Jam Cafe – WFLBC in Victoria

There are few people who’s opinion on food I trust more than Steffani Cameron (@SnarkySteff). She recommended I check out Jam Cafe while I’m in Victoria this week so I did. Guess what, it’s awesome. Located in the Old Town area of downtown Victoria, Jam Cafe is a breakfast/lunch only place that closes everyday at 3pm. There’s almost always a wait to get a table so plan on an extra 20 minutes if you’re paying for parking.

The Jam.
The Jam.

Luckily I showed up right when a table was available. The menu is made up of unique, locally sourced dishes that fall squarely into the “comfort food” category. I ordered the Harrison Fernando, a buttermilk biscuit topped with chorizo, house made sausage gravy, and 2 sunny side eggs served with hashbrowns. If I was a religious man I would thank the good lord above for this breakfast. Rich, decadent, filling, complex yet somehow simple. If you come to Victoria this place has to be on your list. Also, you HAVE to try their sugar cured bacon.

The Harrison Fernando
The Harrison Fernando

Location – 542 Herald Street, Victoria BC.

Twitter – @jamcafevictoria

Facebook – Jam Cafe Victoria

Interwebz – jamcafevictoria.com



The Old Spaghetti Factory, A Culinary Dinosaur.

It’s been years since I’ve eaten at The Old Spaghetti Factory (OSF for short, I’m lazy and that’s a long name…). I remember fresh sour dough bread, reasonably good American/Italian pasta dishes, and spumoni (Italian ice cream). Hayley and I had dinner at the OSF in Richmond during a recent “Awesome Dads” outing with my pal Allan and his daughter. The place was packed and there was a 30-40 minute wait for a table. Thankfully there’s a bowling alley next door with an arcade so the wait passed quickly.

"Bacon" Caesar
“Bacon” Caesar

Once seated we received our ubiquitous loaf of sour dough bread that comes with regular and garlic whipped butter. The only problem I found with the sour dough bread was that it was not sour dough… When did this happen?! It’s a loaf of white bread, not particularly fresh either. That’s fairly disappointing. I ordered a Bacon Caesar from their drink menu. Where do I start. The bacon garnish was of the “McCain Readycrisp” variety and had been sitting out a LONG time. It was pale, floppy, and disgusting. My straw kept getting clogged by something which, after some digging, turned out to be artificial bacon bits. Seriously, just a bunch of soy based crunchy garbage added to a drink for flavour? No thanks.

Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad

Next up was an appetizer sized Caesar Salad. Other than a few bits of brown Romaine the salad was ok. Store bought croutons, dressing not dissimilar to The Keg’s Caesar dressing you can buy at a grocery store. To be honest this is what most people would bring to a pot-luck/picnic.

Spaghetti with spicy meat sauce
Spaghetti with spicy meat sauce

My entrée was Spaghetti with Spicy Meat Sauce. You would think that having a restaurant with the word Spaghetti in the name would mean they would know how to cook spaghetti. You would be wrong. Mark, aka @TheLowerCrust on Twitter, provided that insight for me and added this gem when I asked my followers what they thought of OSF and their pasta;

The noodles seem like they were made days ago and reheated. The sauce is ok, slightly oily and not much spice for “spicy meat sauce”. The random parsley is almost pointless and looks as if it was put there by mistake.

For dessert I had spumoni that tasted like ice cream.

There you have it. No entrées over $13 might be the only thing that would get me to recommend this place. I apologise in advance to all of the tourists who end up at the OSF in Gastown because they don’t know any better. It’s not your fault.

Twitter – @OSFCanada

Facebook – Old Spaghetti Factory Canada

World Wide Web – oldspaghettifactory.ca


Toulouse Petit – WFLBC in Seattle

Toulouse Petit is a pretty popular place. When I asked my Twitter followers for restaurant recommendations in Seattle there were a lot of Toulouse Petit fans. In fact one person, @cheapbrunch, threatened to kick me in the neck (or something) if I didn’t go. Toulouse Petit was also featured on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” featuring Melissa d’Arabian who won season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. She recommended the Cured Pork Cheek Confit Hash, more on that later.

Toulouse Petit
Toulouse Petit – That blond girl looks impressed that she’s in my picture.

