Forget changing leaves, chilly temperatures or your frattiest guy friend putting his white jeans in hibernation—these days, nothing ushers in fall quite like the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s return to cafe menus nationwide. The beloved drink’s at the forefront of the still-going-strong, pumpkin-flavored everything trend (which now stretches from cereal to salad).
Before you take your first sip of the season, here’s what you need to know.
1. IT’S ABOUT AS CARB-LOADED AS EATING A BAGEL.
Thomas’ everything bagel clocks in at 53 grams of carbs per serving, which is about as many carbs as you’d find in a large, whole milk, no-whip pumpkin latte at most major chains. (In fact, a Pumpkin Ginger Latte from Caribou Coffee has more than twice as many carbs, clocking in at 127 grams and 710 calories, according to FOX News.)
2. IF YOU’RE ON A LOW-SUGAR DIET, BACK AWAY FROM THE LATTE. NOW.
Variations of the pumpkin latte and PSL range from 47 grams to 116 grams of sugar per large serving—well above the American Heart Association‘s recommended 24 grams of added sugar per day. While FOX News’s data uses Starbucks’ old recipe for the PSL—before it contained pumpkin puree—even updated info lists the drink as having 49 grams of sugar. And that’s for a nonfat, grande-sized latte.
The challenge is knowing how many grams of sugar are added in each drink, since nutrition labels cluster naturally occurring and added ones under the blanket category of just plain “sugar.” At this point, the American Heart Association recommends checking the ingredients listing for sucrose, maltose, honey, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, syrup, corn sweetener or fruit juice concentrates.
3. DUNKIN’ IS USHERING IN FALL FIRST (SO FAR).
While Starbucks hasn’t officially announced the date its PSL hits stores—not yet, anyway—Peet’s Coffee, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts have been quick to release theirs. Dunkin’s the first to bring back the drink, releasing its fall menu in stores on Aug. 29, while the Golden Arches went with Aug. 30, and Peet’s pumpkin latte will roll out a day later, on the 31st.
If history is any indication, Starbucks will wait until after Labor Day to bring back the PSL. Though who knows, the drink has reached a level of fame that the ‘Bucks could pull a Beyoncé and quietly drop it in stores unannounced. (Not likely, but hey, @TheRealPSL has just as much sass as the former Sasha Fierce.)
4. IT’S THE MOST POPULAR SEASONAL DRINK THE ‘BUCKS HAS EVER SOLD.
The PSL has such a cult following that 108,000 people follow the drink—yes, the drink—on Twitter, waiting for clues to its return. It even had a secret Orange Sleeve Society last year, and to this day, it remains the siren-logoed store’s best-selling seasonal drink of all time. More than 200 million have been sold, according to a representative for the brand.
5. STARBUCKS USED PUMPKIN PIE TO CREATE THE ORIGINAL PSL.
The next time you complain about your job, consider how rough the recipe developers at Starbucks have it: To create the very first pumpkin spice latte, the product development team ate slices of pumpkin pie while sipping espresso to figure out how to blend the two flavors together, without one overpowering the other. It took three months of tasting and re-tasting drinks until they settled on The Pumpkin Spice Latte—a recipe that hadn’t changed until last year (more on that below).
6. NOT EVERY PSL CONTAINS REAL PUMPKIN.
Just because “pumpkin spice” is in the name doesn’t mean the gourd’s actually used to make the drink. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that Starbucks reconfigured its PSL to include it—previously, the pumpkin spice sauce was largely autumnal seasonings.
If drinking a latte that doesn’t contain real pumpkin puree makes you feel like you’re living a lie, ask to see the ingredients listing before ordering (or Google it). Sometimes, pumpkin spice simply refers to a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, and the drink’s golden hue can be the result of caramel coloring. As more brands move away from using artificial colors and flavors, expect to see more of the real thing.
7. IT COULD MAKE YOU SPEND MORE MONEY.
People tend to spend a $1.14 more in stores when they’re ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte, according to a study by the NPD Group. The organization analyzed 35,000 receipts, finding that buying the latte was a true #treatyoself moment—many people also splurged on something to eat with it, ratcheting up their bill a bit more than usual.
8. THE DRINK *COULD* HIT GROCERY STORES BEFORE CAFES THIS YEAR.
Right now, this is all a matter of timing: Starbucks hasn’t revealed the official release date of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but a spokesperson confirmed its line of PS-flavored products sold in grocery stores (including its bottled Frappuccinos) would be in stores by September. So, depending on when the ‘Bucks actually releases the drink, you could—theoretically—find it in your local Kroger or Target before you can ask your barista to whip one up.
9. PEOPLE CRAVE PUMPKIN THE MOST ON ALL HALLOWS EVE.
For three years running, more people have downed pumpkin-y treats (including PSLs) on Oct. 31 than any other day of the year, according to data from MyFitnessPal. That’s probably because Halloween acts as a trigger, making you crave a festive drank to go with your mood.
10. THIS MAN IS THE GODFATHER OF THE PSL.
Twelve years ago, when Starbucks’s director of espresso, Peter Dukes, was a project manager, he was given a task: Create a pumpkin-y latte to round out the brand’s fall seasonal drinks. Duke’s team decorated the “Liquid Lab,” an R&D kitchen at Starbucks’s Seattle HQ, with fall decorations and brought in the aforementioned pumpkin pies, testing what was almost called the “Fall Harvest Latte,” before they settled on the name (and acronym) you know today.
“Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be,” Dukes said in 2014. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
11. KNOWING WHEN THE PSL HITS STORES *COULD* MAKE YOU SEEM COOLER.
There’s a certain social currency in being that in-the-know friend; the one who tips other people off to what’s trending and what’s coming back, Invisible Influence author and Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger told us last fall. Even though Pumpkin Spice Lattes have become lampooned as the “it” drink for “Basic B*tches” everywhere (you know, those girls who like universally likable things, which has somehow been contorted into an insult), knowing when the latte returns before anyone else does could earn you bragging rights—at least in some circles.
Of course, it has reached such a mainstream level of ubiquity that you could argue it’s about to go the way of all guilty pleasures, like watching Grey’s Anatomy after season 3 or listening to Creed albums: Something you indulge in secretly, out of concern people will judge you for loving a drink that’s often compared to a Yankee Candle.
A Cuban-inspired bar in New York City was just named the best new cocktail bar in America.
BlackTail, which is designed to mimic the decadent American bars in Cuba during Prohibition, was crowned “Best New American Cocktail Bar” at the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans.
“We are proud and humbled to win the Best New American Cocktail Bar Spirited Award. We dedicate this win to the everyday people of Cuba who inspire us with their resilience, grace, and high spirits,” says Jack McGarry, managing partner at BlackTail.
The bar’s name comes from the lavish seaplanes (whose tail ends were painted black) that ferried “dry” (and thirsty) Americans down to the “wet” island during Prohibition for liquid libations in the sun. It opened at New York Harbor’s historic Pier A in 2016.
One of the drinks on its menu, dubbed the Rum & Cola, is definitely decadent. As Grub Street first pointed out, the typical frat house drink is elevated through the addition of champagne, Fernet Branca, and homemade bitters. In fact, it’s the champagne that gives this drink its carbonation, since it’s made with cola syrup instead of Coca-Cola.
Pilgrimage to Southern Hebrides island captures spirit of single-malt whisky
The following article originally appeared in the April 27th edition of the Times Colonist.
My husband loves his whisky. The 16 bottles in his current stock bear the names of such distilleries as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Bruichladdich — all from the Scottish Isle of Islay (pronounced EYE-la), renowned for its strong, peaty, single-malt whisky.
He opens a bottle, takes a whiff and pronounces it “nectar of the Gods.” To me, it smells more like a medicinal solution best left to the operating room. I’ve seen the flavour described as a “campfire in your mouth” and “rubber, wood, fire, dirt and leather — but in a great way.” Praise like that might explain why Islay whisky is known as the Marmite of Scotch.
“You either love it or you hate it,” said Graeme Littlejohn, deputy director at the Scotch Whisky Association of Scotland. “There are Scotches that are produced on the island which have a very highly peated quality, very smoky whiskies. There are some whiskies on the island — like Laphroaig, like Lagavulin — that people will try for the first time and they will never drink anything else, that will be their drink for life because they love the peated quality of it.”
So for love of the guy who loves his Islay whiskies, a late summer visit to Scotland would require a visit to the southernmost island of the Inner Southern Hebrides.
Nine distilleries make their spirits on this island that stretches just 40 kilometres long and 24 km wide, just a bit smaller in size than Greater Victoria’s 13 municipalities. But, with only 3,228 residents, it’s home to less than 1/100th of our region’s population. Driving around Islay, you see a lot of wide open fields dotted with cows and sheep. And a lot of peat bogs — a spongy wetland with few trees and shifting ground that makes for some bumpy roads.
It’s the peat, lashed by sea spray during frequent Atlantic storms, that gives Islay whiskies their distinctive taste and aroma. That and the sea water, which is why the distilleries are sited along the shoreline.
By British law, whisky cannot be sold until it has been aged for three years. The basic process for making single-malt Scotch follows five steps: malting barley by steeping it in water and then drying the malt in a kiln (which, on Islay, usually means burning peat), mashing the grist and mixing it with hot water to create a sugary liquid known as wort (with the remaining solids used for cattle feed), fermenting the wort in large vats to create “wash” (which tastes like beer), distilling it in pot and spirit stills, then maturing it in oak casks. However, no two distilleries do this exactly same way. That’s what each company likes to show off during its distillery tours.
Pilgrimages to Scotland’s 128 whisky distilleries set a record in 2017: 1.9 million visits by tourists from all over the world. The eight distilleries on Islay that year — one more has opened since — saw 150,000 visits.
“This is an industry that is 500 years old and it began exporting from Scotland to countries around the world in the mid-19th century,” Littlejohn said.
“It has really developed since then from a primarily domestic spirit to one that is exported to 180 countries.”
Lots of distilleries are investing in tourism, adding welcome centres and cafés, offering a variety of tours and tastings, even producing less time-consuming spirits — anything that promotes whisky and helps distilleries fill the financial gap while whisky is maturing for as long as 20 years or more, Littlejohn said.
For tourists who arrive by car — like the German fellow we met at one distillery who was making his annual Scotch restocking tour of Islay — distilleries provide tiny glass jars (known as “driving drams”) so you can take away your whisky tastings to enjoy later.
You can walk to some of the distilleries. In fact, Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig are close enough together that they’ve built a 5.5-km path, accessible for walkers, cyclists and wheelchairs, between Port Ellen and the distilleries.
That means you can set your own schedule and drink all you want before stumbling back to your starting point. You can also hire a taxi to get around.
We booked from Canada one of many tours that prearranges transportation, tours and accommodation. We joined 12 other pilgrims — two Canadians, two Americans, four New Zealanders and four Icelanders — on a comfy, 16-passenger mini-bus.
