Unique and Unusual Condiments in Victoria

We are a saucy, flavour loving species. Over time (thanks to our predecessors) our taste buds have evolved to such a degree that we created condiments. We migrate toward dips, sauces and relishes match our need for sweet, salty, sour, and umami (savoury) flavours.

Historically, spices, salt, and vinegar were first used to preserve food and to cover up the taste of spoiled food. As cooking skills progressed the addition of spices, to boost flavours, increased. Today we use a variety of condiments to compliment our foods. With each dab of this or splash of that we continue to enhance our pallets and our plates.

The must-have’s in my household are Sirracha, La Costena pickled jalapenos, and Sambal Oelek. Mmmm we put that “s*#t” on everything! Of course, let’s not forget the numerous to-go packets of mustard, mayo, soy sauce, honey mustard, plum sauce and pickled ginger. It’s verging on becoming a problem.

Take a look in your refrigerator right now. How many condiments (sauces, dips and spreads) do you see? The old stand-bys like ketchup and mustard are probably in there. But are you the type to step outside of the classic condiment spectrum (ketchup on hot dogs and relish on burgers) and really spice things up?

I’m surprised at just how many condiments I’ve acquired. Currently, I’m storing 4 kinds of hot sauce, 3 different salad dressings, 2 types of mixed hot peppers, pickles, curries, soy sauce, hoisin, miso, tahini and something unidentifiable. I’m not sure how or when this condiment collecting obsession started, but I find great comfort in knowing I can kick-up a dish anytime a kick is required.

On a global level though, I’ve got nothing in the pecking order of condiments. Actually, I’m rather boring it seems.

In the Philippines, their ketchup is made from bananas! Yes, banana ketchup is a spicy sauce made from bananas, sugar, spices and vinegar. Apparently it doesn’t have the remotest banana taste but rather, it’s slightly sweet and a little spicy.

In the country of Tunisia, a popular condiment is harissa, a hot chili paste made from roasted red peppers, serrano peppers, caraway, coriander and garlic. Harissa is typically used in meat and fish dishes and as a flavouring in soups and couscous. Find harissa in Victoria at Fig Delicatessen.

Originally from Serbia and now popular in the Balkans, ajvar (aye-var) is a spicy relish made from eggplants, peppers and spices. It’s typically served as a side dish or as a bread spread with sausages and other meats. You can find ajvar sold by the jar at the Seven Valleys Market.

After researching and thinking about various condiments, I decided to take a look around Victoria to see which restaurants are offering something I don’t (yet) have in my fridge. The following is a sample of my condiment discoveries.

Green Cuisine Vegetarian Restaurant
5-560 Johnson Street (Market Square)
Green Cuisine makes almost all of their own condiments. The menu shifts daily but dips, dressings and sides frequently include: gluten free roasted garlic gravy, Green Goddess (creamy avocado dressing), apple tamarind chutney, beet pickles, several types of sauerkraut, cashew “sour cream” cashew aioli, chili sauce, and ketchup.

The Guild Freehouse
1250 Wharf Street
The Guild serves a house-made piccalilli relish with their scotch eggs. A true British classic, piccalilli is a tangy spread made from finely chopped pickled vegetables, mustard and turmeric. It goes exceptionally well with eggs, cheese, bacon and toast. They also make their own HP sauce!

Jam Café
Just like mom used to is the vibe at Jam. Though I would say they’ve craftily put their own cheeky spin on many great and classic condiments. Take the house made maple bourbon BBQ sauce for example, or the jalapeno hot sauce, corn and tomatillo salsa, the chili chocolate sauce, and pork or mushroom gravies. Jam also makes their (you guessed it) jams. Homemade “comfort food” is Jam’s motto, sauces and all.

Korean Gardens
3945 Quadra Street
At Korean Gardens you can sample several traditional and unique Korean side dishes and condiments with your meal. It’s quite fun to dip into each little dish and add a scoop here and a dab there. If you order a BiBimBop pot, or a traditional Korean lunch/dinner entrée it will come with hot sauce (similar to Sambal), and side dishes of marinated bean sprouts, kimchi, sweetened marinated potatoes and radishes. The Ichiban sauce is delicious too — similar to a Japanese sesame sauce though made with lemon and mayonnaise.

The Reef Restaurant
533 Yates Street
Authentic flavours of the Caribbean islands will greet you at The Reef. Their Jamaican jerk sauce and hot sauce are highly addictive. The dips and dressings include chili lime aioli, mango mint, mango chutney and jerk mayo. The Curry Lime Marinade, Hot Sauce and Jerk Marinade are available for sale at $7 each.

Do you have a favourite condiment not listed here? Share you must-haves on our Facebook page and Twitter.

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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