Meat and Bread’s vegetarian feature.

SIDE DISH: Make the most of your lunch hour

Monday Magazine welcomes our new food columnist Chantal Ireland. Chantal lives by the words Make food. Drink craft.

Ten years ago I offered my Dad parmesan cheese on his lasagne, which he quickly refused. When I told him it wasn’t the shaker container version, he was willing to try it.

To me, the difference between the cheese I’d found at a local Italian deli, and the version we had in the fridge when I was a kid because, “nobody likes it” so it would last longer was amazing.

The foods we love and hate change through the years and for me, somewhere in my early 20s, it drifted into needing to know where my food came from. Later, it would become my job, working for a Victoria-based coffee roaster so committed to trade practises and sourcing, it would open my eyes to a whole new world. And coffee. So much coffee.

People who produce our food and drink here at home and abroad are what drive my passion for food. Instagram and other social media channels are so full of food photos, we joke about it, but it matters. Encouraging each other to try new things, and ask questions about where it comes from spurs great conversation. Food has become as debatable as politics. Food is political. Organic, GMO, natural, local, the list goes on. Helping each other learn builds a stronger local economy and sense of community.

So let’s start with lunch. It’s easy to make, easy to find, and hardly ever as daunting as “What’s for dinner?” A handheld lunch on the go for under $10 is always a hit for me. I’m loving the Beatrice Beef Burger at Deadbeetz Food Truck, made with locally raised, grass-fed meat, topped with pickled beets. It’s seriously awesome. Check their website for daily locations. Meat & Bread, is famous for their Porchetta, but I love the jerk chicken, and vegetarian feature that changes weekly. This crew runs an impressive line, your wait is short even during a rush. Grilled cheese at Salt Spring Island Cheese Co. in the Victoria Public Market is a gooey slice of ultimate lunch satisfaction. Take home a jar of Saltspring Kitchen Co.’s Spicy Tomato Jam while you’re there. Sammich Cafe at View & Broad might be the smallest sandwich shop in town, with the biggest heart. Head here for the Elvis, at $4.75 you’ll eat like a king, complete with peanut butter and banana. Tacos at La Taquisa (Vic West and Downtown), and Tacofino (who moved from the truck to 787 Fort), offer great seafood and vegetarian options as well as local meats. Don’t forget to Instagram your lunch before you wipe it off your face.

Try it, you’ll like it:

TH Wines 2013 Rosé, a Garagiste Okanagan producer, $24.99 at Cascadia Liquor Stores

House made mustard at Meat & Bread, 721 Yates, $10 a jar.

Coconut Iced Latte at Hey Happy Coffee, 560 Johnson.

Instagram: chantalireland

Facebook: SmileAtChantalIreland

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