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food

Winnipeg’s Best New Restaurants of 2015

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The Merchant Kitchen, photo by Ian McCausland

This year brought Winnipeg diners plenty to rave about. The Merchant Kitchen tops the list, and has been chosen as one of Canada’s Top 10 New Restaurants by WHERE editors.

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June Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

PATIO PERFECTION

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• Catch some rays on the rooftop patio at Your Father’s Moustache on Spring Garden Road. The fun and lively space has beer aplenty on tap, including three signature brews from the RockBottom Brewpub downstairs.
• Downtown, head to The Maxwell’s Plum on Grafton Street for a cold pint on the sunny patio. The landmark bar has the city’s largest selection of draft beer, including top selections from Maritime craft breweries like Halifax’s Garrison Brewing and Cape Breton’s Big Spruce.
• For fabulous views of Halifax harbour, check out Gahan House in the Historic Properties. This popular Prince Edward Island brewpub recently opened its first Nova Scotia location, serving its own line of handcrafted beers. Try the Beach Chair lager for a refreshing summer sip.

Editor’s Choice

Steak9246Two downtown restaurants have once again earned the prestigious CAA/AAA Four Diamond Award.
Recognized for the eighth year in a row, Onyx on Argyle Street is a sleek resto bar showcasing local ingredients in delicious globally inspired recipes. Cut Steakhouse on Lower Water Street has received the award every
year since opening in 2008. The menu boasts premium beef (dry-aged and butchered on-site) with
an artful wine list and inventive sides.

 

 

VEGGIES FIRST

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• A leader in Halifax’s emerging vegan scene, Envie touts a menu of hearty meals like vegan ribs, grilled cheese and indulgent raw desserts. Catering to dietary restrictions, the menu is 90 per cent gluten free. Find the stylish restaurant on the corner of Agricola and Charles streets in the North End.
• In the West End on Windsor Street, Wild Leek has made-from-scratch vegan comfort food. Chef Kirsten Haggart whips up recipes like mac’n cheese, seitan sandwich, and the popular coconutbacon “CBLT.” Wash it down with a fresh-squeezed juice and save room for gourmet cupcake.

 

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Downtown at Gio on
Market Street, Chef Bee Choo
Char gives traditional recipes
an inventive new twist. Her
delicious version of poutine
includes fried polenta fingers
topped with duck confit, red
wine jus and blue “Cheez
Whiz.” Open for lunch and
dinner, Gio has a sommelierchosen
wine list plus creative cocktails and martinis.

 

SLICE OF SUCCESS

_MG_4104Specializing in wood-fired pizza, Morris East won bronze in the non-traditional category at the recent International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. Its Nova Scotia-inspired winning pie featured pears poached in Blomidon Estate Baco Noir and prosciutto from Halifax’s Ratinaud Charcuterie. Visit in downtown Halifax on Morris Street and in Bedford on Larry Uteck Boulevard.

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT EVENTS AND CONCERTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY THIS MONTH!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 – $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 – $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 – $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

Hot Shopping: Now Open: Olive Love

Frescolio-430

To the delight of local and visiting gourmands alike, not one but two fine oil and vinegar tasting concept stores recently opened in Winnipeg’s toniest shopping districts. Frescolio (pictured) joined the Corydon strip in June, offering more than 40 extra-virgin olive oils and vinegars in palate-pleasing flavours like honey ginger white balsamic and dark chocolate balsamic, sourced from regions as varied as Greece, Spain, Australia, Morocco, Chile and California. OliV Tasting Room, a noted Canadian chain with six locations across the country, set up shop on the Academy strip in July. Founded by Awie and Isabeau du Toit, OliV offers more than 80 premium oils, many of which come from the du Toit’s own olive farm in South Africa, and vinegars in flavours such as bergamot lemon and rosemary. Sampling is encouraged and is the edutainment at these tasting bars. Delight in the discovery of seemingly endless combinations. Frescolio, 9-929 Corydon Ave, 204-505-1455; OliV Tasting Room, 540 Academy Rd, 204-414-2019.

Winnipeg’s Top 40 Patios

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In a city affectionately known as “Winterpeg”, it’s not surprising that locals look for any available chance to soak up some sun. Hit up these 40 prime patios for a side of vitamin D with your meal.

529 Wellington sets its tables on a manicured back lawn adjacent Assiniboine River. As if smart and beautiful food weren’t enough!

Cocktails with a view of the skyline are on the menu at The Allen Restaurant‘s rooftop patio at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

The Beachcomber‘s expansive bar and patio offers people watching and a million dollar view of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

The beautiful, shady patio complete with a fountain makes Black Rabbit a prime spot for sun and sips in Osborne Village.

Feel miles away without leaving the city at Buffalo Stone Cafe at Fort Whyte Alive urban nature reserve. Dine on simple breakfast and lunch faves while overlooking one of Manitoba’s beautiful lakes.

