A GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

If you are ever presented with the opportunity to attend a College Football Game at a major US College, DO IT! 

Last weekend my Grandson, Maverick, high school football player at Mount Douglas Secondary in Victoria,  and I flew to Columbus, Ohio to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes destroy the University of Wisconsin Badgers. 

Son Jackson and daughter in law Josee joined us from TORONTO For the weekend as well. It was a once in a lifetime trip made possible because of the generosity of my Niece Sheila and her husband Gene Smith, the Athletic Director of The Ohio State University. As a result we had seats in row 8 on the 50 yard line behind the Ohio bench. The game was great made all the better by the crowd of 106,000 in Ohio Stadium,  aka the Horseshoe.  The crowd noise was unbelievable. It was a ‘black out’ pub night so virtually every fan was wearing black, with Buckeye logos, of course, as was the team. And then there is the Ohio State Marching Band, ‘THE BEST DAMN BAND IN THE LAND’. It’s more than a band, it’s a drill team. Before the game they play and March on the field culminating on spelling Ohio and ‘Dotting the I’.  If you have never seen this enormous band search on YouTube. 

Our VIP passes included access to the famous ‘SKULL SESSION, held in a basketball/hockey arena. The band is introduced and play a medley of numbers. Finally the football team march in in street clothes much to the delight of perhaps 20,000 fans. 

Our passes also included the opportunity to go on the sidelines for the warm up which was a thrill for the Canadian Running Back. Great seats, great game, great crowd. 

However, the experience is much more than the game. The atmosphere in Columbus for a home game weekend is Mardi Gras, July 4th and Super Bowl wrapped into one. Outside the stadium is the famous tailgate area where there are tents set up in the parking lot for fans. All manner of BBQ’s, coolers, flat screens etc. it’s is like a carnival. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere. You really have to be there. Near our hotel was a commercial area with food trucks, outdoor wine gardens and including TWO Jack Daniel‘s trucks, a Corona Beer truck. Live  music was all over the place. Shops selling all manner of Buckeye gear were packed with shoppers.  One can purchase everything from a T Shirt to a front door mat to a Buckeye Bedspread. it is amazing. And everyone is is wearing Ohio State clothing. 

It’s not just a football game. It is a grand SPECTACLE. We loved it all. And you would too. 

We took part, enjoyed and survived a truly Great American Experience.  


oJust saying…

Bistro/Pub in Mill Bay

Met some great old friends, Mike & Alice, for lunch at Bridgeman’s Bistro at the Mill Bay Marina yesterday and had a wonderful time. 

Bridgman’s is located right over the marina and has a great view of Saanich Inlet. They serve up typical Bistro/Pub fare and do it really well. 

https://www.millbaymarina.ca/menu

A very charming server arrived at our table and we chose a bottle of Chardonnay to share. It was cold, crisp and very good. We don’t often drink Chardonnay so it was a nice change. Choices were made including a Burger with Blue Cheese, Fish Tacos, Clam Chowder with fresh clams and a Spanish Carbarnara. Everyone was pleased with their choice although I found the Taco Shells too soft causing me to resort to  the fork. Still delicious. 

The Bistro has an attractive open bar, a patio and also does takeout. If you are in the Mill Bay Area, Bridgeman’s Bistro would make a good stop. 

After lunch we dropped our friends off at the Mill Bay Ferry so they could return home to North Saanich. 

Then, Sheila and I decided to take the slow road home and, no surprise, stopped at some wineries. We Checked out CHERRY POINT Winery just to see if the had a restaurant. They do, a nice Bistro on the patio. ENRICO WINERY was next. It’s just down the road from Arbutus Ridge Golf Course and looks delightful with an indoor/outdoor tasting room. A must stop. Being short of time we didn’t stop. Another day for sure. 

However we did stop at DAMALI VINEYARDS (http://www.damali.ca):where they grow both Grapes and Lavender. We must return in July when the Lavender is in bloom. A nice tasting room has wine and various presentations of Lavender for sale. We tasted the Pinot Grigio and then their award Winning RHUBE LAVANDRE, a PINOT GRIGIO blend with Rhubarb and Lavender. We loved it and left with 4 bottles.

These folks encourage picnics on their patio.  DAMALI is just a few yards from Arbutus Ridge Golf. 


The wineries in and around the Cowichan Valley are well worth visiting.  If you have not done so consider taking a day and visit two or three. Have lunch at Cherry Point or Unsworth. Or take a picnic to Damali or Averill Creek Wineries.  You will love it! 

Just saying…

WHEEL REPAIR

Every once is a while an unexpected good thing happens and this week was one of those times. I had an amazingly good experience with a service provider.

