Good morning all
Saw those big beauties sail into Victoria harbour yesterday….and of course forgot my camera. However, it was incredibly thrilling. I’m going back on Sunday to get a better look at them so will report back (with some photos) in a day or so. So far, my favourite is the American Coast Guard – the USCG Eagle – they sailed in with all the crew up in the rigging – i’d like to do that. Although there is another – the Lynx – that caught my attention….all the sailors wore period costumes – right up my alley! I love costume dramas!
To veiw the boats check out http://tallshipsvictoria.ca/content/view/25/50/
I went with friend Heather – since earlier that morning we hit the ICC market in Bastion Square. (More morrels, mustard greens and fresh peas for me.) We watched the ships from the dock behind the pink Custom House – and guess what? That’s where Red Fish Blue Fish just happens to be….imagine that! However, we did not indugle in fish in chips…..once I told Steve about my plan to try all the fish & chips in town he agreed to be my second taster….so in all fairness I couldn’t order them without him. But I did make another plan….to sample everything else BUT the fish and chips with Heather!
We had their Pacific Rim Chowder (also because yesterday was FREEZING) – a big cup of soup laced with chipotle coconut cream, lemon grass, lots of corn and piles of fish. Heather had eaten there before and raved about the chips, so we also shared Spicy Pacific Fish Poutine. Very clever riff on the Quebec favourite – hand cut fries with lots of freshly ground black pepper and topped with spicy spot prawn mayo and this incredible and for lack of better term, fish gravy goo – that was spicy and soft and completley comforting. You could discern the texture of fish, but I really don’t know what was in there….which leads me to think I better go back for more. We rounded it all off with a Seared Albacore Tuna Tacone – had more of that spot prawn mayo and lots of pea shoots, coleslaw and tuna – all rolled up in a grilled soft tortilla. Was good, but I don’t think I need to try it again. Their coleslaw however is the best! Its barely creamy and there is a serious amount of sesame going on there. Mix of cabbages and it had that wonderful crisp yet soft texture – like the cabbage had been salted before mixing- know what I mean?
Am off to Ottavio’s shortly, but am really looking forward to Sunday when I get to repeat my whole tall ships and fish ‘n chips adventure – hopefully the line ups won’t be too long and I can actually go on them! Happy long-weekend to everyone!
Sometimes my job really is fun. I had the immense pleasure of being treated to high tea at the Windsor Arms hotel in Toronto for a preview of new wallpapers. Can I say how much I love high tea? I love the whole formality of it- the choosing of the tea (although to be honest, I only understood about every other word on the tea descriptions), the mis-matched tea-pots and tea cups, the possibility of an entire pot of tea just for me (is it weird that I felt a little jittery after?!). But by far the best part of high tea is the tower of scones, sandwiches and cakes. If I lived a different life, I would present all my food on a footed plate of somesort. To my husbands dismay, I probably own eight or ten footed cake plates. I really need to start eating more cake, or maybe eat my Wednesday night plate of microwaved left-overs on a cake stand.
The tea room at the Windsor arms is wild- half male half female. It’s made up of two rooms- the first pale and golden, with silky chairs and cream curtains. The other room, the one we were in, is painted with black walls, has a HUGE crystal chandelier in it, and dark purple sofas and chairs. It’s a strange, kind of Victorian-goth mixture of elements. see photos.
I was joined by the lovely and kind Arren Williams (who, I’m sure you’ll remember, used to have my job here at Chatelaine). We were looking at the latest wallpapers by Graham & Brown. Let me just start by saying that wallpaper is not what you remember it to be. Sure, you can have little clusters of cabbage roses and pink polka-dots all over your walls if that’s what you’re after, but today’s wallpaper is far edgier than it used to be. Many familiar patterns have been re-invented in modern colours and textures. Metallics are making their way into wallpaper more than ever, as are paintable papers (that have been around forever- they’re not my favourite, but a great cheat if you have lousy walls and don’t want to re-drywall). Also making a huge come-back is grasscloth. My experience is that people have a real problem with grass-cloth. I think it reminds them of dusty, smoky rooms with orange sofas in the 70s. But think of grasscloth with a lovely neutral chenille sofa, some touches of mirror here and there, maybe a dramatic, oversized floor lamp in a dark walnut wood, and a large ottoman covered in coffee-table books. Can’t you just see it? I want to be there now, having a cold cider.
