RYU High Tech Fitness Wear

RYU – Made By Athletes For Althetes

What’s Canadian and rhymes with “You”? Well RYU active wear of course, a new brand that takes athletic technology to the next level.

I first experienced RYU in bag form with their Daily Duffle, billed as “The Gym Bag, Reinvented”, which keeps its shape whether empty or full and opens wide for easy access. It’s surprisingly roomy, given the small size and there’s even an external zippered pocket to put frequently used items in and four internal pockets to organize all that stuff.

ryu duffel

RYU stands for “Respect Your Universe” and there are lots of recycled elements used in production, even coffee grinds which enable the material to dry faster.


As I ramp up my running this fall I’m going to invest in their functional sports bras, some outer ware and perhaps a pair or two of the  TriLayr™ hi-rise fit toughtights that wrap around the waistband for 360° core support. At the moment things are jumping around too much and I need too must adjusting, which completely distracts me from my speed training, as I’m sure you’d imagine! Plus I’m told the bacteriostatic carbon mesh lined diamond gusset will allow me to go commando. Don’t look too closely please as I run by, but then again, I’m likely going to be going too fast for you to determine what’s on under there.

Find the storefront at 1745 West 4th, Vancouver or online.

Please not these are not pictures of me. I’ll get there soon though. :o) Happy sprucing up y’all!

Slow Fish – Slowing Down To Enjoy Sustainable Food

Chef’s Table Society Presents Slow Fish in the Kitchens of PICA

The Slow Food movement includes food from the land and also food from the Ocean. It’s a little more difficult to see the state of the sea and what lies beneath, but it’s equally important. For the third year a group of chefs from the Chef’s Table Society and sustainable seafood suppliers band together in Vancouver to present a Slow Fish Dinner, and this September 8 chefs cooked in 8 kitchens and paired their dishes all with salmon-safe local wines to raise awareness of the seafood we should be consuming more of if we want to save our seas.

Slow Fish PICA

Slow Fish PICA

Canapés Prepared by the students of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

dogwood brewing

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has produced some of the best chefs in the city, and they cook along side the chefs and create the canapes for the evening. Dogwood Honey Lager was on tap for those interested in sampling some uber-local beer.

Chef Lisa Ahier Sobo

Chef Lisa Ahier SoboChef Lisa Ahier, SoBo Restaurant Tofino with her Gooseneck Barnacles, Fennel juice, Sweet Cipollini onions and Nanoose Garlic Chef Karen Barnaby

Chef Karen Barnaby

Chef Karen Barnaby, Albion Farms & Fisheries Pastrami Cured Pacific Provider Wild Salmon with fermented Brussels’ Sprouts

Chef Ned Bell

Chef Ned Bell Slow Fish

Chef Ned Bell, Ocean Wise/Vancouver Aquarium Humpback Shrimps Crudo, Late Summer Squash, Citrus and Sprouted Grains

Chef Sean Cousins Vancouver Club

Chef Sean Cousins Vancouver Club

Chef Sean Cousins, The Vancouver Club “Popcorn” Butter Poached Northern Divine Sturgeon, Caramelized Apples, Lovage Crust

Chef Meeru Dhalwala

Chef Meeru Dhalwala Slow Fish

Chef Meeru Dhalwala, Vij’s and Rangoli Spiced and Seared Ling Cod with Creamy Bengaly Curry

Chef Bruno Feldeisen

Chef Bruno Feldeisen

Chef Bruno Feldeisen, Semiahmoo Resort Geoduck, Charred Corn & Peach Salad, Avocado, Yuzu Olive Oil Emulsion

Chef Roger Ma Boulevard

Chef Roger Ma Boulevard

Chef Roger Ma, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Grilled Pacific Octopus, Heirloom Tomatoes, Puffed Quinoa, Lovage Mayonnaise

Chef Thompson Tran

Chef Thompson Tran  Chef Thompson Tran, The Wooden Boat Confit Kissed Honey Mussels, Vietnamese Roasted Peanuts, Scallion Butter Bella Gellateria

