South Canadian Foodie Girl: Victoria, B. C.
Hello loyal South Sound Foodies! I apologize for my nearly month-long absence. I was getting married to my loving, loyal man of seven years! We honeymooned in Victoria, British Columbia. Fun Fact: Victoria, B.C. has the most restaurants per capita in North America, second to only San Francisco. So for my triumphant return to my SSFG blog, I give you South Canadian Foodie Girl: Best Places to Eat in Victoria, B.C.
There are tea houses all over Canada, but one of the best places to drink tea while experiencing historical ambiance is at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The Fairmont Empress has been serving Afternoon Tea for over 105 years. Guests from around the world have experienced Afternoon Tea precisely how Anna, Duchess of Bedford intended it to be when she first invited her guests for tea and scones. Over the years our pastry chefs have perfected the scones, shortbread and rest of the delicacies to truly delight the senses. The china which you will be served with today was first used by The Empress in 1939 for the Royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This pattern is now produced exclusively for the Empress Tea Lobby.
According to the Empress website,
…the Empress blend (of tea) is a selection of seasonal, quality teas, created exclusively for The Fairmont Empress by the Metropolitan Tea Company. With components from Assam (thick malty and full-bodied), Kenya (floral-like flavour and a golden coppery infusion), South India (superb fruity and sprightly flavour), Ceylon (airy, almost piquant flavour), and China (burgundy depth with light oaky notes), it is truly one of the finest blends in the world.
The menu included fresh blueberries with cream, a delightful assortment of finger sandwiches that included: Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Dill Cream Cheese Roasted Honey Ham with Tarragon Dijonnaise Free Range Egg Salad Croissant Cucumber & Ginger Mascarpone on Butter Brioche Moroccan Spiced Coronation Chicken on Marble Rye and THE BEST. SCONES. EVER. They were light, fluffy, and soft. The ones at most carnivals are dense and dry out easily. I’ve tried re-creating the scones at home with Bisquick mix, with minimal success.The flavors are there using the Bisquick recipe, but it is a bit more dense and can the bottoms can burn more easily. I filled the scones with Empress Cream and imported strawberry preserves from England.
Pagliacci’s-1101 Broad St.
Located just blocks from the harbor and downtown Victoria, my husband and I took a chance on Pagliacci’s because a couple of friends on our Facebook pages recommended it to us. The walls are decorated with autographed photos of American actors. The menu items are named after actors or Hollywood movies: Bill Murray’s Meatballs, Men Who Stare At Goat Cheese, Prawns Al Capone.
I had “The Cabinet of Dr. Capetelli.” a bowl filled with tortelloni pasta filled with beef, Parmesan, cottage and mozzarella cheeses, tossed in a chunky tomato sauce, mushrooms,onions and red wine topped with baked Parmesan and mozzarella. So. much. cheese. The half portions are enough for two meals. Eat anything on the menu and you’ll be in a deviously delightful food coma. And the bread sticks are soft with a crunchy texture of herbed cornmeal crumbs. On a weekend, the line goes out the door and the wait time could be more than half an hour, so plan ahead. The wait it totally worth the rustic Italian style dinners.
Southern food is probably the furthest thing from your mind when you think of Canada. Blue’s Bayou Cafe has some of the best cajun food you’ll find thousands of miles north of the Big Easy. Located just minutes away from Butchart Gardens on Brentwood Bay, Blue’s Bayou Cafe is hidden away behind a grove of trees on the marina.
The owners took a trip to New Oreleans in 1999 and fell in love the culture and cuisine and decided to bring it to British Columbia. Every year they bring some sort knick-knack to hang in the restaurant–marti gras masks, alligators. The menu features Po’boys (with whatever the meat of the season is—fish, alligator, oysters) jambalya, Mississippi Smoked cracked Pepper Ribs. I chose the blackened chicken cajun wrap with chioptotle mayo and fresh bean sprouts with a side of alligator gumbo! The chicken was moist and tender, blackened but not bitter and the chipotle gave it a hint of spice that was pronounced but not overpowering. The gumbo was filled with fluffy rice, cilantro, chunks of roasted tomatoes and tender chunks of alligator.
Barb’s Fish And Chips– 1 Dallas Rd.
Barb’s Fish And Chips is probably the BUSIEST restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf. The menu has an assortment of fresh, steamed seafood–Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, salmon and both fresh and fried cod. The fish and chips are done in a batter with seltzer water–the classic English way, so the batter is light and crisp. The joint has been popular with the locals for 31 years and has been voted one of the best dockside seafood restaurants in Sunset magazine.
One of the best things on the menu is the seafood chowder. It’s made with a variety of fish, clams and other odds and ends of seafood from the harbor with a creamy broth with chopped herbs and corn. The corn adds extra texture and sweetness and each serving comes with a couple of slices of baked garlic bread for dipping. The chowder is a great way to warm you up after a day of whale watching.