Last night we joined some friends for dinner at the QUALICUM BEACH INN. it was our second time for dinner here. The hotel was totally renovated a couple of years ago and the result is very nice space. A bonus in the summer would be dining outside to enjoy the water view, But in November inside is the only option.
The dining room was very busy last night, capacity I would say. As a result we found it very noisy. No quiet tables here .
The menu is broad and there is always a Specials Sheet. My favourite girl opted for a scallop appetizer and a spicy Chicken Entree. I chose Moules Frittes, Saltspring Island mussels and Kenebeck fries. The fries were outstanding but the mussels were small and not hot enough. Because the place was so busy I suspect the mussels languished in the kitchen for too long before they made their way to the table. Very good though and served with a spicy aioli. We shared a chocolaty Creme Brûlée which was OK. I prefer a transitional Brûlée. Two of our friends enjoyed Ribs and the other entrees included a seafood pasta dish.
Service was good and our waiter was very charming and knew his stuff. The wine list is extensive and we chose an Arborlea Pinot Grigio from Duncan. It was delicious but at $35 was the cheapest white available.
The Qualicum Beach Inn is a nice place to dine but for the money I would choose BISTRO 694 in Qualicum Beach every time.
Never did we expect that in our retirement we would enjoy pub food as much as we do. But, in fact, Pub lunches are our first choice mid day dining. Most have really tasty food at reasonable prices. Fortunately, Vancouver Island is home to a host of really good pubs. On this blog we will, over time, comment on some of our favourites.
Often, if we are heading home after a Nanaimo trip, we will stop in Lantzville and have a bite in the Lantzville Village Pub. Amazingly, this pub first opened nearly 100 years ago in 1925. It is a quaint old building and quite inviting inside. The staff are welcoming and best of all the food is consistently good. We like their Fish & Chips and we share a two piece plate often. Nicely done, not too much batter, good fries and tartar sauce. Also recommended are the Fish Tacos. Three soft tacos with spicy deep fried cod. Excellent. Other menu items include a wide range of sandwiches, soups, salads and pastas. You can even order Seafood Crepes.
The pub has daily specials so be sure and check the chalkboard. Recently I was there with two old pals and we chose the special, a delicious Beef Dip.
If you haven’t been to the Lantzville Village Pub you need to try it. And, by the way, it has a nice ocean view over the Strait of Georgia.
After slogging through France Canadian troops were sent towards Belgium where they fought their way up the Shelde into Antwerp and Holland. We visited the Bergen-op Zoom Cemetery about 40 kilometres from Antwerp. Over 1200 graves are here, mostly Canadians. If you have not seem any of these cemeteries and you are in Norther Europe or Italy, take time to go to one. It’s an amazing experience. LEST WE FORGET.
On June 6 1944 thousands of American, British, Canadian and other Commonwealth troops landed on the beaches of Normandy beginning a battle to defeat Nazi Germany. The fighting continued through France, Belgium, Holland and eventually into Germany. The death toll was enormous on both sides. Here are some of the cemeteries where many of those valiant soldiers are buried.
The Americans landed on Utah and Omaha Beaches and the cliffs go Pointe Du Hoc. The casualties were very high and many of those who perished are laid to rest at the Normandy American Cemetery above Omaha Beach. 9,387 American boys are buried here. It was the first overseas Cemetery we visited and is was an overwhelming experience to see the rows of white crosses.
A few Kilometers east is Juno Beach where the Canadians landed on June 6. Our troops fought their way off the beaches and into Normandy. They were in the Battle for Caen, Falaise and we visited two Beautiful Canadian Cemeteries in the area.
The Canadian War Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer in Normandy is the resting place for 2,049 brave Canadian soldiers who landed at Juno Beach in June 1944. Most of these boys were between 18 -26 years old. We visited in 1998 and 2005.
On the road from Caen to Faliase in Normandy is the Brettevile-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery. 2,782 Canadian boys are buried here. They fought in the Battle of Caen, and the Battle of the Falise Pocket in 1944. We visited this beautiful place in 2005 on the way to Saint-Lambert-sur-Dive near the famous ‘Coridor of Death’.
