Food Musings

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

A Trip to the Beach-Melinda & Robert Blanchard Part 2


Continuing in the Island adventures of living the dream and opening their own restaurant on their beloved Island:

Chapter 6: “Six o’clock on opening night.  Our staff was in high gear.  A bond had developed among everyone; in just a short time, the common goal of creating and building this restaurant had brought us all together.  The first day of unloading containers with the Davis brothers was history now, as were the long, hot days of construction, the endless testing of recipes, and the unnerving search for ingredients.  Opening night was the culmination of what had become a collective dream, and each member of our staff had played their part.  Blanchard’s was their restaurant now as much as ours.

In the kitchen everyone was in clean, starched chefs jackets and ready to cook.  Garrilin washed the bush, as she called it, for salads.  Shabby had the grill hot and ready to go , and the rest of us nervously waited for our first order.

The wait staff bustled about, looking strikingly handsome with their crisp white dress shirts contrasting their smooth black skin.  They were proud of their Blanchard’s logo embroidered over the pocket.  With meticulous care the stemware had been polished until it sparkled, and each glass was held up to the light, ensuring that no smudges or spots remained.  the mahogany bar top was burnished to a glowing sheen, and bottles were straightened repeatedly on the back bar until each was where it belonged.  The bar refrigerator was stocked with freshly squeezed orange juice for rum punch, ice cold Heinekens, Caribs, sodas, and Perrier.  The ice bin was full, and in it, bottles of sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley chilled next to Chardonnay from Sonoma, ready to be poured by the glass.

Lowell, Miquel, and Alwyn checked the dining room with Bob again and again, straightening place settings, moving glasses an inch to the left, then to the right, then back to the left.  They recited the table numbers and reviewed the menu and the wine list for the umpteenth time.

We had arranged flowers in bud vases for the tables, picking blossoms from the garden.  Some had green furls made from a leaf, a brilliant yellow allamanda tucked in the middle, and a tiny dot of red in the center from a firecracker plant.  Others had log, leggy green shoots-almost Japanese in nature-and pink hibiscus floating in the center.

Bob and I stood in the middle of the dining room and looked around in awe.  Floor to ceiling teal shutters were flung open, and beyond them the garden s twinkled as a gentle breeze shifted the plants and flowers that were illuminated from below.  The fountains shimmered as the underwater lights bounced off the water columns dancing in the air.  Beyond the gardens the sea crashed against Mead’s Bay; our stone path, lit softl;y on each side, meandered towards the waves.  In the dining room, potted palms rustled under lazily spinning ceiling fans.  The white rattan chairs sat ready to be broken in and our dishes,silver and hand-blown crystal flickered in the candlelight,  The sound of Vivaldi filled the room.  I felt a rush of excitement ripple through my body, and I squeezed Bob’s hand.  It was like waiting for the curtain to go up on Broadway.”

They served these on opening night:

“Banana Cabanas (makes two):

Put 1/2 c Coco Lopez into a blender.  Add 1/2 c Bailey’s Irish Cream, 2 ripe bananas, 2 c ice cubes, and, if you like, 2 oz white rum. It’s great with or without the rum.  Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.”

Kath’s quote: “To be always intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it — this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed.”-Sir Walter Scott

Copyright (c) <a href=’’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

A Trip to the Beach-Melinda & Robert Blanchard Part 1


For my family and friends who are Islaholics you won’t believe the similarities between Anquilla and Isla Mujeres.  Check out the narrative that begins in Chapter 1:

“From the air Anquilla looked narrow, flat and scrubby, but that was only part of the picture.  In my mind, I saw the real Anquilla: sea grape and crimson flamboyant trees, women steadying pails of water on their heads, sand that might have been poured from a sack of sugar, the terra-cotta flours of the Hotel Mallioujana.  The sunshine alone was enough to make me smile.  Stepping off the plane, I felt the breeze from the east, scented by the hibiscus that grew alongside the terminal.  Those cool currents made the sun seem unthreatening.  Poor Bob, with his fair complexion, would be pink in a matter of minutes.

In Anquilla it is customary to greet everyone with a courtly “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”.  As we approached the young woman at the immigration counter, we were greedy enough to hope for more.  We’d seen her many times on our visits to the island.  We wanted to be recognized, to be told that we were different from mere tourists-connected.

