We were kindly invited to cover the annual Culinarie food and beverage tasting experience last Thursday evening in downtown Victoria, BC. Taking place at the Crystal Gardens, the sold out event featured the region’s top restaurants and food purveyors showcasing their tastiest offerings.
The “who’s who” of the city’s food & beverage scene were represented — from breakfast joint Shine Cafe to casual eatery PIG BBQ to Asian delight Sabhai Thai to French bistro Bon Rouge to popular veteran restaurant Vista 18 — and everything in between!
Not only were top Victoria restaurants featured, but also one of our personal Vancouver Island favorites, the Roost Farm Centre from North Saanich was in attendance. Also, island catering companies such as Truffles were showcased alongside specialty food shops like gluten-free Origin Bakery and renowned British Columbia winery Mission Hill.
During the impressive event, we had the chance to mingle with like-minded gastronomic appreciators and talk local sourcing with chefs. We sampled a wide selection of dishes while holding convenient wooden boards with drink holders for easy consumption. With 70 participating companies in attendance, here are some of the highlights of the delicious evening:
Bin 4 Burger Lounge’s “The Encore” burger was made with Rangeland elk, camembert cheese, tangy blood orange and champagne gastrique, fragrant apple and vanilla compote, crispy fried parsnip strings, and creamy garlic aioli all on Irene Bakery’s fresh brioche bun.
The Marina Restaurant offered beet cured steelhead on spicy black rice crackers, topped with crème fraîche and crispy capers. The vibrantly colored bites were paired with Geisha Garden, a green tea infused sake with notes of cucumber, ginger, yuzu, and rice vinegar.
The Oyster at Pescatores seafood restaurant had plenty of freshly shucked, chilled raw oysters to satisfy all the shellfish lovers in the bustling foodie crowd.
Darcy’s Pub displayed a lovely textural contrast with spoonfuls of sesame seared tuna tataki with ponzu cucumber slices, spicy sriracha mayo, and crispy wonton pieces.
Chicken bacon brie roulade with sundried tomato chimichurri on red quinoa cornmeal cake was featured by the sophisticated Oswego Hotel’s O Bistro.
Smoken Bones Cookshack showcased some meaty offerings, including their smokey pork sausage with rhubarb mustard on fresh cornbread.
An ode to Easter, tender duck confit with a creamy wild mushroom risotto was tucked into delicate eggshells by the Fairmont Empress.
Nautical Nellies steak & seafood house presented a pretty platter of crunchy tacos filled with luscious lobster.
One of our favorite bites of the evening was the fresh dungeness crab cobb salad from the Delta Ocean Pointe’s LURE restaurant. A staple on its appetizer menu, the layered salad included butter lettuce, hard boiled egg slices, crispy bacon, creamy avocado and was garnished with colorful edible flowers.
Housemade lamb sausage with piccalilli relish and Barnston Island microgreens wrapped in grilled cumin seed naan bread was prepared by the culinary team at Butchart Gardens.
Homemade chocolate bars with bergamot infused white chocolate ganache, hazelnut shortbread, and 70% dark single origin chocolate were also from Butchart Gardens. The decadent “little tube” Sicilian pastry desserts pictured below were cannoli featured by Zambri’s, the city’s acclaimed Italian restaurant.
Victoria’s premier gastronomic experience, Culinaire is the event to reconnect with familiar food favorites and taste new “talks of the town” — all under one roof. We’re already looking forward to Culinarie 2014!
*Special thanks to Culinaire’s Scott Gurney & Amy Pecorelli-Gurney for inviting and hosting us.