James Coleridge, Bella Gelateria Sorbet and gelato

Culmina Wine

Culmina Wine

Culmina Family Estate Winery

Haywire Winery

Haywire Okanagan Crush Pad

Inniskillin Wineries and Jackson Triggs Estate Wines

Kalala Winery

Kalala Organic Estate Winery

Sage Hills

Sage Hills Estate Winery

Seven Stones Winery

Tinhorn Creek

Tinhorn Creek Winery

Cultus Lake Park and Marina

Summer’s Not Quite Over Yet at Cultus Lake Park and Marina

One hour east of Vancouver BC, just south of Chilliwack you’ll find a ton of outdoor activities, camping and watersports and it’s still not too late to have some fun in the sun this season . Cultus Lake offers restaurants, golfing, sport fishery, water sports and more!

cultus lake

While our crew ventured out a little earlier in the year, the Cultus Lake Marina is still open for boat and jet ski rentals, and the camp grounds are busy with shoulder season campers. In fact it’s better in the Fall as the crowds have died down and you get the lake almost to yourself.

cultus lake

Book on line to reserve your rental and get out there a little early to fill in your forms and get a safety lesson on the equipment and how to use it. The crew is super friendly and be sure to ask all the questions and get comfortable before hitting the water.


Remember that to turn a boat you have to accelerate; I forgot this and the first thing I did was cruise into another boat. Don’t make that mistake. Other than that it was a super fun ride and a few of us even jumped into the lake for a swim. Back at the marina I even jumped aboard jet ski for a ride!

cultus lake

We enjoyed a great BBQ at the marina, but there’s also restaurants in the area and the amusement parks can keep kids of any age busy.

Oakland’s Urban Wine Trail

Visit Oakland Where Wines Aren’t Always Among the Vines

Heading to California and looking for some wine tasting? There’s no need to venture right into the vineyards of Napa or Sonoma, (although we wouldn’t frown upon that) instead hit the new urban wine trail right around Oakland. Oakland’s a quick jaunt from the San Francisco Airport and the trail is even easily bike-able! I ventured down to California this spring and have the scoop on this hip destination.



You’ll want to check yourself into the Waterfront Hotel Oakland in Jack London Square, the only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront in the East Bay. The hotel has a nostalgic nautical theme and is right on the water with views of passing boats and kayaks. The Square is home to excellent restaurants and retail as well as the weekly farmers market which I was lucky enough to catch.



Book ahead to ensure you’ve got a spot on the East Bay Winery Bike Tours, the experts in the area. They arrived at the hotel with bikes in tow and guided us through the streets to three very different tasting rooms. The tour owner’s wife had even baked some fresh Foccacia for us to enjoy along the way; first class treatment.


First up was Dashe, Oakland’s largest working winery where winemaker Michael Dashe showed off their impressive Grencahe Blanc, Carignane and  and Zinfandel in a rather spacious winery room.


Next we ventured to Urban Legends Cellar Door, a bustling barrel-filled space where owners Marilee and Steve Shaffer greeted us with sensational Rhone varieties, and a stellar Pinot Noir and Italian Dolcetto.


Cycling on to Rosenblum back at Jack London Square we delved further into their food-friendly Zinfandels served up with a lovely cheese and charcuterie plate. And this, all is one afternoon.




We arrived in time for lunch in the Square and choose Bocanova, a seaside spot with an excellent patio and Latin-inspired Fare. The ceviches were superb, duck tacos divine and the Pork Cubano sandwich crunchy, moist and chock full of chorizo, pork, emmentaler and pickled peppers. We had some issues over ownership of the warm croissant bread pudding with Mexican Chocolate ice cream, but we resolved them by ordering a second.


Dinner was also in the square at Haven, a more formal spot with prixe fixe menus that began with a bread, veggie and charcuterie plate that haunts me with its greatness to this day. With pickled veggies, chicken liver mousse, pastrami, a pork terrine, fava-bean fritters and more, this “Breaking Bread” course, as they called it, set the stage for a superb meal.


Continuing on the meat theme, we shared a foie gras dish strewn with pickled green strawberries, a delightful pork belly, asparagus complete with a decadent sauce, a prime-aged rib-eye, a deliciously moist fish dish with with it’ perfectly crisp skin and even managed a chocolate dessert served with ice cream. Had we had another night in town we would have returned. Excellent service, wonderful wine list and cozy but sleek atmosphere all bonuses.

Oakland Farmers MarketOakland Farmers MarketOakland Farmers Market

Farmers Market

The following day my flight back to Vancouver wasn’t until late afternoon so I lingered aboutand caught the farmers market, complete with a chicken roaster, fresh oranges and plenty of sweet treats.

