Food Musings

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

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Clay Oven at Shaw Park


If you read this blog often you will know that we are big fans of the Clay Oven.  I have never been to the location on Inkster, but I consider myself a bit of a regular at Kenaston Common.  A third location is now open at Shaw Park and I have had two opportunities to check it out for lunch.  Located in the old Hu’s on First, the restaurant is now sleek and sophisticated.  It features a very large party room as well as a sprawling patio overlooking the baseball diamond.


I was impressed to see the addition of a special Hakka menu at this location.  Hakka cuisine is a fusion of Southeastern Chinese and Indian food.  My friend and I selected a great noodle dish with lamb from that menu to accompany our old standby of Butter Chicken with Naan bread.  As usual we had more than enough to feed us both with leftovers for my lunch the next day.


On my next visit there was a large group of us from work attempting to have lunch with a limited amount of time.  Not something I would recommend at this location at this point in their development.  The staff seemed a bit overwhelmed by the terrace full of hungry patrons. A few of us arrived early so decided to order the white fish appetizer from the Hakka menu only to wait 45 minutes for it to arrive, long after the rest of our friends had arrived and ordered their lunch. Although it took forever, the appetizer was delicious with a crispy batter and spicy tasty sauce.


Because each of us was ordering individual dishes I ordered a Thali platter. I am used to dinning with friends who are willing to share a couple of dishes so ordering just for myself was a new adventure.  The Thali platter provides the dinner with lots of different dishes all on one plate.  This of course fed me with leftovers for a full lunch the next day which is par for the course no matter what I order at Clay Oven.  My platter included butter chicken, rice, salad, chick peas, potato, papadams (crunchy flat bread made of lentil and rice flour), warm naan and yogurt sauce.  Thali platters even have a little compartment of Keer – rice pudding to enjoy for dessert.


I also had a taste of my coworkers Palak Paneer, a pureed spinach sauce with spices and chunks of home made cheese.  A great vegetarian option.


Another co-worker had the tandor chicken salad which I will keep in mind in order if I am looking for lighter lunch in the future.

Clay Oven on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “If you’re afraid of butter, as many people are nowadays, just put in cream!”-Julia Child


Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Thanh Houng


It has been a few years since I have been to Thanh Houng on Sargent Avenue.  My mom, sisters and I used to visit years ago, but our need for wheel chair accessible locations has taken us elsewhere.

This particular day my friend and I felt it vital to go have Vietnamese food for dinner.  We had just attended the wedding our friend Susan. She owns Winnipeg Nails, a shop that we both frequent often.  Susan (AKA Suong) was marrying her sweetheart Doug in a ceremony at Calvary Temple. In honour of Susan’s culture both she and Doug wore traditional Vietnamese wedding attire resulting in a breathtaking vision of colour.  Over the years I have had lots of occasions to chat with Susan about travel, life and love.  She is so kind and I really enjoy the time we spend together.  I will often sneak in for an appointment without any of my friends just so she and I can have a good visit.

After the wedding ceremony we took the short trip to William Avenue to Little Saigon, my favorite for Vietnamese.  Unfortunately they are not open Sundays so we decided to drive to Viva on Sargent, which it turns out is also closed on Sundays.  I then remembered that Thanh Huong was just a block down the road so we ended up there by default.


We started with cold bottles of Tsingtoa Chinese beer to drink a toast to the happy couple.  We thought we were being very wise only ordering three items but it proved to be way too much food for the two of us.  Thank goodness for to-go containers.


First to arrive was our Satay Beef Rice Noodle Soup, #6 on the menu.  This spicy little number was tasty and served piping hot.  It is always a challenge to transfer this soup from the main bowl to individual bowls due to the long, slippery noodles but it proved well worth the effort.


Next we tucked into # 46, Charbroiled Pork with fine rice vermicelli, lettuce, cucumber, mint, fish sauce and rice crepe. I love to assemble these sweet little salad rolls.  I tend to over fill them and bust through the rice crepe after the first bite resulting in food falling everywhere as fish sauce rolls down my arms, but what fun is eating without a bit of a mess! I also like to alternate between peanut sauce and fish sauce to change up the flavour.


