15th Annual BC Wine & Oyster Festival at Victoria’s Coast Hotel

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Events

The last week just flew by, but I never did finish talking about our fantastic ‘New Victoria for New Media’ trip. With a little time now, I’m going to try to wrap that up!

After our trip to Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, our bus took us to check in at
Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel & Marina. The hotel is located about 5 minutes walk from the main city center in Victoria, which was a nice place to be. Aside from the easy walking distance, they also have a hotel shuttle that can take you, or pick you up, from wherever you want to go in the city. As you can see, we had an amazing view from our room!

New Media in New Victoria

As if the cider weren’t enough for one day, just 30 minutes after checking into our hotel, we headed out for the 15th Annual BC Wine & Oyster Festival, which was being held at the hotel. Apparently, the website for that festival is already down (permalinks, people!), but it was a great event and very well attended.

New Media in New Victoria

Obviously, being pregnant, I wasn’t able to drink any of the wine or to eat any of the oysters. Well, I’m not an oyster fan anyway. But I did come along to enjoy the view, chow on some cheese (yay, they had pasteurized brie!!) and partake of the chocolate fountain. Ianiv hasn’t been drinking much either in the past several months, so he didn’t go crazy with the free alcohol. I think he had a couple of beers (yes, they had beer there too!) and maybe one glass of wine. If you go to the festival in another year, definitely take the time to read up about the beer and wine beforehand so you know what you want to try – so many choices!

New Media in New Victoria

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Beer & Wine

After we arrived to Victoria on Friday, our first stop was to the gorgeous Saanich Peninsula Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. The ciderhouse is nestled back into a lovely 10 acre farm, 3 acres of which are planted with a variety of apple trees, tended to with organic farming techniques, some very rare, and 7 acres of which are dedicated to existing forest land (with some herbs purposefully cultivated therein). The ciderhouse has a gorgeous view of the bay.

New Media in New Victoria

We began our tour with Kristen Jordan, who started Sea Cider with her husband Bruce in 2004. Kristen grew up with a family orchard, and Bruce with a passion for cider making. Together they decided to start their own orchard and ciderhouse, dedicated to preserving the heritage of many varieties of apples as well as taking this ‘humble’ beverage to new heights. We toured the cider making facilities, even watching them prepare some apples for the press.

New Media in New Victoria

Cider is simply a fermented drink made from apples, not from grapes, but the varieties you can make seem endless. I had no idea! It’s not just about the apples you use (and the endless combinations therein), but also the yeasts you use (or don’t use) and how the cider is then aged. Sea Cider believes in organic farming, and in embracing the local farming community. Their Kings & Spies cider, for example, makes use of apples gathered from local heritage trees in the area.

New Media in New Victoria

The tasting menu included 9 ciders, ranging from dry to sweet:

  • Flagship – German-style, ultra-dry, fermented with champagne yeast. Ianiv’s review: This one and the Wild English drier are very similar to a dry white wine. I’m not a big fan of white wine so they were not my favorites.
  • Wild English - using English bittersweet cider apples.
  • Kings & Spies - made with a blend of local heritage apples. Ianiv’s review: A bit sweeter than the first two, with floral and pear notes.
  • Perry – made with Perry Pears from North Saanich.
  • Pippins - made with the Newton Pippin apple blended with Island-grown apples. Ianiv’s review: I think this is a lot closer to what most people are used to when talking about cider. It has a higher alcohol content but not enough to distract you from the sweeter fruit flavors. We bought 2 bottles of this cider for our upcoming baby shower!
  • Rumrunner - This was a favorite of many in the review. It’s made from heritage apples, slowly fermented, and aged in rum barrels. Interestingly, the barrels are used for various other alcohols before they are used for rum, so they come well-seasoned! Ianiv’s review: Wow, this was different! The barrels give this cider very nice rum and brown sugar notes. This one will warm your throat on the way down.
  • Cyser – This cider is blended with organic honey, making it more of an apertif-cider. Ianiv’s review: I expected this to be sweeter and to have a bit more honey notes. Not my favorite.
  • Pommeau – This cider has the highest alcohol level (18%) and uses Snow apples, which date back to the 1600s. Ianiv’s review: Very similar to a brandy or sherry. We bought a bottle.
  • Pomona - This cider is made by freezing, then slowly fermenting, crabapple juice. Definitely a dessert cider. Ianiv’s review: Very sweet, like an ice wine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our Journey to Victoria

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Events, Photography

We began our trip to Victoria bright and early on Friday morning by meeting at the Vancouver Coast Hotel. There, we met up with our fellow social media gurus (Rebecca & John, Duane, Anny, Karen, Lorraine, April & guests) and Danny & Sherry of Coast Hotels. The photos, videos and tweets started right away, of course (you can even find the hotel on Twitter) – see, here we are on the bus!


Credit: miss604

At the Tsawwassen BC Ferries terminal, we met up with a tour guide who took us through the Market where we all stopped for some much-needed coffee (at the Salt Spring Coffee stand, not the Starbucks one, of course. Mmm, mocha).