Located in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighbourhood, Toulouse Petit is very inconspicuous as their sign isn’t really that noticeable. It’s easier to find if you look for the line up of people waiting for a table… We only had to wait 10-15 minutes on a Sunday at 11am so it’s not that bad.

Toulouse Beignets
Toulouse Beignets

To start we had some beignets, Toulouse Petit has a New Orleans/Creole-ish inspired menu but it is so much more that a “regionally inspired” place. The beignets are amazing and are made fresh. The chicory cafe anglais is sweet and rich, perfect for dipping or drizzling over the warm fried dough and powdered sugar.

When you order a "cup of coffee" this is what you get.
When you order a “cup of coffee” this is what you get.

Ordering a cup of coffee provides a pleasant and unexpected result. Your very own French Press. The best restaurant coffee I’ve had in ages.

Grilled Asparagus Wrapped with Prosciutto,
Grilled Asparagus Wrapped with Prosciutto,

My travelling companion had the Grilled Asparagus Wrapped with Prosciutto with an Artichoke-Fennel-Arugula ‘Salad’, cestenza bruschetta, with two poached eggs. I had a little taste of, ok I had, like, half of this (she likes to share) and it was awesome. The prosciutto was not quite crispy and wrapped very tightly around the asparagus. The flavours worked very well together and the poached eggs added that runny yolk goodness that every breakfast needs.

Cured Pork Cheeks Confit Hash.
Cured Pork Cheeks Confit Hash.

I had the dish raved about by someone I’ve never heard of on a TV show I’ve never watched, The Pork Cheek Confit Hash. So, was this dish the best thing I ever ate? Well, in a word, no. It may be the best hash I’ve ever eaten, even the best breakfast, and that’s pretty damn good. Obviously this dish has been reviewed a billion times by a billion food bloggers and I read a few of the most popular posts. Some of them are laughable, people like to complain about the most trivial things. Some of them are good, but most of them fail in one specific aspect, they ordered their eggs the WRONG way for this dish. If you ordered this with scrambled eggs I’m honestly confused how you managed to find the restaurant let alone tie your own shoes. Even over easy or sunny side up eggs don’t work here. Soft poached is the only way to eat you eggs with any kind of hash, You NEED that yolk to intermingle with the other ingredients and if you fry the egg you lose a lot of yolk volume. The confit pork cheek was dynamite, the potato hash had some asparagus (possibly slightly pickled) mixed in which most people don’t even mention and the bits of peppery arugula were the perfect garnish for both taste and appearance.

Toulouse Petit, it’s worth the trip. I’d also like to thank the sunshine and our window seats for making these food pictures extra dreamy.

Web – toulousepetit.com

Twitter – @ToulousePetit

Facebook – Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge



The Greater Vancouver Zoo


926451_465226180289535_1913073286_nHere’s the thing, I’d never visited the Greater Vancouver Zoo before this visit. It’s not that I avoided going for some big important reason, I just haven’t gone. When I was a kid I went to the zoo in Toronto which is an inner city type zoo with tiny enclosures made of concrete (or at least it was in the 80’s). I remember thinking it was pretty cool, I even got to ride a camel. Times have changed and the general consensus is that Zoos and Aquariums are bad. The Aquarium is a tough one, the monkeys and other animals in the Amazon area look pretty miserable in their tiny cages and the belugas, dolphins, and penguins shouldn’t be there either. Aside from that I’m cool with the aquarium and the work they do.


The zoo is not the same at all. Most of the animals are not suited to our climate and giving them large areas to roam around doesn’t change that fact. When I say “large areas” I am being very generous. Most farm animals (except cage raised chickens and bubble raised veal…) have more land to call home than these animals. Then there are the Squirrel Monkeys seen above. They have a 20’x20′ cage (estimated) and a small hut for a bunch of them to call home. It’s a pretty sad scene.


I made light of it on Instagram, giving all of these animals local sounding names and sarcastic back stories but the truth is it all made me very uncomfortable. To see Zebras, Giraffes, and Hippos confined by wire fences thousands of miles away from their natural environments is weird and feels wrong.



Here’s some more pictures of sad animals in captivity.

This peacock roams freely around the Zoo. He’s kind of a jerk about it.

