Saaz Indian restaurant first impressions · 7 March 2014 by colin newell
Andrea and I have been on the prowl for a great Indian restaurant for a long, long time. I will admit it – we both love the intense flavors and aroma of a great curry – and Victoria B.C. although having pretty comprehensive coverage of many a cuisine, Indian food is not something that we seem to do very well.
Well, that all changed with the arrival of Saaz Restaurant at 535 Yates St. in the lower part of Old Town in Victoria. Tucked in an unassuming old office building is an inviting, old school and rustic space that belies the incredible food within. Sure, we had read a few reviews on Urban Spoon and Trip Adviser – reviews I often take with a grain of salt – but in this case, all of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive and blindingly glowing. OK. We are in.
But let’s back up a step. It was our new Canadian English friends that suggested Saaz, because they, more than us really miss a great curry, the likes of which was pretty commonplace in the old country.
Anyway – after an quick e-mail to Gurpreet, director of operations and affable host – and getting a bit of a background on what the Saaz concept is all about – it became pretty clear that the potential for great food was here. So off we went tonight.
Saaz is a pretty rustic space – that once could have been an old school English pub in another life. The decor is pretty simple, clean lines in dark wood. Not that much to look at – but what the heck. It is not so much about the layout as it is about the food, right? Well everything about the food shone bright. So onto that then!
We started with Mustard masala jackfruit with tomatoes, Curried brussels sprouts, onions and tomatoes, Prawns with garlic, coconut and spices, and Vegetables pakoras… there was 4 of us after all!
The Jackfruit (never had it before) is a cross between chicken and artichoke in texture in a mustard masala that is just hot enough but not overpowering. The pakoras were sublime and the lentil daal that came with the pakoras was immensely satisfying – could have eaten a bowl of this alone. The brussels sprouts would have been right at home with a Christmas Turkey dinner – but here they were on an Indian menu! Perfectly cooked with a little bit of crunch left over – but not overwhelmed by spice and a delightful nutty flavor remaining. The prawns were prepared perfectly, impeccably fresh and well spiced — a bit more of a bite.
For mains, our team of diners tackled Lamb with garam masala and raw brown sugar (for Andrea) – Chicken Tikka , Chicken in yogurt, ginger, garlic cooked in the traditional clay oven for Sharon, Chicken in Kalonji seeds and spices for Steve and Butter Chicken for me.
I was playing it pretty safe with the Chicken but it was well balanced, presented in a, for me, a perfect portion size – with lots of flavor and authenticity.
Steve’s Chicken in Kalonji was very, very interesting – like most of the night, I was experiencing lots of new flavors. Between the 4 of us we also shared a plate of perfect garlic Naan bread… the perfect compliment to everything else that was in front of us.
For dessert: Rose & Mango Kulfi (Ice Cream) – divine, a luscious and sensuous creaminess and fragrant botanical flavor spectrum that you have never had in a frozen bowl! We also had Gulab Jabun (Indian Doughnuts) in a simple cardamom infused sugar sauce. I would happily die eating these little morsels.
Service was professional, engaged and informative – we loved everything and look forward to coming back for more exploration.
Our friends, Steve and Sharon – who are sticklers for a good Indian feast were 100% satisfied – and that was a relief – because we have been at some of those other places in Victoria that left us somewhat heartbroken.
I wish Saaz and the team the very best and hope they succeed – this is a place that I would encourage everyone to try… and soon!
Saaz is located at 535 Yates St #103, Victoria, BC V8W 1K7 – (778) 433-7229
and their website is – Saaz Restaurant
We live and we love for Ray and all those that face loss. · 25 February 2014 by colin newell
Was having “tea” at the Finnerty Express at UVic at three – and was visited by “Ray” a lovely 80 year old retired RCMP officer that lives in the area and often pops in for a coffee. He had some bad news today. His wife of 50+ years passed away after a wicked battle with cancer. He seemed to be taking it OK but reminded all of us to embrace the living… “Go home and hug your wife (or husband) tonight. Celebrate life when you are among the living…”
I have been offering condolences a lot lately and I guess (I know) that this is part of life. And it is especially important to embrace those who have experienced loss… like Ray.
We reminded him to drop into the cafe often, that we are here for him – and we are.
As he got up to go, we all shook hands… you know, the two handed more intimate form of the hand shake. I wanted to give him a big hug but wasn’t sure.
His last words were, “What am I going to have for dinner tonight? That is the awful thing… I can only drink so many bowls of mushroom soup…”
My heart goes out to Ray. I know all about loss but loss is something that is constant and omnipotent. But we must keep living and loving while adapting to loss. I cannot imagine going home to an empty space – my life is so truly blessed with a loving and devoted wife, and so many wonderful friends. It all really makes me appreciate the importance of the moment. The now.
It took a couple of hours but when I got home and had a glass of wine and some potato chips in my mouth (it is a ritual), I had a good cry – all that pent up grief coming out.
(But) You have to keep moving forward. People will come and go. It is part of life. Love the ones you are with. Pray for the departed. But most of all, embrace the living while they are on Earth.
