Food Musings

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

My Favourite Restaurant Experiences of 2015


Here is a round up of my favourite restaurants for 2015 (sorry Winnipeggers only one is from here).

For Christmas last year D gifted me with a trip to White Rock and then Seattle early this past year to visit old and dear friends.

1. The Seahorse Grill, Crescent Beach, White Rock BC


D could not resist the Pan Seared Scallops in lemon grass sauce accompanied by fregola pasta and market vegetables. The taste of the enormous scallop that he shared with me as absolutely delectable-sweet and silky, just like a fresh scallop should taste.

Friend Nance ordered what she claims she cannot resist with each of her many visits to the Seahorse Grill-the Linguine Vongole. She offered me a swirl and I know that if the opportunity is afforded me in the future (and I am currently making those plans), I would certainly order her selection. The freshest of clams were poached in white wine broth, olive and plenty of garlic and then perfectly heaved together with el dente linguini.


My Smoked chicken and pasta choice was perfect with generous slices of chicken breast and a bone in cuts as well, the dish was laced with garlic and beautifully paired with a hearty pasta.

2. The Fat Hen, Seattle Washington

The morning we visited, Owner/Chef Maximo was in the tiny café kitchen where he whipped up the most decadent and rich breakfasts for D and I. His wife had baked all the pastries that were featured in the restaurant including the perfectly bubble filled baguette that I used to sop up every single bite of my delectable sauce.


Since we were in seafood territory, D chose the Benedict with wild Alaskan smoked salmon. The petite roasted new potatoes were a delectable accompaniment.


I needed help with my baked eggs alla boscaiola where two eggs had been plunged into a bubbling solea tomato sauce with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, to finish the cooking process. At least, this is how we guessed the dish had been prepared. The more quickly you broke into the egg, the softer the yolk was that had been poaching in the hearty sauce. By my last bite the egg was fully cooked.

We spotted Maximo as he efficiently let down a counter to cover the doorway to the kitchen to lovingly plate and complete his delicious fare. He was shy (and busy) but came out for a moment to shake our hands in greeting.

Fredy’s, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

One of our regular stops on Isla Mujeres is to our friend Fredy’s. We met Fredy many years ago when we first started visiting the island. His dry wit, love of family and fabulous food, keep us coming back, year after year. We even ate Christmas dinner there one year.


On this year’s visit at the end of February I couldn’t resist Fredy’s double boned pork chop. Perfect seasoned and grilled, sometimes I dream about them.

Da Emma, Old Montreal, Quebec

In July I visited Da Emma housed in Montreal’s first prison for women. The Restaurant’s walls were impossibly thick but contrary to what you might first expect, the ambiance was warm and inviting.


We started with bruschetta where I confirmed anew how much I love fresh garlic and tomatoes and crunchy baguette.


Next up was eggplant which featured thin layers of my favourite vegetable and a delicate tomato sauce.


For my main, I chose “Piglet” even though I felt awkward about ordering something with such a cute name. The skin was crunchy, the silky fat melted away and the meat was perfectly seasoned and prepared.

Toscano Doc, Montecatini Italy

When I read through Trip Advisor reviews of a restaurant I am interested in what fellow travellers have to say but even more so when a local goes to the trouble of commenting and recommending their favourite spots. On the very first night that we were in Tuscany in October, we went with one of these suggestions. Little did we know that first evening that we would return almost every other night of our week’s stay. One reason was our server Francesco who spoke great English as a result of spending six months in Australia. He hopes to come to Canada for an extended stay as well. One evening D went in to order a couple of pizzas to go and waited with a beer. When the pizza was ready, Franccesco wouldn’t hear of D paying for it, saying that he appreciated our business (and our company).


Everything we ate there was delectable but I want to give special accolades to a pretty non-descript menu item: fried seafood. OMG-perfectly seasoned, the lightest of coatings and a delicate plunge into the fryer produced a dish so fine that once D gave me a taste when he ordered it, I schemed to return so that I could indulge in my own plate.

