CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
Like there's no tomorrow.
Because, hey, you never know.

Good Eats - Masala Lamb meatballs. · 17.02.15 by colin newell

Masala lamb HOT - from EAT Magazine

We shared a 1/2 lamb with my sister and brother-in-law – and with that package came from great ground lamb. This was the perfect recipe for lamb. This is a fascinating mixture of spice with an intriguing Mediterranean flavour and a nice bite. This recipe was inspired from the latest issue of EAT Magazine in Victoria B.C. Canada – but we mixed it up just a little bit. You can serve it with polenta, rice or pasta. We chose pasta. Overall, it takes about an hour to prepare so make sure you have a glass of red wine in your hand while you work!

3 Garlic Cloves chopped
1 Onion chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
28 ounce canned plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt


2 green onions shopped
2 eggs
1 slice brown bread
1/4 table cream
2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Feta cheese.


In a food processor, puree 3 garlic cloves with one chopped medium onion and
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in Dutch oven on medium heat.
Add 1 tablespoon cumin seeds and heat until they start to sizzle. Then add onion/garlic mixture.

Stir often until mixture softens and is translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low to prevent browning.
Cook 8 – 10 minutes.


Puree canned plum tomatoes with 1 tablespoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon ea. Turmeric, Cayenne and Salt. Pour into pan with Onion and Garlic mixture. Stir in one cup water. Simmer 20 minutes to blend flavour.


For the meatballs, in a food processor puree two chopped green onions with two eggs, one slice of brown bread torn into pieces and 1/4 cup table cream.
Turn this mix into a large bowl – add 2 pounds of ground lamb. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground cumin and cinnamon. Add a pinch of salt. Gently mix until blended. Then shape into balls. Aim for a chubby golf ball size.

Makes about 20 meatballs.


Bake meatballs on baking (cookie sheet) brushed with oil. Broil until brown (6 – 8 minutes)
Then reduce heat to 375.


Add meatballs to sauce in Dutch oven. Cover and bake until sauce is bubbly and meat balls are cooked through. 10 – 15 minutes.

Finish with fresh mint and crumbled feta cheese.

We served over Penne pasta. Serves 4 – 6.


We interview jazz diva Maureen Washington - home at Christmas · 11.12.14 by colin newell

Bonus audio interview |

Maureen Washington - Jazz singer

It was a windy and wet Thursday night at Habit Coffee & Culture on Yates Street at the Atrium in downtown Victoria when we spoke with the lovely Maureen Washington – Jazz singer, mom of five, vocal coach, and mentor.

Born and raised in Prince George, British Columbia, Ms. Washington draws upon roots in frontier Canada with connections to Mississippi. The granddaughter of a musician, a singing cowboy no less, her musical fabric draws upon influences as diverse as Etta James, Holly Cole, and (to my ears) a very young Momma Thorton.

There is a certain purity, drive and laser focus in the work of Ms. Washington that defies explanation. It’s visceral, heartfelt, uncompromisingly grounded and targeted directly at the heart.

Some of the greatest music of all time is born of pain and is germinated and cultivated in disparity and conflict. Examples include some of the best works by the likes of The Police, Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles and others. Ms. Washington has certainly had her share of challenges but she processes life differently than most of us. She takes life’s most unpredictable curve balls and turns them into positivity. She then distills that positive energy into a musical phrase and the amalgam of this life experience is a beautiful sound, boiled down to its rhythmic essence. For the ears and the heart, it’s a wonderful thing.

Our conversation moved towards Christmas and why, according to Ms. Washington, “it’s the best time of the year and the toughest time of the year.” Her voice takes on a very special strength when tackling some traditional and seasonal material, as it does in her latest Christmas album (available over on CD-Baby). What could have been a painful journey is, in fact, a love story to her husband, her family and the world around her. In her latest CD, “Christmas Is…” Maureen Washington offers up a compendium of seasonal favorites. When taken as a whole, it illustrates a woman’s journey through adversity, guiding us into the now and is a pure celebration of the moment.

Christmas Is... by Maureen Washington

I love the overall sound of this CD. It has timeless classics delivered by a skillful vocalist. Ms. Washington comes across as everyone’s next door neighbor during a time of need with a hug and a hot cup of coffee on a snowy Christmas eve.

Ms. Washington is an artist to watch and performs locally and throughout British Columbia. You can visit her webpage over here. Catch her while you can!

Listen to the interview |

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


Long time companion moves on to the infinite pasture of joy · 14.08.14 by colin newell

Sasha - devoted and loving companion to my sister Lisa

Just got the news that my sister’s devoted companion of so many years, Sasha, has moved on to the next leg of her journey.

Sasha has been the family canine companion, living with my dear sister Lisa, for many a year. And as everyone knows, the family pooch is often the cornerstone of this thing we call home – often bringing everyone together, giving us all a reference point – focusing on the love, purity, devotion and pureness of heart that is the family pet.

Life often revolves around our domesticated charges – and so it should be, as these loving creatures have been at our side since the dawn of time. We depend on them as they do on us. We give them what we give them and in return, they give us the silent unspoken love and loyalty that is available from no other creature.

Sasha has been Lisa’s steady compatriot through her travels in and around Victoria – has seen a few changes of location, sunrises, sunsets and all manner of weather. Sasha was something of a rescue pooch – and from our perspective, she had the greatest life possible with Lisa. As has been spoken, “No one could have treated her better – and she could not have been more loved…”

Sasha now leaves us, moving on to her spiritual realm and within the living legacy of our memories for her. She will not just be missed but will forever change the fabric of the community in which she lived… and loved.

We will never forget you Sasha – and with all the love that we have left over, we will pass it forward to the next doggie needing our love.

Safe journey my little friend!


This house - a new series - Chapter 1 - welcome home · 3.08.14 by colin newell

This is the first in a series of many, many blogs to come on the joys of home ownership in Victoria B.C. Canada.

After a search of what feels like 20 years (yes, it can and often does take that long to find the right forever home on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island.) we are finally here. And it still feels somewhat (at times completely) surreal.

We have been living in a 2 BR / 2 BTH unit for the last 16 years or so – a large 1250 sq. ft place that made up for its flaws with a 270 degree water and mountain view – and I dare say that the view never got tired in all that time. That said, there was no real house pride because one could not really impart ones own sense of style on it. And now, with a house, it is a moderately blank palette.

One of many questions that comes up for me personally is: Why have a house and a backyard anyway? What about all the work and the stuff that needs to be maintained. Well living in a flat, apartment or condo requires maintenance – it is just that you pay someone else to do things that you can likely do yourself… cheaper and at times better… and learning new things at the same time – because learning keeps you sharp and fresh and prepared.

It also comes down to “you have to live somewhere…” and pay someone for the privilege – so you might as well pay yourself (and the bank…)

I will not spend too much time on the journey to get here because everyone knows how desirable it is to live in the city and country around Victoria and Vancouver Island… and how pricey it can be.


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

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

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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The Urban CBC Chickens of Greater Victoria · 28.04.14 by colin newell

Listen to the Podcast |

The CBC Chickens of Swan Lake

I consider myself an avid CBC Radio fan — and recently when a colleague told me about their urban farm in Victoria and how they named their chickens after local regional CBC Personalities – well, I could not resist pitching it to the local CBC station on 90.5

In the photo above, there’s Carol Off, (the black one), Jo-Ann Roberts (the gray one) and Anna Maria Tremonti (the red one)!

This podcast (interview) is around 4 minutes long – so strap yourself in.

Hats off to the CBC for listening to their listeners and knowing when a story has wings… and in this case, folksy charm.

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