One Foodie & A Nerd’s Guide to the 23rd Annual Victoria Film Festival

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Tickets can be bought online or at the door. A one time $2 membership fee is required to attend all movies.

The 23rd Annual Victoria Film Festival takes place from Feb 3 to 12, 2017, and the selection is as regularly diverse as my tastes. Missing this year is the In Conversation series, and this particular aspect has always been of interest to me. I love hearing about the thought processes of these talented filmmakers. Sometimes, one might get to meet some really big names. One year had Gareth Edwards present, talking about his work prior to Godzilla. Now that he has helmed one of the biggest movies of 2016, Star Wars: Rogue One, how many people can say they have met him?

Taking the Frame Off  is a new program examining the coming trends, but will it be the same? With topics ranging from “What’s App, Doc” which looks at how content is consumed in a digital age to “Storytelling in Virtual Worlds,” my guess is in how media is created for the modern age will be at the forefront. Plenty can be said about how this new medium, VR, can work. This year, it is getting the spotlight at Play @ The Fort at Tectoria on 777 Fort Street. Here, demos of how virtual reality works will be offered free of charge and the games that’s playable now will be the spotlight. If we ask nicely, perhaps they might have a presentation of Allumette or Henry the Hedgehog.

More about this up and coming technology will be explored in an upcoming interview to be published on otakunoculture.com with Vincent McCurley, a technology specialist working for the National Film Board of Canada. They will be offering eight titles, two of them are shorts, at this year’s event! Of course, leading the charge is my top pick, which is also this year’s opening gala.

Window Horses (drama, animation)
Feb 3, 7pm – Cineplex Odeon Downtown

The unique character designs and visual styles are at the heart of why I’m loving this film, and it is topping many of my lists of movies to must see. With a story about young Rosie Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh) going to Iran, just what will she find there? She’s a poet yearning to visit Paris, but this Middle Eastern country is nowhere close to the City of Lights. Here, she will discover secrets to her mixed heritage and I suspect this coming of age film will be a true delight. This movie is selected as the opening Gala for this festival.

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Szechuan Showdown Between What a City or Palace can Offer

Schezuan Palace IMG_20160126_164308252

Szechuan Palace
306 Burnside Rd
Saanich, BC
(250) 382-2823

J: Like bees that are attracted to pollen, Ed and I are attracted to the area surrounding Tillicum Centre. The sweet nectar that can be found with either going to the movies (SilverCity Victoria Cinemas), getting a cheap dinner (Marble Arch), having desserts (Mr. Tubb’s Ice Cream Parlour) or partaking in board games (Skyhaven Games) in one area is too much to handle with just a single trip. If you’re a film buff like us (in name only and not in physique), yes you will find yourself coming back for more.

On this particular trip, we were looking for comfort at Szechuan Palace and I don’t mean to have a good cry and a cuddle. Both Szechuan Palace and Szechuan City are run by the same family and they are only four blocks apart. I’ve been to this location once before with my mom. Our purpose was to get a decent dinner before a movie, but we didn’t get past the starter. Service was slow even though they weren’t busy. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. A lot of time and patience is needed when you dine here in the evening.

History was looking like it would repeat itself. The website has incorrect information. It’s operating hours are not updated, and there’s no evening buffet.

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How Nouveau is Nubo Japanese Tapas?

img_20160828_181426201-nuboNubo Japanese Tapas
739 Pandora Ave
Victoria, BC
(778) 265-9909

I’m fairly sure Nubo is very nouveau. Their designer maki rolls certainly looked very tantalizing, making this place worth visiting again for that alone! But when I noticed that I’ve seen similar elsewhere (especially after having sushi in four different cities), well, perhaps they are not? I was seeking a taste of the old country — traditional — and this place certainly delivers. On a busy night, I managed to get a seat at the sushi bar. Reservations are certainly recommended, especially if you’re planning on seeing a yuletide production at the MacPherson Playhouse. In fact, I recommend doing so for the four operations that run here. If time is tight, then the time is best maximized by being here early and just enjoying the scents.