I have posted a few brief reports and photos of War Cemeteries in Europe recently on Facebook but a good friend asked me to post them here too for the benefit of those who are not on Facebook.
In 2014 on a trip to Italy, a Roman friend graciously took us to Anzio, south of Rome to see where the Allies landed in the invasion of Italy. We visited 3 cemeteries near Anzio. All of these Cemeteries are beautifully maintained 70 years after the war and for us it was a truly moving experience to see and to walk through the row and rows of headstones.
The Beach Head Commonwealth War Cemetery near Anzio contains 2,316 burials of the Second World War, 295 of them unidentified. The invasion of Italy began in September, 1943.
Also, near Anzio is the Sicily Rome American War Cemetery where 7900 American men and women are buried. There are 26 sets of brothers lying beside each other. These soldiers perished in battles in Sicily, Anzio, Cassino and Rome.
Near Pomezia, south of Rome is a huge German War Cemetery containing the graves of 27,000. The enemy also suffered enormously in Italy. It was almost surreal visiting here. Notice that there are 3 soldiers per grave.
A trade journal, RESTAURANT BUSINESS, recently published a list of the top 100 restaurants in the USA rated by Gross Sales. The numbers are really amazing. At number one with annual sales in 2015 of almost $48,000,000 was the TAO ASIAN BISTRO in Las Vegas. The most expensive restaurant is CARNEVINO ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE in Las Vegas. Dinner there will cost you $180 per person. This joint is owned by celebrity Chefs Mario Batali and Joe Bastanich.
At the other end of the per person cost is Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, Michigan. For $15 per you can enjoy all you can eat chicken. And they serve lots of it having fed 967,000 hungry people in 2015. Total sales were $14 million.
Of the 100 there are only 4 that I have visited. SMITH & WOLLENSKY in New York is a classic NYC steak house and we had a memorable dinner there several years ago. You can easily drop $100 US for dinner for one. #7 Is SCOMA’S at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. It is a classic but kind of a touristy place. Expensive too. I think I went there on my first trip to San Francisco. I’d skip it next time. TAVERN ON THE GREEN in Central Park in New York was a delightful experience. It’s a beautiful setting in the park and has recently been renovated. We would certainly go again. In lower Manhatten is BALTHAZAR, a frenchy Bistro. It’s #89 with sales of $13 million per year. Cool place where you can dine for about $75 each.
If you have travel plans in the USA you may want to check out the list and perhaps try one of these fabulous restaurants. Make sure you have a big limit on your VISA.
To see the entire 100 go to
As Chef Jacques Pepin would say…..HAPPY EATING❗️
In 2005, our son Jackson and I made a 10 day WWll trip to England, France, Belgium and Holland. We visited most of the battle sites and cemeteries in the area which was fascinating since we both had read several books on D-Day and beyond. It was, to be sure, a most memorable trip for both of us.
One of the most interesting experiences happened as we drove south on Route D13 past Falaise as we searched for the famous Falaise Gap and the Coridor of Death where German troops tried to escape Normandy through a very narrow road with thick hedgerows on either side. The German Army suffered enormous casualties at the hands of Canadian and Polish troops.
As we cruised down the road through the beautiful FRENCH countyside, we broke over a hill and saw a large Canadian flag flying in the town of St. Lambert-Sur-Dives. We stopped under the flag and found a memorial to Major David Currie of the South Alberta Regiment. Currie had commanded a tank force, the Calgary Horse, in the Falaise Gap battle. The Germans lost 300 men, 500 wounded and The Canadians captured 2100.
The local residents honoured Major Currie with this memorial.
Major Currie was awarded the VICTORIA CROSS for his efforts. He later served as the Sergeant of Arms in the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Not far from this memorial is the Corridor of Death where the battle took place.
And here is a historical photo of the Germans surrendering to Major Currie. He is on the left holding a revolver. He was 32 years old
It was an amazing day for Canadian to visit this spot in France where our troops had played such an important role in WWII.
