Tag Archives: Victoria

Escape to Victoria – Christmas in Victoria with the Magnolia Hotel and Helijet

Magnolia Hotel Celebrates the Holidays with a Festive Trail

It couldn’t be easier to get over to the Island with Helijet, and that’s exactly what you should do to capture Victoria’s holiday magic this December. With over a dozen flights a day, right from downtown Vancouver, you are easily on your way on your holiday journey and quickly back to the mainland when you’re ready.

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Book ahead for the Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s ‘Christmas in Victoria’, starting at just $249 per night until December 31, 2016 and you’ll receive all the special holiday touches the hotel has to offer.

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Start the day with muffins and coffee in the lobby, or return later in the afternoon and warm up with a hot cup of mulled apple cider and cookies.

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Special Christmas treats such as Bailey’s and hot chocolate are delivered to each guest’s door as part of the hotel’s nightly turndown service and the ‘Christmas in Victoria’ package also includes a $25 daily voucher for a hotel service of choice.

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While in town I’d suggest checking out Ferris Oyster Bar, where I recently had fresh oysters and a spectacular cocktail, the Spanish Negroni with olorosso sherry, campari, cinzano, orange and cava, and a tasty salad after some shopping along Fort Street.

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The hotel’s restaurant, Catalano, is also great for happy hour, lunch and dinner; I dined on a perfectly cooked duck paired with a glass of Burrowing Owl Syrah and I’d recommend you do too!

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The rooms are gorgeous, many have views of the harbour and you’ll have a hard time rising from their super comfortable beds.

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Breakfast at the hotel is also lovely. I went for the healthy start (for a change).

Be sure to check out “The Festive Trail”, part of the hotel’s Curated Trails program,  and see the festive sights of Victoria.  The Annual Festival of Trees, at the Bay Centre will get you in the holiday mood and the Gingerbread Showcase is a must at The Inn at Laurel Point. Festive Trail highlights also include Christmas in Old Town at the Royal BC Museum and a holiday Ferris Wheel, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

To book, visit www.magnoliahotel.com or call 1-877-624-6654.

*Helijet and Hotel Magnolia covered my charges, but, as always, I only write about what I truly loved.

Holiday Season Getaway at Victoria’s Magnolia Hotel

While there’s much to do in Vancouver during the holiday season, there’s a certain special vibe across the straight, in Victoria. I nipped over for a few night’s in November for a sneak peak of the Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas in Victoria package, available until January 2.

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Why not leave the car at home and fly over on the Helijet as flights start at $159 this time of year and they’ll drop you off at the hotel if you ask nicely (kids under 12 yrs fly for free)! There’s so much to do downtown this time of year, and you can do it all on foot.

The Magnolia is right in the heart of downtown Victoria, minutes from the harbour, shopping, holiday lights and sites and fab dining experiences.

Book a Diamond room and you’ll find oversized beds, soaker tubs, cozy gas fireplaces and lots of indulgent treats such as the hot chocolate and baileys for before bed.

There’s two very cool routes that the hotel has put together for this time of year; one is the Tapa Trail and the other the Festive Trail.

The Tapa Trail includes the following. I have have been to a few that I have starred and therefore can give them thumbs up, but I’ve heard good things about all.

*The Magnolia’s Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar – Mediterranean inspired. Enoy Venetian style cicchetti (Italian for small bites) at the bar.  619 Courtney Street Twitter @cicchettibar

*Chorizo & Co – Love love love this spot! Great chorizo sausage from a family recipe, tapas and paella parties. 807 Fort Street Twitter @ChorizoandCo

Bodega Bar Spanish cuisine from pinchos to a Barcelona board featuring Spanish charcuterie. 1210 Broad Street

Tapa Bar – Meat and seafood and veggie dishes to share. 620 Trounce Alley

Northern Quarter Bar – live performances – meat or cheese boards. 1724 Douglas Street

The Drake Eatery – British pub style and local craft beer. 517 Pandora Avenue

Perro Negro – Located above Ferris Grill. wide range of cocktails, sherry and wine from Spain. 536 Yates Street Twitter @perronegrotapas

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*Little Jumbo Restaurant – Stellar cocktail list an inventive Canadian cuisine. Do not miss the duck fat fried frites! 506 Fort Street – photo from their website.

