Of burnt custard and wormwood

12 08 2012

After a hard day’s touristing, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a fine meal in great company. Unfortunately, I was with the family… but we did find some great food. ūüôā

Yes, yes, it¬†was on Fort St. There are in fact several streets in Victoria, but it’s true that we did seem to spend most of our little break there along the tight confines of the one street! Anyway, Cafe Brio was our destination for dinner. We arrived early and they were just opening up. This meant we got our pick of tables and so we chose to sit outside on the patio – a lovely covered area cleverly masked from the street with grapevines and other Italianesque things.

I started with a plate of “sulami” shared with second-born. We had “Brio prosciutto” – smoked/dried pork aged for at least 12 month; “Lamb prosciutto” – aged 4 months and very finely flavoured; “Venison pate” – with hazelnuts and juniper.

Main course for me was a whole pound of local mussels in traditional garlic/white wine sauce. The current full menu can be drooled over here.

For dessert, the rest of the crew opted for a “tasting plate” consisting of chocolate truffle, biscotti, sorbet and cr√®me br√Ľl√©e (or literally “burnt cream” – actually cr√®me anglaise (fancy custard) with a layer of caremelised sugar on top). For me though, I fancied something a little special and asked if they sold port. Indeed they did, and I was handed a menu of options. I’ve come to favour a particular brand and age of Tawny Port… and alas and alack, it was not on the list. There was however something else that tickled my “off-beat antennae”… absinthe! From the Okanagan no less! I was offered the usual water/sugar options, but opted to have it straight. I was a little non-plussed by the severe green tinge. This is introduced by infused herbs and is part of the reason absinthe gets the name¬†¬†“la f√©e verte” (the green fairy). The name absinthe comes from the ingredient wormwood used for millennia as a medicinal preparation. It took on its current fennel/anise¬†form in around 1792 when it was sold in Switzerland as a cure-all tonic.

Here’s a couple of BlackBerry shots, just to make your mouth water.

Totally recommend Cafe Brio if you’re anywhere near Victoria and feeling the need for good food and atmosphere.

De Stijl

11 08 2012

A few years ago, I was introduced to The White Stripes. I’ve since become quite a fan, but at the time I’d never heard of Jack White or his then wife Meg. (He was born Gillis and took her surname in an appealing off-beat Quieter Elephant kind of way.) I don’t remember now how I came to listen to De Stijl – probably borrowed it from the library. Anyway, I found the LoFi production and unaffected energy to be addictive. I particularly¬†liked the unorthodox angle of ¬†“You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)”.

I think it has something of the early Beatles to it.

So anyway, it never¬†occurred¬†to me that De Stijl (Dutch for The Style) had any significance other than being a bit off beat. I know, I know… I can be a bit slow sometimes. Often in fact. So allow me to educate you dear reader, so you leave this page a little wiser, perhaps…

De Stijl was a Dutch artistic movement, and is now used to refer to a body of work from 1917 to 1931 founded in the Netherlands. Theo van Doesburg was its leading light and when he died in 1931, the group did not survive. One of its other worthies was Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, who called himself Piet Mondrian after 1906. His work is instantly recognisable with neat vertical and horizontal lines and efficient use of primary colours.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937‚Äď42, oil on canvas, 72.5 x 69 cm, Tate Gallery. London

And once you know all that of course, the cover of The White Stripes’s De Stijl makes a whole lot more sense!

Wikipedia: White Stripes – De Stijl

OK – so by now you’re wondering where all this is going. Back to school actually. All this preamble was just an excuse for a couple of photos I took of Central Middle School on Fort St., Victoria. Enjoy!