Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thing: Ribena


Recently my love for the black currant flavoured drink syrup was rekindled, and I wanted to share the experience. What a multifaceted drink!
It serves as a fancy non-alcoholic treat for kids when mixed with soda water, as well as an everyday thirst quenching juice when combined with water and ice. Although, admittedly it is simply glorified sugar water for me it harbors sentimental value as well as a "grape-drink taste" alternative and serves as a more sophisticated juice box experience.

I associate Ribena with my mother's Swiss friend who looked after me at a young age, as well as my first trip over-seas to London when I was 10, and more recently, a trip to Norway as well as dinners at our Swedish/Norwegian family friends' home. Every time I drink it, I'm reminded of these people and places and it feels exciting and familiar at the same time.

Ribena gives me wiiings.

Place: Beacon Hill Park

A staple in the park-goer's repertoire, Beacon Hill Park is lovely any time of year for anyone. This being said, springtime is the optimal time to visit. Ducks, crocuses, grassy fields, buskers, bird watchers, a stone bridge and peacocks add to the irresistible pull of the park at this time of year.

The versatility of the park could charm anyone- families love the water park and children's farm, the abundance of grass spaces as well as picnic tables can accommodate any picnic, adventurous or civilized and anyone is sure to be more than satisfied with the many walking trails, which they may or may not have to share with the residing ducks.

I think my favorite part about Beacon Hill Park is how accessible it is, despite it's hidden-away feel. Quite a few bus routes can take you just a short walk away from any of the entrances. Also, its proximity to Douglas St. makes it an easy place to go after a meal or even to bring your food.

One close-by vendor frequented by locals and tourists alike, especially in the spring an summer seasons is the Beacon Drive-In which offers soft serve ice cream and classic burger joint fare, along with coastal twists on favorites, such as the oyster burger (delicious).

Beacon Hill Park is a wonderful place to go and relax and if nothing else, to visit the sweetest baby goats you've ever seen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Person: Beau-Bear, Age: 2 years, Train Enthusiast

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Sir Francis Bacon
English author, courtier, & philosopher (1561 - 1626)

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Place: Starbucks Everywhere

I drink coffee every day. I love rich dark roast with hints of chocolate, and heavy bodied espresso. I would do almost anything for well made wet cappuccino. I get really into my coffee, which is a little embarrassing; I recognize how irritating "those people" are. I just really enjoy coffee.

I enjoy it so much that I've grown tired of Starbucks and have moved on to greater things.

My goal is now to find great coffee, locally. And for the most part I think I've succeeded. But that is another post. Today is about my Starbucks dilemma. While I love brewing Starbucks beans at home -my favorite roast being Cafe Verona- I am often disappointed with the quality of store-bought Starbucks drinks.

For example, an Americano should always be made with the water first and espresso after. This way the crema from the espresso is not dissipated by water being poured over it. However, at Starbucks, some water is always added on top of the espresso unless you specify "all water first".

I think it is bad faith for Starbucks to rely on the "tastyness" of their beans rather than the quality of their drinks.

In any case, today is "free coffee with a travel mug" day at Starbucks, and although my coffee needs can no longer be properly met by Starbucks baristas, I will be participating in this event, because really, who can say no to free coffee?

As a follow up to this post I intend to compare local coffee shops and rate other excellent choices of beans for home brewing and hopefully I'll never have to endure another mediocre Americano, not-so-wet "wet cappuccino", or pay $20.00 for a pound of beans again.

Unless you're offering me free coffee, so long Starbucks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thing: Bagels

Recently, my mom suggested a new way to play the "What's your favorite food?" game. She introduced an idea that I'm sure has been thought of before, but was new to my 7-year-old sister who loves to learn people's favorites. It is this: favorite foods can be sorted into 2 categories:

1 - The 'last meal of your entire life, ever' foods.


2 - The 'eat everyday for the rest of your life' foods.

For me, however, bagels fall into both of these categories and thus, I'm sure can be determined as my ultimate favorite food. This month, anyways. I reserve the right to detract this statement at any given time.

Although they take the prize for most delicious and most delicious over extended periods of time, any old bagel will not do. It must be fresh and it must be toasted and smothered in cream cheese. A cinnamon raisin bagel will not do, as it is weird with cream cheese and a blueberry bagel is frowned upon- too sweet. Favorites are: plain, whole wheat, cheese and the everything bagel. If you really want to impress me, add lots of capers, thinly sliced red onion and a thick chunk of lox. I love bagels.

Place: Victoria, BC

Things to appreciate about the CRD, Number 1:

Just when life gets monotonous and my early afternoon "naptime" walks with the little boy I look after seem to take the same 3 routes with the same 5 coffee shops, somethings happens. I decide to turn left instead of right, and at once, I've stumbled past somebody's regular cafe/bistro and fresh market that I didn't even know existed.

How silly of me to forget to explore the possibility of boutiques and cupcakeries that don't reside in Estevan Village, or to imagine that Haultain Corners hosts the only great furniture consignment shop. Often I feel I've experienced all Victoria has to offer, and don't realize that this predicament is self-afflicted and occurs because I've kept to the places I know and forgotten to search out the inexperienced.

Here's to discovery. In posts to come, I will attempt to document and comment on exciting findings, as well as share some old favorites.

Thank you Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay for keeping the small town alive in the CRD.