Lastly we had #62 Combination shrimp, beef and chicken Lo Mein.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked, the noodles tender and there was an abundance of meat, though I didn’t see many shrimp.

All in all, it was a good meal and a fun way to celebrate a very special woman on her very special day. Xin chúc mùng Suong!  Congratulations Susan.

Thanh Huong Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The table was set up inside the cartshed. On it there were four sirloins of beef, six fricassees of chicken, casseroled veal, three legs
of mutton and, in the centre, a beautiful roasted sucking pig, flanked by four chitterlings with sorrel.”-
Gustave Flaubert, the wedding breakfast from Madame Bovary


Love-that is all.

Aftertaste (A Novel in Five Courses)-by Meredith Mileti


Just after giving birth to her precious Chloe, Mira finds that she has been deceived and deserted by her husband and she is pissed off!  No, I mean anger that I have apparently never experienced; anger that is so explosive it lands Mira in jail.  This is anger, as I have never known.  You see, I don’t get “anger”.  I do experience a full range of emotions and I do know what anger feels like, but I don’t “get” it.  Some people don’t get dark humour or pure joy (thinking, surely she can’t always be this happy), but I don’t get anger.  So I was intrigued by the beginning of Mileti’s story, but not in that “I can’t put this book down”, way.  The ball really started rolling for me in the second third of the book, as Mira starts to create relationships and begin rebuilding her life in an admirable way.  By the conclusion of the novel, I was completely smitten by all (most) of the characters but primarily rooting Mira along and she discovers her passion and her joy and that her anger has been washed away.  She even tries her hand at being a food writer, which I got a particular hoot over.  Here are a couple of my favourite excerpts:

Even from across the room, the smell makes me want to swoon.  Jake has made my favourite dish-his signature take on cassoulet, made with wild boar sausage braised in Barolo, cannellini beans, fennel, and sweet red peppers.  I can hear the hollow snap as he breaks the delicate crust of toasted bread, garlic and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  He fills a shallow bowl and places it reverently in front of me.

“It’s not exactly summer fare, but I know that it is your favorite.  I missed making it for you this winter.  It actually works nicely with you pizza recipe which has always been one of my favorites.  We make a pretty good team, don’t you think?” he says softly. “Go ahead, taste it.”

“Aren’t you going to join me?”

“Of course,” he says, raising his eyes to meet mine.  I watch as he fills his plate, picks up a bottle of wine and two glasses, and joins me at the table.  He pours us each a glass of red wine.  “Well?” he asks, his eyes focused, unblinking, on my face.

I spear a piece of meat, which yields easily to my fork, and raise it to my lips.  I take a deep breath and close my eyes.  I give Dr. D-P’s anthropologist one last desperate try, but all I can taste is Jake.  The flavours are at once complex and earthy.  I taste every ingredient: the thick slightly gamey taste of the boar; the subtle undercurrent of the fennel, which, when braised, releases a delicate licorice perfume; the gentle creaminess of the beans; the smoky heat of the roasted peppers; the harmonious balance of the wine.

It tastes like love.”

chapter 30, page 313

I also loved this thoughtful analysis, just slightly later (chapter 31, page 317):

The great gourmand, Auguste Escoffier, once said, “Good cooking is the essence to true happiness.”  Did he mean happiness is to be found in the act of cooking?  Or in the appreciation of the result?  If the former, it should follow that all good cooks are happy.  But most of us aren’t, at least the ones I’ve known.  Most of the cooks I know are looking for something.  The lucky ones, people like Boulie and Silvano, seem to have found it, while the rest of us soldier on, searching for love, or adulation, or affirmation, gathering scraps wherever we can find them.

Maybe what Escoffier meant was that true happiness is to be found in one’s ability to satisfy a basic human need so spectacularly.  Those of us content to take our happiness secondhand cook because what we want, what we crave, is to be needed.  Nurturers extraordinaire, brokers of comfort, we hope to turn the tables on our own needs by filling the stomachs and souls of the world.

