Summer is blazing, get your errands done in a flash then make a break for it and get out to the country like we did recently for a day trip to Cultus Lake Marina the Honda Fit is a perfect fit.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the peppy subcompact Honda Fit EX-L Navi for a few days and was pleasantly surprised. In most small cars I tend to either hit my head on the inside roof or have to slouch down to see and sit comfortably, but in the Honda Fit this was not the case. The Fit, quite simply fits, I could sit upright, and still have plenty to head clearance and plenty of viewing through the large front windows. The EX-L Navi trimline takes the simple car up a notch with HondaLink system, leather trims, HD radio/Sirius XM, automatic climate control, all added to the standard Fit features like; keyless entry, 6 speaker audio system, multi-view rear camera, steering wheel cruise control and audio controls.
The 60/40 split rear seats and cargo cover for when the seats are up, allow the Honda Fit to pack in a lot of people and stuff for your getaway. Great fuel economy is a huge plus, especially with the current fuel prices, making it easier to justify hopping in the car for any reason. The subcompact is a dream to park too, perfect for everyday errands around the city. Unlike some subcompacts that lack power, the Honda Fit handles highway driving nicely with enough pep to get in and out of traffic and on to your destination in a breeze.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the Honda Fit EX-L Navi for a great economical, easy-to-drive, subcompact, and starting at around $15,500 for the base trim models, plus good fuel economy, it can definitely fit in most everyone’s budget.
For specs and details on all trimlines of the Honda Fit visit honda.ca/fit
Today’s Friday Find, the Honda CR-V, is more like a rediscovery than a find. I used to regularly drive a first generation Honda CR-V and recently had the opportunity to drive the new model Honda CR-V Touring Edition. I was still impressed by the space and handling of the CR-V, a great all-round sport utility vehicle. The latest facelift, in 2015, made the SUV a modern stylish mid-size model. The design fits the the Vancouver urban lifestyle well, as capable of taking a load of children and groceries as packing up the outdoor gear for a day in the hills.
The Touring trim level, packs in a load of great safety features like; Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and much more. My favourite features are the LaneWatch passenger-side mirror camera, which gives a camera view, on the large 7″ touchscreen display, of the passenger side of the vehicle when the right turn signal is activated. While it’s still no reason to not shoulder and mirror check it’s an added help, especially when driving downtown Vancouver with its plethora of bike lanes. Another favourite has nothing to do with the driving experience, at the back of the CR-V, the cargo hold is spacious and accessible. The one touch power gate gives easy access to the hold, from there the remote seat-release handles quickly drop the 60/40 split seats to give even more room. I was easily able to load a 48″ tv single handed, and still had plenty of room for more cargo.
There’s plenty more to like about the Honda CR-V, but like most cars you’ll have to drive to get a feel for the features you’ll like the best. Take one out for a spin and see for yourself.
The Honda CR-V starts at $26, 290 up to $37,090 for the Touring Trim package.
I recently had the privilege to win a Hamilton Beach MultiBlend Blender.
This sleek and stylish unit is a great addition to your kitchen counter. The MultiBlend is specifically designed to handle food and beverage blending, making it the ideal for a quick morning or post-workout smoothie. At around $50 the Hamilton Beach MultiBlend 53510 Blender is a good value as well. The lightweight, easy to clean and operate design has a solid 700 watt motor and 48 oz jar to fill up with healthy smoothies, drinks and fresh dips, hummus or salsas. For thicker foods, the included pestle-like stir/measuring spoon helps work pieces into the blades keeping hands out of harms way, great for families. I tested the Hamilton Beach Blender to make a couple of smoothies and was impressed with the speed and ease of use even when I jammed any form of fresh or frozen fruit and ice into the blender. Grind/Pulse, easily broke up icy ingredients, and the Puree setting really does make for a smooth blend.
Find: is a new column that will feature gadgets, food, swag and other items that are new or worthy of more recognition
I had waffled over getting a Bluetooth speaker for a while, but with such a huge selection of them it was so hard to choose from the vast market. At Christmas the choice was made for me and it was a great one.
