Friday, September 27, 2013

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.  Could this be one of the Hidden Places of Asia?  Well find out at:

Jennifer Robinson, Manager of the Tilley Store at 560 Yates st, is hosting an evening  event called Asia’s Hidden Places, presented by Dag Goering of Hidden Places Travel, a boutique travel company based in Victoria. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Jennifer at  250-590-6381.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Guild Freehouse at 1250 Wharf Street Victoria BC

Last night we dropped by The Guild Freehouse at 1250 Wharf Street. This relatively new restaurant touts “the finest selected English, Irish and American Provisions” and indeed they do. They have an impressive selection of “ales and such” as well as lagers and dark beers. The Guild Freehouse showcases the best of craft and micro-brewed beer from the Pacific Northwest region. They have 12 tap beers and up to 40 choices in the bottle. Now that’s selection!

The Guild is a more than just another concept restaurant. Like the actual meaning of the word "guild" it represents a reclaiming of the idea that people who work together and share common values can create something that is stronger than what any one person can do alone. The food is distinctly common (in their words), but exhibits true craftsmanship, care and value. The Guild takes pride in associating with local producers and using the kitchen as a gateway for their products. There is a good choice of menu items. We particularly enjoyed the Salt Cod Fritters, Fish and Chips with mushy peas, and Cumberland sausage with buttermilk mash and gravy. We were treated to some items unique to this restaurant such as Scotch Eggs and Bacon in a Glass. Now Bacon in a Glass, well bacon pretty near anywhere, is music to a man’s ear! What a novel idea. Yes that is exactly what it is, a beer glass filled with delicious strips of glazed bacon! We were also treated to a beer taster consisting of two delightful beers, Hoyne Pilsner and Avatar Jasmine IPA. Linda also enjoyed a glass of Phillips Monkey Drummer, an 11.9% alcohol brew!
The atmosphere is comfortable with lots of warm wood, a British feel without being over the top. The servers are friendly, helpful, and knowlegible about their products and drinks. For sweets at the end of our taster feast, we were treated to little pots of creamy Lemon Posset and slices of Sticky Toffee Pudding, both delicious. Thanks to Matt, Heather, Mariam and chef/owner Sam Benedetto for an enjoyable evening and the opportunity to experience this wonderful new venue in Victoria. While we were there the restaurant seemed quite busy. We recommend that you give them a try and find out what many others have already discovered!  You can see more pictures of this event at our Facebook page.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dinner Theatre: A Night at the Savoy – Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Last night we spent our “Friday the 13th” doing a time travel that took us back to 1944 in New York City’s iconic Savoy Ballroom, to celebrate the music and performers of the swing era.  This was the year of my birth, and I grew up listening to this music with my parents taking me to musicals that featured this music.  If you are younger, you owe it to yourself to check out this great show, so you can see how much fun and entertainment this generation had with its music, especially during the dark time of the Second World War.
The show features the musical sounds of Victoria’s own Heather Burns, her group “Dock Side Drive”, and radio personality Barry Bowman.  Heather created the show and Barry Bowman plays the broadcaster.  Barry ushers the audience into a live radio broadcast complete with signs telling us when we are on air and when to applaud.  The show highlights the music of the masters of that era with the swinging sounds of Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, the Andrew Sisters, Irving Berlin, Nat King Cole and more.
Our evening started with a pre-dinner reception with wine and cheese, and we were greeted by Hotel Manager Michelle Lesage, along with other staff members.  It was like walking into a friend’s home.  The following dinner was sensational and included a Prawn Cocktail with herb greens, cocktail sauce and popcorn garnish.  The main course consisted of Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin, with seasonal vegetables and a red wine truffle sauce.  The meat was deliciously  tender.  For dessert we were served a Deconstructed Black Forest Cake.  The meal was presented in the elegant and intimate David Foster Foundation Theatre, where everyone has a great view of the stage.  Kudos go to Executive Chef Iain Rennie for this exceptional meal.  The staffers were extremely attentive and we were asked several times if we had any dietary concerns.  The service was top notch and friendly.

Congenial President and Owner Kevin Walker MC'ed the opening night production and made everyone feel right at home.  He has a penchant for doing things well which is reflected in the new hotel and all the special services they offer.  After the theatre, we were ushered into the lobby for an Oak Bay Beach Hotel tradition, hot chocolate and sweets.  The show was fun, entertaining and full of amazing talent.  It definitely set a standard of quality for future Dinner Theatre shows.  Everyone we talked to really enjoyed the night.  We certainly urge anyone who reads this review to make an effort to attend.  This show runs every Friday and Saturday until
October 26.  Every two months there is a new show.  They also offer a season ticket option for all 4 shows.  To reserve your seats phone 250.598.4556.

