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Living in Victoria - Fernwood Bites · 4.06.14 by colin newell

Fernwood Bites - you have to eat here!

Fernwood’s tastiest event, Fernwood Bites, is back for the fifth year in a row. In partnership with Cook Culture & local restaurateurs, Fernwood NRG is offering food-&-drink-lovers a chance to sample Victoria’s finest fare at its annual tasting event and fundraiser.

Happening in Fernwood Square on Sunday, June 22nd, the event will feature an evening of food and drink sampling, live jazz, and a silent auction of items donated by local artists and businesses. Proceeds will help fund Fernwood’s sustainable food initiatives including the Good Food Box, Fernwood Neighborhood Orchard, and Kitchen Garden Pilot Project.

Participants in Fernwood Bites include 10 Acres Bistro + Bar + Farm, AJ’s Organic Cafe, Aubergine Specialty Foods, Be Love, Bon Macaron Patisserie, Bona Vini Wines Co., Cascadia Bakery, Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen, Choux Choux Charcuterie, Cook Culture, Discovery Coffee, Fernwood Inn, The Hot & Cold Cafe, Hoyne Brewing Co., Lonetree Cider, Olive The Senses, Origin Bakery, Padella Italian Bistro, Phillips Brewing Co., Renaissance Wine Merchants, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, Silk Road Tea, Spinnakers, Stage Wine Bar, Stir It Up, Wildfire Bakery, Yates Street Taphouse, and Yonni’s Doughnuts.

Fernwood Bites 2014

Fernwood Bites will run from 5:30-8pm on Sunday, June 22nd in Fernwood Square (Gladstone at Fernwood). Tickets for this 19+ event are $50 and include all samples. Tickets are available online at fernwoodbites2014.eventbrite.ca.

About Fernwood NRG
Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group is a charitable organization that offers programs and services to the neighbourhood of Fernwood, including childcare, affordable housing, family support services, parenting groups, community recreation and celebration. Led by a membership of neighbourhood residents, Fernwood NRG sets as its highest goal social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Fernwood NRG believes that a neighbourhood society should be responsive, active, engaging and fun. For more information about Fernwood NRG, please visit www.fernwoodnrg.ca

For some more yummy looking photos of Fernwood Bites from last year – head over here


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and freelance food and drink writer – active in the Victoria area and Canada since 1995!

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Buying a house in Victoria B.C. Canada - the series · 27.05.14 by colin newell

House - found and bought... finally

Andrea and I, after over a decade of searching for the perfect place…

Have found a new home. And we will be taking possession and moving in later on in July.

This is a culmination of over a decades worth of effort. And I know what some of you are thinking…

“What took you so long? Ten years!? Your realtor must have died of shock or exhaustion. Think of all your lost time…”

And so on.

Picture – Standing in front of the house that Colin (and Andrea) bought!

Truth be told, we have been in a really nice suite in a great neighborhood with great water views and high above everything… but a kitchen the size of a large cardboard box – a galley kitchen… and this is what has been dragging us down for quite a few years. Lack of a decent kitchen and a guest ready 2nd bedroom has curtailed our life in ways that, yea, we will never get back… but now is a time for celebration and moving forward…

And a great opportunity to kick this blog back into gear and get some readers back.

So there it is – I will be talking about the joys of the search. The upside and downside of house hunting in some of the richest neighborhoods in North America (with a limited budget…) and
the necessity of buckling down and spending over 20 years saving for the house of our dreams…

Coming up. On the Coffeecrew blog.

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Padella Bistro - great food in Estevan Village Oak Bay · 14.02.14 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.

Padella Bistro Clams and Spaghetti

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

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Toni's festive Christmas sausage stuffing · 24.12.13 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.

Pecan sausage stuffing

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 &
apple.

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!

Enjoy!

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Grinder for sale · 10.12.13 by colin newell

Baratza Vario for sale
My colleague and friend – Katie Zalazar e-mail [email protected] – is selling her near new Baratza Vario grinder – ideally in the Vancouver or Victoria area.

In her words…

Hey there readers! -

I have a Baratza Vario grinder that I am looking to sell. I won it in a competition but have hardly used it at all. I would love to sell locally in Victoria or Vancouver (or on the island).

I’m wondering if you know of anyone who might be interested in buying a used (all cleaned up!) grinder. As you know it retails for about $470, so I’m looking to sell it for about $400. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Note my e-mail above. Thanks!

Colin here – there you have it – help a gal out and get a great grinder in the process!

