Tag Archives: Victoria

Summer Food Fest Frenzy and Culinaire Re-Cap

8 Jun

Summer is just around the corner, and for Victoria that means an abundance of outdoor food festivals.

This weekend Fort Rod Hill will host ICC Food Fest, which brings together a cooperative community of chefs and food and beverage professionals with the goal of raising awareness and funds for regional food security, the preservation of farmland, and the development of local food systems. (click here for more)

ICC Food Fest 2011

On June 24, Fernwood NRG will be holding the 3rd annual Fernwood Bites event, showcasing the gastronomic talents of Fernwood businesses as well as other local eateries and chefs from around southern Vancouver Island, all in support of raising funds for this growing neighbourhood. (click here for more)

Buckwheat pancake with morel mushrooms & cured and smoked trout with homemade sodas (black tea, steeped with lavender and lemon balm) from Devour Food and La Piola’s table at Fernwood Bites 2011

On September 16, as summer is beginning to wane but the harvest season is just taking off, Farm Folk City Folk will be hosting their longstanding event, Feast of Fields, to raise money and awareness about local and sustainable farming and food.

Of course, throughout summer Victoria locals can continue to support the local food scene by attending some of the outdoor markets such as the VDPM’s Wednesday market in Market square, or the Sunday market on Langley street above Bastion Square.

A chorizo sausage sandwiche from El Guapo Grill, at The VDPM Wednesday market

But as I write various stories for EAT Magazine about these foodie playgrounds, I can’t help but reminisce about the first local culinary event I attended this year (and evidently the first I have attended in this city), long before the sun started peeking through, luring locals outside. It’s been over 2 months since Culinaire, but I’m still dreaming of the delicious delights that I saw, smelled and tasted. Never have I experienced so much culinary talent under one roof – I feel so proud that my hometown is host to such an outstanding gastronomic scene, not just in the summer, but throughout the year as well.

For those of you who were able to attend Culinaire 2012, there’s no doubt that you share my lingering reminiscence of that fantastic night. And for those of you who sadly had to miss this years’ event, let me share with you my experiences in hopes that you won’t necessarily feel as though you missed out, but more so excited to grab some of your own tickets to next years’ installment.

Inside the Crystal Garden Convention Center for Culinaire 2012

Even before doors opened for the first seating, a long line-up quickly formed outside of Victoria’s Crystal Garden Convention Center. You could almost see the drool dripping from the mouths as event goers eagerly clutched their tickets. The gates opened, the people poured in, and so did the wine, beer and other spirits offered by some of the 52 vendors. Participants sampled beverages in small tasting glasses that were brilliantly held in rather stylish wooden boards, generously provided by Phillips Brewery.

I spent my first lap sizing up each vendor, carefully forming my plan of attack. While I was there to work (I hosted a video for the event), I was able to sample many of the offerings (for research right?), but with so much to choose from, I had to be strategic about my course of action.

Grilled Scallop, Red Pepper Gelee, Chive Caviar by Truffles Catering

The team at Aura and their Porkbelly Lettuce Wrap

Clam Ceviche from The Marina Restaurant paired with a Dos Equis & Grapefruit cocktail

I’m sure most people would want to start small to warm-up their palettes, but this girl went straight for the gold with a juicy bison burger from Bin 4, which was almost immediately followed by some chocolate porter from Canoe Brewpub. A strange combination I must say, but the stomach wants what the stomach wants.

Bin 4 burger and a tasty craft brew

The rest of the night was a bit of blur as I sampled a delicious Caesar from The Tudor House Pub, served with a skewer of grilled octopus (definitely a first for me), as well as some gorgeous desserts from Bubby Rose’s Bakery, cupcakes from Ooh La La and an adorable, and incredibly tasty mini meat pie from The Roost. Other highlights included freshly shucked oysters from Oyster Bar, cheese creations from Hilary’s Cheese, a sweet and spicy chili cocktail from Veneto, a tuna tartar canapé from Lure, and a brilliant dish from The Fairmont Empress Hotel, which served succulent lamb with a mint cotton candy garnish on top of a creamy risotto. The list is truly endless, and if you’re curious to see what else is offered by dozens of Victoria’s finest, then I suppose you’ll have to experience it for yourself!

Tuna Tartar, Curry Crisp, Scallion Gel
Lure Restaurant – Delta Ocean Pointe

Hilary Abbott of Hilary’s Artisan Cheese serves up his delicious creation

Moroccan Veal Cheek Tortellini from Feys + Hobbs Catered Arts

Although this was my first Culinaire adventure, many say that each installment is better than the last as vendors strive to outdo their previous successes. So don’t be surprised if you see me next year at the very front of the long line, standing in a puddle of my own drool, clamping down on my tickets as I count down the minutes until those doors open and I’m set-loose on Culinaire 2013.