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WFLBC Building History – what we’ve seen so far.

For the last 2 weeks I’ve been exploring Vancouver’s buildings and trying to uncover some history about them. I’m really enjoying digging through the archives and learning about Vancouver’s history. Here’s a quick recap of the buildings I’ve looked at so far.  Click on the pictures for more info/history about the building and remember to click follow while you’re visiting my Instagram Page. Also you should check out the Vancouver Archives page, it’s a great place to lose an entire day looking at the past.

The Robert Lee YMCA and Patina.

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The Marine Building.

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The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.


Cathedral Place and the Georgia Medical Dental Building.



The Dominion Building.



Nelson Square.

Nelson Square


WFLBC does America! Rob visits The Salton Sea

Say hello to Rob Wheeler, one of the awesome folks that make up the South Fraser Beer Club. Rob has been writing a beer tourism series for SFBC’s website but this isn’t about beer and it’s too cool not to share. Check it out! – Scott.


Alright, something a little different today: The Salton Sea and Slab City. No beer review in this post, sorry. I wasn’t actually even planning on writing a post on this topic, we were just going on a sight-seeing drive, but once I saw these places, I knew I had to write about it. I was fascinated by what I saw, and while you may not agree, I thought it was amazingly interesting.


Let me give you a little background first. The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, and is also a salt water lake. It is located in the Coachella & Imperial Valleys of Southern California, and lies directly on top of the San Andreas fault. It currently sits 226ft BELOW sea level, and has a maximum depth of 52ft. But that’s the least interesting part about the Salton Sea.


In 1900 the California Development Company started diverting water from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink (the area that is now the Salton Sea) in order to provide irrigation. However, within 2 years, the irrigation canals where clogged with silt, and despite attempts to clear them, they were unsuccessful at keeping them clear. In 1905, heavy rainfall and snow melts caused a flood which over-ran the canals and flood gates, creating the New River to the west, and the Alamo River to the east. Over the next couple years, the waters of the Colorado River flowed into the Salton Sink, creating the Salton Sea. As a result of its creation, the town of Salton (a Southern Pacific Railway town) and the Torres-Martinez Native American lands were submerged. The lake has higher salinity than the ocean, and it increases annually due to agriculture run off, which includes pesticides. As a result, the only thing that is able to live in the lake is Talapia. But you can stand on the shores and smell the rot and sulfur, and wonder how ANYTHING can live in there. It’s pretty gross.


In the 1950s, land developers from LA decided to turn the area into a resort destination with the creation of Salton City, Salton Sea Beach and Desert Shores on the West Side of the lake, and Desert Beach, North Shore and Bombay Beach on the east shore. While large amounts of land were developed with roadways, very little was every actually built, and in the 1970s, most of it was abandoned. The west side of the lake is apparently still relatively “alive” as far as population goes, but the east side, where we visited, is nearly all abandoned.


We started at the site of the North Shore Yacht Club, which was to be the highlight of the north shores “resort” area. Built in 1962, it was to be California’s largest marina, and during it’s heyday, it saw guest such as The Beach Boys, Jerry Lewis, and the Marx Brothers dock their boats there. Due to the increasing salinity of the lake, and the resulting loss of interest in the area, the yacht clubs grandure slowly diminished until in 1981 a major flood destroyed the docks. The club was completely closed and abandoned in 1984. It has since been restored by the State Government and turned into a community center, but for who, I have no idea. There are still some of the original buildings along the shore, and you can see the roads laid out for what was to have been a pretty prestigious neighborhood, but on which very few homes were built. It was actually quite eerie driving on streets overgrown with shrubs and covered in sand, seeing the curbs and lots were houses were supposed to be built. There are even a few abandoned buildings and an abandoned tennis court we found! Kinda felt like the world had ended. In fact, the Salton Sea area was used on the History Channels TV show, Life After People, as an example of what would happen to Palm Springs were people to leave it.


There is also an area called Bombay Beach, which we did not drive through, but drove past, that is basically the only “major” population center left from the original Salton Sea resort developments. It’s basically the same as the other areas; abandoned buildings, dead fish, boat hulls dumped in random areas, etc. But the difference with this area is that there is still a decent sized population living there, intermixed with the abandoned buildings and burnt out hulks. It’s quite weird.
Our last stop was “Slab City”, which is located further south of the Salton Sea, about 4miles east of the City of Niland, CA. This is quite the area, but as with the Salton Sea, I’ll give you a little background first.