Our bus driver, Moray Walker, looked like he’d been sent by central casting — tall, bald, built like a rugby player, clad in a vest and kilt, sporting tattoos that included the thistle emblem of Scotland, a Celtic sword, skulls and roses.
His accent was as thick and deep as a full-bodied whisky. He likes to say that he took up guiding tours after getting out of jail. He was a prison guard for 25 years.
On Islay, we stayed at Bowmore House, a five-bedroom bed and breakfast, named after the small town’s capital.
When it’s overbooked, as it was when we were there, some guests stay next door in an Air Bnb-style apartment with three bedrooms, a living room and kitchen.
Andrew Jackson, who has owned and operated the BnB with his wife Alison for about eight years, used to work as a criminal lawyer in England’s Lake District. He came to Islay to visit his favourite distillery — Laphroaig — and fell in love with the place.
As well as supporting some of the world’s best distilleries, the island is beautiful, he said. “The beaches, the nature — nothing compared to Canada in the sense of size — but you’ve got a bit of everything here, the mountains, the rivers, the lakes, the beaches. Everything is on your doorstep.”
The hearty breakfast at Bowmore House, like most in Scotland, includes haggis and blood pudding, but Jackson also offers up a dram from his selection of Islay whiskies.
My husband estimates that, given the number of tastings at each distillery, we were offered close to 600 ml of Scotch over two days. That doesn’t include the whisky available at breakfast in our guest house and on the menu almost everywhere at lunch and dinner. And it doesn’t count the several drams of gin we drank at Bruichladdich, where locally foraged botanicals are added to berries, barks, seeds and peels, distilled in spirit and Islay spring water, and then bottled under the Botanist label. Since it takes barely weeks to make gin, selling it helps top up the coffers while waiting years for the whisky to mature, the distillery guide noted.
For aficionados, whisky tours offer a peek into the magic process that creates the spirit they love. Islay is especially appealing because of the unique history and tastings at the distilleries, said Páll Svavar Pálsson, an engineer, who joined our tour with three friends from his whisky club in Iceland.
While tasting the range of whiskies is fun, it is a special thrill to fill your own bottle from a cask, as Pálsson did at Bunnahabhain.
At each of the seven distilleries we visited, knowledgeable, enthusiastic guides made the tours engaging, especially at Lagavulin. That visit isn’t so much a tour as an audience with the legendary Iain McArthur. He has worked in the distillery for 48 years, most of that time in a warehouse full of casks like the one we were ushered into. His grandfather and uncle also worked there while other family members worked at other island distilleries — the “family business” for his and many others on Islay where the whisky industry is the main employer. McArthur talked about the history of the distillery — founded in 1816, though distilling on the site is said to date back to the mid-1700s — and the process of making whisky.
He asked if we’ve heard of the “angel share.” In the process of making whisky, two per cent of the volume is lost to evaporation every year for up to about 10 years, though every cask is different. The excitement began when McArthur dipped a large metal cylinder into a cask that held the last measure of whisky from this year’s limited-edition release for the Islay Jazz Festival, held every September. More tastings followed from casks of six-, 16-, 20-, 21- and a 25-year-old vintages.
At Lagavulin — as well as Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Kilchoman — we got to keep the small tasting glasses etched with the distillery’s name. Laphroaig’s glasses hang from a lanyard, presumably to keep your hands free to check out the merchandise in its well-stocked shop. The other distilleries packed the glass souvenirs in small boxes. All the distilleries have shops that sell more than just bottles of whisky.
While the Scots might not be known for their cuisine, we’d heard about the great food in the Ardbeg distillery’s café. A giant copper still, sitting on a raised platform, greets visitors to Ardbeg. Founded in 1815, it was once the largest whisky producer on Islay, but closed and changed hands numerous times. It was pulled out of mothballs in 1997, opened a visitor centre and café and was voted distillery of the year in 1998. The Old Kiln Café — in the original 1815 kiln room — serves tasty sandwiches, paninis and toasties, all with crisp, fresh salad, for between £4.50 to £5.95. Hearty meals — fish pie, steak pie, cheesy macaroni or haggis, neeps and tatties — are priced from £9.95 to £11.95.
There’s also a lovely café in the Kilchoman distillery, where you can get a very fine bowl of Cullen skink, a thick Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions for £6.50. Known as Islay’s farm distillery, Kilchoman opened in 2005, but recently lost its title as the island’s newest distillery after Ardnahoe opened in late 2018. Currently the smallest Islay distillery, Kilchoman is building a new stillhouse, mash house and tun room, which will double its production to 460,000 litres per year. It’s the only distillery that does everything — from growing its barley to bottling the whisky — on Islay.
Kilchoman, Bowmore and Laphroaig are among the few whisky distilleries that still use malting floors instead of germination boxes or drums. Once grain has been steeped, it is spread evenly by hand into a thick layer on a stone floor where it is turned at least twice a day, every day, to keep it oxygenated and to dissipate heat.
My favourite stop — and the only place I managed to down all three drams of whisky offered — featured the most dramatic setting, looking across the Sound of Islay to the mountains on the Isle of Jura. And it almost didn’t happen. Our driver offered the special tasting at the Caol Ila (pronounced cull-eela) distillery as an option, but it’s hosted outdoors on a picnic table, so depended on good weather. The skies seemed threatening in the morning, but cleared just in time for our visit.
The melt-in-your-mouth handmade chocolate paired incredibly well with the whisky. Mind you, Caol Ila produces one of the Island’s lighter whiskies, often used in blended varieties. In the sunshine, sipping whisky, savouring fine chocolate and soaking in the setting, it seemed that a whisky tour was a fine way to enjoy the spirit of Scotland.
