Food Musings

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



Breakfast at Grapes Restaurant was included in my hotel stay at the Burntwood Hotel and so I got to know the cheerful morning staff well in addition to many of the regulars.  The Breakfast choices included in the room cost were:

French Toast

The Breakfast Wrap: scrambled eggs, with bacon, green onion and cheese and a lovely touch when the wrap was put back on the grill after the fixins were added.

The Breakfast Croissant: Ham, Egg and Cheese on a croissant

and the Classic: 2 eggs, hash browns, toast and your choice of ham, sausages or bacon. The latter produced many variations depending upon the style of eggs you ordered and the accompanying meat that was chosen.  My traveling partner like their poached eggs on dry toast.

I enjoyed a variety of other Grapes’ surprizes too.  I say suprizes because when the Grapes’ Winnipeg location sliped into oblivion, there were very few food lovers, sad to see it go.  But this Grapes location is one of Thompson’s hot spots and the food is very good.

One night I got a unexpected visit from my cousin who was on business too.  Her acquaintances had potato skins and chimichangas and both were declared (and looked to be) delicious.

I often enjoyed the buffet lunch: 4 kinds of soup, a little salad bar and a changing hot dish with a variety of sweets for dessert.  In addition, one night, I treated myself to Chicken Fingers and on another to Poutine where hand cut, never frozen fries are smothered in a beefy gravy with real cheese curds.  On my Chicken Finger night, my traveling partner ordered a steak and was quite impressed with the tenderness and flavour.

She was also hooked on the freshly made cilantro salsa that came with nachos chips and one evening we had their apple crisp with ice cream.  It was a veritable loaf of apple crisp with a oatmeal layer on both the bottom and the top.  I had half for breakfast the next morning and it was equally yummy.

I can’t say that I would rather dine at Grapes than be at home, but knowing that there were always people to visit with and good food to consume, certainly made my extended stay in Thompson, more enjoyable.

Grapes on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: “A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged’, said he, pushing the plate aside; ‘I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills.'” –Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin


Garlic and Sapphires- Ruth Reichl


Yet again, a non-fiction work, that has enthralled me. Entwined with her tales of being the restaurant critic for the New York times, Ruth Reichel recounts where her appreciation of food was born.  Her relationships with her family and the city where she was raised are reminiscent of my own.

If you subsitute the geographical location of Greenhich Village with the North End of Winnipeg, this excerpt could be written of my precious Daddy and me:

“But no matter which route we took, our journeys always ended at the narrow butcher shop on Jones Street, with its sawdust floor and its fine mineral aroma.  The cases were filled with bacon that they smoked themselves, pink and white strips spread out like gorgeous fabric, and a few pretty little lamb chops, red circles of meat clinging to an elegantly long bones and decorated with frilly paper caps.

“Good Morning Jimmy”, my father would say.

And Jimmy would look up and smile and seem delighted to see us.  He’d hand me a slice of salami, or some of the liverwurst he brought down from Yorkville, or sometimes the dried beef that he made when business was slow.  “Fine morning”, he’d say, even if it wasn’t.

“We need a Porterhouse, please”, my father would say.  And Jimmy would reply, “The finest steak there is!” as if the thought had occurred to him for the first time.  Then he would pull open the heavy wooden door, with its slab of a handle, and disappear into the cooler in the back.  When he reappeared he was carrying what looked to me like half a steer, although it was really just the short loins that had been hanging for a few weeks, acquiring a fine patina of age.

Picking up a hacksaw, he’d indicate a cut: “This much?”  And no matter how thick it was, my father always said, “A little thicker, please”.  And Jimmy would nod and cut off a substantial steak, humming as he worked.  When he was done he’d hold up the steak and point to the fine veins of white tracing a pattern through the dense red meat.  “Good marbling”, he said admiringly every week, as if the steak was a special star.  “All the flavours in the fat.  Cut off the fat, you cant tell the difference between beef, pork and lamb.  That’s a fact.  Did you know that?”

