Cafe Turko

March26

Not surprisingly, we being foodies typically surround ourselves with like minded friends. Our circles are not posh food snobs but people who appreciate quality food at an affordable price. Our tastes don’t surround foie gras and truffle oil but new and sparkling tastes in a comfortable environment. Many of our adult friends are willing to take food explorations with us but few include their four children in the process. We knew a couple of attributes about the amazing children of our wonderful friends Rebecca and Orion. For example, on the day that their only daughter was baptised, we as her newly instated Godparents were invited to lunch with them. The quirky Falafel Place in Winnipeg was selected where the Ifland brood supped upon baba gnoush, hummus and falafel. On this day, we stayed in the realm of Middle Eastern dining when we arrived at Café Turko in Freemont.

I was enraptured by the splendid colours of the décor and the crafts imported from Turkey.  The locale was originally a Turkish rug shop and a few remained on display along with pashminas, lanterns, pottery and jewelry. I would have loved to have purchased a number of gorgeous little ceramic bowls but knew that my air journey wouldn’t necessarily accommodate my passion for little bowls.

Consistent with the lavish colours of the shop was the food itself. I had been struck by the colourful spices even before I had walked in the door and then more so once inside.

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Warm pita and rainbow hummus started us all off including the enthusiastic kids. I would have liked to believe that the hummus was made of rainbows but in fact it was a quartet of beet, yam, spinach and traditional hummus. We were struck with our adventurous foodie back home, the Wee One who loves hummus and plain Balkan yoghurt so much that she has concocted her own words to request “hummy” and dodurt”.

Each of the kids had their own favourite, our Goddaughter the beet one because she loves everything pink! I found her a card in her neighbourhood which I purchased for her declaring”Yes I even dream in pink”. The 2nd eldest son focused in on the spinach, which prompted this Mom to recount the story of Popeye and the eldest, the yam.  Or perhaps not, the eldest is simply the most laid back, accommodating child that we have ever come to love.  I might just have imagined that he loved the yam just because it was the one left.

Two Doner Kebap Pockets were ordered. The homemade tomato sauce, grilled eggplant and yoghurt sauce and crumbled feta cheese were appreciated by both D and Rebecca.

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Orion recommended that I try the same dish as him-the Ali Nazik. Spicy chicken was char-grilled and then served upon the same grilled eggplant and yoghurt sauce along with Turkish rice pilaf enhanced with chickpeas and fascinating Turkish spices. “Ali Nazik” means “made with gentle hands”. Chef Sureyya is at the helm of the exposed kitchen so it must have been her gentle hands that made our dishes so memorable.

Rebecca purchased a to go treat of Sureyya’s “No Guilt” Baklawa stuffed with walnuts and pistachios and Kataif with Turkish Pistachios. We had these as a late afternoon snack with the family. What a wonderful day.

Cafe Turko on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote (found while searching for quotations about Turkish food): “How to thaw a frozen turkey: “Blow in it’s ear.”-Johnny Carson

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Meet the Food Musings Contest Winner!

March19

If you are from Winnipeg, Manitoba, you know that we are a hotbed of eclectic cuisine. From ethnic neighbourhood restaurants, chef-focused award winning dining rooms and the best little spots for a burger, pizza or breakfast, we have got it all!

When I recently asked the readers of my bi-weekly Canstar Community Newspapers column for their suggestions for places that I should visit in the future, the suggestions came pouring in.

Many of them, I had already written about in my regular columns, including: Bonfire Bistro, Café Savour, Chaise Lounge, Chew, La Fiesta Cafecito, Luda Deli, Magic Thailand, Red Eye Diner and Vietiane.

