Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Events, Food, Restaurants

After our tour in the Royal BC Museum, we took a Harbour Ferry across the bay to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. I believe we were supposed to have had a tour of the Bay, but the Ferry lost our reservation or something like that. On our lunch, we were joined by a rep from Tourism Victoria, who helped to set up our lunch and visit at Spinnakers.

Image: miss604

Spinnakers sits on a huge piece of land overlooking the harbour – their property includes the Brewpub, as well as a number of Guest Houses (they operate like a B&B for these) we also had a chance to tour. I was expecting, for lunch, that we’d all just be ordering off the menu. Not so! There was a huge meal planned, with 5 courses of food, 3 wine pairings, 3 beer & chocolate pairings, and liquor and cheese pairing to finish off. Crazy!

The lunch started off with a plate of cheeses & fish, followed by a salad, mussels, clams, and pork & risotto (miss604 has great photos of each dish). If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like food a pregnant woman should be eating, you’re right! After the plates started coming out, we had to ask that a special meal be prepared for me – I got to eat a cheese-less salad and a mushroom & chicken pasta. Most of the ingredients at Spinnakers are local or organic, and the herbs are even partially grown on their guest house properties!

New Media in New Victoria

While I did miss out on all the fantastic wines and beers, I did have a chance to enjoy the O de Vie, a mineral water that bubbles up from an aquifer 225ft beneath the brewhouse. Delish. And I have to say I probably wasn’t the only one who felt spoiled after such an elaborate lunch – ok, everyone else probably felt it more than I did, what with all the wine & beer consumed, and the fabulous service we had while there!

Spinnakers, as Canada’s first purpose-built brewpub, has a long history of making beer. They produce at least 10 types of ale (no lager) on-site, and take great pride in the process. I know Ianiv had a couple of glasses of their Nut Brown Ale, with the Hefeweizen being a crowd favorite as well.

Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to try their Malt Vinegar, and I swear I mentioned that several times after I left there. Note to self: when pregnant, satisfy cravings! I’m going to need to go back sometime for their fish & chips so I can have one of their naturally brewed vinegars!

Not making the same mistake twice, we stopped at the Spinnakers giftshop on our way out to load up on cookies and toffees and more of the truffles that were served with the beer. Why not, right?

Treasures at the Royal BC Museum

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Events

I have to admit, this is the part of our trip to Victoria that I was most looking forward to! The trip to the Royal BC Museum. We only had 2 hours scheduled, but that’s probably enough waddling for this pregnant woman, despite how much more time I would have liked to have had.

Since this wasn’t our first trip to the museum, we concentrated on the Treasures: The World’s Cultures from the British Museum exhibit, which will be on show until September 30, 2009.

Images: Royal BC Museum

This exhibit contains 309 objects on loan from the British Museum, including a complete mummy that’s never been unwrapped. The whole collection is meant to span human history, from early axe heads and the development of creative forms of expression right up to ‘today’. I could do without the most recent stuff, but I thought they had some great items on display. I’ve always been fascinated with archaeology (even took a course in University, if you can believe it!), and with Egypt in particular.

After spending most of our time in this exhibit, we made a quick trip into our favorite part of the Museum, the Natural History and Modern History galleries.

New Media in New Victoria

New Media in New Victoria

As parents-to-be, we were conjuring up images of taking our family to the museum. It’s only too bad that it’s not in Vancouver, as we could imagine spending many weekends going through the exhibits each year. These galleries, in particular, offer something very tangible to young kids – being able to walk through the HMS Discovery or the city street… amazing. I have a few memories of being there as a kid and I just loved it!

Later in the day, we wanted to return for one of the IMAX shows, but we weren’t able to walk back quickly enough to make the showing we wanted. Instead, we had a nice nap before heading out for dinner.

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.


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.

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