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Sam’s Deli & Bistro – Victoria

The menu at Sam's Deli & Bistro in Victoria, BC.

The menu at Sam’s Deli & Bistro in Victoria, BC.

For my next few photos I’m going to share some of the ups and downs of dining in Victoria, BC when I was there in August. (Sorry for the delay in posting!)

Overpriced and over-rated

I was in the mood for sushi (when am I not!?) and my companion was in the mood for fried chicken, but we didn’t want to wander too far from our hotel for lunch one afternoon while we were in Victoria, BC – so we stopped at Sam’s Deli & Bistro which had been highly-rated by our hotel front desk staff as having great breakfast options, and really terrific sandwiches “piled high with really good meats and cheeses”. The location was great – right near the water – a super spot for people-watching (or cruise-boat tourist-watching as the case may be!) and the interior, although it has limited seating seemed clean and neat – but we were going to get our food for take-out to enjoy back at our hotel. (Maybe even the lovely courtyard with a fountain in our hotel!)

So.. a full ham sandwich is $7.50.. ok.. plus a dollar more for two slices of Havarti cheese = $8.50, plus another 75 cents for a “whole dill pickle” on the side of our order – that seems a bit pricy, but if these really are ‘famous’ ‘extraordinary’ sandwiches.. ok…

But they weren’t.

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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Out of town - BC, Treats

 

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Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Fortunately, I don’t have a gluten sensitivity, but I know plenty of people who do, including friends, extended family members and colleagues.  With this in mind, I thought I’d share with you some tasty treats I tried out not long ago from Calgary bakery, Gluten-Free Foodgasm.

You might remember a while back I shared with you a few photos from a tasting party I was invited to. Some of the treats included banana bread and gingersnaps, but this time I was heading back for cupcakes. Gluten-Free Foodgasm offers online ordering, but they also have a regular spot in the Crossroads Market. During the summer, they also are appearing at a number of other events as well according to their Facebook page.

Trio of Gluten-Free Foodgasm cupcakes

Trio of Gluten-Free Foodgasm cupcakes

I ended up getting their 6 mini-cupcakes for $15 (along with a Nanaimo square).  Which included three Lemon Creamsicle cupcakes, a Black & White cupcake, a chocolate cupcake (not shown) and a chocolate cupcake with nuts on the top.

Gluten-Free Foodgasm  Lemon Creamsicle cupcake

Gluten-Free Foodgasm Lemon Creamsicle cupcake

I wasn’t able to eat any of the cupcakes when I bought them, instead I shared them the next day. We noticed that the cupcakes were quite dense – not fluffy (and oily) like we were used to for cupcakes. The lemon cupcake was quite good.  I thought that the majority of the lemon flavour was in the frosting; in the cupcake itself the flavour was much more mellow.

Gluten-Free Foodgasm Black & White cupcake

Gluten-Free Foodgasm Black & White cupcake

I didn’t get the chance to try the Black & White cupcake, but was told it was pretty tasty, although the person who tried it said that she would  have prefered a milk chocolate frosting/topping instead of the dark chocolate. Neither of us have gluten sensitivities, so I don’t  know if milk chocolate might not be appropriate for those who do?

Gluten-Free Foodgasm cupcake

Gluten-Free Foodgasm cupcake

I did get to try the chocolate cupcake with nuts (I can’t remember what this one was called I’m afraid) and it wasn’t really anything special for me. Mind you, I’m not a huge fan of nuts with my sweets.  I also tried the chocolate cupcake with the tall chocolate frosting, and that’s an entirely different story – it was fantastic! I’m sorry that I ate it too quickly to remember to take a photo, because it was definitely my favorite treat of the batch.

Oh, and that aforementioned Nanaimo Square – was fantastic! The top was dark chocolate which wasn’t as interesting to me as milk chocolate, but what really made it stand out was the icing filling – it was flavourful without being as sickeningly sweet as it sometimes can be.

