Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2% Jazz on Douglas

I bank at the corner of Douglas, Hillside and Government and it is a wasteland for any sort of local places to hang out, the only thing nearby is 2% Jazz Espresso.  I get a coffee from them from time to time, but almost always to go and therefore I have rarely spent any length of time inside.  Recently Sheila and I decided to sit and drink out coffees in the cafe - I was not impressed.

I hate to be negative about a local indepedent coffee place, but there is just something not quite right about 2% Jazz Espresso for me. What it comes down to is that the place always looks not quite clean and much of the counters, floors, and walls look worn and not looked after.  Stuff is stacked onto cardboard boxes, grime on the bottom of counters is not cleaned, and more small details that should be looked after.

I also wonder about their attention to food safety - the cooler with the sandwiches looks dodgy, it is weeping water from the frozen coils onto the food. Starbucks may be bland, but at least they pay attention to the details in the store.

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In general I have had good coffee from there, they seem to know what they are doing with that, but it does not make up for the unease I feel at the lack of attention to detail. One thing that surprises me is that they own a Clover and do not use it. I think about going in and offering them money to take it off their hands so that I can use it at home, but I suspect it would still be too expensive for me.

Based on other reviews, my opinion would likely be more favourable if I regularly went there, the staff seem to be the type that would know you personally if you are a regular. But I am not a regular, I only go there when I have been to the bank and want a coffee.

I am much more likely to go to Starbucks than here, which is a shame because I like to go to local coffee establishments.  My hope is that things improve and I am impressed in the future, if that happens, I will replace this review.

2% Jazz Espresso on Urbanspoon

Anne Cirrillo's Tomato Sauce is available

My friend and neighbour is making her great pasta sauce again. It is made is small batches and worth checking out. Her is the email note she sent me (and others)


Hello Everyone and Happy Spring!

I'm making a batch of sauce and kneading bread and pizza doughs!

Let me know if you'd like to order. I will be delivering early next week.

Cirillo's Italian Cuisine
My grandparents, Joseph and Elgesera Cirillo emigrated from Calabria, Italy with their five children to Ontario, Canada in the late 1950's. Together they opened Cirillo's Italian Restaurant’. My grandmother became famous for her traditional Italian cuisine, especially her tomato sauce. It is my honour to continue the family tradition of making delicious Italian foods.

Tomato Sauce - Tomato sauce comes canned in glass jars
· 1 Litre $12
· 1/2 Litre $7

Herbed Italian Bread Dough - Make fresh Italian Bread with your pasta dinner!
$3 per loaf (Bread dough comes frozen, shaped in a loaf and ready to thaw and bake)

Pizza Dough - Pizza dough and side baggie of sauce come frozen

· Small dough $3 (makes one - 13 X 13 inch medium pizza)

· Large dough $5 (makes one very large pizza)

Love and Blessings,



Monday, April 26, 2010

Beacon Drive Inn

The other day we wanted to go for a walk with Max in Beacon Hill park and wanted to get some food for dinner so we stopped at the Beacon Drive In.

The Drive in, which does not offer drive in service any longer, I believe first opened in early 1850, shortly after Fort Victoria was built.   Do not quote me on that, but it has been there for many, many years.  What it is really known for is soft serve ice cream, not their food.   I know this, but still we went to eat there.

I had the prawn burger, I never had it before and it was appalling.   All it was, was six deep fried prawns on a burger bun.   They were greasy, as were the onion rings.   They were also clearly frozen prawns and not fresh ones that they battered themselves.   The one good part of my meal was the cherry shake.

Sheila had a burger and fries.   The burger was generic and bland, but the fries were disgustingly greasy.   There was a pool of oil at the bottom of the basket.   This says to me that the temperature of the oil was too low when they put in the frozen fries.

On our way down I had a fleeting thought that we should go to Red Fish, Blue Fish on the inner harbour.  I could have had a fish taco.