*10 Acres Bistro Smaller plates made with loacal, seasonal ingredients 611 Courtney Street Twitter @10acresbistro

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Additionally through the holiday season the Magnolia Hotel’s Festive Trail captures the town’s spirit. Take in a performance of Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker, try outdoor ice-skating, a Ferris Wheel ride in Centennial Square, free horse-drawn trolley ride, visit the Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre, head to the Inn at Laurel Point for Gingerbread displays or check out the IMAX Polar Express adventure at the Royal BC Museum. Check in with the hotel’s concierge for more. The Hotel’s Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar will do a holiday feast on December 25 as well.

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Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas in Victoria package starts from $189 per night, and includes a special gift of a $25 voucher, per day, to use towards in-room dining, Spa Magnolia, Catalano Restaurant, mini-bar treats or parking. The price includes a continental breakfast as well.

To book Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas package call 1-877-624-6654 or visit www.magnoliahotel.com.

Chef Alex Chen Takes Top Spot At Gold Medal Plates Victoria

Pairing of Local Pork Terrine with Foxtrot Vineyards’ Pinot Noir Earns Chef Coveted Title as BC Representative 

PR NEWS – Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Executive Chef Alex Chen set the gold standard at the 10th annual Gold Medal Plates in Victoria, BC Thursday night, winning the top regional spot among 10 chefs selected to compete in the prestigious culinary competition and earning the right to represent BC at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC Feb. 5-6, 2016.

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Chen’s pairing of Local Heritage Warm Pork Terrine, ‘Head to Tail’ Chestnuts, Foie Gras, Perigord Truffles and Umami Jus with Foxtrot Vineyards’ 2012 ‘Henricsson Vineyard’ Pinot Noir from Naramata, BC impressed attendees of the event, which was the BC regional stop on the Gold Medal Plates 11-city culinary tour across Canada. The Foxtrot Pinot Noir was also crowned as Best of Show Wine at the competition.

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Chen was joined on the podium by Forage Executive Chef Chris Whittaker, who won silver, and YEW seafood + bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Executive Chef Ned Bell, who took home bronze. Each dish in the competition was judged out of 100 points and based on visual presentation (20%), texture (20%), taste (30%), wine compatibility (10%), originality (10%) and ‘wow factor’ (10%).

“The top four (chefs) were very close,” said Gold Medal Plates national head judge James Chatto, who was joined on the judging panel by senior judges Sid Cross and Andrew Morrison, as well as Gary Hynes, Sinclair PhilipShelora Sheldan and 2014 Gold Medal Plates regional winner, Kristian Eligh. “The three that won were ahead of the pack and in the end, Alex’s technique and flawless terrine showcased the best wine pairing, which really lifted him to gold. It was a very impressive year, with chefs really utilizing local products at their best.”

Chen is no stranger to high-pressure culinary championships, having led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the renowned Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France in 2013.

Gold Medal Plates Victoria

“I am extremely honoured, humbled and grateful to accept this award, but this is by no means an individual achievement,” said Chen. “The real credit goes to an incredible Boulevard team that helped prepare and plate more than 400 dishes for this event. It was truly an entire team effort and we all share in this win together.”

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Billed as the ultimate celebration of Canadian excellence in food, wine, athletic achievement and entertainment, the Gold Medal Plates raise funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, supporting programs like Own The Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Excellence Fund. Since 2004, Gold Medal Plates has generated more than $9.5 million for Canada’s Olympic athletes.

 

Living The Good Life in Victoria – A Culinary Journey

oswegohotel3Each time I visit Victoria I find something new, whether it be another fantastic lounge or restaurant, an art show or a new shoe store. I could spend days on end exploring the city, but if you only had one and food is something you at least slightly worship, here’s some suggestions for where to stay and what to eat.

After a ride aboard BC Ferries I recommend picking up one of their package deals hotel deals and check into the Oswego Hotel. I’ve stayed here three times now and love the downtown location in Victoria’s Inner Harbour where you can walk to almost everything you need to see. The ten-story Hotel has spacious rooms, 24 hour fitness just in case walking the city isn’t quite enough, soaker tubs for post workout, French press quality coffee, a full kitchen should you strangely not want to dine out, a bistro should you wish to, complimentary wifi and a parking for just $15 or free for if you drive a Hybrid. Rates vary, but today’s price with the BC Ferry Package is $159 per person based on double occupancy, including the ferry.