Enoteca, Winnipeg

In the same manner that someone might say “I admire the work of a certain photographer or craftsperson”, I admire the work of Chef Scott Bagshaw. I have never laid my eyes on a plate that he has composed without given due respect to his artistry. Our recent visit to Enoteca Wine Bar was no exception.

When you identify yourself as a new guest at Enoteca, a server explains how to order and how the dishes will be served. One and a half to two dishes per person were recommended and each dish was served separately to the table. The intention is that every dish will be shared by dinner companions.


The first dish that arrived was Blue Swimmer Crab which had been pulled from its shell and enhanced with cucumber and apple. The delicate texture of the shellfish was offset by the caviar and especially the crunchy grains of rye. The silky crème fraiche finished our appetizer in both texture and taste.


Knowing that vegetable centred dishes are the new culinary trend, we were not surprised to see that Chef Scott was ahead of the movement. Veg-centric dishes focus on flavour. Being meatless is secondary. Proteins are still included, but they’re more of a flavour enhancer. We spotted many such dishes on Enoteca’s menu and finally decided upon the Roasted Cauliflower utilizing “cave aged” gruyere to intensify the taste. Panade added moisture, rough cut almonds provided crunch and capers the saltiness.


Our final plate was Chef Scott’s take on a meat and potato dish. Hanger steak was once referred to as “butcher’s steak” because meat cutters would set the especially flavourful cuts aside for their own use. Pan-seared oyster and morel mushrooms both added meaty tastes to the dish as well. For crunch (can you see a trend here?), crispy baby potatoes provided the crib for the dish.

2015, oh what a year for food and travel!

Kath’s quote:  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine


Love, that is all.



The Best Gifts


D sings a made up song every year on this day “It’s the night before, the night before Christmas” and we are all prepared. When I say “prepared” I mean that the groceries are bought, some dishes have been premade and are in the freezer and gifts are bought and wrapped (mostly). But what I really mean is that our hearts are ready for Emanuel (God with us). I am contemplating this gift this morning and I cannot help but reflect on all the other ones that I have received recently.

The Gift of Age


I was so blessed when so many friends joined me to celebrate a momentous birthday. Thank you D and my family for all of your hard work. It was a memorable day in absolutely every way. A special thanks to my Toronto Bestie who has been in my heart for decades.

The Gift of Work


Everyday is new and exciting and full of learning. The work that I do is creative, satisfying and rewarding, not only in a monetary way but because of the rich relationships that I have with suppliers, clients and comrades.

The Gift of Friendship


I have often shared in this space that Sisters #2 and #3 are my best friends and I cherish that. This year though I have drawn closer to three girlfriends. We lunch together and drink wine together and share our joys and sorrows. Their perseverance and support has been an amazing gift this year.

The Gift of Family


In the next few days I get to spend time with most of my whacky 35 member family. We will assemble Christmas morning at my Mom’s personal care home for brunch and gift opening. There will lots of hugs and laughter (and eating).

The Gift of Travel


Yesterday I posted on Facebook that I would rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff and that is so true. In 2015 I have traveled to Vancouver, Seattle, Isla Mujeres, Montreal (twice), New York and Tuscany. I got to stay and visit with people I love, learn new things, see new things and just “be” in so many lovely places.

The Gift of Community


We are blessed with wonderful neighbours who fetch our mail and snow blow our parking spots. Our little house of 20+ years is the now the perfect size. We sit in our lawn chairs out front for an evening glass of wine (in summer) and visit with many on the street. We do our small part in creating a better Winnipeg and I am inspired by our mayor and chief of police.

The Gift of Freedom


Even with the effects of terror being felt around the world, I am vigilant but never afraid when we travel. I love Canada more than ever with a loving family man as our leader and his open and tender heart. D and I have been registered and hope to provide temporary housing for Syrian refugees in the months ahead.