Padella Bistro - great food in Estevan Village Oak Bay · 14 February 2014 by colin newell
On a blustery Valentine’s eve (the night before Valentine’s Day…) Chef Kyle Gignac warmly greets us at our table as we share a delightful dessert of fruit crumble (arguably one of the best I have ever tasted.). We have just concluded a wonderful meal of pasta – I had the spaghetti and clams – Denman Island clams, leek, garlic, white wine, cherry tomato, and parsley. Andrea picked the Funghi & Pappardelle of roasted oyster & button mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese, peas & cream.
Kyle and his wife Zoe O’Doherty, specialize in classic Italian cuisine prepared with the freshest local and seasonal ingredients. And as Kyle proudly points out, everything is prepared from scratch in the kitchen apart from the charcuterie and cheeses. Yes, they have fresh pasta! And what a treat that is.
On the days leading up to the “most romantic day of the year”, Kyle and crew were kept busy prepping over 1000 ravioli available on the Valentine’s Day menu — a menu we had access to on the night before.
Padella (formerly Paprika Bistro) is an intimate combo of rooms suited to very private dining, slightly more formal family style eating or even a private party or event – It is like 5 restaurants in one – they even have a single table room, called the wine room – perfectly suited for a couples privacy or even dining with a small child or two.
The first thing I noticed was the impeccable balance of flavors on the plate – no one component overwhelming any other – where subtlety, often lost in many other places around Victoria – balance and flavor, a more gentle approach to locally sourced components is the star here. Andrea commented on the sweetness of the peas in her pasta – and the contribution that fresh pasta makes to a dish like this.
We actually opened with the Antipasti Plate of assorted cured meats, Island cheese, marinated olives, cornichon, rosemary-apricot mustard – and several bowls of lightly salted focaccia bread. Main portions (for me) are perfectly sized – certainly not overwhelming, I like to be left a bit wanting for something else (like dessert or a glass of port) after a right-sized plate of pasta. And Padella bistro nails it in this regard.
Our host/server, Vincent Vanderheide is also a recently graduated sommelier – and we put him entirely in charge of the wine pairing; Pasqua ‘Villa Borghetti Passimento’, Veneto IGT, IT 2010 for the Charcuterie – a turbo-charged Valpolicella, this wine is pressed from grapes that were partially dried to concentrate flavors before fermentation. Unlike a single Valpolicella, it contains some Merlot in addition to the indigenous Corvina and Croatina, giving it added smoothness within its umbrella of fruitiness and medium body.
For our mains Vincent picked out a Bench 1775 ‘unoaked’ Chardonnay, Okanagan VQA, 2011 – a crisp wine suited to pasta with not overly aggressive sauces.
Dessert was the fruit crumble of seasonal fruits, grains and fresh gelato – served piping hot and sized well for two.
Padella Bistro is not just for lovers on Valentine’s day – but great for any date night anytime of the year – Solo, with a date or friends, I would highly suggest giving this comfortable little bistro a look see. This was the first visit of what I think will be many happy returns (with friends) – who really need to check this place out.
Visit this wonderful bistro on the web at Padella Bistro
Padella Bistro is located at 2524 Estevan Ave. Victoria BC V8R 2S7 250.592.7424
Part 3: Love, Laugh, Live and Learn... · 14 February 2014 by Madeline H.
In Indonesia, marital status and the number of children a person has contributes to one’s social status, which is generally, extremely important in Indonesian society. Being childless, unmarried and over 30 with too much education, (high school is often sufficient to find middle-class employment in Indonesia) I was regarded as an old maid and a bit of a social oddity in this particular neighbourhood. There were regular inquiries from different people on why I was still single and when I would be getting married. Whether or not I wanted to get married, had a potential husband in mind, or had the financial resources to do so were all beside the point, reflecting a difference in value systems and the meaning and purpose of marriage.
A beautiful, blushing bride on her wedding day – Click on image for larger view
While the majority of Indonesian Muslims do not practice polygamy nor regard it in high esteem, (there are a few exceptions), technically, both Indonesian law and Islamic law allow men to have up to 4 wives. On occasion I observed suspicious looks hidden behind the friendly smiles of some of the younger, uneducated and educated, married women when I was introduced to their husbands. Though they regularly laughed and joked with me about their husbands taking a 2nd or 3rd wife, I often, and it turns out accurately, wondered if these women regarded me, in my singleness, as a potential threat to their currently monogamous relationships.
The author, all dolled up for an afternoon wedding reception – Click on image for larger view
Thus, in a possible attempt to mitigate the imagined threat that I posed to these women and certainly to secure my conversion to Islam one family proposed to find me a suitable Muslim husband. Since Islam, as it is practiced in Indonesia, requires that both parties getting married be Muslim and since Indonesian law prohibits inter-religious marriages (i.e. both the man and the woman must be of the same religion to marry) I understood the implications of their sincere, yet strategic plan. However, this particular family was genuinely concerned for me, for my future, my status in society and for my spiritual well-being. It was out of this deep, caring, thoughtfulness that they offered me the only thing they believed to be the solution to cure my presumed loneliness.
