Food Musings

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

Blue Moose Bar and Grill-Grand Forks

August9

When we travel to Grand Forks, we are inclined to stay and dine (and shop) in the south of the city.  The last time the 3 Sisters were there (with 2 honourary sisters) we ventured further a field and discovered how quaint downtown Grand Forks is.  Perched on the east side of the Red River is a two story row of restaurants that offers a beautiful view of the river, especially at sunset when we were dining.

I was happy to have remembered The Blue Moose as it was one of many suggestions that I listed as options for D.  He had something specific in mind but just could not put his finger on it.  Turns out what he was craving, was exactly what The Blue Moose had to offer.

There are over 40 beers on tap and this made for a tough decision on D’s part.  In the end, he opted for a Smithwicks which was his favourite ale when we traveled to Ireland this spring.  My decision was easier as they had a number of merlots by the 1/4 (more than a glass but less than a bottle).

The Blue Moose is also featuring a new dining style to Grand Forks, that being tapas (our favourite way to dine).  D selected the Head Lettuce Roll and Black & Bleu Balls and I, the Walleye Fingers and Coffee Rub Flat Iron Steak.  We were really impressed when soon after, two tiered towers of small plates arrived at our table.

We thought that the lettuce wraps were a little light on ingredients other than meat but the ground chicken was deliciously seasoned and when coupled with plenty of cold and crispy lettuce cups, made for a refreshing start.

On the other hand the Black & Bleu Balls were sensational!  There were three peppery meatballs smothered in a bleu cheese/Cajun cream sauce-simple yet inventive.

I slathered some of the excess sauce onto a crostini to taste my selection of the coffee rubbed steak.  The steak was tender and a perfect medium rare but the sauce that I added over powered the coffee flavour.  So I had the next bite naked (the steak, not me) and it was lovely.  The plan now is to recreate both dishes on our upcoming time at the beach house.

Speaking of the lake, the pickerel have been biting like crazy this summer and we are looking forward to a feed of our favourite fish.  In the mean time, the Walleye (what they call pickerel on the US side) Fingers dusted in herb flour and Parmesan cheese was a nice twist. But I am a purist with my pickerel and love a simple dusting of flour and a toss in the pan with butter.  That too is on our summer menu plan.

We know that Americans love their sweets and that dessert would be an enormous portion.  Luckily The Blue Moose also features Bite Delights which was the perfect mini size.  The brownie taste was served with two mini scoops of ice cream.

So the next time you are in Grand Forks, head downtown and just over the river.  Good things await.

The Blue Moose Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”-Mae West

Love-that is all.

 

Bonfire Bistro-The Perfect Bite

August7

D knew that I had endured a stressful day and suggested that we find a neighbourhood spot to have some supper.  This did not take much convincing on my part.  Bonfire Bistro was filled with other River Heights folk, but it is so good that it has an avid following from all over the city.  Somehow though, they manage to retain a neighbourhood feel.

D was interested in one of the many wood fired pizzas and opted for the special of chorizo, buffalo cheese, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and arugula.  The taste that he shared with me was yummy-charcoaly from the open flame, peppery fro the arugula, acidic from the tomatoes and spicy from the sausage; all offset by the earthy mushrooms and creamy cheese.

Sister #3 always teases me that my life is a quest for the perfect bite.  I am not inclined to separate my food and consume it one at a time, but love to have a blend of different tastes with every forkful.  But, this is not always easy to achieve.  Sometimes there is too much sauce and not enough pasta, other times, it is the other way around.  Perfection was achieved at Bonfire Bistro.  My choice of linguine was chock full of spicy marinated eggplant, wilted field greens, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, kalamata olives, tomatoes, green onions and feta cheese in an aglio e olio sauce.  Yippee-marinated eggplant and artichokes in the same dish!  As D commented -that dish has Kath written all often it.    With every twist and spear of the fork I was able to combine the perfect amount of pasta with one of my favourite salty tastes and then a nugget of feta-oh my!  I tried to stop when my tummy was satisfied and save a portion for left-over lunch but my fork kept digging in and I finished my plate.  I will just have to go back for lunch, sometime very soon.

Bonfire Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”Ruth Reichl

Love-that is all.

