Famous Hotel Closes

On one of our trips to New York City, my favourite girl and I spent some time in the famous WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL on Park Avenue.  We love hotels, especially the famous ones, so we had a really good look around the common areas concluding with an adult beverage in one of the bars. We will never visit this grand hotel again, nor will you.  It has closed.



The Waldorf-Astoria opened in 1931 and hosted every President since Hoover along with celebrities and royalty. It was both luxurious and opulent. The name came from the previous merger of two hotels owned by William Waldorf Astor, and his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV. One time owner Conrad Hilton called it “the greatest of them all”. But Hilton International sold the building to a Chinese Insurance company and it is being converted to apartments. Probably they will be luxurious and opulent too. After all, it is Park Avenue.

I am happy that we had the opportunity to visit one of the most famous hotels ever.

Just saying…



Fast food hell, aka, Sodium plus


There is no mistake about it. I love fast food. During my working years, burgers on the go,
in thecar, airport, the mall. Lunch often was fast food, especially burgers. I still love them but now have reduced my consumption of said deliciousness dramatically.

However, when one researches the calories, fat,  and particularly the sodium in fast food the truth could send your blood pressure numbers into the stratosphere.

My all time favourite is the A & W MAMA BURGER.



Not too big. Amazingly it contains only 400 calories, and 710 mg sodium. I’m feeling pretty good about my choice. Add cheese and you add 50 caloies and another 250 mg of sodium. Cancel the cheese. A friend of mine swears by the the Mama with double cheese/double bacon. That kicks the sodium count to 1000+ mg.  I hope he doesn’t go there too often.

Another choice that I love at A&W is the Spicy Chicken Habanero Burger. Delicious but 550 calories and 900 mg of sodium.

Over at my other favourite joint, White Spot, The Legendary Burger is classic and,  yes legendary. Calories 780,  Sodium 850 mg. As an aside,  Breakfast at the Spot?  Nat’s Hearty Breakfast contains 1200 calories and 2200 mg of the blood pressure stimulator. That’s a full days supply of salt. Ever wonder why you are thirsty after a feeding frenzy at the Spot?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
• 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
• 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
• 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium

Put the salt shaker down.

I haven’t hit a Dairy Queen for years but their Double Cheeseburger  hides 580 calories and 1150 mg of sodium.  Chicken strips are only 440 calories but 1200 mg of the bad stuff. Just have a chocolate shake. 114 calories, 3 grams fat 107mg sodium.

Ok, forget the burgers go for pizza. At Pizza Hut, one slice of a 12 inch thin crust pie contains has a mere 300 calories but 750 mg of stroke builder. Have 4 or 5 slices, and who wouldn’t,  and you’ve created your personal salt lick.
As previously reported Boston Pizza is a salt lovers Mecca. The Boston Brute Sandwich contains 800 calories and 3030 mg of sodium. Yikes. Pulled pork sandwich sounds tasty. It is because it’s got 3350 mg of salt. Call 911. Or tuck into an Original Pizza with an astounding 3550 mg of sodium.

One more could be Subway,  although I’ve only darkened their doors about 4 times in my life. Actually Subway is not too bad on the sodium stage. Ham sandwich 700 mg. Tuna only 480mg. The Meatball Marinara sub hits 4 figures with 1000mg of Sodium.
Ok let’s go to Sam’s Sushi. Low fat, low calorie,  low sodium, until,  as you must, add the soy sauce. You don’t want to know. A California roll has about 250 calories and 350 mg of sodium. Go for the sashimi. About 10-15 mg sodium per piece. 1/2 cup of rice 500mg.
Run away from the Soy sauce. One little tablespoon = 900 mg. Low sodium option is less, 550mg.


I’m thinking Sushi is maybe your best choice especially if you are sparing  with the Soy Sauce.

Wishing you all low blood pressure. Have a  Raw carrot and some Kale. good Grief!

Just saying …


Coombs, BC, is famous for the Country Store with the Norwegian Style Grass Roof complete with grazing goats, but it’s really not where one would expect a 400 seat Italian Trattoria & Pizzaria.  Nevertheless, just such a place can be found there.

