Food Musings

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

Bonfire Bistro-“Our Place”


Yesterday the “birthday girls” assembled to celebrate another year of the wonderful gift of life. At that time we decided that instead of trying to decide where to go for each birthday lunch, we would always meet at Bonfire Bistro. It is close to home for two of us and centrally located for the other two. The food is so affordable and always terrific. We typically make a later reservation when the lunch rush is done because we have a habit of laughing too loudly, talking all at once and lingering too long. The lovely staff does not seem to mind and I would imagine that they get a lot of behind the scenes work done while we wallow in each others company.



My friends always order half pizzas with either Caesar salad or house greens. The former comes with a lovely nest of just shaved parmesan on top and the latter with plenty of crunchy pecans and sweet currants. I especially enjoy that the contrast of flavours from the slivers of red onion and tang of the house-made dressing.

The last time we lunched, I had a difficult time supressing my satisfied noises as I gnoshed on the salad. Yesterday, it was so good that I didn’t even eat the pasta special that it came with. Instead, they parcelled it up for me and I slurped it down as my supper as I unpacked at the lake.


This pasta special was an Asian stir fry of pork, peppers and noodles in a salty broth. I love when bistros add “greens” to salads; in this case “purples”. I am sure it is to provide a colourful garnish to the dish. I enjoy the texture and taste of greens in a pasta though and have been adding them for eons. This was a trick that I learned while on the Weight Watchers eating plan. I would combine my salad and pasta and then spoon the sauce over top. That way I wouldn’t require dressing on my salad and I would have enough fixings to cradle the sauce whilst only consuming a half cup of cooked pasta. Speaking of which, it is time to pull the plan out again. I injured my hip/back while on holiday (by bike riding with a lawn chair on my back) and didn’t get the exercise that I should have.

But I digress. We spent a lovely afternoon together: laughing a lot, weeping a little and savouring each other’s presence.

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Kath’s quote: “Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.”-Kent M. Keith


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.



Fools and Horses Coffee Company



The Fools and Horses Coffee Co at 101-379 Broadway Ave. is one of those gathering places that make a collection of streets a “neighbourhood”. The persons that had accumulated the morning of my first visit were downtown residents like my eldest daughter who I was meeting.


But they were also the community of day-time residents who work in the area. People stopped to chat with acquaintances that they saw perched on the patio and others exchanged niceties as they kept pace and strolled by.

I was instantly taken with Lauren Kroeker, one of the owners and the welcoming smile behind the counter that morning.




She shared with me the vision that they have for their beautiful room, with hopes that the hood will use the space for artistic gatherings and casual entertaining. Now that’s what I call urban planning!

The menu is simple and I always appreciate when a few selections are done exceptionally well, rather than the other way around. I asked what Lauren would recommend and she immediately responded with “toast”. In spite of thinking that toast might be a little mundane, I went with her suggestion. Woa!


One version of seeded rye toast was donned with Otterburne yoghurt made from the milk of Optimist Holsteins, granola concocted with Manitoba’s Adagio Acres Rolled Naked Oats and local honey from a Hutterite colony in the area.


The other toast was adorned with house made ricotta cheese and a sparkling strawberry/beet/vanilla jam from local jam aficionado Flora Farmer.


With the risk of sounding cliché, you could taste goodness with every bite.


My daughter visits regularly for their Iced Vanilla Bean Latte. I enjoyed the coffee from Pilot Coffee Roaster but it provided a little too much kick to my day and I had to keep busy to try to use up all my excess energy.

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Kath’s quote: “Honey comes out of the air….At early dawn the leaves of trees are found bedewed with honey…. Whether this is the perspiration of the sky or a sort of saliva of the stars, or the moisture of the air purging itself, nevertheless it brings with it the great pleasure of its heavenly nature. It is always of the best quality when it is stored in the best flowers.”-Pliny (A.D. 2)

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


A Weekend in Montreal through Pictures-Part 3



Commencing the next day with a scrumptious breakfast of an “everything” omelette at our home-base of the Marriott Chateau Champlain, we were off on a walking/tasting tour of Old Montreal.






Our first stop was the exquisite Notre Dame. Having visited Paris’s Notre Dame, I was equally enthralled.







Our next stop was at Cantinho de Lisboa where crème brulee-like tarts called pastéis de nata were served to us.









Colourful macaroons created by pastry aficionado Chef Christian Faure enticed us into his pastry shop. The subtle shades of a lavender one caught my eye and melted my tongue. The highest compliment I can pay to Chef Faure, who was visiting with friends at nearby tables in the Maison, was that the macaroons surpassed my memories of those eaten at the legendary Landeree on the Champs-Elysees in Paris!



I am well aware that Quebec cheese makers are amongst the greatest in North America and certainly the best in Canada. I understand that it is because their ancestors brought their cheese-making skills with them from Europe. The Bourlingueur Bistro presented them perfectly with a simple torn  baguette so as not to camouflage any of the taste.


This restaurant is just down the street from the Bourlingueur. Marked only by the white square sign, the food I imagine must speak for itself.


These lovely ladies made me miss my sisters.







Marche Bonsecours.




Haut Bois Normand is the maple syrup brand that friends from Quebec bring me as gifts. The purity and clarity of their product is unsurpassed, in my humble opinion. We were treated to maple syrup beer and visited with one of the handsome family members at his shop in Marche Bonsecours.




Some members of our party zip-lined at this spot.



We returned that evening for dinner and to take in the International Fireworks competition with Britain entertaining us in Old Montreal on the 4th of July. The irony of this was not lost on us.





Montreal….I cannot wait to return.