Until then, I look forward to seeing many of you out and about at all the fun summertime events, smiles full of food and hearts full of pride for Victoria’s ever growing culinary community.

*For more on this years’ event, you can check out the video I hosted, my previous article on Culinaire, or their website at culinairevictoria.com

*Culinaire and ICC Food Fest photos courtesy of Maryanne Carmack. To check out more from this talented photographer and foodie, please visit her website at www.maryannecarmack.com


Countdown to Culinaire 2012

24 Feb

There are many things that make me proud to call Victoria BC my home: the gorgeous weather, the friendly people, the stunning scenery – the list is truly endless! But right there on top of that hefty list is something many people might find surprising – the surplus of unbelievable avenues for great food, drink and dining. The rich culinary scene that has developed in this small capitol city over the past few years is a result of dedicated restaurateurs, talented chefs and passionate foodies who have created spaces for the exchange of flavours, ideas and information concerning all things edible. Whether it’s a friendly yet cutting edge kitchen store, a charming artisanal deli, an impressive gourmet restaurant, or a delightful café and bakery, there seems to be a wide and extensive variety of delicious destinations packed into this tiny town.

One amazing new addition of the past couple years is Culinaire, which showcases Victoria’s food and beverage scene through a collection of stands that offer tasty treats attendees can try whether it’s from a familiar place, or an unknown discovery. But for Scott Gurney, who has created and organized this event along with his wife Amy Pecorelli, the process of experiencing the unknown is the main goal of Culinaire.

Last year’s Culinaire, hosted by the Victoria Conference Centre at the Crystal Gardens

Gurney has been an established member of the Victoria culinary community for many years as the general manager of Darcy’s Pub, as well as prominent positions at other restaurants around town. His passion for food and drink is only succeeded by his immense desire to spread awareness about the amazing talents that our city offers. He explains that while it’s easy to get stuck going to your favourite spot over and over again, he encourages patrons to visit Culinaire so that they can expand their experiences and gain awareness of the many local restaurants that offer fantastic menus and service – something that could ultimately spice up a potentially tiresome date-night routine. But his bottom line is that you never know until you try, and that’s why Gurney encourages those who weren’t able to attend last year’s Culinaire, to grab some of the few remaining tickets and come with open minds, and open stomachs.

Beet and goat cheese terrine from Lure

Fiamo staff serve up red wine to people passing by

Chicken and rib sandwich from Broad Street Kitchen

I was personally unable to attend last year’s event and could not be more excited for the 2012 edition, which will take place on March 22nd. I’m always eager to try new things and discover new places, and it seems Gurney has read my mind by creating a utopic haven to do just that, all in one evening, within a conveniently confined space, filled with some of the most celebrated culinary spots on Vancouver Island!

It truly is a dream come true for those looking to experience a selection of the finest food and beverages our region has to offer, as well as those who are constantly saying they could have a meal simply from bite-sized hors d’eouvres.  Presenters from Victoria, The Cowichan Valley, and Saltspring Island will be serving inspired creations and signature dishes for you to try at one of two seatings, whereby tickets include 10 tastings from different presenters. But of course if 10 simply isn’t enough, you can purchase extra tasting tickets for $1 each (1 ticket = 1 tasting).

Although there are now limited tickets available, you might be one of the lucky ones who can find tickets for either the 5:00 pm – 7:15 pm seating or the 7:30pm – 9:45 pm seating at The Bard & Banker Pub (1022 Government Street) and Phillips Brewing Company (2010 Government Street). Tickets are $32.00 (including HST) and sales go towards the Camosun College Professional Cook Program scholarship awards, as well as the BC Hospitality Foundation. For Gurney, this event is all about encouraging local businesses and individuals, and that’s why he could not be more proud to offer support to both these amazing organizations that in turn promote and develop the food and beverage industries on the island.

Fresh raw oysters from The Oyster Bar

Bison short rib with a chipotle BBQ sauce and artisan baguette crostini

With over 50 presenters from a collection of restaurants, bakeries, cafes, breweries, wineries, and delis, it will be easy to find a number of things that will excite you about the culinary scene in this city. I’m already excited and the event is a month away! I hope to see many familiar faces at Culinaire 2012, and I look forwards to sharing my experiences with you post the blissful food-coma that will no doubt ensure.

Smoked trout/smoked sablefish and peas vol-au-vont from the BC Hospitality Foundation

*For more information head to culinairevictoria.com

*All photos are courtesy of Maryanne Carmack. To check out more from this talented photographer and foodie, please visit her website at www.maryannecarmack.com