Food Musings

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

The Algarve, Portugal Trip Report, Arrival Day


I am in the midst of making our Portuguese hotel room our home for a week. It is compact but there are convenient cupboards to hide everything away. Not that we have anything to hide since we gambled and left our baggage in Toronto. More about that later. The room was dark when we arrived but the front desk host who also arranged for our room upgrade has already been here to tighten one light bulb and show us where the switch for bedside reading is.


D is currently reading & soaking in the tub. I have pulled down the shade that separates the tub and bathroom from the rest of the suite. But let me start back at the beginning of this adventure some 22 hours ago.

D and J, our friends who we were to travel with, were sitting in the Air Canada lounge in Winnipeg when their flight had been cancelled with no explanation. D & J were wait listed for the next flight AC to Toronto which they did not get on. BTW, there were seats on our flight available, but the West Jet agent told Doug that she was too busy to try to make it happen. (We knew it would have been a stretch because it had been a canceled AC flight, but we thought that WJ had an opportunity to really shine and failed miserably). I will get back to this in a moment.

In the mean time, we leave on our WJ flight. Upon arrival in TO though we are informed of a plane collision and could indeed see the chaos outside the plane windows.


We waited for at least 2 hours on the tarmac for a gate. The captain updated us occasionally, the attendants gave us a drink of water. By this time the generous window of time that we had to make our connection to Lisbon was beginning to dwindle. When we finally got a gate, there was no one to taxi us in; when we finally got assistance, there was no one to move the gate hatch over to the plane. By the time we got off the plane, we knew it would be tight but with luck we could still make the connection.

We waited for our luggage; we waited and waited and waited. The baggage area was a mess with people sleeping on the floors, abandoned luggage everywhere, no conveyor belts moving and no updates about the situation. Finally the time got so close that we made a big decision, we would desert our luggage and make do with what was in our carry-on! We still had to get through security. I pestered Doug to let me beg to the people in front of us to let us go through. Doug wouldn’t hear of it…in fact he let people catching a London flight with the same amount of time as us, go ahead of us (that’s my guy for you). Eventually we made it through security just as our flight was to take off. We were still  miles away from the gate and although I tried to keep pace with Doug, I had my knee brace on because of my chronic knee issues. Anyways, in dramatic style we run to the desk asking “Did we make it? Did the plane leave? Why is everyone still standing here?” only to find that hey had not even commenced boarding! They never did change the gate sign indicating the true departure time.

When we were on board, we were tracking our friends’ plane who by then had received boarding passes in Winnipeg. As a result, the next delay turned out to be a welcomed one. The sensors on the plane doors were frozen and they had to find a way to defrost them. This slowed us down for another 2+ hours. We were thinking we could have waited for our luggage after all but mostly were tracking D and J’s plane….they might just make it! As we were finally pulling back from the gate, an Air Canada flight from Winnipeg was pulling into the next bay. Close, but no cigar!

Our friends booked a nice hotel at the TO airport and decide to make other holiday plans. They ended up heading for New York when the Portuguese airline that we were travelling on indicated that it would cost $4,000 for the two of them to join us in Alvor, Portugal. The original package was only $899 including the flight and hotel! They said “We love you but we wouldn’t expect you to fork out $4,000 to holiday with us and we know you will understand that we cannot join you.” But in the mean time, they also went and retrieved our luggage. We had no idea how they managed it, but TAP the Portuguese airline not only accepted the bags (even though they were unaccompanied) and checked them through Lisbon to a regional airport in the Algarve. Doug and I drove to Faro (an hour away) a day later, in time to meet the plane that should hold our luggage. We went through all the red tape and were told that it was absolutely impossible that the bags would show up any time soon. The agent actually told Doug that it was a lost cause but Doug decided to wait by the luggage ramp, outside of her gaze (behind a pole).


When the luggage started arriving, sure enough, our friends orchestrated  a miracle!  (Now why couldn’t there have also been a miracle for them).

Kath’s quote: “The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when”. –Simon Sinek


Love never fails.



Mesa Arizona Wedding



The wedding festivities that we traveled to Mesa, Arizona for, commenced the evening before the wedding at the rehearsal party. The location was the common space/party room of the couple’s condo development. The space was lovely with comfortable seating around a fireplace and plenty of serving space where an Italian dinner was set out for guests. There was also an enormous patio that became enclosed as the evening cooled off. It was the perfect occasion for D’s siblings to assemble and get caught up.