Slab City is located on the grounds of the now closed WWII Marine training camp, Camp Dunlap. Camp Dunlap was opened in 1942 to prepare Marines for combat, and by 1949 operations were so reduced that only a skeleton crew remained. In 1956 the camp was closed and dismantled, leaving only the concrete slabs were the barracks and other buildings had been. In 1961 the land was conveyed back to the State of California. At some point between 1962 and 1965, a chemical company hired 20 men to harvest creosote leaves in the area. Some of these workers moved to trailers they parked on the concrete slabs in the now defunct base, and this was the start of “Slab City”.


In 1965, Riverside County ordered residents of nearby Painted Canyon to leave their camping area. Most of these people moved to the abandoned marine base, which is now referred to as Slab City. From what I can tell (through word of mouth, so who knows how accurate it is) Slab City is inhabited by mostly hippies, some “not quite right in the head” folks, and people who just want to “get off the grid” for a while. There is no power or running water in the area, so people use generators and/or solar panels for electricity, and water is provided by a weekly water truck which comes through the area. Apparently there is also a weekly “honey wagon” that comes through to pump out the nastier “waste” from peoples motorhomes. The sadest part, however, is that nobody seems willing to pay for garbage removal, so while they have a “dump” in slab city, it’s basically a 2 block area where people throw their trash. No attempt to contain or control it, just dump it in the general area of the dump. Pretty pathetic.


The weirdest thing of all about Slab City though was the sheer variety of residents. There was the expected hippies and religious wacko’s (one of whom built a massive “mountain” out of Styrofoam and concrete called “Salvation Mountain” or “East Jesus”, depending on who you ask. Apparently there are many rooms within this “mountain”, and one of which is a communal shower/bath area. Yeah, free love man. But in addition to that was the number of half million dollar or more RVs parked there. Clearly well off people who for some reason, wanted to hang out in filth. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I mean it in a literal way. The area is all dirt and sand, so dust is everywhere, and as I mentioned earlier, trash just gets dumped everywhere. I dunno, maybe they just want to work on their pyramid power or something.


Anyway, unless you’re into the hippie, off the grid lifestyle, I wouldn’t call either of these areas a “destination”, however, if you’re in the area, take a drive by and check it out. I found it fascinating, and probably could have driven around Slab City all day looking at things.

Till next time,


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Disappearing Vancouver – Glen Valley’s river bank surprise

Glen Valley Regional Park is located on River Road in Langley/Abbotsford between 272nd Street and the dead end of River Road just east of Bradner Road. There’s lots to see and do at the parks 3 popular sand bars, Two Bit Bar, Poplar Bar and the seasonal Duncan Bar. Fishing, hiking, the historic Hassall House from 1917. These are all great but there is a hidden gem just out of sight that not many people know about unless you’re a local. Along the banks of the Fraser River there are dozens of old cars sitting, and in some cases embedded, into the dirt and clay. I haven’t been able to find the reason they’re here but one would assume it was for road fill, riverbank stabilization, or they were just dumped. If anyone knows more please let me know in the comments below.


Cars ranging from the 20’s/30’s up to the late 60’s pack the shoreline from just east of Two Bit Bar to just west of Poplar Bar, they may go farther but I didn’t have time to investigate and Chuck Taylor’s are not proper footwear for a river bank walkabout. I visited this place a decade ago on a motorcycle trip with my friend Doug and the cars were much more prominent. There have been some floods in the Glen Valley area since then and I’m sure these cars won’t be there forever. Check out the rest of the photos I took and the map at the end of this post.

This looks like a mid 60’s Porsche 911 to me.
This old metal dashboard still has the instrument cluster housing.
This is a complete frame with some of the front suspension still intact.
There’s still some chrome on this one. Most others have been picked over by scavengers.
Smallish front door off something European? Maybe, or it could be the back door of a 30’s/40’s American car.
A big pile of steel. Notice the oven on the right.
An old pick-up truck box.
This was the only steering wheel I found.

If you want to go check out Glen Valley Regional Park here’s a handy map.



