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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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Talking coffee on CKNW with Gord MacDonald · 5.08.13 by colin newell

Listen to the Podcast |


Talking coffee on 980 CKNW

We were talking coffee with Gord MacDonald from CKNW – 980 from Vancouver — with some really good questions.

This podcast (interview) is around 11 minutes long – so strap yourself in.

I average around 20 radio, TV or newspaper interviews annually and this was one of the better ones – a lot of these radio hosts are affable, enthusiastic and well read before they undertake an interview – honored to chat on the subject of my passion. Coffee. Love it.

Podcast – If you cannot see the audio player above, click here for the mp3 download.

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Talking Rockin and Roasting Coffee with Joey Kramer of Aerosmith · 28.06.13 by colin newell

Listen to the Podcast


Joey Kramer of Rockin and Roastin Coffee!

We spoke this morning with a man who is very passionate about the coffee bean – and so much so he has decided to do it right… for himself, for the consuming public and the farmers who grow it – and beyond!

And with 40 plus years, under his belt, with the band Aerosmith – a demanding full time job all its own, a very youthful Joey Kramer has managed to visualize, develop, and market a potentially winning concept.

Chatting with Joey today, I quickly realized that he is a team player – not only with his band of brothers but also with all the mechanisms and machinations that make for a successful venture into the fairly cluttered and confusing coffee marketplace. Because, as Joey pointed out, a lot about coffee is in the education and in the awareness.

Years of touring into every nook and cranny of this Rock and Roll hungry planet left Joey with the sense that he needed a better and more accessible cup of coffee. For Mister Kramer, an avid coffee drinker since his early days, his daily caffeine rituals were often interrupted by simply bad coffee in some unexpected places. The only solution (knowing full well what a great cup of coffee tasted like) was to have some part in producing his own personal great cup of coffee… a cup of coffee he could enjoy on the road, at home, and a product he could share with the rest of the World.

The idea for Rockin and Roastin coffee was born.

And, he added, you cannot do it all yourself. He has a great coffee team – and like the boys in the band, everyone has to pull their weight and find their strengths. If you are going to do it right, you need the right people. And with the full schedule of the touring cavalcade that is Aerosmith, he was not always able to get to all the farms and see all the stages of production – that said, he has been hands on on testing, sampling, testing and brewing his trio of great coffees – at this point he has picked 3 of the World’s most beloved origin beans; Ethiopian, Guatemalan and Sumatra coffee – three classics.

Joey and I talked about the importance of understanding the “value chain” of coffee, its path from farm to cup, the delicate nature of the coffee plants and their caretakers – the farmers who also need to receive a fair compensation for their work. Joey Kramer has done his homework – he knows the value of shade grown and organic coffees – being friendly to the environment, growing coffee in a sustainable way and not harming anything in the process.

Joey admits, “I drink a lot of coffee. Particularly during the creative stages with the band… composing arrangements for new songs…” Coffee is creative fuel, and for Joey Kramer, there is clearly a lot of coffee in his music. I found him exceedingly passionate and easy to talk to.

My next task will be to try some of this bean – and if you want to check them out, I encourage you to head on over to their colorful website

Podcast – If you cannot see the audio player above, click here for the mp3.

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