Food Musings

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

Stella’s Catering


At this time every year, the fall TV line up is announced by the local stations.  In former (more prosperous) times this meant golf tournaments, steak dinners and lavish prizes of trips; or lunches catered by private chefs in glass-walled board rooms.  As media has converged and down sized for efficiency, those times are history.

But because for this media buyer, it is all about the food, I was delighted to attend the CBC luncheon event this week.  The timing overlapped with a teaching opportunity, so I arrived and hour after the event had begun, just as guests were being whisked off to the presentation room.  This meant that I had the platters of Stella’s Canapes to myself!  I very carefully made my decision of the Pickerel Cheeks which was so sensational, that I scooped up as many as I could recognize and stood at the doorway of the speaker’s room so that I could see and hear and savour my lunch at the same time.

Photos were not an option as I was trying to be discreet about my consumption.  Besides, I did not even remember to bring my camera along, as hurried as my day was.  So even though I cannot offer you the eye feast of this event, I can tell you that the canapes were sublime.

I pulled this list off of their website in hopes that the words might make up for my lack of images:

Asparagus Frittata, Prosciutto, Roast Beef, Shrimp & Egg, Blue Cheese and Walnut, Chevre & Pepper Jelly, Smoked Salmon, Vegetarian Muffaletta, Roasted Asparagus & Chevre, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion, Gravlax (Scandinavian Cured Salmon) and Bison & Saskatoon Jelly.

The artisan breads that they were served upon were equal to the fine ingredients perched on top.  The dessert trays looked just as tempting with bakery made Nanaimo slice, carrot cake, brownies and macaroons.

I highly recommend that you include Stella’s on you list of potential caterers for a casual midday event.

Kath’s quote:  Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine.  I like sandwiches , I eat them all the time.  I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch.  If I had 100 sandwiches, Id eat them all at once. -Fred Penner

Love-that is all.

The Villa Girls-Nicky Pellegrino


I am very enamored by the novels of Nicky Pellegrino-not only does she set her stories in Italy but she explores the variety of professions that focus on food: a baker, a sous chef, a cookbook writer, to name a few.  In this delicious recounting, a woman becomes a professional food stylist, all the while discovering that there must be balance in indulgences and in life.  I can literally taste the food and she describes it!  Here is a lengthy (and mouth-watering) excerpt:

“On a cold winter’s night, I’d take refuge in the soft creaminess of a buttery risotto, in the flavours of fried cauliflower and taleggio cheese or the earthiness of field mushrooms.  I grew hungrier and greedier.  When Beppi wasn’t at home I rummaged in his food stores searching for things to cook and eat.  The kitchen was a treasure trove.  I found bundles of home-made pasta, carefully dried and wrapped in linen tea towels; sauces and soups neatly labeled and packed away in the deep freezer.  I started to play with ingredients I unearthed, making a salty, pungent dressing from anchovies and garlic to drizzle over vegetables, simmering a meaty shin bone in a sauce of tomatoes and red wine to serve with rigatoni.  One night I made what I considered my triumph, a huge fish soup with prawns and mussels that Addolarata had brought home from Little Italy, flavoured with lots of fresh flat-leaf parsley from the pot on the window sill and slugs of peppery olive oil.

Beppi was never particularly complimentary about the dishes I served up to him.  ‘That was not too bad,’ he would declare once he’d wipes a crust of bread around his plate to soak up the last of a sauce. ‘Quite nice, I suppose.’

‘Take no notice.’ Pieta told me later,  ‘He never has a good word to say about the meals other people have cooked.  The tastier they are the grumpier it seems to make him.’

Pieta was the only one who noticed how the food looked.  Each time I served up a meal she commented on the plate I’d chosen or the way I’d arranged it.  ‘You’ve got a really good eye,’ she told me once or twice.

To me it never felt as though what I was doing was clever.  ‘I’m only trying to make the food look as delicious as it tastes,’ I told her.

Sometimes I got things wrong.  I’d forget to stir a sauce and let it stick to the bottom of Beppi’s cracked old Le Creuset casserole.  Or I’d try to fry a delicate fillet of white fish until it was dry and rubbery.  Beppi was kinder to me when I failed.  He gave advice and offered to teach me a few dishes.