Shrimp N Grits

Brunch was a plate of shrimp at Grits at Brix 581, a spot that looked like it would be hopping at night, and showed signs of action at brunch.


The rain started just as I was leaving so my farewell to California was less painful, but as I write this I am already planning my next adventure there.

Nourish Your Inner Brit For The Royal Visit

The Royals Are Coming – Celebrate Regally

Pinkies up people, the time has come for some afternoon tea, perhaps some fish n’ chips or a proper sausage roll, in honour of the royal couple, and their visit to town. Prince William and Kate will be in town on Sunday, September 25, 2016 and we’d love to know where they are staying, and exactly what they are doing, but alas it’s as top secret as 007. There are, however, some British-themed activities you could choose to partake in this weekend to nourish your inner Brit.

high tea

Tea at The Wedgewood

This is a must for anyone who enjoys a good afternoon tea, the sandwiches and service are top notch and the scones have been baked with all the butter in the pantry. Go for the Royal Afternoon Tea and add a Kir Royal. Menu. So good I’m having my birthday here this year.


The London Hotel

The Loden Hotel is so into the visit that they’ve re-branded themselves as The London Hotel for the duration of the stay.  Out front, a red carpet will welcome hotel guests and for the duration of Will and Kate’s visit, there shall be Elevenses in the lobby. The British flag will be draped from the lobby walls, and guests are invited to pose for a Royal selfie with a life-sized cutout of Will and Kate. I’m getting a sneak peak so will advise shortly.

Each day during the Royal visit, from 11am to 2pm, polite conversation will be made about the weather and pinky fingers will be extended over hot cups of TWG Tea and proper British biscuits. When it comes to bedtime, knackered guests can embrace their inner Brit by requesting a London turndown service, which includes a room with a touch of British décor, a souvenir Brown Betty teapot, British TWG Tea and English sweets.

mad brit

Home on The Range Organics

Home to the original homemade Mad Brit Sausages, Home on The Range Organics at 235 East Broadway, just east of Main, is throwing a British Bash with sausage samples, specials on Mad-Brit Sausage Rolls, bone broth samples and many other treats fit for royalty. Owners Allen and Jackie Ingram, native Brits themselves, expect the Royals may stop in at some point if they get a bit of homesickness, and suggest they, and you, bring in the kids. Sport British colours for extra points. Saturday and Sunday.

high tea

the diner

The Diner

Nothing fancy to see here, but this diner is more than full of British memorabilia and serves up a proper English Breakfast and some pretty descent Fish n’ Chips, should you be in the market for something reminiscent of small town England. Friendly service, and steak and kidney pie are just some of the reasons the Royal couple and you, should head to Point Grey this weekend or any other time. It’s been here for fifty years! 4556 West 10th.

What’s Good This Week? – Sept 21

Events in and Around Vancouver

Fall is coming fast here in Vancouver, and there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate the harvest!

old fashioned

Old Fashioned Wednesday at Prohibition

Cozy up at Prohibition to celebrate one of the world’s most famous whiskey cocktails, the Old Fashioned, every Wednesday between now and November 23. Each week, both traditional and creative interpretations of the classic cocktail will be on special for $10 CDN, alongside live bluegrass music and all-American food features such as wings and truffle fries.

Two feature Old Fashioned cocktails will be on special every week, showcasing bourbons from Collingwood, Woodford, Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniels 150th anniversary edition. Special cocktails include the World’s Best Bourbon Old Fashioned with Woodford Bourbon, gomme, Angostura Bitters, lemon and orange swath and Hoshizake ice cubes; and the Inception Old Fashioned, inspired by Prohibition’s signature Inception Negroni. Wednesday (8:30pm until 12:30am) 604.673.7088 or visit prohibitionrhg.com

Sour Days of Summer arrive at The Blackbird on September 22nd

For craft beer fans, sour beers will remembered as the taste of summer 2016.  Whether the sours were lambics, goses, wild yeast-fermented ales, or sour fruit beers, these tart brews were the must-drink beers of the year.

