I’m Screaming for Ice Cream (and to Travel Again)

Shug’s Ice Cream
and Soda Fountain
Pike Place Market
1525 1st Ave Seattle, WA

Hours: Thurs to Sun 2 pm to 8 pm
Phone: (206) 602-6420

I miss making my annual trip in March to Seattle, Washington. One reason is that this city is home to Emerald City Comic Con, the largest show celebrating pop culture for the Pacific Northwest (Canada included)! Last year’s event didn’t happen because of the pandemic. I was making my plans, but when Seattle became famous for being a hotbed of possibly getting infected, I knew I had to cancel.

ReedPOP made the wise call to “postpone” their event as nobody wants to get COVID-19, and while they are scheduling to resume for Winter 2021, just whether that will fly will depend on the global situation. Vaccines are being delivered and by Summertime, I should be a card carrying member of almost immune to COVID-19 club. I’m still going to wear a mask everywhere I go and have hand sanitizing wipes though! Upon landing, I know I’ll be making a beeline to Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream. They offer late night treats when the sugar craving calls! Throughout the year, plenty of seasonal flavours become available, but my plan is to attack the Big Eddie again–or I may order something different.

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A Touch of the Euro at Charelli’s Cheese Shop, Delicatessen & Catering

Charelli’s Cheese Shop,
Delicatessen & Catering
2851 Foul Bay Rd
Victoria, BC 

Hours: Tues to Sat 10am–3pm
Phone: (250) 598-4794

Just why I haven’t been to this deli in the past, when I was studying Applied Communications (now Digital Communications) at Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus simply boiled down to time. A fit person could race down the hill and hike back up it when there’s an hour to kill between classes, but I’m the roly-poly type who may not achieve it. Plus, I want to enjoy my lunch more than to scarf it down before resuming my work in the a/v edit suite or be in class. Eating during session is obviously discouraged.

This operation opened back in 2003, and I’ve been aware of it for a long time. I needed a proper reason (other than being hungry) to head down, and when I heard they sold truffle oil flavoured potato chips–I was there faster than a bee to a spring flower!

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Chuck’s Burger Bar, One Year Later…

Chuck’s Burger Bar
538 Yates St
Victoria, BC

Hours: Tues-Sun: 12–10PM
Phone: (250) 590-9866

While parts of the world are still in lockdown because of a pandemic, a few places remain as busy as ever. At Chuck’s Burger Bar, that overdue visit to see now they are doing more than a year later was a must. I’ve visited a few times prior, mostly for take out but not much has changed since.

Last month, I visited with other friends. We rented Quasars Arcade for some personal retro gaming time (it’s a great deal when split between friends and the machines are set to endless play). We were all experiencing cabin fever when wave two struck Victoria, BC. It was a week later when news about the UK variant hitting the island made me think twice…. For this blog, I’ll be expanding the content to include food product reviews, films about foodie culture and posts about my last adventure in Seattle’s food scene. I’m thankful I saved a few pieces for this eventuality.

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Almost Home on the Range with Prairie Inn Neighbourhood Pub

Prairie Inn Neighbourhood Pub
7806 East Saanich Rd
Victoria, BC

Hours: 11am to 11pm, Sun to Sat
Phone: (250) 652-1575

The Prairie Inn is one of those cozy out of the way places for good bites to fill you up! I’ve been here a few times with pals who live in this Brentwood Bay area. They heartily recommend it, but with my critical tastes, it’s hard to say what’s worth ordering every time.

Plus, when this operation is older than me and has their faithful clientele, it’s tough to beat that reputation. I see that they keep up with the traditions of themed nights for every day eats. Although, with the season, the ambience is says it all more than the bites. I’m fairly sure the building is also haunted, and I’d love to return on a paranormal expedition!

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Bubble Tea, Dat Tea or Ding Tea? The Troubling Decisions

Ding Tea
Unit #108, 3749 Shelbourne St.

Victoria, BC

Hours:
Sun to Sat 12pm to 11pm
Phone:
(778) 265-8622

Bubble teas aren’t the healthiest of drinks, and it really depends on the quality of the ingredients used. Ding Tea is a franchise operation which takes the latter seriously, and they’ve been around for four years.

