Eating Our Way Through Victoria – Terroir Tea Merchant

Hi Folks:

As mentioned in our last post, the end of February marked Victoria’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” for 2016. It’s a great opportunity for locals to get out to places they may not yet have discovered in the greater Victoria area. We had loose plans to visit a few places on the Friday afternoon, but they pretty much evaporated when we crossed the threshold of Terroir Tea Merchant (on Fort, between Quadra and Blanshard).

Terroir Tea Merchant

Let’s begin with what Terroir is not: They don’t sell coffee, bottled water, fruit juice, cookies or doughnuts. What they do offer are more than two dozen different teas from the various tea-growing regions, sourced wherever possible from the growers themselves. Our tea was carefully prepared by a tea master, a woman so warm and engaging we abandoned our loosely-knit plans and took up far too much of her time instead. Charity is a certified tea master with accreditation from Australia and her partner (in tea and in life) Jason is a tea specialist with a science background. They are equally open, incredibly knowledgeable and wonderful to talk with. Terroir comes from the French language and encompasses not only the soil of a region but also the climate, rainfall, sun, as well as the culture and heritage of that region as all of these and more impact the plants growing there. An Oolong tea from Taiwan and an Oolong tea from Nepal are not the same by any means. Even plants from the same region, growing at different altitudes or picked at different times will have different flavours to offer.

Charity and Jason also understand the true nature of the word ‘competition’: to strive together. If they don’t have what a customer is looking for, they’ll refer them to someone who might. They have and will continue to incorporate tea pairings with other local businesses, combining their tea offerings with chocolate, perhaps, or different cheeses. More information on upcoming events is available on their website. They’re also developing and offering courses and workshops for those interested in learning more about the art of tea.

We’ve already told several friends about Terroir, and their responses can best be summed up by our friend A. who replied, “Yes! Their tea is amazing! I’m glad you’ve discovered them too!”

Do drop by their store on Front Street, and while you’re there take the time to watch the tea being prepared in what may be the coolest tea-making machine in Victoria. It looks like a French press on steroids and is controlled via an Android tablet. The software allows the simultaneous preparation of four different teas, each brewed for a specific time and at a specific temperature. If a customer has a certain preferences – longer steeping time or difference in temperature for example, custom recipes can be programmed into memory. They wouldn’t say, but we’re reasonably confident it can also monitor and track several small satellites… 🙂

Do drop by; you’ll be glad you did!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. If you really want to know about the gummi bear tea (no, they do not sell it) well, you’ll have to ask. 😉

Dine Around & Stay in Town, 2016

Hi Folks:

One of the challenges with living in Victoria is that there’s always so much to do! Often one has to choose this instead of that (heavy sigh.. 🙂 ). As example, starting last Friday (February 19) and running until March 6 is the 2016 Dine Around and Stay in Town event. It’s an invitation for both residents and visitors to check out over 60 different local restaurants and try one of their prix fixe menus, with prices ranging from $20-$50/plate. Many places also have suggestions for wine or beer pairings. In addition to the food choices, a dozen hotels are offering rooms at rates beginning at $79.

Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Tofino… Again!

Hi Folks:

Back at the end of March we decided to indulge our fascination for beach walking and combine it with a little winter storm watching by heading across the island to Tofino. We’ve stayed in Tofino three times now; as it happens each time was at a different location. We wanted to wait until after the Whale Festival to avoid the crowds, but we weren’t aware that many B&Bs and the like don’t generally open before April. We ended up staying at the African Beach Cabin, and were very glad we did! Continue Reading →

It’s Pumpkin Time!