The Blackbird Public House will bring this delicious summer to a close with “Sour Days of Summer”, a celebration of sour beers, on September 22nd.  Breweries like Parallel 49, Phillips, Driftwood, Fuggles & Warlock, and Moody Ales will be on hand pouring their signature sour beers this one night only event. Each $30 ticket includes  a 4oz sample of each sour beer being poured. Full pints will also be available for purchase while quantities last.

The sour beers start pouring at 6:00PM and the event runs until 9:00PM when the last sour days of summer come to an end. Tickets for this event are available at www.eventbrite.com www.donnellygroup.com


Sunday Supper Series at La Pentola – September 25

Forest floors are sprouting beautiful mushrooms and we can’t get enough of them. Join La Pentola for their supper series featuring a multitude of locally foraged fungi and a local Venison. Chef Travis McCord and his team will feature a BC raised deer and some super interesting creations using giant puff ball mushroom, colorful lobster mushroom and the delicate cauliflower mushroom. Imagine the richness of a sausage stuffed Quail, a mouth watering agnolotti with cacao and marsala butter, braised wild boar belly, a gargonelli with rabbit and pancetta ragu and venison neck agnolotti. The feast is paired with medium to hearty wines from Spain, Portugal and Northern Italy. $65 per person. $45 for wine pairing Call 604.642.0557   

high tea

High Tea On The High Seas With Pacific Yacht Charters – Sunday, September 25, 2016    12:30pm and 4:00pm seatings

Join Pacific Yacht Charters for an elegant afternoon aboard the Pacific Yacht to celebrate the Vancouver visit of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Sip Prosecco, or the Queen’s favourite – Gin on the Rocks – and enjoy traditional Dockside High Tea fare prepared by Pacific Yacht Charters Executive Chef Mardy Ra and team.  Savoury and sweet delights await including tea sandwiches, devilled eggs, roast mushroom pastries and a selection of dainty freshly baked pastries. It’s a chance to bring out your fancy hats, fascinators, Morning coat  or even your kilt and sporran. $75.00 per person – Seatings available at 12:30pm or 4:00pm

Includes: High Tea delights, one glass of Prosecco or sherry, live streaming video of the Royal Visit events in Vancouver, entertainment, and more celebrations!

Reservations required. Please call Carisa, Pacific Yacht Charters, at 604-689-1227 or email info@pacficyachtcharters.com


Fancy a Cuppa? Elevenses served in Loden lobby September 24 to October 1

The Loden Hotel will raise a teacup and adopt the oh-so-British tradition of Elevenses in the lobby from Sept. 14-Oct. 1. Bunting sporting the British flag will be draped from the lobby walls, and guests are invited to pose for a Royal selfie with a life-sized cutout of Will and Kate.

Each day during the Royal visit, from 11am to 2pm, polite conversation will be made about the weather and pinky fingers will be extended over hot cups of TWG Tea and proper British biscuits. When it comes to bedtime, knackered guests can embrace their inner Brit by requesting a London turndown service, which includes a room with a touch of British décor, a souvenir Brown Betty teapot, British TWG Tea and English sweets.


Feast on the Fraser Sept 23 Opening Night

Feast on the Fraser is kicking off on September 23rd, 2016 in the River Market! For only $45 you can get a taste of the next 9 days to come – including food from Wild Rice Bistro, El Santo, Longtail Kitchen, MATCH Eatery, Tre Galli, and your choice of a drink from Steel & Oak or Pacific Breeze Winery. With delicious food, drinks, and live entertainment, this night is a mini Feast on the Fraser under one roof!

Feast on the Fraser is a 10 day culinary experience showcasing the Best in New Westminster’s food, culture, arts, and entertainment. For more information visit www.feastonthefraser.com. This event is brought to you by Tourism New Westminster and flavoured by the Fraser Valley.

Lidia Bastianich An Inspiration and A Gala Guest

Lidia Bastianich Visits Vancouver – Honoured at Les Dames d’Escoffier Gala

If memory serves me right, Lidia Bastianich, the Italian-born American restaurateur, cookbook author and television host, last visited Vancouver in 2013 with her newest book at the time, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking. This is in fact, exactly how Bastianich presents herself, as a person with a lot of common sense, one who worked so very hard to get to where she is today, because, well, that’s just what one does.

lidia bastianich

Life did not begin simply for Bastianich, as a child her family escaped post-war Yugoslavia to Italy and eventually were granted passage to America under the displaced persons act when she was twelve.  She met her husband in 1966 and they opened their first restaurant in Queens in 1971, and a second there before selling both and moving on to Manhattan. From there the Bastianich empire grew and Lidia eventually took over after her husband and she divorced, and he passed his shares on to the two children they’d had. These children eventually became a key part of the Bastianich empire.

