City Eats July|August 2023

“While you are celebrating our shared history on Canada Day and all this country and province have to offer this summer, please remember Canada’s Indigenous populations, who have lived on this land for thousands of years before 1867 and the creation of this country.” 

It seems fitting to welcome summer and all the celebrations it brings, with these words from our much-missed founder and editor, the late Gary Hynes.

Two new releases from Touchwood Editions will help foragers make the most of nature’s bounty in our region. The Coastal Forager’s Cookbook: Feasting Wild in the Pacific Northwest and The Coastal Forager’s Pocket Guide are both authored by Chef Robin Kort, a long-time West Coast forager and chef behind the Swallow Tail Supper Club. 

Just in time for G&T season, Victoria Distillers have launched a new gin: Empress 1908 Elderflower Rose Gin. Inspired by our beautiful location, this new gin pays homage to ‘The City of Gardens.” The fresh, floral botanicals create a delicate spirit with a distinctive all-natural rose hue. 

Looking for a quality, dairy-free soft-serve option? A Softy, or dairy-free soft serve, is a treat you can feel great about: better for the planet, served in compostable packaging, all electric carts, made fresh from local ingredients, and 1% of sales are donated to 1% for the Planet.  You can find Softys at Uptown, in Mill Bay (2720 Mill Bay Rd.) and at the Malahat Skywalk this summer.

Plans have been in the making for several years, but Toptable’s new Victoria fine dining restaurant, Marilena Café and Raw Bar, is open at 1525 Douglas St. as of late June. Executive chef  Kristian Eligh has previously worked as the culinary director for the Hawksworth restaurant group in Vancouver. This will be a sustainable seafood focused restaurant. 

The highly popular North Saanich Flavour Trail is back again this year.  This is a celebratory rural ramble and feast of the senses. Explore by bike or by car and meet the growers, harvesters, fishers, vintners, chefs and producers that are creating an amazingly rich bounty right here in our own backyard. Visit a farm gate, sample local wines and beer made from the fruits of this land, enjoy music and art, watch dog herding demonstrations and experience farm life past and present.  

The Saanich Strawberry Festival will take place from 11am-3pm on July 8 at Beaver Lake Park. From its start as a celebration of Saanich’s agricultural roots, the Strawberry Festival has blossomed into a grand event for all ages. Strawberries and ice cream served from 1-3pm 

Join the Oak Bay Beach Hotel for their seventh annual Winemaker’s Dinner Series. Featuring a collection of international vineyards, wineries, and estates, each dinner will showcase the best of each winery paired with a seasonally inspired menu created by Executive Chef Kreg Graham. 7:00 pm. Tickets for each dinner are $219 per person, plus tax. Bodega Garzón on July 19 | Bodega Catena Zapata on Aug 16 | Marchesi Antinori on Aug 30.

Up island, the Nanaimo VegFest will be held on July 29 at Maffeo Sutton Park. This free festival is an opportunity to experience top-notch vegan food, connect with the community and learn about the benefits of veganism for the animals, as well as plant-based diets for health and the environment.

Coming up in September (but also to help you plan ahead, as tickets to these events often sell out quickly): Great Canadian Beer Festival (Sept 8-9), Esquimalt Rib Fest (Sept 8-9), Brewery and the Beast (Sept 24), Victoria Wine Festival (Sept 24-30). 

Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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