Open wide for gargantuan sized taqueria fare at a rare front lawn table at Corydon’s Burrito del Rio.

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Perfect 10: Savour Food and Wine Festival Celebrates a Decade

The Savour Food & Wine Festival marks a decade of delighting palates and bringing foodies, chefs and winemakers closer together. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Even at the most open of restaurants, you’re getting few chances to really talk with the chefs while they work. You may see them for a quick greeting when you order, or perhaps a brief thank-you at the end of the meal. But odds are good you’re talking to them while they’re really in action, as they’re cooking and plating your food. They’re probably not literally pointing you to the best glass of wine to pair with it.

Unless, of course, you’re at the Savour Food & Wine Festival. Running throughout February, the month-long festival brings diners together with chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, brewers and suppliers from across the province. It all begins on February 1 when the Dine Around program, which runs throughout the month, kicks off. Dine Around gives restaurants a chance to showcase a local project on a three-course prix fixe menu (for either $25, $35 or $45). Participating restaurants weren’t finalized at press time, but you can find all the latest updates at edining.ca.

Throughout the month, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street in Halifax is hosting several Festival events. Next is Decadence on February 7. The tasting pairs artisanal cheeses, succulent chocolates and wines from around the world. Held in the Schooner Showroom, Decadence is an intimate event, explains Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes Savour. “We expanded Decadence to 225 tickets this year, and that’s really as big as we want it to get,” he says. This year, organizers have also invited a few local restaurants to Decadence, to share food pairings that complement the theme ingredients.

Next on the calendar is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting in the Casino’s Compass Room on February 15. It’s another intimate event, with attendance capped at 125 people. “These are wines that are unavailable in Nova Scotia,” Stewart says, “wines we wouldn’t normally afford.”

The Savour Food & Wine Festival runs through February, celebrating Nova Scotian cuisine. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Following that, it’s back to the Casino’s Schooner Showroom for Imbibe on February 21. Savour’s newest event, Imbibe debuts this year. “Imbibe is our biggest new change this year,” Stewart says. “There are some restaurants
and bars in Nova Scotia that do a lot of fine cocktails, and they don’t get the attention they deserve. The idea is to celebrate the art of mixology, with 15 booths showcasing specialty brands and demonstrating their signature drinks. Finally, February concludes with the Savour Food & Wine Show on February 28. This year, the event moves to the spacious Cunard Centre on Marginal Road. The flagship event brings 65 exhibitors—restaurants, wineries, bakeries, cheese makers, brewers and suppliers of all sorts—together to celebrate the best of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene. Dozens of chefs are on site, preparing artful little dishes, all included in the ticket price. “It’s the 10th anniversary of Savour,” says Stewart. “And we’re quite happy with how it’s gone. It’s all about bringing restaurants and people together, and getting diners excited about what we do here in Nova Scotia.”

Geir Simensen is head chef with Saege Bistro on Spring Garden Road and Scanway Catering in Halifax. He’s been there for each Savour. “It’s important to me to take part and support our local industry,” he says. “It’s one thing to talk to a table when people are in the restaurant, but it’s different to be at an event like Savour and talk to people who are really there to meet you, and want to talk. It puts a face to the restaurant.”

Figuring out his Savour menu is a highlight of the year, for Simensen. He’s already given it a lot of thought for 2013. “We use the year before as a benchmark,” he says. “I like to think each year is a little better… Now I like to get a little more simple, use the natural seasonal flavours. I guess that’s something chefs learn as they get older. I’ve been doing this for 27 years, but I still feel like I’m learning.” This year, he’s thinking he’ll offer a comforting winter menu, with some sort of braised meat and root vegetables. “I really want to show off those local ingredients.”

Our Editors’ Picks for Amazing Summer Activities

Taste of Victoria

Savour the flavours of Vancouver Island with the fourth annual Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine. Kicking off July 19 at the Crystal Garden with the Main Event, an evening brimming with more than 100 BC wines and great Vancouver Island eats, events continue to July 22.  Other highlights include the Swine and The Vine pig roast on the Hotel Grand Pacific patio, a three-course brunch at Vista 18, and a Sips and Seafood extravaganza at Inn at Laurel Point.  And you won’t want to miss a dining adventure in the middle of the fields at the Vantreight family farm, overlooking the Saanich Peninsula and Pacific Ocean where guests can reach back and pick what’s on their plate! (more…)

Valentine’s Day Dining Trends

Photo by Brent Moore

Do your Valentine’s Day dinner plans follow the trends?

Surveys by leading restaurant reservations and review companies OpenTable and Zagat found that February 14 is the most hyped dining-out night per year for a reason. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for December 9 to 11

Self-portrait entitled "Julie" by Julie LaPalme, whose work will be on view at Lemonjellow.