Check out www.grahamandbrown.com. I especially like the Monsoon, Marcel Wanders and Mode collections. Here are a few pics:
This is from the Mode collection. Can’t you just see it in a front hall, or small bathroom, with lots and lots of white?
The same, in a softer, more feminine colour way. Makes me think of Sex in the City.
This is from the Monsoon collection. It’s the perfect pic-me-up for a neutral bedroom, maybe accented with a few exotic pieces from Pier 1 or Homesense.
And finally, here’s a really soft feminie one, also from the Monsoon collection, perfect for any girl lucky enough to be able to indulge her girly side without having a partner grumble about the lack of stainless steel in the bedroom. (My husband’s dream bathroom includes a stainless steel toilet. Crearly, one of us stands and one of us sits!).
When we renovated our house four or so years ago, I went a little wild with wallpaper. I papered our entire dining room in Osborne & Little’s Asuka paper- here is an image.
Mine has gold leaves though. I love it, but it’s a little over-whelming. I think doing a single wall would have been a better option. Also, since the dining room doesn’t get that much light, the gold of the paper tends to absorb the light. I’ve seen this paper is super-bright, super-modern rooms though, as a single wall, and it’s breathtaking.
The main thing about todays wallpaper that really sets it apart from the older paper they used to make is the ease with which it can be removed. Graham and Brown and Blue Mountain Wallcovers, both sold at Home Depot, make papers that are guaranteed to come off in a single strip. No more steam or chemicals to strip paper.
I’m off to my mom’s farmhouse in upstate New York for the week. She’s been renovating her kitchen- the house is about 200 years old, and she “surprised” her husband with a new kitchen. Not sure how well the surprise went over, but I can’t wait to see. They put in a white Ikea kitchen, with cherry counters and red painted floors. I’ll take photos and upload while I’m there if I get internet connection.
Happy Canada Day everyone!
Lots of action….is about to happen. Tall ships (27 of them? could it be true) sailed into Victoria today. Tomorrow they sail into the inner harbour and I’m very excited to go see them. I’ve never been on a true sailing ship. Just tiny sailboats (albacores?) and I worked for a few summers on the boats in Toronto harbour – the Northern Spirit and Cpt. Matthew Flinders – but I was stashed away in the galley cooking up big ol’ buffets…..remember when Toronto used to have those great fireworks every summer- Symphony of Fire? That was amazing – and being on one of those boats we always had the best seats in the house.
Anyways…. back to the present. Fish and chips. Am on a quest or perhaps I should say I’m trolling for the best F&C in town . Tonight’s offering was from Fairfield Fish & Chips. I live down the street from it and being a local girl I thought it’s a good place to start.
It’s a small neighbourhood joint – mom & pop type of thing. Lined up out the door – so thought that was a good sign! I opted for the $7.00 rock cod and chips with house tartar sauce and coleslaw. Loved that it came wrapped up in newspaper:
The chips were absolutely delicious. Squishy and practically creamy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside (probably lost some crunch on the walk home). Put a little fleur de sel on top and it’s been the best thing I’ve eaten all day. Since I’m a chip/mayo fan I decided to test them with the tartar. Pretty good! Nice and mustardy with bits of pickle crunch. Goes well with the chips…..perhaps too well…..I’ve barely left any for the fish. Sigh. Fish is good. This is stick-to-your-ribs kind of batter. Super heavy but not over-the-top greasy. Just enough grease – if Goldilocks were eating deep fried fish instead of porridge I’m sure she would’ve chosen this one. It’s homey and hearty and there’s lots of batter…… little fish. Somehow I don’t mind. The coleslaw was bland. Pleasantly creamy, inoffensive, nothing to more to say about that. I’m giving this a 7.5 plus a because for that price it’s the best deal in town.