Kath’s quote: “I think Montreal is the most amazing city … A paparazzo today gave me advice on where to get a coffee. She’s all, ‘I notice that you like this place, but I was thinking that because you like it so much you’d probably like this other place. Go around the corner, go left.’ I was like, ‘Gosh, thank you. They don’t make them like you in L.A.”-Olivia Wilde


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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A Weekend in Montreal through Pictures-Part 2



My fascinating and delicious trip to Montreal continued on day two. The perfect way to explore Montreal’s tasty and diverse neighbourhoods was by electric scooter as we did the next morning. Being perched behind tour leader and fellow foodie Melissa Simard founder of Tours de la Table was an added bonus.





We wound our way through the neighbourhood of Plateau Mount-Royal until we reached this perfect vista of the cityscape.


Along the way, the former home of Leonard Cohen was pointed out to us.




Centrale Culinaire in Mile End is a communal kitchen set up for catering and small-scale food production. Being a food stylist, I was also fascinated by the collection of wares stored for the photo shoots.




We stopped at various stores and shops in the neighbourhoods.



Another stop was at this 65 year old bagel stop where I learned that a Montreal bagel is distinguished by three characteristics: they are hand-rolled, they are put into a bath of honeyed water and then baked in a wood-fired oven.


We only had time for a quick stop at one of the largest fresh markets in North America: Marche Jean Talon.







I could have stayed at the market for hours meeting the multigenerational stall keepers and perusing their succulent offerings.


After safely returning our scooters we walked back through this beautiful park to catch the subway “home”.


If you recall home for the weekend was the Marriott Chateau Champlain where room service greeted me with refreshments and succulent chocolate covered strawberries. A fascinating day.

Kath’s quote: “Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river”. – Leonard Cohen







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The Merchant Kitchen


Winnipeg’s Portage Ave and its side streets were once the home to many of the cities’ great restaurants. Rudy’s, Moxie’s and most recently The Merchant Kitchen have blazed the way for the trend to reignite. Upon my return from an evening at The Merchant Kitchen, I told D that he would love everything about the “kitchen”: the central bar, the communal tables, the open kitchen, the clever cocktails and the food!

Being long-time fans of Pizzeria Gusto, I knew that this particular ensemble led by Chef Eric Lee would produce clever fare and yes, they did. Chef Lee is one of the many talented Chefs who have graduated from the exceptional culinary program at Red River College. He credits this great start and the blessings of mentorship and travel, for his culinary proweress. Of course, he did not put it in this manner, I did.


The well chosen red of their cozy/sleek decor stimulates the taste buds as soon as you walk in the door.


The menu is a eclectic collection of world cuisine with an emphasis on Latin and Asian dishes.

In my humble opinion, the best Latin food is found in the Yucatan peninsula where simple ingredients are combined to produce flavours that sparkle! The essence is in adding the exact amount of lime juice and cilantro. For example, both the Guacamole and Pico de Gallo contain these staple ingredients and in both cases they shine not for their own glory but to enhance the silky avacado and the tomato and white onion.


The Carnitas Taco were also elevated by the precise addition of cilantro and lime, this time to offset the premise-made queso fresco and slow roasted pork. The pickled red onion was a thoughtful topping and took me back to one of my very first meals in the Yucatan.


You may never desire butter and salt on your corn on the cob again, once you taste it with mayo, cojita cheese, a squeeze of lime and cilantro. We order these from the street vendors in Quintano Roo and they make a meal in themselves.


Other world cuisines understand the magic of lime and cilantro as well, for example this Thai salad -Papaya Som Tum. My absolute favourite dish of the evening was Spicy Thai Fried Rice but I was in such haste to eat it, that my photo was not in focus. Along with jasmine rice, Thai basil, prawns, chilies and egg, it included…cilantro. Do not conclude that Chef Lee uses these componants often because he has a limited number of ingredients in his pantry. I believe he knows Winnipeggers well enough to predict that these flavours, reminiscent of warm climates, will be our reward during our long winters.


Chef Lee’s roasted duck rolls introduced mint, peanuts and sesame to our palates and they too were exceptional.



Although we were initially drawn to Pizzeria Gusto and Chef Lee’s fare for their astute renderings of pizza, most recently we would visit for their “veggie-centric” dishes like their Brussel sprouts. The Merchant Kitchen’s version is equally stellar along with the Dry Fried Green Beans above and the Charred Shishito Peppers not shown.


The Korean Fried Chicken was a guilty pleasure which reminded me not of Korean cookery but of the fresh whole chickens that my Polish Grandma would fry up on hot summer days on the farm.

I spoke at length to Chef Lee about his skill in creating so many excellent tastes. He redirected the praise to the local ingredients and growers that he has been successful in securing as suppliers. So too, he credited Bobby and Suzy for the space and the overall experience. The entire Merchant Kitchen package is of shared food, shared tables, shared glances of the open bar and kitchen and even the shared bathroom!


Just before I headed home to report to D of my new restaurant find, along came Pound Cake Churros which were heavenly in themselves. Our family ordered dessert on Christmas day from a Churro cart by the turquoise Carribbean sea, but these blew those right out of the water! The texture of the pound cake was perfectly porous to soak up the surprise of the bowl of warm chocolate milk. The taste allowed memories of dunking hot buttered toast into our mugs of hot chocolate with my many siblings around our kitchen table at home. There was love around that table and in my mind you will feel that way here too. All that was missing was being tucked into bed with a bedtime story.

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Kath’s quote: “I don’t need to tell you I love you, I made you pancakes”. –Kathleen Flinn

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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