Food Musings

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

Mooncakes

September24

Sister #3 is hosting a lovely international student from Beijing and gathered a group of of friends together last night for a traditional Chinese celebration.  I think the intent was to make her student feel more at home, learn more about other customs and gather a group of other families who are also hosting Chinese students.  From my estimation the evening was a wonderful success;  not only because I loved the special tea and treats but from the happy sounds of the four students chatting and sharing, who hadn’t known each other previously.

Sister #3 is the perfect host (so is Sister #2 for that matter).   She had decorated with lanterns and got out her best china.  She had colouring sheets for the kids and read us the legend of the wood-cutter who was banished to the moon.  But she also opened the story telling up to the students to interject the versions that they had learned back home.

The moon cake itself was full of nuts and was satisfying and not too sweet.  Supposedly the “moon” (a round egg yolk)  is baked into the cake but my wedge did not contain it.  I had never tasted anything like the tea before-made from plums and chrysanthemums it was perfectly clear and lovely and sweet.

Another way to celebrate the richness of life with food!

Kath’s quote: “Ecstasy is a glass of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth.”-Alexander Pushkin

Can’t Explain

September23

I have lived in River Heights for almost 18 years and think that this restaurant has been on Waterloo and Corydon for at least that long but I have never tasted a Santa Lucia Pizza.  I can’t explain how this happened.  Sister #3 claims its Winnipeg’s best pizza and I would be tempted to agree.  But I would love your opinions on this topic if you have other favourites.

Earlier this week I was in what you might describe as a middle aged woman’s heaven: I got together with two women whom I love and we ate pizza, then a banana log Jeannie’s cake, washed it down with a fine German Riesling and watched the premiere of this season’s Dancing with the Stars!  Hard to decide what was the best part but the pizza was definitely outstanding.  We ordered the Santa Lucia’s Aloha which is double ham, double pineapple and cheese and a large feed four of us to satiation with a couple of pieces left over for lunch.

Now we are a home-made pizza family and I am very picky about my pizza.  I figure if I’m going to eat a day’s calories at one meal-it better be worth it.  Their crust tasted very close to the bread dough recipe that I use.  There was the perfect amount of robust sauce on it and once you add their toppings and cheese-yummers!

This photo is not a Santa Lucia Pizza-we ate it to quickly for me to take a one.

Kath’s quotes:  “Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.”-Grimod de la Reynière

John’s of 12th St. NYC-Pt 2

September22

The menu offerings at John’s of 12th St. are time-tested and as authentic Italian as it gets.  The kitchen still does its own butchering and baking.  The current chef has been there over 30 years and was trained by the chef before him.  Because as I’ve said before, taste is a multi-sensory experience for me, my meal was full of all the joy and all of the sorrows that have been celebrated and observed within the walls.

I could have pictured our young, handsome server in many of the trendier spots in the neighbourhood, but was really endeared to him for choosing this place.  Perhaps he was family. He was attentive, efficient and delightful.

We started with a tomato, basil and Buffalo mozzarella  salad and was duly impressed by the homemade cheese which was creamy and firm at the same time. The home baked bread basket was emptied very quickly, not because it was not well laden but because of the taste treats that it held.

The girls ordered Chicken and Veal Parmesan along side spaghetti and were well pleased.  I was tempted to try the evening’s special which was a pasta with black truffles but opted instead for Eggplant Parmesan which was rolled and stuffed with a full-bodied ricotta cheese-I was in heaven.

Too full for the array of authentic dessert, we strolled home.  Thankfully the walk was a number of blocks as we had extra calories to burn that warm August evening.

John's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”-Mae West

John’s of 12 Street Restaurant-NYC Pt 1

September21

Our temporary neighbourhood of Gramercy/Flatiron once again yielded another fabulous restaurant find-John’s of 12th St.  Not what one would call trendy, fashionable or even up-to-date but a fascinating walk into urban history.

Not John's-Il Tempio del Gusto at the Segesta, Sicily Train Station

I couldn’t get an interior photo of John’s so I’ve included this one of Il Tempio del Gusto in Suggesta Sicily just for fun.

Original owner John Pucciatti moved from his village in Umbria, Italy to the Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1908.  At that time this neighbourhood was a classic melting pot of Italians on 1st, Jewish immigrants on 2nd and Germans surrounding Tompkins Square Park.  Butch Cassidy and Sundance were said to have lived in a rooming house down the block.

Mosaic wainscoting was shipped from Belgium and John resourcefully paid a local artist in free meals for the paintings that still hang on the walls.  So too, the mirrors that line the interior are all original.

During prohibition in the 20’s,  drinkers were sent via a hidden staircase to less conspicuous family quarters upstairs.  To John’s delight,  business boomed but he was still thrilled when the repeal was announced and they were legal again. To celebrate,  he ceremoniously lit a candle and continued to do so for years to come; a tradition maintained to this day by a third set of owners.  The wax –laden shrine is in the rear of the dining room.

Kath’s quote:  “It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.”-P. G. Wodehouse

Share the love

September20

Every fall when the leaves start to turn, I remember with clarity the details of “that” October.  The moment in time, when our growing little family changed forever.  Twenty years ago daughter #1 was excited to be starting Montessori kindergarten in the morning and French Immersion in the afternoon.  She was enrolled in ballet and tap classes and could sing like an angel (a mermaid actually).  I was in constant touch with our doctor but when I knew that what he described as the flu symptoms had developed into something much worse, we were off to the hospital and began a two month stay and a new life.

Sister #2 took time off work to be with us during those long days.  Sister #3 moved into our home to care for our three year old son.  Strangely enough what I remember the clearest about those grief filled days was the food, delivered to the hospital for D and I to warm in the nurses’ micro-wave so that we did not have to eat hospital food.  And the soups and loaves that were dropped off at our home to sustain the comings and goings of our fractured family and our new routine.  Ironically, I kept very little of that food down as I was in the first trimester of pregnancy with our youngest child.  

I can’t recall the tastes and details of the dishes now, but I can recall the love.  The time was a catastrophe but in its midst, we were so very loved. 

So here we are twenty years later….daughter #1 lives downtown with her precious baby dog Caleb.  She has her first degree and has just applied for grad school.  She has a busy social schedule but keeps Sundays open for our family dinners.  Her little brother is married and is still wonderful in his role of creating lightness and hilarity in our family.  Her baby sister is a natural care-giver and has travelled the world to look after little ones and works one-on-one with a client like daughter #1 who both live with permanent disabilities.

So what am I rambling on about?  To me, food=love.  Cook a double batch of something tonight and find some one’s doorstep to leave it on.  Let me know how that goes.  

Kath’s quote: “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”-M.F.K. Fisher

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