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.
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.
I spotted this in the front window of her Provencher Ave. shop.
Look at the detailing and artistry of the work? Even the lace is edible, having been made from spun sugar.
Wouldn’t it be fun and delicious to eat your way through this chess game?
Everywhere you look in the pristine little shop, there is something delectable to purchase as a treat or a great gift.
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.
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.
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
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!”.
Our assembly this year was diverse with representatives not just from Australia but Japan (an international student living with a family member),
from the Wee One who is the youngest (and her adorable second cousin)
to our Mom and my bother-in-law’s Dad who is in his 90’s
with various generations of cousins in between.
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.
There is always turkey, ham AND meatballs, potatoes made with and without cream cheese and a couple of casseroles of green bean bake.
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:
Unfortunately fresh figs are out of season in October in central Canada so improvising was in order.
4 sweet potatoes
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
Wash & cut potatoes into uniform wedges.
Place them, skin side down on a heavy, greased baking sheet.
Drizzle more oil and salt and pepper over all.
Roast for approx. 25 minutes at 475 degrees until soft but not mushy.
Place balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small sauce pan.
Bring to a boil and then decrease heat and simmer 2 to 4 minutes.
Sauté onions and pepper in oil for 4 to 5 minutes.
Assemble potatoes on platter, top with all ingredients, leaving the pomegranate for last and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.
Can be served hot or at room temperature.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Kath’s quote: “The trouble with eating Italian food is that 5 or 6 days later you’re hungry again.”-George Miller
The perfect way to start dinner at a St. Boniface restaurant is with a walk through The Forks,
past the magnificent Canadian Human Rights Museum
and over the Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge. Not only do you work up your appetite but you walk by some of the best views that Winnipeg has to offer.
The view from our table.
This is how we started the evening of our visit to The Promenade Café & Wine.
A toast with a fabulous Gewürztraminer.
We were celebrating our eldest daughter’s birthday and she had never dined at the bistro before.
D selected the French Canadian dish of Bison Tortiere which is so named because of the pan that it is made in. Tortiere is typically served as a festive Christmas dish and many Winnipeggers enjoy their own families’ version. The healthy ground bison had a firm texture and the seasonings were deeply satisfying. In contrast, the pie crust was light and flaky and the ladle of gravy that blanketed it, was a glistening enhancement.
I chose the classic French Beef Bourguignon which I have never attempted the making of at home. I do know though that the authentic recipe includes pearl onions and button mushrooms and this recipe was true to form. The beef was tender and the gravy, luscious. Both dishes were accompanied by simply steamed and buttered carrots and broccoli and the creamiest potatoes I have indulged in for a while. The birthday girl chose one of the few un-French dishes on the menu: Gnocchi which was equally tantalizing.
The good news about walking out for dinner is that you have no vehicle and are forced to also stroll home. This aids digestion and offsets the calorie indulgence.
“Boeuf a la Bourguignonne (Beef in the Burgundy style): This is the stew of stews, an apotheosis of stew, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the watery, stringy mixture served up in British institutions. It’s a rich, carefully cooked recipe which is served up on special occasions in French homes, and which appears without shame on the menus of high-class restaurants.”-Jane Grigson
Being in the media procurement business means that I receive invitations to wonderful places for previews and grand openings. CBWT was launching their upcoming schedule, so they assemble a group of clients and my fellow media buyers for lunch at Prairie 360. I have had the pleasure of dining at the unique revolving restaurant on a previous occiassion but it was for dinner in the winter and because so much of what the restaurant is, is actually outside the windows of the restaurant, it was like a whole new location.
Check out this view.
Because we were a large group and time was limited, we ordered from a limited menu.
Next to me a friend choose the smoked salmon sandwich and across from me,
a bison burger arrived. Since I was with business acquaintances and I already felt sheepish about asking if I could take photos of their meals, I didn’t ask them for a taste. Suffice it to say, that they were well pleased.
Bowls of hand cut potato chips were served family style. Holy moly, I could have devour the entire bowl…….
I selected the rotini and since so much time has past since I enjoyed this meal, I can’t for the life of me, remember what it contained. I can tell you this: I have heard concerns that with Prairie 360’s kitchen on a separate floor than the dining room, the food does not always arrive hot. On this day, the pasta was piping hot, in fact, I had to let it cool off for a bit, before I could tuck in.
We moved to another floor for the official presentation of the day and coffee and dessert was set out for us to help ourselves. The chocolate pate was dense, creamy and so amazing.
Kath’s quote: “A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.”-Wilma Askinas