IF YOU GO:
You can fly directly to the island’s airport from Glasgow or take the ferry from Kennacraig, about 2 1/2 hours from Glasgow. The ferry crosses to Islay in two hours, if you’re going to Port Askaig in the north, or two hours and 20 minutes going to Port Ellen in the south. The 507-passenger, 68-car MV Hebridean Isles will feel familiar to anyone who has travelled to or from Vancouver Island by ferry. To get around to the distilleries, you can drive across on the ferry or bring your bike, because the island is mostly flat.
Whisky tours: We travelled with Scottish Routes (scottishroutes.com). A four-day bus tour to Islay, starting from either Glasgow or Edinburgh, is £650 or about $1,110, including transportation, bed and breakfast, and tours with tastings at up to seven distilleries. Lots of other tours are available. Check that they include fees for entry and tasting at distilleries. You can also plan your own itinerary by booking with individual distilleries and hiring taxis to get around.
An academic report shows 007 is frequently over the limit in life-threatening situations. But, from Homer Simpson to Tyrion Lannister, he is far from alone…
Shaken, not stirred … Daniel Craig as 007 in Skyfall. Photograph: Everett/Rex Shutterstock
oday’s “Well Duh” award goes to New Zealand’s University of Otago, which just published a real-life academic study in the Medical Journal of Australia pointing out that James Bond is an alcoholic. During one flight in Quantum of Solace, the study states, Bond consumed 24 units of alcohol; enough to kill a man. But this isn’t news. Anyone can see that 007 is a drunk. Why not focus on these other, lesser celebrated, screen alcoholics instead.
Has been arrested for drink-driving, has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, struggled to go a month without drinking and is prone to bouts of impulsive violence that include, but are not limited to, angrily strangling his son. The man, quite simply, is a monster.
Remember that scene in The Karate Kid where Mr Miyagi drinks a bottle of whisky, dresses up in his old army uniform, invites a 17-year-old boy to his house and then forces him to get drunk? It hasn’t exactly aged terrifically well.
He was always an alcoholic in the comics, but Tony Stark’s film output has mostly skirted the issue of substance addiction. But it is there, if you look hard enough. He is drinking in a Humvee in the first scene of Iron Man, he is making a cocktail when Loki confronts him in The Avengers and, oh, actually, didn’t he wet himself in the middle of Iron Man 2? That’s a pretty good sign.
Futurama’s resident misanthropic robot has a good excuse to drink booze – he is powered by alcohol-based fuels, after all – but he arguably drinks more than is needed. After all, the ability to involuntarily burp flames is not usually associated with healthy, non-dependent alcohol consumption.
James Bond might drink enough to die, but he has nothing on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie. In the episode The Gang Beats Boggs, Charlie attempts to drink 70 beers over the course of a single flight. He manages 71, plus a rum and coke, and miraculously remains alive. Maybe he should be the one fighting Blofeld.
Tyrion Lannister drinks an awful lot in Game of Thrones. Then again, if you had just murdered your father shortly after learning that your brother and sister are conducting a sexual affair, and your entire world is set to be decimated by an army of deathless ice zombies, you would probably want a tipple too.
A Bonhams porter shows the bottle of Macallan Valerio Adamai 1926 whisky to packed auction house in Edinburgh today. The whisky was bottled in 1986 having been stored in a vat for 60 years previously
The world’s most expensive bottle of whisky – described by experts as the ‘Holy Grail’ – has been sold for nearly £850,000 at auction.
The 60-year-old Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 sold for a record-breaking £848,750 when it went under the hammer today at Bonhams Whisky Sale in Edinburgh.
Although 12 bottles of the vintage whisky were produced, it is not known how many of them still exist.
Bonhams auctioneer Charles Graham-Campbell takes bids during the sale of this whisky.
The bottle (right), which was expected to fetch between £700,000 and £900,000 ended up being sold for a record-breaking £848,750
One is said to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan in 2011, and it is believed that at least one of them has been opened and consumed.
Since the auction was announced earlier this year, Bonhams has been receiving inquiries from across the world, particularly China, for the tipple.
Bonhams Whisky specialist in Edinburgh, Martin Green, said: ‘I am delighted at this exceptional result.
‘It is a great honour to have established a new world record, and particularly exciting to have done so here in Scotland, the home of whisky.
‘Bonhams now holds the record for the three most valuable bottles of whisky ever sold at auction.’
The whisky was bottled in 1986 having been stored in a vat for 60 years previously.
Bonhams’ auction house in Edinburgh was packed out for the sale of the whisky today. Martin Green, Bonhams’ whisky specialist Martin Green said he was delighted with the result of the auction
Although 12 bottles of the vintage whisky (pictured) were produced, it is not known how many of them still exist. When they were bottled in 1986 Macallan commissioned world-famous pop artist Valerio Adami to design a label for the 12 bottles. Valerio Adami is an Italian artist famous for painting bold, flat forms outlined in thick, black lines, in a style reminiscent of comic art
The price keeps on rising at Bonhams’ auction house in Edinburgh where the whisky – made in 1926 – fetched a whopping £848,750 at auction
The whisky was expected to fetch between £700,000 and £900,000 at auction.
Macallan commissioned two world-famous Pop Artists, Valerio Adami and Peter Blake, to design labels for a very limited edition of 24 bottles -12 of the Adami and 12 of the Blake labels.
Valerio Adami (born 1935) is an Italian artist famous for painting bold, flat forms outlined in thick, black lines, in a style reminiscent of comic art.
He is among the most acclaimed of 20th Century Pop Artists.