Places not yet visited, far outnumbered those already covered. Here are the top selections: Beaujena’s French Table, Bellamy’s Restaurant & Bar, Big Rick’s Hot Rod Diner, D-Jays Restaurant & Ichabod’s Lounge, Ducky’s English Style Fish & Chips, Exquisite Taste, Falafel Place, Green Ninja Eatery & Bakery, Inferno’s Bistro in St. Boniface, Juliana Pizza, Karahi of India, Kyri Bistro, Olympia Diner, Punjabi Hut, Sizzling Dhaba, Sushi Terrace, Water Lily Restaurant and Watt St. Bistro. One spot was suggested by more than one reader, namely 925 Bistro. Another place has just recently opened-BerMax Café & Bistro on Corydon.

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Without further adieu, drum roll please…..the winner of dinner with Kathryne Grisim at The Keg Steakhouse +Bar location of her choosing is- Janice Sawka! Although the drawing of her name was random, she and many other entries were like “mini-reviews” of the restaurant that they were putting forward. Here’s hers:

“My choice for a local restaurant for your column would definitely be CAFE SAVOUR.

This small little gem, only open for part of the week, looks quite uninspiring from the outside but hides a lovely surprise inside. The address is 956 St. Mary’s Road.

Run by a husband-and-wife team, they cook meals inspired by their world travels. On slower nights, the husband will often come to your table and answer any questions you have on the food, and then provide some informative background (country of origin, how he came to be aware of this particular dish, etc.). It’s very interesting. Portions are small, but there are several of them, so it evens out. Food is excellent.

The tiny interior is decorated with green walls, bric-a-brac and sparkling little strings of mini lights. When I went there for my birthday last February, I spent much of the meal moaning how I hadn’t thought to bring a camera!

It all adds up to a charming experience.”

Kath’s quote: “It is a true saying that a man must eat a peck of salt with his friend before he knows him.”
-Miguel de Cervantes, ‘Don Quixote’

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Fat Hen, Seattle

March17

I love happy endings. Even though I am not absolutely certain that this is the case with the story of the married couple who met at Cordon Bleu cooking school. I feel that I have had a glimpse of their joy and their “happy ending”.

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We were leaving Seattle after a wonderful weekend with the Iflands.  Rebecca had declared a couple of evenings earlier, whilst at their dining table “If only we had more time, I would have loved to have taken you to “The Fat Hen””. She then shared the story of a Seattlite who’s mother was a graduate of the prestigious Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris and how her daughter also attended the school and met her Italian husband Maximo while there.

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Fast forward to this morning, Maximo was in the tiny café kitchen where he whipped up the most decadent and rich breakfasts for D and I. His wife had baked all the pastries that were featured in the restaurant including the perfectly bubble filled baguette that I used to sop up every single bite of my delectable sauce.

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Rebecca who hails from our province in the middle of Canada had declared that even though she would not normally indulge in a Benedict, the Fat Hen’s version was the best she had ever tasted with its heavenly hollandaise sauce. Since we were in seafood territory, D chose the Benedict with wild Alaskan smoked salmon. The petite roasted new potatoes were a delectable accompaniment.

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I needed help with my baked eggs alla boscaiola where two eggs had been plunged into a bubbling solea tomato sauce with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, to finish the cooking process. At least, this is how we guessed the dish had been prepared. The more quickly you broke into the egg, the softer the yolk was that had been poaching in the hearty sauce. By my last bite the egg was fully cooked.

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We spotted Maximo as he efficiently let down a counter to cover the doorway to the kitchen to lovingly plate and complete his delicious fare. He was obviously the handsome Italian chef that had smitten his fellow culinary student. He was shy (and busy) but came out for a moment to shake our hands in greeting. His wife was home with their children. They are open from 8-3 Tues to Sunday, a schedule which seems to perfectly suit their regular customers as the place was chock full at 10 am on a Tuesday morning. From what we guess, their timetable also supports their young family and this is where the happy ending comes in. Living a life where you can love what you do but at the same time have the freedom to do so around life’s most important things, like family.

The Fat Hen on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”-Marcel Boulestin

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Kent Lunch

March16

Are you familiar with the saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”? Driving past Kent Lunch at the corner of Kent and Nairn, a couple of years ago, I noticed that the building that they had long inhabited had gone through a major overhaul. Upon inquiry, I also discovered that the original owners had sold to new ones.

