Saturday, July 31, 2004

Victoria B.C.

As my buddy, Ron, would say, "Ahhh, Victoria, land of the beutiful people."

Mary and I flew to Victoria for a long weekend this past weekend. Great times. The forecast for Oregon was a heat wave, and we thought it'd be nice to escape it by being in Victoria. Wrong. They set a record (102) on the first day we were there. Oh well.

We stayed at a cute bed and breakfast in an old Victorian house. The couple running it was very nice - they had the right balance between providing enough hospitality/information without being weirdly attached to their guests. And their breakfasts were amazing. They're five courses, with just enough at each course to give you a good taste, but leave you feeling full - not stuffed. The main dish was always beautiful. The first morning was a rolled omelette with cheddar and broccoli, and a fresh roll adorned with edible flowers. The second breakfast was some fresh grilled salmon, lox, a toasted bagel, and cream cheese - on a bed of fennel. Both the salmon and lox were delicous. One of the "desserts" was fresh apple crisps - cookies so thin they broke when they hit your tongue. The crisps were served with thinly sliced apple and fresh apple mint. And each breakfast was started with a bowl of fresh fruit and honey yogurt blended with more fresh fruit. I'd easily stay there again just for the breakfast.

You meet interesting people while staying in bed and breakfasts. The hosts were ex-psychologists. The woman wrote a book on the american system of creating victims, ahh, here's a link to the book. A little too deep for me. And the husband is into photography, the shot of the bridge is especially nice.

A mother and daughter were staying in the master suite. They were having a last outing together before Kendra (the daughter) headed off to college (U of SanDiego). The mother was obviously very proud of her daughter, but ribbed her thoroughly about the designer jeans that cost $180 and the sunglasses that cost $400. I can't even imagine trying on clothes costing that much, but, I'm not a fashionable college co-ed. Especially not one that looks like a young, tan Angie Harmon.

While Mary and I were walking around the lovely town of Victoria, I noticed a flyer for a "foam party". I'm no social scientist, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a bunch of if you combine college kids in swimsuits and a bunch of foam, and you've got a recipe for hot foamy sex. You know there's going to be drinking and some drug use, which is only going to increase the orgy. Good times.

We were pointed to several restaurants in the area. The first, Matisse was a wonderful french restaurant with some $450 bottles of wine on the menu. I highly recommend the duck with crispy skin (mmm.... - the skin was crispy and salty like bacon, yummy), the goat cheese salad (imported from france), and the creme brulee was amazing.

On Saturday we ate a lunch at the Blue Fox Cafe a little cafe we ran across. The sandwiches were pretty good - especially their homemade veggie burger. But the secret of the Blue Fox is their coconut creme pie. An older couple at the table next to us was raving about the pie. The lady said she'd called down to find if they had any left - there was one pie. She asked them to hold keep the pie in the fridge until they got to the restaurant because it normally sells out in a matter of minutes. So I asked to see if they had a piece. It arrived just a minute later, topped with some barely sweetened fresh whipped cream. It has to be the best coconut cream pie I've ever had. The pie was crammed with coconut, freshly grated by the baker herself. There's so much coconut that it was difficult to slice through the pie with the fork. And the creamy filling tasted of fresh cream and was just sweet enough. Track this place down the next time you're in Victoria.

That night we weren't terribly hungry due to the cocnut pie, so we just ordered starters and side dishes at Cafe Brio. The risoto is super yummy, and the fresh morel fricassee showed Mary why people eat mushrooms. The dessert was a little molten chocolate tart topped with some cherries. Their mojito was pretty good as well.

And of course we needed some fish and chips, so we stopped by for some yummy halibut at Swans Pub for our last lunch.

As much as I would have enjoyed it, we didn't just eat.

I pampered myself by getting some really nice shaving cream called Razorantium at lush. It works very well, and doesn't smell too strongly. I also got my brother some silky underwear (you have to know Sam). Oh, and Mary noticed a shampoo named I Love Juicy, so we got it for a friend of mine named Gyuszi (the name sounds the like "Juicy"). Ironically, Gyuszi shaves his head.

One of the mornings, after breakfast, Mary and I wandered over to the gardens at Government House with a couple we met at breakfast. The husband, Brett, and I chatted up a storm - he works for Intel's partner in crime, Microsoft. He also takes really nice photos of flowers. His digital camera was very cool, and had a great lens that allowed him to focus on flowers an inch or two away.

That evening, we all went to the luminaria festival at Beacon Hill park. Evidentally, it's a once-a-year festival where local artists create some pretty amazing luminaria sculptures: swans, flowers, people, etc., and set them up in the park. Then people come at night and walk around carrying their own luminarias. It was kind of neat, but there were a ton of people, so we didn't stay real long. The next morning, Mary and I wandered over to the park again, and it was amazingly clean. We were hoping to see some of the reported Great Blue Herons nesting there. We saw over a dozen nests, but only two actual birds. Oh well, perhaps next time.

We of course wandered around and went into a bunch of the local artist shops. There was nothing we couldn't live without. The highlight of the art was the glass blowing shop. Mary and I watched the artist known as Gary and his trusty assistant create a large orange bowl with a green spiral on the outside. It was a blast (get it, glass-blowing, furnace, blast) to watch - the viewing area is on the second floor, and you get to look down onto the artists as they work.

It was an awesome trip. Too bad we forgot the camera...

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