The previous record for a whisky sale was held by another bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 which was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong in May.
It was sold for a world record-breaking price of £814,081 – the most paid for a bottle of Scotch whisky at public auction at the time.
The following article was featured Forbes Magazine’s Travel Guide on August 6, 2018.
Delicious Victoria TOURISM VICTORIA
When considering Canada’s best food, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal undisputedly clinch the title. And if you press further, destinations like Prince Edward Island and Quebec City shoot up as contenders. But there’s one Canadian city that’s quietly vying for epicurean attention: Vancouver Island’s Victoria.
Victoria’s food scene gets eclipsed by nearby Vancouver, but British Columbia’s capital has long earned its culinary cred: it was home to Canada’s first brewpub; it has a neighboring wine region; it serves one of the best high teas in the country; it boasts the nation’s oldest Chinatown; and Canada’s first chocolatier started here.
Dig in to find out why you should taste your way through the Pacific Northwest’s oldest city.
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa THE MAGNOLIA HOTEL & SPA
WHERE TO STAY
For our Victoria culinary tour, we checked into The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, and not just because the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel has an excellent location mere blocks from the Inner Harbour or because of its plush, sophisticated accommodations.
The 64-room boutique hotel offers fun self-guided itineraries for guests called Curated Trails, a number of which revolve around food and drink. Here are highlights from Magnolia’s Culinary Trailblazers, Craft Brewery and Tea-riffic Trails tours, plus some other delicious spots we found along the way.
Duck at The Courtney Room LEILA KWOK
WHERE TO DINE
The Courtney Room
The first stop is at the hotel’s chic brand-new restaurant that debuted in April. Come for fine dining or to soak up the sun on the new patio, which gives a glimpse of the domed capitol building, one of Victoria’s most-recognized sights. Then linger into the wee hours at the white marble bar for Midnight in Oaxaca cocktails (Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yej mezcal, lime, habanero bitters, mint, cucumber) and the irresistible potatoes Courtney (duck fat tater tots accompanied by onion dip).
At dinner, order the seasonal tasting menu to see how chef Sam Harris spotlights local ingredients in French dishes. A tender Yarrow Meadows duck breast is covered with crispy skin and comes with carrots, turnips and pickled rhubarb. Local halibut goes decadent with a pool of airy, ethereal whipped béarnaise and tarragon.
Add on the caviar service. The sustainable, organic Northern Divine pearls, chives and creamy “dip” (garlic, garlic and onion powder, crème fraîche, egg yolk, grapeseed and olive oils, lemon juice) on top of a housemade chip was one of the best bites on the menu. And opt for the vino pairings — you’ll get a nice sampling of the local Cowichan wine region.
A Sampling from Olo JENNIFER KESTER
The cozy space basks in a warm glow from its orange-yellow walls and birds-nest-like lighting fixtures. The food goes for an artful presentation, but it’s just as homey as the environs.
The addictive deep-fried semolina cubes with garlic mayo will have you requesting a second round. The vegetable platter gets an upgrade with a deeply smoky white bean hummus. For a seafood-heavy dish that won’t weigh you down, choose the sablefish collar with clams, potato, kale, daikon and shellfish butter.
Chef Kunal Ghose firmly established himself in Victoria’s food scene with popular restaurants like Red Fish Blue Fish and Fishhook. For his April-opened venture, he embraced Dobosala’s location fronting Pandora Avenue’s new bike lane and went with a fast-casual concept that has the only ride-through window in the city.
But it’s worth parking your two-wheeler and taking a seat inside the industrial eatery to savor Ghose’s bright, flavorful Indo-Pacific fusion. Try the crispy pakora with kimchi crema and tamari-tamarind ponzu; “squimp” onigiri — rice balls with Humboldt squid, Tofino shrimp, sockeye belly sashimi and horseradish mayo; and the adobo-gochujang chicken stuffed in a tortilla cone. Wash it down with a housemade mango-hibiscus iced tea.
Fresh, Handmade Pasta at La Pasta LA PASTA
Victoria Public Market at the Hudson
At the small public market, save your appetite for La Pasta, which debuted in May. The spot churns out handmade pasta daily. Order the comforting carbonara with toothsome spaghetti and porchetta bits or the fusilli pesto topped with generous dollops of fresh ricotta. But first begin with antipasti like fried artichokes with lemon aioli for some brightness as well as the rich arancini.
Or venture over to Very Good Butchers. The first vegan butchery on Canada’s west coast, it specializes in plant-based “meat.” Try a dish featuring the smoky seitan bacon or the “pepperoni,” which gives more of a kick than its beef-and-pork counterpart.
Kid Sister Ice Cream
Hidden along Chinatown’s photogenic Fan Tan Alley — Canada’s narrowest street — sits this scoop shop. You can’t go wrong with from-scratch ice cream like the luscious salted caramel in a house-baked waffle cone, but the parlor is known for its paletas (Latin American popsicles upgraded with fresh fruit and fun ingredients) in creative flavors like quince Creamsicle; mango, black currant and lime; and mocha cheesecake.
Half a million cups of tea are poured annually at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, whose afternoon ritual has been a Victoria tradition since 1908. Don’t let the date fool you: the modern room overlooking the harbor makes for one of Canada’s best tea experiences.
Thoughtful details abound: the china bears the same timeless purple-and-pink pattern that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth chose for a 1939 dinner party they hosted at the hotel; the menu arrives in an elegant wooden box that also holds samples of each high-quality blend; the housemade strawberry jam uses local berries, honey from the hotel’s beehives and lavender from its rooftop garden; and servers are warm, welcoming and ready with just the right recommendations.
