527 Fraser Street
September 10th to 12th
Esquimalt’s Ribfest is on this year, and it’s following in the heels of British Columbia’s rollout of the vaccine passport. There won’t be any gatekeeper checks. But for anyone people concerned about catching that virus are best advised not to attend (entrepeneurs would make a killing through Uber Eats or Door Dash should this suddenly pop up), but for those craving the best pork/beef ribs (and chicken too) that House of Q, Prairie Smoke, Gator, Grizzy, and Boss Hog are cooking up–nothing’s gonna smoke ’em out now. The operative word should be stop, but will Two Hungry Blokes be there?
Cat’s Coffee & Cake
1213 Douglas St
Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Phone: (250) 590-1699
This cat certainly wants to come back to the cafe on Douglas Street because of the treats and sweets offered. Not only is the company logo designed by local artist Gareth Gaudin, but also I figure it’s his favourite hangout spot when not behind the till at Legends Comics. I believe they also offer catering services too, which is a bonus for any downtown operation wanting to support local enterprises.
I was feeling peckish the day I was in town. The signboard detailing Cat’s Coffee & Cake specials caught my eye. Kimchi and bacon in a croissant sandwich? I knew it’d be a flavourful combination, but there was a small lineup. I had another errand to do and when I returned, there was none.
At first I thought I’d be entering a cafe with cute felines around, but alas, that’s another operation in the works (Mask and Mantle Cat Cafe are still searching for the ideal location to set up shop). This operation is apparently a passion project of master pastry chef Yi Catherine Yang who decided to set up shop in the busiest intersection of Downtown Victoria. She’s well known in China as the host of several TV cooking shows. Through these programs, she’s been promoting culture through the exchange of how to make up flavourful treats. While she may not be living in this city and working this particular kitchen (her resume lists her as the creative force behind New York’s Gigi Blue), to have her endorsement is enough.
658 Herald St
Phone: (250) 590-9251
ES: Tasty morsels can be found at Saveur Restaurant, located not too far from the cosmopolitan Victoria Chinatown. The location is not really off the beaten path, but is tucked within the same block where Brasserie L’Ecole is also located. My guess is that the city blocks around this former Asian area may well be our city’s answer to an “International District.”
DK: The extent to which Saveur fits into a real or imagined “International District” is seen in some of their menu items over the years. A menu from 2017 showcases “Pakora Battered Broccoli” with Ponzu. A previous version of the house chicken wings was served with “Louisiana Style Remoulade.” The house wings are now “Korean BBQ Wings.”
Viewing the menu as a marketing tool, what remains constant from the earlier years of Saveur to now is “local” items sitting next to “international” flavours (would you like “Chilled Soba Noodles” with miso for lunch? Or perhaps just a salad made with “Mason Street Greens”). What has changed is tourist-pleaser type fare (fish tacos, a burger and a pork belly sandwich) replacing multi-course tasting menus.
Victoria Fringe Festival
Runs August 13 to Sept 24
The Victoria Fringe Festival is changing things up in its return late Summer. It’s hard to say if this pandemic will ever go away, but everyone wants to stay safe, and the organizers are changing up their event so that is can also operate with online and in-person events. The fun starts August 6th and runs more than a month-long! Their schedule is live and online to view.
Topping the list of what can be viewed from home is MIMI The Gourmet Cat, by the Mochinosha Puppet Company, which will be part of the Fringe KIDS livestream. More details about this particular show be found online on the show website.
The following are my quick picks in what to check out. The links go to further information, including in-person shows, and how to buy tickets.
Tres Gourmet Bakery & Cafe
1280 Broad St
Hours: Tues-Sat 7am – 4pm
Phone: (778) 433-8737
Tucked away in a side-street is a block of nothing but tres bonne eats. On one side is West Coast Waffles, and the other, many an eatery along Trounce Alley (Bodega Bar, apa Bar and Parks Kitchen).
Tres Gourmet Bakery and Cafe is a stop few will make when the scents from the alley enticing. But I wanted something quick, and the coffees by themselves are tops! They serve all the types–including Red Eye–and it’d be an article to explore how they make ‘em with heart.
Instead, this stop is comforting. There isn’t a lot of outdoor seating options (it’s limited in the tight street known as Broad, ironically enough). Indoors, the tables are presently arranged so there’s plenty of space for those social distancing. But for me, it made me feel like I was in the Roman Pantheon. That wasn’t their intent, as the design is more minimalist modern than classic, but I could also sit for a spell to read Lilo and the Samurai volume two before it was time before my appointment to get my second vaccine shot. Yes, soon Don and I can check out places a bit more frequently since masks aren’t as mandatory.
Blue Bridge Theatre is well known in the Victoria, BC community for having local talents define their work. Their base of operations is in the heart of Quadra Village and the building has a heritage that’s hard to beat. The venue has a unique intimacy for whatever has played here. Whether that’s with it being a truly old style movie theatre house or that it’s a place for live stage shows, the acoustics are second to none. It’s a unique venue for the latter, as it has had concerts too.
It’s also a home to smaller companies needing a venue to put on their show to a live streaming audience. As a business, they’ve got it all–including putting on shows this summer which includes Salt-Water Moon (currently playing), Day after Day, a Musical Tribute to Doris Day and Cats in the Garden (their fundraiser to which fully vaccinated people can attend in person).
Soon, they’ll be offering shows that people can physically attend.