The Monster Superstar Bluetooth Speaker is a compact piece of equipment but packs a big sound punch as expected from Monster. Weighing at just a half pound and easily fitting in your hand at just 5in X 2.55in X .86in, the silicone protected casing makes it durable and solid in the hand, as well. The bluetooth connectivity and built in two-way speaker allows the Superstar to not only be a great sounding speaker for your music, movies or games but can also be used as a hand-free phone, perfect for conference calls.
Standing up or laying flat the speaker maintains great sound, but standing-up seems to work slightly better depending on the surface it’s resting upon. The Superstar doesn’t seem to experience any sound degradation with increased volume when playing audio but higher volumes can cause some echo or feedback with the hand-free phone usage as will distance from your phone. The slick matte-finished packaging is attractive to sit out all the time, although I would have preferred the logo and printing not be in such bold contrasting colour, but that’s minor.
Overall, I haven’t found any flaws with the Monster Superstar Bluetooth Speaker yet and don’t expect to from the usage I’ve put it through. I’ve just not used it enough to truly test the battery life. With a price point under $100, the Superstar provides good value, packing a punch in a small package.
Wednesday night, 300 foodies lined up at Catch 122 Restaurant in Gastown to kick off the sold out Tasting Plates: Gastown Edition. Tasters grabbed their Tasting Plates cards and headed off on a tasty trip around the neighbourhood.
Dinner, desserts, and drinks were on the menus as we ventured through the city’s oldest neighbourhood to try some of the city’s newest restaurants.
It was a night of two parts, though as a few of the locations excelled and a few let themselves down with excessively long waits for seats and then food that did not live up to the reputation of the establishment.
The tasting began at the check-in spot, Catch 122 Bistro which featured a Tasting Plate including 3 flavourful morsels; – Pressed confit pork shoulder, smoked potato, pork crackling – House-made Tortellini with Quebec cheese curd, house-smoked bacon, soubise sauce – “krehm broo LAY” : Cointreau custard, sugar biscuit, lavender meringue, mint (also their entry in Vancouver Foodster’s Crème Brule Challenge) I paired my bites with Catch 122’s house-made Ginger Beer, a refreshing, spicy glass.
One of the more unique locations on any Tasting Plate event was just down the street Hastings Urban Farm, a farm located on the edge of downtown where we found Hives for Humanity and Martin’s Marvellous who featured Main Street and Commercial Drive Honey served from the comb, with Martin’s Marvellous Rosemary Lavender and Chocolate Mole crisps.
Across the street Burgundy Restaurant, guests were welcomed with a sample of Rustico Winery’s Pinot Gris before we took trip to each of the three food stations around the room. First was a hearty goat cheese fondue with crisp apples and bread, followed by a slow cooked beef bourguignon and lastly a choice of chocolate mousse or Orange Galliano Sorbet
Unfortunately, the next three locations were the ones that left us and, from the murmurs and tweets, others disappointed. All of them felt understaffed so the staff that were working seemed to be rushed off their feet resulting in very long waits at the door and none of them felt welcoming. While they are known to be some of the most popular locations in the city their offerings were tasty but underwhelmed.
Salt Tasting Room are pros at small plates so they produced Salt’s Classic Tasting Plate prosciutto, parmesan cheese, their house made condiment, and bread
The Irish Heather had comfort food on the menu, the traditional Irish Steak & Ale Stew on Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes) had a nice flavour but was served room temperature, making it less appealing.
Based on reputation, I am willing to give the three a try again on a non-event night to see how they intend to present themselves.
Around the corner, Milano Roasters Coffee warmed people up with Tasting Cups of Espresso La Futura Macchiato & Espresso Nuovo stovetop (which even though I’m not a coffee drinker, I didn’t mind)
Trees Organic Cafes are famous for their cheesecake and winners of the Vancouver Foodster Cheesecake Challenge. They did not disappoint with a cheesecake duo of classic New York Cheesecake and Almond Marzipan Cheesecake. It was a sweet way to wrap up the night.
