Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cook 'N Pan Polish Deli

This deli is located at 1725 Cook street between Pandora and North Park. There was a time from the mid 1950s to the early 1980s that our cities had an abundance of European delis. As all of us Europeans have lost our connections to the old world, the delis have died out. I remember as a child going with with my mother to German delis in Vancouver along Fraser Street or Victoria but there are very few of them left any longer.

In the last generation we have seen a new set of delis open, Asian ones, Indian ones, Middle Eastern ones and others. I like these places but I miss the familiar look and smell of the European ones. Cook 'N Pan is a Polish deli of a type I remember.

I come in and can immediately smell the cured meats and see the familiar goods for sale. They have a great selection of deli meats that look like they make them, this is not the sort of stuff you can buy anywhere else. They are the only source of decent locally made perogies I know of in this city. They carry a nice selection of European chocolates, jams and more deli items. They have the chocolates you can hang on your Christmas tree, an important tradition for me.

A lot of non-ethnic delis only seem to want to cater to a very high end clientele. They carry good products, but the prices are so high that I feel guilty eating the food. Cook 'N Pan is not like this, they make everything affordable and reasonable.

You can buy lunch here as well and I have done so a number of times over the years. I always get the same thing, a plate of the perogies.

Cook 'n Pan Polish Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Urban Chicken Facebook Group

This facebook group was started in Kamloops and deals with backyard chickens.

Another good resource is the Backyard Chicken forum

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Starbucks in the Neighbourhood

Two or so years ago my neighbourhood, the Burnside - Tillicum - Gorge area of Victoria, had one Starbucks. It was a small location at the back entrance of Tillicum Mall.

Over towards Mayfair Mall a drive through Starbucks opened about two years ago. It is on Douglas and we use it a fair amount.

Not too long ago we got our third Starbucks, this time in the Gorge Plaza @ Gorge and Tillicum roads, the location of the original Fairway Market in Victoria. This one is nice and big and comfortable and is constantly busy. I am happy to see this one open because I was looking for coffee place in this area.

Now, as of the other week, we have our FOURTH Starbucks in the neighbourhood. The Safeway at Tillicum Mall remodeled and in the process added a Starbucks into the store.

All I need now is a decent coffee place close to the corner of Harriet and Burnside - another opportunity for Starbucks?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Good Source for Beef

I was recently reminded of Ranchland Natural Beef. This is a beef product raise in the Nicola valley by Dave Chutter on the Chutter ranch.

Dave was the MLA for Yale- Lillooet from 2001 to 2005 - a quiet and reserved back bencher that did not get a lot of notice. Dave is the sort of guy to keep very quiet about his accomplishments and skills. When he ran for MLA in 2001 he did not trumpet the 1999 award he got for how he manages his land and his cattle.

Dave Chutter has been operating the Chutter Ranch as a wonderful example of what is possible when business and conservation meet. He produces a great beef product as well as I have had it in the past.

In Victoria, Slater Meats at 2577 Cadboro Bay Road carry his beef.

Focus on Farmlands - November 27th

The Farmlands Project is holding a one day conference on farmlands in the this region. If I have time, I am going to go out to the conference and see if people are serious or not. The cost is only $20 for the day, a very good deal.

Where our food comes from and how we produce it is something that is very important to me, though as always my views are not in sync with the food security crowd.

I believe people should grow their own food so that they remain connected to what it takes to produce food and so that they remain connected to the environment around them. I fully advocate a lot more back yard veggies gardens and would love to see more schools grow some food so the kids are connected to the food. I also try to process some of my food to remain connected to the idea of the labour and materials that go into a jar of tomato sauce.

When it comes to agriculture on the ground as a business, I believe we need to view it from the business viability aspect. If the economics do not work, it will not succeed.

I may take along one or more of my sons.

The fact that Corky Evans is speaking is one very good reason to go. There are few politicians out there that can speak as well as he can.

The Program for the day:

Our Farmlands, Our Foodlands, Our Future Conference Program


The farmland in our region is critical to our food supply – today and in the future. With an increasing demand for local food and concerns around sustainability and food security in the CRD, how do we ensure our farmlands are producing food for the region, and farming is a viable enterprise?
The conference program is designed to bring a wide range of players in the Capital Region together to hold an important conversation.
The agenda means to bring to the forefront issues, ideas, strategies and tools that are currently, and could potentially, be employed to deal with the challenges and opportunities related to our farmlands and foodlands. But this conference is about more than talking – it is about action. You are invited to “get beyond the talk”
  • Know the issues
  • Hear and contribute ideas – chew on them!
  • Identify who needs to be involved
  • Find out and connect with who can make it happen
  • Build support for and motivate action – let’s get going!

