Enoteca Wine Repository

October24

Living in River Heights has many advantages; the canopy of elm tree- lined streets is only one of many. The exceptional restaurants within walking distance of our home verge on gluttonous: Fusion Grill, In Ferno’s, Pizzeria Gusto, Chew, Bonfire Bistro, Mona Lisa and now right smack at the end of our street at 1670 Corydon Ave.: Enoteca Wine Repository!  We were very lucky to get a reservation on a recent Friday evening.  We had the choice of 5:30 or 9 pm.  We picked the former, thinking that we would be the only ones dining at such a gauche hour but such was not the case.  The little place was singing with happy diners.

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We were celebrating Sister #3’s birthday so we let the guest of honour choose a couple of small plates to start us off.

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First up were roasted beets and oranges accompanied by shards of fennel and horseradish and garnished with toasted pine nuts and pumpkin seeds along with a cool ladle of labneh (strained yoghurt).  Olive oil may have been drizzled onto the plate or perhaps the sparkling ingredients simply oozed their natural juiciness.

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Along next was freshly made fettucine with lamb sugo which I would describe as a meaty broth, sugo literally meaning the natural juices of a roast. Chevre and a second sauce of parsley, garlic and lemon zest adorned the top and floated around the edges of the dish.

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The piece de résistance was a braised short rib, pressed into a smoked potato puree and topped with oyster mushrooms and hot mustard. The essence of the dish was sauce perigeux which is made with Madeira and decadent and earthy, black truffles.  Just a little of the latter goes a long way.  This and all the sauces were so heavenly that we did something that we should have done at the start of the meal-we ordered a bread basket to lap up the sauce. The attentive serving staff tried to clear the plate a couple of times, but we continued to grasp it until the toasted bread arrived.

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The Bread Pudding that the birthday girl chose was no ordinary bread pudding as it was made with buttery brioche. The caramel burnt butter sauce caramelized walnuts and in-house made ice cream put the humble dessert over the top.

As opposed to oohhing and ahhing about each dish separately, I have waited until this point. Each dish was simply sensational and it is hard to find the words to say the same thing over and over again.  Simply sensational…  The service is an added bonus to the food.  A team of servers took care of us under the leadership of waiter Doug.  We have met Doug before at Segovia and believe that he is one of the city’s best. That evening, my friend Laurie Hughes who is the publisher of Taste and Ciao Magazine was catching an early dinner with her daughter (in fact, she offered to take the photo of the three sisters).  She loved everything that they sampled too.  Praise from Laurie is high praise, indeed.  Go, just go.

Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”-Francois Minot

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Love-that is all.

Last Minute Lunch-Terrace in the Park

October23

I have an exciting life-one that is full of treats and surprizes.  But it does take some spontaneity and flexibility on my part.  Case in point: one morning I got an email from a friend asking me if I could make it to lunch that day.  The restaurant that she does some promotional work for, required “bodies” for a TV program entitled “Meagan’s Menu”.  Alas, I wasn’t free as I had a baby-sitting date with the “Wee One”.  Moments later J2 texted me to say that her client had to cancel and therefore my grandma time was not required.  Although I was disappointed about not spending time with my grandbaby, I glanced at my watch, delighted that I could now enjoy the lunch opportunity.  Luckily, Assiniboine Park where the gorgeous locale of “Terrace in the Park” is located, is only minutes away from our home.

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I tucked into the Edaname Salad and decided to take a taste so that I would have room for the rest of the courses that I knew where on their way but I could simply not resist and ate almost every bite.  I love the taste of edname beans all by themselves so to be enhanced with red pepper, cucumber, wakame (seaweed) and a citrus dressing was all a bonus.  But best of all was the was the complement of plenty of fresh cilantro making every taste simply sparkle.

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My favourite flavours of lime and cilantro were continued in the salmon dish.  Some people like to switch up flavours between courses but when I like something, I cannot get enough of it.  Besides, the manner in which the panko-crusted salmon mingled with the herb and citrus flavours were completely different than with the beans.  But I could truly only manage one taste of the ample fish, rapini and baby potatoes.  I had the rest boxed up and shared it with D for supper.  The nifty and pretty yellow package was a lemon wrapped in cheesecloth so that no seeds escaped onto the fish whilst enjoying the juice.

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I rarely am tempted by dessert but I simply could not resist the sounds of this one- a cheesecake not incorporating cream cheese but chevre goat cheese!  Each taste was rich and immensely satisfying and I was hard-pressed to ask to have it boxed up as well.  The flecks of nutmeg and the sour cherry compote were delectable enhancements.

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Although the day was gloomy, the naturally lit solarium was bright and fresh.  Through the window next to my table, I could see that they were setting up for a ceremony of some kind.  What a heavenly setting!

Terrace in the Park on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Oh, the pleasure of eating my dinner alone!”-Charles Lamb

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Love-that is all.

Chocolatier Constance Popp

October17

Constance and I met a number of years ago, brought together for Canola Camp.  I had been to her first location in old St. James on Portage Ave. but had never had the opportunity to visit her at her new home on Provencher Ave.

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This amazing creation was made to celebrate the upcoming Dali exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Constance is always promoting something to do with a not-for-profit organization or cultural event in our fair city.

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I spotted this in the front window of her Provencher Ave. shop.

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Look at the detailing and artistry of the work?  Even the lace is edible, having been made from spun sugar.

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Wouldn’t it be fun and delicious to eat your way through this chess game?