“Good afternoon”, the young woman said smiling.  “Welcome back”.  Anquilla had begun to cast its spell.

As our taxi made its way westward-slowing for potholes, speed bumps, people, goats-I counted the ways I loved this little island.  Unlike its neighbours, Anquilla (rhymes with vanilla and pronounced Ann-gwilla) had no casinos, no duty-free shopping, and no cruise ships.  Visitors here looked for less not more.  They tended to arrive one or two at a time and not in packs.  Their intentions were simple: to walk on the beach, go snorkeling, read a good book, take a dip in the water.  They’d found a place where handmade signs beckoned them to “Easy Corner Villas”, “Sandy Hill” and “Blowing Point”.  Drawn to this tiny British outpost only sixteen miles long, they appreciated the rhythm, the balmy pace.  Little school girls in handmade uniforms skip along the road, holding hands.

The idyllic life on Anquilla isn’t an illusion manufactured for tourists.  The island’s standard of living is higher than its neighbours’.  No gambling means no gambling problems.  Limited work permits for outsiders ensures plenty of jobs for locals.  This is a country with no taxes, where a dollar earned is an actual dollar.  There is no unemployment, and eighty-five-degree temperatures with sunshine everyday.  Life is good.

There are several world class hotels on the island, all criminally luxurious.  Over the years we have alternated between them, savouring their brands of exquisite tranquility.  One, Cap Juluca, boasts villas with Moroccan-style domes, and bathrooms so vast that they have their own gardens.  Another, Malliouhana, was created -a breathtaking view of the clear turquoise water and is lovingly cared for-by a retired English gentleman whose lifelong dream had been to preside over such a hideaway.  Here life is serene, with little stucco arches, ceiling fans that seem to lull away ones cares, and a breathtaking view of the clear turquoise water from the top of a cliff.”

They end many chapters with one of their own tried and true recipes.  Here’s their entry for Rum Punch:

“We tasted rum punches around the island and worked together to create the perfect mixture.  Some, we agreed, were too sweet and bright red with grenadine.  Others didn’t have the fresh taste we were looking for.  Guava juice, we discovered, was the missing ingredient from most we tried, and freshly squeezed orange juice was a must.  Still, our final recipe was simple.

Combine equal amounts of pineapple juice, quava juice , and Mt. Gray rum.  Add just a dash of grenadine and another of Angostura bitters.  Pour over ice and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.”

The story continues through the trials and tribulations of opening their own restaurant on the island (a dream that our family has had since we first went to isla Mujeres in 2005). Stay tuned for Part 2.

Kath’s quote: “When treasures are recipes they are less clearly, less distinctly remembered than when they are tangible objects. They evoke however quite as vivid a feeling-that is, to some of use who, considering cooking an art, feel that a way of cooking can produce something that approaches an aesthetic emotion. What more can one say? If one had the choice of again hearing Pachmann play the two Chopin sonatas or dining once more at the Cafe Anglais, which would one choose?”-Alice B. Toklas



We were on a double date with J1 and J2.  To kick off the weekend of our trip to Ireland, we decided that we would love to have a pub supper.  We headed downtown (and downstairs) to an unnamed location and decided to get back in the car and aim for Luxalune on south Osborne St instead.  I was so glad, as I have wanted to visit this Gastropub ever since they opened.  I loved the wide open space and the cozy couch pit.  We sat at a table in front of the big screen as a Jets games was on.

I do not profess to be a beer aficionado but J1 certainly knows his stuff.  He chose a really spicy selection with tastes of citrus and coriander. Later in the evening D ordered one with essences of coffee and chocolate.  Who knew that beer was such a culinary experience?  Certainly not I.

So what to eat, to complement these libations?  We each chose a tapas and then shared everything that was plunked on the table.  The presentation with a number of items in cast fry pans was very much to our liking.  The blueberry brie was delicious on points of a savoury bread.

I selected the fries loaded with seasoned ground beef and cheese.  I remembered delectable hand cut fries at the Warwaruk brothers’ former location that we loved and visited frequently called Lux Sole.  I was a little bit disappointed that the fries had not followed the brothers to Luxalune.  However, the sauce duo that was served for dipping, redeemed the dish.