A few weeks ago my right front wheel came into violent contact with a bike lane curb in Vancouver. My beautiful Alloy Wheel was torn asunder. I thought it was possibly un fixable. After getting a quote on a new wheel from the local Acura dealership. Yes they are available at $685 installed. Yikes. Repair must be an option. 

Here is the damaged rim.


On line I found ALLOY WHEEL REPAIR a Vancouver based company. They advised that they had a mobile guy on the island and gave me his contact number. I called and made an appointment. He said they will come to your home but not to a townhome. Too many noise complaints. So I met the truck beside the Toyota store in Nanaimo. 

What a great experience! A very pleasant young man, Hayden Barnes met me at the truck. In seconds the car was jacked up and the wheel was off. It’ll take about an hour said Hayden. While I went for a walk while Hayden ground the rim, primed it, painted it (He had the matching paint) dried the paint and reinstalled the wheel. 65 minutes! $150!  PERFECT JOB.! 

Finished product

Need a wheel fixed? I sure do recommend ALLOY WHEEL REPAIR. What a great service! 


Just saying…

Lunch at Unsworth.

It’s always a good time to visit a winery on Vancouver Island.  A one day tour in the Cowichan Valley is a great way to enjoy several wineries and some very good wine. However, yesterday, we visited only one.  After picking up old friends from Ontario at the Departure Bay Ferry we headed south to UNSWORTH VINYARDS in the Cobble Hill area near Shawnigan Lake, about an hours drive. 

We arrived just in time for our reservation on the Patio at the Unsworth Restaurant. It was perfect but for a cool breeze that required sourcing some blankets from our server. A litre of UNSWORTH 2020 PINOT GRIS was ordered and apparently it came right from a cask, not yet bottled. It was delicious. The menu is limited but the offerings are wonderful. Sheila ordered the House Salad which was both tasty and visually beautiful. Included in it was Yellow Zucchini, beautiful Radish Fans and Almonds with a local cheese, HALTWHISTLE. Our friend Ruth chose the Clam Chowder and after hearing about the special my friend Bob and I abandoned the Burger and chose the Pasta Special. Fettucini with chicken and lobster mushrooms in a fabulous creamy sauce.  It was good! Their Fries looked inviting so an order was placed to share. Here are some food photos. 

House Salad
Fettucini Special

The litre of wine seemed to disappear, perhaps evaporation, so a half litre was dispatched to the table. We all enjoyed the food, the wine and the service. Very friendly and efficient. If you are thinking of noshing there, make a reservation on line as this place is busy. They are open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday. 

After lunch we spent some time in their Tasting Room sampling another Pinot GRIS and the Rose. Purchases were made. Unsworth has a charming tasting patio beside a pond, a spot you might enjoy for a few samples. Or, knock yourself out and sit in the sun and swill down a whole  bottle. 

UNSWORTH VINYARDS is one of the few wineries with a restaurant and we can highly recommend it ! 

Check it out at https://www.unsworthvineyards.com

Just saying…

HAPPY JACK’S Restaurant

There is a new place in town and since it’s been open nearly a month we decided to check it out tonight. It’s HAPPY JACK’S in the old White Spot location at  Wembley Mall in Parksville. Happily we were not disappointed. 

Happy Jack’s building has been extensively remodelled and include booth seating and a spacious bar with the appropriate big screen TV’s. A large array of nostalgic Parksville photos are on the walls.  Very interesting. The decor is basically black & white with polished concrete floors. 


This joint is a family oriented restaurant with an interesting menu. Burgers of course, but also Fresh Mussels, Tacos, and a Kids Menu which includes Mac & Cheese. The drink menu is really interesting with local Beer, BC wines, and some fancy drinks like Beergaritas, ( a Margarita with a small Corona beer) and Martinis.

A very charming server took our order, Cod Burger for Sheila, Fish Tacos for me. The Cod came with 2 sides, onion rings and CEASAR salad. 

The food arrived promptly and it was nicely presented and hot. The Cod was delicious as was the Taco. I added some Siracha to spice the taco up a bit. The onion rings, one of my favourites, were perfect. 

We arrived just after 5 and as we left at 6:30 it was almost full. I think the owners have the formula. Nice decor, great food, good service, and they will come. We certainly will go again. It’s great to have another offering just a few blocks from home. 

One small complaint. The music was dreadful. At least for octogenarians. 

Happy Jack’s is open for dinner from 4-10. 

Look at the menu here

 happyjacksoceanside.com

You must go.  I know you will enjoy this new spot in Parksville. 

