Friday, January 29, 2010

Buying Vancouver Island Flour

I blogged about this in November but want to remind people that Eat Magazine had a series on growing grain on Vancouver Island. I applaud the people trying to do it, but I think they are economically foolhardy.

For Good Measure in Cadboro Bay has Vancouver Island flour for sale. Metchosin flour is $3.30 a kilo. This is milled at True Grain in Cowichan Bay. While this is all nice to be supporting local food production, the price is insane. This is three to four times what we pay for flour. We could not afford to bake if we were buying this flour.

We buy white, whole wheat, and durum flour in 10 kg sacks and go through it moderately quickly. We also buy cake and pastry flour though only about 3-5 kg at a time. We bake bread, biscuits, and make pasta. We go through a lot of flour.

There is another option out there for getting Island grain. Island Grains is a grain CSA. A CSA is community supported agriculture, you pay up front for a share of the harvest. You gain if things go well and you share the pain if things go bad. It is an innovative way to finance small market gardeners.

You can sign up for 2010 and should do so quickly if you are interested as there are only limited shares available. The fee is $195 and the estimate is that this will yield about 18 to 19 kilos. This implies a price per kilo of over $10 a kilo...... The crop will grown at Makaria Farm in Duncan.

Makaria Farm also operates a fruit and veg CSA for $465 for the season - 18 weeks or a full box every other week for $232.50.

Nick Versteeg on Food Security

As people that read this blog know, I am not a big supporter of the idea of food security because I do not believe the underlying assumptions are socially or economically correct.

That said, this should be a very interesting program to watch.

Victoria Community TV Presents:

Nick Versteeg on Food Security

On Shaw TV:
Channel 11 in Victoria and Saltspring Island

A talk on food security, food safety, genetic contamination, and the role of the corporations and the media in marketing the food we eat and influencing our food choices... Nick Versteeg specializes in video productions on food issues; his work has appeared widely on A&E, the CBC, History Channel, Discovery Channel, etc... It's a good talk.

Saturday, Jan 30 at 11 AM and 11:30 PM
Sunday, Jan 31 at 10 AM and 9 PM

Produced by Lazarus Productions
Many of our programs can be watched by googling the name of the speaker and 'vimeo'
OR google 'face to face with Jack Etkin' or the name of a guest.

Also, watch; Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 8:30 PM

Independent Community TV Victoria (ICTV) can be reached at

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spoons - Ordering the Prusa

I was at Spoons again Saturday morning for a meeting.

It is located at 2915 Douglas in the Super 8 motel at that location. This is the corner of Burnside and Douglas.

View Larger Map

The decor has changed a bit. they have been painting over all the graffiti as it was getting too messy and people were writing inappropriate things for kids to read. Other than that it is still the nicely laid back restaurant I have come to know.

I mainly want to write about the Prusa on the menu:

The Prusa Whatever the kitchen feels like making for ya. your only input is a choice of breakfast yummy or lunch yummy, vegetarian or not and sweet or savoury. $10. feelin’ lucky? we’ll flip you for it, double or win, it’s free. you lose, it’ll cost ya $20.
I went for it ordering a savory breakfast with meat. What I got was a large plate with a quesadilla filled with an omelet, cheese and chorizo. It was more than I could eat. It was more than enough for two. It was also very well executed. Yes, this was better than something I could have done at home.

I have no idea what prusa means and I did not get around to asking. Looking it up on the internet, the best I can figure is that is somehow related to the name of someone connected to the restaurant.

Most good breakfast/brunch places are packed on weekends. Even mediocre ones are full and have line ups. Spoons does not. It can not be because of the food, I suspect it is because it is not close to downtown. I also think fewer people know about it than should know. I wish the owners lots of success, but I hate to wait to eat in the morning so I hope they do not get too busy.

In my opinion, Spoons is one of the best restaurants north of Downtown.

No place is perfect, my one complaint is with the coffee. It is weakly brewed coffee and they highlights bitter flavours and does not allow for any full bodied flavour. If they invested in an espresso machine, they would be close to perfect.

Spoons Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

John's Place

Last night we went to dinner at John's Place. It has been close to four years since I last went there for dinner, I should have been back earlier as the food is good.

John's Place has been around since October 1984 and I spent many a dinner there while at university. There was one time in 1988 that a friend and I went in for a late lunch followed by some beer followed by dinner followed by more beer. We did not have the cash on us for an all day and evening session there, but John gave us credit.