When I’m seeing more competing specialty shops open in this city–the latest is Black Ball Taiwanese Dessert Café on Yates–I feel its time to start rating all the operations.

The main office claims this chain has fresh libations, and when I always see a line-up of customers at the Shelbourne Mall operation every time I’m here here to catch pocket monsters in Pokemon GO, I knew it’s time to try them out! The area is a frequent hotspot for good finds and this franchise should seriously consider sponsoring stops when considering there’s diners in every country! Like the AR game, the faithful carry more than one sweet pet in hand. I’m not sure if this loyal fan base is new or old. Border restrictions to prevent COVID-19 have lightened, but they are technically still in place.

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Four Spice Does more than Kickin’ it Up a Notch!

20200703_181232Four Spice
2637 Quadra St
Victoria, BC

Hours: Weds – Mon : 12pm to 12 am
Phone: (250) 590-9647

ES: Palagio Pizza & Poutine66 used to be a couple in Quadra Village some years ago. Though I’m not in the area often, I’m used to seeing both signs proudly coaxing locals and pizza aficionados in. I’m not entirely sure Poutine66 is gone as they are no longer its own separate space. They still have an operational webpage.

In its place in this little corner of this huge mall is Four Spices, and these meals can get extremely hot! Sizzling in fact… I didn’t burn my mouth just yet as it was Don who made the order, and I was ready with my Peptol just in case…

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DK: Yes, the medium spice here is a true medium. Sorry grandma; get your tepid Tikka or Tandoori somewhere else. Seriously though–is the spice level truly gut-busting? I wouldn’t say so, but I did see sweat rolling down Ed’s face.

ES: Okay, I’m not the best at handling heat. I’m the type of bear who will hibernate in the coldest of the days and hottest too, just to avoid the deep freeze or summer blaze. Hm, maybe I should say the type of bear who’d jump into a river on those blistering days of Summer just to stay cool.

DK: What, however, struck me most about this place was how familiar it felt. Not just because each new tenant hasn’t updated the interior much, but because the flavours and fellow diners felt so known. Amongst all this confounding Covid bullshit, it was an oasis of melt off the bone goat biryani and poetry readings (experiences may vary; we can’t all be lucky enough to have a man reliving the glory days of Ontario rave culture recite Poe and Whitman to us as he’s waiting for his curry).

What say you, Ed? Am I romanticizing too much? I felt like Four Spice offered good, simple food in a friendly, simple space.

 

ES: As long as they continue to offer the flame seared prawns in that mint sauce, I’m sold! It was moist but yet crispy. I can only imagine what this appetizer would be like if smoked up too.

The owner/operators could do with jazzing up the area a little bit. One of those sticky fly coils was hanging nearby and that was a turn off for me. I made a point of not sitting anywhere near that area. If you’re going to dine-in, there’s a limited number of seats. In these Covid panic times, I’d say no more than six people can be allowed indoors.

I can see outdoor dining become available for the summertime and there’s a bit of space for it. To avoid the heat from beating down on me, the mango lassi was perfect! It’s a tough strong but I loved it. The balsamic rice was also just as much of a highlight since they added a bit of pepper to give it that gentle spring that food from India is well known for. The garlic bread–smoke me a kipper and I’ll be back (here) for breakfast. Well, there’s nothing specific to this particular meal of the day, though I’d to see what they can come up!

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One thing I must say is that there was a vegetable chow mein on the menu that I’m very curious about. Isn’t that supposed to be a Chinese dish?

DK: I didn’t notice the vege chow mein! Worth a second look for sure.

Ed, did you clock that the prawns were the only dish we didn’t end up with leftovers of? Definitely the hit of our parade. The chicken korma was really the only underwhelming thing we ate (and it wasn’t bad, I’ve just had better). Overall they serve satisfying grub and I’d be back in a lub-dub.

Four Spice is a fine addition to Victoria’s improving Indian food scene. It’s comfort food that is truly comforting.

4 Stars out of 5

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