Food Musings

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

Reflections on Winnipeg We Day 2013

October31

I was once asked after we had survived a life-changing crisis in our family, how I managed to stay so optimistic, so full of hope and faith, so joyful? At that particular time, I did not even know that this was what I was projecting to the world and so I pondered their perceptions and this is what I can pass along in wisdom:

  1. Bottle up inspiration moments, intentionally allow them to enter your consciousness.  Then remember what shelf you have placed them on in your mind and spirit, because you may have to take them down from that place and open the bottle again to get you through an unpleasant time and inspire you anew.
  2. Teach yourself to find pleasure in very simple things.  As I write this, there is a mauve and peach sunrise outside my window, the last of the robins in my yard are singing, my big old dog is asleep at my feet, I am drinking a hot cup of fine coffee and I am warm in my old fuzzy housecoat in my cozy little house.  I am always aware of the little blessings in my life and when I fill my thoughts with these, I do not have any room left for doubts and negativity.
  3. Make your life about acquiring a string of deep and rich experiences, not bigger and faster and shinier things.  Celebrate something every single day, for me the celebration usually surrounds food. Today we will celebrate the last day of October with a fire in our front yard.  We will invite our neighbours to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and encourage them to linger.
  4. Carve out time to be alone and quiet every day.  Use that time to pray, meditate, listen to  a favourite piece of music, read inspiring thoughts, it really doesn’t matter but be STILL.
  5. Surround yourself with non self-indulged people who are engaged and concerned about you and ooze positivism!

All this pre-amble is about this 5th point.  Yesterday I attended my third We Day and now I have a plethora of positive stories from inspiring people to focus upon.  I am sure that you have seen the tweets and coverage on last evening’s news and the front page of the papers today.  Martin Sheen was impressive as was the former President of Mexico but I was equally moved by locals: Wab Kinew, Megan Fultz, Maria Aragon and ten-year old Hannah Alper who gave me goose-bumps of excitement.

Lastly, a positive association that you likely already know about: many decades ago I started working with The Keg Steakhouse and Bar and my affiliation with the company has continued until this day.  When I am with my fellow Keggers, I am surrounded by intelligent and hospitable people who have big dreams and know that working 2-3 shifts per week, will help them obtain those dreams.  The Keg teaches their staff about the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the local community.  Many years ago The Keg Spirit Foundation was formed and since that time they have raised and distributed millions.  They too support We Day, not just here in Winnipeg but in every Canadian city and with ongoing efforts for Free The Children.  Yesterday Carolyn Torhjelm, the Executive Director of the Keg Spirit Foundation spoke to the assembly of 16,000 of her time in Kenya and then introduced Spencer West.

If there was ever a person to keep in your consciousness for inspiration, it is this humble man.  Spencer West lost his legs at the age of five but has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.  Imagine!

In closing, I could leave you with one of the many inspiring thoughts that I retweeted and scribbled down at yesterday’s We Day event, but I will leave you with this simple phrase, with which I conclude every single one of my blog posts:

Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

Better Food For All-Sobey’s

October29

I was once instructed that the healthiest way to shop at a grocery store, is to purchase and consume as many products as possible that are placed at the periphery of the building.  This statement appropriately describes the newly built Sobey’s store that I visited this morning.  Their fresh market and bakery are at one edge of the store and I understand that Sage Creek is the first Sobey’s in Canada to do this.

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I absolutely loved strolling through the fresh market.  It reminded me of our local farmer’s market or the outdoor markets that I love to explore in Europe.

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The fruit and vegetable displays are gorgeous and beautifully showcase the bounty of fresh produce at this time of year.

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I came across a little stand that was offering tastes of three different kinds of Gouda cheese.  My favourite was the smoked Gouda.  I have only tasted it once previously and it was an excellent reminder to purchase it again for holiday entertaining.