Then he’d thump the steak onto the chopping block and begin the ritual of trimming.  First he cut the thick blue-black layer of mold from the outside of the steak, scraping it until the bright red flesh beneath the crust had been revealed.  Then he’d carefully remove a few inches of fat from the edges so that only a creamy white fat remained.  Carefully folding in the little tail end, he’d lay the meat on a piece of pick paper and heave it onto the scale.

“You’re going to have a fine dinner”, he’d say, as if the compliment were to the cook and not the cutter.  “Don’t be afraid of the salt”.

“Thats the secret!” my father always replied, carefully tucking the parcel under his arm.  Waving cheerily, we’d walk out the door.

At home we had another ritual.  Three hours before it was time to eat, my father would jump up from his chair and say, “No point in cooking cold meat”. Together wed go into the kitchen, remove the porterhouse from the refrigerator, carefully unwrap the package, and set the steak on a platter lined with wax paper.  When it had thrown off the chill, Dad would salt it, releasing a small blizzard over the meat.  “The secret to a great steak”, he always said, “is that when you think you have enough salt, you add some more”. ” The other secret:”, he’d say as he got out the big cast iron skillet, “is to heat the pan until it s blazing hot and cook the meat exactly eight minutes on each side”.

“And the final secret”, I’d add, doing my bit, “is the butter”.  My job was to plunk a lump of sweet butter onto the sizzling steak just as my father set it on the platter.

My father carved the steak with long, precise strokes of the knife, carefully separating the sirloin that he and my brother preferred from the tenderloin that my mother favoured.  The bone was mine.

While they piled their plates like civilized people I’d bring the bone up to my face until the aroma-animal and mineral, dirt and rock-was flooding my senses.  Then I’d bite into the meat, soft and chewy at the same time, rolling it around in my mouth.  It was juicy, powerful, primal, and I’d take another bit and another.  The meat closest to the bone was smooth as satin, and sweet.  It tasted like nothing else on earth, and I would gnaw happily until the bone was stripped naked and my face was covered with a satisfying layer of grease.”

Ruth Reichl has other works on non-fiction on my “must-read” list but this was a very good place to start.


Boston Pizza -Thompson


We were feeling sorry for ourselves.  It was summer in Winnipeg and Thompson was still in the frosty throes of winter.  On this day there had been another ice storm so that roads and sidewalks were treacherous.  But we were not daunted, as we needed a destination to watch The Jets game because it was not being shown at our hotel.  We had both bought Jets sweaters that weekend for our fellas, and we decided to give them a test run.

We arrived at Boston Pizza and it was like being home.  It felt so familiar to us that we relaxed right away.  We had a great vantage for the game.  For some reason the score was caught off from the top of the screen and because we were really enjoying the game, we were the go-to resource when other tables wanted to know the score.

We had heard good things about Bostons wings and were not disappointed. We ordered the oven-roasted, naked ones and then our helpful server suggested a number of sauces including mild, hot, sesame ginger and pineapple mango that I especially enjoyed.  The wings were perfectly trimmed and cooked so that they remained moist and firm.

To round out our dinner, we also chose the Gourmet Mediterranean Masterpiece pizza.  The menu indicated that it would be topped with spinach, fire-roasted portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and pesto sauce.

Here is what we thought that it would look like.

Here is what it did look like.  There were no portobello mushrooms and no sun-dried tomatoes.  This really bugs me.  But having said this, we each had a bite and the taste was really good even with the exclusions.  It is just not cool to advertise one thing and serve another.

The Jets lost but in truth, we had such a fun-filled evening that we both agreed that the game and the weather, could not dampen our spirits.

Boston Pizza on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “And this is good old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod…”

-John Collins Bossidy

Riverview Restaurant-Thompson


My traveling mate had an upset tummy so I was content to head down to the hotel restaurant to have an evening snack on my own.  I had enjoyed some popcorn while I finished my latest book so I had not been hungry at the dinner hour, but I sure was at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night.  Besides, the rest of the world was together, eating and having some fun.  Just because I was alone, why couldn’t I?  Drat, the restaurant had expectantly closed early for the evening.