What I wish the Beacon Drive in was is something like Dick's Drive In in Seattle, but it is not.

In the future, ice cream and shakes only for me.

On a quick note, about four years ago I asked Sheila to go out to dinner and movie with me, though what I did was not the typical.  I signed us up to be extras on a movie called "The Party Never Stops, Diary of  a Binge Drinker".  The Beacon Drive In was being used as the set so we ate from Craft Services and not from the drive in.

Beacon Drive In on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lana Popham Introduces a Private Motion on Food Security

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South and owner of the Barking Dog Winery.  She has introduced a private members bill into the legislature called for debate on FOOD SECURITY AND PRODUCTION PLAN FOR B.C.

I am curious to see where this will go and what might come of it.   Lana uses as a reference the 2006 BC's Food Self-Reliance report from the Ministry of Agriculture, which is something I had not seen before and will have to read through.  

Food security is a big buzz word at the moment and it is sold as we need to be prepared in the case of disaster or high fuel prices to grow food locally.   I am not convinced of either one.  

In the case of a disaster there has been no case I know of where a 1st world city has had to go more than a few days without new sources of food being available.   Frankly a few days may not have occurred either.  The public can manage to go a week with the food in their homes, it is a rare person that does not have pasta, rice, canned tuna or whatever in their kitchen that would last that long.

The idea that fuel prices will go high enough to have an impact on the cost of food large enough is unrealistic to ever happen.   Should fossil fuel prices rise high enough, there are other energy sources for transport that can and will step in.   We use oil because it is cheap, not because we want to.  In any case, the price of food as a portion of our incomes is very low, a price rise will not have a major impact.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Suzi's in the Square

Today I was walking back to my car at the Yates Street parkade through Bastion sqare and saw "Suzi's in the Square" tucked off to the side. I have been called "Suzi" by my sister for as long as I remember so I was drawn in - I hadn't known I had a cafe!

I am glad I was draw. You follow a slightly winding course in to a small cafe with warm, simple decor and a few tables inside and out. Ordering is at the register and you have several good options for breakfast or lunch.

I had the "Secret Garden" wrap. I had my choice of white or whole wheat wrap (whole wheat for me) and it was stuffednicely with hummous and a good variety of excellent quality vegetables. No wilty lettuce or squishy cucumbers. Topped with a Sesame Ginger vinegrette (made in house, as is the hummous)it was a nicely sized wrap at a reasonalbe price.

They have a good sized selection of interesting looking sandwiches and burgers as well as baked goods. There was a big brownie with lots of walnuts that I will one day let myself get - and hope it is as good as it looks.

Overall "Suzi's" offers everything I think a cafe should - comfort, ease, and fresh ingredients with lots of house made things.

Wind your way down to "Suzi's in the Square" and give it a try. I will remember it as a great place to go right in the heart of downtown!


Gardeners look to public land for food production

I find this idea interesting and would love to see more of it happen.   The public should be making more use of useless grass areas.   In the case of UVic, last time I checked, the lawns in the centre of the campus were in heavy use.

By Keith Vass - Victoria News
Published: April 13, 2010 11:00 AM
More carrots, cabbage and kale could sprout in parks, vacant lots and boulevards in Victoria if a coalition of local groups gets its way.
The Dogwood Initiative is teaming up with Lifecycles and Transition Towns to recruit volunteers interested in creating community gardens in a movement they've dubbed the Reclaim the Commons Robin Hood Gardening Initiative.
"This is about making sure that every parent that lives in this city can afford to feed their kids breakfast before they go to school in the morning," said the Dogwood Initiative's Gordon O'Connor.
Guerilla gardeners have made headlines in recent weeks by digging plots on the University of Victoria campus without permission.
The Dogwood Initiative has been involved in some confrontational protests in the past, from a running battle with the Royal Canadian Mint over stickers on loonies to a recent apology for using live chickens in a protest at Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong's office.
But O'Connor said the approach on this project will be co-operative, working with city staff to get official support before any shovels go in the ground.
"Victoria has some very progressive community gardening policies and we intend to take them up on their offer and start planting."
While the City of Victoria isn't the only Capital Region municipality that has policies to foster community gardens on public land – Saanich does as well – O'Connor said the group will start there and approach other municipalities later.
Victoria parks director Kate Friars said the door is open to working with any community group interested in starting and maintaining gardens on any city-owned piece of land.
The city has received a lot of enquiries about planting food on boulevards, and has granted specific permissions to some property owners to plant vegetables on boulevards fronting their homes.
But a policy on boulevard gardens is going to have to wait while the city completes a review of its maintenance program for the roadside strips.
"It's on our workplan, we know we need to get down to getting on with it," said Friars.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CR-FAIR food security roundtable