 

Beerlicious East Coaster Sea Chicken Bundles

August3

My gang loves food stuffed into chicken (case in point-their all time favourite: Asparagus Wrapped Chicken Breast with Hollandaise Sauce).  Truth is, we’ve been preparing that recipe for years so I was happy to discover this version, dreamed up by the inventive Chef- Ted Reader.

I got to work side by side with Ted this week when he was in town on his Schnieders/Beerlicious tour.  Having put in a full prep day for his TV visits, I was happy to have three portions of this recipe left over, after I had done the last of the dishes.  The Frenchman was getting ready to leave for Montreal (and to reunite with Daughter #2) and so we invited him to join us.

D seared some asparagus on the grill as the bundles were roasting and all we had to add was a crusty loaf of bread.

Beerlicious East Coaster Sea-Chicken Bundles
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
 
From "Beerlicious Volume 1 The Art of Grillin' and Chillin'" By Chef Ted Reader
Ingredients
  • 12 inch cedar plank, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour
  • Spray bottle of water
  • 8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 1 bottle Alexander Keith's Red
  • +1 bottle Amber Ale (12 oz)
  • 1 c ground chicken
  • ½ lb. cooked lobster, coarsely chopped
  • 3 T panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 T chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 asparagus spears, blanched
  • 2 T Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning
  • 8 slices bacon (thick)
Instructions
  1. Place thighs in a large self-sealing bag. Pour in 1 bottle of Alexander Keith's Red Amber Ale. Seal bag, turning bag and gently massaging meat to evenly coat. Refrigerate and let marinate, turning occaisionally to evenly marinate, for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain thighs, discarding leftover mariade, and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, lobster meat, panko bread crumbs, mayonnaise,green onion and dill. Drizzle with extra beer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine.
  4. Lay thighs on flat work surface. Evenly spread 1 T of ground chicken mixture over entire surface of each thigh, then top with an asparagus spear along the narrow end. Tightly roll up each thigh around asparagus.
  5. Season rolled thighs with Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning, coating evenly. Wrap 1 slice of bacon tightly around each rolled thigh.
  6. Preheat grill to medium (350-450 degrees F)
  7. Arrange bacon-wrapped thighs, spaced apart, on plank.
  8. Place plank on grill. Close lid and plank-bake, occasionally with beer and checking to ensure plank has not caught fire, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and chicken is fully cooked (internal temperature of 160 degrees F). (Note: If plank catches fire, extinquish with bottle of water.)
  9. Remove from grill, Serve immediately.

If you are watching your fat intake and are concerned about the bacon, you may wish to remove it from your bundle and pass it along to Mrs. Spratt.  You will still enjoy all the bacony taste that has permeated the chicken.  I try to reduce fat with products where I do not miss the taste  like Greek yogurt and sour cream, so that I can enjoy real butter on my popcorn or a crispy, salty strip of bacon.  Moderation folks, is the key (took me way too long to learn this lesson). 

Daughter #2 is still in Montreal, J1 & J2 are heading to the lake, Daughter #1 is staying in town to attend Movies in the Park and D and I are off to assemble with his family at a Minnesota Lake, so we will not be together for this long weekend.  But I am looking forward to us assembling in our backyard paradise so that D can fire up the grill and I can ensure that the beer is icy cold.  What could be better? 

Kath’s quote: “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”-Doug Larson

Love-that is all.

Photo used according to stipulated conditions: http://www.flickr.com/photos/not_on_display/with/4430743342/

 

Bistro Chez Sophie

August2

Chez Sophie is a surprising find in the heart of old St. Boniface on Avenue Cathedrale.  The building is fairly non-descript from the outside except for the paint colour, which is a vivid blue, but the quaint interior is immediately appealing and inviting.  There are boudoir lamps perched on every windowsill and chandeliers and dried hydrangea adorning the walls.

On this day, my friend and I arrived at just about the same time as a very large group of French Immersion students from St. Boniface College.  They did an excellent job of practicing their second language because sometimes we had a challenge hearing our own conversation over the din.  But this did not dissuade us from enjoying a delightful lunch.

