Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home again, home again

I'm glad we left a couple of days free after our vacation before having to go back to work because we needed it. It took a couple of days just to get our laundry and shopping in order. Today we got to relax a little bit and for me that included baking up a batch of cookies to take with me to work tomorrow.
Some lemon ricotta cookies from Giada's recipes on Food Network. The finished, cooled cookies were glazed with a mix of powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. The Canadian's been gobbling them up left and right. Good thing I finally wisened up and made extra.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trivia winners!

Chris answered a trivia question right at the wine and cheese tasting and won us a bottle of syrah. Sweet!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

At the Volunteer Park conservatory

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More beer and chowder

A quick lunch break for chowder and a nut brown.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Back in the States

We arrived by ferry back to Seattle early this afternoon having apparently just missed a big thunderstorm. We both took motion sickness pills on the ferry ride back and they worked wonders. That, and the fact that we sat by some nice, quiet Korean girls instead of super loud, annoying American family like last time. We already had dinner at a brewery and are relaxing a bit before walking over to Barnes & Noble.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

For the love of schnitzel

Since I've been in charge of meal choices here in Victoria, I surprised the Canadian with a dinner trip to a German restaurant down the street full of sausage, kraut, and beer. I got a sausage platter with a weisswurst (white pork sausage), potato pancakes, and cucumber salad.
The cucumbers were thinly sliced and in a vinegar dressing that was tart and delicious. The potato pancakes were just big latkes, meaning fried shredded potatoes which were served with a side of applesauce. The sausage was mild flavored and thoroughly enjoyable. I had a pick of three different types and I specifically chose one that wasn't on the Canadian's plate of awesomeness so that we could try a little of everything. Chris opted for the sampler plate for a real German food experience.
Wiener schnitzel (thin cut veal or pork coated in breadcrumbs and fried), cordon bleu, jeager schnitzel (thin cut veal or pork covered in mushrooms, bacon and wine sauce), bratwurst, sauerkraut, home fried potatoes, and spatzle (egg noodles). On the side he got a gravy boat for the schnitzel and two crocks of mustard - one sweet, one dijon. And to wash it all down?
Some Octoberfest followed by a German bock. And yes, between the two of us we ate it all!

Tasty cakes

The morning was our much anticipated afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress Hotel. Since we had reservations at 11:30 a.m. we were seated right upon arriving at some premium seats next to the front windows looking out over the inner harbor. Our server took our tea orders, orange pineapple for me and berry berry for the boy, and brought us a starting fruit appetizer of strawberries and sweetened cream.
Shortly after pouring our tea, with milk and sugar cubes, our server brought out our fancy treats consisting of salmon rolls, egg salad croissants, mango and curried chicken sandwiches, liver pate toasts, cucumber and horseradish sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and a dessert tray with lemon meringue, marble cake, cheesecake, chocolate mousse and shortbread cookies. As hard as we tried, we couldn't finish everything so they kindly wrapped our leftovers for us to bring back to our room for midnight munchies.

After lunch we spent some time at the Maritime Museum learning about the boating history of the island before heading over to the Parliament building for a guided tour. Besides the unruly Asian kid who desperately needed a smackdown, the tour was very enjoyable.
After Parliament, the Canadian wanted to make one more stop before heading back to the hotel. So we hiked through the park to find his one true love - stinky, Canadian animals.
Ahhhh....who's the happiest guy around?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Butchart Gardens

Tonight was our trip out to Butchart Gardens. At the last minute we decided to buy charter bus tickets out there rather than depend on our knowledge of the local transit system. It was well worth the price of admission. The gardens were broken into five different areas - The Sunken Gardens which was the location of the original limestone quarry, the Japanese Gardens, the Mediterranean Gardens, the Rose Garden, and the Italian Garden. The most famous, and recognizable, are the Sunken Gardens;
The Japanese Gardens were very nice, though not as extensive as the ones in Portland.
After viewing all the gardens and having dinner we secured a place on the lawn area for the Saturday night fireworks that were scheduled to start promptly at 9:45 pm. And out of the thousands of people there we happened to sit by a family from Fair Oaks, right outside of Sacramento who are friends with the owners of Burkett's Auto in P-town. I told them I knew that owner, that he was my mom's mechanic, and I'd worked with him in regards to building permits when he was doing an addition to his house. Too funny! The fireworks were the best I'd ever seen and worth sitting around for about 2 hours for them to start.
The fireworks were set in time to music and had different themes. They even had a river dragon that spit fire made out of fireworks. It was so cool. And listening to everyone go 'ooohhh...ahhhh' all together was neat, too. We didn't get back to the hotel until after 11:00 pm, but thankfully we took an afternoon nap. And since we don't have anything planned until 11:30 am tomorrow we can sleep in all we want!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sips & Seafood

Our seeing eye dog fundraiser dinner at a neighboring hotel started at 6:30 pm tonight for which we arrived right on time. We were each given a glow-in-the-dark bracelet as evidence we were paying guests and a complimentary wine glass. From there we were ushered into the event room which was set up with wine tasting tables and various seafood tables to enjoy samples from.
The event spilled out onto the outdoor patio where more wine and food tables were setup. We managed to grab the only table with chairs and had excellent views of our fellow Canadians as well the bay behind us.
There was soooo much seafood to be gobbled up. Coconut shrimp, smoked salmon, mussels, clams, seafood risotto, crab, oysters, salmon jerky, sushi rolls, smoked albacore, fried lingcod with fries, and fruit crepes for dessert. In addition to the wine, Phillips Brewery from Victoria was there serving an ale and a hefeweizen that Chris thoroughly enjoyed.
We finally figured out the best game plan was to stand in line together eating our score from the previous table, finishing just in time to get new grub. When the crowd started thinning out around 8:00 pm we were really able to go hog wild. I went back twice for fruit crepes because nobody was in line. Mmmmmm!!!

