Food Musings

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

Greek Food Lament


0905p50e-greek-islands-mI have only travelled to Greece once.  It was a University graduation gift to myself.  I was not a foodie then-okay I’ll admit it:  I was a spoiled brat as far as food went.  I would not eat tomatoes unless they were in a spaghetti sauce.  I would not eat cheese unless it was mozarella or mild cheddar and melted on something.  Feta?  Yuck-not on your life.  Olives? No way.  What is the wierd stuff in my lasagna?  It’s not lasagna-it’s mousakka?  Eggplant?  Gross.  I would pick through a Greek Salad and only eat the cucumbers.  OMGoodness-why was I such an idiot?

Danforth Ave.

I went with two girlfiends (and one gf’s Mom).  Both friends now live in Toronto but sadly I only keep in touch with one of them.  Very often when I visit her in TO we head to the Danforth where the Greek restauants are plentiful and fabulous.  There is nothing that I won’t taste now. Octopus and squid?  Bring it on!

I don’t know why we don’t go out for Greek fook more often in Winnipeg because there are many wonderful choices here as well.  It seems that the most of my Greek dining was in yesteryears.

I once worked at the Winnipeg Art Gallery when the Swiss Inn (now defunct) had the foodservice contract.  Manny was the Chef, and no he was not Swiss-he was Greek.  Ah I can still taste his Avgolemono (Greek lemon soup) now. Avgolemono I traced Manny to a restauant on Sherbrook called the Acropolis.  But I believe that is too defunct.  There was once a beautiful restauant on Grant called Matheos-gone.  I also loved Dionysis on Nairn-gone.

The owners of Dal’s Restauant used to be our neighbours and I have never been to their Transcona location.  I have been to Homer’s on Ellice and Niko’s on Corydon but it has been years.  I’va also been to the Pembina Village Restaurant and the Garwood Grill but only for breakfast and never sampled their reputed Greek menus.  Why, why why?

Greek Potatoes

Greek Potatoes

This weekend I cooked Greek Food for Valentine’s Day dinner.  I had never cooked Greek potatoes before and they were fabulous. Here’s the recipe that I used:  In a small bowl mix 1/3 c olive oil, 1 1/2 c water, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 c fresh lemon juice, 1 t thyme, 1 t rosemary, 2 t dried chicken stock and black pepper to taste.  Arrange 6-8 peeled and quartered potatoes in a baking dish.  Pour the oil mixture over top.  Bake 1 1/2- 2 hours at 375 degrees, stirring every once in a while.



My husband got out the barbeque for chicken.  Marinated in Carver’s greek dressing, grilled and then served with sliced and grilled tomatoes, sliced black olives and a crumbling of feta-yum.

Italian Memories Dinner Party


There were three couples assembled to relive the details of our separate trips to Italy.  One couple had kept a similar itinerary to ours and the other had spent extensive time in Tuscany.  The host served Mario Bateli’s Osco Bucco (recipes in link)–a regional Italian dish that I have never attempted.  She made her decision from five different recipes-an indication of the care that she puts into her cooking.  It was perfection-“fall off the bone” and yet did not tasted “stewed”.  She also prepared his Risotto Milanese (with Saffron)  but admitted that it tuckered her out and decided to forgo her dessert course of poached pears and Carmel sauce.  We had a delicious tiramisu instead.

The wines were beautifully paired and we took over limoncello for after dinner sipping.

Our hosts in Amalfi-who served their own Limencello in their cozy bar

Our hosts in Amalfi-who served their own Limencello in their cozy bar


  • 750 ml bottle of grain alcohol
  • 7 or 8 large lemons (make sure they’re organic and not sprayed, you’re using the peel!)
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar


  • Wash the lemons thoroughly – scrub them clean of all residue.
  • Using a peeler, take off the skins being careful not to get any of the white lemon “pith” onto your peelings or it will add bitterness to your limoncello.
  • Put the peels into a large, open-mouth jar with the alcohol and seal the lid tightly. Put the date on the bottle.
  • Put the jar in a cool, dry place for one week – once a day, shake the contents well to remix everything. You’ll notice the color of the liquid changing to yellow and the color of the lemon peels fading.
  • One week later, dissolve the sugar completely in water by heating it on the stove. Then cool the sugar-water mixture to room temperature.
  • Strain the lemon peels out of the alcohol and then mix the alcohol with the sugar-water. Usually the color of the alcohol changes from clear yellow to cloudy yellow when it’s combined with the sugar-water.
  • Pour the mixture into bottles which can be sealed tightly and store them in the freezer. If the limoncello is kept “frozen” until serving it becomes thick and syrupy.

