Food Musings

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

Biermarkt on Esplanade, Toronto

November17

Inspired by Belgium and the European Brasserie Tradition, the Biermarkt held a delicious dining and imbibing experience while were were recently in Toronto.

D and I started with a Czech Pilsner Urquell and Austrian Steigl Larger as we waited for friends.  It is appropriate that Czechoslovakia created the world’s first pilsner beer.  My dear ole Daddy was from Czechoslovakia and he loved his beer.  We have a tribute to him and our heritage at our summer home.  It is a framed Czechoslovakian proverb which goes like this: “Where beer is drunk, life is good”.  Life is Good is the name of our cabin.

When our friends arrived, Irish Kilkenny Cream Ales were ordered and we started thinking about moving to the dining room for dinner.  By this time, Jeremy (one of the managers) had come by to ensure that we were having a wonderful time and he checked in with us intermittently throughout the evening.  He is a wonderful host and the Biermarkt is lucky to have him.

 

We started with Moule & Frites.  These were poached in coconut milk, lime and chilies. 

We also ordered these huge hot pretzels for dipping in the mussel broth.

Turned out that after sharing this four ways, we were too stuffed for our own entrees so D & I split Schnitzel with tomato jam and creamed potatoes and an add on of grilled Sea Scallops.  The scallops were perfectly cooked, succulent and delicious.  The schnitzel, not so much…. 

I must admit, I was tempted to order the Poutine (aficionado that I am) but had already eaten an order at breakfast-and Poutine twice in one day, well that’s not indulgent, that’s plain gross.

Our beloved friends enjoyed salmon with a salad of beets and walnuts.

And this Kobe Beef Burger (yippee, more frites)! 

We had low food expectations and found almost everything to be surprizingly fabulous.  But the hit of the evening was still the beer selection and we sampled these before the night was done: Paulaner Helles Original Munich Larger,  Jupiler Blonde Larger, Belgian Palm Amber Ale and Toronto Steam Whistle Pilsner.

Wish we had one of these in Winnipeg! 

Bier Markt - Esplanade on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”-Frank Zappa

Blitz Torte

November16

We were off to the NHL hockey game this past Saturday in Toronto and thought that there would likely food served, as we were guests of the CBC.  But just in case, our family who were hosting us for the night made us a “snack” to have before we left for the Air Canada Centre.  We tucked in to a delicious salad with huge, grilled shrimp and garlic toast.  But the piece de resistance was this gorgeous torte for dessert. 

Because of the layers, I imagined this recipe to be wildly complicated but it is simply two cakes held together by custard.  The magic takes place in the oven when the meringue and cake batter are baked simultaneously.

Cake:

1 c flour

1 t baking powder

1/8 t salt

1/2 c butter

1 1/4 c sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 t vanilla

3 T milk

1/2 c blanched almonds

1 T sugar

1/2 t cinamon

Sift dry ingredients together.  Cream butter with 1/2 c sugar.  Add egg yolks, vanilla and then the dry ingredients.  Spread into two greased round pans.  Beat egg whites and add sugar.  Layer whites on batter.  Sprinkle almonds on top.  Combine cinamon, sugar and sprinkle on top.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Custard:

3 T flour

1/3 c sugar

1/8 t salt

1 c milk

1 egg beaten

1/2 t vanilla

1 t butter

Mix dry ingredients in a double boiler.  Add egg and milk and stir constantly until slightly thick.  When cooked, add vanilla and butter with whisk.  Place custard over bottom cake layer and then place the second layer on top.

 Originally from the Culinary Institute of America

 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

 

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We Day Winnipeg-Keg Connections

November15

We are a socially-conscious family.  D spent many years as the Operation Manager at Winnipeg Harvest, Daughter #1 works for one of the Canada’s largest disaster relief organizations, Daughter # 2 is studying International Development and has travelled to El Salvador and South Africa to work on specific children’s initiatives.  Son #1 and Daughter (in law) #3 travelled to the Phillipine’s together to serve as Midwife and Pediatric Medic.  And me, well as my readers know, I volunteer each week as a baby hugger at the local children’s hospital.

Our kids know that it is cool to care.  They have taught us, even more so than we have taught them, that we can all find our place to create long-lasting global change.  We strive each day to associate ourselves with like-hearted organizations who put their actions (and money) where their mouths are and that is one of many reasons why we are so proud to be alumni of the Keg family of restaurants.

