Food Musings

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

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.

A &V Drive In

July30

I came to know of A and V Drive In at1200 Chevier Blvd.years ago when our office was looking at relocating in the area (they’ve been open since 2004).  In my mind, a suitable lunch spot with great food is the number one priority when office scouting.  We found the name a bit of a misnomer as there actually no cars driving in and taking out.  On the other hand, there were a number of customers inside, apparently from the businesses and factories in the area.  Although the restaurant is equipped with plenty of tables, they were all occupied upon our arrival, with the exception of one.  This speaks to A and V’s popular reputation in the area, in my opinion.

On previous visits, I had sampled their Burgers which were outstanding, but on this occasion I was in the mood for something a bit lighter.  There are a number of salads to choose from as well as Omelets, Burgers, Dogs, Sandwiches and Platters.  A Breakfast Special is served weekdays from 6-11 am.

In the end, I selected the Greek Salad which comes with a garlicky slice of Texas toast that had been placed on their hot grill.  Loaded with creamy feta cheese, it was a meal in itself but with the addition of a chicken breast (a steal at $2.), it was more than satisfying.  In fact, I discovered that I could not eat it all!  The addition of the purple cabbage was a bit nontraditional but the extra crunch and (medicinal benefits I am told) proved to be a pleasant twist.

My lunch date went all out with a Clubhouse Platter.  We were surprised to see ham in place of the usual chicken or turkey but she was well-pleased and remarked that the plentiful bacon was perfectly cooked, which was her primary concern.

The fries were crunchy on the outside and potatoey in the middle and were perfectly devoid of the greasy taste that sometimes accompanies drive in fare.  They had not been seasoned by the kitchen, which was also welcome, so liberal amounts of vinegar and salt could be added to taste.

All toll lunch for two was $18.50 before tax and tip which I thought was exceptional value.

A and V Drive In on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When I was a boy there were only three kinds of sandwiches in common use – the ham, the chicken and the Swiss cheese. Others, to be sure, existed, but it was only as oddities.  Even the club sandwich was a rarity, and in most eating-houses it was unobtainable. The great majority of people stuck to the ham and the Swiss cheese, with the chicken for feast days and the anniversaries of historic battles.”-H.L. Mencken

Love-that is all.

Mr. Ribs-Neepawa

July26

I am sure that there are many benefits to being over 55.  I know that I once accidentally purchased something at Zellers on Seniors Day and received a substantial discount.  The irony of this transaction was that I was buying a sports bra to wear to my Zumba class.  Then there is the privilege of being a part of the breast and (even better?) colon screening programs!  Of course I am grateful that I have already lived a full rich life but in truth I would not say that I have reaped extraordinary perks.  That is until now….as I have discovered something known as The Seniors Menu!

I researched the rationale behind Seniors menus to find this:  Senior citizens who have healthy diets can extend their lifespan and improve their quality of life. By planning a weekly menu that’s packed with nutritious foods and avoiding high-calorie, high-fat foods, seniors can enjoy their later years as much, if not more, than their youths.  Wow-I am all over that! And so it was that we were dining at Mr. Ribs in Neepawa on last weekends visit to the Lily Festival.

Their menu is huge and I was having a hard time making a decision with pages of choices and then I spotted the section which included most of my favourites but at a reduced price (and I assumed a reduced portion).  Since I enjoy tastes of many little things (I truly have a tappas heart) I was sure that I could find something from this filtered list.

We were in a Greek restaurant and I have always loved Greek pork chops so I made my selection.

With this wise decision made, D ordered the Greek salad.  Knowing that I had a pork chop coming, I moved the bowl of cream of vegetable soup across to D to eat on my behalf.  I did have a taste and it was exceptional.  When my diminutive portion arrived, my jaw dropped…..

But I had this all figured out.  You marry a hunk of a younger man like I did

and when all the food comes to the table

you split it down the middle!  We each had a thin cut but beautifully seasoned and grilled pork chopped and I ate my salad and 1/3 of his.  He ate the garlic toast and then the strawberry pudding that was included in my lunch and I picked at a couple of French fries and voila, we were both happy.  Kind of like Jack Sprat and his wife-hey wait a minute….

Mr. Ribs on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Old people shouldn’t eat health foods. They need all the preservatives they can get.”-Robert Orben
Love-that is all.

Tilson Place B&B -Minnedosa

July25

I am a person who notices things-I do not mean that I make a mental note if you have dust bunnies under your couch or that you forgot to wish me a happy birthday.  But, I can spot a heart shaped stone on a beach walk and detect  the smell of lemon furniture polish on fine wood.  I love the detail in things and the little touches in hospitality.