Just saying…

Victoria’s Il Terrazzo

This week, I pointed the Acura towards Victoria with the primary goal of replenishing my supply of Dutch Bakery Meat Pies, a favourite since 1956.  Alas, I was to be denied said bundles of deliciousness. The bakery was closed for staff vacation! Who closes in July? Apparently the Dutch Bakery. 

But we decided to continue the trip and perhaps do a little shopping which was a success. We had a nostalgic drive around some old parts of the city and eventually headed for an early dinner at IL TERRAZZO, that wonderful Italian joint in a little alley just off lower Johnson Street. 

It has been several years since I was last there and about 25 since Sheila had been. She told our waiter saying he was probably just a kid last time she was there. He said, “No I’ve been here for 27 years”. Speaks well for a restaurant. 

The place is delightfully funky. Indoor, covered outdoor sort of patio. Lots of old brick, plants and fireplaces. We were seated at a table for two right beside a fireplace. Perfect. Our Waiter, Neil, and the rest of the staff were outstanding. Knowledgable, courteous, and really efficient. 

We shared a wonderful CEASAR Salad. Sheila opted for the MELANZANE Al FORNO, a delicious dish of eggplant , mushrooms, garlic, cheese in a tomato sauce over folded pasta. 3 days later she is still raving about it. For me it was the Calamari. it was like a Squid Steak, lightly breaded and served with Chorizo, roasted peppers, tomatoes with Polenta. Delicious. We didn’t need it but since I’ve never met a Creme Brûlée I didn’t like, we shared one. It was good but no better than my homemade, says he modestly. 

Il Terrazzo is a gem. A must go. If you have never been, put it on your bucket list. Reservations are absolutely a must as they are always busy. Their on line reservation system is the best I’ve ever used, by the way. Plan ahead or you just won’t get in. Open for dinner only from 4.  

You can check out the menu and reserve here.

www.Ilterrazzo.com

Great decor, great food, great service. We love Il Terrazzo. 

Just saying…

Concert at St Andrew’s Lodge

At the Northwest end of Qualicum Beach is a beautiful parcel of land that was formerly the site of St Andrew’s Lodge, a facility that opened in 1938. It included a home a and some small cottages designed and built by Simon Muir Little, a local architect. St. Andrews welcomed guests for more than 80 years. Little’s daughter Elizabeth ran the lodge into her 80’s. After the lodge closed the St Andrew’s Historical & Cultural Society was formed to preserve the lodge. The cottages are gone but they plan to restore the lodge to its original beauty.  

As a fund raiser, last night they held a concert. Featured was the ISLAND BRASS QUINTET, a wonderful group comprised of two Trumpets, a Trombone, a French Horn and a Tuba. The Tuba is played by an old classmate and friend from Nanaimo, Bruce Roberts, who, at 82 continues to amaze me with his musical talent. 

The group played two sets which included tunes line ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ ( featuring a fabulous Trombone Solo). The group ended the night with ‘Jada’.  A superb concert that was certainly enjoyed by the audience who were sitting on the lawn with their portable chairs. The weather cooperated, too.  

The Island Brass Quintet are playing several concerts in the Nanaimo area over the summer. If you get a chance to hear them, please take it. You will not be disappointed. 

The crowd of a couple of hundred donated their admission which raised $3000 for the society. 

Great music, great fund raiser! 

Just saying…

Dinner at Kalvas

For the past 11 years I have driven almost daily past KALVAS Restaurant In PARKSVILLE.  Don’t know why I’ve never tried Kalvas. However a week ago my dear friend Sheila invited me to dinner at Kalvas. It was Prime Rib Night so I was ready for some beef as well as Escargot since very few restaurants serve the latter. 

Kalvas is in a charming Log Building and I was impressed with the interior. Rustic but sort of elegant. There are some very private window tables, perfect for a date. Our waiter was a very tall chap originally from New Zealand and he is a pro. Charming, funny and efficient. 

We both ordered Escargot which turned out to be rather disappointing. The snails and a few mushroom caps were heaped on an escargot plate and with not enough garlic butter, the best part of escargot. Sheila ordered Oysters Rockefeller as an entree and was stunned by the result. Clearly this was not a traditional Rockefeller. It was a gloppy mess with some rice on the side. Strange and disappointing and not like any Oysters Rockefeller we’d ever seen. 

Oysters Rockefeller?

I selected the Prime Rib which was quite good. Not wonderful but good. The Yorkshire was excellent and the size of a softball. The beef was accompanied by excellent mashed potatoes and some vegetables. Some gravy on the side and some horse radish would have complimented the plate. 

Very generous Prime Rib!

On a positive note our waiter comped a Creme Caramel which we shared for dessert. It was delicious and swimming in Grand Marnier. 

Would I go back? I’d have to think long and hard. It’s not cheap. 

