Food Musings

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

Lakeof the Woods Brewing, Winter Bites, Kenora by Guest Bloggers J1 and J2

March2

I believe it is apparent how much we enjoyed our stay in Kenora and all of the amazing culinary experiences we encountered. It is soon to be apparent which was our absolute favorite!

June 29th 2013 marked the opening of the first brewery in Kenora for 59 years. The quality of the beer that is coming out of the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company is incredible. We were taken on a tour of the brewing facility and through the brewing process from grains to glass. For the sake of time though, we will focus today on the food that we encountered with a small sprinkling of beer here and there.

We were able to have absolutely everything that the brewery had to offer on the Winter Bites menu and then some. The very first thing that we enjoyed on our first day in town was the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Tender pulled pork with sarsaparilla BBQ sauce, drunken beer pear, goat cheese, hammer and sickle sauce and arugula in a filone bun.

This sandwich is the real deal! It set the tone for all the food that we were going to enjoy over the next few days and I can’t even put into words how much we enjoyed this offering. Sweet, flavourful, hearty, and more.

After this lunch, we took some time exploring Kenora as a town and imagining what it would be to live there year round as well as having it be a home destination for cabin life. We were only out of the brewery for a few hours before we returned for dinner. The amazing part of how the Winter Bites menu is put together is that as a couple (or two people dining that don’t mind sharing plates) you can experience everything they offer for only $50 total!

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The two apps that started the dinner off were…
Beer Battered Shrimp – Golden fried beer battered shrimp with house made zesty cocktail sauce.

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Goat cheese Bruschetta – Grilled garlic focaccia with goat cheese, tomatoes, onions and herbs topped with three cheese blend and baked hot.

The bruschetta was amazing bursting with layers of flavours. The shrimp really took the cake though. Beer battered shrimp will never truly surprise you due to the simplicity of the dish. Shrimp, batter, sauce… simple right? These shrimp somehow found a way to be very dynamic with such a simple nature. The sauce has a beautiful kick that some establishments will not try to develop anymore seeing as though you can succeed with a dipping sauce using just ketchup and horseradish. The sauce was exactly what was needed to add to the malty sweet crunch that the batter brought to the table.
The dinner came out next which only added to our amazement of the menu.

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Number one was the Meat loaf. House made bacon wrapped meatloaf drizzled with sarsaparilla BBQ sauce, served with twin skewers of new potatoes, with house vegetables, roasted garlic and beer gravy.

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Number two, the Pork Schnitzel. Bread crumb encrusted pork loin grilled crispy, served with smashed potato, beer caramelized red and green cabbage, roasted garlic, side of beer gravy and dill sour cream.

Obviously when you are eating at a brewery, you expect the menu to incorporate beer into the items which sometimes can find its way into items in an unbalanced way. Sauces and caramelizing are very easy ways to bring beer into a meal where they will not overpower in any way, but will naturally enhance the diversity of the flavours. The Meat Loaf was juicy, and very well seasoned with the ‘can’t wait to swallow so I can have another bite’ kind of effect. The Schnitzel was an amazing dish with so many different ways to eat it with the sides and sauces it seemed like every bite was different. Perfectly executed, and an item I will personally have again.

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Finally, we found ourselves at the dessert part of the meal with the Firehouse Beer Chocolate Cake and Gluten free Turtle Cheesecake

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I (J1) have never been the sweet tooth type of person. I believe I got this from my mom, but I will more likely have another helping of fries, or another dinner roll, or something crunchy and salty for dessert than a sweet. That being said, the brewery might find themselves with a bakery attachment in the future based on popular demand. These desserts were out of bounds. The use of beer in the cake is again such a smart way of incorporating the presence of malty sweetness, and it didn’t dry out the cake like can sometimes happen when introduced. Turtles cheesecake… need I say more?

Kath’s quote: “Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.”-Georges Blanc

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Winter Bites in Kenora Part II-by Guest Bloggers J1 and J2

February25

We have learned a ton of useful bits of information, lifestyles, and strategies from our parents. One thing we have picked up from our parents was how to really relax when the time presents itself. We often refer to this as “cabin mode”. We have become very very good at getting into cabin mode in an appropriate amount of time. After being in Kenora for only two hours we had checked into our hotel room, had a great “Winter Bites” lunch offering, and stocked out hotel fridge with two big bottles of Prosecco, and a dozen different Ontario Craft beers that we hadn’t seen in Manitoba before. We know how to get comfortable and facilitate a good time in our family.

