Paella in Coombs

Found an interesting new place in Coombs today. The SPANISH KITCHEN Opened just recently on The Other Side, across the bridge past the Coombs Store. It’s the cutest little shop where the Chef & Proprietor, Jesus, sells his home made Paella, Spanish cheeses and other Spanish goodies. 

Jesus hails from Barcelona and after working in New Zealand where he met his Beautiful Canadian wife Amanda, moved to Oceanside to start a business. Talk about courage. Not easy to start any business at any time but to do so in a new country takes some serious moxie. Jesus is the most charming young man I’ve met in a long time. We hope he has lots of success. 

Have not tried the Paella yet but will soon.  They come frozen in one serving packages with very good and easy instructions for cooking. There are different kinds including seafood and Chorizo. $20 per package. Jesus also gave us a taste of his Chorizo and a scrumptious Sheep Cheese. 

I hope those readers who are in the area will make a path to the Spanish Kitchen and give it a try.  You can’t miss it’s bright red door. Easy parking too.  When you meet Jesus I guarantee you will be charmed! Check out their website: Spanish

Just saying…

Victoria has changed

Went to Victoria last week to visit friends. Had not been able to overnight away for about 5 years as I was taking care of my favourite girl. There have been a few one day runs to Victoria to rescue some meat pies from the Dutch Bakery and to pick up a new car.  But it’s been a long time since I had a real look at the city. 

My hosts, Alice & Mike, took me on a several hour tour through Esquimalt, Vic West, downtown, James Bay etc. We covered it all. How has Victoria changed. The residential development is extraordinary.  Condos, Condos! And high rises. Two towers going up right now near the old Bay store between Blanchard & Douglas. Not sure how many stories but they already look like the tallest in town. 

Some areas like Fairfield and Oak Bay are still more or less like the old days. In Oak Bay many of the homes I remembered, including the one I grew up in, look the same as they did in 1950. 

My old home has a new garage door and 4 new windows on the basement level. The rest is the same. Same colour, same plants, same steps. Apparently the interior has been remodelled recently. After all it was built in 1939. Hopefully they replaced the oil stove and wood & coal furnace at some point. 

The buildings at the Estevan shopping area look much the same as they did when I delivered groceries for McLures Food Market in 1952. The store is now a restaurant. A good one I am told. The little Fish & Chip joint is still on the corner. 

We drove around the UVIC Campus which is big. When I graduated in 1965 there were only 3 or 4 buildings on the Gordon Head Site. Now there are many. Very impressive. 

A drive along Shelbourne Street was a surprise. I remember that street as wide, straight and not very busy. Now it seems narrow and crowded and badly in need of new pavement. Quite a change since University days. 

I also had time to look around the town of Sidney, now very built up and busy. Town homes, Condos everywhere on mostly narrow streets that can barely handle the traffic. Residents in North Saanich time their trips into Victoria to avoid the ferry traffic as Highway 17 is really busy now. 

Heading out of Victoria on Friday afternoon used to be a nightmare but I transited the new McKenzie interchange with ease. It has really helped the traffic flow. 

There has been enormous growth in the Langford area and new homes on both sides of Highway 1 cover the hillsides. And some are just plain ugly. The architect that designed some of these should have to look at them every day. 

Anyway, that’s some of what I observed in Victoria last week. Too busy for me now. Was happy to get home to FRENCH CREEK.  

Just saying…


On my recent Victoria visit I met my old friend and former colleague, Neil, for lunch in Sidney. We have lunched frequently over the past few years but always in my neck of the woods. Since I am more flexible now it was nice to meet him at the SURLY MERMAID overlooking the Port Sidney Marina in his territory. It was Neil’s suggestion as he had been there often, and his daughter had worked there as a student.

The SURLY MERMAID is, of course, a seafood place and a good one too. The menu has a good range of appetizers, Rice Bowls, and entrees. Neil opted for the Chicken Chimichanga, a substantial serving that matched his enthusiastic appetite. I ordered the Seafood Chowder and Fish Tacos. Both were excellent! We washed this deliciousness down with draft beer. They feature Phillips Brewery beers like Blue Buck, one of my favorites.

Service was excellent, prompt and very friendly. We had a high window table looking out at the boats which, for me, is always a bonus. SURLY MERMAID is open for lunch and dinner daily and has a happy hour Tuesday to Sunday from 3-5 featuring some well-priced and good-looking appetizers. This would be a wonderful place to drop into after a day of shopping or sightseeing. 

You can look at the menu here;

There is a nice bar inside and a big patio outside which would be perfect in summer. To get there, take Beacon Avenue to the very end and turn left.  There is parking in front and if your timing is good you can use the free spots with Surly Mermaid marked on them.

