker system to year the narration of the tour by the driver.  They visit Chinatown, Craigdarroch Castle, Oak Bay Village, Cook Street Village and Beacon Hill Park and much more.  This is a company offering great service for visitors to Victoria.  Contact them at 1-877-5787-5552 or check their web site at
 For more pictures of the sights you will see, please visit our Facebook Page.

The Cowichan region is a rich agricultural area of Vancouver Island, BC.  It rests between rivers, mountains and the ocean on the west coast of Canada and the east coast of Vancouver Island. You will be amazed at the number of first class chefs and wine makers now operating in this area. The "Warm Land" as it is known is renowned for quality wine and culinary experiences. Explore the beautiful and peaceful backroads as you explore this region. Put September 8-16 in your calendar and come and enjoy the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival. For details of this festival,
click here.  You can experience 16 vineyards and a cidery.  You can drive yourself, take a tour, or sign up for a bicycle tour.  There are lots of special events in the region throughout the summer as well.  For more pictures please check out our Facebook, then you will want to go for sure!