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Speaking of cheese, Bothwell cheese is made right here in Manitoba and Sobey’s proudly supports as many local suppliers as possible.  Sobey’s has a special cooler placed at the end of a row, chock full of all the Bothwell varieties.  Bothwell’s Black Truffle cheese is my favourite-what is yours?  I also saw Pioneer Farmer Sausage and Winnipeg Old County deli meats on display.  My Dad would have been so happy, he used to go directly to Winnipeg Old Country in the north end to pick up our fresh meat every Saturday morning.

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I had a very difficult time walking through the bakery section without making too many purchases.  In spite of my temptation to pick up one of their exquisitely designed fruit flans, I opted instead for a loaf of artisan bread.

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I decided to tear off a chunk of the Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Bread on the way home.  The traffic was slower that I had anticipated, so I tore off another, and then another….  Suffice it to say, I can highly recommend this particular artisan loaf.  They are all baked in store throughout the day using naturally fermented ingredients and no preservatives.

There is a huge section of the store dubbed the “Natural Source” section.  The shelves were full of all those ingredients that you typically find at a health food store.  I was blown away by the number of quinoa based foods that were contained here as well as gluten free products.

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In addition, there were mini sections on almost every aisle which bowed out from the flat shelves and were marked: “Better food means better ingredients”.  These special shelves contained items that I would usually have to travel to a specialty store to purchase; brands like Garafalo pasta and Ghiradelli chocolate.  I was super impressed with their extensive ethnic sections: Italian, Asian and Mexican.  We love to dine out at ethnic restaurants but even more, we love to travel to foreign places.  With Sobey’s extensive line of ingredients, we can cook at home and save up for our next travel adventure.

Although I could not linger and order lunch to sit down with, there were many other shoppers taking advantage of this opportunity at the little cafe there.  I had my eye on the chicken stone oven pizza, so next time, I will plan accordingly.

I have always preferred Shopping at Sobey’s, from the moment that I get out of the car in their spacious parking lots, not having to fish for a coin for a cart, having more than enough cashiers open and staffed and not having to bag my own groceries!

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In addition, I spied that there was a spacious customer service counter that was not being used as an overflow check out.  There were two family style washrooms and even special motorized carts for persons with disabilities.  I have concluded that when Sobey’s claims that their goal is “Better food for all”, they don’t just mean that they offer fresher, purer food, it means that they are doing everything possible to make access to that food easier and affordable to every walk of life.

Kath’s quote:

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Love-that is all.

 

What Else We Saw in Stratford

October28

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Stratford, ON boasts quaint, historic, charming architecture, reminiscent of our time in the UK.

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The city is well planned in a beautiful natural setting, so you are always a moments walk to green space.

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We were very fortunate to get tickets to two plays for the Stratford Festival: Fiddler on the Roof and The Merchant of Venice.  Both works highlighted the brilliant talent of Scott Wentworth and to see him perform in such diverse pieces in the same day, left us over stimulated and quite frankly, exhausted.  We could only imagine how the renowned actor must have felt himself.  We have seen Fiddler many times before and consider it one of our top five favourite musicals.  We declared that the Stratford rendition was the most spectacular and moving rendition that we have ever experienced.

In spite of the fact that I studied Shakespeare while at university, I had never read, nor seen The Merchant before.  I dutifully studied the synopsis many times over, so as to be able to follow the intricate plot lines.  In the end, I was still shaken by the story and Stratford’s decision to set the tale between the 20th century world wars in Italy, rattled me even more so.  The topic was in no way pleasant for me to absorb, but I admire and respect that the Festival had the courage to stage it.

When you are next in the Toronto GTA, do yourself a favour and make the trek to Stratford.  The culinary scene, artistic community, architecture and natural surroundings, make you proud to be a Canadian and you will save yourself thousands by not having to travel over an ocean, to get a sense of the United Kingdom.

Kath’s quote: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.” –William Shakespeare

Love-that is all.

