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Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

  • Posted: Jul 23, 2016
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Dinner at the Fairmont Empress is Always A Special Occasion

Q Restaurant at the Empress

Q Restaurant at the Empress

Last night we had dinner at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Prior to this we had a tour of the renovations to the legendary Fairmont Empress Hotel. Part of the presentation outlined the vibrant variety of dining experiences found throughout this iconic hotel. Management outlined that the new food services offerings focused on fresh ingredients, celebrated local producers, and showcased sophisticated, timeless spaces. The options available at the hotel are:

Q at The Empress – Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and located in the most storied room in Victoria.

Q Bar – Open from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. with superb culinary offerings until midnight and features a vibrant selection of signature cocktails, an extensive wine list and enticing local craft beers on tap.

Lobby Lounge – Chic and sophisticated, home of world renowned Tea at the Empress as well as an elegant evening menu and cocktail service.

Tea at the Empress – An absolute must attend event on Vancouver Island. The renovated space is steeped in history and now has a modern chic ambiance highlighted by a selection of 21 loose leaf teas, including our famous Empress Blend.

As our visit was to celebrate a very special birthday for my wife Linda, we chose to go to the Q for dinner. Upon our arrival we were greeted by our congenial waiter “Earl the Pearl” who has been working there for 39 years! He did a great job and made our evening special. We also had a visit from the restaurant manager, Doug Chant. Service is the name of the game at the Fairmont Empress.

Linda's Birthday Dinner

Linda’s Birthday Dinner

The food was absolutely delicious. Linda enjoyed poached prawns with a Kimchi Cocktail sauce for her appetizer and roast chicken with mustard potatoes, asparagus, and oak vinegar Jus. I had grilled avocado Caesar with white anchovies, croutons and parmesan cheese, steamed mussels Provencal with hand cut fries for my main, and soufflé cheese cake with citrus blueberry compote for desert.

For the past few years we had experienced a great cocktail at the Empress, the 1908 which was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hotel. Linda ordered this for her desert. This was the only slightly disappointing moment of the evening. The new bar menu did not include the ingredients for this drink. It was made with tea infused vodka. Perhaps it will make a comeback!

The prawns were plump and fresh! The chicken was fresh and tasty. The Caesar was undoubtedly one of the best I have tasted in years! The mussels were fresh, soft and very tasty in the tomato sauce. The soufflé was light and delicious. We both really enjoyed our meals and certainly were impressed by the new food menu in the Q.

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

For more information about the food services available at the Fairmont Empress, visit their web site. We highly recommend a dinner at the Fairmont Empress. Check it out.

Butterfly Gardens: A World Class Attraction

Butterfly Gardens: A World Class Attraction

  • Posted: Jul 09, 2016
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Butterfly Gardens is on of a handful of World Class Attractions in Greater Victoria

Victoria Butterfly Garden’s 12,000 square feet of a tropical jungle-like eco-system awaits you. There is bound to be something that will astound you at every turn, so take your time and look closely so you don’t miss anything. The gardens are filled with lush tropical plants home to ducks, flamingos, rare tropical birds, poison dart frogs, tortoises, turtles, giant koi and thousands of free flying butterflies. Some may even land on you for a short time! Among the tropical plants you will find vanilla beans growing on the vine, papaya trees, pineapple, coffee beans, and ginger. Staff is always available to answer questions about the feeding butterflies, the amazing blooms and the rare and carnivorous plants growing in the gardens.

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly Gardens

This is a great place to have a mini tropical vacation during you stay on our lovely island. Here you will find something for every one of all ages. It is near the world famous Butchart Gardens so you can easily visit both attractions in one day and have time for other activities. Be sure to bring your camera as the garden is full of great photo opportunities.

If we were publishing a list of the top 10 things to do while in Greater Victoria, this would be high on the list. Don’t miss it! Be sure to take home a memento from their well stocked gift shop.

