Victoria, BC will forever hold sweet, sweet memories for me and my sweet, sweet tooth. Before we left for a weekend vacation there, I told my husband that I only had to give up sugar in my home country. Every place we traveled to internationally would be a free for all. I was going to sneak in all the international goodies my tummy could take. I imagined eating all sorts of fudge sundae's, donuts and other fresh baked pastries in Victoria's popular downtown. Of course I was kidding myself. I don't think it's possible for me to eat any sugar this year. I like to pretend that I am about to indulge in something bad. But I'll never do it. My husband knows it, but everybody else gets really quiet and nervous when I tell them I'm about to break my New Year's resolution, as if it will somehow be their fault. It's a little sick and twisted, but then again, so is going without sugar. How un-American!
We found an incredible restaurant in Victoria, called the Green Cuisine. I had done some research before we left for our trip, and this restaurant came up several times and had great reviews. It is basically a vegan buffet; a very casual cafe type atmosphere at the edge of Market Square. I was hoping for a selection of baked goodies.....and baked goodies is what I got! The Green Cuisine had two glass cases full of baked goods, complete with ingredient listings by each one. I had to read the ingredients carefully because some of the goodies contained "organic sugar" and "cane juice", but most of the goodies were sweetened with all natural sweeteners. We were in Victoria for two nights and three days. I visited the Green Cuisine twice, which wasn't enough! Each time, however, I filled a bag with different baked goodies: rice sweetened rice crispy bar, oatmeal raisin cookie, raw hemp/nut ball, apricot square and a raw, sesame seed "Earth Ball". The restaurant sells cookbooks which contains all of the recipes they use, but I opted to wait on buying it. I have so many wonderful cookbooks that I already ignore. I did write down a couple of recipes, though, while eating my lunch. My favorite foods there were: tofu lasagna, sweet navy beans, Jamaican rice, and the olive potato pie! I probably ate too much, but it was a treat to have this many healthy foods available, all with their ingredient listings at the buffet bar. Both times I went in to the restaurant, there was a steady flow of people. It seemed to be a favorite place for tourists and residents to eat.
As a funny side note, I committed a Canadian etiquette faux pax. I was determined to study their etiquette before we left on our trip, basically in an effort to be polite. What I read is that Quebec is a province in which etiquette is very important, but that the BC area has loosened up on their etiquette, though they still maintain more proper etiquette than Americans.
It was mid-afternoon when my husband and I found ourselves lingering around the harbour in front of a giant, elegant stone hotel. From the small rocky beach in front of the hotel we were able to take great photographs of the float planes taking off and landing. We were sharing our camera and when he had it, I found myself digging around my large jacket pocket for the bag of Green Cuisine pastries I had stashed inside. I distinctly remember walking around nibbling on my oatmeal raisin cookie, when all of a sudden, I had a flashback of what I had read about Canadian etiquette: "Eating while walking or standing on the street in Quebec is considered bad form." Okay, we were not in Quebec, but still... "Oh my gosh!" I thought to myself, as I looked around to see if anyone was watching. No one seemed to be too put out by my cookie, but I nevertheless shoved it back into my pocket for later. I was so embarrassed, even though I'm pretty sure they are pretty laid back about things of this nature. I even asked two different employees at the Butchart Gardens if it would be rude of me to walk around holding my hot cup of coffee. The answer both times was "absolutely not!"
While I'm on the subject of international foibles, another funny thing happened at Sushi Plus, a hole-in-the-wall, well-priced, deliciously fresh, sushi restaurant. As we took care of the bill up front, the lady behind the counter asked me if we were here on holiday. I said, "No, we are just here on a little vacation." For those of you who don't know, Canadian's say holiday in place of vacation. Jeff told me this once we were outside and we laughed so hard!