Chew Revisited

January30

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I constantly read both fiction and non-fiction about life in Italy. I am always fascinated by their love of wild boar. Living on the Canadian prairies I never really thought that I would get an opportunity to taste wild boar. But on this day, while dining at Chew I asked our server which sandwich he recommended. In truth, I was mostly interested in the Parmesan truffle fries option that the sandwiches are offered with. He described their albacore sandwich as light and clean tasting and the wild boar as warm and satisfying. In the midst of winter, “warm and satisfying” is always a good idea, so I made my decision. In spite of really, really wanting to love it, I took one bite and knew that wild boar was not my thing.

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The grainy mustard was so grainy that it made me recall the times I watched my Mom make up a mustard plaster for a sick sibling. All of this is not a criticism of the expertise of the kitchen, just a miscue with my selection.

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In the mean time, the perfectly prepared shoe-string fries were absolutely heavenly, peppered with shards of Parmesan and drizzled with a glistening of truffle oil. I ate them with my fingers as you would enjoy potato chips and I really could have cared less about not having the sandwich. My lunch date on the other hand, a self-professed “picky”eater, was obviously enjoying his grilled cheese sandwich. If you know the amazing offerings at Chew, you will know that it was not just any grilled cheese.  Three different cheese varieties were grilled with slices of sweet figs, peppery arugula and a basting of balsamic dressing. He had finished half and was going to start to nosh through his stack of fries. I was hinting for a taste,when he generously offered me half, saying that he was saving himself for the treat of those fries. Oh my gosh, likely the best grilled cheese that I had ever tasted!

I recognized the friendly rapport of our server from the moment I arrived. He had taken our reservation the day before and made a definite impression, even over the phone. He is obviously passionate about the dishes he serves and the skills of the chef-owners. He has a way of making every guest feel as if they were the only table dining in the cozy restaurant.

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I was admiring their exquisite dining tables that had been added since my first visit. Our server proudly indicated that they had been hand crafted by one of the restaurant managers.

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Next door was another adjunct-the opening of their bread and pastry shop.

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I was too full from my lunch to consider purchasing anything but I just loved snooping around at the wonderful things for sale including some lovely cookware.

Chew on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Mecaenas: ‘Eight wild-boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve persons there; is this true?’
Enobarbus: ‘This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.’”-William Shakespeare

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Winnipeg’s Inaugural PEI Shellfish Festival-Blackbox Challenge

January27

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With the esteemed judges.

The life of a professional foodie is simply marvelous (forgive me-I just watched Downtown Abbey) with invitations to special events and restaurant openings. One such event stands taller than the rest. That was when I was invited to be a black box judge at Winnipeg’s first PEI Shellfish Festival sponsored by the good folks at WOW! Hospitality.

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I cannot give you a whole lot of detail about the Chefs (this photo was taken by someone else) because being an impartial judge means being kept in the dark about some specific details, but I can tell you this-many of the stars of the Winnipeg culinary scene were rumoured to be in the house. We were asked to grade an appetizer and an entrée from each of six chefs. Marks were allocated for presentation (after all-we first “eat” with our eyes) and then most significantly on taste. With the former, we considered portion size, colour, artistry, originality and that the item from the box had been utilized in the recipe. With the latter: texture, degree of doneness and balanced tastes and seasonings were all considerations.

Here is a pictorial recounting of my morning in the order that they came off of my camera, beginning with the appetizers (Please note-I was unsuccessful in reacquiring my notes from the event so some photos may be entrees when they were intended to be apps and vice versa):

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The entrees:

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Can you spot the winners?

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After each of the appetizers and entrees were tasted and evaluated, the judges met to compare our tally sheets and share our comments.  The exchange was passionate as is the case, in my opinion, when exceptional food is involved. In the end the standings were determined with only a single point determining third place.

Of the many day’s highlights was chatting with PEI’s fisherman about the qualities of Bar Clams, which I had never tasted before. I learned first hand how the depreciation of the cod supplies has actually bolstered the shellfish industry. D and I are crazy about shellfish of all descriptions. Some of you know that our trip to Boston and Cape Cod was cut short last September. We would sure love to visit PEI!

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We have traveled the world to eat seafood and Canada has the most amazing product we have ever tasted! We lunched on …mussels (of course) at Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway City where we had attended the Annual Galway Food Festival.