Even if you’re not one for tea, come for the Empress 1908 gin. The hotel’s small-batch, butterfly-pea-blossom-infused pour possesses an indigo hue that turns lavender when you add citrus or tonic. The color-changing G&T is a must for your Instagram feed, but also for its great taste, with juniper and grapefruit notes.
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. JENNIFER KESTER
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
The brewery launched in 2001, but it added the city’s first tasting room in April. Head there to sample the easy-to-drink Blue Buck or Robert Service Stone Fired Ale.
But everyone will find something to sip here. Check out the all-natural house sodas — i.e., made without syrups or other artificial sweeteners — like the effervescent, Creamsicle-like Dare Devil orange.
Seek out a small neon elephant above the Pacific Transfer Building sign, enter and go to the end of the hallway for this restaurant/bar. The brick-walled, pressed-copper ceiling space is an inviting local favorite for well-crafted cocktails.
Follow the Victorians and ask for A Convicted Melon (Altos tequila, Campari, hibiscus, honeydew melon, local Olive the Senses coconut balsamic, Bittermens molé bitters) or the Gin and Tea (Boodles Gin, Silk Road’s Alchemist’s Brew and Berry Victoria teas, lime and flowers).
Silk Road Tea SILK ROAD TEA
WHERE TO SHOP
Silk Road Tea
In this tea-loving city, there’s no better souvenir than local leaves. Tea master Daniela Cubelic makes exquisite blends at her Chinatown shop. You’ll notice that Silk Road teas appear all over the city (including Little Jumbo, The Courtney Room and rooms at the Magnolia).
Pick up health-targeting teas, like the antioxidant-boosting Beau-Tea-Ful Skincare (white and green leaves, rooibos, calendula, lemon balm, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender) or sinus-relieving Allergy & Hay Fever Defense (take the green tea, peppermint, nettle, holy basil, rooibos and eucalyptus blend three weeks before allergy season to prep your immune system). Or try the 8 Immortals, a special reserve oolong with floral notes that’s supposed to help longevity.
Rogers’ JENNIFER KESTER
While you can purchase Rogers’ chocolates all over Canada, Charles “Candy” Rogers started his business in Victoria in 1885. His first confection, the Victoria Cream, launched his career as the country’s first chocolatier.
Pop into the original Government Street shop, which seems frozen in time. Staff dressed in starched white button-down shirts and black ties stand ready to sate your craving from the wood shelves and glass cases filled with chocolates. The must-buy sweet is Rogers’ Victoria Cream, wrapped in a waxy pink-gingham paper. Enrobed in dark chocolate, the discs are made with fresh cream and fruits and don’t contain any additives. Our favorite was the not-overly-sweet, nut-studded hazelnut.
Jennifer Kester is Forbes Travel Guide’s Executive Editor. Her finger is on the pulse of the latest in luxury travel, spanning hotels, food, culture, top destinations and more.
With the summer temperatures arriving before summer, we thought it would be great to share the following article, pulled from the archives of Victoria’s Times Colonist newspaper:
A colourful array of smoothies, packed with nutrition. From left, Cucumber, Beet Green and Apple Smoothie; Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie with Oats; Beet, Blackberry and Island Yogurt Smoothie; Nectarine Smoothies with Tofu, Ginger and Hemp Seeds. Photograph By ERIC AKIS
When summer temperatures are soaring and your energy level is sinking, perk up by blending and sipping a cool, refreshing and nutritious smoothie. It’s also the perfect time of year to make this puréed drink because farm markets and food stores are filled with locally grown, ripe, just-picked fruits and vegetables to use in them.
For example, my four smoothie recipes here incorporate Island-grown produce such as beets, berries, rhubarb, apples and cucumber. I also added other nutritious ingredients to my smoothies, including soft tofu, Greek yogurt, coconut beverage, fruit juice, hemps seeds, flax seeds, oats and matcha tea powder.
All my smoothie recipes could be made in a regular blender, or in the cup that came with your immersion (hand) blender. Feel free to adjust the recipes to your liking or to substitute one ingredient for one you might have on hand. For example, if you have raspberries on hand, but not blackberries, use them in the beet smoothie.
Happy blending and keep cool!
BEET, BLACKBERRY & ISLAND YOGURT SMOOTHIES
These deep purple, nutrient-rich smoothies, flavoured with earthy beets, sweet berries and tangy yogurt, also contain heart healthy, ground flax seeds. They are sold at health-food stores and supermarkets. I used Vancouver Island-made Tree Island brand yogurt in these smoothies.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: Two one-cup servings
1 cup loosely packed, grated raw, peeled fresh beet (about 1 medium beet)
1 cup blackberries or marionberries
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (see Note)
2 tsp ground flax seeds (see Note)
2 tsp honey, or to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender or in the cup that came with your immersion (hand) blender). Pulse until very smooth. Taste smoothie and adjust flavourings as needed. Pour into glasses and serve.
Note: Pomegranate juice is sold at most large supermarkets in the produce department.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB SMOOTHIES WITH OATS
Flavoured with nutritious oats and cinnamon, these sweet and tangy smoothies taste similar to strawberry rhubarb crumble in a glass.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: Two one-cup servings
1 1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sliced fresh rhubarb
3/4 cup coconut or almond beverage, or milk
2 Tbsp large flake rolled oats
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp honey, or taste
3 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender or in the cup that came with your immersion (hand) blender). Pulse until very smooth. Taste smoothie and adjust flavourings as needed. Pour into glasses and serve.