Tomorrow – after the tall ships – I’m going to try Red Fish, Blue Fish. Will let you know how it measures up.
If you’re looking for fish that are safe to eat, sustainable and harvested in an eco-friendly manner, this is a good start. But, as one reader pointed out, what about fresh, locally caught fish?
Well, here’s your answer: SeaChoice.org has an extensive Canadian database (and a handy printable pocket guide) that covers off health and environmental warnings and risks. Among the highlights:
Cod: Many varieties are low in mercury, though Canadian Pacific cod is caught by bottom trawlers, which scores gives them a low eco rating.
Halibut: There are mercury concerns with both Pacific and Atlantic varieties, though the Atlantic has a good eco rating.
Trout: Rainbow trout is farmed in the U.S. and has good health and eco ratings.
If a fish has a questionable health rating, due to mercury, should you be eating it? Back in February, we asked an expert — Dr. David Lean, a professor of ecotoxicology at the University of Ottawa — if we could get mercury poisoning from tuna. He said, in part:
The smaller the fish, the less mercury and other contaminants it contains, so try to avoid tuna steaks; tuna is one of the most highly contaminated fish. The same rule applies to fish such as halibut and haddock: As the price increases, so does the mercury.
And if you’re not yet drowning in information, here are two other fishy guides I like:
- Smart Shopper’s Fish Picks, published by National Geographic’s Green Guide (with its handy printable pocket guide)
- Seafood Selector, published by Environmental Defense Fund (with yet one more handy printable pocket guide)
(Thanks to a reader for this question!)
Happy Sunday and 2nd day of summer! It’s sunny here and I’ve had a fairly lazy morning so far. Did go for my ocean walk (now I strap on hand and leg weights – speed walking: I look hilarious!) but have since settled into paper-reading and breakfasting. Steve is outside putzing in the garden and I’ve moved indoors to gather my thoughts.
First off, kindness. I love it when people respond to what I’ve written or offer suggestions of help. Quite a few readers have replied with warm wishes and helpful suggestions – tips on starting a new business, where to get some good take-out and places to go on the Island that a newcomer wouldn’t know. I really appreciate all of that.
Now….onto food! Went to the market again last week and came home with armfuls of veggies. Fresh broad beans – aka – fava beans. You know, in all my years cooking and eating, I’ve never actually used (or eaten) fresh fava beans. This was a culinary first for me!
Look at these beauties:
Should’ve sat on the front steps and shelled them, but just went straight to work in the kitchen:
To prepare fava beans you first blanche, then pop them out of their tough skins. But I liked the skins, so left ‘em on! Sauteed with a little onion and garlic (in a knob of butter) and kept it simple and fresh.
I’m having a new love affair with fennel – the fronds in particular. They grow in my backyard so I use it on everything…..toss in pasta, on sandwiches, in scrambled eggs and sprinkled over tomatoes with lots of salt:
As you can see I’m getting lots of use (and enjoyment) from my oyster sea salt dish!
And speaking of salt, something new came my way. Ottavio stocks a wide variety of incredibly interesting salts (of course) so Monica sent me home with a new one to try. It’s called Seloplante- this is a sea salt from Brittany mixed with herbs.
It crumbles into fine crystals when rubbed between your fingers and I think will be great on baked potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and grilled meats. My first taste gave me a wave of nostalgia. Growing up we used Lowrey’s seasoning salt – our staple on meatloaf and baked potatoes (one track mind). It seasoned all our barbecue dinners! The only difference is the colour – Lowreys was an interesting sandy/red hue and this one is more grey/celery in colour – but because it’s from France that makes it just a little bit more special – in my mind anyways!