Food Musings

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

Cafe Carlo


When Daughter #1 was just weeks old, we took her out for her first dining experience.  We plunked her car seat in the middle of of a table at the St. James Keg (when it was located further west on Portage Ave.) and we told our server to bring out all of our food, all at once and we would determine as we went along, how long we could linger over individual courses.  Well it turned out to be a leaisurely evening for two reasons: D was the General Manager of that Keg location at that time and all the staff were so accommodating and would have walked the floor with Daughter #1 had she needed attention.  But the fact of the matter was that she did not make a peep and slept the evening away.  Everybody was kind of disappointed because they did not get to see her open her beautiful big blue eyes.

And so it was, that our Cafe Carlo celebration was the long-awaited birth of the son of dear friends of ours.  The evening was made that much better by the inclusion of Grandma and Grandpa from Pennsylvania, whom we have waited a very long time to meet.  But the guest of honour was the newborn baby himself, who also slept blissfully throughout the entire evening.

This particular couple live in the Corydon area and often visit Cafe Carlo, ordering and sharing their favourite dishes.  They let us have tastes.  We were duly impressed with the chunks of chicken in the from-scratch gravy and authentic cheese curds in their version of Poutine, served as a “Small Plate.”  The cheese-makers at Bothwell call their curds “squeakers” because a well-formed curd, squeaks when you bite into them.

We also got to sample another “Small Plate” the portobello mushrooms sauteed with beef tenderloin tips. 

Then the new parents split a dish of ravioli and appreciated that the kitchen split the order for them to enjoy.

You will all be shocked to learn that I did not order the Spag Boo containing my fav artichokes and spicy eggplant (only because that is the dish that I always have when I go).  I opted instead for the Fett Chile.  Silky fettuccine topped with chicken, chorizo for heat, cashews for crunch and a chili cream sauce for slurp.  I dove right in to mine so that I could have my turn holding the baby.

D had the same dish as one of four courses entitled the Fantasy, including spring rolls, a salad and creme brulee. 

The Cafe was packed with neighbourhood folk out for a stroll on a glorious summer evening in Winnipeg.  We celebrated old friends, new friends and the miracle of creation.  Life is good. 

Cafe Carlo on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “So where did these cravings come from? I concluded it’s the baby ordering in. Prenatal takeout. Even without ever being in a restaurant, fetuses develop remarkably discerning palates, and they are not shy about demanding what they want. If they get a hankering, they just pick up the umbilical cord and call. ‘You know what would taste good right now? A cheeseburger, large fries, and a vanilla shake. And if you could, hurry it up, because I’m supposed to grow a lung in a half hour.’” –Paul Reiser

T,C & L-love you guys!

U Pick Strawberries-By Guest Blogger Shirley


Shirley was one of the students in my blog writing class this spring.  She has written this beautiful piece.  Looks like one of those cases where the student could teach the teacher a thing or two…..

“Anyone who loves strawberries knows the sweet, juicy flavour of fresh-picked strawberries is second to none.  Not only are these delights of nature beautiful to look at with their crisp red appeal, they absolutely tantalize the taste buds.  Maybe part of the intense flavour explosion stems from picking them ourselves.

Just a few minutes outside Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba, there are various U-Pick Strawberry farms.  Many are operated as family businesses providing reliable quality and service.  I remember going strawberry picking with my Mom and Dad when I was a little girl.  It was so much fun to hear my Dad tell stories of how I would focus on the task at hand and pick strawberries right along with my parents.

I was taught how to respect the tender plants and pick cleanly, not eat while picking, and simply select the beautiful red berries.  Okay, don’t tell:  my Dad would let me try a berry or two near the end, and oh, the sweetest taste filled my mouth!  I still remember how wonderful those delightful excursions to the strawberry fields were.  Somehow it never seemed like work.

Today I still find the whole process from picking to eating the strawberries, in whatever form they end up, to be enjoyable.  Food is love.  Strawberries are love.

I froze these on cookie sheets before bagging them so that they do not go mushy.

After hulling and washing these delectable jewels bursting with flavour and nutritional goodness, they can be eaten fresh out of hand, added to cereal, and made into various delicious desserts such as strawberry trifle or strawberry shortcake.  They can also be frozen for use out of season when we yearn for the sweet taste of summer berries.

What memories do the smell of strawberries bring to you?”

Grandma Jean’s Strawberry Pie-Just picked, made and delivered to the cottage

Kath’s quote:   “The strawberry: “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”-Dr William Butler

Thank you Shirley!

Ta Da-Unburger!


For a couple of years our office was on the second floor of a converted old house near Stradbrook and Osborne.  We had the second and third floor and a Korean restaurant was on the first.  It was the strangest little place, but we were sometimes lured by the aramos of soya, garlic and ginger.  When we would decide on our order, the female owner would declare “No you don’t want that!” 

The new proprietors are far more helpful.  I was introduced to Kyle and Marc when I visited for my first time last week.  Behind the scenes as the menu creator, is Osten who is a culinary artist.  I understand that Kyle was originally smitten by the concept while travelling in Australia.  I was very impressed by their youth, enthusiasm and the fruits of their patience and hard work.  The little place has a fresh, crisp and clean design and Kyle did much of the work himself.  