Whale Watching With Orca Spirit

Whale Watching With Orca Spirit

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2016
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Hunting Killer Whales (Orcas) in Juan de Fuca Strait

Transient Orcas in Juan de Fuca Strait

Transient Orcas in Juan de Fuca Strait

Everyday you get to spend on the water is one of life’s bonuses! When you see whales in their natural environment, consider that a big bonus. Wild whales cannot be trained to be in a certain spot at a certain time, so there is always the chance they may not appear. For us they did!
Now these whales can put on a three act play or just show us their dorsal fins. Today, we just got to see their fins. It was either three or four times that we had interactions with this group of transient whales. They were on the hunt for food, so they would dive and then not come up for 5 to 10 minutes. They also turned around and disappeared on us, but we did find them later on our return trip down Juan de Fuca Strait thanks to the skill of the crew on our boat the Orca Spirit I. They are diligently on watch with binoculars and in constant contact with other boats in the vicinity. If whales are around, they will find them. They also have tons of whale info on the boat and the staff are all very knowledgeable  with lots of facts about the whales, the other critters you will see and the area in general. Don’g be afraid to ask them questions, it will enhance your tour!

Wildlife in Juan de Fuca Strait

Wildlife in Juan de Fuca Strait


In one of my pictures, you will see a whale about 2 feet away from another whale watching boat and a dozen or so people in awe of this close encounter of the very best kind. Lucky people!
All whale watching boats are required to stay 100 meters away from the whales, but the whales have no such rules!
I have included a photo from my last trip with Orca Spirit to show you one of my lucky days with a close encounter iof the very best kind. It is the luck of the draw. You just never know!

One thing I would recommend when you are on one of these excursions, spend as much time as you can on deck. There is so much to see. The amazing scenery, the variety of marine traffic, the wild life and more.

Always something to see as you tour Juan de Fuca Strait

Always something to see as you tour Juan de Fuca Strait

Enjoy my pics! Here are two photos, both close encounters of the amazing kind. The tail of the humpback was on another tour! The more you spend time on the water, the more you are likely to see. So come back to Victoria and always go out whale watching!

Up-close Encounters of the Best Kind

Up-close Encounters of the Best Kind

Evedar’s Bistro

Evedar’s Bistro

  • Posted: May 22, 2016
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Evedar's

Evedar’s

It has been sometime since we ate at Evedar’s Bistro, so last night we thought we would give them another try. Good call Ron! In the past the food has been good. Over the years the staff have changed and so has the ownership. The dinner we had was one of the best we have had in a while. I chose the pork schnitzel as it is something I don’t get to eat too often and I really like it. The schnitzel had a panko crust and was flavoured with herbs. The portion was large enough to cover a small mountain of mashed potatoes on a delicious gravy base. The veggies were cooked perfectly and delicious.
For a starter we shared a large Caesar salad. Lots of restaurants don’t do a very good job with Caesars, but this one was delicious.
Linda chose the stuffed pork loin which was presented in the same way, covering an assortment of vegetables (carrots, zucchini and asparagus) and tasty gravy. She also really enjoyed her meal.
The service was very good and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The décor is pleasing and there is a choice of seating – quiet and romantic in the back or upfront with the live music.
I made the mistake of asking what was on the desert menu. I was too full to try all of the three selections but when I heard that a fresh bread pudding had recently come out of the oven, I broke down!
The bread pudding was filled with mandarin oranges and cranberries and covered in a sweet caramel sauce.
Delicious food, good service and a nice quiet environment…how could it get any better! We suggest that you give Evedar’s a try. It would be worth the drive from anywhere in Greater Victoria. It is one of the gem restaurants on the West Shore!
After the meal I closed my eyes, leaned back, and whispered “yesssss‘!
Evedar’s also has a Facebook page, so go there a be a friend and you will get access to the specials they have, some really good deals and schedules of the live entertainment.
Evedars Bistro
The Sea Cider Farm and Cider House

The Sea Cider Farm and Cider House

  • Posted: May 20, 2016
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sea cider

sea cider

Last week my son Robb and I had the opportunity to stop at the Sea Cidery on the way to Victoria International Airport. My son has Celiac disease, and so was disappointed not to be able to check out the many craft breweries in our region. However, cider is on his list as being gluten-free, so we planned to go for a tasting. We arrived on a sunny May morning promptly at opening time and were surprised to find other guests out that early in the day, on the same mission as us! After a short but informative tour of the cidery, my son chose our samples from a list of available ciders. Some ciders are seasonal, and so not available year round. While waiting to be served, we perused the items for sale, cider of course and other items such as honey. Honey was available for sampling that day too.

It was such a nice morning that we sat outside on the deck, with views across the apple orchard to James Island and Cordova Channel in the Haro Strait, also known as the Salish Sea. Naturally, bees buzzed around us, and let us be (get the pun?!!). Then our samples arrived, 9 pours in glasses designed to enhance the aroma and flavor of the cider. Being the driver, I only took small sips to savor and left the rest for Robb. We were given a checklist to record our favorites, and of course I had to buy a bottle of my favorite cider before we left.