Scotia Amex Cross Canada Meet Up

October25

I am often sent invitations to events where the details are on the mysterious side.  Such was the case, with the recent event hosted by Scotiabank.  There was no mention that food would be offered and yet I should have known with Deseo Bistro being the venue.  With D out of town and my wanting to get caught up on some culinary visits, I asked Sister #3 to join me for the evening.  Our first destination was a new restaurant in the neighbourhood for one writing assignment and then desert at another place for a different writing commitment.  By the time we arrived at Deseo, we had already enjoyed a wonderful evening filled with delightful tastes and good fun.  Little did we know that there was considerably more of both to come.

The cross Canada bloggers meet up was to engage us with a new travel rewards card from the Scotia Amex folks.  I am definitely going to explore applying for the card.  The food theme for the evening was regional tastes from all the participating provinces.

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First up was BC smoked salmon topped with creme fresh and caviar (although it looks as if the caviar was not present on this later offering).  The salty smokiness and richness of the salmon was beautifully offset by the buttery cream and caviar.  The latter was lightly applied which was appreciated because although I enjoy the intense taste of caviar, too much could have overpowered the star of the appetizer-the salmon.

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Lobster croquettes topped with blueberries, representing Nova Scotia came around next.  I adore the taste of lobster and found that the fieriness of the ingredients which were intended to enhance the sweet shellfish, may have actual masked the delicate taste.  I will happily eat lobster at every opportunity and this is certainly not a criticism, just my preference.

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The Alberta beef tenderloin took on a Korean influence with a topping reminiscent of kim chee.  The treat took two bites to eat and was wonderfully messy.

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Two delicacies were appointed from Quebec-poutine and foie gras.  Fingerling potatoes contained a scoop of delicate duck liver.  Oh my!

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My two favourite tastes are pictured here: from Ontario and Manitoba.

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Representing Ontario: baby cobs of corn were wrapped in prosciutto and then grilled.  There were so much fun and equally delicious.

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From Manitoba: Omgoodness-the pork belly was sublime!  The strip of natural fat stayed firm until it entered your mouth and then it just melted way into sheer loveliness.  Chokecherries provided that salty/sweet taste that I constantly crave.  Heaven, I’m in heaven…..

Deseo Bistro on Urbanspoon

We were hosted with other lovely treats besides food, including a cocktail dubbed the Lumberjack which was like a whiskey sour made with a maple infusion.  One lucky attendee walked away with a $400. Travel Voucher!

Thanks Ben from Scotiabank for hosting us for this fun and delicious evening.

Kath’s quote: “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill.

Love-that is all.

 

 

What Else We Ate in Stradford, ON

October22

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Our very first stop on the morning that we arrived in Stratford was the Revel Caffe.  We were able to grab a few moments with Anne, Revel’s passionate owner.  Revel features direct trade coffee brewed from high altitude, shade grown, hand harvested beans roasted fresh each week.  Now if that is not a commitment to quality, then what is?  Anne and her staff have personally connected with their coffee producer in Nicauagara-Don Reynaldo where she and staff joined in on the 2012 harvest.

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Anne’s baristas are also passionate about creating coffees that work both for the local and global communities.

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I was especially enthralled by their community table, not just because it was obviously restored from recycled elements but for what it represented.  This was where “revellers” gather (what the regulars at Revel are so named).

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On this day it was a knitting circle.

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Outdoor patio season was still going strong.

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Here’s a cozy spot that I could while away an afternoon at.

Revel Caffe on Urbanspoon

Canadian Grub to Go was our second stop where we picked up lunch to eat in the nearby Shakespearean Gardens.

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There, we met Robert, who only serves Canadian food products from his wonderful storefront.

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He may have to revise the restaurant’s name because he is now serving “grub to stay” in the rear of his location, which he indicated has just recently been completed.

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I tucked into this smoked maple ham with grilled onions.

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D chose the pulled pork and gooey cheese.

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I admire what Robert has done with his brand and his retail space.

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His restaurant felt more like home than a place to grab a sandwich.

Canadian Grub To Go on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

Love-that is all.

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