Television fame came to Lidia through the beloved Julia Child,  in 1993, when Child  invited her to tape and episode for Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs, which featured acclaimed chefs from around the U.S., preparing dishes in their own home kitchens. From their Bastianich went on to have her own show.

Bastianich’s has much success in the restaurant world, and she has managed to do it all; a mother, wife, restaurateur, TV Host and more, all in a world when men were usually, and are still, at the helm. The Vancouver chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, will honour her on September 23, 2016 at a Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel and we can’t wait to spend the evening among her and some of the other chefs and characters that are joining us to present this special evening.

Lidia Bastianich

Bastianich was asked during her last visit, “How did you get your children into the business?” and her answer shows that despite the fact she’d blazed a trail, she still didn’t want this difficult and challenging life for them.

“The children would come to the restaurant and eat. There was always unity. I always told them this is not what you want to do with your life. My son, Joe Bastianich, completed a Master of Business and daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, a PhD in Art History and Joe went on to spend several years on Wall Street.
Every summer the kids came to Italy and they must have just naturally absorbed it, despite my warnings. One day Joe sat at the bar at Felidia (theie flagship restaurant) and told me he was quitting his job to spend time with with me at the restaurant. After a discussion, I gave in and we went to Italy for a year and worked in a variety of kitchens, absorbing the knowledge, and learning much along the way. Back in America, we opened our first restaurant together, and then we meet Mario Batali and I credit a lot of our success to his sense of business.”

Her daughter was a Professor at Syracuse in Italy and, after finishing her degree, moved back to the states to start a family and moved just two blocks away. After Tanya’s first child was born, Lidia asked her to do some of the research and now Tanya assists in production and has alleviated the workload. Tanya’s husband, a lawyer, is also involved.

Lidia’s advice? Know when you need to be Mother and Grandmother and know when you need to be a business women. Something that can’t be easy to draw the line at always, I am sure.

Lidia Bastianich will be in Vancouver for a variety of television appearances, a book signing at Gourmet Warehouse on September 22 and the Les Dames d”Escoffier Gala on September 23.

Les Dames D’Escoffier Present Una Bella Notte Con Lidia Bastianich
Gala Dinner with Chef/Owner/TV Personality Fundraises
For Les Dames d’Escoffier Scholarships

An unforgettable evening of Italian food, wine and song is in store for fans of Lidia Bastianich as the BC Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier honours the Emmy award-winning TV personality, cookbook author and restaurateur. Sit down for a Gala dinner with Lidia on September 23, 2016 at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and support Les Dames d’Escoffier’s outreach and scholarship programs. Now, that’s amore!

Una Bella Notte con Lidia begins with a Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve reception and is followed by a multi-course dinner prepared by Vancouver’s leading chefs with exquisite wine pairings. The evening closes with an after lounge party. The witty and genial Fanny Kiefer raises a glass or two amidst the dinner party chatter as special guests share their favourite Lidia stories.

In conjunction with the participating luminary chefs, Les Dames member and Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm of Culinary Capers Catering has created the following menu for the magical evening of food and wine.

Lidia Bastianich

Les Dames D’Escoffier Gala Honours Lidia Bastianich


Lidia’s Octopus Salad on Potato
Frico, Moscato Poached Pear, Black Pepper Mascarpone
Gnocchi with Rosemary Brined Walnut, Roast Squash and Brown Butter
Margaret Chisholm, Culinary Capers Catering
Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve


Albacore Tuna Tonnato
JC Poirier, Ask for Luigi, Pizzeria Farina and Pourhouse
Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Grilled Sea Scallops, Cauliflower Salad and Green Herbs Coulis
Weimar Gomez, YEW seafood + bar, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
Tightrope Winery Riesling 2015

Cannelloni of Chocolate with Duck Confit
Pino Posteraro, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Tenuta Olim Bauda Rocchette Barbera D’Asti 2012