CUCUMBER, BEET GREEN & APPLE SMOOTHIES
If you’ve bought a bunch of beets with the tops attached and are wondering what to do with some of those greens, these rich-green smoothies provide a solution. The antioxidant-rich matcha tea powder used in these smoothies is sold at specialty tea stores and at some supermarkets.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: Two one-cup servings
1 cup coarsely chopped, packed beet greens (just leafy parts; no tough rib sections)
1 cup cubed English cucumber
1 cup cubed, peeled apple
1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider or juice
3/4 tsp matcha tea powder (optional)
4 to 5 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey, or to taste (optional)
3 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender or in the cup that came with you immersion (hand) blender). Pulse until very smooth. Taste smoothie and adjust flavourings as needed. Pour into glasses and serve.
Eric options: Instead of beet greens, use chopped kale or chard in these smoothies.
NECTARINE SMOOTHIES WITH TOFU, GINGER & HEMP SEEDS
The hemp seeds in these sustaining, orange-hued smoothies add a slightly nutty flavour and provide essential fatty acids, protein and fibre.
Hemp seeds are sold in small bags at health-food stores and supermarkets.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: Two one- cup servings
2 cups ripe, cubed fresh nectarine, skins on
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup soft tofu
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp hemp seeds
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
honey, to taste
3 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender or in the cup that came with your immersion (hand) blender).
Pulse until very smooth. Taste smoothie and adjust flavourings as needed. Pour into glasses and serve.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Times Colonist’s Life section Wednesday and Sunday.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a very special “Thank you” to everyone who attended our recent Oceanwise Dinner on Friday, February 23, 2018. The enthusiasm and feedback that has followed since this dinner has been fantastic. Without your support, events like this would not be possible.
As you may or may not know, the Oceanwise program has been a very important part of my career for some time now. The Oceanwise program continues to highlight responsible seafood choices for not only you as consumers, but for myself and other Chefs alike. I take great pride in sourcing only the best, sustainable and ethical products for all members to enjoy at the Club. I make these choices not only for the superior quality and enjoyment that members will receive, but also in order to help ensure that these delicacies will be enjoyed for generations to follow.
I trust everyone enjoyed the evening as much as Chef Ned Bell and I did. I look forward to hosting many more exciting events, as we continue to advance the Food & Beverage program at the Club.
The Union Club of British Columbia
If you’re feeling a bit pickled after a month of holiday celebration — or just prefer to keep your drinking to a minimum, regardless of season — take heart: It’s an especially good time to be a teetotaler. Across the country this year, restaurants are beginning to respond to the vogue for “dry January” or “Drynuary,” the practice of starting the year off free of alcohol. (Its adherents swear by the practice’s benefits: a reset for weary livers, incidental weight loss, better sleep and, perhaps, the feelings of accomplishment and reassurance that attend proving to oneself that taking a month off drinking is possible in the first place.)
Thankfully, with increased demand come better offerings. Gone are syrupy Shirley Temple variants and lazy, tequila-free margaritas; mixologists are instead giving alcohol-less options the same care and attention they do to their standard cocktails. That directive has been facilitated by the stateside arrival last year of Seedlip, a nonalcoholic spirit distilled like liquor in either spiced or botanical variants, which originally debuted in London in 2015.
Here, bartenders and beverage directors across North America — many of whom are introducing full drink menus at their restaurants this month — share alcohol-free cocktail recipes for those observing dry January. (Those who don’t drink all year round are, of course, equally welcome to enjoy them.) A word to the wise: avoid the word “mocktail.” Try calling them “zero-proof” instead.
Dry January represents well-worn territory for Kim Stodel, the bar manager at Providence, a Michelin-starred restaurant whose inventive nonalcoholic cocktail offerings are almost as popular as the boozy ones. “I think every bar in the world should offer something for people who choose not to drink,” he says. “Being a slinger of booze, I’ve become very sensitive to the effects of alcohol on people and believe it’s my responsibility to offer alternatives while doing so. At Providence, we have a special section on the cocktail menu entitled ‘For those who don’t partake.’”
Stodel is also known for his “zero-waste” cocktail program, which aims to work in tandem with Providence’s kitchen to reimagine a new liquid life for produce that would otherwise end up as food scraps. The Sea Cucumber drink repurposes leftover cucumbers that were first used in a sashimi-style dish at therestaurant. “The cucumbers are salted and then a tiny melon baller is used to cut out small perfect orbs of delicious cucumber for the dish,” Stodel says. “What’s left is mine, which is to say, salted cucumbers with holes in them.” He blends them and uses both the juice and the pulp to make the cocktail.
Sea Cucumber(pictured above)
½ ounce fresh lemon
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 ½ ounces filtered water
Salted cucumber juice, to top (see method, below)
Method: Serve ingredients shaken or built, in a single rocks glass. To make the salted cucumber juice, take the salted cucumbers and put them in a blender on high for about a minute until everything has liquefied. Then strain the mixture through a fine strainer; you’re left with a vibrant green cucumber juice and cucumber pulp. The juice will be used to top the drink. If you’re feeling adventurous, use the pulp, too: At Providence, it’s seasoned and fortified, spread on a silicon mat and dehydrated to make a chip to garnish.
This month, Lower Manhattan’s best-loved British restaurant is featuring a new menu of five alcohol-free cocktails: takes on two classics (a Martini and a “NOgroni”); two “cameo” drinks by guest bartenders (including a honey-and-kefir concoction by Sam Anderson of Mission Chinese); and a new special, the Celery Sour, created by the mixologist Victoria Canty and Natalie Freihon, the restaurant’s managing partner.
