Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Mesa Grill NYC


We saved the best for last.  It was the final day of our ladies’ adventure in NYC.  We packed up and set out for a neighbourhood shop of Gramercy and Flat Iron. And so our last meal was on 5th Ave.: 102 to be exact at Bobby Flay’s urban masterpiece.-Mesa Grill.  I was immediately impressed by the soaring ceilings and showcase bar.  We settled in to a big round table right in the middle of the lunch time scene.

Comfort food of burgers and fries came out in portions so huge that only half was being consumed.  Thankfully we ordered prettier little morsels that were sublime.  A warm basket of cornmeal muffins arrived almost immediately.  I started with a smoked salmon cake and proceeded to the eggplant stuffed Chiles Relleno.   People who know me well, are aware that I am a Chiles Relleno fanatic, an eggplant aficionado and am crazy about New York city-so how could I be in a better place?

Lingering over each savoury bite, I did manage to save room for the peach bread pudding with raspberry coulee for dessert.  All this for an amazing $24. as it was still restaurant week when we were there in August.

Mesa Grill on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A cook, when I dine, seems to me a divine being, who from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race. One considers him as a minister of heaven, because his kitchen is a temple, in which his ovens are the altar.”-Marc Antoine Désaugiers



I had worked downtown for years and had never had an occasion to try lunch at Mitzi’s on Garry and St. Mary Ave.  I arrived considerably after the lunch hour and the place was packed!   How did all of these people know about this place if I didn’t (pretty ego-centric thought I admit)?

I went with the intention of sampling their famous chicken fingers and so did not have a very long read of the menu but could not help but notice that Mitzi’s is primarily a Chinese food restaurant.  Who knew?  Every other option surrounds their signature chicken fingers.  You can order one chicken finger or 48 and almost any number in between.  The fingers are available on their own or with fries and cole slaw, Caesar salad, tossed salad or mixed greens.

The fingers themselves are said to be “homemade” which I know means made on premise, why do so many restaurants use the homemade label?  They are delicious-using fresh chicken breast strips in a crunchy breading.  Once you take a crunchy bite, the meat inside is tender and juicy.  There was no dipping sauce which was okay because on this occasion, I ate my lunch at the bus stop.

Mitzi’s is open for lunch and then reopens for dinner time.  Their menu indicates that they also cater banquets and parties.

Mitzi's Chicken Finger Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.”-Prince Philip

Jamie Oliver’s Crunchy Garlic Chicken Strips


Did you see when Jamie Oliver demonstrated to the elementary school kids how a chicken nugget is made on his Food Revolution TV show?  Even though I knew that they were not made from an in tact piece of chicken,  Omgoodness-it was so gross. One of the reasons that I love Jamie Oliver is that he doesn’t take away without giving back.  In this case, with an alternate chicken recipe that kids (and their parents) would love.  From Jamie’s Food Revolution:

“This crumbing technique is so versatile-you can cook pork or even cod in exactly the same way.  As there is butter in the crumb mixture, you can grill fry, roast or bake the meat dry in the oven and it will go lovely and golden.

serves 2

1 clove garlic

1 lemon

6 cream or plain crackers, such as Jacob’s (I would suggest salt-less soda biscuits)

2 T butter

4 springs of Italian parsley

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 heaped T flour

1 large egg

2 skinless chicken breast fillets

olive oil

Peel the garlic and zest the lemon.  Put the crackers in a food processor with the butter garlic, parsley sprigs, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Whiz until the mixture is very fine, then pour these crumbs on a plate.  Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork.  Lightly score the underside of the chicken breasts.  Put a square of plastic wrap over each one and bash a few times with the bottom of a pan until the breasts flatten out a bit.  Dip the chicken into the flour until both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and finally into the flavoured crumbs.  Push the crumbs onto the chicken so they stick-you want the meat to be totally coated.

You can either bake or fry the chicken.  If baking, preheat your oven to its highest temperature (475 degrees), place your chicken on a sheet pan and cook for 15 minutes.  If frying, put a frying pan on medium heat, add a few glugs of oil and cook the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through, golden and crisp.

Either serve the chicken breasts whole or cut them into strips and pile them on a plate.  Beautiful and simple served with a lemon wedge for squeezing over and a tiny sprinkling of salt.  Great with a lovely fresh salad or simply dressed veggies.”

Kath’s quote (even though I would beg to differ):  “All in all, I think the British actually hate food, otherwise they couldn’t possibly abuse it so badly. Americans, on the other hand, love food but seldom care what it tastes like.”-Bill Marsano

Urban Myths


I am not sure if I am remembering correctly or if I am perpetuating an urban myth but I recall that Chicken Fingers were invented at The Keg.  When the chicken breast craze started some 30 years ago (before then we were all content with drums and thighs), chicken processors had to find a use for the little strip of the chicken breast which does not always stay attached.  The guys at The Keg could get this product very inexpensively and it was actually the tenderest part of the breast so it could be cooked quickly, not dry out and be served as a bar food. 

In those days they were called “Chicken Tenders”.   As the new item was experimented with there were a number of coatings tried-my favourite being panko flakes.  In addition to a number of sauces which were invented to dip them into. 

Now, this part is absolutely true-the honey-dill dressing that fingers are often served with, absolutely was invented by The Keg.  It is still my favourite of any choice and we make it often at home-using equal parts of liquid honey and mayo and adding as much dry dill as desired.

Where’s you favourite place to order chicken fingers?  Do you have a recipe that you would be willing to share?  Stay tuned to read about Mitzi’s and see Jamie Oliver’s Crunch Garlic Chicken from his Food Revolution.

Kath’s quote: “‘Bee vomit,’ my brother said once, ‘that’s all honey is,’ so that I could not put my tongue to its jellied flame without tasting regurgitated blossoms.”-Rita Dove



Sister #3 is hosting a lovely international student from Beijing and gathered a group of of friends together last night for a traditional Chinese celebration.  I think the intent was to make her student feel more at home, learn more about other customs and gather a group of other families who are also hosting Chinese students.  From my estimation the evening was a wonderful success;  not only because I loved the special tea and treats but from the happy sounds of the four students chatting and sharing, who hadn’t known each other previously.

Sister #3 is the perfect host (so is Sister #2 for that matter).   She had decorated with lanterns and got out her best china.  She had colouring sheets for the kids and read us the legend of the wood-cutter who was banished to the moon.  But she also opened the story telling up to the students to interject the versions that they had learned back home.

The moon cake itself was full of nuts and was satisfying and not too sweet.  Supposedly the “moon” (a round egg yolk)  is baked into the cake but my wedge did not contain it.  I had never tasted anything like the tea before-made from plums and chrysanthemums it was perfectly clear and lovely and sweet.

Another way to celebrate the richness of life with food!

Kath’s quote: “Ecstasy is a glass of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth.”-Alexander Pushkin

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