Thursday, April 19, 2007

Victoria, 100 mile style (updated)

We’re coming to end of our stay in Victoria and getting ready to rickshaw my DH back up the island. This leg of our stay included a mirthful dinner at our friends, P & S. The table was heavy with delectable foods including a wonderful homemade pork pie with Sloping Hills pork, a great selection of local sausages, a local venison risotto, salmon and great company. It was like I had never left home. It’s such a pleasure to dine other 100 milers, like P & G, who appreciate the importance of supporting the local agriculture. Beyond that, these folks respect great food and are wonderful cooks. P even makes his own proscuitto! I think we’re going to be visiting Victoria more often ;)

Also during this last visit, I got a chance to roam about Victoria while DH was cloistered in his video game cocoon. I got to wander for hours poking about down Victoria’s meandering streets and made a few local food discoveries. Just a 20 minute walk from where we were staying is Aubergine, a small grocery store that stocks produce from Saanich and a wide range of local dairy and meats. Even this early in spring, they already had a good selection of fresh vegetables. They’re located on Cadboro Bay Rd and Estevan. In another wandering spree in the Oak Bay neighbourhood, I discovered the Village Butcher, a full-service butcher shop, specializing in free-range, ethically raised products and local meats. They’re located at 2250 Oak Bay Ave, across the street from Ottavio deli and bakery. Speaking of Ottavio , they offer a great range of local cheeses and other local products.

EAT magazine’s recent issue is all about eating green and there’s plenty of info about eating locally. The magazine & its archives are available online once you register. There’s articles about how to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, a 100 mile menu, the Green Table project and the usual toothsome articles about local good eats and drinks.

I also found a delightful knitting circle, a quiver of new kayaking and climbing friends, a great secret spot for fiddlehead picking and an awesome used bookstore. What a full week! Who would have thought that playing Florence Nightmaregale to my Frankenhusband would be so enterprising?

ETA- Mike, if I told you my secret fiddlehead picking spot, it wouldn't be a secret, eh? Actually, I have no idea how the streets in Victoria work. It's as if someone took a perfectly gridded city, threw in a gigantic civic planning fork into the center and twirled the streets like spaghetti. So all I can really tell you is that the fiddlehead spot is two corkscrew turns off Cadboro Bay Rd, a sharp left to a 5 way stop (yep, you heard me). Take the 3rd prong down to the end of a dead end street, follow a small overgrown footpath down a slope, around the corner to a small wooded area overrun with ferns. Make sure they're from Ostrich ferns and not in an area that would be sprayed with chemicals. Some ferns are poisonous, so be careful you know your ferns. There was a fiddlehead food scare in the 90s.
Or you could just head down to your local farm mart, farmers market or even grocery store and pick some up there. Look for firm green, tightly coiled fiddleheads. They can be blanched and frozen if you manage to get yourself a huge haul.

Have a great day!



Mike said...

Okay - secret spot for fiddlehead picking? I _love_ fiddleheads and have been craving them for over a year - please share where I can find them!!!

anna said...

Frankenhusband!? ;)

Very funny.

Jen, as I'm converting to the 100 mile diet, as a committed veggie head, I'm still concerned about the environmental impact of eating meat. Even if the meat is locally produced, where did the feed come from? (This is a question I'm contemplating as I'm also contemplating the possibility of a couple of backyard laying hens . . .). If the feed is being trucked in from the praries--or the American midwest--or who knows where else--then the reduction in impact of eating locally is significantly reduced, because it's not really being produced by local means, right? Although clearly removing the "middle step" of feedlots and horrible, unethical practices is a giant leap in the right direction.

I mean, there's always a negotiation, right? I don't buy commercial pet food, but I make my own--from pastured beef, raised locally. I'm a veggie head, but my dog and cats aren't. They're just not designed for it.

Perhaps there's a tradeoff possible--I won't eat meat, but I'll still drink coffee?

These are such vexed issues! Thank you so much for raising my consciousness enough that I'm thinking about them all in a different way . . .

The backyard hens came as a result of rethinking strict veganism. I realized, after seeing _The Future of Food_, that locally raised eggs (free range, etc) are probably much more environmentally friendly than the egg replacer I was using, which is made from probably-gmo-corn carted from the other side of the continent!

I have yet to hear of a dairy that's truly ethical and sustainable, as well as organic--and I do think that we need to be really cautious about declaring land as "fit only for pasture"--and I'm not convinced that even "organic" dairies are raising happy, healthy cows who range freely in those pastures. I'm willing to be wrong, though (and I love cheese, so I'd LOVE to be wrong!!).

Any info you have would be most definitely appreciated! (and I'll keep you posted about the backyard hen plan . . .)