Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wings Restaurant on Gorge Road

We are still pulled down by all that is happening in our lives and so we went out for dinner again, this time to Wing's Restaurant at 90 Gorge Road West. They do a Chinese buffet, though they have not been reviewed by the Victoria Buffet Blog. (see comment below from Guy of that Blog)

We got there at 5:45 on a Monday evening and saw that there were a number of tables filled, this stopped us from leaving as it could not be as bad as the smell indicated. More people came in as we were there for dinner, though I do not know why.

The choices were pretty standard, but the quality was not very good. The food was bland and soaked in MSG. The food looked like it had been sitting for sometime, this is just before 6pm. I shudder to think that it may have been from lunch, that is much too long for food safety, but I can not explain it otherwise.

The whole place felt like the owners were not trying very hard at all. The one positive about the place is that it is cheap, $7.75 per person, I am assuming that is what is attracting the clientele.

I really am not a fan of MSG, it seems to react with me badly when I get a lot of it, it seems to make my ADD worse than normal. I ended up not eating much food. Sheila ate even less than I did.

All I can say about the place is that it is best avoided. It is marginally better than Chinese City Buffet in Vic West, but that is sort of like saying a root canal is better than having a bone set. I am not going to chose either one for fun.

Wing's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Food and Greenhouse Gases

The New Scientist out of the UK has some interesting articles on eating meat and greenhouse gas emissions.

This first link is to a graph of what the average US family costs in GHGs due to food. What is important to see here is something I have known for sometime, transportation of food over long distances does not have a big impact. The methane is much more of a problem. The article is here.

Through that article I found this CO2 calculator for food - take it with a grain of salt because it is rather broad, but it is an interesting tool to look at.

The other interesting article is this analysis of what would happen if we backed off of beef and pork consumption. The article seems to say that by eating a low meat diet, we could reduce by 1/2 the costs of dealing with climate change by 2050. Low meat means 70 grams of beef a week and 325 grams of chicken or eggs. That is a burger every ten days and five eggs a week.

All in all, there is a lot more work being done on the greenhouse gas emissions that come from what and how we farm. It is becoming easier and easier to work out the impact of our diet. When I tried to work this out in the fall of 2007 there was not a lot of data I could access, but it was clear that meat eating was one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in my life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Picking up an Apricot Tree

I ordered an apricot tree from Fruit Trees and More at 724 Wain Road in North Saanich. Bob and Verna Duncan have a very interesting selection of trees available. Eventually I would like to get some citrus and olives from them.

I will post a pic of the tree when I get it into the ground

Monday, March 16, 2009

Problems with the Chickens

The big winds we were getting yesterday blew off the roof of the chicken pen. I had three sheets of 3/8" plywood blown off of the coop, one of them ended up in the neighbours yard.

This morning the chicken pen was a soupy muddy hell. Without the roof, all that downpour of rain flooded the chicken run. I suspect the coop will need all new hay today as the old stuff is going to be very wet. The chicken feed also all got wet, the bin was knocked over by the plywood sheets.

The wind was strong enough to rip out the screws I had used to put in the roof.

When it feels dry enough I need to go out and work on the roof. I am actually thinking of completely rebuilding the enclosure. Something with more shelter from the weather and keep the ground drier.

I am also wondering how to create a system to collect the chicken poop for my garden. Raking up the ground?

A quick non-chicken thing, my rhubarb is not growing well. I planted bunch of it last year and was expecting to see more of it budding up above the ground. Any ideas on how to make them grow better? I thought they were indestructible.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saigon Night - 915 Fort Street

We had intended to head out to Hernandez on Bay Street on Friday, it is what came up on my iPhone through Urbanspoon, but they do not take anything but cash at the moment and we arrived with plastic. They also had very limited seating. We headed downtown to the View Street location, but it was already closed.

We then used Urban Spoon again to find something else and we ended up at Saigon Night on Fort Street.