In Mereith Mileti’s postscript, she adds:

I am not Mira.  I’m an untrained, albeit incredibly enthusiastic, home cook.  That said, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things from my research and testing for this novel-Mira has been a fine teacher.  Please don’t hesitate to improvise and make the recipes your own, because cooking, at its best, is both an expression of self and a gift of love.

Kath’s quote: ” I’ve set the board: henceforth ’tis yours to eat.”-Dante

Heart Book

Love-that is all.



Guest Blogger: Sister #3- Amici at the Niakwa



Each year I attend a dinner at the Niakwa Country Club as part of the Pink Ribbon Ladies Golf Classic for Hope.  This event is a major fundraiser that supports the work I do at CancerCare Manitoba Breast Cancer Centre of Hope.  I never golf in the event, even if I was good enough to golf in it (which I am not) I would not be able to get a spot as it sells out each year to repeat supporters.  I do however enjoy joining the ladies as they get off the links and sit down to an evening of good food and great conversation.  In the past the food has been very good, so last year when I heard that Amici had taken over the food service I was very excited.  I have to say I was terribly disappointed.  So much so that I didn’t bother blogging about it. Like mom says, if you don’t have anything nice to say….. I am happy to report that Amici has worked out the kinks and the food this year was lovely.


The banquet room is always packed with tables adorned in shades of pink. This year’s theme was “Angels Walking in our Shoes”. The shoe motif was everywhere, from our napkin rings to the centerpieces and even our dessert. The angel theme was reflected in the set of white feather wings on the back of our chairs.  We were all encouraged to take our wings home with us, just in case we want to pretend to be Victoria Secret runway models I suppose.  The décor is always beautiful and the planning committee so creative with amazing attention to detail.


Our meal started with the Mista salad, AKA Amici’s house salad, one of my favourites.  Tender butter lettuce with house dressing and toasted pine nuts – simple and classic.


Our main was once again Chicken Wellington, which I guess is a safe choice when feeding a room full of women.  The chicken breast was stuffed with mushroom duxelle; a paste of mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs, wrapped in puff pastry. I was impressed that the puff was still crisp and not made soggy by being topped with an herb jus. It was served with wild rice and mixed vegetables.


The dessert this year was these delightful Stiletto cupcakes courtesy of the Cupcake Corner.

Congratulation to the committee for another wildly successful event!

Amici at Niakwa on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.”-Mark Twain

watermelon heart.jpg

Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Sushi California


My friend and I arrived early for our lunch date with our former pastor who is now living and working in England and was home for short stay.  When I had asked him where he would like to meet us for lunch there was no hesitation, Sushi California. Turns out our friend was a Sushi California regular when he lived in our fair city.


We were already seated when he arrived. When he entered you would have thought the owner was welcoming home a long lost relative.  We were immediately moved to a larger table closer to the action. After we placed our order, three beautiful bowls of sweet, chilled cucumber soup arrived at our table.  Topped with red pepper and tiny, tender scallops, this item is not on the menu but supplied as a special treat in honour of our friend’s visit.


Next came our miso soup which was hot and tasty, accompanied by three precious fish appetizers in sauce.


Our bento boxes; California roll for me and yam rolls for the gentlemen, where the next to arrive.  I love a bento box.  There is something about the lacquered compartments that really appeal to me.  I’m not sure if it harkens childhood memories of cafeteria trays or just pleases my slightly obsessive sense of order. Besides our rolls the boxes contained perfectly cooked edamame, crisp green salad, cold rice noodle salad and two tempura dipped fried gyoza.  Perfection!


The owner then sent over dessert, a darling ice cream sandwich shaped like a Koi – gold fish; the Japanese symbol of perseverance. A trait we needed in order to finish it all. Like most of Winnipeg’s Sushi restaurants owners this family has come from Korea. They are very hospitable and really value their regular customers. So I thought I should look up the meaning of the Koi symbol in Korean culture.  Turns out it symbolizes self-discipline, not a trait that is easy to exhibit with all the delicious options at Sushi California.

Sushi California on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Serve soup. Believe it is chocolate.” -Stephane Grappelli, (gypsy violinist)


Love-that is all.

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