“Victoria and I wanted to include aspects of wellness in the drink, not just have something that looked and acted like a cocktail without alcohol,” Freihon says. “We did want guests to feel like they were drinking something thoughtfully crafted, and vegan to go along with our January menu. So, we used aquafaba instead of eggs as the foaming agent.”
The Garden Sour (pictured above)
1 ½ ounces Seedlip Garden
½ ounce aquafaba
¼ ounce simple syrup
¼ ounce celery
½ ounce apple
¼ ounce lemon Nigella seeds garnish
Method: Pour all ingredients into a Boston shaker. Dry shake (without ice). Add ice (enough to fill small side of cocktail shaker) and shake until frothy. Double strain into an 8-ounce coupe using Hawthorne and mesh strainers. Garnish with Nigella seeds.
Claire Sprouse, the bar manager at Sunday in Brooklyn, was inspired to modify the recipe for the restaurant’s popular Golden Coconut cocktail after trying Seedlip Spice. “I love that this is a product made deliberately and thoughtfully for the zero-alcohol-by-volumecrowd,” she says. “Oftentimes, nonalcoholic cocktails are just made with leftover syrups and juices that happen to be laying around the bar. This product adds complexity without necessarily adding sweetness or citrus.” The nonalcoholic version, called the Coco Squash, is available this month.
Coco Squash (pictured above)
2 ounces Seedlip Spice
1 ounce butternut squash juice
¾ ounce coconut crème
¾ ounce fresh orange juice
¼ ounce fresh lime juice
Method: Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Pack into glass and garnish with coconut flakes.
“The struggle of taking menu ‘real estate’ up with a zero-proof area is a gamble,” concedes Christina Smith, the beverage director of Oyster Bah, a rustic New England-style seafood shack in Lincoln Park.“However, we are in the business of hospitality, and being able to accommodate a guest’s request when they point to one of our cocktails and say, ‘Can you make that with no alcohol?’ — and being able to deliver something that may be even better without hesitation — is something special.” The restaurant’s Pineapple Ginger Mojito will join several other nonalcoholic cocktail offerings on the menu this month.
Pineapple Ginger Mojito (pictured above)
2 ounces pineapple syrup
1 ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce fresh pineapple juice
¾ ounce spiced ginger syrup
3 pieces pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon mint leaves
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Served in a Collins glass. Combine all ingredients, shake, strain, pour and top with extra ice and a splash of soda.
“I’ve always been excited when there has been a request for a nonalcoholic pairing,” says Michael Kudra, the lead bartender at the triple-Michelin-starred Quince. “I love bringing someone down the rabbit hole of how interesting it can be to pair drinks with food.” For January 2018, he is introducing four ambitious new zero-proof options to Quince’s cocktail menu: twists on a granita and a gin and tonic; a Chinotto sweetened with wood syrup; and, below, a buckwheat tea that, once infused with carbon dioxide, bears a striking resemblance to Champagne.
Buckwheat “Champagne” (pictured above)
For the buckwheat tea:
∙ Soba-cha (Japanese toasted buckwheat) tea
∙ Pinch of salt
∙ ½ to ¼ ounce of one-to-one simple syrup
For the lemon foam:
∙ 10 fluid ounces of lemon juice
∙ 1 ⅔ fluid ounces of water
∙ 2 grams of soy lecithin powder
Method: For the buckwheat tea base, infuse the soba-cha tea with hot water for two to three minutes or until texture and color resemble that of a glass of Champagne. Place the tea in an ice bath and stir to cool evenly. While stirring, add simple syrup and a pinch of salt. Once the tea is slightly above room temperature, carbonate it with a CO2 charger. For the lemon air, combine all ingredients and blend in an immersion blender. Serve the buckwheat tea in a Champagne flute and top off with lemon air.
Mike Di Tota, the bar director at the Bonnie, made a concerted effort to ramp up the gastro pub’s alcohol-free offerings after his wife gave up drinking several years ago. For Dry January, the barwill supplement its usual zero-proof cocktail list with a special drinks menu called “Easy Does It.” One adventurous offering is the Baker’s Dozen, which is built on a blackberry-fig gastrique. “Vinegar is a traditional natural cure-all, and I love its flavor. I’m a big fan of kombucha, and I drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water first thing every morning to stimulate my metabolism and to wake me up,” Di Tota says. “In the Baker’s Dozen, we combine white balsamic vinegar with fruit preserves to make it more drinkable in a cocktail; it opens up your palate and adds a deep, funky layer of flavor to the drink.”
Di Tota, agraduate of the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture, puts particular emphasis on inventive use of herbs, spices and produce; Haber’s, the tonic used in the Baker’s Dozen, is a small-batch product rich with botanical flavor. (And it’s a hometown favorite — it’s produced in Astoria, Queens, not far from the Bonnie.)
Baker’s Dozen (pictured above)
1 ounce blackberry-fig syrup (recipe follows)
½ ounce Haber’s Tonic Syrup
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
Dried Lebanese-style aphrodisiac tea (available at Kalustyan’s), for garnish
Method: Combine first three ingredients in a highball glass and fill with ice. Top with soda water. Stir to mix. Garnish with a sprinkle of dried tea leaves and buds.
1 quart turbinado sugar simple syrup
13 ounces fig preserves (Di Tota uses Bonne Maman brand)
13 ounces blackberry preserves (Di Tota uses Bonne Maman brand)
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Method: Blend until smooth. Strain and discard pulpy solids. Store in a covered container, refrigerated, for up to one week.