Friday, April 15, 2011

Mo:le smokes! The end is nigh! Not quite....

In a furthering my attempt at tempting the academic gods by not studying a course I have done ZERO on to date, and possibly compromising a career that has yet to begin, I thought this couldn't be a better time to pound out a few blog entries. I mean, I really have nothing better to do at the moment....I don't call studying Admin Law "the better" thing to do. C'mon now..... I mean you would think that being THREE DAYS away from completing a J.D degree would be motivation enough to just keep going and finish strong, right? RIGHT? Alas no.

I have pretty much reduced the experience of this last month of law school as being akin to ending a long bit in prison. You just need to get by, survive the rest of the experience without getting into a brawl or recruited into a gang - ok, so not that bad, but close. Constant stress at every turn tends to get old after a while. At this point, I am just hoping that good behaviour will get me through. Probably the toughest thing is knowing that life is on the "other side"; real life isn't meant for this particular place or time - it's not permanent. So you drag yourself through what needs to be done - and not one aota more. Yeah...that pretty much covers it. Oh yeah...and we're on an island so it's pretty much like Alcatraz...but with restaurants!

And for some reason during exam period all I want to do is scarf down everything in sight. Although this year is better than most, because I have given up the idea of the portable pantry. (Basically a big brown paper bag full of craptacular food - cookies...drool). And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I have taken to Tim Horton's donuts all of a sudden. They're like biting into little pillows of sweet magic. The copious amounts of sitting and the endless rain on the island have led me down this path of less is more. Meaning the less exercise I get, the more I want to eat my weight in gummy bears....and donuts....and rootbeer floats. So with less than a week left of finals, I just might. Perhaps a challenge is in order: see how much weight I can possibly gain in the next 3.5 days.

We've also been doing massive breakfasts at this juncture of the semester, which probably is directly proportinal to the amount of blogging I've been wanting to bust out as of late. We normally set aside a "date-night(s)" most weeks throughout the year, but the end of the semester leaves us too bagged for a night out. Mornings seem to be the best bonding time at present. At least it's SOME time. Am I right? Finals is such crap, you guys. Partners of law students, who aren't in law as well, I don't know how you do it. At least I can totally commiserate with what is happening to my partner. The stress and the constant anxiety/guilt around taking a couple of hours off is almost rage-inducing, and leaves us scowling at each other; like trying to make each other dead with our minds or something....and for no good reason at all! Other than misery of finals in law school. My hat goes off to your partners, law people. They are champions for putting up with you.

So, yeah...since mornings are reasonably a decent time to hang out without the pangs of 100% exams and unreasonable test questions (thank you for breaking my bf's will to live, Prof. Gillen), we've been breakfasting, and hanging out before the library opens on the weekends....which is sometimes too early for this little brown girl. However, breakfast is the most important meal of the I've made it doubly so by spending time with my dude. However, as much as it's great for the relationship, the blog and all, such feasting has done nothing for my 12yr old boyish figure. HA! I slay me. No? Not funny anymore? Ugh....Alright, so moving right along....

On our jaunts out and about looking for all things egg and bacon, a couple of weekends ago the bf and I decided to break out of our comfort zone and try something new...Okay, not really new, but decided to change things up a bit. We thought we'd give our precious Blue Fox a rest and venture over to another local brunch hot-spot called Mo:le (prounounced Mo'lay). (And just quick as a btw...I call him the bf, b/c I want to respect his privacy. While I totally get that most of my readers are people that we know, I want to try to maintain his anonymity. I mean, I am the one that signed up to splay my life on the interwebs; he didn't. ) ..................So back to my Mo:le moment.............Ahem.

