friday faves: summer’s here

{oh} victoria: friday faves: summer's here

Guys, summer’s here.

1. We’ve pretty much vowed to never do a juice cleanse (seriously, it’s in writing) but the ma-luxe ladies have us reconsidering. Check out their review of the Vancouver-based Juice Truck and you too may be swayed.  2. This hat is a fair-skinned girl‘s best friend. And we don’t want to hear the ‘I look terrible in all hats’ moan – this cap is the universal exception.  3. You live for Fol Epi‘s bread and you lust for their pane chocolate, but have you had their organic soft serve vanilla bean ice cream in a fresh waffle cone? They’re serving ’em up all summer long!  4. Bangles, bangles, bangles. Leah Alexandra has all your summer (not to mention, fall, winter and spring) jewelry essentials. We can’t get enough of her bright, happy colours. Available online or in Victoria at Violette Boutique.  5. It’s important to stay hydrated on that sunny patio. These fruit ice cubes will jazz up that water (or gin, or vodka…)

behind the bar

Cocktail Culture by Shawn Soole and Nate CaudleFoodies love Little Jumbo for its creative menu and cocktail connoisseurs keep coming back for the expert mixing – a skill so few of us drinkers actually have.  Lucky for us, the men behind the bar have jotted down a few tricks of the trade in a new book, Cocktail Culture.  It kindly starts with the basics (shaken vs. stirred, flute vs. flip glass) before jumping into a wide variety of recipes from authors Shawn Soole and Nate Caudle along with several guest bartenders.  There are plenty of classics, but we recommend the section dedicated to experimental mixes turned mainstays, like Rosemary’s Baby (rosemary, Chartreuse, gin, Galliano, lemon juice) and the Mayahuel Flame (tequila, Green Tea & Serrano Chile Amaro, Ginger & Honey Shrub, grapefruit juice). We love the The Before It Was Cool, a mix of bourban, Espresso Syrup, half and half and Angostura Aromatic Bitters – everything a hipster loves in one satirical drink.

We won’t be tossing bottles any time soon, but thanks to Shawn and Nate we’ll gladly play bartender for a night.

Find Cocktail Culture in Victoria at Munro’s Books, Russell Books, and Little Jumbo, or online at Amazon.ca.

our favourite (farm) things

A few days ago we found ourselves in the country with little to do when a member of our long weekend crew recommended a visit to Morningstar Farm, home to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery.  Goats, cheese, and wine?  What’s not to love?

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After a walk around the 68 acre dairy farm (there were many cow sightings and blackberry breaks) we stopped in at the barns for a chat with the goats, a llama, some very tiny cattle.  A three month old calf is about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, and at two days old they’re even cuter.

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When they’re old enough these little guys will be the cows behind our favourite Little Qualicum Cheeseworks creations.  The local cheese makers offer over a dozen artisan cheeses, including firm, soft, and fresh options.  We tasted all of them (yes, all of them) at the farm store and narrowed down our favourites to the Rathtrevor Cheese (inspired by Swiss Gruyere and named after a local park), Montery Jill Cheese (a softer Jack), and the Island Brie Cheese (creamy texture, velvet white rind, and mushroomy overtones).

Any seasoned cheese lover knows that where there is cheese there is wine, and Morningstar Farm is no exception.  Within the farm store is the well-stocked tasting bar of MooBerry Winery.  This was our first venture into the world of BC berry wine, and it won’t be our last.  The Gooseberry Wine is crisp and light with a surprising smoky aroma while the Cranberry Wine is tart and finishes off with crisp, dry tones.  The berry (and apple and pear) wines are perfect for spritzers and cocktails, or lovely just on their own.

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese can be purchased here in Victoria at most grocery stores, and MooBerry Wine is available at Cascadia Liquor Store.  Better yet, Morningstar Farm is only a short road trip away.  What’s more lovely than a farm stroll and a picnic of your favourite wine & cheese?  Did we mention they have sausage, too?

Find Morningstar Farm at 403 Lowry’s Rd., Parksville, BC

high class hideout

Decades ago our backyard fort was the perfect escape, but times have changed and we need a hideout that’s mature and sophisticated – ideally one that serves world class cocktails and contemporary cuisine.  We found the perfect grownup getaway at Victoria’s newest bar & restaurant, Little Jumbo.

Little Jumbo

Previously bar manager at Clive’s Classic Lounge and nominated by industry peers for the International Bartender of the Year award in 2012, Shawn Soole is just the man you want running your hide class hideout.  Inspired by pioneer mixologist Harry Johnson’s New York City cocktail bar Little Jumbo, Soole opened his own Little Jumbo less than 2 weeks ago and more than 125 years after Johnson opened the original.  Soole’s talented bartenders Nate Caudle & Adam Bonneau have mastered the timeless classics (who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned Dirty Martini?) but certainly have a flare for the contemporary.  Of course, the gentlemen are in good company.  Head chef Justin Hardiman is serving up dishes like Balsamic Roasted Tomato, Cauliflower Gratin & Duck Fat Fries, and house made Porchetta di Testa with Peppercorn Pecorino.

We’d tell you our Little Jumbo favourites, but why don’t you escape for an evening and discover your own?

Find Little Jumbo at 506 Fort St., Victoria BC.

urban farm

What do you get when you add flare and sophistication to locally grown farm fresh food?  A meal you’re not soon to forget.  Throw in a cool and casual atmosphere, impeccable service, a wine list to die for, and a great group of friends and you have a spectacular evening at 10 Acres Bistro.   A true West Coast gem, the restaurant boasts a menu of Vancouver Island’s freshest meat, cheese, and seafood, and seasonal produce grown on their very own 10 Acres farm.

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We devoured the Pacific Halibut (served with braised cabbage and summer squash), the feature crepe (summer squash and a medley of mushrooms), the Albacore Tuna (new crop potatoes, beans, olives, and tomato caper vinaigrette), and by a miracle of all miracles we still had room for dessert.  Ask for the white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis, or the incredibly decadent chocolate trio.  We even heard rumour of fresh fruit crumble – naturally, there’s an orchard.

Find 10 Acres Bistro at 611 Courtney St., Victoria BC.