Be sure to arrive hungry and pre-book a fantastic culinary tour with my pal and culinary expert Karma Brophy of Feast Concierge. I’ve done the Fort Street Tour, and while I won’t give it all away, I’ll give you some highlights.

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Love cheese? Well who doesn’t. One of the tour stops is local cheese purveyor The Little Cheese Shop. After sampling I recommend you leave with a block of something local from The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm, Lavender soda syrup from Organic Fare to splash in your BC Bubble at home and a jar of the excellent Vancouver-based Mellifera Bees honey. I know you’re in Victoria buying Vancouver, but this product is hard to find unless you frequent the Vancouver’s Farmer’s Market.

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Next up we got meaty at Chorizo & Co. Spanish Delicatessen. Their chorizo sausages are made from a recipe passed down through generations to the deli’s owner and hand crafted by local butcher The Whole Beast; they’re absolutely delicious. Their empanadas and tortillas are so good they completely sell out daily and some evenings they even host paella nights. I must return for this feast.

Onto sugar we picked up some sweets at The Dutch Bakery, a sweet shop that’s been serving Victoria since 1956, and then landed at the new Victoria Public Market .

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You could spend an entire afternoon here, but we instead filled the remaining room in our belly’s with a Roast Carvery’a meatball, Sutra’s (an offspring of Vij’s culinary empire) curry poutine and some Salt Spring Island chocolates that were provided to showcase Island Spice Co’s Vancouver Island Salt Co’s variety of flavourful sea salts.

I had plans to then dine at Little Jumbo, but frankly was too stuffed to think of eating again, so alas this adventure will have to wait for the next trip. If you have room I do suggest you go for their wicked cocktails, duck fat fries and charcuterie plates.

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After a good rest in the Oswego’s comfy bed, the next morning I stopped in at Hoyne Brewing to pick up a variety of their stellar craft beers and a growler full of the Down Easy Pale Ale for a thirsty drinker who unfortunately was missing on this particular journey. A quick stop for a snack and a bread stock up at Wildfire Bakery and then off to the ferry it was. And funnily enough, I left still very hungry for the city.



Victoria’s third annual festival of food and wine

A local taste of Vancouver Island and the wine regions of British Columbia

Held July 21-24, 2011

Stay tuned for details… Taste will uncork Thursday July 21, 2011 with an evening tasting of more than 100 British Columbia wines and local cuisine prepared by top Vancouver Island chefs.  Not just a wine festival, this culinary tourism experience is an extra long weekend of tastings, seminars and events. for a full schedule to be posted in February.  Events are sure to sell out!

Escape to Victoria

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, Vancouverites begin dreaming of warmer spots.  There is, however, an easier way to get away from the hustle and bustle that takes merely a leisurely BC Ferries journey to arrive at.  It’s the perfect time to head to Victoria, a  city where you can park the car at your hotel and walk the downtown core.  Finish (or start) your Christmas shopping, chose from the many spectacular dining spots when hunger strikes and then return to your hotel for some great spa time.  Spend the night with a meal in the lobby restaurant, or snuggle up and call room service, and you’ll leave feeling stress free. 

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Last fall, we spent my boyfriend’s late November birthday night at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa.  

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We checked into the hotel late afternoon and went immediately to the spa for a relaxing hour of pre-evening massage.  It’s a hectic time of year, and we both needed a little down time before transitioning into holiday mode.  Refreshed and rejunvinated we relaxed in our room before our dinner at the hotel’s Lure Restaurant. 

Lure is run by Executive Chef Craig Stoneman, who developed his culinary skills in England, worked at the King Ed in Toronto and has been with the Delta Victoria since its opening in 1992.  As luck would have it there was an early holiday party at Lure that night, and they had opted for a formal set menu that was therefore available, and we jumped at the chance to experience the tasting.  

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The regular menu is filled with sumptuous dishes such as braised short rib papardelle, proscuitto wrapped trout, and five spice duck breast, and the tasting menu was even more impressive.  Chef Stoneman took us on a tour  from the sea to the farm, with seared tuna, scallop, duck and prime rib. At every course the flavours were spectacular, each increasing in intensity from the last.  

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The kitchen threw in some extra treats for my boyfriend Casey’s birthday, which embarassed him, as he pretends to be shy.  Perfect. 