Location and things: Mo:le is on lower Pandora and Government in Victoria proper. It is next to a coffee shop owned/managed by the same people. It's called Habit, and apparently has great coffee, from what I hear. I don't drink coffee b/c I literally freak out from the caffeine-induced panic attacks that accompany consumption. Yes, I am a spazz. The great thing I know about Habit is the fact that you can wait for your table there if the restaurant is full. Mo:le is not super fancy or anything; your typical run of the mill restaurant. Which doesn't explain the following:
HOLY YUPPIES, Batman! There were so many little yuppy families, it was ridiculous. The whole 2.2 children, the dog outside, the fancy poofy vests and Puma shoes for the kids. It was insanity..... times 2.2. And while, those of you who know us you might think, "Um..kettle, this is the pot. You're black"......I'd like to invite you to bite me. We're not yuppies, and I hope never to be a power-jerkface, pretentious couple....despite my new love for micro-breweries and fancy cheese...and the fact we're both going to be lawyers. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, we were both raised humble peeps, and taught that very little is beneath us....aside from maybe Floyd's Diner. (Husky truckstops are better than Floyd's - and that is the only mention it will get from me in this blog). Grin!

Service: Hipsters, this is where you work...if you are mainstream enough to work, aside from the record store. I am unsure of why this is fact, but it seems to be true. I pretty much wanted to put our server through the window or trip him. For some reason this guy makes it a higher priority to look cool than to actually do his job. We've been here on more than one occasion and couldn't help ourselves but chuckle and shake our heads at the skinny jeans with crack sticking out, and the kids t-shirt he obviously bought at BabyGap ...and of course, the hipster moustache. Thank goodness he shaved it, b/c he looked like a complete tool. Anywho... this time around he was like "Hey dudes, what can I getcha getcha". And I'm pretty sure he gave the wink and double guns to people, all the while lip-psynching to Pink Floyd and bellowing at the kitchen staff - which was completely unnecessary. Perhaps I was just sleepy as it was 8:30 on a Sunday, and was hungry like a wolf (I smell like I sound - Any Duran Duran fans out there??), and the restaurant was two tables away from empty. I mean, I'm all for having fun on the job, but when you're forgetting orders while working double-time on looking cool....this does not bode well for the dining experience of customers. Just saying... However, I have to say that when the food did make its way to our table, I was happy to see they haven't lost their touch.

The Menu: The price-point is about $9- 13/plate(ish). The menu is, for the most part....Meh. There are some really interesting looking dishes, but not so much that I would actually try most of them. I can't say that dishes like the yam-omelette or the dragon bun (including sweet chinese sausage, julienne onions and peppers, avocado, spicy chili bean sauce with cream cheese scrambled eggs on a whole wheat bun) would blow my hair back.

However, they do have huevos rancheros, which the bf has a massive love-on for, as do most dudes. He tells me it is dece. Nothing massive to write home about; apparently somewhat bland. He enjoys the homemade hot sauce, though. (For you spice nuts).

Mo's Biscuit.
Every time I have been there I have had the Mo's biscuit. Egg, bacon, havarti cheese, aioli on a homemade biscuit. The savoury dishes are served with pesto hashbrowns which are fantastic. The coleslaw thing you get on the side might as well not be there as it does nothing for the dish. I'd rather fill that part up with more pesto potato love. The dish is pretty dense, but that doesn't stop me from ordering my other fave: banana bread on the fly. It's probably horrendous for you, but they serve it with a "generous" dolop of butter. Drool. By the time the meal is over, you will need a sleepy...the portion size is manageable, but the starter will put you ove the edge.

All in all , an enjoyable place to pull up a stool and get your feed-on. I am always biased about breakfast places, to be honest. This place is probably number 2 on my list. Give it a rip, but prepared for long wait-times on food!

Oh and wish me luck on my next final. It's the last one. WOOT! For celebration, we're going for....get this...BREAKFAST!! Drool.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

reflections on a tea party: grown up style

One of the things I've always wanted to try in Victoria is High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. They serve up a healthy dose of pretentious, with some serious pastries. Totally worth a try, methinks!

I am someone who loves to organize events and get people together. I invited some girls from law school to join me for a Sunday afternoon tea. I never really did tea parties as a child, as I was more of a tomboy than anything (and the lack of friends didn't help either), so I thought I would have a grown up tea party to fulfill a childhood dream of a fancy-schmancy gathering of friends and discussing important things: like, stuff. Stuff that's cool, all the while drinking air and pretending to eat plastic treats. But this time....this time, would be real food, and REAL tea. And BOOM! Fancy tea party for grown ups. Who would or could resist?

