Food Musings

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

And the winner is….

February27

For as long as I can remember I have been watching the Academy Awards (with the exception of 1 year when I gave TV up for Lent).  The first time I clearly remember rooting for someone was when Julie Andrews was nominated for the Sound of Music.  Kind of ironic that Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) won his first Academy Award last night.  I don’t recall food being a part of those evenings back then, just the thrill of being permitted to stay up past my usual bedtime.

The Oscars have been a part of the family that D and I have created for over 25 years.  We were remembering last night when our eldest was little and we woke her up to watch the Best Song Category when The Little Mermaid was nominated some 20 years ago.

We were pretty well informed for the festivities last night, having seen 3 of 5 performances in each of the acting categories and 4 of the Best Picture nominations. Daughter #3 was over early so that we could watch all of the red carpet festivities.  I have some major philosophic issues with the entire parade and yet I guiltily watch anyway and declare my own oohs and aahs.

D makes things very special in our house as far as food is concerned.  Since I typically prepare and serve his favourites for Superbowl, he reciprocates for the Oscars.  Last night was no exception.  Instead of sitting around the dining room table for our mandatory Sunday dinner, we enjoy little plates in the living room.

Last evening started with these peel and eat shrimp.  They were actually crunchy (and yes I did remember to peel them) because D knows how to time their cooking perfectly and then immediately plunges them into an ice water bath.

Next up were vegetable dumplings served with hoisin sauce for dipping.

And then this crown of curry chicken chunks with raisins, dried cranberries, apple and walnuts.  D is so resourceful that he made enough to send home with three of the kids for lunches this week.

Lastly (as far as entrees were concerned), he served blackened tenderloin strips.  I had accidentally pulled three certified Angus beef tenderloins from the freezer when I was making stew on Friday.  D saved them from the stew pot to quickly sear them in butter, tarragon and a variety of other spices for last evening.

As far as Oscars go, the program seemed to flow quite nicely as did the wine and rum and mango cocktails.  We’ve got some more movie watching to do-with The Artist and Hugo next on our lists.

Kath’s quote: “Cooks are in some ways very much like actors; they must be fit and strong, since acting and cooking are two of the most exacting professions. They must be blessed – or cursed, whichever way you care to look at it – with what is called the artistic temperament, which means that if they are to act or cook at all well, it cannot be for duds or dummies.”-Andre Simon (1877-1970)

Anticipating Ireland

February24

Our destination: Hag’s Head, Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

We grieve in different ways.  I have always known this.  When I lost my brother quite unexpectedly this summer, I was comforted by the knowledge that he was in a place free of worry and pain where he could breathe easily and that the leg that he had lost had been restored.  I also focused on all that he had been in his life and all that he had given and taught us.  Well, here it is months later and I am overwhelmed with the sadness that he is no longer with us.

Why today?  I know very well why.  The brother that died was my second oldest brother.  He was one year and a day younger than the eldest of our clan.  The two boys and then men, were as close as bothers and friends could be.  Tonight Brother #1 is coming over for dinner with his wife for us to start to anticipate and plan a trip to Ireland that we are taking together and is quickly coming upon us.

We said yes to this trip because we knew that we should celebrate our good health that we cannot take for granted.  The sights yet to be seen and the experiences yet to be lived, will not wait for some day.  D and I are doing our best to live our “golden” years right now and every day. Brother #2 would have loved to have traveled to this and many places if ill health had not struck him at the exact time of his retirement.

We will be staying in Adare in the vicinity of many of the most beautiful golf courses in the world and Brother #2 was a golfer.  He also loved his beer and food and ancient traditions.  I understand that Ireland is particularly rich in all these things.

So for tonight, here is my menu (from Irish Pub Cooking-loaned to me by the Frenchman, let me know if you would like any of these recipes posted):

Mussel and Beer Soup served with potato buns and Irish soda bread

Salad of Greens and Fresh Herbs

Beef in Stout with Suet Dumplings

Calcannon (potatoes with cabbage and scallions)

Honeyed Parsnips

Apple Cake with fresh cream

The menu is full of carbs and cream to warm us up on this snowy winter day, as I dream of an Irish spring.

Kath’s quote: “The ambition of every good cook must be to make something very good with the fewest possible ingredients.”-Urbain Dubois (1818-1901)

 

Not Good-Bye but Farewell

February23

We have a very good friend of our entire family who happens to be our priest.  He officiated at the wedding of our son and has been with us through difficult times and others of immense joy.  So how do you appropriately say farewell (if even for a short time) to someone that has shared these life experiences with you?  Well in our world, you prepare a special table for them and you cook your heart out.

