Food Musings

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

Deer + Almond – Sister #3’s First Visit

April30

You know that friend? Talking to them makes you feel like you just put on your favorite, cozy, old cardigan sweater. Well this was a night out with THAT friend.  And stepping into Deer + Almond felt equally as comfortable and familiar, even though it was my first visit.  The atmosphere is casual, yet funky enough to be special. The service was attentive but left my friend and I lots of room for our intense conversation. And the food, well, let me tell you about the food!

The fixed menu is on the small side, something that I appreciate as I have a tough time narrowing down my selection.  I also prefer to see a restaurant do less, but do it really well. There are also a number of featured items that are not on the menu.  This coincides with chef owner Mandel Hitzer’s philosophy of serving local, fresh food.  The menu is made up of small plates, meant for sharing.  My very favorite way to eat!

Deer & Almod's Arancin

We started out with the arancini. Yummy little balls of risotto, breaded and deep fried, served on a pool of perfect tomato sauce.  You can tell a lot about a chef by how tasty their tomato sauce is.

Deer & Almond's Yams

Next were the yams.  They were grilled with fresh springs of thyme, drizzled with balsamic and topped with creamy little blobs of chevre.

Deer & Almond's Sultry Prawns

On to the sultry prawns! Nice juicy prawns with olives, capers, tomatoes and cilantro on a delicious sauce, so good!

Deer & Almond's Flatbread

The featured flatbread, pizza really, was fantastic; crispy bacon, shrimp, feta and arugula on a crisp crust with more of their perfect tomato sauce.

We were celebrating my friend’s birthday, so we just had to indulge in dessert to end the evening. There were a few options to select from and we settled on the peanut butter ice cream, served with chocolate mousse and a caramel sauce.  What can I say, it was the perfect evening.

Deer + Almond on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “If you don’t mind smelling like peanut butter for two or three days, peanut butter is darn good shaving cream.”-Barry Goldwater

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Love-that is all.

Dream Destinations-Another Opportunity to Win through a Sobey’s Pinathon

April29

The truth is, I truly can’t decide which is my favourite destination between Italy and Mexico and the food is the reason why.  How do you choose between the fresh sparkling taste of cilantro when paired with chilies, tomatoes and freshly squeezed lime and the earthy tones of rosemary, garlic and red wine which transforms a tomato into something else, indeed?  Thankfully, now a days, the world is truly our oyster, so why do I just have to have one favourite?

ballyhoofishsalad

The first time I set foot on Isla Mujeres, I knew that the little island would always be a part of my life.  We have already booked a villa on the sea for the 2014 season, when we take the entire family including “Baby”, who will be born this summer.  Getting to Mexico can be fairly affordable, if you plan carefully and start researching airfares in advance.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you choose to travel at the last minute, there are often some tremendous deals.  But, we don’t roll that way.  My readers know that the anticipation of a trip for me, is often as satisfying as the trip itself.

italian bbq

Italy and the rest of Europe is a special treat.  We reserve overseas travel for significant birthdays and anniversaries.  With the exception of this fall, when we are taking time in October so that I can lead a blogging workshop in Tuscany.  The vacation package includes tutelage in the kitchen by Chef Enrico, whose ancient restored estate is where the participants will reside.  That is, when we are not touring the cities and towns of Tuscany or foraging for truffles in its forests.

But in the mean time, here is a more immediate reward.  If you are interested in one of four $100. Sobey’s gift cards, create and then share your own Sobeys West Pinboard.  Copy and paste your board  URL(s) in the comments section below. How the contest works: Anyone who creates a pinboard and repins 4 pins from http://pinterest.com/sobeys, using the keyword SobeysWest, is entered to win!  You have to reside in Manitoba and west to do so.

Here’s a link to my own pinboard: http://pinterest.com/foodmusings/dream-destinations-mexico-or-italy/

So, make a cuppa tea.  Sit back and let’s dream of where we want to travel next….happy pinning!

Kath’s quote: “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There  is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes  open.” – Jawaharial  Nehru

Heart on dock

Love-that is all.