Over the last 10 years the Keg Spirit Foundation has raised over 5.5 million to support more than 300 local charities helping youth in need.  Until November 27, 2011 The Keg is featuring a special menu, whereby $2 for each entree served is donated to the Foundation.  We recently dined and enjoyed the Deluxe Chicken which was served on a bed of goat’s cheese cream sauce and topped with crumbled goat cheese- a delicious way to support a wonderful cause.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar is a sponsor of We Days across the country (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg) and The Keg Spirit Foundation supports the We Schools in Action program.  This program operates in classrooms across the country.  Each classroom is encouraged to take on a local and an international initiative, and raise both funds and awareness. 

On November 23, 2011 thousands of Winnipeg students are invited to attend We Day at the MTS Centre to learn about some of the most pressing social issues of the day and that they are not alone to make a difference.   We Day, is the largest youth empowerment event of its kind and is put on by the Free  The Children charity.  Co-founders Craig & Marc Kielburger have assembled an amazing line up of world-renown social activists to inspire and ignite the passion of young people gathered at We Day. 

We can all make a difference.  End apathy.  It is cool to care.

 Kath’s quote: “I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”-Marcel Proust

Crown Princess Fine Dining-Dim Sum in Toronto

November14

We’ve been to a number of places for dim sum in Toronto but none in as opulent a location as today.  The Crown Princess  is a potpourri of crushed purple velvet, marble and chandeliers.  Not my taste in decor, but no matter, the food is fabulous.  We left the ordering to our beloved Chinaman and he did a splendid job. 

D and I were trying to describe one of our favourite selections from home.  This Crispy Taro and Mushroom dumpling came in an attempt.  

We were successful with guessing that it was fried Sticky Dumpling with Meat.  Not as good as Dim Sum Garden in Winnipeg though, I must say.

Sticky rice, normally served wrapped in a lotus leaf was double wrapped in a piece of leaf and pure white paper.  A slightly lighter portion than we are used to and we predict that is the reason for the alternate preparation.

We enjoyed a variety of steamed seafood dumplings:  Har Gow (Shrimp dumpling), Chicken with Vegetable Dumplings, Goose Liver & Caviar Sui Mai  and this new dish, which turned out to be my favourite, Steamed Scallop and Shrimp Dumplings.

 

Gorgeous presentation and taste.  

I also got brave and tasted Chicken Feet with Chef’s Sauce and

D got psyched up to try Beef Tripe with Spicy Sauce.

The steamed baby squid in Curry Sauce was also new for us-yummy.

Familiar Barbecue Pork Buns filled us up before we ended with Mango Pudding with a stream of evaporated milk drizzled over top.

Crown Princess on Urbanspoon

 Kath’s quote:  “Gourmets! serve the bird roasted, with pink feet, a strip of bacon to cover its modesty, the breast sprinkled with lemon drops.”– Charles Monselet

Looking ahead to an Irish Spring

November9

Perhaps it is the fresh snow that has stayed on the ground these past days.  Prehaps it is the time change and the early departure of the sun.  I would not say that I am already yearning for spring but I can tell you that I am eagerly researching and planning a trip that we have booked in early April to Ireland.  I am sure that it is no coincidence that many daytrips will be determined by the gastronomic offerings of the area.

We intend to venture to Sligo to enjoy W.B. Yeat’s favourite mountains and pay our respects at his grave at Drumcliff Churchyard.  We’ve heard that  Hargadon’s Bar is an obligatory stop here.  The famous and much-loved traditional grocery-bar in the centre of town is a listed building dating back to 1864.  It has had only two previous owners (the original builder, and then the Hargadon family who gave it the current name).  The Monahans who are the current owners undertook a lengthy and sensitive restoration of Hargadons, so there it is now in all its glory, restored and renovated but with all its snugs and fires and grocery shelves intact (and the marble counter cleaned and back in place).

The buzz is that it is not only a superb traditional pub, but also serves excellent food.  Home cooking is the appropriate aim in this atmospheric setting and they strive to use the very best local produce (organic where possible) from the immediate locality.

The emphasis is on hearty traditional food, especially at lunchtime, but a cosmopolitan twist may also be expected – and their evening menus offer treats like Lissadell oysters and local mussels. I understand that the owners have their own wines to offer (from the Languedoc region of the South of France), but also their own olive oil.

Look out Ireland-this potato lovin Polish Princess is making plans!

Kath’s quote: “Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”-Dave Barry

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