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I distinctly remember chomping into a meatloaf sandwich in the “olden” days and was hoping to resurrect that memory when I spontaneously stopped in. Sadly, I was informed that my favourite sandwich must have been a thing of the past. Undaunted, I scanned through the menu and spied a clubhouse sandwich, another of my favourites.

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The essence of a superior clubhouse sandwich is, in my humble opinion, the quality of the chicken or turkey. It must be oven roasted and not a manufactured substitute; and so it is at Kent Lunch. But the from-scratch cooks of the popular spot, go one step further and offer the double decker sandwich with just-roasted beef!

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Hand cut fries accompany the sandwich. I tried to resist these but ate enough to comment that they were very tasty. The cup of homemade chicken soup was another highlight. The surprisingly clear chicken broth supported tender pieces of celery and carrot as they floated about. Hearty pieces of chicken and white onion had sunk to the bottom of the bowl creating a tasty reward after my veggies were dutifully eaten.

Owner Grace Kim is an absolute delight, obviously proud of the cheerful atmosphere that she and her parents have created in the breakfast and lunch stop. She warmly greets her many regulars with familiar conversation. For those dining alone, she has positioned a TV to keep them company. With some daily specials under $5, I suspect she sees many solo diners from the neighbourhood.

Kent Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When I was a boy there were only three kinds of sandwiches in common use – the ham, the chicken and the Swiss cheese. Others, to be sure, existed, but it was only as oddities.  Even the club sandwich was a rarity, and in most eating-houses it was unobtainable. The great majority of people stuck to the ham and the Swiss cheese, with the chicken for feast days and the anniversaries of historic battles.”-H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, Winter Bites, Kenora by Guest Bloggers J1 and J2, Part 2

March12

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The next day we returned to the Lakeside Brewing Company for a beer and a couple games of pool.

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We couldn’t help but order the remaining Winter Bites menu item- the quesadilla. A 12” tortilla filled with house blend cheese, red and green peppers, green onion, red onion, and your choice of mexi-beef or grilled chicken with a side of fries. Every order of fries comes with a choice of 3 house made seasoning salts – Lemon and Chili, Garlic and Parmesan and Brewhouse. We decided to do a very comprehensive taste test  and the Brewhouse seasoning came out the winner, although all 3 were incredibly enjoyable.

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After a short siesta at our hotel – the Lakeside Inn, we returned to the brewery for dinner. Ok, ok, now before you accuse us of being obsessed with this place…..no you’re right, we’re obsessed. Our dinner started with the beer battered, sarsaparilla BBQ Almost Famous Chicken Wings. These were perfectly cooked and fabulously saucy.

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Next up was The Best Damn Chicken Sand’ – open faced, grilled chicken breast, goat cheese, drunken beer pear, prosciutto, sarsaparilla BBQ sauce, hammer and sickle sauce and arugula with cheesy jalapeno fries. This was a similar offering to the pulled pork sandwich and had the same “Wow!” factor.

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Our final taste at the brewery was the Rookie Nacho Platter Topped with Deputy Chief’s Chili. To be honest only a couple of bites were consumed that night because we were entirely stuffed from our feast, but they were hearty and delicious. The suggestion of the Chili addition to our nachos was suggested by our server and we were told is a favorite of the owner of the establishment.

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In addition to feasting, our night was spent playing crib which is a favorite activity of ours and reminded us of lazy nights spent at the cabin. There were a plethora of games that the brewery had put out for patrons to engage in as their tribute to ‘Family Day’ which was the holiday in Ontario this day. We thought this was a lovely idea and our night couldn’t have been more enjoyable. Fabulous food, fantastic service and the beer-oh the beer.

Kath’s quote: “He was a wise man who invented beer.”-Plato (Greek philosopher) 428- 347 BC

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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