Anaphylactic shock, courtesy of a Victoria naturopath: Canada was a cakewalk, Pt II


Previously: Part One

My first crime was teaching my students to write arguments, which deeply offended the Canadian woman who was running the program.

She wanted me to teach the students to paraphrase the well-meaning essays in the anthology — not that she or anyone else informed me that this was their policy; there were no guidelines of any kind. The first time I met most of the other composition teachers was at the end-of-semester marking meeting, where our students’ final essays were passed around to other teachers. I was looking forward to that meeting, because I was very proud of what I’d done with the demoralized kids who’d been shunted into my “remedial” writing class. At first they’d looked shocked when I’d encouraged them to argue, with each other and the essays in the anthology, but by the end of the semester some of these mute jocks and ESL immigrants could analyze and respond to any of the bland persuasive essays in the book. I’m an idiot in all kinds of ways, but I can get students excited about writing. Now was my chance to show off a little in front of my seldomseen colleagues. 

The meeting seemed like all the other marking meetings I’d attended until it was time to review my students’ grades. The elderly hippie assigned to review my courses seemed offended by something he’d seen in the essays. Not that he was going to say so; he wouldn’t even look at me, and kept leaning toward the professor who was running the program, tilting his head toward her as he talked. It hit me, finally, that this guy wanted to fail one of my best students. It made no sense. This student, a huge, inarticulate jock, had come into my course totally phobic about writing, and by the end of the semester he’d turned into a decent writer with a real knack for coming up with surprising but convincing theses. And his last essay, the one this hippie wanted to fail him for, was his best…

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In Three Words: Stylish, Innovative, Authentic

The Lowdown:

Many people might not consider Victoria a prime place for cocktail bars – but they are missing a trick, because nestled not five minutes from the station is a sleek and stylish establishment serving up delicious and creative cocktails with an Italian twist. Not only that, but Venetian dishes of ciccetti – small plates of delectable food perfect for sharing – make Tozi a destination spot ideal for a light bite and relaxing drink.

Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness

Your Plus One:

Tozi is chilled, relaxed, and has an air of cosmopolitan flair about it. Come with that pal you’ve been meaning to catch up with for ages and absorb the atmosphere or, better still, bring a group and tuck into Tozi’s fabulous small dishes.

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The Decor:

High ceilings and a frontage of glass, plus the welcome air con, make Tozi as cool as the suave waiters that serve you. The bar area is decorated in on-trend mustard yellow, slate grey and crushed raspberry, while there’s a dining room for a more formal approach.


When we arrived in Tozi there was a fizzing, content hubbub – it was a Friday evening and one gets the feeling this is the perfect place to come for after-work drinks that extend into the night. Maybe it’s the Italian charm in the air, but upon entering you instantly feel relaxed as the weights of the world lift from your shoulders.

Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer

Cocktail Highlights:

You can of course get all the old favourites, but why bother with them when there are Tozi Classics to try! They’re pimped up versions of the kind of drink you’d usually go for, many with an Italian twist (we’re loving names like Venetian Shrub, Milano Calling and Anita Ekberg).

We had to try that Italian staple of the Negroni, only this one is elevated to new levels of taste through the process of barrel aging. The Sir Negroni was indeed delicious – that same divine amber colour and herbaceous Campari finish, but with an extra complexity that made us think of cinnamon.

Another must try libations is the Vatican Secrets – Tozi’s version of a margarita that, dare I say it, beats the classic. It still has the tequila and agave, but chilli and mint give it that extra heat that lingers on the palate after the wonderfully sour citrus kick has first hit.

And for another incredibly creative drink, give the Milano Calling a go. Take one sip and suddenly your nose is filled with the smoky scent of coals – that’s due to the barbecue essence that ingeniously makes this a feast for all senses. Glenfiddich, Campari and Marini Rosso make for a short and decadent drink, that mixes sweet and savoury in a thoroughly expert fashion. And guess what – you also get a nibble of crispy bacon on the side. We loved it.

Something to Soak Up the Booze:

A trip to Tozi without the ciccetti would be like a trip to Venice without a gondola ride – although these nibbles are less likely to break the bank! The menu is an exercise in self-control as you try not to order everything, but it’s well worth getting a fine selection. The pizzetta and bruschetta are superb (mozzarella, black truffle and wild mushroom especially), and ravioli is cooked to the standard you’d expect – with just enough bite, and plump with filling. Quality and authenticity shines through, and there are larger dishes that we imagine convey the same standard.

Burning a Hole?

Cocktails at Tozi are all under a tenner, hovering around the £9 mark. Pretty good going we say – and the small plates are equally well priced. Be warned though – you will want to order everything!


‘I Tozi’ in Venetian dialect means group of friends – and this pretty much sums up what is wonderful about the bar. Not only do you feel instantly welcomed by the charming staff, but it’s the kind of place you want to come with pals. The food must be tried, while the cocktails are both beautiful and expertly crafted. Not only that, but the bar team really know their stuff, and an all-Italian wine list makes for great perusing. No longer shall Victoria be a transitional place simply for journeys – because Tozi is a destination spot in its own right.



BOE Magazine