Spring Has Arrived at Earl’s -Guest Blogger, Sister #3

April26

D and I were out of town this week, with a road trip to Minneapolis. We did a little bit of resting, a little bit of shopping and a lot of eating.  “No surprise”,  you say.  Details of our eating adventures will follow ina  blog post to come.  In the meantime, Sister #3 was available to sub-in for me to an invitation from Earl’s to taste their spring menu.

“To say that spring is slow in arriving this year would be an understatement.  It is almost the end of April and there is still snow and ice in our yards. But we got a taste of spring last night as Earl’s unveiled their new spring menu at a chef’s table event at their Winnipeg Flagship store -191 Main Street.

Whiskey Smash.jpg

For our introductory course we sampled the new Whiskey Smash cocktail.  A classic Whiskey Sour with honey and fresh mint served in a silver mint julep cup.  Talk about refreshing!

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Leroy’s ribs are back by popular demand, or as the staff will tell you, more like a customer revolt when they disappeared off the menu recently to make room for newer items.  My companion was one of the disappointed customers who is thrilled to see their return.  I find them a bit salty but must say they do make you want to slam back your Whiskey Smash like a good bar snack should.

Moscow Mule.jpg

Next course featured a Moscow Mule; a vodka Collins with a ginger bite served in a copper cup to keep it icy cold.

Beef Carpaccio.jpg

These came out with the beef Carpaccio.  The best rendition of this dish I have ever tasted.  The thinly sliced tenderloin melted in your mouth and the sriracha mayo, capers and pickled red onion gave it the punch that carpaccio is often missing.  Served with toasted ciabatta, a little arugula tossed in a light lemon dressing and the most delicious deviled egg.  I’ll be back for more of that!

Lobster + Prawn Roll.jpg

Next item to appear at our table was the Lobster + Prawn Roll.  An upscale version of this east coast classic, the Earl’s version is served on a buttered griddled brioche that is made in house; a step up from the typical hot dog bun.  It overflowed with seafood salad with just the right amount of mayo.

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Our main was a big strip loin steak that featured their new steak rub.  Chef Matt Frost commented that while they are not trying to be a steak house they feel it is important to have an excellent steak available on their menu.  He is excited that they are now offering a 16 ounce, bone-in rib eye.  Aged a minimum of 28 days (standard for a good quality steak) our steaks were cooked to the perfect doneness. The new wet rub contains tamari (gluten free soy sauce) garlic, lemon, and basil, rosemary and porcini powder and we each went home with a sample to test on our own B.B.Q.  Our main was accompanied by garlic mashed potato and really good succotash. All enjoyed with a glass of Whatchamacallit, Earl’s house red which is a pleasant merlot blend.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.jpg

For dessert, yes after all that food we managed a few bites of dessert, we enjoyed a scrumptious strawberry rhubarb crumble with vanilla gelato.

 

Chef Matt Frost

Chef Matt Frost

It was a lovely evening getting to know the Earl’s on Main team.  Their pride in the product is evident.  I was impressed to hear that Earl’s has their own mixologist. You can see that they put as much attention to detail in their cocktails as they do the food.  Unlike most restaurants that depend on prepackaged bar mixes, Earl’s juices their own lemons and limes daily as well as making their syrups from scratch.

Well the upcoming weekend promises to bring temperatures in the double digits and the staff is itching to assemble the new patio furniture and move the party outdoors.

One last bit of news that has the Earl’s team looking forward to the future, the construction of a new building to house their Main street location.  Watch for more great things from this dynamic crew in a new and improved setting.”

Earl's on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”-Robin Williams

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Love-that is all.

 

Nice Musings

April25

D and Daughter #1 are huge tennis fans and so this weekend the Monte Carlo tournament was avidly being followed at our place.  This prompted D and I to remember our wonderful time in Nice.  The timing was early October and the weather was perfect.

Nice

The summer crowds had diminished

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and we were free to roam the flower and food markets,

Nice

stroll along the boardwalk

Nice

and have sunset drinks at beach clubs.  Ah, it would be so lovely to return.

When we last visited, our coffers were dwindling as it was near the end of our sojourn from Sicily and up the west coast of Italy into France.  From Nice, we took the train to Paris and then flew home from there.  Whilst in Nice, we stayed at a comfortable place perched high enough to see the city below us and the Mediterranean beyond that.