‘Watch him like a hawk,’ Addolarata warned me.  ‘If you don’t pay attention he’ll sneak in a pinch of or two of some secret ingredient so that you never can get your food to taste quite the way his does.’

But Beppi showed me flavours I’d never have thought of myself.  Red mullet baked with raisins and pine nuts the way the Romans cooked it.  Laid out in the dish ready to go in the oven it looked so pretty.  When I told him I’d never made pastry he taught me how to make a tart of ricotta custard topped with cherries cooked in brandy.  Desserts opened up a whole new world of eating for me and for the first time ever I felt my stomach strain against the waistband of my jeans whenever I sat down.

For a while I didn’t care if my thighs spread and my stomach bulged because I had discovered there were other delicious things you could do with ricotta like bake it with lemon zest and saffron or stuff it into soft pillows of ravioli.

Cooking was an easy way to lose myself and make a bad day seem better.  When I was piling a rich purple beetroot risotto into a clean white bowl or resting a roasted leg of chicken on a mound of gently stewed caponata I forgot about thing’s like builder’s dust and dry rot.  Instead of worrying about the apartment or the latest drama at work, I planned the next thing I would try to make and pestered Addolarata for the ingredients.  I wanted squid ink for a risotto, smoked paprika for a stew, spicy sausage laced with fennel, interesting new bowls and platters to display them on.

I grew used to listening to the noises of the house, and when I could tell Beppi wasn’t in the kitchen, I would creep in and find something to quickly chop and bury in olive oil.  I loved mixing flavours, colours and testures, often firing off a couple of photographs of the finished dish as I anticipated the moment of spooning it into my mounth.

Eating became my way of punctuating each day with pleasure.  I couldn’t understand how I had taken so long to discover it.”

Kath’s quote: “They eat the dainty food of famous chefs with the same pleasure with which they devour gross peasant dishes, mostly composed of garlic and tomatoes, or fisherman’s octopus and shrimps, fried in heavily scented olive oil on a little deserted beach.”-Luigi Barzini


Dim Sum at Noodle Express


We were headed to Dim Sum Garden on Rupert Ave. (the “we” being the 3 Sisters & our Mom) to have a belated birthday supper together.  Unfortunately, there was a note on the door saying that they were closed for renovations.  I had arrived first and because it is a bit of a chore to get my Mom places by car, I quickly scanned around for an alternate spot to dine.  Right across the street is a place that I knew to be formerly called Noodle Express.  Currently, there is a banner blocking the sign that indicates that they serve a Dim Sum Happy Hour where the prices are two for one!

The decor is no great shakes but it is clean and bustling with other diners awaiting their orders.  Carts are not wheeled through the dining room.  Instead you must order from their menu and if you are not familiar with the name of dim sum items, this can be a challenge.  We were in the clear because Sister #3 not only has a stellar memory regarding food items but she actually travelled to Beijing last summer.

I did not get pictures of all the items because: 1) I was too hungry 2) I was talking too much and 3) the steam from the basket was fogging up my camera lens. But I didn’t manage to capture these for you.

Their pork dumplings were very good and in my case that means that they are prepared with a minimum of fat.  Our kids called these dumplings “little brains” when they were growing up.

These were the shark-fin dumplings and we also sampled the shrimp and the shrimp & scallop-all excellent.

We were hoping that these pork dumplings would have come pan fried not deep-fried but no matter, they were fabulous!  We also sampled the barbecue pork buns which were equally delicious.

Our preference is for Dim Sum’s Garden’s sticky rice; Noodle Express’s was just okay.  The highlight was the Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli)  that we saw being consumed at another table and ordered for ourselves.  The kitchen was at the end of their supply and could only produce a half order but it too, was amazing-perfectly stir fried with plenty of garlic and a butter tasting broth.

The mailing address for Noodle Express is 107-180 King St. but the entrance is on the Rupert street-side right across from Dim Sum Garden.  It may prove confusing to find but make the effort.  Our delicious dim sum feast for 4 came to $27 with Chinese tea.  What a bargain!

Noodle Express on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.”-Brendan Behan

Love-that is all.