It would be easy, if visiting Coombs for the first time, to miss the restaurant since it is located up the driveway past the Store, the Ice Cream Parlour and the Fruit & Vegetable stand.  But there it is.  Most first timers are amazed with what they see. CUCKOO’S is in a very Italian looking two story building that was built about 6 years ago. It is quite a find, especially during the summer when the very large and very delightful patio is open. One can easily feel like one is sipping wine in Tuscany.

CUCKOOS’S has three indoor dining areas, all Classic Italian with white walls, wood floors,  white tablecloths, and big windows.  The kitchen is semi open so you can see your pizza being created.

We have enjoyed our visits to Cuckoos many many times because the food is good and the atmosphere is terrific. Some food highlights include excellent salads. Their Caesar Salad is always good as is the Caprese Salad. Small and large options.  The small is big enough to be shared by seniors like us. A wide range of pasta dishes are offered including Canneloni, very tasty Spaghetti Carbonara, and the most popular,  Linguini Pescatora. The portions are very generous so sharing a pasta dish is a serious option.

A variety of appetizers to share are featured including my favourite girl’s all time favourite, Crab Cakes.  An assortment of Appetizers with a bottle of Pinot Grigio would make a nice summer lunch on the patio.

We love the thin crust brick oven pizza.  They are, in our opinion the best in this part of the world.  The Capricciosa  with prosciutto, artichokes, olives, mushrooms & Mozzarella cheese  and is our favourite.  Perfect to share unless you have a huge appetite.

Every table receives a complimentary bread basket accompanied by a zesty salsa.  The breads are wonderful, all supplied by the bakery in the Country Store.

If you are there with a gang you might consider the Paesano Deal, a big spread to share served on big platters.

For dessert, you cannot go wrong with a Terimisu, ever.  Or your choice might be the Chocolate Peanut Butter Stack or maybe just a Cheescake.  All good!

The staff are great here too.  Of course when you frequent a place often you do get to know the servers and bussers  pretty well.

CUCKOO’S is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week except in January and February when the entire complex is closed. If you have not been, you really must!  It’s in Coombs on Highway 4A.  Close to Parksville and Qualicum Beach.   Continue reading



Back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s there was a wonderful joint in Victoria called the JOLLY FRIAR.  Located on Cormorant Street at the Corner of Blanchard it shared a narrow building with a service station. It was small, maybe a dozen stools at the counter along with two tables on the left ( according to brother D’Arcy, although I do nor recall).  A single flat top cooked everything except the Chilli.  A staff of two of three.  That’s it! But the Burgers!  Oh my.  They were perfect.

My first choice was the double Cheeseburger.  All included onions grilled right in front of you on the flattop.  All were served with Shoestring Potatoes on the side. You know the thin little things our of a package.  Delicious!

Sometimes the BERMUDA BUN was the ticket. Toasted bun with ham, cheese & a slice of sweet onion.  The contrast between the warm bun and the cold ingredients was awesome.  I still make them at home to this day!

The Chilli  was also excellent. So a burger with a side of chilli was almost orgazmical!

Check out the menu…


I am not sure when the Jolly Friar closed but it will always be a wonderful memory for me.  I wish it was still there.

It was as institution at the time.  I have no idea who owned it owned it or who managed it.  I just know it was fabulous. Unique and memorable.  As Archie Bunker would say “THOSE WERE THE DAYS”.

Just saying…





Why would one think of a Prime Rib dinner at a pub?  Well, normally I wouldn’t but on my way home from Nanaimo this evening I thought I’d drop ino one of our favourite joints, The Lantzville Pub, for Fish & Chips. Did not happen.

Yes, I did drop in but my server immediately suggested the dinner special, Prime Rib. Saturday night, forget the Fish. I’ll try the Prime Rib.  She said it is excellent.

The Prime Rib arrived and surely lived up to the advance billing. 8 ounces of medium rare beef sliced not too thick or thin, but just right. Joining the beef were creamy mashed potatoes, a large, delicious Yorkshire Pudding and a medley of really tasty roasted vegetables including carrots, zucchini and parsnip. A generous very good dark brown gravy and a small dish of Horseradish finished the plate off.

There are two options, 8 ounce or 12 ounce. $20 or $23.

It’s  not Hy’s or even the Keg, but it was delicious, well presented and darned good value.  Served every Saturday night.

