Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Travelin' Oenophile: Part 3, Victoria, B.C.

So yes, I'm getting ready to leave Seattle tomorrow. It's strange to have been in a hotel room so long I actually unpacked my stuff. The weather took a turn for the warmer, and now I'm down to a tank top to wear on the plane because I ended up going through all my warm weather stuff here. Not that it's anywhere near Georgia hot/humid. Maybe there is something to my mother's fear that Hubby and I will move out here eventually...

The original purpose of the trip was for me to go to a conference in Seattle and get CEU's. I was also part of a panel discussion today and am proud to have a little "Speaker" ribbon on my badge. Between hanging out with friends, both conference and Seattle-ites, I haven't had time to do much more than briefly check email. So yes, I have a bit of catching up to do. How about we rewind to Monday, June 1, when Hubby and I got up ridiculously early to catch a ferry?

(cue flashback music and wavy visual effects)

Five-thirty a.m. still feels really early even when your internal clock is telling you it should be 8:30. That’s when the alarm went off last Monday morning so Hubby and I could make the 8:20 ferry to Victoria, B.C. We only stayed a couple of blocks away from the terminal, but since we have a car, we needed to check in and get in line an hour before the boat’s scheduled sailing. We made it with a few minutes to spare, and by 8:30 Pacific time, we were underway to Canada…

Expedia had allowed us to get into the Empress, Victoria’s flagship hotel, at a reasonable rate, and, even more impressive, our room was ready. We headed on a walking tour recommended by the Top Ten travel book, and I purchased a lovely amethyst ring in a little store in Fan Tan Alley in Victoria’s Chinatown. Then we went to the Maritime Museum, where we learned about B.C.’s seafaring history and – bonus! – Vikings.

Random bit of trivia: the Scandinavian Viking genes are thought to be associated with Restless Legs Syndrome, the highest rates of which are in Iceland. Maybe that's why they felt the need to travel so much?

After a bit of a trek to the other side of the waterfront to find the city’s oldest licensed brew pub, we gave up and ended up back in Victoria, where we ate lunch at a harborside restaurant and – shocker! – brewpub, Canoe. I had the lunch special, a half ham and cheese sandwich, tomato soup, and salad. Hubby had the salmon salad.

By that time, my feet were telling me they were done (I have plantar fasciitis), so we got the car and went wine tasting. You knew it was going to happen sooner or later. We had high hopes since we loved the wines from Okanagan Valley, but sadly, the island wines just weren't as good.

Our first stop was at Marley Farm, which really is a farm with chickens and sheep. We tasted a Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and a couple of fruit wines, which were surprisingly dry, but Hubby said that the Rastaberry still tasted like Kool-Aid.

We had time for one more, so we chose Church & State, which looked to be a bit more of a higher-end production. We tried several of their wines, and while they were not bad, none really stood out. Saddened and disappointed, we headed back toward Victoria.

Fear not, however! We did have reservations for High Tea at the Empress, which my Canadian friend told me was the thing to do. I was excited to do something that seemed to elegant and girly, which, yes, is out of character, but I do have to indulge the girly side sometimes. It was as wonderful as promised with a variety of tea sandwiches, scones, and little desserts. The Empress Blend tea was also very good, and we even got to bring home a little souvenir tin.

We crashed for a bit after that, and after doing some light reading, went out for dinner.

Our reservations at Café Brio were for 8:30 since high tea had been so heavy, but even three hours later, I could only handle an appetizer-sized entrée. That meant I had to make it good. I got the Casarecchia Pasta, which had a ragout made of red wine and duck as well as mint and oranges. It sounds a little strange, but it tasted really good. I went with the suggested wine pairing, the 2005 Campofiorin “Ripasso,” a red blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara from the Veneto region of Italy. An Italian big red with some earthiness, it did go well with the food.

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