Hi Folks:

Last year we did our Food post on pumpkins (A Plethora of Pumpkins) after Hallowe’en but we thought maybe this year we could be proactive.  With Thanksgiving recently behind us, what better time to talk about pumpkins?  In last year’s post we offered up some of our favourite pumpkin recipes; we’re going to add some more this year but with Hallowe’en still before us we thought we’d also add in some links to sites that offer free pumpkin carving templates.  In the past several years pumpkin carving has evolved into an art form unto itself and none of these templates approach that level of intricacy, but they do give you an opportunity to get creative and messy with your kids (or just you, if you don’t have kids):

Have fun with them!  Remember too that if you’re going to be cooking your pumpkin(s) after Hallowe’en, use a beeswax or non-toxic candle inside.

Okay, on with the recipes.  I like to give credit for recipes where I can, but I also think it’s fascinating that recipes are like stories, passing from friend to friend, from generation to generation, sometimes getting modified/adapted along the way.  I’ve had these recipes for a very long time and I don’t know who the authors are, but our thanks to you, whoever you are! Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria…

Hi Folks:

We haven’t written one of these for a while, but we have been continuing to sample some of the best culinary experiences Victoria has to offer and we thought we’d suggest a few more.  If you’ve read our previous ‘Food‘ posts you’ll know that we don’t write about places where we’ve had a bad experience; many things can contribute to that – the chef’s day off, server having a bad day, etc.  However, with every recommendation our reputation goes with it, so we only write about places we’d be pleased to revisit.  Without further ado, and in no particular order:

1) My Thai Café

On Cook Street one block south of Fort, the My Thai Café is a little far north to be considered part of Cook St. Village, but it belongs in spirit at least.  At first glance the café doesn’t seem to offer much – it’s very small, and it’s certainly not fancy.  Don’t let looks deceive you, however.  The food there is excellent, and according to friends of ours who visit Thailand with some frequency, the My Thai Café has the most authentic Thai cuisine in Victoria.  We’ve been there a few times and have never been disappointed.  Thai food is spicy by nature, but they are more than happy to accomodate those who prefer ‘mild’ to ‘hot’.  Open for both lunch and dinner, the prices are reasonable, the service is open and friendly… well worth a visit!

2) Hot and Cold Café

Farther south on Cook St. is the Hot and Cold Café.  If the My Thai Café is small, the Hot and Cold Café is tiny – it might hold a dozen people, or a few more if the patrons are willing to get cozy.  The first time we went there with friends we weren’t even sure it was open, although the sign on the sidewalk assured us that it was (they’re open to 7 p.m. daily).  Put plainly, we hesitate to mention this restaurant only because it’s so small and once word of mouth gets out we expect the place to be jammed.  Simple fare – soups, salads, sandwiches, but exquisitely prepared and presented.  Each dish is truly a work of art, and the taste is to die for.  Be sure to try the rice pudding for dessert.  We’ll say no more, and leave you to discover the rest for yourself!

3) Millos Restaurant and Lounge

Located on Burdett St, just east of Douglas, Millos is a place we’ve often walked by and thought, ‘We should go there someday’.  To celebrate our 218th Monthaversary of being a couple, we did just that.  The name ‘Millos’ comes from the Greek word  for ‘windmill’, and it was this feature of the building that originally aroused our curiosity.

Millos has been in Victoria since 1978, and the owners are celebrating 47 years of marriage this month.  Congratulations to them both!  We were seated and served by Dora, one of the owners (her husband runs the kitchen).  A little spit of a thing, she effuses warmth and grace, making our evening a true pleasure.  We shared a Greek salad to start and although we ordered the large to share Dora advised against it, saying that it was a meal in itself.  She was right, and the small was just right for the two of us.  For the main course we both had lamb; Marcia had the roast lamb shank and I had the souvlaki.  Both were excellent, and the vegetables were done perfectly.  I’m a sucker for Greek coffee (unsweetened), and Marcia shared a bit of the galactobouriko I had for dessert.  At the end of the evening Dora came to give us a hug before we left!

