British Columbia is a foodie’s paradise

British Columbia is a foodie’s paradise

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BC oysters from Spinnakers in Victoria (photo: Steve Dolinsky)

Whenever I get back from a trip, the first thing people ask me is, “where did you eat?” ‚ More significant is that my “field research” can yield dividends for them the next time they plan a trip to that particular area. I know they’ll eventually ask me the same question in a few months, as they plan a trip to the same region. So in a first, I’m going to share with you some of the highlights from my vacation last week to British Columbia. I didn’t want to constantly tweet from there (the roaming charges on the iPhone would kill me) but the improved photo and video quality on the new iPhone 4 is immediately apparent. ‚ I’ll be sharing several posts with you this week, so be sure to check back here through Saturday. Enjoy.

Vancouver may get all of the attention, but Victoria certainly deserves some love, especially when it comes to its burgeoning food scene.‚ This former trading post has evolved into a mecca for retirees, cruise ship passengers and more recently, foodies looking for easy-going adventures such as kayaking, fishing and cycling.‚ There are wineries within a 45-minute drive of downtown, as well as microbreweries and a culture emphasizing locally-grown produce and cheeses.

To get to Vancouver Island, you’ll need to take a ferry. It’s about an hour-and-a-half trip from the terminal near Vancouver.

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
1112 Fort Street
Victoria, BC Canada V8V 4V2
1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779) from anywhere in North America

Tourism Victoria 4th Floor, 31 Bastion Square
Victoria, BC V8W 1J1
Phone: 250-414-6999
Fax: 250-361-9733

Here’s where we stayed:
The Oswego Hotel 500
Oswego Street
Victoria, BC V8V 5C1
Phone: 250-294-7500
Fax: 250-294-7509

This funky little boutique hotel has shades of Kimpton, with great views of the city and just a 5 minute walk from the main action at the center of town. Here’s where we ate:

A cod dog from Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria (photo: Steve Dolinsky)

Red Fish Blue Fish (VIDEO on this dinner in my next post) 1006 Wharf Street on Broughton Street Pier, Phone: 250-298-6877 Loved the cod dog, plus the halibut and cod fish “Ëœn chips, shrimp roll, wild salmon “tacones” and the tempura pickles.‚ All of the seafood here is certified by Ocean Wise, a program promoting sustainable seafood via the Vancouver Aquarium.

Bagel, BC smoked salmon from Willie’s Bakery
in Victoria (photo: Steve Dolinsky)

Willie’s Bakery
537 Johnson Street,
Phone: 250-381-8414,
Founded in 1887, Willie’s is British Columbia’s oldest bakery.‚ Fresh baked goods and fresh coffee served in a casual environment in one of Victoria’s heritage buildings.

554 Pandora Avenue,
Phone: 250-385-6653,

Try the banana cakes or the Mo:Le Benny : two poached or scrambled eggs with smoked tuna, avocado and thyme-roasted tomatoes on a buttermilk biscuit; served with pesto hash browns

Plenty of great microbrews on tap at Spinnakers in Victoria

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & Guesthouses
308 Catherine Street Victoria,
BC V9A 3S8
Phone: 250-386-2739

As Victoria’s only “gastro” brewpub, Spinnakers combines regional cuisine with hand-crafted beer. Spinnakers is Canada’s oldest licensed brewpub and a pioneer of the North American micro-brewing renaissance.‚ They also have an on-premise malt vinegar brewery, unique in North America.‚ An almost religious adherence to local products was evident in a fantastic cioppino and a pristine plate of BC oysters.

Organic greens and tofu from Daidoco (photo: Steve Dolinsky)

633 Courtney Street (Nootka Court),
Phone: 250-388-7383

Located adjacent to Victoria’s Bug Zoo in Nootka Court, this quaint Japanese deli serves up a lunch only menu of locally sourced organic Japanese fare.‚ Daidoco’s menu items range from $2 - 8 CDN and they are open from 11:00 am until all items are sold out, which usually only takes a couple of hours.‚ We had some grilled mackerel and a salad of organic greens and sprouts that came directly from the owner’s garden.

Pizzeria Prima Strada
105 - 230 Cook Street,
Victoria, BC
Phone: 250-590-8595
The combination of handpicked Italian ingredients, like the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour from Naples and local products, such as house-made fennel sausage and just-made mozzarella di bufala from North America’s only pure-bred Water Buffalo herd living just 45 minutes away, make this pizzeria a must-visit.‚ Baked in traditional wood-fired ovens, these thin crust pizzas are delicious. The pizzeria is located in the charming Cook Street Village, 10 minutes from downtown Victoria. Sweet Memories They make all of the waffle cones here everyday, and the super premium, handmade ice cream is outstanding (especially the Turkish Coffee).

Assorted flavors from Sweet Memories in Victoria (photo: Steve Dolinsky)