As soon as he sat down at the dining room table he admired the china and turned it over to see where it was from.  It is a pleasure to go to the trouble of using your best china for someone who actually notices.

Two other couples were invited to join us that evening.  The menu was Sicilian as we had all traveled there at one point or another.  The first meat course was provided by one couple.  They served a bevy of Italian meats and olives in beautiful dishes that they had brought home from their Sicilian travels.

I assigned the pasta course to the maestro herself.  Conchita (Connie) was born in Sicily and resides there for most of the year.  She prepared a light and sparkling tomato sauce that was gently spooned over perfectly cooked penne; topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

For the salad course, I tossed red, purple and green lettuces with a classic vinaigrette.

For the main, these baby potatoes were presented with discs of tarragon butter and coarsely chopped parsley.

Asparagus had been sauteed with garlic, pancetta and pine nuts.  A squeeze of lemon offset the richness.

Two whole chickens had been roasted and frequently basted with the butter and olive oil that was first put into the cavity.  The skin was rubbed with Mediterranean herbs.  The juices were collected and served gravy style-very decadent.

Vanilla cake, grapes, three kinds of pears, chocolate truffles and a variety of cheese were served as the concluding course accompanied by tiny glasses of lemonicella.

We will certainly miss you friend.

Kath’s quote: Oh, better no doubt is a dinner of herbs,
When season’d with love, which no rancour disturbs
And sweeten’d by all that is sweetest in life
Than turbot, bisque, ortolans, eaten in strife!

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1831-1891)

 

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina

February22

Los Chicos had me at their entrance.  I am enthralled by the colours of Mexico especially when blue is boldly paired with fuchsia, orange or yellow.  Their kaleidoscope of colour choices was simply delightful.  So too, the selection of gorgeous ceramic pieces for sale in the lobby and all imported from Mexico.  We’ve collected many pieces just like these on our yearly sojourns and they adorn our home.

Characteristic of the great cantinas in Mexico, chips and salsa arrive at the table without them being ordered or requested.  The chips were light and salty and the salsa, hearty with just a hint of heat.

I was dining with two business associates and after being told about the lunch buffet, the three of us headed over for a peak.  There were a variety of dips, sauces and accompaniments for pulled pork and chicken enchiladas.

Before I knew it, my friends were arriving back at the table with full plates.  I wanted to sample something from the menu but didn’t wish to delay our meal or slow down getting to the business at hand, so I quickly ordered a bowl of tortilla soup.

The chicken and broth was light but  flavourful and was contrasted by the veggies and a dollop of soft queso right in the middle.  I added more tortilla chips for crunch and saltiness and was quite satisfied.

The ladies were happy with their choices and I with mine, but I intend to return soon to try something more substantial.

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron.  Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper.”
Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique

Original Joes

February21

We had a double date in our calendar for Original Joes weeks in advance.  We knew that Tuesdays were 1/2 price wine night and that the place would be hopping.  The guys had a look at the Jets schedule to ensure that it wasn’t a game night and we would be sure to get a table.  Well all that was for naught because it was a game night, the place was packed and we loved every minute of it.

I had a hankering for their Chili Lime Chicken because I had seen it on a repeating basis as a Google ad on many blog sites that I follow.  I just couldn’t resist-see advertising does work!

D choose the Gyoza and was very pleased.

The Frenchman choose the Poutine (of course!) made the authentic way with real cheese curds, not just shredded cheese.

Daughter #2 does not order calamari very often because the Frenchman doesn’t enjoy it and she prefers to share, we on the other hand, were more than happy to assist her.  We remembered that the first time she tasted squid was when we took her to NYC for her 16th birthday.   Yes, we spoil our kids (we like to call it “bless” them in a special way).

We ended our gouter with a sweet-Original Joe’s mud pie that actually resembled mud when I tried to photograph it in the low lighting.  An enormous portion was lapped up with four forks.

Well the shenanigans continued and because we live so close, we were able to dash home between periods and watch the final 20 minutes of Jets hockey before calling it a night.

I know that there are foodies that give places like Original Joes a bad wrap because they are chains.  Well Original Joes is very entrenched into our neighbourhood with programs like Community Pint which contributes money to Darcys no- kill animal shelter.  We recognized lots of folks from the area including our server who was a friend of Daughter #2.  The lovely manageress came to visit us often over the course of the evening.  She and her husband share the evening shifts.  Cant get much more down home than all of that…..

Original Joe's on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”-Benjamin Franklin

 

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