I also chatted extensively with Liam Dolan (the handsome judge to the far right of the photo) who is the originator of the annual Shellfish Festival in PEI. He also owns an Irish Pub in Charlottetown and hails from Galway-an amazing Irish city that D and I loved visiting.

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The remains of the day.

That evening at the fabulous PEI Kitchen Party held at 295 York, the awards went to: 3rd- Red River College instructor Luc Jean, 2nd-Kelly Andreas – Delta Hotel with top honours going to Gordon Bailey-  Red River College Patterson Global Institute.

Gord Bailey wins the opportunity to travel to PEI this September to compete in the 20th Birthday Bash of the PEI Shellfish Festival. I can’t wait to see how he fares against Canada’s top chefs.

Kath’s quote: “Do not overcook this dish. Most seafoods…should be simply threatened with heat and then celebrated with joy.” -Jeff Smith

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

“Go Barley” Wins Canadian Cookbook Award

January23

Last evening I received this press release:

TouchWood Editions is pleased to announce that Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain (TouchWood, 2014) has been named the Canadian winner for Best Historical Recipes Book by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. The announcement was made January 22, 2015.

The cookbook, which was co-written by Calgarians Pat Inglis, a home economist and food writer, and Linda Whitworth, market development manager for Alberta Barley, will continue on to the Gourmand Best in the World competition. As the English-language winner in Canada, Go Barley will compete against winners in its category from a considerable number of other countries, including Chile, Kuwait, Samoa, and Zambia.

The announcement of the winners for the Best in the World competition will be announced June 9, 2015, at their annual awards benefit, to be held this year in Yantai, China.

Each year, the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards receive thousands of cookbook and wine book submissions from over 150 countries. Cookbooks must first qualify in a national competition in their original language before moving on to represent their country in the world-wide competition. Please visit www.cookbookfair.com for more information.

I have had the pleasure of food-styling for Linda Whitworth on two occasions. Here is a reposting of the last time she was in town promoting her award winning cookbook:

I am fascinated by ancient foods especially those referred to in the Bible.  Add barley to that list as it is mentioned over 30 times-in fact there is archeological evidence that wild forms of barley were being harvested as early as 17,000 BCE!

In my recent efforts to increase my soluble fibre, I have been seeking out recipes for whole grains like barley.  In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, barley helps improves glycemic control and the soluble fibre helps with digestive health.  Barley is also a super food when it comes to vitamins and minerals, containing thiamine, niacin, folate, riboflavin, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and amino acids!  I feel better, just having typed this long list….

Barley is a local food and I love to see fields of graceful, long blonde haired stems, blowing in the farmer’s fields throughout Manitoba and the rest of the Canadian prairies.

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But the truth is, no nutritional food is worth knowing about if it doesn’t taste good.  I love barley’s unique nutty flavour.  In my enjoyable work as a food-stylist, I sometimes am recruited when a new recipe book is being launched.  Such is the case, with a gorgeous new book entitled “go barley-MODERN RECIPES FOR AN ANCIENT GRAIN” by Pat Inglis and Linda Whitworth.

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Linda and I have worked together before and she is a delight to work alongside and is the “Barley Queen” as far as her knowledge of the grain is concerned.

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The book itself is a perfect size and is packed with gorgeous photography that make you want to pick up a spoon or fork and break through the pages.  This is what ingenious recipe writing (and a good food stylist) can achieve. My favourite of the three recipes: Wild Rice, Barley, and Fruit Salad; Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler and Barley Tabbouleh, is the latter.

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I left it for D’s dinner last evening with a grilled chicken breast and just now I crumbled some feta on top for a refreshing (from fresh mint) and yet satisfying lunch.

D with his sweet tooth, loved the Cobbler and I am planning on making the Ole Fashioned Ginger Snaps for him and the Sunflower Barley Crackers for me.

With Linda’s permission, I included the Barley Tabbouleh recipe, just to whet your appetite until you get a chance to buy the book or check out their website: Go Barley.

Kath’s quote: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.” Deut 8:7-8

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Shut Ur Pie Hole!