If you were one of the many who missed out on a ticket to Tasting Plates: Gastown, act now to get your ticket to the next Vancouver Foodster event, Burger Palooza on May 4th. Followed by Tasting Plates: Main Street on May 14th
In the rugged West Coast hamlet of Sooke, BC, just an hour outside of Victoria, fishing and forests are the usual pastime and scenery but the Best Western Premier – Prestige Oceanfront Resort breaks the mold. Located just past the centre of the village adjacent to the public boat launch and marina the gleaming white edifice brings to mind more Miami Beach than a Sooke Beach. The grand, bright and luxurious lobby are the first signs that this hotel is something different, tasteful modern furnishings, dark wood flooring, against white walls. The small subtle front desk makes the lobby feel even more comfortable and relaxed, like a grand mansion’s front lounge than a hotel entrance.
The hotel is divided into two wings, on either side of the lobby, with guest rooms from the main level (2nd floor) to the top (5th); meeting spaces, pool, fitness centre and Le Sooke Spa make up the waterfront level below. The Mix by Ric’s restaurant is just off the lobby surrounded by a veranda overlooking the marina and Sooke Basin. On the other side of the lobby a seasonal cocktail lounge with a rotating theme; Charcuterie and Sushi have been the last two offerings. Cafe Sophia near the hotel entrance, for a quick bite and coffee before heading out to explore the natural beauty and rustic charms to the region, or relax on one of the many patios surrounding the lobby or ground floor gardens.
The guest rooms are also grand and luxurious, modern fixtures and fittings in a mix of warm dark wood floor and furniture strike a balance against the grey woollen soft furnishings and white linens. The striking white plantation shutters in place of heavy curtains makes for a nice change from the ordinary hotel room window dressings. In the bathroom, a gentle rain showerhead sits over top of the deep bathtub lined up with an additional television to watch while soaking, the separated toilet is a nice added feature. Free wireless internet is especially welcome as there is very limited mobile service in the area, beware to turn off your data roaming in the area too as occasionally your phone will pick up the US carrier’s signal.
The Best Western Premier – Prestige Oceanfront Resort makes a perfect location to base a West Coast adventure; return to luxurious accommodations after a day on the water sailing or fishing or don’t even leave the site and spend the day being pampered at Le Sooke Spa. Book your getaway now!
Rustic, simple, authentic…three words that easily sum up Jamie’s Italian. Chef Jamie Oliver is well known for his love of rustic Italian food, first learned alongside his mentor Gennaro Contaldo, now with 40 Jamie’s Italian across Britain they are bringing this passion to the people. I stopped in for a light snack at the branch at Westfield London, Shepards Bush, a comfortable, cool space with a large patio for al fresco dining, hard to believe it was part of a major shopping centre. For a celebrity chef restaurant, I thought it was surprisingly affordable. The menu is broken into Antipasti, Pasta, Mains and Sides there’s something to please everyone’s palate. Deciding on a couple of Antipasti plates, it was plenty for a light but satisfying snack and with both plates under £4.00, it barely dented the wallet.
Italian Nachos were a plate of crispy, fried 3 cheese ravioli served with a lightly spicy arrabiata sauce for dipping. Each tiny morsel was a perfect taste combination; crisp pasta, warm melting cheese and fresh spicy sauce. My second plate was the Caprese Salad, expecting the usual tri-colour mozzarella, tomato and basil salad I was treated to a beautifully and uniquely presented plate with the three main ingredients layered between crunchy pieces of ‘music bread’. Both dishes were a feast for the eyes and tastebuds, looking around at other tables, I’m sure I would’ve felt the same of whatever I’d chosen. I don’t usually eat slowly but took my time to savour eat bite and take in the atmosphere, enjoying a moment to relax overlooking the adjacent greenspace. After settling the bill, I wrapped up the meal with a stop at the Jamie’s Italian Ices truck outside the restaurant, allowing people to grab a scoop of ice to go. The days special; honey, lavender and hazelnut ice was the perfect way to cap and cleanse the meal. Jamie’s Italian is definitely worth a return visit to try more of the rustic, simple, authentic Italian plates.