Since I have been back in Victoria, I have only been there a handful of times.

The restaurant makes their own bread. Their onion rings are all made on site, no frozen pre-cooked ones going on here. There is an attention to detail with the food here that is lacking in most restaurants in this town.

I had the bacon cheese burger. The bun was fresh, the patty was hand formed, the bacon was high quality and perfectly cooked, and they offered me the choice of three cheeses. The fries that came with it were well done as was the gravy.

We started with the onion rings, they were amazing as always, though last night I think the fryer as not quite hot enough as they were greasier than I had expected.

We finished with desert, my cheesecake was well done and huge for what it was but it is not the style I like. Sheila had the apple pie. I love their apple pie. It has a good crust, a nice tang and the fruit still has substance.

John's is a diner like environment, they even have the jukebox - 9 songs for a toonie. It was an atmosphere that made us feel comfortable having Max there, even if he got loud it was not a big deal.

We will be going back sooner rather than later. Though I am not going to go and stand in line for the weekend brunch, that is one meal I hate to wait for no matter how good it is.

View Larger Map

Johns Place on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 22, 2010

Szechuan City Restaurant

We went to the buffet at the corner of Burnside and Harriet. This was once the best buffet going. When it re-opened after being closed for months, it was rather mediocre. This week they were a bit better than before, but still a long way short of what had been their standard. The buffet was very short of any veggies. The squid and scallops were overcooked beyond belief. Some of the food looked like it had been out for hours.

I suspect we will go back, but a lot less often than in the past.

Szechuan City Buffet on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cactus Club Cafe - Broadway and Ash

So, in a shocking turn for us, I am writing about a chain restaurant - and it is going to be good things! The world may be winding down anytime now.

We were in Vancouver on the weekend for a meeting my husband had and when it ended we chose the Cactus Club Cafe. This was largely because it was right there, the sushi place down the road had bad reviews on Urban Spoon. Also our 18 month old was getting hungry (and trust me that is one appetite we all must bow before!)

What a delightful accident it turned out to be. The decor was modern with a bit of kitsch but comfortable and not too noisy given a very full house. The service was very attentive and timely. They accommodated our 18 month old very nicely and they had proper changing facilities which is so much nicer than changing a diaper on the floor of a public restroom!

Between my husband and I we sampled the Tuna Tataki, the Ravioli starter, the Ravioli main, the braised short rib sandwich and the apple gallette. Everything was very tasty with good presentation and reasonable portions. The highlight however, by far, was the Ravioli. The starter one comes with prawns and I had the main without scallops. Both come with pine nuts, crispy sage and a buerre blanc sauce that rock our socks. Rich and creamy but with enough acid to be bright in our mouths. This sauce was a glorious blend of flavour, one of those moments when the sum of the ingredients truly exceeded the parts. They came together seamlessly, in fact we struggled to try to discern the parts and have been working at it ever since.

Though not cheap this meal had sufficient bang for the buck and I would go back as there were other things that caught my eye and I would like to try. Though the struggle will be not having that glorious ravioli EVERYTIME!

Cactus Club Cafe Broadway and Ash on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Devour Restaurant in Victoria

Rumour has it that Devour on Broughton is supposed be a great place to eat. I have not been there yet, but I hope to get there shortly and report on it.

Anyone that has been there, please drop me a line with your thoughts on it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Madrona Farm Fundraiser

I got this from Iambic Cafe.

Madrona Farm Benefit: a Grand Old Shindig(Co-sponsored by Share Organics)
Saturday January 9th, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
The Orange Hall, 1620 Fernwood Road.
Price: $20 regular / $15 for the underemployed. All proceeds donated to Madrona Farm and the B.C. Land Conservancy.

Performers: Poets Lorna Crozier, Tim Lilburn, Carla Hesketh/Funk, and Melanie Seibert; Flamenco Guitarist Gareth Owen & Alma de EspaƱa; Island Thyme Morris Dancers; The Rabbleberries; and the Great Giffoni, Magician.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kuku's Buffet will not open

I got some take away from Kuku's the other night and asked the owner about the status of the buffet. He said it cost him $8000 in the permitting process, but that Saanich was now requiring about $60 000 worth of renovations to the building for him to open the buffet. He said at that price he is not going forward, I do not blame him as restaurants are more often money losers and not money makers.

The owner did say that he was looking for a restaurant space that needs no changes. If/when he finds this he will consider opening the buffet there.