Lest We Forget🇨🇦
Today 29 skippers departed from France in the 2016/17 VENDÉE GLOBE Around the world sailing race, the 8th running of the race. The course is over 24,000 nautical miles and will take up to 3 months to complete. These sailors are single handing 60 foot very high speed sailing vessels. They can easily average 15 knots per hour and can reach speeds of 30 knots. The skippers are from France, Switzerland, England, Ireland, and the USA.
You can follow these boats at http://www.vendeeglobe.org
There are also videos posted on YouTube!
CANADIANS IN ITALY, 1943/44
As Remembrance Day approaches most Canadians remember D Day, the battle in Normandy, Holland and Germany but we don’t often think of the Italian Campaign.
Canadian troops landed near the toe of Italy in September 1943 and headed north. The campaign continued until February, 1945. During that time there more than 25,000. Canadian casualties including almost 6,000 deaths. The opposition was the German army as the Italians had capitulated and Germans took over.
The 1st Canadian Army included:
Saskatoon Light Infantry (machine gun)
1st Infantry Brigade
Royal Canadian Regiment
Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
48th Highlanders of Canada
2nd Infantry Brigade
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantr
Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
Loyal Edmonton Regiment
3rd Infantry Brigade
Royal 22e Regiment
Carleton and York Regiment
West Nova Scotia Regimen
1st Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons)
1st Field Regiment
2nd Field Regiment
3rd Field Regiment
1st Anti-Tank Regiment
2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
5th Armoured Division
3rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (Governor General’s Horse Guards)
5th Armoured Brigade
2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians))
5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise’s (New Brunswick) Hussars)
9th Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Dragoons)
There was a large contingent of BC boys Seaforth highlanders and the PPCLI. Harry Rankin, former Vancouver alderman was there as was Farley Mowat.
The first significant battle took place over Christmas, 1943 around and in the coastal town of Ortona. The Canadians fought building to building against German paratroopers and drove the Germans north. A quarter of all Canadian deaths in Italy occurred here and those boys are buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery just south of Ortona.
Moro River War Cemetery
The Canadian then moved over to the west to help support the battle at Cassino and the liberation of Rome in the Spring and Summer of 1944. Rome was liberated on June4, 1944. Back on the Adriatic coast the Canadian army moved north in the fall of 1944 and attacked the Gothic Line which stretched from Pisa to Pesaro. The objective was to take the town of Rimini. They arrived to a deserted Rimini September 24. Many more casualties were endured on the way to Rimini and many of those boys are buried in the Gradara War Cemetery south of Rimini.
Gradara War Cemetery
The Italian campaign continued into the spring of 1945, but the Canadians did not participate in the final victory. In February 1945 the 1st Canadian Corps began the move to Northwest Europe to be re-united with the First Canadian Army. There they would join in the drive into Germany and Holland and see the war in Europe to its end.
If you are visiting Italy, try to visit one of the 20 cemeteries in which Canadian boys are buried . It’s a truly moving experience.
The US election is heating up with just 4 days to go. Who will win? I don’t know but at this point I would put money on Trump. The polls don’t seem reliable to me as they seem to have favoured CLINTON and appear to have discouraged Trump supporters. But as we get close to the day the pollsters are tightening up. They don’t want to lose all credibility if Trump hits a home run on Tuesday.
In my mind the polls have not reflected what is happening in the ground. Trump has been drawing enormous crowds at his Rallies while CLINTON has had much smaller crowds and fewer rallies. Trump’s running mate Mike Pence has Aldo been drawing pretty good audiences while her running mate Tim Kaine can’t seem to attract enough people for a pick up soccer game. Apparently the battle of lawn signs is being dominated by Trump.
The pollsters are tightening up their predictions now. They don’t want to look like fools next Wednesday.
And now CLINTON and some if her associates are under FBI investigation will more on this come out before Tuesday? Maybe.
To be sure, this is the most unusual Presidential race in my lifetime. Surprising, fascinating and historical.
On Wednesday some pundits will be gloating and some will be scraping egg off their faces? I can’t wait to see the result. Dinner in front of the big screen on Tuesday at our place.
Continue reading →