If you are in the area, it is worth checking out 

Just saying…


Finally, after more than four years of not travelling, I made a short trip to Victoria for a few nights this week.  I know its only a short drive but it’s a start. I was invited to stay with old friends (I’ve only known him for 76 years)at their waterfront home in North Saanich. They were wonderful hosts and the views and sunsets were spectacular except when the winter fog rolled in

In addition to an epic tour of Victoria, something Id not done for several years, we dined and a most interesting and historic joint in Sidney  Right by the Victoria Airport is MARY’ BLUEU MOON CAFÉ!

It has taken me 81 years to find this place. It opened in 1939.  I lived in Victoria for 25 years and  don’t know how I missed it since Mary’s is definitely my kind of place.


MARY’S is open daily for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and the menu included genuine Diner favorites.  My hosts ordered Seafood Crepes for her and Fish & Chips for him  Both were generous and delicious.  I chose Liver & Onions, with Bacon.  Not many restaurants serve Liver any more and since it had been a long long time since I’d last had it my choice was a good one. Very generous portion with mashed potato, mixed vegetables and gravy. Only $16.95.  Good food, Good Value. Service was very friendly and prompt to, always a positive.

You can check out the full menu here:

Mary’s is decorated with all manner of aircraft memorabilia including aircraft models and some fabulous photos of WWll planes, pilots and news articles. Would like to go back and take more time perusing the photos.

If you are in the Sidney area and feeling a bit peckish, you MUST go direct to Mary’s BLUEU MOON CAFÉ.  9535 Canora Road. Sidney BC


Open every day form 8 AM until 9PM.

Just saying…


Met two old business colleagues for lunch last week at the FINAL APPROACH, which is located overlooking the runway at the Qualicum Beach Airport. The restaurant is well set up for Covid protocol with semi opaque dividers between the tables which affords considerable privacy.  Our server was prompt and charming an took our drink orders immediately. One of my friends ordered, to my surprise a Foo Foo cocktail, called ‘The Paper Airplane’. He then had a beer and so did I.

I ordered the Seafood Chowder which was one of the best I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious. Went nicely with their excellent Fish & Chips.  The Foo Foo drinker had a bowl of the chowder along with the steak sandwich both of which he declared outstanding.  Our other friend had Calamari, which he claims are the best in the area, and a salad.  All served promptly.

The food here is really good and we would recommend this joint to everyone. You can check out the menu here Menu – Final Approach (

Resservations are recommened. Call 250-752-8966

FINAL APPROACH is open for Lunch and Dinner and Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Free parking too.

By the way, don*t expect much heavy aircraft traffic here. It’s
Qualicum Beach not YVR. We did see one small plane take off and land. Exctiting.

Just saying…


Canada’s Prime Minister recently suggested that we were not experiencing any Inflation in the country. How wrong could he be?

On November 13, my son and I dined at the Qualicum Beach Café. It was excellent food and service. The Seafood Gnocchi was $22. The Tenderloin Steak was $34.00, Not bad.

Move ahead 4 weeks to December 11.  I was treated to dinner at the same restaurant by old friends from Victoria. I had the Seafood Gnocchi again but this time it was $34.00. a 50% increase.  My friend ordered the steak and it was now $45.00. That is a 32% increase.  In a month!

Maybe its just me but I think that is definitely inflation. 

Just saying…

French Fry Tragedy

French Fried Potatoes also know as Pommes Frites in France, Chips in England, and simply Fries at McDonalds, are one of the most universal foods. The French dip the fries in Mayonnaise, the Brits use Vinegar & Salt and in most of North America, it’s Ketchup and some people even put  gravy on the morsels or carbohydrate goodness. 

In France they accompany Steak and Moules (mussels for  Michigan fans), in the UK it’s with deep fried Haddock but in over here in the new world fries go with BURGERS. Other stuff too but especially Burgers. 

The French and the Belgians are still fighting over who first created deep fried potatoes and the origins go back to the 1600’s. Some fry historians think that St Teresa of Avila in Spain made the very first ones. Whomever is responsible doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they did. And millions of people enjoy them every day despite the fact that large fries at Ronald McDonalds joint hit your body with 350 calories and 260 grams of Sodium. Yikes. 

Canadian Company McCains is the largest producer of frozen French Fries in the world. But McDonalds restaurants is the largest retailer of fries in the world. They own entire potato farms in Idaho to secure their supply. But recently they failed us. 