This weekend, D and I ventured on a short road trip to the west of the province and my senses were bombarded with beautiful details.  Our first stop was in Neepawa for The Lily Festival where I was able to walk amongst fields of them and enjoy a couple of favourite varieties up close.

I also visited the home of Margaret Laurence (one of my favourite authors) and toured the famous and beautiful town cemetery trying to imagine a Stone Angel there.

Later that day, we continued on to Minnedosa and discovered that it has its own beach on a little lake which really reminded us of the rural lakes in Minnesota D spent his childhood summers.

Our lodging for the night was Tilson Place, a hundred year old historic home with turrets and gargoyles,

wrap around porches porches and underground tunnels.  D had selected the Princess Sylvia Suite with its own soaker tub,

turret dining space,

cozy TV spot, fireplace and  balcony.

Our stay was comfy and delightful.  One of the reasons why I enjoyed my time to such an extent was taking in the details of the home.

Of course I cannot forget to mention the second B of the B&B experience.  Breakfast with the other intriguing guests around the big old dining room table was comprised of coffee, juice, fruit salad,

banana bread, hash browns and

two stratas-one with Greek ingredients and the other ham and cheese.  I could not decide between them so had a small piece of both!

We spent in a perfect weekend in a perfect place.  If you are ever needing to get away from it all, Tilson Place in Minnedosa is the spot do so.  Tell then Food Musings sent you.

Kath’s quote: “Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, and with him rise weeping.”William Shakespeare

Love-that is all.

Horfrost-Part 2

July24

And so it was that we were finally at this inauspicious but surprizing little place.  I loved everything about it from the moment we pulled up.  There were a plethora of white varieties of flowers in the window boxes (that Chef was just remembering to water) and when we stepped inside I was dazzled by one of my favourite colours of blue (in fact I have painted our Victorian screen door of our house, exactly the same colour).  So too, my favourite colour coupling is blue with a rich chocolate brown and this is precisely the colour scheme of Horfrost.  Our table was waiting for us: set with two place settings and a chilled glass bottle of water at the ready.

We started with a cocktail-D choosing the Blue Cucumber Gin and Tonic and I the White Wine flight.  D, who is crazy about traditional G&Ts thought that the refreshing infusion of cucumber was the perfect enhancement. I have had beer flights previously, but never a wine flight.  The tastes of a German Riesling, a Californian Chardonnay and an Australian something or other (three wines are hard to remember!) were a delicious way to stimulate the taste buds.

I chose the Pig Cheek to start.  From taste and appearances I would say that half of the bounty had been smoked while the other half marinated.  Both portions were quickly sauteed to bring out a salty surface.  The marinated half was tender and succulent and the smoked half was firmer but equally tasty, in its own right.  They were laid upon a bed of arugula and then topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.  Sweet and salty-I was in heaven!

D selected the bison, mango spring rolls.  The ground bison was beautifully enhanced by the tropical fruit and the tiny, crispy wrappers.  He was well pleased.

Then came an amuse bouche-Cajun, honey chicken wings.  I was needing to pace myself by this time but did enjoy a meaty bite.

Thank heaven we had decided to split an entree because when the Hemp Tempura Pickerel arrived, I could not get enough!  When pickerel is perfectly cooked (and this was) the fish actually sparkles in your mouth.  The three sauce of garlic aioli, hoisin and chipotle were not crucial but still very much appreciated.

When asked by the attentive servers (who had some trouble keeping ingredients and pronunciations straight) to choose a side for our fish, we could not decide and so opted for both!  D loved the interesting take on an arborio rice which included roasted corn and a touch of cinnamon.  I was over the moon with the potato croquette and a new baby potato that was a kissed with a dollop of pesto.  But even the broccoli spear was perfect: it was firm and had  been drizzled with just a breath of butter, or so we suspected.  There was nary a salt shaker in sight, and none needed, as every item was sublimely seasoned.

We knew that there was homemade ice cream for dessert but we were absolutely satiated.  We were looking forward to get out to walk the dog as we had over indulged and needed an excuse to walk it off but we still had the drive home ahead of us.  This went quickly enough and it had been worth the effort.  If you have any excuse to head west, make sure that Horfrost is on your itinerary.  Better yet, just make the trip for no other reason than to experience one of Manitoba’s finest restaurants. 

D summed our dinner up in this manner: superb attention to detail; imaginative and inventive.

Horfrost on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living” -Dione Lucas

Love-that is all.

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