The wedding day venue was called Villa Sienna and was where both the ceremony and the reception were to take place. The outdoor courtyard was a gorgeous setting.


Here are the beautiful Grisim women waiting for the ceremony to begin: Daughter #1, J2  (of J1 and J2), Boo and the eldest Wee One. The Frenchman and my Bro-in Law with the cheesy smile make up the back ground.


The setting was so beautiful that we took next year’s Christmas card picture after the ceremony.



The courtyard was so romantic that the Wee Ones danced and swayed pretending that they were princesses I am sure.



We lingered in the outdoor space as the weather was so pleasant and a drastic extreme from the temperatures back home. When we joined everyone else in another reception room, we were treated to appetizers and libations.


The foodservice at the venue was top drawer. The kid’s table enjoyed mac and cheese, potato skins and chicken fingers.


We loved the short ribs, chicken breasts, beans almandine and butternut squash ravioli with pecans.

Dancing commenced right after dinner and the music was so good that almost everyone sprang to the dance floor at the same time. I had volunteered to go back to our house when the Wee Ones were tiring out, so I was pleased to have joined in on the festivities early on.

If you know of anyone looking for a wedding venue to the Mesa/Scottsdale area, I would highly recommend Villa Sienna.

Kath’s quote: “Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale”.-Unknown


Love never fails.




Our 4 Generation Air BnB Experience-Mesa, AZ Part 2



Once we were given the keys to our home away from home we were thrilled with the space and all the thoughtful touches.


Since we left home on December 28th, I had spent the 27th packing up all of our Christmas things. I was really touched that the Air BnB owners had a Christmas tree that graced the living room.


The house was well stocked with movies that we enjoyed intermittently over the week. It was also equipped with puzzles and games and the Wee Ones had a great time perched at the kitchen table. There were air mattresses and inner tubes in the garage for the pool as well as other pool toys like Frisbees, footballs and squirt guns in a basket by the washer and dryer. The latter was on the second floor outside of the room that my mother-in-law slept in. She has to take a flight of stairs to do her laundry at home so she did it all before she left Phoenix.

Designating the sleeping space was a breeze: our youngest and her husband had a queen bed in a double room, my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law shared a room with twin beds. Our son and his wife and 2 kids had the Master Bedroom with a King bed so the kids could Mom and Dad if they needed too. They also had their own en suite which made mornings quieter.


Our eldest slept on the pull out in the living room (she also had use of the main floor powder room), leaving my husband and I with the last double room.

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This one had bunk beds which was kind a fun!


Each bedroom had a theme and you can likely determine what ours was. There was a small balcony off of our room and an enormous walk in closet.


The kitchen, oh the kitchen! It was furbished with every single small appliance you could think of including a movie theatre style popcorn maker, George Foreman grill, crockpot and waffle maker! There were at least 12 place settings and even more cocktail and wine glasses. Every kitchen shelf was labelled so you always knew where things were put when you unloaded the dishwasher. The major appliances were brand new and the fridge was huge. We made good use of it and the pantry by stocking up on food and libations at a Winco up the street. This way the kids could have cereal in the mornings and snacks throughout the day. My brother-in-law got to make his smoothies and specialty omelettes. We took turns cooking for each other which was great fun and made good use of the barbeque right out the sliding doors.


But the best benefit of the house was the additional space it offered up. One evening all the cousins got together, ordered pizza and played foosball. A small group of us celebrated New Year’s Eve together and one evening we hosted my husband’s sister, our niece, our nephew, his new wife and relations we had not met before.

If you are a family looking for an economical way to travel together, an Air BnB house might well be the answer.

Kath’s quote: “Home is not a place…it’s a feeling.” Author unknown


Love never fails.



Matt Basile makes us Brunch for Dinner


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I first met Matt in the spring of 2017 at a Canola Summit. We happened to be sitting next to each other but I didn’t get much time to visit with him as he was also the MC of the event. I do feel that I got to know him better when we happened upon his Netflix series “Rebel without a Kitchen”. This is what I can say about Matt. He has boundless energy, believes that food should be fun, recognizes that food is a gift of love and that in this coming year he will cook on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. In all, my kinda guy. He demonstrated all of these traits in the 3 hours we got to spend with him recently as well as explain his Ellen fascination.