Program Summary

Opening Plenary: Niels Holbek: Farmer; Agrologist; Environmental Farm Program (BC Agriculture Council)

Ideas on the Table:
  • Planning for Food: Tools and Strategies for Local and Regional Governments
  • From Ideas to Action: Farmers and Eaters taking action on Farmland issues
  • Leasing and Land Sharing Agreements: Models for Land Access
  • Carrot and Stick: A Look at Farm Status and Assessment Tools
  • Creative Partnerships: Emerging Models for Farmland Access
  • Focus on Farmland Trusts: The What, Why & How
  • Our Regional Food Basket: Looking Beyond “Farmland”

Each session will be held with a panel of resource people actively involved in the issue with ample time for discussion and identification of some key findings to take forward

Nuggets and Opportunities: We will close the day with a Call to Action. Looking at what we learned, we will highlight opportunities and set some priorities to build momentum around.

Closing: MLA Corky Evans a Call to Action.

Program Overview

8:30 – 9:00 am Registration

9:00 – 10:00 am Welcome

Opening Plenary – Niels Holbek: Farmer; Agrologist; Environmental Farm Program (BC Agriculture Council)

10:15 – 12:15 pm Morning Sessions

  • Planning for Food: Tools and Strategies for Local and Regional Governments
  • Leasing and Land Sharing Agreements: Models for Land Access
  • Our Regional Food Basket: Looking Beyond “Farmland”

12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 pm Afternoon sessions

  • Creative Partnerships: Emerging Models for Farmland Access
  • From Ideas to Action: Farmers and Eaters taking action on Farmland issues
  • Focus on Farmland Trusts: The What, Why & How
  • Carrot and Stick: A Look at Farm Status and Assessment Tools

3:00 – 3:30 Break / Information Tables

3:30 – 5:30 Strategy Session – Findings and Where do we go from here?

Closing Plenary – Corky Evans: MLA – Nelson-Creston

5:30 – 6:30 Wine & Cheese

Monday, November 3, 2008

Somken Bones Cookshack

I met some people at the Smoken Bones Cookshack in Langford last night. I had heard a lot of good things about the place. Kudos from all over in fact. I was going in with high expectations - they were not met.

The food was not bad, but it was not something I would cross a city for. I had some higher expectations of the food, I was going in for some high quality BBQ but alas it was only average.

When I go out for BBQ, I want something better than I can do at home. Fairway Market often has some screaming deals on large pieces of meat such as pork shoulder. When they are on special I buy two or three and freeze them. In watching Good Eats I learned a bit about how to cook a cheap piece of meat and make it amazing. I can not BBQ my pork because I do it in my oven, but over a 24 hour period I can get that low and slow BBQ heat. I also put on a nice rub. By the end of the process I have meat that falls off of the bone, the collagen has transformed into gelatine and the outside has a wonderful crisp bark. There was no smoke, but the result is a wonderful cousin to pulled pork BBQ. I aim for a sauce that is not to sweet and has a nice spice bite to it.

Last night what we got was not as good as what I make at home. Sheila had the pulled pork po' boy and felt the meat was over powered by the sweet sauce and did not have that lip smacking mouth feel or the crunch of the bark. She was also unimpressed with the bun itself.

I had the beef brisket and I hate to say it, the meat was the junior partner to the sauce. It was tender but lost. It was also sliced and not pulled apart which I expected. The sides I had were the BBQ beans - forgettable - and the dirty rice cake which was very good.

The restaurant was full and people were waiting to get in, so clearly my opinion of the food does not mesh with the public opinion of the food. Ultimately I can not help but wonder if the BBQ there is muted to appeal to a larger audience. Running a restaurant in Victoria is an exercise in Pollyanna optimism, so few of them succeed. Success comes from getting people in through your door and promoting yourself. Smoken Bones manages to do that.

I have to give a lot of credit to chef Ken Hueston for working with local producers and trying to source his ingredients locally. He is a member of the Island Chefs' Collaborative.