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After a night in our comfortable bed, we were ready to make the trip a bit further north to one of my favourite Vancouver Island destinations, Cowichan Bay. 

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This is one of the two Slow Food destination in BC (Naramata is the other) and is has two specialty shops you should not miss – True Grain Breads and Hilary’s Cheese.     

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 Often you’ll catch some wildlife such as the sea lions that can be heard barking from miles away.  These incredible creatures sun themselves on the bay’s dock.  

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We fantasized extensively about living island-life aboard one of the harbour’s floating homes, lost track of time and then had to grab a quick lunch before heading back to the ferry homeward bound. 

The Delta currently has a room rate of $99 until January, so escaping is more than reasonable.  Click here for details.

Taste of Fernwood Victoira

On Sunday June 20, 2010 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, the neighbourhood of Fernwood, located 10 minutes from downtown Victoria, launches a new food and libation tasting event sure to dazzle and delight the taste buds of culinary touristas. “Fernwood Bites: Local Fare in an Urban Square” will feature twelve to eighteen local eateries showcasing the city’s most inspiring chefs, restaurants, wineries, and local microbreweries. The 19+ event is an outdoor ticketed festival to be held in Fernwood Square, the heart of the neighbourhood. Participants for this event include Fernwood’s own Stage Wine Bar, Lucy’s in the Square, Stir it Up, The Little Piggy, and The Fernwood Inn, along with other Victoria favourites such Devour, Paprika Bistro, and Zambri’s to name a few. Tickets to Fernwood Bites are $35 CDN / $34 USD and are available online. For more information visit http://fernwoodnrg.ca

ADVENTURE TO BE FOUND AT VILLA MARCO POLO

Villa Marco Polo Inn located in Victoria, BC is offering Pedal or Paddle packages to those looking for a getaway that offers luxury with a side of adventure. The Butchart and Biking in Victoria package includes a two-night stay at the tranquil Inn, bike and helmet rental, transport and admission to The Butchart Gardens and a $50 CDN / $46 USD credit for afternoon tea at The Butchart Gardens. Rates for the Butchart and Biking Package start at $425 CDN / $394 USD from June 15-September 14 based on double occupancy.  For those looking to take to the calm waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait, the Paddling Pleasure Package is just the right fit. The package includes two nights’ accommodation at Villa Marco Polo and a guided kayak tour including rental equipment. Rates for the Paddling Pleasure Package start at $450 CDN / $418 USD. Both packages offered include a full gourmet breakfast featuring locally grown produce served each morning and a romantic dual massage in the Penthouse Spa Hammam.  Shoulder season rates also available. An elegant oasis of relaxation and respite, Villa Marco Polo Inn, built as a wedding gift for a young bride, is an Italian Renaissance mansion that continues to be a romantic setting for getaways and celebrations; especially proposals, weddings, honeymoons and even babymoons. Guest suites feature double soakers, fireplaces, fine linens, luxurious beds, down pillows, hardwood floors and Persian carpets. For more information visit www.villamarcopolo.com.

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Victoria’s Newest Brews

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Two micro-breweries, Driftwood Brewery and Phillips Brewing Co. have recently joined Victoria, BC’s ever expanding self-guided Ale Trail, both offering tours and local tastes to any visiting or resident beer aficionado. Driftwood Brewery, who brewed their first pint in October 2008 makes the kind of beer that brewers Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum like best, beer that is fresh, brewed in the tradition of classic world styles but with a Northwest twist. Catering to those who seek to experience bold new flavours and rediscover familiar styles, Driftwood offers brews such as Driftwood Ale, a Northwest and German hop beer, Brother Bart’s, a traditional Belgian-style Dubbel, brewed with dark candi sugar and new for this summer, White Bark, a Belgian wit beer. Tours and tasting can be arranged upon request by calling (250) 381-2739. Phillips Brewing Co, born of the passion and persistence of brewer Matt Philips in 2001, has opened a new storefront in Victoria, BC offering tours and tasting Tuesday through Friday starting at  4 pm. With 17 different types of beer in their repetoire, visitors to Phillips Brewing Co. will have the opportunity to taste regular brews as well as specialty beers such as the popular summer brew, Raspberry Wheat. For more information visit www.driftwoodbeer.com and www.phillipsbeer.com.

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