Nice

The vista was beautiful from the window above our bed and the 180 degree balcony outside our shuttered door.

Just imagine the dining in Nice…garlic, artichokes, fennel, asparagus, olives, truffles and cheese meeting sea bream, crab, sardines and anchovies.  I recall the rich preparations of the Provençale kitchen and long to return.  If we get another chance to visit France and specifically the Riviera, we would likely want to find a place closer to the vibrant restaurant scene and the water’s edge.  When we originally planned this trip, I came across this hotel website on a regular basis: http://www.venere.com/france/nice/.  Oh, that we had the opportunity to use the site to book a Nice Hotel right now!

Kath’s quote:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”-Dr. Seuss

BeFunky_wine heart

Love-that is all.

Unburger Revisited

April23

Do you recall the feeling of writing your last university exam in the spring?  Perhaps, for you, the sensation is still very fresh.  For me, in spite of the number of years that have past, I remember the perception vividly.  Recently, I picked Daughter #2 up after her last exam of the semester.  In fact, with an overseas practicum trip planned for this fall, she won’t be back at school until January 2014.  Having completed a paper during the week and written two exams the day previous, she was giddy with relief.  Contributing to her levity, may have been the exhaustion of studying most of the night.  By the time I fetched her, she was also very, very hungry. The Osborne Village restaurant is on our route home and my husband has been encouraging me to pay the Unburger guys a repeat visit.

Since I once worked upstairs in the building that Unburger -Healthy Gourmet Burgers is located in, I knew that there was parking behind the premises.  I should have read the signs that the place was hopping, as there was not a spot available.  When we arrived at the entrance, we had to wedge in between the door itself and the back of the line.  It was obvious that there was not an empty seat in the restaurant but what was not apparent, was the number of large orders that had been placed for pick up.  Needless to say, once we put in our order, until the time that our bag of food was handed off to us, a considerable amount of time had passed.  No worries.  We watched others arrive and try to shoe-horn themselves inside, including Jets captain-Andrew Ladd.  I had been to the game the night before, when Ladd had gotten a overtime assist on the winning goal.  Ladd has always been my favourite Jet, and his recent performance has certainly solidified that.  What I am saying in a long-winded way, is that time seemed to pass relatively quickly.

Unburger

Daughter #2 knew exactly what she was having-a Blueberry Yum-Yum beef burger and a side of sweet potato fries with rosemary garlic aioli.  I had a hankering for the Bella (I suppose I am already preparing my palette for an upcoming trip to Tuscany).  Unburger marks the Bella as “A (Damn Good) Healthier Burger” and I should have continued in that vein with an “8 Grain Energy Salad” which I am crazy about, but I couldn’t resist their freshly cut fries.

Unburger

The “Sweet, Sweet Yam Fries” did not survive the drive home and missed the photo shoot.  I asked Daughter #2 what she appreciated about the burger as she took her first bite.  She replied: “Well, it includes all my favourite foods in one place-the blueberries have a bit of a spicy punch.  There is a creamy goat cheese and balsamic onions.” I can attest to this appeal, as I see these items on our family grocery list on a regular basis.  She so loves the balsamic bite with meat, that I just place the bottle on the dining room table in front of her when I serve pork chops.

Unburger

I am an avid beef eater but knew that I was going to be noshing on a beef lasagna for dinner that evening and that is why I chose the Bella with its “meaty” grilled portabella mushroom innards.  The non-pulsed order taker and cashier, cheerfully replaced the blue cheese with goat cheese, even though I totally messed up by not remembering until after we had placed and paid for our order.  Balsamic onions also adorned the daily baked, whole wheat bun.

Unburger

The tastes were balanced and bold at the same time, even when I went back to finish the second half of my burger a couple of hours later.  Unburger knows their local ingredients and how to assemble a great tasting, “guilt-free” burger.  They also know how to help a Mom revive and refresh her diligent daughter.

Unburger on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “It does not matter where you go and what you study, what matters most is what you share with yourself and the world.”-Santosh Kalwar

cafe love

Love-that is all.

 

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