After spending two incredibly blissful days in Kenora we decided to have a Winter Bites Lunch marathon. We got out the Winter Bites Passport and looked at every lunch offering, and when the restaurant opened and charted a course for five lunches in one day! Was it 100% necessary… well, no. But it was a ton of fun and it really felt like a fun “touristy” thing to do. We started the day with the Four stack of Buttermilk Pancakes that we showed in the last post.

The second stop on the marathon was Bijou Steakhouse. We chose to try the Steakhouse Burger.

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An amazing burger patty, with their house made tequila BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar, and four Shocktop battered onion rings!!! The fries on the side were fantastic but that burger really stole the show. We were able to talk with the owner of the steakhouse about some fun new things going on at Bijou which we are very excited to check in on when we make it back to Kenora. The space has an amazing vibe and I really want to go and check it out one night when there’s a band playing and it’s packed.

The Bijou Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

After the Burger we went to check out the Cornerstone conveniently located right next door. The fun thing with how the Cornerstone is doing the Winter Bites lunches is they are offering different specials all the time. When we arrived our server described the BBQ chicken cheese steak sandwich that was featured that day.

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The zippiness of the bbq sauce that was on the sandwich was an amazing compliment to the classic flavours present in a cheese steak. We had a laugh when the server was explaining how a lot of people are surprised when there is no steak on the sandwich when it arrives due to the name. I explained another time when somebody I know thought they were eating chicken when they had ordered a chicken fried steak… not naming names.

The Cornerstone on Urbanspoon

We then enjoyed a slow walk over to Ristorante Pizzeria Italia to tackle another lunch item. I really loved the art that was placed all around the restaurant. I felt like it really captured a lot of my favorite memories of when I was in Italy years ago. Pair the warm ambiance with a dynamite Cannelloni di Carne and you got one amazing lunch!

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Balance is one of the things that great Italian food is blessed with a balance of flavours, textures, herbs and spices, everything. This Cannelloni was the model of balance. The meal was bold, elegant, big, subtle, fresh, rustic, and more all at once. It should be said that Cannelloni has been a food of love for both of us since we were young and it would often be the food of choice on birthdays, valentines days, and most recently, New Years Eve.

Ristorante Pizzeria Italia on Urbanspoon

Our final stop was at Dinos Greek Restaurant. If Ristorante reminded me of Italy, then Dino’s is IN Greece! The people, the interior design, the interior architecture, the menu (of coarse), everything screamed Greek. It was so fun to finish off the adventure at Dinos because although it didn’t remind us of our homes growing up, it still oddly felt like home. It felt like they knew we were coming and were excited we made it, which if you imagine it, is a great feeling when you walk into a restaurant.

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The Gyro platter that is offered on the Winter Bites Lunch Menu is amazing. The freshness of the Greek salad was a very refreshing addition to the beautiful hearty gyro. The meat had an amazing depth of flavour and the sauces mixed with the fresh veggies in the gyro complimented each other perfectly. I know that often the gyro has a sort of food court style label thrown on it, but this take on the classic dish really has a great restaurant quality feel to it. I will definitely have this again when I am next in town.

Dino's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Stay tuned for part the final bites of our Winter Bites Kenora experience!

Kath’s quote: “Next to eating good dinners, a healthy man with a benevolent turn of mind, must like, I think, to read about them.” –William Makepeace Thackeray

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply. Thanks for the gift of hearts Anne.

 

“Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good-A Memoir of Food and Love from a Midwest Family”-Kathleen Flinn

February24

I loved every page of this autobiography: the story of a multi-generational family and how food connected them inexplicably.

…I’m pieces of my parents, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Like so many of them, I love to cook-enough to drive me to another country. I earned endless lessons in generosity from Grandma Inez and Grandpa Charles. I inherited the thin steel that ran through Della Stark and the salesman, her scoundrel husband, James. I’m the daughter of a marine, a cop, and a man who would rather go without than go back on his word. I’m my mother’s daughter , who was tough enough to kill chickens, yet kind enough to tel me that a church thrift shop was a posh department store so that I wouldn’t feel ashamed of wearing secondhand clothes.

Burnt toast makes you sing good. Be thankful; no matter how little you’ve got, someone’s always worse off than you. You cant give anything away, it always comes back. They handed down these simple life lessons to me as surely as they did their recipes.

I’m a mutt. But as they say with dogs, mixed breeds prove the most resilient. The people in my past helped make me tough, passionate, and endlessly optimistic. That’s what I want to talk about even if it happens that my grandfather wasn’t Irish after all. But a distant grandmother was from County Kerry. So I’m still Irish, at least a wee bit.

All of this, ignited by a short obituary and cheap posters in a farmhouse bedroom, let this Midwest girl to don kitchen whites as I embarked on a love affair in the most romantic city in the world.

But that’s another story.

from the Epilogue, page 247.

