Food Musings

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

Pop Sodas Coffehouse Gallery

February20

Pop Sodas Coffeehouse Gallery was the perfect location for the Frenchman’s surprize birthday party.  Daughter #2 searched far and wide for a place that would be casual and laid-back just like she and her beau and yet stimulating and fun to match the occasion.  When we arrived, we were told that a birthday party was just clearing out: the place was filled with young couples, toddlers and babies-we had come to the right place!

There are a variety of rooms strung together which different vibes given off by each.  All are a comfortable collection of miss-matched chairs and tables or huge overstuffed couches pulled together for conversation and to put your feet up.  A local artist has used the walls as her canvas and the result is gorgeous.

When the birthday boy arrived, he was surprized (to say the least) by the accumulation of friends from different pockets of his life.  But best of all, was when he spotted his sister who had flown in from Peterborough that morning.  She was with their Aunt, Uncle and cousin and as is often the case in Winnipeg, various extended family members who were introduced to them, realized that there were a variety of common touch-points in our lives.  In fact, they live on the street where I grew up and our Mom still resides.

But, onto the food.

This was a piled high Rueban

and the smoked chicken and mozzarella.

It turns out that the owner Joseph is from Naples where pizza was invented so it is no surprize that his version is very tasty and authentic.  Sister #2 had this ricotta and smoked chicken version.

D, I and Daughter #1 shared their Pissed Off Chicken nachos that put us in an angry mood-jk.  There were very different and we were impressed whereas when the birthday boy ordered them, he was so busy visiting and chatting with people that his got pretty soggy.

The bruschetta was fabulous-very garlicky and the tomatoes were screaming out their freshness.

I got a forkful of the baklava -mounds of walnuts and almonds which had been drenched in honey and and spices.

D was very impressed with the banana cream pie and he knows his pie!  He remarked that the flaky crust was homemade and the banana essence was allowed to be very prominent.  There was a custard layer and he predicted that more custard had been whipped into the whipping cream.

We’ll be returning as soon as possible for more tastes of delicious food but also to soak up the congenial neighbourhood atmosphere.

Pop Soda's Coffeehouse & Gallery on Urbanspoon

“I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.”-Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Mardi Gras Winnipeg 2012

February18

You still have got one more night to party until the wee hours at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.  Last evening it would have been very tempting to order a pizza and watch the Jets game but Mardi Gras only comes around once a year and we were so glad that we ventured out.  Besides, today offers the best of both worlds: we tucked into our romantic dinner for two and were able to check for scores on D`s phone.

We know the Mardi Gras colour scheme to be purple, gold and green so D donned a purple shirt and I dug out our beads and my purple boa and felt perfectly dressed for the occasion.  There were others that I would say were overdressed, but this is another story and a fun attraction of the event.

We found a cozy place at the oyster and wine bar where we could watch the chefs prepare food orders.  Having lived those hectic times ourselves, it was relaxing to see the food machine in operation without having to pitch in ourselves.

We started off with an Appetizer Sampler Platter which included

oysters on the half shell,

peel and eat shrimp,

deep fried dill pickles,

sweet potato fries, an extended array of dipping sauces and our first taste of alligator fritters. This recipe finely minced the meat with a variety of spices and they came out tasting more like a sausage than the wild animal taste that I was expecting.

Our favourite item on the platter were the freshly shucked oysters and next year, we will likely order half dozens of them.

The Big Mama Chicken Creole was absolutely delicious-chuck full of savoury chicken  and served over top of rice which ensured the consumption of all the spicy sauce.

The Carbonara also contained a spicy chicken as well as sausage, mushrooms and a creamy sauce over penne.  Both dishes came with a crostini slice and a topping of frizzled leeks which I adore.

Once we were well satisfied we moved closer to the, stage to hear the headliner from New Orleans and various other talented acts.

The most fascinating aspect of this part of the evening was the people watching-as varied a group as we`ve seen anywhere on our travels to New Orleans and Europe.

So get off the couch and get out to Mardi Gras 2012-it will chase away the February blues.

Kath`s quote: “Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods. The stay in bed all day and night. They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them.”-Hector Bolitho

Isla 2005 Revisited-Day 2

February17

I thought that because it was my second sleep in a new bed that I’d sleep like a rock, but no. I was up for the long sunrise and a short walk around the Punta Sur road.

When the weather turned out to be overcast and iffy again, we made sandwiches and packed for both the beach and other adventures. I do need to describe these sandwiches because they packed really well for the beach and were delicious. We bought buns at the big Supermarket that were brushed with something sweet-we thought honey. At the same place we bought this mild white Mexican cheese that tasted really buttery. The final touch was the Lime Mayo (Light no less)-highly recommended.

We decided to rent a golf cart and tour the island. We found Hortencia’s and when we bought so many dresses, tops, purses and beads she gave us all little gifts in thanks. We stopped by Playa Sol and had a picnic that included another favourite –“pepitas” which were salted and roasted pumpkin seeds with a squeeze of lime. The beach vendor that we bought them from was named Maria I think. We loved her-she was so warm and affectionate with us.

With the golf cart, we ended up at a Zama’s Beach Lounge on Sac Bajo. We ordered $5 margaritas and Sister #2 tipped another $5 so we thought that we were safe in occupying their lounge chairs for a while. They were setting up for a private wedding reception so we knew that we did not have long. What a beautiful place for a wedding. We loved this part of the island so much that we accidentally caused bodily injury to Sister #3. Sister #2 was driving and I was supposed to be navigating for speed bumps. We were both distracted by a beautiful private home that we hit a speed bump at full speed and poor Sister #3 who was sitting in the rear, hurt her back.