The  Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a resort at 1175 Beach Drive, in Victoria BC.  It is an attraction unto itself.  You can stay in luxury in the hotel, enjoy fine dining in their Dining Room, take in the Dinner Theatre, or enjoy their movie night, pop by for a morning coffee and pastry in Kate’s Café, pour back a pint in the Snug Pub (a local favourite), get a Spa Treatment or relax in the seaside Baths and maybe see an Orca whale jump right out of the water just off shore.  This can only happen at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

For more pictures, please go to our Facebook Page.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kitchens of Distinction Boutique Bistro Now Open on Fisgard

Today we visited the latest restaurant to open in Victoria, Shirley Lang’s Kitchens of Distinction Boutique Bistro. Shirley owns her own catering company and has expanded to open a small bistro at 638 Fisgard St. in the Ambrosia Event Centre. It is open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday to Friday (for now). The guests we know who have been there were delighted with the quality and quantity of the food and the very reasonable price. The boutique is small, and Shirley is counting on lots of take out coffees and lunches from the businesses around that area. Our lunch was incredible. I had the roast beef sandwich, followed by some amazing carrot cake. Linda had the pork sandwich and a delicious brownie. As reported by others, our lunch was fantastic. We know that Shirley is an excellent cook and expected no less. The meals served in her boutique are not the standard lunch fair. It is gourmet food at great prices. We urge you to give it a try. You can make reservations and that is a good idea as it is small. The menu will change regularly, says Shirley. Congratulations Shirley. Well done!   For more pictures of the food and the bistro, go to our Facebook Page.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Whale Watching with Springtide Charters

Today is officially the last day of summer because school starts tomorrow. We wanted to do something special with our granddaughter so we booked into a whale watching tour with our friends at Springtide Whale Charters and Tours. They do such a good job you just can’t go wrong booking with them. We went out on the Marauder IV. It has a spacious heated cabin with lots of seating and the viewing decks offer 360 degree panoramas for great photos. They also provide complimentary hot drinks will you visit with the whales. The whole day is a series of unique experiences. We started by heading across Juan de Fuca Strait in search of the whales. Soon we came upon a small fleet of huge transport ships waiting for the pilot boats to bring local navigators to each of the ships. Very few people get a chance to see these ships up close. Before long we were with a couple of performing humpback whales. I say performing because they gently swam along the surface, showing often as you will see from the pictures. They often chose to swim right over to and under many of the boats in the vicinity including the Marauder. They gave us many opportunities to see them up close. Our captain was very respectful of their presence and stayed well away from the whales, but the whales often chose to come close to us. It was truly exciting and memorable for everyone aboard. The cameras were firing often. When the whales approached a school of salmon, we often saw the salmon jump out of the water. All throughout the trip, the scenery was spectacular.
Then we left the whales and went to the ecological reserve at Race Rocks. There is a light station there and lots of sea lions. The large tan colored ones are stellar and the dark black ones are California sea lions. There were also lots of harbour seals on the rocks, affectionately called “rock sausage”, said our naturalist Fiona. I have included a few underwater photos of Race Rocks so you can also see what is below the surface at this incredible location. Then we were off on our trip back to Victoria Harbour. The trip and in an out of the harbour is also a great experience as there is always something to see. A few days ago, some transient orcas came right into the harbour, shutting it down totally till they leave. That means, no boats, no kayaks, no seaplanes, nothing until the whales leave. It seemed like everyone really enjoyed their outing with Springtide. Great staff and an incredible experience made our last day of summer indeed special. Thanks to naturalists Izzy and Fiona, and captains Dave and Bill.
After we docked, we walked up to Earl’s Café and treated our granddaughter to dinner. Photos are enclosed. Earls always does a great job. Our meals were delicious. For more pictures please go to our
Facebook Page.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Shaakespear by the Sea in Sidney - Don't Miss It!

See Shakespeare’s classic ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in a stunning setting, outdoors in Sidney's Beacon Park. Shakespeare like you’ve never seen before, updated to modern dress, while still maintaining its original language and script.

There will be five performances to choose from:

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ will be performed Friday September 6th at 7:00PM.

On Saturday September 7th, there will be performances at 2PM and 7PM outside in Beacon Park of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

On Sunday September 8th , there will be performances at 2PM and 7PM in Beacon Park of ‘Romeo & Juliet’.

Performances scheduled outside may be moved to the Mary Winspear Centre due to weather conditions.

Seating at all events is on a first come, first served basis (festival seating). Tickets are available through the Mary Winspear Centre box office (on-line, by telephone or in person).