I had driven by the Riverview Restaurant many times on my way to and from, the Thompson airport.  Their location perched on the river bank must be gorgeous in the summer, as it cozy and picturesque in winter.  I knew that they had a Chinese menu and I was really craving a feed of stir fried veggies.  I called to place a delivery order and they indicated that I should call their downtown Riverview Express location.  Undeterred and getting really hungry, I consulted their on line menu and placed my order.

I poured myself a glass of wine and was thinking about changing into my jammies, when there was a knock on my hotel room door.  The lovely lady who took my phone order had already arrived with my supper-happy days!

This was the first time that I had ever had Chinese food delivered in those little cardboard containers with the wire handle on top.  Ever since I saw Rorie & Lorelai on the Gilmore Girls, eating right out of the box with chopsticks, I have wanted to do the same.  I did not have any chopsticks, but I felt all witty and thinking very intelligent thoughts, but then when I started talking really fast, I decided to get a plate.

I am really hooked on curried vermicelli noodles ever since my brother-in-law introduced them to me, so that was a must have.  Their House Special noodles were soft and fluffy and were studded with sticks of carrot, slivers of pork, and pink shrimp which still had their tails on.  The curry was mild and appreciated as such, because I had already enjoyed a curry dish that day.  I was tempted, but resisted, adding salt or soya.

For my veggie fix, I chose Tai Dop Woey (which I understand means 8 vegetables).  Now let me see…celery, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, pea pods, mushrooms.  I can only remember six.  But I am not going to be a stickler for details because they tasted so fresh and crunchy that my body was thanking me for remembering all the vital food groups.  The sauce that coated them was very light.  Hhmm, the noodles needed some oomph and the veggies needed some more flavour.  Ta da, I ate one layered on top of the other and the combination was perfect.

You see taste is all relative-I was hungry and alone and the pleasure of the food kept me company.

River View Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. ‘I am not alone and unacknowledged.’ They nod to me and I to them.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chapatis-An Indian Lunch


I do not anything about Indian food.  Ive been out for Indian food a couple of times in Winnipeg but only under the tutelage of others more experienced than I.  Today one of my students invited me to taste his homemade lunch.

He unwrapped the chapati which he described to me as being made from a firm dough made from whole grain flour and water mixed with a little bit of salt and oil.  Small portions of the dough are rolled out into discs using a rolling pin. The rolled-out dough is thrown on the preheated dry skillet and cooked on both sides.

Spices mixed and ready to be crushed into curry.

Often, the top of a chapati is slathered with butter or ghee (clarified butter). Chapatis made in domestic kitchens are usually not larger than 6-7 inches in diameter since the ‘tava’ from which they are made comes in sizes that fit comfortably on a domestic stove top. Tavas were traditionally made of unglazed earthenware, but are now typically made from metal. There are also electric tavas manufactured in India.  Some households simply use a kitchen work top as a sort of pastry board, but homes have round flat-topped ‘boards’ specifically for rolling out chapatis that may be made of wood or stone.

A piece of chapati is torn off and used to pick up the vegetable dish.  This families version is a combination of carrots, peas and potatoes, quickly tossed in a skillet with some salt, olive oil and he said chili powder (but I am pretty sure he meant curry).  The complex taste of curry is certainly the taste that I detected.

I was offered what he called pickles-succulent, marinated pieces of chili and ginger.  To off set the spiciness of the vegetables, a yogurt sauce with a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper could be dolloped on top.

I know that this gentleman’s diet is dictated by his religious beliefs and that he feels that it is his responsibility to eat healthy, whole foods.  This shared lunch, certainly was an indication of those premises.  In my life, there is no greater honour, than when a person invites me to share their lovingly prepared meal.

Kath’s quote:  “This curry was like a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that I’d once heard…..especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging ‘Joy.’ It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal.”-Anthony Burgess


posted under Breads, Entrees | No Comments »
« Older EntriesNewer Entries »