The food was high quality authentic Vietnamese food. The salad rolls we had as a starter were well done and I would recommend them. I had a spicy seafood and veggie stirfry on deep fried noodles. Good flavour but very light on the seafood and heavy on cabbages.. Sheila and Daniel and the fried pork on rice - I had a bite and I was impressed by it. Ben had something similar but on noodles.

The food for the main courses was huge, more than enough for one person. Two dishes would easily feed three people.

Little Piggy had a review of the restaurant in September of 2007

Saigon Night on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 9, 2009

San Remo's

After a grueling morning, we stopped in here for lunch today. I have been coming to San Remo's for years. There was many a night when I was at UVic we would head there for dinner and then sit at the table for ages over beer, wine and coffee.

The restaurant was very empty when we got in there at 1:20 - admittedly it was a late time for lunch on a Monday. We managed to find a parking spot on Hillside right outside of the San Remo's deli. The service was good and the speed we got out food was decent.

The menu felt like it was lacking focus, it is very pan Mediterranean with a strong influence from not only Italy and Greece. I had the San Remo's Prawns - generally a nice baked prawn dish with rice and veggies. Sheila had the chicken souvlaki, she left their's was OK, but that Eugene's did a better job.

I think they could use a menu revamp, there is more on the menu than there needs to be and I suspect the wide variety leads to a lower quality for everything. I one page good menu focused on a few very godo things would better. At the moment they have burgers, ribs and a steak sandwich on the menu - none of them are connected to the core food of the restaurant. The menu looks like has been expanded to appeal to people that might not want Greek/Italian food but are there with friends. Catering to them takes away from what the place can do well.

San Remo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tyee Article on Chickens

The Tyee has run an article about the idea of allowing backyard chickens in Vancouver. The comments are almost all negative on the site. If you have chickens, you may wish to post something about your experience there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Season 5 of Top Chef is Finished

I find that the quality of the contestants on the Bravo series Top Chef has been getting better and better with each season. In season one the quality of the Top Chef contestants was comparable to the ones on Hell's Kitchen. Now the Top Chef contestants are clearly of a much higher quality.

I am disappointed how season 5 finished. This is not to say that I thought the quality of the chefs are the end was not high enough, but how it played out was a denouement for me.

Stefan Richter was clearly the strongest person there. As of the 11th episode, he had won four elimination challenges and four quickfires. This was stronger even than Richard Blais in season four. He did do badly in in the elimination in week 10, his first weak week, but then seemed to have lost his fire and passion at the end.

The winner Hosea Rosenberg did well enough, but I could not get any sense in the series what his core passion in food was. He was generally good at what he did, but he felt middle of the pack and not Top Chef. He reminds me of Harold Dieterle (season 1 winner), Ilan Hall (season 2 winner) and Stephanie Izard(season 4 winner) - they are good but they are not great. Hosea does not feel like a visionary to me, I did not get a sense that he was destined to something greater. He wants to open his own restaurant, what the winners in seasons 1 and 3 have done.

Carla Hall impressed me, but it was clear that she lacks the confidence to trust herself when pushing for the top. She started the season middle of the pack but built up to a very strong finish. This is a woman I can see really melding classic French techniques with southern comfort foods. There is an inspiration there. She let herself be lead astray by Casey Thompson, the season 3 finalist she had as her sous chef in the finale.

The chefs that did not make the finale that impressed me were Fabio Vivani, Jamie Lauren and Ariane Duarte. Fabio probably should have gone to the final three instead of Stefan. Ariane looks to have suffered from the stress of the competition and let herself get derailed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Negative Reaction of Chickens in Vancouver

City Caucus has done an article on the issue of backyard chickens in Vancouver and come up with some negative comments on the idea.

From my experience, people do not even notice the chickens. My pen is only about 7 feet from the sidewalk and very people notice them.

I have now harvested enough eggs to have broken even on all my costs in this venture. I have hit 140 dozen eggs this week - a value of $490 to $700.

Urban Chicken Farming Course - and more....