Sea Cider is a family run operation on the Sannich Peninsula. They grow their own apples, and in fact grow their own trees from seeds. The cider is made on site and sold there, as well as in many liquor stores. In addition to their tasting room and outdoor deck, they hold special events in a large tent adjacent to the main building. Check out their website at http://seacider.ca/ Cheers!

sea cider ciderhouse

sea cider ciderhouse

Linda

Ferris Grill and Garden Patio

Ferris Grill and Garden Patio

  • Posted: May 17, 2016
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So my sister is in town and everyone is hungry..where do we go! Well my sister’s choice was Ferris’ because she loves oysters! There probably is no place better in Victoria for oysters than Ferris’. There is a reason why they have been around longer than most restaurants in Victoria. Good food, good service and fresh oysters. In addition to the great food, tasty oysters, they have the best fries in town!
Not being a real oyster fan, I had the burger and it was great as was all the rest of the food ordered by our group! check Ferris’ out, you will be glad you did! http://www.ferrisoysterbar.com/ferris-grill/

ferris grill

Ice Cream: An Island Moment

Ice Cream: An Island Moment

  • Posted: May 03, 2016
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It is hot, hot, hot outside. Think ice cream! What a cool idea! For years the Beacon Drive Inn has served up some of the best soft serve ice cream in the nation. It has won “the best of the city” awards many times. On a hot day you can expect a line up of 20-40 people. Don’t worry, they usually have lots of staff working on hot days.
If you are hungry, the food is decent but I go there for the ice cream.
It is right across the street west of Beacon Hill Park, so spend the day at the park and have lots of ice cream. This is truly an “island moment” Victoria style. Enjoy!

New Kid on the Block – Axe and Barrel Pub

New Kid on the Block – Axe and Barrel Pub

  • Posted: May 01, 2016
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Langford BC – West Shore Gets a New Craft Brewery

Axe and Barrel

Axe and Barrel

The long standing Log House Pub has a new incarnation as the home of a new craft brewery – the Axe and Barrel. Great beer and great food can be found on the premises. They are delivering food made from local ingredients and have a solid menu of beers to try. Best you check them out next time you are in Langford. They are on Millstream Road not far from Costco and Staples. So while doing your west shore shop, take a break and have a cold one!

Axe and Barrel Beer

Axe and Barrel Beer

Axe and Barrel

Axe and Barrel

 

Island Moment – Ladysmith

Island Moment – Ladysmith

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2016
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Amazing Rhododendron – Over 100 years old!

We recently paid a visit to Abkhazi Garden in Victoria where some 100 year old rhododendrons growing. Then we heard about the amazing  Rhododendron Tree in Ladysmith. So Linda stopped in and had another one of our amazing island moments. Spectacular hardly explains this amazing sight! So when you are driving through Ladysmith watch for the Subway restaurant on the Island Highway. If you are heading north you must turn on Buller before you get to the Subway and then go up to 3rd avenue and turn right and go to Kitchner. If you are going south, turn right on Buller after you pass the Subway restaurant. Be prepared for an amazing sight, one that is hard to replicate. Enjoy! Things like this are all over Vancouver Island. There is a yard in Tofino with an amazing rhododendron display.

Ladysmith Rhododendron

Ladysmith Rhododendron

 

Island Moments: Esquimalt Lagoon

Island Moments: Esquimalt Lagoon

  • Posted: Apr 17, 2016
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Esquimalt Lagoon: A Special Island Moment

Esquimalt Lagoon is one of my favourite places to enjoy nature in Greater Victoria. The lagoon is a large migratory bird sanctuary that is used as a rest stop and feeding area for birds moving between North and South America. It appears that some of the birds (swans and ducks) seem to home there as well.

It is a popular spot for people to walk their dogs. Many dogs are off-leash, however the only place where this is permitted is southwest of the public washrooms in an area away from the lagoon. The beach goes on for a long way after you enter from the bridge on Ocean Boulevard.

The beach is very popular at Esquimalt Lagoon. The views of Juan de Fuca Strait are spectacular and this is a great place to go in the summer to cool down when the weather gets really hot. Beach fires have been banned from this beach for years, so don’t expect to cook your hot dogs at the beach.

Esquimalt Lagoon Beach

Esquimalt Lagoon Beach

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