Food Musings

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

Viva Cuba Libra Restaurant


I fell in love with the Caribbean almost 35 years ago with my first trip to Varedero Cuba.  Now those were the days before all the European hotel chains started building along the most amazing beach I have yet encountered.


Hotels in the late 70’s were assemblies of old cottages desserted in the 50’s and refurbished, but ever so simply.  There would be a single bed and a night table and a chest of drawers and a rod with hangers.  But I didn’t care, it was an inexpensive escape and I literally spent every moment at the beach-taking my coffee down after breakfast, reading, walking and even swimming in those days.  I  would return to my cottage only in time for a quick shower before supper.  Cuban fare consisted mainly of chicken, rice and beans.  I do recall the lagostina that we paid extra for one night.  It had been split and grilled on an open fire and then just before it was served, a sizzling chile sauce was poured over it so that it came popping and sizzling to the table.  

Gang at Viva Cuba Libra

Isla Mujeres has replaced those rustic stays on the Caribbean.  There are a couple of good Cuban restaurants on Isla -this one on Hidalgo and another sometimes called Vivian’s but more aptly Qubano.  I have yet to sample the latter as it closes but once a week and sure enought that was my day to give it a try.  But Sister #3 loves it and that’s good enough for me.

The plates at Viva Cuba Libra include the staple of plaintain as pictured here and a variety of other traditional acommpaniments.

Cuban Meal
Cuban Meal

Kath’s quote: “Plain fare gives as much pleasure as a costly diet, while bread and water confer the highest possible pleasure when they are brought to hungry lips.”-Epicurus (341?-270 BC)

The Birchwood


Over the years we’ve had many meals at the Birchwood Hotel on Highway 59 (between Grand and Victoria Beach).  When the kids were younger and we spent Christmas holidays at the unwinterized cottage, we would go to the Birchwood to shower before company came out for New Year’s Eve.  We would take a room just so that we could take turns having showers and watch some satellite TV.  When we were all gussied up, we’d have lunch in the dining room before heading back to our little cabin in the woods.

We’ve also enjoyed many barbequed steak dinners on the patio with various configurations of family and friends.

The special last night was pan fried pickerel and I couldn’t resist.    It included a homemade and hearty steak and potato soup.  Fish & Chips, Chicken Fingers & Chips and Chicken Quesadillas were also sampled.   The food they make from scratch is well seasoned and prepared, the items they throw into a deep fry basket, not so much.  But there is good value,  the beer was cold, Rascal Flats was playing and we had a lovely evening.

Kath’s quote: “Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule or a cook.”
cowboy saying.

Antipasto Kebabs


It is surprising (even to me) that I am still blogging about my Mom’s Birthday Cocktail Party as it was months ago by this time. 

One of my assigned recipes were these easy and fun kebabs.  The prep was primarily about shopping at a high end Italian store for: spicy Italian olives, fine salami, an equally fine sausage and fresh cherry tomatoes.  I had cheese herb ravioli in the freezer that I added.  Simply assemble your chosen ingredients and spear onto a medium bamboo skewer.  It is a good idea to have a firm item at either end, in my case a tomato and large olive.  On the same plate I served prosciutto wrapped honeydew melon.

These turned out to be one of the hits of the evening and were definitely the simplest to prepare, plate, serve and consume.  There were other items served that would prompt my Mom to ask: “What do I do with this?”

Kath’s quote: “Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.”-Charles Pierre Monselet

A Weekend of Firsts


I have spent the weekend with our son and his wife and have picked up some wonderful cooking ideas in a short time.  Just the fact that they are so willing to pitch in with meals at the cottage-makes my heart sing. 

The first taste treat was their spaghetti with Italian sausage.  I usually blanch the sausages and then let then soak up the pasta sauce.  They grill theirs until crunchy on the barbeque and add them to the sauce at the last minute-yum.

They shared a simple and yet fabulous recipe for pork.  My husband modified it for the barbeque instead of a sauté pan and it went like this: sear pork chops or pork tenderloin that has been liberally covered with salt and pepper on high heat.  Then move to a pan containing 1 part ice tea and one part balsamic vinegar.  Let the sauce reduce as pork continues cooking.  Serve at the doneness point of your liking (we like ours medium rare to medium well-but definitely not well done).  This proved to be a really interesting mixture of tastes-sweet and pungent and the sauce was also lovely on the wild rice pilaf that we also served.

Sister #2 is the expert omelet maker at the cottage but in her absence our son was willing to take a stab at it.  We also have a new electric griddle which put him at an extreme disadvantage.  The first batch was delicious but not thin and rolled like his Aunt’s.  The second batch though was pretty near perfection. 

Last night I tried two new tastes: carrot sticks dipped into red pepper humus at happy hour and another specialty while watching a movie.  They sprinkle nutritional yeast on buttered popcorn!  It was kind of a cross between toasted bread crumbs and a mild parmesan cheese and you feel healthy just eating it.

Of the many talents that our children possess, their enthusiasm for preparing food for loved ones and their gifts of hospitality are the ones that bless me the most.

She has our hearts

posted under Recipes | 3 Comments »

Glorious and Free


In honour of Canada Day, I asked my Facebook friends which foods best represented the Canadian experience.  Their answers were very revealing:

My friend Jenna said: “Donairs anywhere in the maritimes.”  I had to do some more research as I didn’t know donairs were Canadian.  I found this out: “the donair made in Atalantic Canada are almost always made with a sweetened garlic sauce and this sauce (called donair sauce) is also used as a dipping sauce for eastern Canadian snacks like garlic fingers”.  She then added: “Bison Burgers from the Kleefield Chip Truck”.  

There was another vote for the maritimes when my Newfie friend Susan declared “Mussels in (at?) the corner at the Ship.”  I too think that seafood is a wonderful representation of Canada-our Atlantic and Pacific coasts display beauty to make your heart stop.

My friend Serena added: “BeaverTails (Queues de Castor) on the canals of Ottawa.”  Serena has travelled the country with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet-so I put her opinions right up there.  I look forward to trying these one day.

Another friend named Sue voted for:  “Hotdogs from a cart on Broadway”.  I hasten to say in the summer.  

Sister #3 had the longest list of all: ” Baby Rouge burger at the gas station in St. Pierre Jolys (MB), City Bread Rye and cold cuts with garlicky dill pickles at a social, Jeannie’s cake, mini donuts at the Red River Ex or a Goldeyes game, freshly caught pickerel, real perogies from one of the Ukranian Orthodox Churches or Alycia’s and Bothwell’s red wine cheddar cheese. What a wonderful place to live”.  Perhaps this is the most telling comment of all.  One being the length of her list and two that even though Sister #3 has travelled extensively, these are all foods from home.

We had these Imperial cookies purchased from Einfeld’s Bakery in lake country.  I would add fried Parmesan eaten at a sidewalk cafe in Quebec City,  Atlantic Lobster carried home on a plane to the prairies in a freezer chest, Greek shellfish pie savoured on the Danforth in Toronto, Saskatoon berry anything at one of my all time favourite restaurants-La Bodega in Regina, Alberta grain fed beef at The Keg Steakhouse and Bar and the first time I tasted sushi on Granville Island in Vancouver.

So there is still time to add your favourite.  I’m compiling another list because as I was composing this one, my son added: “Corn Meal Canadian Back Bacon” and so I stopped and made it for his breakfast.

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 ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ – Jules Verne (1870)

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