What’s happening for NYE – An SFBC/WFLBC Guide

Ah New Years Eve, the one night of the year when married people with kids leave the house and get totally hammered. Thankfully the married people I know aren’t as lame as the stereotype suggests. So what’s happening on this side of the Fraser River for NYE? Here’s some of our recommendations.

This could be you!
This could be you!

Uli’s Restaurant in White Rock is doing a 5 course menu for $69 per person. Check out the menu HERE. You can add wine pairings for $25. Uli’s is always great and White Rock Beach is a beautiful place to ring in the new year. For those of you who don’t want to stay up late there’s an early seating with reservations from 4-6:45 for $40. Call 604-538-9373 to make a reservation.

Tap Restaurant in South Surrey is doing an 8 course dinner from 7pm-10pm. The idea is that people will go to their party afterwards as they will be closed by 11pm. Space is extremely limited so they are encouraging people to book asap. When you make your reservation, you should mention if there are any allergies or food limitations. The 8 course tasting menu (check it out here) is $125 per person and there will be suggested wine pairings. Contact Tap Restaurant at 604-536-1954 for reservations.

The Pumphouse Pub in Richmond is doing a 5 course dinner paired with your choice of wine or craft beer for $50. It includes party favours and champagne at midnight. Contact the Pumphouse at 604-274-7424 for details and reservations.

The Joseph Richard Group is having all kinds of NYE events all over town. There are beer pairing dinners, canapés, champagne and more at all of their locations throughout the South Fraser region and in Coquitlam. Check out their blog for details and reservation info.

Mandalay Lounge in Steveston Is going all out with 2 NYE seatings. The early one, from 6:30-8:30, is a 3 course dinner for $49 and it gets you home in time to watch the ball drop in Times Square at 9pm in case you wanted to pretend you lived in New York. The second seating is from 8:30-1:30 and features a 4 course dinner with party favours and a champagne toast at midnight for $89. Check out the details HERE.

Big Ridge Brewing in Surrey is doing a 3 course dinner for $35 with a champagne toast and party favours at midnight. I hear there’s an awesome new seasonal on the way that should still be around for NYE. You guys are going to love it! Call 604-574-BREW for reservations!

One of my personal favourites, Hog Shack Cook House in Steveston, is keeping it simple but there are some NYE specials to compliment their amazing BBQ menu. $12 appetizer crab cakes, Smoked prime rib dinner with potatoes and vegetables for $23, and a skillet chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream for $8. Add their amazing craft beer line up and it’s hard to say no! Call 604-272-7264 for reservations.

Central City Pub in Downtown Surrey is doing something although we aren’t sure what yet… When we hear what it is we’ll update this post. You could always hit up the new brewery for a growler fill before 5pm on NYE and party safely at home!

O’Hare’s Gastro Pub in Richmond is doing a “Celtic New Year”. They celebrate New Year’s at 4pm on the 31st when the clock strikes midnight in Ireland.  Live band 3-8pm, Irish Dancers @ 5pm, great food and drink features and then they close at 10pm so you can spend New Years at home with your loved ones.

If you hear of any other South Fraser NYE parties that you think we’d like feel free to share them in the comments!

Remember to plan  safe ride home!!


Alta Bistro Cocktail Competition – Cornucopia Festival 2013

For the third year in a row I was graciously invited up to Whistler by the guys at Alta Bistro to judge their cocktail competition, a part of Whistler’s Cornucopia Festival. Drinking and judging people you say? I’ll do it! This year the event took the main stage at the Whistler Convention Centre and grew from 8 competitors in 2012 to 10 this year.



The competitors came from Whistler and Greater Vancouver and are some of the top drink slingers around. The event was sponsored by Flor De Cana 5 year old Rum which was the feature ingredient in each drink. Everyone had 5 minutes to prepare their bar and 5 minutes to create their original cocktails to be served to the 4 eager judges. There was $2000 up for grabs to whoever crafted the best cocktail and I’m happy to say there wasn’t a bad drink out of the 10 that I sampled.