I thought we'd turn up the hifalutin a notch or two by encouraging everyone to have some fun with this one. Wear some sort of fancy hair pieces, hairbands, fascinators and the like, and take pretentious to the next level.  How could you not? I mean if you're gonna pay $50.00 for tea and pastries, you might as well milk the experience for all it's worth! And that, I believe we did....

I also have a bit of a habit of being a little miss perfect about certain things: big events seem to be the big one. I obsessed about my dress for our law grad banquet for about 3 months...I had "a vision" about what I should look like and do my damndest to make it happen. It's pretty tragic, actually. So my hairpiece for my tea party had to be just right. I searched for a good few weeks and made sure I bought mine early...Am also a bit of an immediate gratification tool, so had to be sure I got as soon as I set the date for the tea....I clearly don't socialize enough. That or it's possibly the result of being 30, not having children and therefore more time to dwell on such things. Either way... Check out my fancy headband!!

So yes, you heard right - high tea costs around $50.00. BUT, one of my classmates told me that you can become a "Friend of the Empress" which you can apply for online and you can get reduced rates on certain services and rates at the Empress if you're a local. I signed up and got 20% off Afternoon Tea - $10.00 off. Suddenly, this is starting to look like it'll be worth the while. Being a student and all, you know. But...that didn't stop me. I mean, how many times can you say you went for high tea?....Really, Racquel? Yes most of  the reasons for many of my expenditures seem to be equally problematic. Just ask the bf.

Anywho... I was worried that no one would show. How 10 years old of me. But I was happy when we were eight of us, and everyone got into the spirit of things. Our host was super kind and attentive. I felt like a princess! We started off with a fruit salad, which was lovely - served with figs, and blackberries and the like. It wasn't the cantaloupe/grape combo you normally get. Good start! We each got to pick a tea, and they served it in the fancy tea cups which I was fairly that I'd be the only one to break one and have to pay for it by washing dishes or something equivalent because they were too pricey for me to afford. But I made it through without smashing anything. SUCCESS!

We then were served with the tiered tray of mini-sandwiches and pastries. Each person got to have one of each item, which as it turned out, made for a food hangover for many of us afterward. But well worth it!! So yummy. For starters the sandwiches were pretty phenomenal. There was a salmon and cream cheese pinwheel sandwich, which was probably the favorite around the table. There was a curry pumpernickel sandwich that was interesting, and surprisingly tasty. There was also some sort of mini croissants sandwiches. Anything in a mini croissant sandwich is tasty, really.

The tea lobby was just as you would expect it to look like....Completely over the top. There was the fancy upholstered chairs, the fireplace, chandeliers, the works. It was hilarious and wonderful all at the same time. As we ate, there was a pianist playing some tunes, which much to my surprise, I knew! The guy couldn't have been very old, b/c he was rocking some 90's songs that are very near and dear to me. At one point he was playing Smells Like Teen Spirit, and an older lady at the next table remarked, "Oh what a beautiful song". I thought that was cute...and a further testament to how great Nirvana is and always will be. Vive la grunge.

Swiped from Megan. YOINK!
The pastries - Apparently the pastry kitchen at the Empress is the only pastry kitchen in Victoria. That is a CRIME, if you ask me. But I must say what this lone pastry kitchen turns out is nothing short of fantastic: fresh scones were served with cream.....Drool. And came with our own individual tiny jar of jam. How is that not awesome? There was a custard tart with strawberry. A chocolate and vanilla cake with marzipan...I think.  There was also a hazlenut truffle cup. And I'm ashamed to say that, after 3 hours of sipping and chatting, I just couldn't finish eating everything. I applaud the Empress for actually making me turn away a dessert.