If only I had two hundred dollars, I would be feasting on the variety offered here for an entire month. I could on a weekly basis, though I have to spread the love between here and Omakase. When considering their motoyaki is made from scallop and prawns, I’m already drooling. When I saw that this operation offers monkfish liver, they have a one-up on many other local places I’ve been to. In what I tasted is divine, and I was tripping at the variety of garnishes used on each slice. Each serving was floating in a lake of light soy sauce, and that was just my starter!

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Qu’est Ce Que C’est Favoris? Gotta Taste Them All!

simg_1027Les Chocolats Favoris
1010 Government St
Victoria, BC
(778) 265-7050

JS: Move over Beacon Drive-In, there is a new ice cream shop in town and they speak Québécois French. Can a bit of olde England (Victoria) stand up to the noveau French invasion? Personally, I will say Beacon has little to worry about. But careful, do not drop your guard. Do not take Favoris lightly. Sure Beacon has their own lightly creamed sweet ice cream but when the urges take over, now and again, I want a hearty ice cream that is less on cream but more filling. For these urges, I shall run to Les Chocolats Favoris.

ES: I like the fact that the president of this company, Dominique Brown, decided to open up shop here in Victoria instead of Vancouver. They are based out of Quebec and to have an operation here is a gamble. Over the summer, during the busy tourist season where a cruise ship stops by every few weeks, this place was busy! Of course, James and I were late in learning about it and we still wobbled our way over to try ice cream off-season.

The draw has to be with the size of the portions offered. When I was walking to the Inner Harbour later, some tourists gawked at what I had left and I pointed them to where they could buy one.

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[Vancouver, BC] Am I on the “Fritz” Loving American Cheesesteak Co.?

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The American Cheesesteak Co.
781 Davie St.
Vancouver, BC
(604) 681-0130

Most Philly cheesesteak lovers will say a fantastic sub has to be slobbering over with greasy goodness. The beef juices have to drip upon every bite and I must add an additional requirement: a gentle crisp is needed and the cheese must ooze all over. As most folks know, (from American CheeseSteak’s website) Pat and Harry Olivieri created the sandwich at their hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian Market in the 1930s. The cheese steak became so popular that the pair stopped selling hot dogs altogether, later opening the renowned Pat’s King of Steaks in the place where their stand once stood. Today, Philadelphia has more than 2000 restaurants dedicated to serving this indulgence.

Now just how this iconic morsel that can feed a state migrated to Vancouver, BC (let alone Lake Tahoe when I first sampled an ‘authentic’ style) almost needs to be questioned, current US politics notwithstanding. More Yanks should come north as long as they bring more of their trade cuisine secrets to indulge Canadians with! The South really must migrate so more Cajun style restaurants can open up! But I digress. For the sandwich, I feel that the New Yorker is over the top. My gut is simply busting after taking a few bites and the only reason I got it is to tide me over for 30 hours as I make the most of my last days in the big city.  Of course, I’m writing this review a few weeks later, but I needed time to fully digest that meal.

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Getting Trounced With Delights at Bodega Bar!

tmp_20215-IMG_20160705_2221081841346096254Bodega Bar
in Trounce Alley
1210 Broad St
Victoria, BC

(778) 406-1210

 

ES: Victoria, BC does not have a lot of late-night dining options and sometimes a visit to Trounce Alley is required to find a few of those operations that are running to midnight. Thankfully, on the busier days of Wednesday to Saturday, there are two: Bodega Bar and Park’s Kitchen. After a movie downtown, we happened upon the former first, and for once, my buddy was not being cheap. I find it easy to rack up quite the bill at a tapa type establishment.

JS: This place is very classy. It’s so much better than hitting a seedy bar.

At least here Ed and I could sit out on the porch in the beautiful night air and take part in what the chef had on the menu. It is easy to spend your money at a tapa bar (especially on drinks). The food delivered to the table isn’t much to look at when it comes to size even though it was highly decorated. Surprisingly, it managed to fill the Two Hungry Blokes. We ordered three items, the ceviche, a porchetta sandwich (Ed’s choice) and — a meal that rang my dinner bell — a mackerel potato salad.

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