New Dim Sum Gardens

April17

If I were to estimate which restaurant in my home town, I visit most regularly, it would be Dim Sum Gardens, now in a new location on the 2nd Floor of the Asian Grocery Store, 268 King St and Logan Ave. When I worked in the Exchange District of Winnipeg , it would be our Friday constant

Three friends have an “A” list of items that we have been enjoying together for a couple of decades. During this time, it becomes a challenge to find new expluratives to describe these favourite items. As a result, I am going to let a picture tell a thousand stories (well maybe not a 1,0000)…..

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Shrimp dumplings, pure and simple. I love when the plump shrimp are balled together with plenty of ginger.

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Deep fried “perogies”. They have sugar in the dumpling casing that creates that sweet/salty combo that I crave.

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Sticky rice: a wedge of rice and savoury fillings like ground meat and mushrooms.  I like this version because they do NOT include that gristly sausage that is sometimes added.

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Sticky rice is typically wrapped in a bamboo or lotus leaf. I can’t tell which this is.

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These are pan-fried chive dumplings. I love the pink vinegar that they are served with. I often get the abundant chives stuck to my front teeth. It takes on of my Besties to politely tell me so.

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Pork dumplings-some ingredient in the casing adds a uniqueness to the morsel.

Bonus: I stopped on the way out at the main floor grocery and picked up dim sum provisions for mandatory Sunday supper.

Dim Sum Garden on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Yum yum dim sum.” Me

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(They also serve desserts like this but it is not on the “A” list).

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

The Local, Kits Beach Vancouver

April16

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We were awake early on our first full day in Vancouver. Perhaps it was our excitement, perhaps the time change or perhaps because we had slept like babies in the comfortable beds and were refreshed for our time ahead. We were up before the sun and then were able to appreciate it in all its splendour looking east over the mountains.

Kits Beach was our first destination in our trusty rented Jeep that made us look as if we fit right in to the hardy outdoorsy Vancouver lot. Indeed on this morning there were joggers, a number of people walking their dogs (and not doing a very thorough job of watching if they were squatting anywhere), elderly couples strolling arm in arm to help each other with their footing I suspect and many, many moms pushing strollers in pairs and sipping their ventes from Starbucks. The latter also had their opportunity to stop their highly functional (expensive) strollers at a spot where mats were laid out and other moms were doing their stretches while babies and toddlers slept or occupied themselves in strollers parked nearby.

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It had been years since I had visited Kits Beach and was struck by how the skyline over English Bay had changed in that time. Looking in the opposite direction, the Kits skyline had altered as well. One time a place occupied by:hippies: and students of UBC, the skyline was now dotted with sleek condos and upscale shops.

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The Local opened at 11 and since we had decided that we would have an early lunch and then head to our one responsibility of meeting up with one of D’s suppliers in Burnaby. The Local seemed to us to be the perfect hang out for, quite obviously…the locals.  On this day there were a couple of workers from the area in for a pint with their. D was pleased with the local and craft beer selections as he commenced his beer tasting tour of Vancouver and Seattle.

The menu was what captured my imagination with local fish offerings and a fusion of Mexican and Asian tastes.

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We started with a tortilla chicken soup which I had hoped would taste somewhere close to the version that we continually enjoy on Isla Mujeres or at the very least, the version from Chili’s that I remembered from years prior. First tastes did not live up but as I took a few more slurps, it started growing on me in a more subtle manner.

Being a stickler for freshly cut, double cooked fries, I was hard pressed to order the ones with truffle mayo even though, as my readers know, I am crazy for truffle oil. With a little coaching, D talked me into trying the Local’s version because they were provided by his company (GFS).

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The burger was tasty.

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As were the tuna tacos.

And we were off on our further adventures!

Local on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 
 Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

The Seahorse Grill, Crescent Beach, BC

April15

Dinner at the Sea Horse Grill began twenty years ago. Let me explain. You know how friendships ebb and flow in our lives? Well I had known this particular friend for thirty some years but the last time we had seen each other was 20 years ago. At dinner that evening, we just picked up where we had left off.

More specifically the evening began with our arrival that afternoon at Crescent Beach where we had a chance to stroll the promenade and bask in the surprisingly warm (for January) BC sunshine. Once we were settled in to the bedroom that our host had vacated (she slept in her quest cottage), she poured out glasses of persecco and put out a couple of delectable nibbles. We were joined by another old friend who had another commitment that evening but was able to squeeze in a short visit.

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Thank heaven we hadn’t spoiled our appetite because we were in for a real treat that evening. On duty in the kitchen that evening was Chef Jeff. When he heard that we were from Winnipeg, he remarked that he had lived in Winnipeg when he worked the Via Rail Train route from Winnipeg to Vancouver as a train cook. D had done that very same job when he was putting himself through Tourism & Hospitality School.