We made a quick change for dinner and decided since we still had the golf cart to head into town for dinner. We watched the sunset from the pier at Sergio’s-exquisite as promised.

Went to Picus for “mixted” (as stated on the menu) ceviche & fresh fish. The ceviche was fabulous-even better I thought than when I ordered later in the week at Casa O’s. We sat right in the sand by the water’s edge. Everyone around us was drinking cokes so we did the same (it was an election day). Then we walked around the town square and purchased some beautiful silver pieces from the shop right on the corner of the square.

Lessons learned that day-Sister #2: sunsets are beautiful many places, Me: saw the both the sunrise and sunset and knew that it was good and Sister #3: rewrote a Madonna song-

Tropical the island breeze
All of nature wild & free
This is where I long to be
La Isla Mujeres

 Kath’s quote: “What a friend we have in cheeses!
For no food more subtly pleases,
Nor plays so grand a gastronomic part;
Cheese imported – not domestic –
For we all get indigestic
From all the pasteurizer’s Kraft and sodden art.”-
William Cole

 

Chez Sophie

February17

It was a quiet, snowy evening and in our world, the only plan for later that night was to watch the Jets game, so we had time for an early supper with some good, good friends.  Skip to their world: they have three little ones and Mom home schools the oldest.  They have been sick with a cold.  The youngest has just learned to walk and is into everything.  To them, this is more than a quick, early supper.  This is a couple of precious hours where they are not preparing food, serving, feeding and cleaning up.  They are engaging in adult conversation focused on their plans and desires and not only their children.  In short, they really needed this time, however brief.  So if you can treat a young couple to some time like this or better yet, babysit for them, so that they can have some time alone together-do it!

I am currently reading a lovely work of non-fiction entitled “On Rue Tatin”.  The authour is the writer of the French Farmhouse Cookbook and so it was very appropriate that we find ourselves at Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria.

The small dining room room is simply appointed with a bevy of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling but for extra coziness, little lamps perched on every window-sill.

The white sauced pizza looked very tempting and so we will have to go again very soon to sample it. So too, the fried Camembert as D and I recounted our honeymoon which began in Quebec City, eating fried cheese at a sidewalk cafe.

We were able to make our choices and the meal started with a split pea soup served with a “just-out-of-the-oven” mini baguette.  Soup did not start my meal so my anticipation of good things to come was that much heightened.

And oh, I was not disappointed.  I choose Moule & Frites every chance I get and Chef Sophie’s are up there with the city’s best (7 1/4 and Inferno’s).  The seafood meat was succulent and in no way had suffered by the poaching process which is sometimes the case.  Mussels must be closely supervised to serve them at their peak and these were beautifully done so.  The nectar that they floated in was so sublime that I boldly requested a spoon.

Sophie’s version comes with a beautiful tossed salad and absolutely delicious French fries: piping hot with a sprinkle of salt (and not a ketchup bottle in sight!).

The guys at the table choose an Alsatian stew of beef and pork with carrot, potato and leek. They too did not receive spoons, but were undeterred because each morsel in their bowl had been simmered for adequate time so as to soak up every droplet of the white wine broth.

Lastly, this gorgeous Arctic Char was presented and consumed with delight.

There was no time for dessert so that is another reason why we will have to return.  D and I finished our wine and remembered the days when we were busily raising our own three children. But we also remembered our last evening in Paris when we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary-the kids were grown, we were a happy couple enjoying life’s shared experiences and we  sat side by side, and dined on Moule & Frites.

Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “If I had magic powers, I should like to wave my golden fork over the confined cookery of Europe and enlarge it to infinity; I would like to . . . offer French nationality to the many hardly known but delicious foreign dishes; …I would like to put the whole of natural history on the spit, in stews, in fricassees, in court-bouillon, in grills,….. ” –Fulbert-Dumonteil (Jean Camille) 1831-1912

Mardi Gras in Winnipeg

February16

On many calendars Wednesday, February 22, 2012 is the beginning of the time before Easter known as Lent.  “Mardi Gras” when literally translated means Fat Tuesday or a time to indulge in sugars and fats before the Lenten fasts begin.  

I am often in Mexico for this day, when Carnivale is celebrated with the same intention.  The time is spirited and festive with colourful costumes, all night dances, parades and other such merry-making.

We love  New Orleans.  The city, especially the French Quarter is a fascinating place to stay and the eating adventures are unequalled.  So any time an opportunity arises to dine Louisiana style, we grab it.

Now if you can’t get away to celebrate Carnivale or Mardi Gras, fear not, for Mardi Gras is once again coming to Winnipeg!  We plan to attend and have an authentic Louisiana dinner at the Food, Oyster & Wine Bar that will seat 200 and be set up at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Chicken Creole

We will have the opportunity to choose between Chicken Creole or Gumbo, Crab Cakes or even alligator Fritters.  We’ve gotten a preview look at the menu and all features are very affordably priced from $5-$15. 

Chicken Gumbo

There is a nightly Parade and over 30 entertainers including many directly from New Orleans.  I have a collection of Mardi Gras beads from our time in New Orleans.  How I earned them is a story in itself and a secret that I am not quite ready to tell.

Crab Cakes

Warm up winter in Winnipeg!  See winnipegmardigras.com for more details.

Kath’s quote:  “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”-Mark Twain

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