Food Musings

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

Vietnamese Rice Rolls



There are many excellent Vietnamese restaurants in Winnipeg: Viva and Thanh Huong (both on Sargent) and Pho 1 (on Isabel) are a few of our favourites.  KG Saigon (also on Sargent) was recommended just recently.  But it is Little Saigon on William Ave. where we’ve been going to for years.    When my office was on the same street,  I enjoyed it frequently with colleagues for lunch.  More recently, it is a place that the three sisters take our Mom for a night out.  We really enjoy their Salt and Pepper Shrimp.  This is the place that I first tasted Vietnamese rice rolls.  I am allured by the fresh taste of the herbs and veggies and of course by my favourite taste combination of salty/sweet. 


Tonight we are having a guest for dinner that I thought might enjoy them.  I did most of the preparations before I left for my baby hugging shift.  Then when I got home, I just had to soak the noodles and the rice wrappers.


These are the ingredients that you assemble for do-it-yourself rolls:  romaine lettuce leaves, sliced cucumber,  fresh mint leaves, fresh cilantro leaves (optional) and bean sprouts (which I did not have on hand).  Saute thinly sliced pork or chicken that has been marinated in a sauce such as hoisin.  Cover with peanuts that have been crushed with brown sugar.  Put out additional sauces like peanut and sweet chili. 


Here is the recipe for a Vietnamese dipping sauce which is always a hit:  Dissolve 3 T of sugar in 2 T lime or lemon juice, add ¼ c rice vinegar, ¼ c fish sauce , 1 clove garlic and some chili flakes to taste.  Zap them together in a blender.

Kath’s quote: “To see cucumbers in a dream denotes that you will speedily fall in love. Or, if you are in love, then you will marry the object of your affection.”-Richard Folkard in ‘Plant Lore’


Sister#3 Isla Mujeres (Part 3- Fredy’s)

Me & Freddy
My favourite Isla haunt for dinner is a little place called Fredy’s, named after owner, chef and all time funny guy Fredy.    

Pork chop

He is famous for his chuleta Puerco which are two rib thick porkchops grilled to perfection on his B.B.-Q  but my favourite dish is the plato Mexicano.

Mexican plate

Isla 2009 093

Sister #1 Interjections: One night when I arrived solo on Isla, Sis #3 had assembled this gang to meet me at the ferry.  I had a migraine but was so excited to see everybody that I wasn’t thinking straight (or walking straight for that matter).  I was passing off my knapsack and accepting a marguerita from an outstretched arm when OOPS my  foot slipped between the wooden dock and a concrete wall and got wedged in there.  But Fredy’s pork chops were calling me so I still made it out to dinner.  Fredy knows how to prepare them perfectly, which is to say, still pink in the middle.  I always have enough left over for a beach sandwich the next day.



We often have our first Isla dinner at Fredy’s and then our last, so I have also had the chance to taste many of his shrimp dishes, my favourite being shrimp baked in garlic and butter and accompanied with cilantro and cheese.  Other fans claim his Garlic Grouper and Lobster are best on the island.

Fredy’s is a bit further north on Hidalgo than most other choices.  Fredy’s hospitality and expert cooking makes the extra steps worth taking.  In fact in 2009 when there was construction on Hidalgo, we had to climb over bricks and a barricade and it was still worth it.

Kath’s quote: “There is poetry in a pork chop to a hungry (wo)man.”-Philip Gibbs


Anchovies in Positano, Italy



Can you remember ever having a menu ordering accident?  That is to say,  you ordered a dish but realised when it arrived that you had misinterpreted what was stated on the menu and had to eat it anyway?  Exactly this happened to me when my husband and I were dining in Positano Italy this past fall. 

Near the Norman Cathedral of Monreale (Palermo)

Near the Norman Cathedral of Monreale (Palermo)

We started our Italian adventure in Sicily and one evening our host ordered a sumptuous dish in Palermo.  We had just toured Monreale and were in the vicinity of  the Palermo train station when we happened upon Antico Bar and Ristorante in the Piazza Giulio Cesare.  Concetta had ordered anchovy and fennel pasta and the forkful that I tasted was divine-an unusual blending of salty and savoury. 