Gluten-Free Foodgasm isn’t on UrbanSpoon .. yet! (This might change after I write this…) In the meantime, check them out on Yelp!

Update: They’re on UrbanSpoon now – here’s their Crossroads Market address, and the UrbanSpoon link so you can see more reviews or add your own!

 Gluten-Free Foodgasm
1235 26 Ave Southeast
Calgary, AB T2G1R7
Gluten-Free Foodgasm on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Treats, Uncategorized

 

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Tea: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Midsummer Night’s Dream is another tea from David’s Teas that I received in a caffeine-free sample pack during the holidays, and in my attempt to start shrinking my collection of teas, I wanted to use it.

I didn’t read the ingredient listing before giving it a sniff – and dry it smelt like both oranges and mint, which I’ll admit made me a bit worried.  It was morning, and all I could think of was drinking orange juice with freshly brushed teeth. Ew.  However, I boiled the water, popped the tea into my Tuffy strainer, and prepared to give it a try.

No matter how good this tea might sound otherwise, I really don’t recommend giving this tea a sniff while it’s steeping.  Honestly, it looks and smells… wrong.  It looks mushy and kind of gross – the colours which look fine when they are dry together looks pretty icky when they’re wet, and it smells terrible.  (I can’t even nicely describe what it smells like steeping… all I could bring up is an incident involving way too many Screwdriver cocktails…)

However, what it lacks in steeping appearance and scent, it almost makes up for in the final taste.  The tea is alright, but honestly nothing special. I tasted more of a lemon and mint flavour in the final brew rather than oranges.  I was glad not to have that toothpaste-orange juice sensation, but I can’t also say that I really like this herbal tea either.

Midsummer Night's Dream

Midsummer Night’s Dream

The ingredients are listed on the David’s Tea website as: “Apple pieces, spearmint, freeze-dried whole cape gooseberries, marigold blossoms, safflowers, rose petals. With artificial flavouring.”  The description also includes orange oil, so I suppose that is the artificial flavouring (or at least one of them).

One thing I was reminded of when the tea steeped up, is that these sample tins are pre-packaged, and then shipped.  This means they are tossed around a lot and there is plenty of opportunity for the ‘tea’ to break down into smaller and smaller pieces.  There was a LOT of ‘dust’ that made it through the holes in my Tuffy strainer.  It made the tea much less appealing when steeped up – though I’ve found this is a consistent problem with pre-packaged loose leaf teas.

Midsummer Night's Dream - lots of bits got through the strainer

Midsummer Night’s Dream – lots of bits got through the strainer

While the crushing isn’t really a problem with the tea itself (rather I could have popped the tea into a T-sac and not worried about the fannings/dust) I did have another problem with the tea- longevity.  Normally from most of David’s Teas I can make at least 3, sometimes 4-5 infusions before the tea looses its strength.  This time around I made two good infusions, but the third was so weak it wasn’t even worth drinking. I poured it down the sink and made up a fresh cup of Buttercream instead. (Another tea I’m trying to use up…)

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Mother’s Little Helper

In my ongoing attempt to cut down some of my massive tea collection by drinking up some of these samples (it’s hard work indeed!) I tried out Mother’s Little Helper – an organic herbal tea from David’s Tea. 

Mother's Little Helper

Mother’s Little Helper

Obviously this is an incredibly PRETTY dry tea – with organic peppermint, lemongrass, rosehips, chamomile flowers, cornflowers, and valerian root.  It also has natural peppermint flavouring, though I found the scent of this tea was really much more lemony than minty; perhaps this is another good tea for my lemon-loving aunt! 

Mother's Little Helper

Mother’s Little Helper

Here’s the ‘tea’ steeping away in my Teavana Perfect Tea Maker. 

The tea is billed as a ‘relaxation’ tea – with “…organic valerian (aka “Nature’s Valium”) to take the edge off your 24/7 reality”.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it definitely is a very soothing, relaxing tea – and having no actual ‘tea’ in it means it’s also caffeine free, so it is a good tea before bed (with or without little ones to tuck in!). 