The bridal party and flower girls – Click on image for larger view
It was a warm evening and I was invited to sit down at their dining room table with the wife sitting to my left and her husband sitting across from me. They were relaxed and smiling. He began by first apologizing, in earnest, that he and his wife had only daughters and did not have any sons to offer me in marriage. I smiled politely, insisting that no such apology was necessary. I was a little confused, a little amused, and yet interested while apprehensive as to where this conversation would lead. The husband, smiling from ear to ear, explained that his wife, who nodded in agreement with an equally eager and loving smile, would search for a man for me to marry. While not sharing their feelings of anxiousness towards my single status, I was deeply touched and honoured that they took my supposedly hopeless situation to heart and were determined to help me. The husband held a prestigious position as a professor at a local university and she worked as a housewife; they were doing exceptionally well financially, were highly respected and well-connected in the community and could provide me with at a least a few good candidates. Though I admit I was certainly, very curious with what sort of suitors they would present me, I was not seriously considering their proposition, and thus I wondered how to respond to such an offer.
Traditional Javanese dressed newly weds – Click on image for larger view
Prior, personal experience in similarly, awkward, situations in Indonesia had taught me that a direct and negative response could sometimes result in the individual(s) becoming offended and in rare cases choosing to vindicate their honour or their standing in the community through passive aggressive means directed at either shaming me publicly or preventing me from being able to complete my research. Empathy, friendly diplomacy and an appeal to the cultural and religious beliefs of the family were required. So, in order to get out of this peculiar situation in which I found myself, I graciously accepted their proposal, however with two conditions.
The newly married couple and their in-laws – Click on image for larger view
Having dated a number of ill-willed and poor men over the years, I decided to take my chances and request a man who was both good (morally excellent) and wealthy (having more assets and cash and less debt than me). As in all negotiations, I believe it is best to aim high leaving a healthy space for bargaining; as the saying goes: “the worst anyone can say is no”. Upon hearing my stipulated conditions, both the husband and his wife laughed nervously and I laughed along with them. Then they told me I was truly a “material girl” and we all laughed again and nothing more was said on the subject; no potential husbands were ever presented.
An Arabian-Indonesian wedding – Click on image for larger view
Debt, financing, investments, wealth, poverty, money: the topic of my master’s thesis. Perceptions of these ideas are often very different from the actual numbers as they appear in one’s bank statement. Being consumers of American movies and celebrity gossip this husband and wife believed that I, like the Hollywood stars they worshiped, lived an enviable and wealthy lifestyle in Canada and that none of their immediate acquaintances could possibly possess more riches than those they had imagined of me. What this couple failed to realize is that, in addition to their mistaken imaginings about my life in Canada, they and many of their acquaintances have, in fact, more assets and cash and less debt than me….
Stay tuned to this space for Part 4 of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: The Truth About What Really Happened in Indonesia…” Check out Part 1 and Part 2. You can contact Ms. Holden via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daylight Mind Coffee Kona Hawaii launches coffee school · 21 January 2014 by colin newell
Dr. Shawn Steiman, Chief Science Office at Daylight Mind Coffee – is proud to announce the first sessions of the Coffee School component of this new coffee business in the heart of Kona, Hawaii.
A quote from their About section: “The idea for Daylight Mind was born in the head of one person. However, as new partners joined the party, the challenge of integrating each new personality and vision for the company grew in complexity. Establishing and sticking to an identity, generating a name, and developing a logo has been a rewarding process for us, even when challenging. We value our identity as a company and we’ve found a way to express the passion that drives all of us. We want to share the insight that led us to our name with you.”
Toni's festive Christmas sausage stuffing · 24 December 2013 by colin newell
My sister Toni is our own personal Martha Stewart when it comes to hosting legendary Christmas and birthday parties – and this Christmas is no exception. No one pulls out the stops better than my sister Toni – and from time to time I will feature some of her favorite interpretations of the classics.
Here is her classic sausage stuffing recipe. Serves up with a great Turkey, vegetables and all the trimmings.
1lb sausage meat
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large apple chopped
1/2 cup cubed dried bread
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp sage
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup raisins or craisins
1 1/2 cup pecans
chicken or turkey broth
Brown sausage meat in large skillet with butter, onion, celery &
Add spices and 1/2 of the cubed bread – mix well.
Add raisins & pecans.
Add remainder of dried bread.
You may need to switch to large bowl
or pot for this.
Depending on how moist you want the dressing add some
broth 1/4 cup at time.
The dressing gathers moisture from bird
so I usually only add 1/4 cup of broth.
Taste as you go as you may want to add a little
extra spice. I often add more poultry seasoning.
Transfer the mix to a baking skillet with cover.
Bake your skillet in a 350ºF (175ºC) oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp on top.
When roasting within a turkey, any stuffing placed in the cavity of the turkey should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). This is very important!