Kath’s quote: “I don’t have to tell you I love you. I fed you pancakes.” -Kathleen Flinn

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

“Winter Bites’ in Kenora by guest bloggers J1 and J2

February23

Kenora has a special place in my heart. Since the year I was born, Lake of the Woods has been our family’s mandatory vacation destination with the use of a generous friend’s cabin 20 minutes from the heart of Kenora. I have to admit the only culinary experience that I have ever enjoyed in town is ‘Ye Old Chip Truck’. Those perfectly cooked fries drenched in malt vinegar and salt were always a highlight of the summer.

Last week we were honored to take part in Kenora’s culinary event – ‘Winter Bites’. Nine local restaurants participated offering lunch and/or dinner menu items for a set price of $10 (lunch) or $25 (dinner) for the month of February.

Our first stop was Nourish Cafe, Shop and Yoga Studio. The atmosphere was quaint and the food – fresh. We chose the cranberry pecan chicken salad sandwich on dark russian rye bread. It reminded us of summer treat that we could eat down by the beach and the flavors complimented each other perfectly. The yoga studio upstairs seemed to be well used as we witnessed patrons entering and exiting their classes while we enjoyed our meal in the sunshine.

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Nourish on Urbanspoon

Our second morning in town we decided to have our breakfast at our hotel – Lakeside Inn & Conference Centre. Our stay at the Inn was an absolute pleasure. The staff was friendly and helpful, but the lake view from our room was spectacular, especially during sunset. We both ordered the breakfast sandwich as we knew we had a lot of eating left to do in the day and didn’t want to stuff ourselves prematurely. The use of a biscuit instead of a bun or english muffin took the sandwich a cut above the rest. It was simple and delicious – the perfect choice.

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Waterside Restaurant - Best Western on Urbanspoon

Next up was Uptown Restaurant. This place is an old favorite that has recently reopened. These were probably the most picturesque meals we enjoyed on our trip, but the flavors did not disappoint either. The perogies were creamy and perfectly balanced with a crunchy bacon garnish. The pancake platter was topped with scratch-made strawberry sauce, bananas, chocolate chips, whip cream and maple syrup. It was a guilty pleasure in which we were happy to indulge. A must-stop for breakfast in Kenora.

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Kath’s quote: “Grandpa used to like gravy on everything, including his pancakes. If love could be eaten, I’ll bet he’d prefer it with gravy on top. And I’d have to agree. Love would taste better with gravy.” ― Jarod Kintz

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Steak, Steak, Steak at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar

February20

Sister #3 and I had a date to go out for a sisters Valentine’s weekend dinner. In the mean time, Boo and the Frenchman were staying at our place and she had to work an overnight shift and would be away at supper time. The Frenchman needed cheering up, so we invited him to join us for dinner. We arrived early because I wanted to get home in time for a 7 pm Jets game. Since it was the Louis Riel holiday the St. James location was very busy with families celebrating the gift of an extra long weekend.

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New to the Keg’s menu was a crispy shrimp appetizer that we ordered to share. Typically “crispy” means battered and deep fried but these were lightly seasoned and perfectly cooked.  They provided a nice nibble while we perused the menu.  Winter Grill is an annual Keg feature that highlights some unique beef cuts and recipes that deliver hearty and satisfying dinners.

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The Frenchman chose from this menu and was delighted when his Kansas City Strip was set in front of him. He obliged me with a taste and it was the most flavourful steak I have tasted in a very long time.  Not only was the meat itself beautifully marbled and thereby packed with meaty juices but the seasonings were bang on. He enjoyed the 18 oz. cut with a big ole baked potato with the “works”, that is Keg jargon for butter, sour cream, bacon bits and chives. A Keg potato is one of the many Keg cravings that I often have. I can’t count how many I’ve eaten over the years and they have never changed. But why fix what ain’t broken?

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The spud was also calling the name of Sister #3 who ordered hers with a side of prime rib. Although the Keg roasts their prime rib to medium rare, it was early in the evening so she asked our server to deliver the rarest cut that the broiler chefs could manage. She too promised me a bite but was so enraptured with her hearty meal that she must of forgotten her pledge.

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I am just kidding as I could have easily reminded her, had I the urge, but I was too content with the grilled sirloin salad that I ordered. Beautiful slices of medium rare steak were perched upon a salad of my favourites of mixed greens, bocconcini cheese, pine nuts and an herb vinaigrette.

We all enjoyed our ice-cold Moosehead drafts amidst the bustle of the evening. A cozy fire made the room glow and we were hard-pressed to set back out into the cold and snow.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The only time to eat diet food is while you are waiting for the steak to cook.”-Julia Child

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

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