Without much deliveration I ordered what is called “The Drunken Aussie” (on their on-line menu) but I was quite sure it was named the “Unburger” on the in store menu board-grilled pineapple, balsamic onion & tomato relish, carmelized onions, bacon, cheddar, herb mayo & a sunny side up fried egg!


Different from the on line description was the addition of pickled beets which was just my cup of tea-loving the sweet and salty results of the partnering. 

My host choose “The Zoomer”-a grilled, balsamic/herb  portabella mushroom burger topped with blue cheese and served alongside yam fries.

Now that I’ve had a chance to further peruse the menu (there were no paper copies in the restaurant that I saw) I am quite sure that I will sample the Oopah! next time and not just because Nia Vardalos is reportedly in town making a movie.  Promises of roasted garlic & kalmata tapenade and cucumber & lemon oregano yogurt have got me daydreaming even now (and it is only 8 am). 

The lack of a paper is a part of the Unburger”s commitment for a greener product and environment, working hard to negate their carbon footprint.  I love hearing business journeys like this one-having a dream while vacationing and working diligently to make that vision a reality for the folks back home.

Unburger on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A Hamburger is warm and fragrant and juicy. A hamburger is soft and nonthreatening. It personifies the Great Mother herself who has nourished us from the beginning. A hamburger is an icon of layered circles, the circle being at once the most spiritual and the most sensual of shapes. A hamburger is companionable and faintly erotic. The nipple of the Goddess, the bountiful belly-ball of Eve. You are what you think you eat.”
Tom Robbins

“Worth the Trip”-Part Two


Part two of my summer column in Winnipeg Women/Dish Magazine.

“You’ll find Rembrandt’s Bistro at 1 Wellink Drive in Lockport.  The service and food is fantastic – like being at Terrace 55 but in the country.  Of special note, is the Red River cereal crème brulee which is served as a first course on the winter brunch menu.  

If you are ever heading south on Highway 59 en route to St. Malo, stop in at St. Pierre-Joly’s Le Bebe Rouge Drive In.  They are only open in the summer and the burgers are sensational (we can’t quite figure out what makes them so).

While en route to Clear Lake, driving west on the Trans Canada, you’ll want to veer into Portage la Prairie for a visit to Tres Unique Café in the historic Land Titles Building.  Check out their Facebook page to see what’s for lunch.  I’ve seen messages about Fiddleheads and asparagus (just picked from her garden) being made into quiche.  Chefs that I follow on Twitter are raving about Horfrost at 190 River Road also in Portage.  The inventive chef is serving up local ingredients prepared in a classical style but with surprising twists.

Honourable mentions from other Facebook friends go to Pine Ridge Hollow at the edge of Bird’s Hill Park and the Harvest Moon Café in Garson.  All of these little finds are within an hour of Winnipeg and definitely worth the trip.”

Kath’s quote: “A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”-Jeff Harms

“Worth the Trip”-Part One


Part one of my latest column in Winnipeg Women/Dish Magazine:

Our cottage is named “Life is Good” as indicated on this vase

Our drive to the cottage on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg is often delayed by a supper stop.  Barney Gargles on Main St. in Selkirk is a popular choice.  The décor is not fancy but the home-cooked food and baking is fabulous.  The platters of fish and chips that we thought we saw going by the table are actually their chicken finger platter.  Whole chicken breasts are covered in a crunchy beer batter.  The milkshakes are so huge they’re served in wine flagons. 


The Sandbar’s Breakfast Skillet

The Sand Bar Motor Hotel just outside Grand Beach Provincial Park is another favourite destination.  Tyler Gray is the chef putting out savoury breakfast skillets as well as confections like maple pecan Danish.  Friday nights we stop in for his steak special –an 8 oz. sirloin with all the fixings INCLUDING a beer or glass of wine for $10!  We also head there on Wednesdays for AYCE (all you can eat) Pickerel with their yummy hand-cut French fries. At $11, I know that they lose money on us.


Sandbar’s Omelette

Le Gouter is an amazing find on Saffie Road in Albert Beach.  Last summer they installed two huge crepes pans.  I like the one made with hollandaise, ham and cheese on a hearty Buckwheat crepe.  And although they do not use cheese curds in their poutine, every thing else about their offering is perfect in my humble opinion-sharp, gooey cheese, a savoury gravy and the best French fry along highway 59 north.


“Fisherman’s Breakfast

The “other” side of Lake Winnipeg offers a bevy of exceptional dining too.  I recently enjoyed the Fisherman’s Breakfast at Mask Café in Gimli: pan-fried pickerel with a lemony hollandaise, crispy bacon, an egg and lacy hash browns.  Acquaintances also tell me of Jane and Walter’s Restaurant in Sandy Hook.  There is a lot of buzz from Facebook friends about Casa Bianca in an old house across from the park in Winnipeg Beach.  Samplers say that if you’re a garlic lover you’ll particularly enjoy it.  

Kath’s quote: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” –Luciano Pavarotti

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