Last weekend, right here in PARKSVILLE, my sister in law ordered a McChicken Combo at the local drive thru.  Sorry! No Combos today! We are OUT OF FRIES!  can you imagine? McDonalds out of fries!  What we have here folks is


Tragic beyond words. A culinary disgrace. An assault on the middle class. We may need a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of this. 

McDonalds out of fries, indeed.

Just saying…

Qualicum Beach Cafe

Although the restaurant in the Qualicum Beach Inn had reopened a while ago under new ownership, we had yet to visit. Now known as the Qualicum Beach Cafe, it’s owned and managed by the same folks who run the Water Street Cafe in Vancouver’s Gastown which has been a very successful eatery for many years. Since my digital media son from Toronto was here we decided to try the Qualicum Beach Cafe on Friday night. 

From the first greeting from the hostess when we arrived the service was excellent. The atmosphere is great and the food met our high expectations.  We shared an order of Calamari, the best I’ve had for ages. Tender with crispy batter and some sliced Jalapeño Peppers included which gave the dish a nice little kick. 

The Media Mogul ordered the Steak Fritte. Consider that in another life he cooked steaks at the KEG Restaurant to pay for college, so he knows Steak. This Steak was perfectly cooked medium rare and came with a spicy dipping sauce and perfect fries which also had a touch of heat.

My choice was the Seafood Gnocchi. It included salmon, Shrimp & tiny Scallops. The sauce was simply amazing and the dish was beautifully presented. I would order it again. 

Since son Jackson and I had consumed numerous Creme Brûlée’s on a trip to Normandy 15 years ago, that was our choice for dessert. Alas, they were out of their Banana Creme Brûlée so offered a tart that we shared. It was chocolate with perfect pastry. So good. 

Of course, the guy from Toronto chose the wine, an expensive French Pinot Noir that was the perfect choice. The food is a bit pricey but not too bad. Gnocchi was $22, the Steak $34. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to the Qualicum Beach Cafe and will return. Great atmosphere, great service, great food. A perfect place for a special occasion. You can check out the menu at By the way their on line reservation system is the best I’ve ever used. 

And he paid. 

Just saying…

Food on Prime Video

If you are a foodie or a home chef or just like cooking shows there are a few series available on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO  that you might enjoy. We are at our home. If you don’t have access to Prime Video you are out of luck. 

My favourite Chef is Jacques Pepin and his series, HEART & SOUL was filmed in 2015. There are 26 episodes to enjoy and they are delightful. If you like French cooking you will love this show. Pepin makes cooking look easy.

The Late Anthony Bourdain produced two series, THE LAYOVER and NO RESERVATIONS. In THE LAYOVER, Bourdain visits various cities for 24-48 hours and highlights the culinary specialties of each city. Among our favourites are his visits to Rome, London, Paris, New Orleans & Montreal, but they are all worth watching. 20 episodes in all. If you have been to some of the cities you will find it all the more interesting and you will wish you had watched the show before you went. Look what you missed! 

Bourdain’s other series is NO RESERVATIONS,  32 episodes find Tony in more unusual places like Cambodia, Haiti, Croatia and Mozambique. These are part travelogue, part foodie and all quite fascinating. 

Finally, there is a series featuring British Chef Rick Stein and his quest for the perfect curry in India. 6 episodes so far. We thoroughly enjoyed the first one. 

Food and travel make for great entertainment. 

By the way we would also recommend a couple of books. 

*The Apprentice, my Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin 

*Kitchen Confidential By Anthony Bourdain. 

As Pepin always says…HAPPY COOKING!

Just saying…

Another Pub, Another Pub Lunch

Met two old friends from Victoria today for lunch at my favourite, the CROW & GATE PUB in Cedar just south of Nanaimo.  I arrived at 1115 and there were already 10 cars in the parking lot. By 1145 the Pub was nearly full. On a Tuesday in October. And it’s out in the country, not really handy. But is us quite delightful. 

A trio of beef Dips were the choice at our table. In my opinion they serve the BEST Beef Dip, period. And it is a generous portion of sliced beef. No deep fryer here so the sandwich comes with a scoop of really good potato salad and a small green salad with their delicious house dressing. And Beer. It was National Beer Day after all.  


Because of Covid regulations the CROW & GATE PUB now has table service. No lining up at the bar to order. 

Service was prompt and friendly as always. As we were leaving one of the staff remembered me by name. Nice touch. 

Too bad it’s a 50 minute drive from home otherwise I’d be there at least once a week. 

If you have not been to the CROW & GATE PUB and like pub lunches this must be on your ‘Giddy Up’ list. 

2313 Yellow Point Road 


Check out the menu at

Just saying…