The Antipasto that night-missed taking a pic of the entrees

The Antipasto that night-missed taking a pic of the entrees

Days later and on our own on the Amalfi Coast we asked Luigi, the wonderful owner of Hotel Le Fioriere in Praiano where his favourite restaurant in Positano was.  With his advice we headed out for Da Vincenzo’s.  

Under the Canopy

Under the Canopy

We did not have reservations but considered ourselves lucky to get a table outside but under a canopy as it had just started to rain.  We began with a calzone and this basil, mozzarella  and tomato salad.   

The Salad Plate

The Salad Plate

Remebering that single taste in Palermo, I ordered the Anchovies and I got just what I ordered but not what I was dreaming of.  

Just Anchovies?

Just Anchovies?

Kath’s quote: “The peasants of Sicily, who have kept their own wheat and make their own natural brown bread, ah, it is amazing how fresh and sweet and clean their loaf seems, so perfumed, as home-made bread used all to be before the war.”-D.H. Lawrencewine heart

La Fiesta Cafecito



La Fiesta Cafecito is owned by Jose and Sonia Valdez who are from El Salvador.  Since Daughter #2 travelled to El Salvador to do humanitarian work a couple of years ago, we were happy to learn more about their regional cooking.  Pupusas are at the top of the list of their signature platters so we knew that would be one of our selections.  But because we love to try little tastes of lots of things we decided to order a combination platter that included two Pupusas, one chicken burrito and one beef enchilada.  The meal started with a chicken tortilla soup which satisfied my craving for a comfort food because I was nursing a cold. 


We are accustomed to this recipe with lime, chiles and cilantro but this was a savoury alternative.  We detected a sprinkling of Tajin Classico in the bottom of our bowl which is one of our regular purchases on trips to Mexico. 


We were quite sure that Jose indicated that we were getting one Queso Pupusa and One Chicarrones y Queso (pork and cheese) Pupusa but when we forked into the non-Queso one, it was definitely filled with Frijoles (beans).  I preferred the Queso one and my bean-loving (and deprived) husband preferred the Frijoles.  The chicken burrito was stuffed with a savoury mixture of onion, rice and chicken.  The beef enchilada though was unusual with a ladle of a “beef bolognaise style” sauce on top of a flaky pastry shell style base.  On top of this sat a wedge of hard boiled egg!  When in Rome….  Daughter #2 returns from South Africa in the next couple of weeks and we plan to return to La Fiesta to recreate her El Salvadorian adventure.

Kath’s Quote: “This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate the eggs, but it doesn’t say how far to separate them.”-Gracie Allen


Dumplings (Part 2)


About a year ago, my husband brought home a case of won ton wrappers that he had purchased from work.  I have used them to make perogies and ravioli.  But our favourite is this version of a pork dumpling which resembles a pot-sticker.


Combine 1 lb. of ground pork with 1 T grated ginger, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T of finely chopped green onion, 1 T of sesame oil  and 1 beaten egg.  Here’s where I start to improvise.  The recipe calls for 5 c of cabbage and if I have it I use a cole slaw mix.  Today I replaced the cabbage with 2 shredded carrots and 2 stalks of finely chopped celery.  I also added 1 T each of hoisin, fish sauce, oyster and soya sauce. 


Place 1 t of filling in the centre of each wrapper.  Wet edges with your finger and fold and seal.  Hold in a single layer on tray that has been covered with wax paper.


Drop by small numbers in boiling, salted and oiled water.  Boil for approximately 3 minutes or until they start to float to the surface.  Remove 1 and break open to check doneness before removing the rest.  They can be eaten at this stage with hoisin, peanut and sweet chili sauces as an appetizer or added to an oriental soup.  You can also add one more step and saute them in oil if you are a pot-sticker lover.

P.S. I still have half a case of wrappers in my freezer, if you’re interested in some. 

Kath’s quote: “Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven’t yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?”-Bill Bryson


posted under Recipes | No Comments »
« Older EntriesNewer Entries »