Everyone say "Tea"!!! 
The afternoon with these ladies was a great opportunity to just be girly, even if for a couple of hours. It was nice to take a break from the seriousness of school.  While not much of a girly-girl, having a close group of friends is something that I definitely have been missing out on whilst living here. Since I moved, I have found it somewhat difficult to really connect with girls out here. I had some pretty solid bonds with friends back home. I miss them terribly. They get me, and I am me when I'm with them. I am fun, I am the social coordinator of my group; people, who aren't my boyfriend (whom I'm pretty sure is paid to date me) actually like being around me.  In law school, I sometimes feel like that 14 year old that I once was. That girl who was awkward, and just didn't fit in all. Law school, I have come to find, is very much like high school; but with bank accounts! And let me be the first to tell you, I really didn't do well in high school. I wasn't all.  So here, even though I consider myself pretty rad NOW....there is still something that just doesn't seem to fit with me; that brought out that shy, afraid of just about everything, awkward, and angsty teenager who struggled with being different and would rather shave her head than speak in front of a group of people. As a result I think that I haven't attracted very many people into my social sphere or that I've been invited into the same.

Perhaps the way we interact here is different, where interaction is dictated by this program, and not by people freely living their lives. (The bf thinks this may be some of the reason). I just think I repel most people because I'm a massive jerk. LOL. The other thing that I thought was that this program is so demanding and all-consuming that people just don't seem to have the time to really invest in cultivating friendships outside of superficial hi's in the hallway, or the lunch catch-up. I am really not one for superficial friendships, but perhaps that is my downfall. It's foreign to me, but perhaps a necessary skill of being a good lawyer. That is the way I will choose to frame it.

Whoa...did I just derail my own post tea party commentary? HA, nope! Like I said, my social experiences normally revolve around food - these experiences allow me to reflect on other things happening in my life.  Despite the aforementioned gap I have experienced in the realm of friends, I still try to see all of this in a positive light and make some adjustments where necessary. As such I have tried to be more sociable and to have more fun this year. Being too serious and focusing on things that are missing, make me not see the big picture of  all of the good and beautiful things that surround my life everyday...and to be thankful for those good things. Life is too short to be so serious. I feel that I should plan something else fun...I have always wanted to do a boudoir shoot. Wheels are turning....I will get back to you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Best Part of Waking Up...Blue Fox In Muh Belly

I am fastly approaching the end of my program here in Vic...which means the bf and I will be leaving soon. In many ways I can't get the sam hell off this island fast enough, as there are many things about Vancouver Island that just don't seem to fit with my personality. I am a bull in a china shop, it feels sometimes.  And while I am super stoked about starting a new chapter of our life in a new city, I am going to miss some things about our life here. The one thing that definitely suits my fancy in this town is the restaurant selection. I am going to miss the MANY great restaurants  in this town. I have never before been to so many little independent places with such creative menus and good food.

napkin drawings adorn the tables at BF:
a true testament to the love
of the joint, methinks :)
So while I am struggling with stress of finals, the unknown of my career, money woes, being a hypochondriac and the myriad things that make me the spazz that I am, one thing always seems to boost my spirits: breakfast at Blue Fox with my Love :) He is such a morning person and I...well let's just say I am pretty sure I was a bear in my previous life. He is always making me laugh, and up for a good breakfast and morning chat. Even if I am a grump in the morning. How he loves me sometimes, I will never know.... Our mutual adoration of breakfast foods, have led us to the trying out of many of different places, but we keep coming back to Blue Fox because of the great service, the amazing food, and the fail-safe menu. I have yet to try something that sucks on this menu. And believe me, we've done the leg work on this one.

Location and such: Blue Fox is located on Fort and Vancouver St.(ish), and many more times than I care to say, I have waited in line for said restaurant. On the weekends you could find yourself waiting from anywhere from 10:00 minutes to an hour, depending on when you go. It is a small, hole the wall kind of place, with maybe 15 or so tables. I have gone numerous times on a variety of days, and it would seem that weekends before 9:00a.m. is the place to go without having to wait. We went this morning and the 8:00 rush had us waiting on our food longer than usual(at least there was no line). They close at 3:00 on the weekends, so the timing has to be just right. You would think I'm obsessive but I am pretty sure I am not the only one....And I take my breakfast very seriously.

