This week I have a big project to work on for my course in digital media so my fiction, poetry, and blogging is on ‘lite’. Hence, a few fun things that feed me body and soul in Victoria.
Located near my family doctor, it’s always a pit stop on the way home. I throw all my carb fears out the window when I enter this shop because the smell just envelops you. The staff have it figured out–they’re cool, laid back with pitch-perfect service style and somehow you find yourself ordering things that will undo all the thigh-squeezing, squatting, lunging work you did at the gym. I just try to think like the French and enjoy every last lick of my freshly baked Cinnamon bun, ignoring my North American need to count the caloric damage of the insanely pleasurable taste of their thick, gooey icing. I always bring home some garlic cheese bread for my son who promptly sits down with sandwich ingredients and devours the whole thing while still retaining his six-pack, God love him.
The Bengal Room
Last I checked, I am the Mayor on Foursquare of the Bengal Room at the Empress (it says lounge on their website but I prefer room). Why am I the virtual mayor? Because I go there way too often. The Bengal reminds me a little of one of my favourite places in Vancouver which is the 900 West lounge at the Hotel Van (for non-native Vancouverites I am referring to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver) where I spent many a happy, formative, rainy afternoon. So I always feel a little sense of home at the Bengal every time I visit and likely also because the staff know me. (Thank you for great service Paul each and every time). The best time to go, in my opinion, is mid-week, towards the end of the day, in low season. There’s something about the stilled fans on the ceiling while curling up in the warm buttery leather chairs, and the always present scent of the delectable curry buffet (which just got more interesting I would imagine with Chef Kamal on board) that is enchanting. For summer, I would recommend the Verandah where you can enjoy people watching behind your sunglasses with a few pomegranate mojitos.
If you haven’t been on this website, just bookmark it now. I am really so impressed by the volume of info Anita puts out on her blog and of course the incredible value of it all! The other reason I love this blog is that it gives me the news about my business community–I adore hearing how small business’ are marketing their products or what deals people are putting together for tourists’, or what free stuff is out there to do on any given day in Victoria. Anita is also a talented editor who used to edit the famous British Columbia magazine and is a writer I really enjoy reading every day as well. The best part about Anita’s digital deals, in my humble opinion, is that she deftly couples community news with real value, something that this single parent family certainly needs to survive in this town, though I think there should be a weekly column dedicated to hot shoe deals. Just saying Anita.
This is a terrible looking bottle of wine. You’ll snootily pass right by her in favour of a dependable Châteauneuf-du-Pape but if you are on a budget and want a decent tasting bottle of wine, try this one. It’s 9.99, yes, under ten bucks, and is mass-produced but this is a perfect bottle for a summer white sangria or with a picnic at the beach–just ensure it stays cold or she will taste a little cheap. For dinner, I would recommend trying any of the many small estate wines from the Okanagan, and I will be sure to post a whole blog on those soon as I go for my annual wine tour at the end of July. I simply cannot wait to stand in the blistering heat, looking down rows of lovingly cared for grapes, with estate wineries and orchards for as far as the eye can see, and nothing to do but sip, smile, and tuck bottles into the trunk as we lazily meander through our afternoon towards deliciously cooked dinners and conversations outdoors past midnight. No sweater required thank you.
This often overlooked little park is really a magical place to escape to. In the summer, it is lovely to take a blanket down and read and watch weddings all afternoon in the adorable little wedding area enclosed by gardens and a low stone wall where sometimes 3 or 4 nuptials happen on the same day. The gardens here are really amazing but what is magical are the little paths through the woods surrounding the shore, with little secret benches here and there that open up to a vista of the ocean–perfect for watching the sunset, listening to music, and being mindful. On very hot evenings, okay, maybe the one hot evening in YYJ, you’ll find lots of older folks with incredible feasts laid out, bottles of wine open, playing cards or bbq-ing. (One year, a man of at least 85 shouted out to everyone: COPS! and we all rushed to put away our booze. It was one of the funniest moments of my life). This is a place I go to often in the summer but don’t make the mistake of falling asleep as I did in the little grassy wedding area, waking up to a disconcerted bride staring down at my disheveled guise, about to put her stiletto through my larynx.
I promised my dental hygenist Mary I would one day give her a shout out so here it is. Mary did research on essential oils and their remarkable ability to cleanse and soothe the mouth and leave it sweet-smelling and kissable. She smartly set to work using them in her work with patients at Dr. King-Brown’s practice and now she is manufacturing this organic mouthwash! Bravo for entrepreneurism with a healthy bite! Okay, sorry for the bad joke but her mouthwash really is amazing. She has two kinds, Fresh and Sexy and her company is Synergy Organics. Support this local entrepreneur who really knows her stuff and ensure you have a sweet-smelling kisser year-round! See what people have to say on their Facebook page where you can link out to all the info you need including their url and what local stores carry this awesome kiss-inducing product.