When I say “we”, I mean the lovely ladies of canola, fellow canola alumni and a variety of other foodies who knew that Matt would deliver deliciously fun times. He did not disappoint. And by the way, we all got a copy of Matt’s Street Food Diaries. Matt says and I agree, sometimes the food stories in cookbooks are better than the recipes!

I was seated with 4 such foodies, Ellen (from canola, not THE Ellen), a dietician who works for Cancer Care Manitoba with Sister #3 and old friend Zen Becca. The ladies from De Luca Fine Wines were pouring three reds and I chose the Washington State Merlot. The perfect accompaniment to Brunch for Dinner!

As Matt declares: “breakfast is just a meal but brunch is a culture!” He has a brunch cookbook coming out in September 2018. Watch for it.


First up was a Huevo Ranchero Tostada aka Vegetarian Tortillas. Two corn tortillas were topped with a sunny side up egg and a delectable combination of onions, jalapeños, black beans, two kinds of peppers and garden tomatoes. Matt indicated that if you didn’t have fresh tomatoes or desired a “loser” sauce, you could substitute a can of chopped tomatoes. I especially appreciated the cool tastes of sour cream and cilantro which topped the dish.

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Chimichurri skirt steak followed. Matt showed us how to cook and carve the steak so that is was full of flavour and perfectly tender. The steak strips were perched up a crostini and then topped with a poached egg. Matt’s Chimichurri sauce was chock full of cilantro and I loved this dish. I would never be afraid to serve it as a dinner entrée!


Matt’s piece de resistance were his waffles and fried chicken. In fact Ellen (no not THAT Ellen) declared that she wanted to bring Matt back to Winnipeg just so that she could taste his fried chicken again! The chicken was so tender and delicious that I am going to try to duplicate it this evening. I had some thawed chicken breasts so I marinated them in pickle juice this morning (don’t knock it til you try it!) and buttermilk this afternoon. I am going to dredge and squeeze them into a flour mixture just as Matt demonstrated and I will let you know the results.

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In the mean time our dessert course was S’more French toast. A light toast smothered with Nutella and torched marshmallows. I cannot wait to serve them to the Wee Ones this summer at the lake.

PS My fried chicken was a hit (even when I ran out of canola oil)!

Kath’s quote: “You don’t want to make a steady diet of just lettuce. You don’t want to make a steady diet of fried chicken”. –Paula Deen


Love never fails.



The Palm Room, Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg


We were out for dinner one evening and as things quieted in the restaurant, the owner/chef came over to have a glass of wine with us. I asked him where he and his partner go after a full evening in their restaurant. The answer surprised me a little-the Palm Room at the Fort Garry Hotel.


We had often visited the beautifully restored room for a drink before or after an event at the hotel but it hadn’t occurred to us to make the bar our destination for the evening.

Even though it was early on a Saturday evening and we had been reassured when I called ahead, that there would be room, there was not a single seat available.


The wait wasn’t terribly long though and soon we were seated with a glass of wine and our favourite cold local craft beer on their way. While our drinks were en route, we listened to the songs of the piano man, a lovely bonus to the evening.

We had come from a Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre matinee and still had another stop that evening, so we decided to order light. We had recently visited Portugal and got into the habit of ordering seafood every chance we could get. The only shrimp selection on the menu were dumplings which we thought a bit odd, until we tasted them.


Rivaling authentic har gow that we select when we are at a dim sum restaurant, they were delicate and perfectly steamed so that the seafood almost had a crunch.


I am completely hooked on any dish that has truffle oil as an ingredient. This inauspicious wild mushroom burger was fabulous with white truffle aioli and creamy Havarti. Even the bun was delectable as my husband and I pledged an oath to never settle for a Kaiser hamburger bun again. So too, the fries were exceptional-starting with a high quality potato and I suspect the use of a double-frying method.

The room itself provides one of the most pleasant ambiences in the city. The service was top-notch and everything from start to finish was perfection. Who knew?

Kath’s quote: “All food is the gift of the gods and has something of the miraculous, the egg no less than the truffle.”-Sybille Bedford


Love never fails.



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