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Thanksgiving - Life in the coffee time-tunnel · 12.10.13 by colin newell

Past and Present - Dave Reimer at Cafe RomaIt was a seasonably hot August of 1968 as I walked down East 6th Avenue, Vancouver, towards Commercial Drive.

This was my first trip off of Vancouver Island and my first trip on the fairly new B.C. Ferries.

Picture – Regular contributor to my website – Dave Reimer at the 2005 version of Cafe Roma.

My anglophone mother, who grew up in a multicultural enclave in Montreal, Quebec and spoke 3 languages, including conversational Italian, had brought me over to Vancouver for the weekend to visit the Pacific National Exhibition and see a piece of the big city.

Turning onto Commercial Drive and on this sunny Saturday afternoon, my cousin, Dennis and I walked down wide sidewalks past Italian deli’s, corner grocers and bustling cafes.

As now, the street had a life of its own. From a child’s perspective, everything seemed brighter, louder, busier and decidedly more fragrant. From a kid from small town Victoria, I might as well have been on another planet.

The aroma of strong coffee, cured ham and fresh fruit drifted over the concrete beneath my feet. I stopped for a moment in front of a busy cafe. It seemed to be packed with men, young, old, mostly old men entangled in a random circle of loud conversation and broad hand gestures. They spoke Italian, a language my Montreal raised mother used with me when she was displeased with my behavior.

A young couple caught my eye. They seemed disconnected from this humming umbilical of community.

A gal, likely in her mid-twenties, wore a canary yellow sun-dress and her male friend a wool suit. The suit seems softened by a few years worth of wear and somewhat sticky considering that it was a hotter than usual summer. Between his sips of strong looking coffee from an impossibly small cup and her demurely drawing from something that looked like a milkshake, they talked in a musical banter – words only they appeared to understand.

My cousin grabbed my shoulder and pulled me along. I can see the couple nodding and laughing. The ladies hair moves up and down held in place by a daisy-yellow hair broach. Now we are walking again and he steered me into a green grocers hardly a door away from the Cafe. I had 90 cents in my pocket and in 1968, that is a lot of money. I bought a chocolate bar, a butter-finger as I recall, some pixie-sticks, fizzy candy in a paper tube and a cola.

We exited the store and turned left towards the Cafe again.

The Cafe is buzzing louder as we strode towards my cousins avenue. The table where the young couple sat was now empty save for a cup and a glass. I spot them exiting onto the boulevard, hand in hand, her dress burning a permanent image into my mind, the itchy smell of his suit offering contrast. They vanish into a pulsating hive of urban humanity – a Saturday morning blend of shoppers, smokers, the odd smattering of fashionably clad hipsters and one wide-eyed child – me.

I look in the cafe window again flashing forward to the presemt. I stand outside of Caffe Roma on Commercial Drive and time has stood still just for me. My reflection in the window looks alternately young and slightly older.

Clouds pass by offering a broad selection of flattering light. CoffeeCrew contributing member Dave watches me for a moment before holding the door.

“Colin, let’s get some coffee…” he says.

The smells and sounds of the the Cafe and the street envelope me like an old gloved hand. For a moment I hold in my palm the paper tubes of fizzy candy and a half-eaten chocolate bar. Dave asks again, “What are you going to have, dude?”

I order my usual when I am in a cafe for the first time – double espresso and a snack. In this case, they have very tasty looking apple turnovers. I get one.

The intensity of the Italian coffee and the tangy sweetness of the pastry are the perfect match. As I sip the beverage and feel the caffeine perking within me, I can almost hear the whispered conversations of the young lovers from so long ago at a nearby table. Where are they now? Have the years been kind? Most likely, their grandchildren are half-grown up, much as I was in 1968. I think about my marriage, now almost 2 decades in length, and how in places like these, time just stands still.

In the final moments before we leave for our next stop on the drive, the owner pops by to gather up our spent cups. I tell him the coffee is fabulous. His expression is priceless and without words – a combination of ‘of course it is son…’ and ‘I have a cafe to run today…’

As we step onto the still vibrant sidewalk of Commercial Drive, two ten year old boys approach on skate boards. One sails past me like a low flying seagull.

The other swishes to a stop and is immediately hypnotized by the activity in the cafe, the noise, the smells, the starling chatter of the old men.

The cycle continues season by season, year by year through the generations. We are thankful for our memories and the time we have ahead of us. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

While in Vancouver, you can visit The Drive – Do so. You will be glad you did.

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