D is torn between his two shellfish loves- prawns and scallops.  As a result he ordered a special prawn appetizer for us to share at the table. I was negligent in getting the details of the ingredients because I was too busy getting caught up on more important details-the ones of 20 years of life.

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For his entrée he could not resist the Pan seared scallops in lemon grass sauce accompanied by fregola pasta and market vegetables. The taste of the enormous scallop that he shared with me as absolutely delectable-sweet and silky, just like a fresh scallop should taste.

Friend Nance ordered what she claims she cannot resist with each of her many visits to the Seahorse Grill-the Linguine Vongole. She offered me a swirl and I know that if the opportunity is afforded me in the future (and I am currently making those plans), I would certainly order her selection. The freshest of clams were poached in white wine broth, olive and plenty of garlic and then perfectly heaved together with el dente linguini.

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My Smoked chicken and pasta choice was perfect with generous slices of chicken breast and a bone in cuts as well, the dish was laced with garlic and beautifully paired with a hearty pasta. At about this time, another old friend made a second appearance and the evening was complete.

Kath’s quote: A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. ” 
 Shannon L. Alder

Seahorse Grill on Urbanspoon

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

J&H Greek Restaurant Update

April13

Most of my local readers know that I write a regular restaurant column in the community newspapers here in Winnipeg. I love visiting the bevy of locally owned and operated delis, cafes and ethnic restaurants. Not only is the food exceptional but the owners are so welcoming and hospitable. One such owner tracked me down through the newspaper and called me this afternoon.

Aspiro, the second generation operator of J & H’s wanted to let me know that in spite of the fact that they had been closed for six months, they were once again open for business with slightly reduced hours of operation. He explained how his Dad and Mom (where the J and H originates) had journeyed home to Greece for their first time in 20 years. Their stay was unexpectedly extended and while there they actually considered retiring. Upon their arrival back in Winnipeg they realized that even though they were getting on in years, their little restaurant on Portage Ave. was an important part of their identity and they could not permanently close their labour of love. So Aspiro’s Mom and Dad decided that an appropriate compromise would be to reduce their 100 hours each week in the restaurant.

As a result, if you are considering the consumption of amazing Greek cooking any time soon (and I strongly suggest you do), their new hours are Monday to Thursday 8 am to 3 pm and Friday & Saturday 8 am to 8 pm. They will be open on special Sundays like Mother’s and Father’s Days.

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We concluded our chat with my sharing that Boo and the Frenchman will be leaving shortly for Greece. He expressed his disappointment that his Mom and Dad weren’t still there as they could have hosted our family for a meal in Athens. Do you see what makes me love my job and meeting these local restauranteurs?

J & H Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”-Craig Claiborne

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

A Photo of My Life

April12

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As  I was setting the table for a dinner party, I noticed that my turquoise hutch could use a wipe. Perhaps you might not have noticed what I saw. I am a “noticer”. I often pour my wine from this place and in the midst of the dried up round droplets, there was a perfectly shaped heart one.  It struck me how in so many ways, the image depicts my life.

For one, I am always spilling things: my credit cards all over the counter, coffee onto my housecoat and red wine in many locales.

For two I am messy. I am not a good housekeeper and I am a very messy cook. When D is out of town on business, I don’t even make the bed.

I love turquoise. I have a dozen pair of turquoise earrings and a primarily turquoise wardrobe. I have decorated our home and beach house with turquoise accents. D recently gifted me with a turquoise stand mixer. I painted and distressed this hutch when Beep moved out and we converted her main floor bedroom into our dining room. She teases us that we did so the weekend after she made her move.

I love having turquoise around me because it reminds me of the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and both Italy and Mexico.

The hutch is “distressed” because for one I am very frugal. For two I would rather repurpose something than purchase new. I feel that items like old wood furniture have more integrity than new. In addition, there is freedom and exhilaration in slapping on paint in a rustic fashion. Kind of like finger painting when I was a kid.

And yes, I love red wine. My absolute favourite is a fine Chilean Merlot. But because I am thrifty, I have found a reasonable substitute that comes in economical packaging (dare I say…boxed). This convenience allows me to pour a glass when we are watching “Suits” on Netflix, a Jets game or “Amazing Race”. It means that I have plenty to share with Jen and the Frenchman (my kids in law), when we assemble for mandatory Sunday suppers.

Hearts too are all around me. I collect heart shaped coral, stones and seafood when I vacation. My family give me pottery, baskets and jewellery in heart shaped. I photograph hearts every chance I get.

I see hearts everywhere: in the clouds at sunrise, in puddles after a rain shower and in the pucker of a newborn baby’s mouth.

Of course a heart is not just another shape like a triangle. Hearts mean love and in my life, love is what it is all about. Not the receiving of love, but the giving of it. When I am blessed by a heart, I am reminded anew that I was put on earth to be a love distributor.

Kath’s quote: And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 
 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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