WHAT A NIGHT: Culinaire 2014

Last night Crystal Garden rocked with a capacity crowd sipping and sampling their way through the food and drink offerings of fifty of Victoria and Vancouver Island’s top eateries, caterers, pubs, coffee roasters, breweries and wineries.  If you wanted a big slice of what’s happening now – this was it.

Guests arrived for two seatings – an early and a later seating – and had several hours to wander the two floors, talking to owners and chefs and tasting dishes from the area’s best.

Chef Peter Zambri of Zambris was there dishing out Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake Coated with White Chocolate, Hazelnut & Strawberry Dust. Discovery Coffee had some their famous donuts (the Earl Grey Custard was awesome). Hudson’s on First served up delicate Halibut Gravadlax that was topped with lemon peel puree, Vancouver Island wasabi, pine nuts and dill oil – delicious and nicely complex for a small bite. And in the beer department Hoyne Brewing Company had their new Off The Grid red lager on tap to quell the thirst urge

Others I liked included the colourful Natural Corned Beef Reuben Perogies with Pickled Beet Sour Cream from Bubby’s Kitchen; the Guild Freehouse’s large wedge of Stilton cheese served on housemade oak cakes; and the Marina’s S’mores made with hazelnut wafer, salted caramel marshmallow and dark chocolate cremieux.

I also enjoyed the creatively presented Beef Brisket Meat Pie on a stick from Food For Thought Catering and PIG’s Pastrami Pogo – also on a stick. For something a little different Simon Manvell from Gordon Food Service had bites of fresh sturgeon (from Northern Divine) with parsnip, basil and hot crispy genoa salami. There were many more wonderful bites but by now my stomach had reached capacity.

For drink: Sea Cider and Merridale poured their ciders, BC wines flowed and local breweries were in attendance. Marina sommelier Brooke Levie whipped up his Red Skye White Squall cocktails for anyone who asked—Beefeater 24 Gin, elderflower cordial, lemon, blood orange and Blanche de Chambly beer.

Started in 2009 by Scott Gurney and Amy Pecorelli Culinaire has proven to be one of Victoria’s best and most popular food festivals. Enjoy the pics below (click to enlarge) and I hope to see you next year. Just make sure you get your tickets early as this event sells out quickly.



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