The Juan de Fuca Rec Centre is offering a course on backyard chickens, here are the details:

This workshop will help you with choosing your chickens, what breed, chicks or chickens? and different suppliers. We will also talk about housing, feeding, general care & management, predators, chicken health and more.

There is an optional tour at the end of the course for $10 paid to the instructor. Date to be determined.

Text book included.
INSTRUCTOR: Melinda Seyler
Sa 9:00-12:00pm Mar 21-Apr 04 $77/3 50853


FYI Chicken and Bird Lovers!: An Urban chicken movie called "Mad City Chickens" :

6:30 pm Monday 13 April 2009
Mad City Chickens, 2008, 79 min
Witness if you will Gallus Domesticus... the backyard chicken. A mere few pounds of feather, bone, and muscle; a creature regarded by many as a rather humorous, though not so intelligent agent of food production. And yet make note of a most singular phenomenon now taking shape across suburb and city. From backyard eggs to the family's new favorite pet, the urban chicken is forging a fresh place in the pecking order of human importance.

Mad City Chickens deftly weaves multiple stories and contextual issues on city chickens and their keepers in a non-linear fashion that one rarely sees in a documentary. From leading experts to urban newbies, experience the humor and heart of what's fast becoming an international backyard chicken movement. the blog ~ about the director and view the director's cut or 5 min remake doll short cast: Deidra Edwards, Staci Lawrence, Ryan C. Benson, Elizabeth Sampson, Sonya Eddy

Our special guests will be Melinda Seyler, and a few of her feathered friends. Melinda is active with the Metchosin Farmers' Market. She who has a farm, Elysian Fields, in Metchosin, and has raised, kept, butchered, and shown birds of all kinds, both here and in the East Kootenays, and currently has chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, geese and emus. Melinda sells eggs, live birds and photographic products, mainly showing country life.

What’s in our regional food basket?

This is another interesting regional food event that I will not be able to make it to - this is the start of spring break and I would like to go somewhere with the family after all of the insanity of the last year to 18 months. If you do go, please drop me a line and let me know how it went.

Friday March 13, 2009
2:00 – 7:00 pm

Burnside Gorge Community Centre
471 Cecelia Road, Victoria

Parking available at the old Burnside Elementary School on Jutland Avenue

Registration - $15 cash or cheque only

Subsidies available upon request

RSVP by Monday March 9th to info@communitycouncil.ca or tel. 250-383-6166

2:00 – 4:00pm

Simultaneous afternoon workshops (please RSVP for your choice in advance)

* Year round public markets in BC’s Capital Region
  1. Plans for North Saanich
  2. FoodRoots expansion
  3. Possibilities for a downtown market

* Increasing access to food for households living on low income – two models of food distribution.
Brent Palmer, Mustard Seed Food Bank
* Hooking up! Potential in community-university partnerships on food issues


Welcome - Alice Finall, Mayor of North Saanich, on behalf of the CRD Board of Directors

Keynote speakers
  • Tom Henry, Metchosin farmer and author
  • Cheryl Bryce, traditional foods and land stewardship
  • Diane Bernard, The Seaweed Lady

  • Getting to know you - speed dating for Foodies and Friends - Bring your business cards!
  • Highlights of regional food security happenings – Thanks for submitting your photos!
  • Pot luck supper – We’ll provide the soup and salad; your favourite local dish adds to the flavour and fun
  • 2009 Food Security Champions Awards – presentations by Lana Popham. Remember to submit your nominations by March 5th
Don’t forget to bring:
  • A dish to share (optional), and
  • Some business cards
There will be space for displays – contact info@communitycouncil.ca or 250-383-6166 if your group is interested so we know how many tables to set up.

Funding support provided through:
Financial support for this project provided by Vancouver Island Health Authority's "Community Food Action Initiative" through ActNow BC - the government of BC's investment in promoting healthy choices through a partnership-based, community-focused approach to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce tobacco use.