Similar toppings were served on the nachos, but for some reason they tasted so much better on nacho chips (perhaps it was the addition of hot peppers and black olives).

The fourth dish were tomato wraps stuffed with a smooth and delicious cheese.  I often consult an on line menu to discover the details of a dish which I particularly like, but I was unsuccessful in my search.

The Jets won in overtime, the company and food were wonderful and the beer unique and tasty.  We were all set for our next Pub supper-in Ireland!

Luxalune on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “There was an Old Man of Columbia,
Who was thirsty, and called out for some beer;
But they brought it quite hot, in a small copper pot,
Which disgusted that Man of Columbia.”
-Edward Lear

My Man’s Ribs


My D is an incredible cook and everything he does, he does first class.  When he says that he is going to slow roast ribs for Sunday dinner, the process starts the night before.  He pulled out a half dozen full racks of ribs from the freezer to defrost overnight in the sink. In the morning he mixed together this dry rub:

1/2 c paprika
1/4 c garlic powder
1/4 c mild chili powder (use medium or hot to kick up the heat)
3 T salt
3 T black pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T celery seeds
1 T brown sugar
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme
3 t cumin
2 t dry mustard
2 t ground coriander
2 t ground allspice

Mix together all ingredients until well combined.  Approximately 1/2 was used for 6 racks of ribs.  Store the rest in an airtight container.  May be stored for up to 6 months.

Liberally rub the spice mixture all over the surface of the ribs. Place a variety of loosely chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, etc. into the bottom of a roasting pan that has a bottom rack.  Pour in enough water to cover the veggies but not exceed the height of the rack.  Insert the rack over the veggie mixture and then place the ribs in a standing position onto the rack.  Cover with lid or aluminum foil.

Place in a preheated 350 degree over for at least four hours or until a rib bone comes loose from the meat when jiggled.  Cool completely.  Place on a hot barbecue grill and brush with your favourite barbecue sauce.

Kath’s quote:   “Was I catching the contagious enthusiasm of this Canadian? Was I truly euphoric at the sight of fresh-grilled pork?”-Professor M. Aronnax in Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”

posted under Entrees | 1 Comment »

Stella’s Bannock Burgers


I met Stella while I was teaching up in Thompson, Manitoba.  As is often the case, my students teach me as much I teach them.  I learned a great many things about living in the “north” and about perseverance when times are less than opportune. 

Stella has a catering business called Laurayne’s Catering Services and she was willing to share this prized recipe with me.  I have not had a chance to make it since I arrived home this past weekend but wanted to post it here, in case it turns to summer again soon.

Stella's Bannock Burgers
Recipe type: Entree
  • Stuffing:
  • 4-6 Italian sausages, casings removed, choose spiciness as desired
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • cajun seasoning as desired, if sausages not as hot as you'd like
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 T butter to add to mashed potatoes
  • Bannock:
  • 4-6 c all-purpose flour (can use whole wheat flour)
  • 3 T baking powder
  • 3 c lukewarm milk
  • melted lard for frying
  1. Stuffing:
  2. Saute the sausage and meat together until cooked through.
  3. Drain and cool.
  4. Mix together the meat and potatoes with your hands.
  5. Add s & p to taste.
  6. Bannock:
  7. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl starting with 4 c flour.
  8. Make a well in middle and add milk.
  9. Mix until moist.
  10. Turn dough out onto a floured surface.
  11. Knead dough and continue to add the 2 c of flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
  12. Roll dough out with a rolling pin roll to approx. pie crust thickness.
  13. Cut dough into large triangles.
  14. Stuff the filling into the dough triangle and then wrap the edges around the filling, sealing the edges.
  15. Gently press flat.
  16. Fry in melted lard, turning once.

I understand that the bannock can also be grilled on the barbecue or it can be skewered and cooked camp fire style.  We often have late night snacks around the campfire at the lake and I am going to for sure make these for the May Long weekend.

Kath’s quote: “A Hamburger is warm and fragrant and juicy. A hamburger is soft and nonthreatening. It personifies the Great Mother herself who has nourished us from the beginning. A hamburger is an icon of layered circles, the circle being at once the most spiritual and the most sensual of shapes. A hamburger is companionable and faintly erotic. The nipple of the Goddess, the bountiful belly-ball of Eve.” –Tom Robbins

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