These make great gifts; just get some small, pretty bottles and label them yourself and you’ve got a great taste of Italy to hand out to friends and family.  I’ve not tried this yet, but this same recipe can be used with any citrus fruit – orange, lime, grapefruit, etc.

DSCF1036We also took over the antipasto.  It was a recreation of our favourite one while travelling.  Antipasti are very regional depending upon the local ingredients available.  Our favourite was in Ravello and it was primarily a selection of vegetables that had been cooked, marinated and served cold.

The restaurant was called Cumpa Cossismo and it has been run by the same family for decades.  All the dishes served were Netta’s recipes and she still supervises the cooking, greets all the guests and then it appeared that her most important role is collecting everybody’s euros before departing.


Netta has hosted the likes of Jacqueline Onassis and Mariah Carey.  Having been caught in the rain on this morning-I don’t feel much like a diva in this pic.

Valentine’s Weekend

One of the first courses on our 2nd Honeymoon.

One of the first courses on our 2nd Honeymoon.

It is the time of year that we celebrate St. Valentine.  I have learned that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.   In the end Valentine died for love because when his illegal actions were discovered, he was put to death.

There are many kinds of love, even though the English language does not distinguish between them very well.  In addition, Hallmark has morphed this love celebration into one of romantic love.  In my life, I celebrate the many kinds of love…and its no surprize, I celebrate them with food!

Chicken Crepes at Bistro Dansk

Chicken Crepes at Bistro Dansk

Last night-I dined with my sisters and my Mom and celebrated “storge” which means “belonging”.  My family loves me unconditionally and no matter what the circumstances-I belong.

Schnitzel, Sweet & Sour Cabbage and Pan Fried Potatoes at Bistro Dansk

Schnitzel, Sweet & Sour Cabbage and Pan Fried Potatoes at Bistro Dansk

I intend to repeat this celebration on Sunday night when we have a family dinner with my kids. Unconditional love is even fiercer when experienced as a parent.  This dinner will be attended by my newly married son and his bride.  Their “epithumia” love is apparent.  It is the love of attraction.



Tonight, we join old friends (and I’m talking decades) for a dinner party.  We will celebrate our long-standing friendship and “phile” meaning “cherishing”.

On Monday because it is a long weekend I will celebrate romance or “eros” with my husband.  We haven’t yet decided if it will be with a supper at home or with a quick bite out.

And so that just leaves “agape” love-the act of selfless giving.  I will challenge myself and all of you to shift our concentration on this Valentine’s weekend to this kind of love.

Love is Everywhere!

Love is Everywhere!

City of New Orleans


I’ve got New Orleans stuck in my head.  Likely for a number of reasons: 1)  I just finished reading a book that I loved called “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Calder” (written by Rebecca Wells of Ya Ya Sisterhood fame) which was partially set in New Orleans 2) we were rooting for The Saints in the Superbowl this past weekend and 3) because just this morning, a reader requested our jambalaya recipe.

My husband and I have always dreamed of seeing three US cities: New York, manhattan2New Orleans and San Francisco.  Only the latter remains on our “to see” list.  We were blessed to travel to New Orleans the winter before Hurricane Katrina and saw the city in all of her beauty.  We only spent 24 hours there but it was jam-packed with eating and merriment. 1stPlaceSanFranciscoCableCarsWe stayed right in the French Quarter at the Hotel St. Marie where we started the evening when our group met up in their cozy lounge.  We soon spilled onto Bourbon Street where we just had to stop for “Huge Ass Beers To Go”.  We had dinner in the outside patio at Tujague’s on Decatur St. – a restaurant established in 1856, where we had a delicious feed of fried catfish.  Next stop was at another restaurant for Jack Daniels and just shucked Oysters.  We continued onto “The House of Blues” for amazing music and ended the evening at Pat O’Brien’s for a cocktail aptly named “The Hurricane”.

