Piazza di Nardi

October23

Have you ever travelled by car through Italy on the auto strata? If you have and you have stopped at one of their “auto grills”, you may recognise the food service counters at Piazza di Nardi. The food at these Italian rest stops is surprisingly excellent and so is di Nardi’s. You may wish to order a slice of pizza, a meatball sandwich or eggplant Parmigiano. On this occasion I decided to compile lunch from the vast array of cold items.

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While in Italy we sometimes would stop and purchase a baguette, some meat and cheese and fashion our own sandwiches. This can be done at Piazza di Nardi as well, but they make it simpler by having pre-maid sandwiches on hand. I chose ham and cheese on forcaccia bread. The fresh and hearty sandwich was enhanced by a cluster of grapes.

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I added the fig in homage to our time in Sicily where we simply plucked them from our hosts’ tree for our breakfast.

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I wanted to sample even more items that I had not enjoyed since our couple of Italian adventures so I also ordered a small seafood salad which was chock full of calamari and just the correct tartness from the vinegar marinade.

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Two kinds of arancini in Sicily.

I also chose what you might consider the strangest thing: an arancini (literally an orange) which is so named for its shape but is actually a fried rice ball.

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The dish may not sound appetizing but it absolutely was. Peas, meat sauce and mozzarella were stuffed inside a seasoned ball of rice (actually a cup of rice was hand-shaped and then the stuffing was placed in the cup. Then a second bowl shaped rice cup was added to the top). This all got sealed up, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They can be eaten right out of the pan as a hot course in an Italian meal or packed away to eat as a cold snack. We ate ours on a train trip from Sicily to the Amalfi Coast.

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The bonus when you lunch at Piazza di Nardi is that you can purchase other grocery items while there to plan your next meal. I picked up artichoke bruschetta and spinach gnocchi.

Piazza di Nardi is located at 1360 Taylor Ave. They serve lunch and dinner features daily and also have deli items and a catering menu. They are open daily Monday to Saturday from 9 am until 8 pm. On Sunday they are open 11 am-6 pm. Hot items are served from 11:30 am-7:30 pm.

Kath’s quote: “Italian food is all about ingredients and it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy”. -Wolfgang Puck

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Lakeview Hecla Resort-Thanksgiving 2017

October19

We had the date saved for eons: the wedding of daughter Boo’s good, good friend. In fact, we have enjoyed a three generation friendship with this family. They also have a summer home at Lester Beach so we love to spend time with them during the summer, often chatting on the beach or sharing a sunset.

We left the city mid-morning and were very hungry when we arrived at Lakeview Hecla Resort and checked in. This was easily resolved as we had to walk right past the restaurant to get to our hotel room.

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D and I shared our plates and neither of us were enamoured with the chow mien salad even though the sesame ginger vinaigrette was quite lovely. The noodles were too firm to the tooth and we feared they had not been cooked for long enough. Having said this, it was our only food complaint of the entire weekend. We loved the fish tacos made with our favourite fish: pickerel. The cilantro and squeeze of lime were the perfect foils to the sweet chili sauce.

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Our room had a beautiful view of the changing foliage and the lake beyond. You could gaze at it all right from our luxurious bed. Seriously, one of the most comfortable beds I have slept on in a long while.

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We spent a brief time settling in and then it was off to the little church in the village of Hecla.

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The wedding ceremony was poignant, giving the gathered an opportunity to bless the couple’s wedding rings and seeing them tie together a fisherman’s knot, a beautiful symbol of their new marriage.

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I am typically on the other side of the camera, but daughter Boo took this for us after the ceremony.

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We had packed a few healthy snacks for the car ride and since we hadn’t dug into them, I put them out for happy hour. With Little Brown Jug’s 1919, red & white wine and lovely attendees, it was the perfect little party. The rooms at Hecla accommodated our gathering beautifully, with a couch, office chair and perches on the bed.

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Soon it was time to gather for cocktails. We took ours out to the balcony to witness a beautiful blessing of the marriage-this rainbow. The wedding banquet was a joyous time of delicious food and touching speeches. We danced until late in the evening and then tucked into our cozy bed.

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Before hitting the road again, we assembled one last time in Seagulls, the resort restaurant. D enjoyed the Fisherman’s breakfast of pickerel and eggs

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and Sister #3 loved the eggs benedict, especially when they followed her “crispy English muffin” direction.

Of special note during the breakfast and at many points during the weekend, was staff member Steven. Being somewhat remote, the resort likely has difficulties attracting and keeping staff members. They have a “keeper” in Steven, that is for sure.

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After we had a chance to say our lengthy good-byes we were off again.. We dove south hugging the west shore of Lake Winnipeg, crossed to the east side of the lake at Selkirk and then made our way north. It was time to shut down our summer house for the season

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and to celebrate Thanksgiving with my wonderful family.

There were so many things to be grateful for this year-living in this beautiful province being high on the list.

Kath’s quote: “The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts”…..Gerald O’Hara, Gone With The Wind.” – Margaret Mitchell

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Isla Mujeres 2017-Trip Report Day 7

October12

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Up for the sunrise.

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We had a lovely family breakfast at Lola Valentina where we love their cinamon coffee.

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The eldest of the Wee Ones ordered chocolate milk and was delighted with the manner that the staff improvized. The youngest loved her taste as well.