If you want to try it the menu is here. 

https://www.kalvastheloghouse.com/kalvas-the-loghouse-menu

Open Tuesday thru Sunday.  Located at the corner of 19A and Molliet just west of McDonalds. Dinner only. Reservations recommended. 250-248-6933.

Just saying…

Excellent Chinese Food

Recently went to Campbell River to visit some folks. They graciously invited us to dinner at THE DRIFTWOOD CHINESE Restaurant.  The Driftwood is a chain of 4 restaurants located in Campbell River, Port Alberni, Parksville and Nanaimo. I have not tried the Parksville location, closest to home, but it has not been getting good reviews However, the Campbell River location is the Original and I had heard good things about it. 

Well, we were not disappointed. This joint is on 19A  just south Town. It is really good and really busy.  It’s big and nicely decorated in Lacquered wood, very much Chinese. It’s busy so you know the food is fresh.  I’m not a Buffett fan but this is a good one.  The food is nicely presented with all the variety one could imagine. I particularly enjoyed the Chow Mein, the Ginger Beef, and the Spicy Squid. One popular dished was a baked Oyster in a cheesy sauce served up in individual little bowls. Delicious. Everyone at our table went back twice and all the dishes were devoured with gusto. 

Chow Mein
Ginger Beef

The service was also good and very friendly. Driftwood also offer Take Out and Delivery. 

If you like Chinese Food and you are in the Campbell River area, you really must go. Open daily for lunch and dinner except Tuesday.  You can browse the menu here: http://www.driftwoodrestaurants.com
You can find them at 4329 Island Highway or call 250-923-5505

Now we might try the Nanaimo or PARKSVILLE  locations. If we do you will get a full report. 


Just saying…

North Vancouver’s Shipyard

After a nearly 5 year hiatus I visited Vancouver on the a Easter Weekend. Son Jackson was in town from Toronto on business and stayed the weekend to meet me. We settled into the SEASIDE HOTEL in North Vancouver on the site of the former Burrard Shipyard.  

For 30 years or more I drove by the shipyard several times a week. At that time it was a waste space. Abandoned.  Today it is a fabulous destination. Hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and marvellous public spaces have transformed the old shipyard. There is a public pier which would be a lovely place to stroll or sit and enjoy the ships in the harbour.  


The Seaside Hotel is wonderful. Beautifully appointed rooms with large walk in showers and all the other accoutrements. Highly recommended if you want to overnight in North Vancouver. https://seasidehotelvancouver.com

Below the hotel is JOEY’S SHIPYARD RESTAURANT, on the water with a view to downtown Vancouver. We sat outside on the spacious and heated patio. Excellent food and service. A nice touch was the complimentary flute of Prosecco.  https://www.joeyrestaurants.com/location/joey-shipyards.

After a walk about through LONSDALE Quay market we stopped at the Tap & Barrel which is in a former shipyard building. Impressive joint with several dozen beers on tap as well as about 18 wines on tap. We opted for a Blue Grouse Pinot Gris from the Cowichan Valley and were not disappointed. Not sure why a portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on the wall in the tap room.
https://tapandbarrel.com



Later we met Jackson’s friends for dinner at the Jagerhof On Lonsdale, an old favourite.  Schnitzel all around of course paired with an Austrian Sauvignon Blanc which was perfect. 

Welcome

Saturday morning was breakfast at the Pinnacle Hotel which was very good and once again great service. 

For lunch we left the area and dtove with friends to Gleneagles Golf Course near Horseshoe Bay. It’s restaurant is run by the Boat Shed Hospitality Group who operate 3 food joints. The Orchard at the golf course is delightful with a view over the couse. Indoor and outdoor seating and a great but quite simple menu. We all enjoyed the offerings. They have two other venues, one at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver and a most unusual POPUP Pizza place on the road to Cypress Bowl. A couple of reworked shipping containers form the galley with seating under canopies. We! at the insistence of friend Gail we drove up for a look. Fantastic views of English Bay and beyond. Friend David endorses the pizza as being the best anywhere. 

https://www.theboatshedgroup.com/the-orchard

Dinner was just a few blocks up from the Shipyard at my all time favourite Chinese Restaurant, RED CHILI.  Had not been for about 5 years and we met old friends here. The food was as good as I remembered and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The best Ginger beef anywhere. 

https://www.redchilliszechuanrestaurant.ca

Before retiring it seemed that a nightcap would be in order. Back to Joey’s where we sat at a very busy bar. For sure I was the oldest person in the place. Mostly 20 somethings here,  but a happening bar. 

We really enjoyed our time at the Shipyard. It’s fabulous. Planning a weekend in Vancouver? Consider North Van’s Shipyard. 

Just saying…