The next morning we shopped the Riverwalk Marketplace for Louisiana Hot Sauce and continued to the French Market to watch pralines being made and then to sample Po-Boy and Muffeletta sandwiches.  Just this weekend, we picked up De Luca’s Alba brand’s Muffeletta-Olive Salad Mix to bring back the taste of New Orleans.

We cooked a pre-trip dinner party to get us all in the New Orleans mood.  This was the first time that my husband made his now famous Jambalaya recipe.  It was so popular that a year or so after the trip the group reassembled for a Fat Tuesday party and we served it again.  Now it is a favourite “make ahead” dinner when the guys are heading out to the lake for a cross-country ski weekend.neworleans

The recipe was originally located on a New Orleans website but has been modified to include local kubasa sausage: Doug’s Jambalaya:  Heat a liberal amount of oil in a deep & heavy pan.  Sautee 1 diced onion and 1 minced garlic clove and then add 1 lb. peeled and diced kubasa sausages (or substitute an equal amount of diced ham).  Add 1 small can of tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce to taste, Creole seasoning to taste (can substitute Tabasco to taste).  Add  ½ each, diced green, red and yellow peppers and 10 small banana peppers (with ends cut off).  Let simmer until the onions and peppers soften.  Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 1-2 cans of water.  Let it come to a slow boil and then add 2 cans of red beans, 1 can niblets corn and 1 T parsley flakes.  Boil again and adjust seasonings.  When sausages rise to the top, add 15-20 whole, peeled jumbo shrimp (approx. 1 lb.) and simmer for 20-30 minutes more. Serve over rice.  Note: diced chicken breast can substitute for the shrimp or we like it with shrimp, chicken AND ham and kubasa.


A Porrtable Cheese Store in Catalafimi, Sicily

A Portable Cheese Store in Catalafimi, Sicily

Is it silly that I am dreaming of picnicking when the view out my window is of 3 feet of snow?  No it is not-it is is one of the coping skills of hardy Winnipeg folks.

On a bench in Prairiano

On a bench in Prairiano

Ilve Choices in Nice (France) Market

Olive Choices in Nice (France) Market

Let me begin at the beginning.  My husband and I met in the hospitality business and so it is no surprize that we’ve been self-professed foodies before the word was invented.  We became a couple when D was home for his summer break between University semesters.  He had an amazing summer placement, working alongside Chef Tony of the St. Charles Golf and Country Club.  He was attending Ryerson for his degree in Tourism and Hospitality and when I went to visit him for the first time, he was living the life of a poor out of town student-“borrowing”  toilet paper from the pub and filling his grocery shelves with yellow generic labelled food.   I on the other hand was already working as Marketing Director for a local restaurant so I had some cash.  But because we have always tried to do more with less, we even spent that money wisely.  So instead of dining out…we picnicked!

On a bench in Nice (France)

On a bench in Nice (France)

D lived in residence next door to the Eaton Centre and at one time Eaton’s was THE place for gourmet food offerings.  We prided ourselves in being very adventurous in those days, even though our selections are now purchased during our monthly shops.  We would buy little tastes of dolmades, cottage pate, spicy olives, pickled herring (now we always choose Elman’s), smoked mussels and oysters, creamy Havarti cheese and crisp red grapes.  Then we would go across the mall to the LCBO and select a Alsatian white wine.  Each bite was savoured and we dreamed that one day we would have a six babies (we settled on 3) and travel (we have) and cook together (we do) and grow old together in rocking chairs on the front porch.  So dreams do come true (except that we’re not quite at the rocking chair part)!

Over the years we have modified the picnics to take the kids when they were little to Assiniboine Park and roll and wrestle on the riverbank and then walk across the bridge to Sargent Sundae.Lester Beach 2007 064 We also love having love happy hour on the beach with cocktails and appetizers.  We also have an end of summer cook which is a much loved tradition.

When we were travelling in Europe this September some of our favourite meals were our picnics.

So even if you can’t spread a blanket on the lawn, shop for a picnic supper.  Take little bites, savour and dream.

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