Archive for the ‘drink’ Category

Wine’s not your thing? Don’t worry, you’ll still be taken care of out here on the left coast.

For those who prefer green tea over gamay noir, get a jump start on the Wine Fest-ers and check out this weekend’s Victoria TEA Festival, happening all day Sunday at the Victoria Holiday Inn.

So when’s the Victoria Coffee Festival…?

Victoria Tea Festival

Sunday March 11, 2007
The Holiday Inn
3020 Blanshard St.
Victoria, B.C.

Tickets: $45 (includes GST)


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Missed OpportunityYes, it’s still a week away, but given we’ve already started to salivate in anticipation we figured it was time to send out a reminder regarding next week’s Victoria Festival of Wine.

Highlights? Where to start?

Frankly, we’re drawn most strongly to three events:

  1. because an event put on by the same winery late last summer, hosted by the Lake O’Hara Lodge, was such a hit, the Cafe Brio / Golden Mile Cellars wine dinner (March 15th; $100; call 383.0009 to reserve);
  2. because we adore Peter Zambri, the Zambri’s Grappa Tasting & Pairing (March 15th; $50; 360.1171 for reservations); and
  3. well, because of the V.I. in di(V.I.)ne, the Defining the Vine session On Vancouver Island (Noon, March 14; $30; Victoria Conference Centre)

We’re also looking forward to the international public tasting on the Wednesday night, but honestly that’s as much for the people watching as for the wine tasting. Ok, perhaps a little more for the wine ($50; Victoria Conference Centre; tickets: 995.2665).

See you there.

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Da ByesThe Atlantic brine ne’er leaves your blood, even if you move all the way across the colony, so it’s a cultural imperative for me to herald the coming of sons of Newfoundland, Shanneyganock. The lads will be playing Victoria’s Irish Times Pub this Thursday to Saturday, March 8-10, 2007. No cover. Come early. I’ll be the one up front, singing the loudest.

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The Cornerstone CafeYes, we’re some of those people. The people whose eyes show white at the thought of crossing the feared “Blue Bridge” into Esquimalt (unless we’re bee-lining to the Rosemeade Dining Room at the English Inn, of course); those who rarely venture into Fernwood unless clutching tickets to some Belfry production or other; folks who equate the “tweed curtain” encircling Oak Bay with the welcome warmth of a favourite blanket.

So it was with some trepidation that we followed a friend’s suggestion to stop by the Cornerstone Cafe smack dab in the middle of Victoria’s hub for all things hemp and granola. Must have been the promise of Discovery Coffee that convinced us (click the link for a rather entertaining “stomp” video).

We’re glad we went, though we got the feeling Leigh’s red suede Italian boots may have been less welcome than the rest of us.

The beans, of course, were great, but the shots were also well pulled (by two separate baristi). Baked goods were from the always tasty Patisserie Daniel. The Cafe also does soups and sandwiches, but it was too early to sample those. Next time.

Perhaps the best thing about the Cornerstone (apart from the brilliantly expansive people watching windows) is the fact it’s a not-for-profit venture of the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group.  Monies generated at the cafe are funneled directly back into community projects.  How’s that for Fair Trade?

In parting, we realized the Cornerstone is located right next door to the coming soon Stages Wine Bar. Which is worth a remark about the Fernwood community’s changing face: Brekkie at the Cornerstone, tapas and drinks at Stages and then on to the Belfry to catch a show … all very hip – do we need to get on the bandwagon and invest in some fleece-as-fashion-item?


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We wanted to be excited. We got the press release announcing the opening of the Khona café at the corner of Fort and Foulbay Streets in Victoria, saw the terms “quality coffee,” “eco-designed café” and “social responsibility” and got all warm inside before the coffee even hit our lips. Problem is, then the coffee hit did hit our lips.

And we suddently got cold to Khona.

Coffee shops seem to be taking for granted the fact that in a town such as Victoria, with its (over-)abundance of café choices, where aficionados can visit establishments such as 2% Jazz, Caffe Fantastico and habit coffee & culture for truly excellent coffee, that they can get by serving mediocre coffee and doing so with less than mediocre service.

Is a new coffee shop seen simply as a licence to print money? We don’t think this is the approach being taken by Khona. Truly, we applaud the owners for their election to support fair trade coffee, to decorate with environmentally sustainable products and to support local business when sourcing their wares. These are not cost-saving choices. And, in fairness, Khona’s design aesthetic is extremely pleasing. We would happily return if:

(a) the service hadn’t been abysmal; and

(b) the coffee – the cornerstone of any coffee shop – wasn’t nearly as bad.

First impressions are hard to rub off and, though we plan to return to give Khona another chance, we won’t be rushing to do so. We only need so much coffee in the day and and there are far too many better options to satisfy our addiction.

In sum, we love Khona for everything they did in terms of design, decor and ethic. We just wish the women behind the counter would have looked us in the eye and that the coffee hadn’t made us wince.

Original press release below:

March 1, 2007
For immediate Release
Khona brings quality coffee with conscience

Victoria, BC – High-end coffee with a global conscience is now available on upper Fort Street with the opening of a new eco-designed café.

Situated at the corner of Fort and Cook streets, Khona proudly serves premium fair trade coffee that is also organic, shade grown and bird friendly. The fairly traded bean is just one way that Khona embraces social responsibility.

Owner and Victoria resident Andrew Khoo ensures the design, operations and products at Khona are a true reflection of good corporate citizenship.

“We wanted to create an ideal environment for our employees and customers,” says Khoo. “Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it is also better for their wellbeing and health.”

Khona’s interior was designed by award-winning architect Herbert Kwan who also works with Khoo on his development projects, including Reflections on the West Shore.

Environmentally conscious details include the use of Green Seal products, low-odour paint, and recycled building materials. Economic responsibility extends to local manufacturers of goods offered, furniture, signage and other details.

The result is a healthy, sustainable atmosphere that reflects West Coast vibrancy. Khona’s interior embodies the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, creating a warm, inviting ambience – perfect for catching up with old friends or reading quietly by the fireplace and nine-foot cascading waterfall.

“Khona is about experience. It’s a place where our customers can indulge in high-quality products, relax in a comfortable setting and know they are still supporting something uniquely local and sustainable,” says Khoo.

In addition to custom roasted coffee provided by local roaster 25 Degrees, customers can enjoy the scrumptious menu that includes Asian tapas, sushi, wraps, baked goods and blended teas with cheeky names like “Chai for Guys” or “Storm in a Tea Cup.”

To welcome everyone to Khona, Khoo offers happy hour everyday from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring all drinks and menu items at 15% off for a limited time

Visit http://www.khona.ca <http://www.khona.ca/&gt; for more information.

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habit coffee & culture may not be the latest coffee shop to open its door in Greater Victoria (any surprise? a new one a day wouldn’t be much of a stretch), but it is arguably the best.

We spotted an accurate review of the upstart coffee house in the latest issue of EAT Magazine, on shelves (and the ‘net) today.

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