We were supposed to be sailing on one of the new Coastal ferries, but the schedules were flipped and we ended up instead on the Spirit of British Columbia. I don’t know if it’s because this is a Victoria-bound ship, but it’s not a class of ship that I’d known in my many years of traveling to-and-from Vancouver Island (way back when I used to live in Courtenay). Our itinerary had us down for a “buffet lunch” and I was pretty curious about that – were they going to put us in a private room, or what? To my surprise, I found out that several BC Ferries ships now have a special Pacific Buffet, in addition to the normal cafeteria area and snack bar. We sat down to a lovely brunch before heading out for a “BC Ferries Photowalk”, even catching a brief glimpse of some whales. Ianiv even had a little Marilyn Monroe moment. Cute.

New Media in New Victoria

On our way back from Victoria today, I also had a new experience – the Seawest Lounge. For those of you who spent endless hours sitting in noisy areas trying to read… it’s like a lovely little haven. The lounge, which you have to pay to go into, sits at the rear of the ship. There are sections with tables as well as a series of chairs that recline a bit (picture me there with my feet propped up on my suitcase). There’s also some pastries, coffee and things of that sort to munch on. A very relaxing place to be after a long weekend of activities!!

After we got to Victoria, we boarded another bus and headed to a Cider farm… more on that in another post!!

Headed to Victoria

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Events

This weekend, we’re heading off to Victoria for what will likely be our last pre-baby vacation. We were invited to Victoria, along with other Vancouver bloggers, as part of the “New Victoria for New Media” weekend organized by Coast Hotels. We were in Victoria last year for the BC 150 festival with Duane and had a fantastic time – we’re looking forward to the same this year.

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Our trip will begin on Friday, starting out at the Coast Hotel in Vancouver and taking us aboard the new Coastal Celebration ferry to Victoria. Our weekend will include a number of organized events, as well as some free time. Some of the things we’ll be doing include:

Our trip is made possible with transportation and accomodations provided by Coast Hotels and Tourism Victoria. We’ll also be having some of our meals supplied, including breakfast at the Blue Crab Bar & Grill as well as a lunch at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. We’re also being given a "Harbour Holiday Pass" courtesy of the Tartan Group.

Yay! Goin’ On A Cruise!

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

It’s about time, hey? We’ve been a little busy, if you haven’t noticed by the silence around here ;) We are long overdue for a vacation, I’ve barely taken more than 2 days in a row off (including holidays) since we went to Spain in September, 2007! Seems like a lifetime ago.

So, we did it. We booked a holiday. We’re headed off to the Caribbean for a cruise this March!

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We’ll be sailing with Royal Caribbean for an 8-night trip with 4 ports of call. We chose a cruise that had a private island stop (Labadee) so we could have one full day of being lazy on a clean, quiet(ish) beach. The other ports also seem pretty interesting. I wasn’t really into choosing a cruise that stopped in Cozumel, but otherwise it was really difficult to choose the cruise. We ended up with this one because of the timing and the length more than any specific port. Anything would be great – the point of this vacation, unlike our last 2 trips to Europe, was just to RELAX.

It’s a bit of a pain to get to Florida (no direct flights) from Vancouver, so we decided to at least make it cheaper (half the price) by flying out of Seattle. Bit of a pain, but really worth it on the cost savings. We have a day before and after the cruise in Ft. Lauderdale in order to line up with the flights, but that’s just a lovely extra bit of time away.

This is my first cruise experience (Ianiv has been on two) and I’ve been dreaming about it for YEARS. I love the water and I have always wanted to do something like this. I’m just a little bit excited. :)

Salt Spring Island

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Photography

On the weekend I went to Salt Spring Island with my mother-in-law, Dora, and sister-in-law, Tamara. We stayed at a little bed & breakfast within walking distance of Ganges Village.

On the way to the island, I did a phone interview with Matt Czuchry, who was an actor on Gilmore Girls. It was a little stressful given that my cell coverage kept dropping out and my recording picked up so much interference, but it was fun! You can read the first part of the interview here.

As soon as we arrived to Salt Spring we drove to Salt Spring Island Bread to see the bread lady, Heather. We bought an obscene amount of bread from her – from sweet focaccia to onion bread to chocolate walnut bread. Tasty. And what’s bread without cheese? So, we then drove to Salt Spring Island Cheese to taste and load up on a variety of goat cheeses. And then to the Salt Spring Vineyards for a wine tasting – the blackberry port is amazing!

After a late dinner and a dip in the hot tub, while drinking wine & eating bread, of course, we called it a night! The next day we primarily spent at the Saturday Market, shopping the stalls, trying the foods and enjoying the beautiful day. We had an amazing lunch at the Tree House Cafe. Later that afternoon we drove up Mount Maxwell to check out the view.

Sunday was rainy, but we made good use of our time by going on the Studio Tour. Or, at least part of it. It’s a self-directed tour to some of the artisans who live on the Island. That kept us busy all day until we wrapped up our trip and came back to Vancouver.

A very relaxing weekend! You can check out the photo set here.



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