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The Eggs Benedict

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The Breakfast Barrito

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The French Toast.

Then it was off to the beach to visit Brother #3, SIL #3 and Sister #3 before the latter had to return home the next day. She had 2 of Hortenzia’s grandchildren at the beach for the day.

Forgot that we were trying to get to the beach as a family so I left and called in at home.

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Spent time at the docks until we saw Gary & Honor and Kate & Ben off at the ferry with promises that we would get to Australia very soon.

I was able to find the gang renting beds at Fenix. Spent some time there until Daughter #1 & Lori arrived. Dylan, Dani, Sister #2, Michael, Jon, Nicole, and her fiancé were all there too.

Went to pick up boneless ribs from Tino’s for supper which we ate at the hotel. Took the Wee Ones to the liquado spot for “gessert”. Showered the eldest and daughter Boo put the youngest down for us. Spent the evening baby sitting for J1 & J2.

Kath’s quote: “A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television”. -unknown author

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The Feast

October10

When my lunch date and I arrived promptly at noon, this little place was packed. There were a couple of larger parties who were definitely enjoying themselves and the laughter reverberated off the walls. We were tucked in next to a little window which was cosy since it was one of the first cold and rainy days in a long while.

I was first inclined to order a bannock pizza but remembering that I had been to the Poutine Cup the night before and that we often treat ourselves to pizza on a Friday evening, I opted for a lighter choice.

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The pickerel sliders with homemade cream of tomato soup were the perfect alternative. The soup was absolutely delicious; chock full of sparkling fresh tomatoes that only taste that way at the end of summer. The pickerel was beautifully seasoned and perfectly cooked.

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They arrived open-faced on top of lettuce, tomato, pickles and an enormous smear of dill & chive mayo. Upon investigation they were not on a bun but delectable little bundles of dough-known as fry bread or bannock. I could have been satisfied with just the bannock as they were airy and chewy at the same time.

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My friend ordered a chicken sandwich that she let me have a bite of. Once again the chicken breast had just the right seasoning and was not dried out with over cooking. Hers too came with lettuce and tomato and the beautiful addition of melted mozzarella and cranberry sauce. Bannock stood in for a bun or bread and she was equally delighted by her sandwich.

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She chose rice as a side and was even impressed with its rich taste.

Neither lunch was easy or tidy to eat. My friend graciously pointed out that I had mayo on my face! Our fingers were also covered in mayo and we reached for the serviettes over and over again. My lunch companion suggested that it wouldn’t be the place to come on a first date.

The Feast Café Bistro is located at 587 Ellice Ave. and is owned by Christa Bruneau-Guenther. Breakfast, lunch and dinner and catering menus are available. They are open Monday-Saturday at 9 am; close at 4 pm Monday-Thursday and at 9 pm Friday and Saturday. They are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “The perch swallows the grub-worm, the pickerel swallows the perch, and the fisherman swallows the pickerel; and so all the chinks in the scale of being are filled”. -Henry David Thoreau

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Tapas Adega

October2

Typically when we are anticipating a trip away, we try to become accustomed to some of the foods, wines and other delicacies of the region.  Our next European adventure will be Portugal early in 2018. We are going with dear friends who I will start to address as the Wine-lover and the Beer-lover in this space. Recently they invited us to join them at Tapas Adega because owner Arnaldo Carreira is from Portugal. It was a time to talk of food, wine and the adventure ahead.

If the Beer-lover hadn’t directed us through Gus and Tony’s (2015 Portage Ave.) to an adjoining room, we wouldn’t have known how to get into the restaurant. The entrance and other finer points do not concern Arnaldo. He is simply a man who loves to cook for food appreciators. There is no set menu. You are sat down. Candles are lit and the wine starts being poured out. Before you know it the first of many small plates start arriving at your table.

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Cod Cakes were first-they were piping hot and had the appropriate proportion of fish and potatoes to make them a great start.

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At the same time a little platter of Portuguese chorizo was placed on the table. The cold cut had been lightly grilled to bring out the flavour and charm of the meat.

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A sparkling version of calamari arrived next. All three dishes were simply garnished with olives that I could not stop eating remembering our time in Positano, Italy where little bowls of olives accompanied every Peroni or glass of chianti that we ordered.

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Shrimp skewers arrived next but were not delivered in a usual manner. They arrived with the skewers standing upright; achieved when stuck into an overturned orange. The grapes on the skewers were also a lovely touch.

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The Wine-lover said she was not partial to mussels but we encouraged her to taste Tapas Adega’s version as they had been baked in a cheesy mixture. They were a rich and satisfying taste.

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To cleanse the palate before the “main” arrived, there were summer tomatoes topped with a cheese mixture and a sprinkling of dill. We inquired of the mixture and were told that it was goat cheese and another secret cheese. We loved the tart creaminess of the cheese whatever it might have been. The acidity of the tomatoes offset the cheese perfectly.

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Next up was a larger dish with small portions of fish, pork tenderloin, shrimp and chicken. My favourite was the chicken, tasting like it had been dry marinated in paprika, chilli powder an perhaps some garlic and lemon juice. The spice was heavenly and the meat tender and juicy.

Now through all of this the wine keep flowing as we discussed expectations for the trip ahead. We also got to chat with neighbouring guests, some of whom had also been to Portugal.

Kath’s quote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.”-St. Augustine

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