Mixed Mushroom Carnaroli Risotto
with Truffle, Parmesan, Cherry Reduction, Arugula Pesto
Les Dames alumni and Season 2 Chopped Canada champion, Alana Peckham,
Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver/Alligga
Marimar Estate Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir 2008

Lo Stock Farms Squab, Painted Mountain Corn Polenta, Lacinto Kale, Anise
Robert Belcham, Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma
Tommasi Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2014

Primo Bistecca Tagliata
Jean-Claude Douguet, Gotham Steakhouse & Bar
Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2013

Chocolate Almond Torte, Poached Pears, Pecan Wafers, Blackberry Ice Cream
Rhonda Viani, West
Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port

After Lounge

Artisanal Limoncello Cheesecake Gelato
James Coleridge, Bella Gelateria
Terra Serena Prosecco – D.O.C. Treviso and Gillespie’s Fine Spirits Lemoncello


Each guest receives a signed copy of Lidia’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine as a memento of the evening. All funds raised benefit the outreach and scholarship programs of the BC Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, including Project Chef and Growing Chefs. Seating is limited for this one special evening and once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet an iconic personality and fellow New York based Les Dames d’Escoffier member, Lidia Bastianich. Tickets are selling fast for this Italian inspired evening.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Gala
September 23, 2016
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC  V6C 2V4
Reception: 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Dinner: 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm
After Lounge: 11:00 pm onwards

Cranberry, Pecan, Chia Seeds and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Morning Muffins with those healthy, trendy, Chia Seeds

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chia seeds – Prana has some great ones with probiotics too
150g dried cranberries
3/4 cup pecans – halves or pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
2 very ripe bananas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
125g butter, melted
3/4 cup milk

20160919 104925

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Line a 12-hole medium muffin pan with paper cases. Get pretty.
  3. Combine flours, sugar, cranberries, pecans, chocolate chips and chia seeds in a bowl. Stir in the dates.
  4. In another bowl, mash the bananas and stir in eggs, butter and milk.
  5. Fold into the flour mixture until just combined.
  6. Divide mixture among muffin pans
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Great for breaky and afternoon snacks.

Sooke Harbour House

Staying in Sooke – Fall at Sooke Harbour House

I adore fall and find there’s nothing better than a stroll on a  coolish day when the sun is still shining, yet there’s a crispness in the air and a need for an extra layer to insulate one from the impending chill. This is the best time to get away in British Columbia and really take the time to watch the foliage turn colour and the land claim back what’s left in the fields to refurbish its soil.

img 6519

Vancouver Island often calls me and I feel so at ease there as I sync/sink into the slower pace almost right off the ferry I take from Tsawassen. It’s a 90 minute  ferry ride to the other side, and another half hour or so until the road brings you to Sooke, and then the trail to Sooke Harbour House, where I recently had a most memorable stay.

Sooke Harbour Hous was built in 1929 as a simple  two-story farmhouse inn with a dining room for visitors. In 1979 Frederique and Sinclair Philip, purchased the, it five small guestrooms, but no private guest bathrooms, and only a small dining room. The couple continued to renovate though to 1986 when they built ten additional far larger guestrooms, then renovated the initial five in 1988 and added 13 rooms in 1998, bringing the total to the current 28. The hotel is known for its luxurious, spacious rooms, superb hospitality, top notch dining and gorgeous gardens, all which are maintained to this day, attracting locals and visitors from all around the globe.

Sooke Harbour House

I stayed in a most spacious room, which was a bit wasted on me as I was solo, but I did my best to use up the most welcoming space, taking a bath in the mid-room tub, sprawling out on the couch to read and occupying the majority of the king bed throughout the night. It was almost too much, but I managed.

Sooke Harbour House

I had met Frederique Philip at a Feast of Fields in Duncan a few year’s back and was thrilled she was joining me for dinner. One could not hope for a more entertaining and knowledgeable dinner companion. While the food was foremost, she unveiled stories of her journeys and the history of Sooke, acting as a fitting backdrop for a remarkable evening.

My photos do not convey Chef Jonas Stadtländer talents properly as the lighting was getting trying as the evening went on and we sampled leisurely through the pairing menu. Stadtlander’s father, Michael Stadlander, led the kitchen at Sooke in the 80’s and it’s quite special to see his son come up the ranks and join this highly regarded resort, with his own approach to the area’s local cuisine.

