There's nothing like dining with a view but it also matters greatly what's on the table. That's why it was a pleasure to be a guest at the Chateau Victoria (a couple nights courtesy of the hotel and Tourism Victoria) in Victoria, British Columbia. The hotel was also nice enough to indulge my interest in the food and wine of the region and hosted me for an informal chat and tasting at their rooftop restaurant, Vista 18. Chateau Victoria's Food and Beverage Director, Kevin Neilson, was my guide and added some welcome perspective and background.
It's, of course, hard not to be impressed with the view but Kevin got my attention with a fantastic food and wine match. The food component consisted of Qualicum Bay scallops, quickly seared on just one side to keep them from overcooking, along with a kimchi-inspired, spicy cucumber preparation and lemon balm oil. Harvested on Vancouver Island, these scallops don't travel too far when you're staying in Victoria.
There was certainly some heat from the cucumbers, so a wine with a touch of sweetness would be perfect to combat the the spice and also compliment the scallops. Enter a grape that I've never encountered before: Muscat Ottonel. Sure, I've tasted Muscat, but not this member of the family. Produced by Hillside in BC's Okanagan Valley, it was a refreshing delight that provided an extremely memorable pairing experience. To put it another way, it was a crazy good combination that tempts me to add a couple dozen exclamation points here. But I will resist; you get the idea.
If that wasn't enough, I also found out that they keep bees on the roof at Chateau Victoria and the honey that these approximately 60,000 bees produce gets used in the kitchen and the bar. And while I didn't volunteer for any beekeeping or honey-gathering duties while at Vista 18, I'd be happy to come back for a honey-infused cocktail and enjoy the view.
There were more eating adventures in Victoria for me. You must know the story of the best sandwich I ever ate.
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