The top three were, from 3rd to 1st, Tia from The Mix in Whistler, Keenan from The Keefer Bar in Vancouver, and your champion for the second year in a row… Scot Curry from Alta Bistro with his Five Alarm Fizz. You might be sceptical of the host bartender winning 2 years running but Scot has had an amazing 2013 winning awards all over Whistler and Canada. Well done Scot!

The 7th place cocktail from Eloyn, head barman at Whistler's The Mexican Corner
The 7th place cocktail from Eloyn, head barman at Whistler’s The Mexican Corner

After the competition the judges and competitors were treated to a “bartenders dinner” at Alta Bistro. 3 courses of simple, local and amazing food. The first course was a beautiful charcuterie board with assorted meats, pickles, and grainy mustard.

Charcuterie board


Our main course was braised beef shank with roasted potatoes, kale and chipolinni onions. The beautiful simplicity of this kind of food is everything that I love about Alta Bistro. The beef is local and was braised to a rich, melt in your mouth perfection. This dish is me on a plate, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Braised beef shank
Braised beef shank

The 3rd course was dessert, but not the usual sweet kind. A simple cheese board with green apple slices and crusty bread. I was way to deep into Alta’s single malt Scotch selection at this point to recall exactly what cheeses we had but 2 of them were soft, stinky and delicious and the other was harder and less funky. I’m pretty sure it was a raw cow’s milk cheese, so good.

Cheese board
Cheese board

From there some of the bartenders/judges and I headed out into the village for a bit of an after party. It’ll probably make it into my biography one day…

Thanks to Ed, Eric and the team at Alta for feeding me drinks and food all day. I’m already looking forward to 2014.

Karma stuff. My judging skills were provided free of charge and my meal at Alta was on the house. I paid for all of my ten hundred drinks after the competition as well as my hotel.


Vancouver Food Cart Fest 2013 – I feel like I’ve been punk’d

Well you guys, I haven’t had a really good rant in a while and I was starting to think I was losing my edge. Never fear, Food Cart Fest to the rescue!!  The plan was to head down to False Creek with Hayley and meet up with some local foodies (@mhchipmunk, @yvrbcbro and @foodgays). I got to the Athletes Village just after 12 and parked under Legacy Liquor Store. The parking ticket machine there never works and it seems like no one cares so free parking! Off to a good start.

You can sort of see Food Cart Fest in the distance.
You can sort of see Food Cart Fest in the distance.

I wandered over to the big empty parking lot where the festival is being held this year and saw a really long lineup of people along the walking/bike path. That couldn’t be just to get in could it? Yep, it was. There was roughly (and I’m under exaggerating) 400 people lined up to enter Food Cart Fest and this isn’t even the first weekend. I decided to see WHY the lineup was so long and discovered that it was because you have to pay an ADMISSION FEE to even get in??!! Last year The event was held in the parking lot at The Waldorf on Hastings all summer and there was no admission fee. Were there lineups at the trucks? Yes there were but that is totally acceptable. Yes the admission fee is only $2 but that makes the line so slow that someone with a young child >>>ME<<< has to stand in the heat for 30-45 minutes? This is the part where I lose all the non parents… Talk to you later. But it’s not just the parents, it’s EVERYONE!

This year you have to line up to pay to get in, to line up to pay to eat. Stupid. Vancouver’s food truck newbies envision a city that looks like Portland with food trucks parked on every corner and dedicated parking lots filled with amazing food and brimming with atmosphere. That happened organically for Portland, it wasn’t forced like they’re trying to do here. Why would I pay to have the privilege to eat at a food truck when I can eat at a food truck any other day of the week and just pay for the food? I love Vancouver’s food trucks. I love the people that run them, the people that own them, the food they produce and the choices they offer to the people of this city. This city is Vancouver, it is not Portland, it will never be Portland. Stop trying to make it Portland! Portland has become what it is without producing “events” like this contrived joke.

Calling your event family friendly because you have a bouncy castle is almost as ridiculous as the lineup to get in. If I put a bouncy castle in a strip club would that make it family friendly? No, No it would not. No parent I know would wait in today’s heat with their kid. I saw parents in line… I don’t know what would make them want to wait that long with a child.

So, I didn’t get to hook up with my foodie pals, I didn’t get to eat any yummy food and now I’m at home wondering if I should’ve just stayed here and watched the NHL draft, it sounds like it was pretty entertaining.