Disgruntled without morning caffeine :)
But would I be telling you about this place if it wasn't worth the wait??? I think not. A lot of times if we're in line, I will go and look in the windows and totally creep on people....I tend to think of the "Blue Fox experience" as one that you enjoy while eating, but then leave so that others can get a chance. I tend to give dirty looks sometimes if they doddle. Yep, I'm THAT person.

Many people ask, "Why there? I wouldn't even think about waiting in line or get up early on my weekends just to have breakfast, what's so great about it?"  For those people, you are jerks. Jerks who have not had the true experience...or have really bad taste in food. (Not funny?) And... I will not name names, but others have said that places like John's Place, Floyd's Diner, or Avalon are at least equal to, if not better than Blue Fox. Like Mr. T says, "I pity the fools".

So to those sayers of nay, here is what makes Blue Fox rock my socks off....and should rock yours off too.

The service: the service has always been amazing. Every now and again they've forgotten a water or something, but the people there are attentive and super friendly.  The servers are totally team-oriented, which makes a huge difference on the efficiency of the joint, especially in a place that busy. And also...they are just super down to earth people. They talk to you like you're friends, and get this...they actually care about good customer service. You'd think this would standard in restaurants, but more than anything, service in Victoria is really weird out here: like some odd entitlement to gratuity just for showing up to work. (I will post an entry about how I almost got shooed out of restaurant for not tipping - the service was brutal, but she seemed to think she was entitled to auto-grat by charging twice on certain items.)

The Menu: (I may have to post a two-parter on this one, because they serve LUNCH too!!) They serve everything from fruit plates to Huevos Rancheros; from chorizo and eggs to cinamon buns. <-- which are pretty amazing, and probably smart to share...because eating the rest of your meal is impossible if you have one by yourself. There are 2...or one massive one cut in half. It's pretty heavenly.

Benny served on bagel :) 
I have tried MANY things on the list, and tend to have phases of favorites. The omelettes are wicked. They have a few different variations, plus you have the option of making your own. I am pretty partial to the herb cream cheese, ham and spinach. They serve their savoury breakfasts with homefried potato hash brown things, and toast. PLUS you get one of their jams that is made in-house. How is THAT for awesome. I am a huge fan of the raspberry lemon. They have others like rosemary and orange, or strawberry vanilla...there's a different one everyday.

The fix'ens. Steamed soy...drool.
 My earlier phase, for which I will always have a special place in my heart for, is their french toast. It comes in a few different concoctions: The Peasant Toast is pretty phenomenal, as it is served with sour velvet sauce, almonds and honey. It's tastiness personified. The Apples Charlotte kicks some serious ass too, as it's served with a make-shift apple pie filling.  However, I recently developed a penchant  for porridge. YES, porridge. If you are a part of my family and reading this you will most likely laugh. When I was a child I considered serving porridge to kids child abuse. I am not even kidding. I would spoon mine into my cousin Andrea's bowl when she wasn't looking. I hated it THAT much. We were kind of poor growing up, which didn't leave great I forced wall paper past consistency grewl down day after day.

The piece de resistance. BOOM!
 But oh how the times have changed!! Perhaps my palette is becoming more refined....or I'm just getting old and beginning to understand the benefit of soft foods.  In any event, there are two variations on this little plate of heaven. First is the hot-buttered banana porridge: served with sour cream, maple syrup and pecans. Dessert? Possibly. Tasty as hell? Definitely. The second, and rapidly becoming my fave is the cranberry and ambrosia apple porridge: served with steamed milk, almonds and brown sugar. How could that NOT taste good? There is no losing here, people.

Price Point and Serving Size: the average breakfast comes for a price of around $11.00. Their servings sizes are manageable, but not too much. I think they may have cut their portions a touch, or I just can pack it away more. For the sake of my fragile self-worth (due to final exams) I will say serving size is a little less. But the worth is definitely there. The food is quality, presentation is awesome, and the consistency is well worth it.

So that is my rant about Blue Fox, or one of. I love it, it loves me.