The Veranda at Fairmont Empress opens for Summer

Photo 2015-05-22, 13 20 07Under the historic “The Empress” sign a the front of the majestic Fairmont Empress sits The Veranda is a relaxing and casual location for cocktails or a meal with a view.

Now open for another summer season, The Veranda, is one of the best locations for people watching, overlooking Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbour Causeway; yachts, tour buses, horse-drawn carriages and hundreds of visitors make their way past.Photo 2015-05-23, 12 21 33

While you’re sipping on your signature Empress 1908 cocktail or Veranda Iced Tea visit with your friends or watch the scenery.  Late afternoon sun sets the tables ablaze or if it’s cool, soft blankets are available to wrap across your lap.

Executive Chef Morgan Wilson and his team have created a light and local menu that has something for everyone; fresh West Coast Oysters & seafood, salads using local Mason Street Greens (from just a few blocks away), savoury fish & chips, sandwiches and new this summer thin-crust pizzas. In a couple of recent visits, I’ve had the Chicken BLT and one of the pizzas. Both were excellent, adding the local greens with the light and savoury dressing made a perfect pairing for the BLT and the pizza went down great with the Veranda Iced Tea.

The Veranda is open from 1130am until dusk, or too chilly.  Reservations are not required.

Friday Find: Vancouver Island Salt Co.

Salt is one of our basic human tastes, is an essential mineral for life and yet one of the most underrated elements in our kitchen.  Salt brings flavour to food but Vancouver Island Salt Co. is a company that also brings flavour to salt.

Vancouver Island Salt Co. creates hand harvested, artisan sea salt from the waters of Vancouver Island.  Created with care by founder and former chef Andrew Shepard, each of their products brings together all-natural, hand-crafted ingredients.  Each batch of salt is hand harvested from the ever flowing Salish Sea, resulting in its own unique flavour profile reflecting the West Coast.

Vancouver Island Salt Co. produces a Canadian Fleur de Sel, Sea Salt, plus seven flavoured salts; Smoked, Blue Cheese, Roasted Garlic, Orange & Lime, Balsamic Vinegar, Chef Bounty’s Jerk, and Spanish Paprika.

Find all the Vancouver Island Salt Co. products at fine food retailers across Canada and learn more about the Sea Salt at

Across The Top Of The World exhibit opens

AcrossTheTopOfTheWorldThis newest exhibit at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Across The Top Of The World: The Quest For The Northwest Passage is now open. If you’re a history fan of any kind this exhibition covers it all, from British Maritime and Naval History, to Canada’s birth of a nation, and Inuit History to the discovery of the Franklin Expedition.

Based on the book Across The Top of The World by James Delgado, with the help of historic documents, photographs, and artifacts the show weaves a century of stories about the European Quest for the elusive Northwest Passage, a short cut trade route to the Orient, followed by Canada’s sovereignty over the Arctic and the historic discovery of John Frankin’s HMS Erebus by Parks Canada.
Along the way,  we learn of the human sacrifice, endurance and camaraderie the mariners endured in the quest.

Across The Top Of The World: The Quest For The Northwest Passage  runs at the Vancouver Maritime Museum throughout the summer. Tickets are available online at

Picks of the Week – May 20, 2015

Coming off a busy long weekend you’d think there would be a lull but there’s plenty of entertainment in the picks of the week;

Brits: Tonight, Liverpool indie act The Wombats play The Imperial on Main Street.

Rock: Latin, Rockabilly, Country all come together when The Mavericks take the stage at Commodore Ballroom tonight

EDM: Electronic act, Flume take the beats outdoors at Malkin Bowl on Thursday night.

Ice: If figure skating is your thing, Rogers Arena welcomes some of the best for Stars On Ice on Thursday night.

BigTop: The Pacific Coliseum hosts Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai from May 20 – 24th.

Rides: Playland is now opening weekends for another season of amusement and family entertainment.

Cabaret: It’s the final week of The Scarlet Queen of Mercy, presented by Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret Society, at The Russian Hall

Gamers: For 28 years The Legend of Zelda has been one of the top video games, now hear the music of the game live, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is at Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday.

Folk: German duo, Milky Chance brings a bit of folk, reggae and electronic influences to the Commodore Ballroom on Friday & Saturday nights.

Comics: Are you interested in the art of comic book graphics? The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival 2015 brings together 250+ artists, writers and publishers Saturday and Sunday at Roundhouse Community Centre

Outside: Malkin Bowl hosts another great outdoor gig with Spoon on Sunday night.

Brunch: Enjoy a leisurely & entertaining Sunday brunch at Hot Smudge Sunday, Bruncheon at The Juntion hosted by The Unstoppable Connie Smudge

Arts Club Theatre Company – In The Heights

The Tony Award winning musical In The Heights is now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.  The fast paced, show keeps the energy up throughout the two acts while packing in family drama, romantic ups & downs, a black out, celebration and tragedy all set over the course of just 3 days.

Based on a corner of The Heights anchored by a bodega run by lead character, Usnavi played by the charismatic Luc Roderique, and the Rosario family’s car service.  Many of the younger residents are looking for a way to get out of The Heights while the older generation are trying to preserve the way of life they’ve come accustomed to since emigrating to the United States.

All of the cast ably play the mostly singing and dancing production with the latin flair required to transport the audience to the barrio and energy. The music & lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegria Hudes transcend the American location with a universal story of love, and life.

In The Heights plays at The Arts Club Theatre Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until June 7, 2015.


Tasting Plates Cambie Village – June 10th

tastingplate_cambie_x250There’s just a couple more days to get your early bird tickets for Tasting Plates – Cambie Village.  Cambie Village has always been home to a varied selection of food and beverage options, the next edition of Tasting Plates is your chance to explore the village from Broadway to King Edward.

Tasting Platers check-in at U & I Thai, where they will pick up their Tasting Plates Cards and venture off on their tasting adventure.  Walk, Drive, or Cycle around the neighbourhood.  Bring your friends and family, visit with proprietors and chefs and find out what each participating restaurant presents on their tasting plate for you.

Tasting Plates Cambie Village takes place June 10th from 6pm – 10 pm. Early bird tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite for $29+ tax & fees until May 20th.  After May 20th, advance tickets are $40 or $50 last minute.
See you in the Village!


Friday Find: The Switch Beverages

TheSwitch_2015-05-14, 16 12 35I’ve be able to try a new  (to Canada) drink, The Switch.  The Switch is 100% fruit juice from concentrate made with sparkling water and no added sugar.  With no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours or colours  the Connecticut based company’s motto is 100% of what you want, 0% of what you don’t. While fruit juices are still high in natural sugars, The Switch has lower sodium and no caffeine or caramel and other sweeteners of other soft drinks and offers 100% of the daily recommended Vitamin C.

The Switch has become a welcome addition to schools across America and with parents as an alternative to soda pop.  I’ve tested a few of the 8 flavours and found most of them quite good, some are naturally sweeter than others and may appeal to a younger palate but the Green Apple, and Lemon-Lime flavours are quite refreshing.
Right now you can buy The Switch online but keep an eye out in stores soon.


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