As soon as we sat down a beautiful frosty bottle of water was placed in front of us.  When that was emptied, it was replaced with another, without having to ask.  This was very welcome as it was a hot and muggy day and there is apparently no air conditioning in the bistro.  We were also automatically served two petit pains, hot from the open hearth.

I spotted the “Salade Noir” as I was doing some pre-research for our visit and kept thinking about it until it was time for my very first taste.  Delicate greens are tossed with salty Parmesan, balsamic dressing and shaved dark chocolate!  Oh my, if only it hadn’t been 11:30 in the morning, we would have enhanced it with a glass of French red wine.

We split this and then went on to choose an entrée to share.  I was tempted to order the white sauced Alsatian pizza which I have yet to sample, but look amazingly good when they were whisked by us to other tables.  But, we got totally side tracked by the extensive crepe and quiche specials and opted for the smoked salmon and camembert quiche.

 

The quiche was cheerfully split into two portions without being requested, which was very much appreciated and a favour that not all restaurants are inclined to do, without adding a charge.  All of the lunch specials are served with a bowl of homemade soup.  When we inquired how the tomato soup that day was fashioned, the response from the Chef was:  “with tomatoes, balsamic and lots of love”.   The special also came with more tossed greens and red onion in a Dijon dressing.  The additional greens were welcome, as even a shared quiche slice was very rich.  But one of the many delightful aspects of French cooking is that you only need to savour one or two satisfying bites to feel well fed.

I attempted to chat with Chef Stephane as I was departing that day.  Our server had to act as an interpreter for us because my French is so poor.  I found this language challenge absolutely delightful in the heart of my home city.

Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote:  “The only thing I can’t resist is temptation.” Oscar Wilde

Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-The Quebec Girls

July31

Each summer I am blessed to welcome into my home lovely young ladies from la belle province – Quebec.  They come to take the Explore program at the U of W in order to increase their English abilities.

This summer I welcomed the beautiful Franceska from Saint-Prime, a tiny community on Lac Saint-Jean.  Sister #1 and the Frenchman picked her up from the bus depot as she arrived on an evening when I was out of town for work.  After traveling for than two days she was fast asleep when I got home.  It was odd to not meet her till the next day, but I knew we would get along just great when I saw the gifts she had brought for me from her home town.  Known for their blueberries and cheese making the area produces delicious blueberry preserves and awesome cheese.

Franceska is learning to cook so she was eager to hear my recipes and learn technique. She made me a couple of yummy selections from her growing repertoire.  An especially tasty and easy to prepare treat was her chocolate covered blueberries.  She simply melted a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips with two aero bars in the microwave.  Tossed in fresh blueberries, and then dropped them by the spoonful onto wax paper and put them into the fridge to chill.

Later this summer I went to visit two past students in Quebec.  I started my trip with five days at the family farm of my precious Gabrielle, in the town of St. Henri on the Levis side of the St. Lawrence just across from Quebec City.

It was lovely to stay in the country and there were tons of culinary treats that I’ll write more about in blog entries to come, but one highlight was my first ever taste of real poutine.  The Quebec girls always remind me that the version you can get in Manitoba is not the real McCoy. Gabrielle took me up to the family cottage and enroute we stopped at Chez Dany (casse-croûte) in Ste. Henedine for poutine. I now know the squeak that the curds should make and can tell all of my girls I have experienced real poutine.

My next stop was to Montreal to see my first ever Explore student Émilie. She stayed with me three summers ago. At 23, this nurse, who was working on her social work degree, took as much care of me as I took did of her.

Besides a visit with her I was also there to visit with my niece who was studying Explore at the University of Montreal as well as two of my other nieces and a friend who were all there visiting her.  By the time I arrived I was worn out and suffering with a sinus infection.  My nieces were exhausted from a week of staying in a small residence room with no AC and uncomfortable beds.  I had booked a suite that was big and air conditioned.  With Émilie’s help (and French abilities) we were able to get the girls into the cool air. (It was a challenge due to a lack of accessibility- long story). We had a great evening in the suite enjoying pizza and wine and each other’s wonderful company.  So not much has changed, Émilie is still taking care of me.

I love all of my Quebec girls and look forward to meeting the students to come!

Kath’s quotes:  “What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”  A.A. Milne

Love-that is all.

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