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Everywhere you look in the pristine little shop, there is something delectable to purchase as a treat or a great gift.

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On the day that I visited, they were promoting their extended selection of baked goods and I was very impressed with the classic pastry offerings.

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But my very favourite treat, when I visit Constance’s shop is her hot chocolate. Remember the scene in the movie “Chocolat” when the character portrayed by Juliette Binoche prepares a chocolate elixir for one of her patrons?  I cannot imagine that the concoction could possibly taste better than this-heavenly.

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There are a couple of bistro tables in the shop to enjoy said hot chocolate or perhaps a croissant.  I look forward to taking our Frenchman there for a visit very soon.

Kath’s quote: “If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?”-Marquise de Sévigné

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

October16

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The view from the 17th floor where we assemble each year.

Thanksgiving this year was especially poignant for me.  Perhaps it is the upcoming family wedding, perhaps the delight of having my Goddaughter home from Australia to celebrate with us, perhaps that my Mom persevered through another move to be with us, perhaps a sweet combination of all of these things.  Of particular significance though was the gratitude of being carried through some of the tougher moments that the year had brought us since the previous celebration of the harvest.  Surrounded by my family, my friends near and far, my church family and my neighbourhood, I realized anew how wonderful my life is and can be, even though it sometimes feels that I am crushed by its stresses.  As my friend Claudia (who is here right now) says: “There is always a hair in the food!”.

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Our assembly this year was diverse with representatives not just from Australia but Japan (an international student living with a family member),

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from the Wee One who is the youngest (and her adorable second cousin)

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to our Mom and my bother-in-law’s Dad who is in his 90’s

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with various generations of cousins in between.

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When a family of over 40 gets together from all over the city, how does hot and tasty food make it to the table?  One of my sister-in-laws assigns the tasks and as we always say “Many hands make light work”-with different people assigned to prepare our standard favourites, designations to set up and take down and others to bring disposable plates and take out the garbage.

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There is always turkey, ham AND meatballs, potatoes made with and without cream cheese and a couple of casseroles of green bean bake.

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Over the years there have been many food “hits”, this year I may humbly put forward that my adaption of middle eastern sweet potatoes might have taken the most accolades.  The recipe is adapted from my new favourite cookbook:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Unfortunately fresh figs are out of season in October in central Canada so improvising was in order.
Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ T honey
  • 12 green onions, cut into ribbons
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 6 figs, cut into quarters
  • 5 oz. crumbed chevre (mine was rolled in berries)
  • ½ c pomegranate jewels
  • S&P
Instructions
  1. Wash & cut potatoes into uniform wedges.
  2. Place them, skin side down on a heavy, greased baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle more oil and salt and pepper over all.
  4. Roast for approx. 25 minutes at 475 degrees until soft but not mushy.
  5. Place balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small sauce pan.
  6. Bring to a boil and then decrease heat and simmer 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Sauté onions and pepper in oil for 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Assemble potatoes on platter, top with all ingredients, leaving the pomegranate for last and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.
  9. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

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The piece de resistance was Sister #3’s pumpkin pie.  Creamy and bursting with spices, she may make me a pumpkin pie lover after all these years.

Kath’s quote: “The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit – a sense of something accomplished.”-Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Love-that is all.

Little Maria’s Porcetta & Meatballs

October15

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You may be familiar with the term “a labour of love”. This is how I would describe Joe Pellegrino’s newest restaurant-Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs at 77 Edmonton St.  My eldest daughter and I arrived early for dinner one evening and Joe was taking orders both at the counter and the tables all by himself.  Then he headed back to the kitchen, washed his hands and tied on his apron.  He delivered our steaming hot dishes himself but then was way too busy to emerge from the kitchen for us to tell him how delectable his authentic recipes tasted.

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Signature sauces are simmered a full eight hours and the porchetta (the “ch” is a hard sound like a “k”) is slow roasted in a variety of herbs. His patient culinary efforts pay off as the thinly sliced pork is dripping in its own juices and the slowly-simmered sauces are complex and robust in spite of their few ingredients.  There are less time-consuming methods that Joe could have chosen for his restaurant rendition of an Italian food/sandwich cart but patience is an important ingredient in these recipes.

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The “naked” porchetta (so stated on the menu) was garnished with garlic sautéed spinach alongside a casserolette of roasted vegetables in one of the above mentioned sauces and topped with a gooey mozzarella. My daughter tucked in with delight.

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I was undecided between the gnocchi special and an order of meatballs, so Joe suggested that I go with the gnocchi and he would place a sample meatball on top for me to taste.  Oh my, both were scrumptious.  The aromatic meatball was bursting with the taste of earthy herbs and the potato gnocchi were as light and fluffy as cumulus clouds on a fair summer day.

I asked Joe where he had honed his culinary skills. He sheepishly said “Oh, Naples, Montreal and a number of restaurants here in Winnipeg”.  The only one he named specifically was Mamma Mia’s which was my favourite Italian Restaurant on Corydon back when the area was Winnipeg’s version of Little Italy.

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The dining room is decorated in a funky, fun style with floor to ceiling windows along the west side. There are a few patio tables on the sidewalk for el fresco dining.  I recognized some of the tables and chairs from Pop Soda’s (another venture of this fine cook and restaurateur).

Little Maria's Porchetta & Meatballs on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The trouble with eating Italian food is that 5 or 6 days later you’re hungry again.”-George Miller

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Love-that is all.

 

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