The Gift of Health

I have had a bumpy ride in this department this autumn but I am empowered to get out and walk, get to the gym and focus on healthy whole foods that I have the time to prepare and the wealth to purchase.

The Gift of Peace


Through the bumpy ride mentioned above, I was filled with a peace that passed all understanding. I was grateful that my “bad” news didn’t feel bad at all when placed alongside all the things that it “could” have been. I am blessed with extra doses of peace when I watch falling snow, spend time at the lake or gaze at the turquoise sea of Isla Mujeres.

The Gift of Joy


Oh my goodness! My family and The Wee One are my constant sources. Yesterday I belly laughed with my almost 89 year old Mom over one of her “witticisms” and then watched The Wee One shake it up in the aisle when I took her to a live play. We cannot restrain our joy as we watch her sister growing inside J2’s belly and can’t wait for the birth of our second granddaughter in the new year.

The Gift of Love


Love is all around. This autumn I have known a special outpouring from friends new and old and constantly from my family. And then there is D. Even though I have aches and pains, white hair roots and new creases on my face, he loves me the same way as he did when none of these things existed. No, he loves me more and in such a respectful and accepting way. He kisses me the moment he awakes, patiently endures my ranting while watching Jets games and constantly plans new adventures for us to share. He truly is the most amazing Daddy, Poppa and Husband. I chose well.

And so this Christmas, I hope one thing: that you get the time to reflect on all the gifts that you have received this year.


Love-that is all.

Christmas Appetizers-Manitoba Chicken


The first real dump of snow came down the day and evening that a number of bloggers and Manitoba Chicken Fans were to be assembling to batch cook some Christmas appetizers. In spite of the slippery roads and traffic congestion, the turn out was great.


We gathered at the Kitchen Sync, the cooking studio that I have raved about previously in this space.

On this evening, we were being coached by Chef Brent Barna of Pine Ridge Hollow fame. He had been the guest Chef at another Manitoba Chicken occasion that I had the pleasure of attending.


Our family loves appetizer recipes, whether they be a nibble with a cocktail before our mandatory Sunday dinners or as one of many small plates that pass for dinner. I have often thought that an appetizer exchange held in the same manner as you might participate in a Christmas baking exchange would be such a good idea. I even started to get an exchange going last Christmas season, to no avail.

This evening was the closest thing.


First up were Blue Moon Chicken Bites where we mixed up ground chicken, spices, panko flakes and did not use any egg. The resulting texture was firm and surprising. When they came out of the oven, we tossed them in a sauce of hot sauce mixed with Blue cheese dressing and crumbled Blue cheese.



Here is the recipe for Chicken Tartlettes with Cranberry Salsa (that recipe is below) elevated them from delicious to sensational!

Cranberry Salsa
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Canadian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
The salsa topped chicken tartlets but was SO good, I would eat with on every chicken dish.
  • ½ c fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 t coarsely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
  1. Combine all salsa ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse on/off until the mixture is chopped (not pureed).
  3. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.


Then I discovered that the salsa made everything taste wonderful, including our next recipe – Tropical Chicken Taquitos.

The evening was warm with our efforts, the opening and closing of the oven doors and the friendship that the blogging community shares.

Kath’s quote: “Cranberries: “The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat, and it is a delicious sauce.”-John Josselyn, while visiting New England in 1663

Xmas Decoration

Love, that is all.


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Food = Love and Potato Lefse



With a few of her children and grandkids at Star Wars.

This weekend we celebrated my Mother-in Law’s 80th Birthday. Her real birthday is not until Christmas but we always make an effort to celebrate early so that her special day doesn’t get completely mushed into Christmas.