Friday, Dec. 9
If you’re looking for a fun holiday jam with a bit of an artsy twist, Lemonjellow’s weekend pARTy “Deck the Halls” is just the thing for you. Lemonjellow Productions is an art collective that aims to display art in all different sorts of ways. This weekend, the works of nine local artists will be on display and for sale at back-to-back holiday parties. The party starts at 8pm this Friday and lasts well into the night with the help of a DJ and some Christmas tunes. Bring a present to be re-gifted in support of Pink Triangle Youth, and leave with some great art priced $50-$300. A party runs Saturday at the same time, and a tamer cookies-and-coffee party is happening on Sunday.

If you’re looking to take a break from the holiday madness, take a road trip to Gananoque (about two hours away), where you can catch Robin Hood! A Children’s Holiday Pantomime. This beloved adventure story is being performed as a “panto” – a performance with a musical-comedy twist that has men playing women… and vice-versa! Some laughs, a fun road trip, a good time with family and friends, and a unique performance style – this outing has it all. Play runs until Dec. 23.

Saturday, Dec. 10
If you’re looking to broaden your cultural horizons beyond Santa Claus, come out to Carleton University’s campus on Saturday night. No, we’re not suggesting joining the students who are studying for exams; instead, check out Kala Tarang: An Evening of Indian Dance and Music, which is a concert highlighting the work of the students of Gharana Arts. Other performers include Kasturi Mishra, who will be performing traditional Kathak Nritya, and Udit Bhide and Ravi Singh, performing Sitar and Tabla Vadhya. Whether you are familiar with this style of dance or not, you will walk away with an increased knowledge of the rich cultural traditions of Indian performing arts.

As if the holidays don’t have enough temptation, the Ottawa Locavore Artisan Food Fair (LAFF) is back for a second year. This Saturday, 25 local food artisans will be coming together to sell their delicious products, including cookies, pies, cheeses, jams, chocolates, and more. Sample some products and choose your favourites to purchase as gifts or to take home for yourself. A silent auction of select products will raise money for the School Breakfast Program that feeds 11,000 children in Ottawa daily. So head out to delight your taste buds and support a good cause, as well. (more…)

Essentials: From Field to Table

Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre

Learn about agriculture from field to table at the Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre.

Learn how to plant crops, grind flour, raise pigs and be a modern food producer inside the Bruce D. Campbell Farm & Food Discovery Centre. The new, family-friendly facility connects the dots between producer and consumer with fascinating displays, videos and hands-on galleries. Drive a virtual combine, check out 150 live pigs, and bone up on the science of agriculture inside the 8,300 sq. ft. centre. Food processing, safe food handling and a live weather station round out the experience. Open Tue-Sat 10 am-4 pm. Adults $5, students and seniors $3.50. Research Station Rd, 15 kilometres south of Winnipeg on Hwy 75, 883-2524.

Quirky and Cute: Coombs, British Columbia

Tucked away on Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo off the Island Highway is Coombs, a place that’s become known for its signature rooftop of grazing goats. Under that roof is The Old Country Market, a quirky grocery store that offers a huge selection of breads and sweets made in their bakery, a cheese shop and imported foods that run the gamut from English licorice to bacon-flavoured mayonnaise a.k.a. Baconnaise.

Before you head to the Market to shop, have lunch at Cuckoo in Coombs Trattoria & Pizzeria. The Italian restaurant offers pasta and wood-stove pizza in a large space with wooden tables and rustic tablecloths (which you can buy next door in Zolena). If the weather is nice, sit out back on the patio under the plum trees. Just outside the restaurant is the greenery area with large pots and Chinese statues, shrubbery and small cacti. Nestled in amongst the plants is Zolena, a shop with wool blankets from New Zealand, Chinese silk bags and bangles from India. (more…)

Road Trip: Eastern Townships – Sherbrooke to Montreal

Photo by Waheeda Harris

By Waheeda Harris

Although not a lengthy distance, this part of La Belle Province is packed with heritage towns, tempting boites and plenty of Quebecois charm. Many distractions can be found in the Eastern Townships in the towns of North Hatley, Magog, Orford and Brome before ending the journey in Montreal.

Modes of Transport

Driving can make this into a day trip, but take the time to meander off Autoroute 10 to discover some of the lures of the region. Cycling is another way to enjoy the leisurely pace of the Townships, and if a day on two wheels has tired you out, the Taxi-Velo can come to the rescue.  From point A to point B its 157 kilometres as the crow flies (just under two hours), but consider taking a long weekend and  another 50-75 km for side trips.

Roadside Attractions

Make time in Sherbrooke to visit the 11 al fresco murals that are found throughout the downtown. Each one reveals some history of the town, its citizens and the region, as well as a snapshot of the changes that occurred in the 20th century. (more…)