I got this in my inbox recently

The next CR-FAIR food security roundtable will be held in Saanich – April 26
at the Learning Centre (Annex Building) next to Saanich Municipal Hall, 770 Vernon Avenue
Meeting details:
When: Monday 26 April, 11:00am to 1:00pm
Where: Learning Centre (Annex Building) next to Saanich Municipal Hall
It is a small flat roofed building to the left of the hall if you are in the back parking lot.
Entrance on Vernon Ave. 770 Vernon Avenue. 
Please RSVP to

Food security roundtable meetings are an informal forum for networking and exchange of information on issues and projects related to food security and sustainable food systems, and usually last 1 to 1.5 hours.
We look forward to seeing you on the 26th. If your group is interested in hosting an upcoming food security roundtable meeting, please contact Mary Katharine at or 250-383-6166 ext 100.
Check out this and other food-related events on the new CR-FAIR regional food events calendar.

Dinner last night

So I made the beurre blanc las night and it worked! The only problem was that I had a sweet white wine and not a dry white wine so it was not as acidic as I would have liked.

I also played around with the pasta extruder, we bought one some months back as an add on to our Kitchenaid stand mixer. So far it has made decent macaroni, but it sucks for flat noodles. I tried the linguine one and the noodles were too brittle and broke up. I am going to stick to the rollers for the flat pasta from now on.

The veggies were braised in balsamic vinegar and some butter. I had peppers, carrots and onions in the pot. They worked perfectly coming out al dente with a nice think and rich balsamic sauce.

I promised a picture, but the evening was nuts and we were all eating by the time I thought to take a picture.

The odds of me making the beurre blanc again are very high, but the calories in it are very, very high. I am going to try and make some of the other classic French sauces over the next month or two, it is something I should have learned long ago and have never done. I have to admit I was inspired to do this after watching Julie and Julia the other night. I will blog on the movie ( and other food movies) later, all I will say now is that it was about what I expected.

Here is the beurre blanc recipe I used:

Butter is essentially a smooth mixture of fat and water. The secret to making beurre blanc is to preserve its makeup by allowing each addition of butter to melt smoothly into the sauce, as you whisk it, before adding the next piece of butter. Also, never let the sauce come to a boil once the butter is added; that will cause it to separate. Some restaurant cooks add a little heavy cream to the wine reduction before whisking in the butter, to ensure a smooth and stable sauce. This recipe is based on one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1977).
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter (24 tbsp.),
  • cut into chunks
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. minced shallots
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  1. Have butter ready. Bring wine and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan; add shallots, salt, and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer; cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. (There should be about 1 1⁄2 tbsp. liquid left. If reduced too far, add 1 tbsp. water to remoisten.)
  2. Remove pan from heat; whisk 2 pieces of butter into the reduction. Set pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into sauce a chunk at a time, allowing each piece to melt into sauce before adding more.
  3. Remove sauce from heat; whisk in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Serve with fish, poultry, or vegetables.

Program for low income people on the Westshore to garden

There is a program out on the Westshore called Gardening Neighbours. The program pairs experienced veggie gardeners with people that want to learn. There was a good article in the Goldstream Gazette about it.