4) The Noodle Box

Part of a chain of restaurants, The Noodle Box restaurant on lower Douglas St. is one of five locations in the Victoria area.  In a world where ‘fast food’ often means deep frying and empty calories, The Noodle Box is a welcome exception.  With a generally ‘pan-Asian’ menu, The Noodle Box serves up a variety of satays, sir fry options, soups, curries and more.  Each order is made fresh, using ethically-sourced and healthy options wherever possible.  More nutrition information is available on their website.  Available for eat-in or take-out, even these choices are given a thought to the environment as the cardboard take-out containers can be cleaned and recycled and there is in-store composting for leftover food.  There’s a choice of reusable chopsticks for dining in and bamboo chopsticks for those taking their food away.  NB: the food can be prepared anywhere from ‘mild’ to ‘make my head explode’, but be aware that they tend to be a little generous with their chilies.  If you like hot food, you might want to try ‘medium’ or ‘medium hot’ on your first outing, just to be safe.  You can always add hot sauce. 😉

5) Olive the Senses

Victoria has so many great places to eat; we’re looking forward to exploring more of them! By the time you read this we’ll have taken in one of the free olive oil tastings at ‘Olive the Senses’, on the east side of the Hudson Bldg, something we’re looking forward to experiencing!!

Update: Well, we completed our tasting tour this afternoon… Steve (the owner) was unavailable, but were privileged to attend Annie’s first tasting tour!  She far surpassed our expectations (and our taste buds).  We had the chance to sample a number of single-origin and infused olive oils and both white and dark balsamic vinegars while we were there.  It was, in a word, a revelation.  We really had our eyes opened to both the international and national standards for ‘extra virgin’ olive oils, and what good oil should contain (and not contain), how to store it and more.  Informative, educational and entertaining, this shop well deserves a stop on every tourist’s agenda, and that of every island resident too.  We brought home a blood-orange infused olive oil and an espresso dark balsamic vinegar – quite a heavenly combination. 😀

As Julia Child would say, ‘Bon Appetit!’

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.

A Plethora of Pumpkins…

Hi Folks:

Since Canadian Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en have come and gone and American Thanksgiving is just around the corner, this time of year there are a plethora of pumpkins about.  Most often used to make Jack-O’-Lanterns and then either left to rot or offered up in tribute in some form or another to the musical group ‘Smashing Pumpkins‘, pumpkins can be cooked and made into many wonderful treats.  It is a bit time-consuming, but much better (in our opinion) than purchasing canned pumpkin from the store when there are so many real ones laying about. Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Celebrations!

Hi Folks:

Well, last Saturday was Marcia’s birthday and since she was off on both Friday and Saturday we (I) expanded her birthday celebration into a two-day event.  Fortunately Marcia was willing to go along with my schemes!  Before I continue, I should add a little backstory…

Back in 1995 we shared our first two-bedroom apartment together.  For Marcia’s birthday I invited a ‘few’ friends for a pot-luck surprise party and we managed to pack 37 people into our little apartment!  Everyone had a great time, including Marcia, but she also casually mentioned that she’d kill me if I ever did it again.  Well, since we no longer live there, and keeping to the ‘letter of the law’ so to speak, here’s a quick summary of some of the things we undertook over our weekend.  It also highlights some of the reasons we love living here in Victoria! Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria!

Hi Folks!

Well, on this one night of the year where perhaps more candy is consumed by more people than any other night, we have two restaurants to share with you from this past month.  Both are places we’ve been meaning to go to for some time… Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Cafés

Hi Folks:

I remember reading somewhere that Victoria has the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America… so much good food, so little time…  With all of those choices Marcia and I have become a little sedate in our selections – frequenting mostly places that we’ve been to before like Floyd’s and Red Fish Blue Fish.  We ‘ve written two ‘Eating Our Way…‘ posts now on some of our favourite coffee (and tea) tasting places in town, but we have another few to add to the list: Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria… And Beyond!!

Hi Folks:

This will serve as two months’ worth of ‘Food’ posts for us!  We’ve had some interesting culinary adventures over the past couple of months… actually we were waiting for a writeup from a ‘guest blogger’, but that didn’t pan out so you get me instead.  Let’s see now, where have we been? Continue Reading →