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BBQ pork buns; riding B.C. Ferries for the food and view; menu design

Pork buns - six-pack in one of those transparent crunchy boxes - for $5.99 at Fairway. BBQ pork filling is plentiful, if a little too salty and sometimes -- depending on the mouthful -- fatty. They're good straight from the store.

Pork buns - six-pack in one of those transparent crunchy boxes - for $5.99 at Fairway. BBQ pork filling is plentiful, if a little too salty and sometimes -- depending on the mouthful -- fatty. They're good straight from the store. Less good after microwaving. Pork buns don't seem to microwave well.

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nytimes.com story on the art of menu-writing. Avoid using the $ symbol - it frightens customers, reminds them of the need to pay. Saying something is 10 is better than 9.99 if you're trying to convey a high tone. Have something high priced to make your lower-priced best-sellers look more affordable. 

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On B.C. Ferries, you can buy return ferry fare in the ferry gift shop. Why would you want to do this? I know frequent ferry riders who never look out the window will roll their eyes at this. But, a ferry outing with buffet  is a nice experience, especially if you have visitors. 

So, you do this. (I guess, more accurately, I do this.)

Park your car at Swartz Bay terminal. (Or ride the No. 70 there.)

Buy your ticket to board the Tsawwassen-bound Spirit of Vancouver Island, Spirit of British Columbia, or Coastal Celebration -- the only three ships that offer the Pacific Buffet. 

They'll only sell you one-way passage at the ticket booth.

Once aboard, immediately go to the buffet, which is a few steps from where you board.

Have a leisurely meal. Admire the view. 

Towards the end of the meal, go to the gift shop and pay for your return fare. You'll get a receipt (as opposed to tickets).

Stay on board for the journey back to Victoria. Go outside to enjoy the sea breezes.

There must be a mini-market for these excursions since B.C. Ferries is set up to sell return fares in gift shop.

Click here for details about the B.C. Ferries Pacific Buffet, in a blog post from the summer.

Ferry buffet fare from a December 2009 trip. Brunch was $19.95. Among the items on offer: cheese omelets, sausages, sui mai, shrimp dumplings, steamed beans, curry pork (the one disappointment - it was dry and hard), chicken, bean salad, apple slices, beet slices, cherry tomatoes, cheese-stuffed pasta, a variety of cakes, fruit salad, rice pudding.

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Nellie McClung's story of a special Christmas meal that almost didn't happen. The article first appeared in the Dec. 19, 1936 edition of the Victoria Daily Times.