When we had our fill we headed back home, surprised at how chilly the wind off the harbor got at night. Even with frozen toes, we still stopped to admire the Parliament building all lit up at night.
The docent out front said they give tours starting at 9:00 a.m. so we're planning on stopping by tomorrow after checking out the B.C. Royal Museum in the morning.

We're in Canada, eh?

Last night was our last night in Seattle before heading out on the ferry for Victoria. Dinner at the Space Needle was fantastic. I had a stuffed chicken breast with lemon ricotta raviolis and the Canadian got slow cooked beef short ribs which made him groan in culinary delight.
We lucked out with window seats so we got to sit back and watch the world go by as the restaurant made a full revolution every 47 minutes. A trip to the observation deck was included with dinner so when we were done we went back up to the top floor (where they had us wait until our dinner table was ready) and caught some photos at twilight.
We're glad we ended up taking the monorail to the needle because neither of us was interested in walking back to the hotel with full bellies. This morning we got up early, hit a Starbuck's for breakfast (you can't swing a dead cat without seeing one), and were to the ferry by 8:00 a.m. The ride was just under 3 hours which is apparently my limit because by the last half an hour I had to put my book away and focus on a stationary point in the ferry because my stomach was no longer tolerating the undulating waves. Once we got through customs we saddled up our luggage and hit the road on foot to our hotel, about a mile down the road from the pier. By the time we got checked into the hotel, which graciously gave us an early check-in, it was lunch time so we popped in across the street to the Sticky Wicket and had some tasty burgers and salmon chowder. The waiter gave us some good site seeing tips and got us pointed in the direction of a currency exchange kiosk. For $60 American dollars we got $53 (and change) Canadian dollars, so you do the exchange rate math. Unfortunately, their $1 and $2 "bills" are coins which just means I'm going to keep trying to pass them off as quarters. Loonies and Toonies. The gal at the currency exchange rate place pointed out that the toonies are made of two metals, the loonies just one. Next we just walked around Government Street (that fronts the harbor) and familiarized ourselves with the different shops and restaurants.
Tonight's plans are to attend the Sips & Seafood event at a hotel by the ferry pier that we have tickets for. It's a wine/beer tasting and all you can eat seafood event. Does it get much better than that? We're going to leave a little early so that we have time to walk around the parliament buildings on the way. All in all, an excellent first day in the Canadian's motherland.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Observation deck

Waiting for our dinner reservations at the top of the Space Needle.

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Space Needle

Arriving early for our dinner reservations.

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Coffee break

Time for a quick coffee break, after some shoe shopping.

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Treating my feet

What do you do when your feet are suffering from a 9 mile day? Pick up some nice, comfy Dansko's so that the adventure can continue.

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Irish grub

Lunch at Blarney's Pub. Irish stew and Guinness for the Canadian. He's in Irish heaven.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SomeBunny to love

That is a man cuddling with his gray bunny in the cafe at Barnes & Noble. The Canadian is jealous.

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More beer

Chris had an afternoon revelation about Pyramid Brewery being in Seattle and set about finding it. Welcome to another sampler!

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Creamy goodness

Chowder sampler for lunch - Yum! Dill and scallop, New England, seafood bisque, and crab and shrimp in a broth base.

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Pub stop

Chris' first stop request? A pub, of course! Pike Pub, a local microbrewery down the street from Pike's Place. A little fuel for our walk down to Pioneer Square.

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Kilt Power

Our quirky tour guide, Eric, and his signature kilt. His pink umbrella allows us to follow him through the crowd.

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Food tour

Starting our trip with a food tour of Pikes Place.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Almost there

Station stop in Portland, only three more hours until Seattle!

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Wine and cheese

Who doesn't make time for some afternoon wine and cheese?

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K Falls stop

A little after lunch Scottish beer delight.

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Our room attendant Hermenio brought us our complementary bottles of sparkling wine. Life in a sleeper car is so fancy!

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Spacious accommodations

For an extra $300 we sprung for a sleeper car which our attendant set up for day use while we were having breakfast. Now we can relax in privacy with our swanky window seats.

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After being greeted by name at the station, we promptly found the dining car and ordered the first of our free meals.

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Waiting for the train

The train to Seattle is running 5 hours late. A 2:00 am pickup has turned into a 7:00 am pickup. Would have loved the extra sleep!

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sweet treats

Breakfast of banana Nutella French toast at Cafe Coda downtown.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Bunko & Bible Study

One of the gals in my bunko group has a fabulous in-ground pool that we usual save for a warm summer month to enjoy. In any other world, the middle of July would be plenty warm enough for a nice evening swim, but this last Tuesday night was only in the low 80s so I had to settle for dipping my feet in the pool. Only eight of the twelve players could make it so my chances of actually winning one of the five prizes was pretty good. Much to my delight I ended up winning the 'last bunko' and scored a dragonfly yard ornament.
It's wings and body are made out of colored glass and it's loaded on springs so it wiggles and jiggles in the wind. For once I won a gift I actually want to keep.

Wednesday night was bible study at our house. I fed the ladies a yummy (not to the Canadian) pesto pasta salad with roasted veggies and cannellini beans, salad (with pears, candied pecans and blue cheese) and sourdough. Since I was at bunko the night before I didn't get a chance to make a homemade dessert, so I bought a frozen tiramisu torte from Traders.
It was my last study for the next two weeks since we'll be gone on vacation in Seattle and Victoria. We're getting out of town just in time to miss the returning triple digit temperatures!