Local is an absolute that stands out at Sooke, and always has. While farm to table, field to table, foraged and free range are words that are now splattered on menus as often as drinks are splashed on them, Sooke Harbour House always had this mandate. The restaurant followed the seasons and the chefs that came and went from their took this style of cooking with them. Frederique and Sinclair were pioneers in this field, and did not just influence those on the Island, and throughout British Columbia, but created practices that shaped the local movement throughout North America and beyond.

Sooke Harbour House

Highlights of the dinner included the Roasted Pork Belly, balanced with mustard-braised lentils, lovage pork jus, asparagus and morels; these wild mushrooms had just come into season and were superbly dense with earthy flavours.

Sooke Harbour House

Grilled Albacore Tuna came with a Sooke-grown wasabi (held by Fredrique above), a strawberry ginger glaze, tempura radish greens, and radish and foraged sea asparagus, another example of exquisite local ingredients enhanced by international techniques. A Kettle Valley Riesling balanced out the mild spiciness in the dish.

Sooke Harbour House

Cowichan Valley is not far up Island from Sooke and a Pekin Duck had been brought for the next dish, duck breast dish with a savoury jus, buttered spring leeks, tortellini and red and golden beets. Perfectly cooked, quite tender and a stellar pairing for the Pinot Noir from Tantalus Vineyards.

The meal was fulfilling on so many levels and as I drifted back to my room for a final hour or so before that king size bed called, I thought of all the memories that had been created in this very space over the last century and how rare a place this still is to this day.

Sooke Harbour House

In the morning I strolled the property and peaked into some of the other guest rooms (the empty ones of course) and had a breakfast before I had to venture out. A wedding was to take place that day and the prep was well under way. Many more memories were being made as I looked on, and I absorbed many of my very own.


Test Drive – Acura TLX

The Acura TLX On The Road to Adventure

Next up in test drives was the 2016 Acura TLX which is a pretty slick looking car, above the price-point of the Honda sedans, but fairly comparable to the higher priced BMW and Lexus but with a much lower cash outlay. 

This car comes with 2 types of engines, the 2.4-litre, 16-valve, Direct Injection DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine with 206 hp @ 6800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm and the 3.5-litre Direct Injection SOHC i-VTEC® aluminum-alloy V6 engine with 290 hp @ 6200 rpm and 267 lb.-ft of torque @ 4500 rpm. The former comes with Precision All-Wheel Steer system and  an 8-speed dual clutch-transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters; the latter with a Super Handling All-Wheel Drive  (SH-AWD®)  that replaces Precision All-Wheel Steer system and 9-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle shifters.

Acura TLX

There’s lots of energy saving when you drive the TLX, the engine stops when you do and start back up when you hit the accelerator, a feature which actually annoys me somewhat as I am yet to get used to this, and the 6 cylinder cuts down 2 cylinders when you don’t need them all.

Acura TLX

The cars have an Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) which has four modes, the economy mode, holding the rpm’s lower, the normal mode, a sport mode allowing higher rpm’s and the sport plus with full manual pedals with a good reaction time. The cars steering is also quicker in the full control mode.

The car is smooth and quiet with quieting foam and a quieting windshield and the seats are comfortable and adjustable. There’s 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space, fold down back seats for more room, and a hidden compartment in the trunk for even more storage. The drivers seats are comfortable and the advance package seats are heated and ventilated with a 10 way adjust driver and an 8-way passenger, along with a tilted steering wheel. The backseat room is 34.5 inches and seats also come heated, authentic leather and wood finishes complete the package.

Acura TLX

There’s two screens for viewing navigation and the parking sensors  on the top and a touch screen for audio, climate control and more. The 4 cylinder comes with 17 inch wheels and the V6 with 18 inch.

There’s lots of safety features, even in the standard, such as tire pressure alerts, anti-lock brakes, 7 air bags, vehicle stability assist, and brake assist.  The advanced adds parking sensors, collision mitigation, seat belt pretension, and the tech version has lane keeping, forward collision, parking sensors, road departure mitigation, and collision mitigation braking.

Acura TLX

With a comfortable cabin, a wack of power and a high-end look, we’d like to be in this car more often. We’ve driven it twice now, over to the Island above with lots of highway time in sport mode and around town this summer where economy was the better choice

*Acura provided the TLX for our review purposes.

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