January21

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“Shut Ur Pie Hole” might be your exclamation if you knew what birthday D celebrated yesterday, with his boyish good looks and effervescent personality.  I wanted him to enjoy a special treat at the end of a long day standing on his feet and chatting to potential customers at a trade show and then attending a course last evening. The perfect opportunity came along when I had a chance to visit my new friend Heather Daymond at the same trade show. Heather a.k.a. the “pie lady” is the genius behind the local business Shut Ur Pie Hole. She sent me away with a couple of her perfectly sized pies in a jar-pecan, D’s favourite!

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Heather is an extraordinary entrepreneur, finessing her passion for pie making into a full time business. While at her gorgeous booth, Chef Rob Thomas dropped in for a visit and to chat about his recent experience on Chopped Canada, which I viewed when I got home last evening. We discussed that the “edge” in the food and culinary world is not simply putting out a great tasting product but doing so in an authentic and vulnerable manner so that potential customers have the satisfaction of a first hand relationship with the food’s creator. Heather, my friend is the real deal.

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Since we had just celebrated Boo and the Frenchman’s nuptials this fall, the knowledge that Heather’s pie display is available to rent for weddings (and other events) was of interest.  Our kids worked so hard to create a homey, comfortable and beautiful setting for their reception at Fort Gilbraltar.  The latter already contributed to the feel that they were going for, but had their reception been in a more “banquet-style” room, Heather’s set would have been a fitting addition. Not to mention, that mini pies in a jar are the perfect party favour!

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Heather has not yet celebrated her business’s first anniversary and in that time frame she has lovingly made an astounding number of pies. IMHO here’s why-pies speak of love, especially the memory of a slice of your Grandma or Mom’s pie. Of course, the pie must be expertly made and delicious and the “Pie Lady’s” pies absolutely are (D let me have a bite)! In D’s family pies were so revered that he and his 7 siblings each got their own full pie for their birthdays. They did not have to share it with anyone if they chose. D says that he would keep his stashed under his bed and luxuriate in a forkful for the week following his birthday celebration.

And so it was that I was able (in an abbreviated fashion) to give him this gift of love and rejuvenation at the end of a long and tiring day.

Kath’s quote: “But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese.”-
Eugene Field

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Fresh and New Tastes at The Garry St. Keg Steakhouse + Bar

January20

Now that D and I are empty-nesters, we love to spontaneously drop in somewhere for dinner before we head home for the night. On this evening, we knew that a televised Jets game was being pvr’d at home. We both wanted something light, not just because it was a mid-week, “no real reason to go out” kind of night but also because of our post-holiday resolutions. You might think that The Keg Steakhouse + Bar would be a poor choice under these circumstances, but you would be wrong.  The Keg has always been very customer focused (D and I are former employees) and it is no surprise that their executive chefs have put lighter items on the menu to ensure that all their guests get exactly what they desire.

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New to the menu (as of late November) is Baked Sea Bass. Sea Bass is a meaty, salt-water fish. We are fond of Sea Bass, especially the giant ones called Grouper that we often dine on while vacationing in the Caribbean. Do you see the definition of the fish in this photo? The meat can be easily separated with your fork and the result is as if you were eating a glistening scallop.  The cucumber salsa crowning the fish added crunch and additional clean tastes.  We were really impressed by the Keg’s take on quinoa. A tri-colour variety of the grain is combined with garlic, chives, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, red onions, black beans and charred corn; taking one super-food and elevating it with others.

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Speaking of super-foods: pistachios, salmon and brussel sprouts make appearances in the second dish that we shared. I’ve know pistachios to be paired with chicken and sausages, but never before with fish. They added a satisfying crunch, additional protein and flavour to the already succulent salmon. The sprouts had been sautéed with apple-wood smoked bacon increasing the depth of the dish with pungent tones. The drizzling of maple butter and the bed of decadent garlic-mashed potatoes, cinched our love of the dish.

We ordered a heavier red wine before we selected our entrees, but the next time we select these two dishes, we would be inclined towards one of the couple of Sangioves on extensive wine menu. Typically white wines are chosen with fish, but a lighter red like this or a Gamay can also be enjoyed.

We chose to decline the dessert menu when our helpful server offered it, to help us with those resolutions but also because we had lingered over our wine and were anticipating getting home for the game.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:“Pistachio nuts, the red ones, cure any problem.”-Paula Danziger

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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