New Mom Meal Tips by Guest Blogger Jen


Today I am proud to introduce a second blogger in the family.  Daughter #3, otherwise known as J2 is sharing her skills and reflections on pre and post- natal care.  Jen is a trained midwife (in the US), a certified pre & post-natal fitness instructor and a certified doula with a wide variety of unique doula services-inlcuding the preparation of nutritional post-natal meals for your family!  Her blog address is Baby Lady of the Prairies.  I hope that she will guest post for me on a regular basis.  Be sure to bookmark her site.

“After you’ve had a baby life can become a bit of a blur. Everyday tasks like cleaning and preparing meals can become almost impossible. Here are some tips for new moms to make life a little easier and give you the optimum time to enjoy your new little one and TRY to get some sleep.

1. Get Help! Ask a friend or family member to organize a group of people to bring over a meal each day for 2-3 weeks after the baby is born. (It won’t feel as awkward if you get someone else to organize it) Friends, family, church members or neighborhood communities are great places to start.

2. Freeze meals. During your last couple of months of pregnancy prepare and freeze meals like casseroles, stews, lasagnas and soups. One-dish meals with lots of vegetables are even better so you don’t even have to prepare any side dishes! Be sure to cool the recipe before wrapping it for the freezer. Label the food properly with the date, recipe name, and thawing and heating instructions.

3. Breastfeed! Believe it or not, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to help you lose the extra weight that you gained during pregnancy. It also cuts down on formula and bottle prep time leaving more time for you and your baby. Remember, even though it’s tempting to want to shed that baby weight as fast as possible, this is not the time to be cutting calories. Your body needs about 500 more calories than it did pre-pregnancy when you are breastfeeding. It also needs plenty of hydration. A good rule is to make sure that you drink a glass of water every time you sit down to feed.

4. Get a pospartum doula to help you with meal preparation. This is especially helpful if your partner has to go back to work right away or you don’t have family members close by who are available to help out. Postpartum doulas help with meal prep, light housework, sibling supervision, breastfeeding advice and general new baby information. This can play a huge role in keeping you sane and healthy in the weeks following childbirth.”

 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

Love-that is all.

Le Bebe Rouge


I have a wonderfully, diverse career.  There are times when I spend solitary time writing, other times when I am highly engaged in the media world, learning about new products and strategies and planning and executing them with the assistance of many media partners.  And then there are the times, which I enjoy the most, and that is when I get to teach.   My favourite students are adults, particularly adults who are learning a brand new social media skill or going back into a career world.

On one such day, I was asked to lead a team-building training session for a group of 55+ers.  At the end of this half day, I came away knowing about the hardships and joys and sorrows of being a part of a group of this kind.  And as I often conclude, I came away more educated than when I went to do the educating.

The rural community where the session took place was Ste. Pierre, just south of Niverville on Hwy. 59.  I had always wanted to visit as Sister #3 had friends residing there and had often told me about a little restaurant called Le Bebe Rouge.

So on my way home, after a satisfying day, I stopped in to pick up an early supper.  I chose their signature burger as prompted by Sister #3 and then could not resist the urge to try the poutine.  I was in a rural French community after all, likely similar to the one where poutine originated in the first place.  Now I must confess, I have actually entered into a 12 step treatment program to control my addiction to poutine.  I was successful in limiting myself to one delicious taste and then I sealed the container up again so that I would not be tempted by more.  I did not even allow myself to take a photo of them.  They did not go to waste though, D enjoyed them the next day for lunch.

The burger in the mean time was perfect- a beautifully cooked all beef patty, with appropriate squirts of mustard, relish and ketchup, melted cheese and crispy lettuce.  I am guessing that the bun had been laid a top of the grill because it was sweet, soft and moist.  The burger all comes together like a mystery, my never being able to identify the one clue of its success.

So if you ever find yourself in Ste Pierre or if you ever just need an excuse for a lovely drive south of the city,  Le Bebe Rouge is the first gas station on your left just at the north edge of town.

Kath’s quote:  “It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun. Yet is it any more unusual to find grace in the texture and softly carved silhouette of a bun than to reflect lovingly on the hackles of a fishing fly? Or the arrangements and textures on a butterfly’s wing? ”-Ray Kroc

Love-that is all.

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