Grandma Jean is truly amazing for too many reasons to number, but here are just a few:

  • she went to work outside the home for the first time when she became a single Mom of seven children
  • she does not have a grey hair on her head
  • last time we played a family baseball game, she could still hit one passed the reach of her grandkids in the field
  • she babysits the 2 1/2 year old Wee One once a week, taking her for walks and spending most summer days at the playground
  • each person who spends Christmas in her home gets a special gift, even if they were a last minute invitee

I could go on but you get the picture…..

This year she gave her children and her grandchildren something truly extraordinary- a handwritten recipe book! D’s has 39 pages and 156 recipes including many of her own Mother’s and Grandmother’s. D was salivating as he flipped through the pages last evening, remembering delicious family suppers and the abundance of shenigans and laughter around the table.

I was invited to her Christmas table some 34 years ago and tasted her Potato Lefse for my very first time.  When the Wee One eats them, she is the sixth generation to taste the recipe.

Potato Lefse
Cuisine: Scandinavian
I was taught to spread butter onto these and add a sprinkle of white sugar.
  • 5 cups boiled potatoes, drained
  • 5 T butter
  • ½ c cream
  • salt to taste
  • flour-see note below
  1. Mix all ingredients well and then cool a while.
  2. Add ½ c flour for each cup of potato mixture.
  3. Flour counter and roll out about ⅓ c of dough, very thinly.
  4. Add a little more flour if needed.
  5. Bake on a 350 degree, flat grill until brown on both sides.

Think on this: 156 recipes x seven children and fifteen grandchildren=3,432 hand-written recipes! The project took her two years to complete. Now if that is not love, then what is?

Kath’s quote: Grandma Jean to her children & grandchildren-“If anyone’s marriage happens to break up, take the recipe book”.


Love, that is all.

Fusion Grill, River Heights, Winnipeg


Fusion Grill is not exactly in my own backyard but pretty close-a block and a half walk away.  The cafe’s close proximity actually makes me guilty about not dining there more often as owner Scot McTaggart is an old friend of ours from a time when we all worked together at a popular restaurant.

Scot’s culinary philosophy has always been a passion for “local”, years before the trend was in vogue.  Scot once shared with me that his wish has always been a simple one: “to sell carrots from my own backyard.” He recalled raiding a garden for carrots and scraping off the dirt with his hands.  He remembered the sweetness and the crunch and added “even the dirt tasted good.”

Gutsy Scot was the first of Winnipeg’s restaurateurs to deliver Manitoba regional cuisine like bison, pickerel cheeks, Arctic Char, Northern Pike caviar, grass-fed beef and Bothwell cheese.  The all-Canadian wine list was also a bold move when he first opened, but feels vindicated now with the focus on both food and wine from closer to home.  He believes that Canadian wines are the perfect pairing to Chef Lorna Murdoch’s cuisine.

Like many cities, Winnipeg is disproportionately lacking in female chefs. Chef Lorna is one of our shining stars. When you meet her in real life you might be surprised by her diminutive stature. She is petite, but her imaginative food combinations and taste profiles are not. They are enormous!

We started our evening with white truffle perogies, loving both in equal portions. The duck sausage was a savoury layer; the walnut cream sauce hit this starter out of the park! Also sampled were the Caesar salad and the soup of tomorrow-both terrific.

The guys decided upon the elk tenderloin that was available that evening. My husband shared the myriad of roasted local vegetables with me. Chicken stuffed with mushrooms and mascarpone cheese was perfect on its own, sensational with squash gnocchi.


I often choose vegetable-centric entrees, not because I do not enjoy meat but because I am a veggie nut. I could have enjoyed the handmade tagliatelle noodles (a cousin to fettuccine) with a simple bit of garlic and a good olive oil. I was in heaven when the pasta was intertwined with ribbons of artichoke, pickled squash and wilted greens. Wow, just wow!

Fusion Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Classical cooking and molecular gastronomy should remain separate. You can mix two styles and get fusion; any more, and you just get confusion.”-Alain Ducasse


Love, that is all.

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