Want to go out, spur of the moment, and feel like beef, try the Lantzville Pub.

I think the Rocking Horse Pub also do roast beef on Saturdays but I’ve not tried it. I can recommend the Prime Rib at the CROW & GATE PUB also but it’s a long drive home in the dark.

Just saying…




Yesterday, March 10, was the 10th Anniversary of the opening of Sam’s Sushi in FRENCH CREEK.  So, of course I had to attend considering in the five and a half years we have lived in FRENCH CREEK we have been to Sam’s at least 200 times. Since I was alone I planned to sit at the 4 seat Sushi Bar but two couples, also regulars, very graciously invited me to join their table.

Sam’s really is a great little find and is only 9/10 of a kilometre from home.  9 tables, 4 sushi  bar seats is all there is and on most Fridays you do need a reservation.  It is usually full.  The servers are friendly efficient and quite delightful. Chigusa & Chrissy have been there as long as we have been going while Emma is more recent. Sam is always at his post behind the sushi bar turning out top rated sushi.  And Sam always greets  you with a wonderful smile.


For Sushi lovers, the Tuna & Salmon Sashimi is delicious. You can order the standard, California Roll, Dynamite Roll (prawn), or the simple Maki, but if you want to kick it up a notch, try the Red Eye Roll. Tempura prawn inside with tuna and a tangy sauce on top!  The Spicy Tuna roll is worthy of a trial too. Friends of ours love the raw Scallop sashimi. Check the blackboard above the sushi bar for specials.

For those that are not raw fish fans, the Mixed Tempura should top your list. Deep fried Prawns and vegetables.  It is my favourite  girl’s regular order and the tempura is always perfect.  The coconut prawns are scrumptious too.

Dont like seafood at all?  Go to Sam’s anyway and order Chicken Kara Age, deep fried chicken simply as good as it gets. Perhaps try  Gyoza, a tasty pork dumpling. A good bet are the Spring Rolls accompanied by a tangy Thai style dipping sauce. A Japanese style salad might work for you too.  Don’t overlook the Udon Noodle dishes either.  Tempura Udon includes a delicious bowl of noodles in a tasty broth and a half order of Mixed  Tempura. Great for lunch! For dessert, you must try the Tempura Banana with ice cream.  It’s sort of Japanese ‘Bananas Foster’ without the rum.

Sam’s serves House wine and Japanese Beer, too. By the way, Sam does a significant Take Out business too.

Our Nephew’s wife, Emi, who hails from Yokohama,  has approved Sam’s as the best Japanese in Oceanside. If you haven’t tried Sam’s Sushi, make a reservation on a Friday night and we will probably see you there. Highway 19A and Wembley Road in FRENCH CREEK.

Oh, and the two couples who invited me to share their table?  They treated me to dinner!  How nice.  Many thanks to them.

Check out the menu here.  http://samsushi.letseat.at

Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner.  Closed on Weekends and holidays.


Just saying…







The End is Near

121 days after sailing out of France, Sebastien Destremau is about 500 miles from the finish line in the epic Vendée Globe single handed around the world sailing race.  The winning boat crossed the line in 74 days, 3 hours. Armed LeCleac’h has been home in France enjoying French wine, foie gras, cassoulet, and Strawberry tarts for almost two months. Second placed skipper Alex Thomson did it in 74days 19 hours and, had he not broken a spoiler early in the race, probably would have been the winner. He sailed back to England after the race and has, no doubt, been noshing on Bangers and Mash, mushy peas, fish & chips, washed down with multiple pints of Guiness for nearly two months.

Meanwhile, Destremau is still sailing along west of Spain. He should finish soon, perhaps on day 123.  To be fair, he was delayed for repairs along the way which was a considerable setback for him. Nevertheless, he persevered and will finish the race. That alone is a huge accomplishment. Not only has he sailed around the world in sole command of a 60 foot boat, but he has put up with his own company and his own cooking for 4 months. That is a true accomplishment.

Sebatien Destremau on deck.


29 sailboats began the race, only 18 will finish. Why would these sailors want to do this?  Because they can, of course.

I have enjoyed following the adventure. The internet coverage has been exceptionally good.  Modern technology took care of that.  The next race is in 2020  I’m looking forward to following it too!

Just saying…