I really liked the blend of these flavours, though it didn’t seem like a unique enough tea to worm its way onto my ‘must buy’ list – I have other herbal teas that I’ll enjoy first before needing a refill.  (Unlike some of the other teas I’ve reviewed in the past which have been replaced even before I run out!)  I think that if you’re a big herbal-tea fan, this is an easy one to love… but if you are interested in bold or complex flavours, or use your tea as an energy and wake-up shot in the morning, you might want to skip this one – or just save it for those evenings when you are curling up in a window seat, watching the snow fall in the lamplight, reading a really good book while a cat purrs in your lap…

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Exotica

I didn’t read the ingredients of David’s Tea’s Exotica before opening the little sample package, so wasn’t sure what to expect from this herbal infusion.

Exotica tea

Exotica tea

Visually, there is loads of lemongrass in this tea, but the scent isn’t overly ‘lemony’ to me – there is definitely a citrus smell, but it isn’t overpowering. However, this might be another tea that my lemon-loving aunt might like! Along with the citrus scent, there is also something spicy and warm… although it isn’t a ‘ginger’ scent, it reminded me a lot of gingerbread – that same warm, spicy, cozy kind of smell. Adding to the visuals are tiny chunks of orange peel, a few cardamom pods (that’s where the gingerbread scent is coming I bet!) and lovely red peppercorns.

Also in this tea is: cloves, pineapple, coconut, and natural flavouring.

Steeping away, the tea smells very similar – there is the same warm spiciness, with just a little bit of a citrus scent. Plus it looks really pretty steeping away with all of the darkened lemongrass and bright flashes of red peppercorns and pieces of orange peel.

Exotica tea

Exotica tea

The tea is a lemon-yellow (sorry for the bad at-work-iPhone photo!) and the taste of the tea is exactly like what it smells like – a touch of lemon, but warm and spicy. Although the name made me think this would be a fruity tea, I could instead imagine having this on cold winter mornings, or better still, cold winter nights, because since it’s a herbal tea, there is no caffeine. This is definitely one of the samples that I’ll be replacing with a full-sized tin the next time I get into David’s Tea!

Exotica tea

Exotica tea

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Citron Oolong

The samples just keep coming!

I think perhaps I’m the only one in the office enjoying these little sample packets from David’s Tea – because each day there’s another for me to try!

This time around I was tired of herbals and fruit infusions (after a few less than thrilling results) so I picked up the citron oolong instead, and thought that would make a great change.

Immediately the scent made me think of my lemon-tea-loving Aunt Susan, though the smell is equally mixed between the bright citrus scent of lemons and the earthy rich scent of the oolong tea. It’s also extraordinarily pretty – with beautiful little jasmine flowers along with the oolong tea, organic lemon myrtle, and natural essential orange oils. Although you shouldn’t store tea in glass containers where light can get to it – I can totally see this as a counter-top tea, to show off how pretty it is!

Steeping up, the tea is a lot less pretty (as pictured below) and looks kind of like a pale yellow and green mush…. This tea also expands a lot – so if you steep it up at home, give it a lot of room to get the best flavour. When steeping, the oolong scent definitely takes over, and the bright citrus smell takes a backseat. I’ll admit – the smell of the tea while steeping didn’t appeal to me nearly as much as the dry tea.

Citron Oolong David's Tea

Citron Oolong David’s Tea

Finally, the taste…

The citron oolong is exceptionally well-balanced; there is still the distinct taste of lemon, but it isn’t overpowering. The taste of oolong is there too; just a little grassy, just a little smoky. The earthiness of the oolong and the jasmine is there too, just a touch of floral amongst the other flavours. It’s well-balanced enough that I think that you would like this tea if you like lemon/citrus teas – even if you don’t like oolongs. Likewise, I think if you like oolongs, but don’t always like fruit teas, I think you would still enjoy this tea.

What do you think? If you’ve tried citron oolong, leave us a comment below letting us know what you think!

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Tea & Beverages

 

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