The application deadline has been shifted to April 23rd, it originally was April 12th. More details are available at the Westshore Harvest website.

By Amy Dove - Goldstream News Gazette

Project connects green thumbs with ‘brown thumbs’

Terrie Barnhard’s backyard is a testament to resourceful gardening.

Her compost bins are reconstructed pallets sourced from local hardware stores. Shelves near the work bench came from a wooden crate used to transport a fridge. Inside, this year’s beans and eggplants are sprouting in milk cartons.

“It’s all fun. It’s just live and learn,” Barnhard says. “I’m still in awe of all of it. This is all new.”

None of it would have happened without the guidance from the Gardening Neighbours program, she says. The Langford resident was one of 15 people paired with a garden mentor and walked through the 2009 growing season. The free program, through Capital Families Association, helps people plan, plant and harvest a garden. Supplies from seeds to trowels are included.

A larger grant from The Victoria Foundation has doubled the spaces this year, allowing for 30 individuals or families. The focus is on helping those with limited income or living in subsidized housing and senior’s complexes, says co-ordinator Cindy MacDonald. Experience is not required and gardens can be tailored to fit in backyards or on patios.

“The tricky part is how to grow what and where, and that’s what we offer people,” she says. “There is no better food than your own. It’s good for so many reasons and it’s not that hard.”

The program builds a network of support, with last year’s group starting a newsletter to share tips and news. They were able to draw inspiration from what other people were doing too, Barnhard says.

“When we went to other gardens, you kind of take note of what people use,” she adds. She now has packages of seeds, some of which will be a surprise when they grow, from different people.

“I have never seen red sunflowers,” she says, glancing down at her pots. “Let’s hope I haven’t killed them yet! You don’t see the humor in it until you are actually doing it.”

The program is expanding this year to include a “fee-for- service” program. Gardeners who don’t meet the criteria for Gardening Neighbours, but could use a little help, can receive a personal garden plan, seeds and three mentor visits for $200. Two workshops are also open to the public May 8 and June 26 for $10 each.

For more information or to get an application for Gardening Neighbours, e-mail Capital Families Association WestShore Harvest co-ordintor Jennifer Girard at or go to Applications are due April 12.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dinner tonight - grilled chicken breats with a buerre blanc sauce and fresh pasta

I am going to try again to make a buerre blanc, the last time I screwed up royally by not understanding the directions. Since I had that amazing buerre blanc at the Cactus Club, I have wanted to make it.

I will grill some chicken breasts on the BBQ and make some fresh linguine. I am thinking slow roasted peppers and tomatoes.

I will take a picture and report on who well it went, or did not.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

UVic Students - Food versus Lawns

Recently some student activists at UVic has started to rip up lawn with the intent to plant a garden. Their intent is to be lauded, but their actions make no sense to me because their plan to grow food is doomed to failure and they have harmed the cause they say the support.

  • Having any sort of veggie garden in the middle is a lost cause as long as there are the rabbits. Nothing will grow.
  • Who will tend this garden? A veggie garden takes work. It is this need for work that is the primary reason most people do not grow a garden for food. The amount of work you put in does not equal what you get out of it for most people.
  • The garden is in a location that will be subject to on going vandalism by students.

The action by the activists was clearly a stunt to attract attention. They got the attention, but it also has dramatically damaged their reputation for being serious about the issue. Confrontation with a university that is willing to sit down and talk about things is a bad idea.

It is not like UVic does not have veggie garden space on campus. About 1/3 of an acre is being used at the moment. The garden looks like it will be moving to a larger location at UVic. It is also interesting to note that the people behind the campus community garden are not part of the people protesting.

In one stupid publicity stunt, the protesters have dramatically harmed the cause of food production at UVic. Everyone involved with growing on campus will now be connected with people that destroyed part of the campus. The people actually working on the community garden are going to have spend a lot of time and energy on rebuilding their relationship with the university administration.