Food Musings

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

Diner’s Grill

May23

In North American a diner is typically a small roadside restaurant with a long counter and booths. The Diner’s Grill (405 Turenne St.) has neither a long counter nor booths but it does serve up authentic diner-style, from scratch, comfort food and it does so very, very well.

Located in the middle of the St. Boniface Industrial area, it took Siri to help us successfully navigate to the spot. Since my daughter-in-law and I had a three year old and a one year old with us, our server (who I assumed was Josh, one of the owners) immediately gave us a children’s menu to order for the little ones.

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Delightfully wholesome selections like a grilled cheese sandwich (with Bothwell cheddar no less) and a hearty chicken noodle soup arrived soon thereafter.

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The former was ooey and gooey with crispy edges, just as it should be and the latter was full of chicken, herbs and rotini noodles.

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Even the child’s portion was more than generous and fed both little ones with left overs.

My DIL chose the Reuben with a side of fries and I the crispy chicken sandwich with a side of jalapeño corn chowder.

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Oh my goodness, the Reuben was absolutely amazing. For one it was enormous and even though we were splitting it, my DIL brought ¼ of it home. It had the standard corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut but it was the from scratch remoulade sauce. Don’t confuse their French remoulade sauce with the Creole remoulade sauce that is popular in Louisiana. Creole style remoulade sauce is red and usually quite spicy. French style remoulade sauce is milder and can be somewhat tart from the capers and pickles that might be added. It offset the rest of the sandwich ingredients perfectly. Beware though; it was so juicy it would have run down our arms if we hadn’t utilized a stack of napkins to sop up the excess. I have always been a fan of Reuben sandwiches and from now on, I will always compare them to the Diner’s Grill perfect sandwich. The French fries were a bit overcooked but we kept picking at them anyway. The youngest would dip them in ketchup, lick off the ketchup and then dip them again.

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The crispy chicken sandwich that I shared was stellar: generous, perfectly cooked and crispy as promised. It was topped with apple cider vinegar cole slaw on a pretzel bun. So too, the jalapeño corn chowder that we loved but also could not finish.

If you have a big appetite and aren’t concerned about your waistline, you will love this authentic place. Here’s a scoop: they are opening another restaurant called The Tipsy Cow on Portage Ave. this summer.

The Diner’s Grill is owned by Joshua Mesojednik and Yang Meng. They are open for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner and also have Dessert, Kids’ and Take Out Menus available. Their hours are Mon – Thurs: 7am – 3pm, Friday: 6:30am – 8pm, Saturday: 8am – 3pm, Sunday & Holiday Weekends: Closed. They are wheelchair accessible.

Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.

Kath’s quote: “According to Omaha lore, the combination of rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut had been dreamed up in 1925 to feed participants in a late-night poker game at the Blackstone Hotel in downtown Omaha by a local grocer, Reuben Kulakofsky. Charles Schimmel, the hotel’s owner, was so taken with the sandwich that he put it on the hotel restaurant menu, designated by its inventor’s name. Fern Snider, a one-time waitress at the Blackstone, entered the Reuben in a national sandwich competition in 1956; her entry won–hence one of the earliest pieces of documentation for the name of the sandwich, an OED cite from 1956 from the food services journal “Institutions“. -Jim Rader

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Love never fails.

Mediteranean Fund-Raising Dinner at Mon Ami Louis

May16

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People find it increasingly difficult to find a unique way to fund-raise these days. Friends of ours came up with a brilliant idea but you would have to have access to an iconic restaurant and the talents of chefs to pull it off yourself. Our young friend is off to Greece this summer with an organization who works with fleeing immigrants by providing them assistance with their transition and some comfort as the process takes place.

Her boyfriend happens to be on Chef Luc Jean’s team at Mon Ami Louis. The latter graciously made his restaurant available in order to make the event a reality.

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In keeping with the Greek destination the evening’s theme was a Mediterranean one, commencing with a Greek Salad featuring premise-marinated olives that had been warmed to allow the full pungency of the olive to be experienced when tasted. I also detected some orange zest which I appreciated because I sometimes find the traditional recipe of olive oil and lemon juice too tart.

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Even when the salad was tossed around, the effect was beautiful. Mixing the salad allowed you to spear an olive, some feta and one of the veggies with each and every bite.

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Sister #3 who stepped in as Sous Chef always teases me that my life is a journey of searching for that perfect bite.

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The main course was a delectably stuffed Moroccan Chicken that the team managed to keep perfectly moist. The accompanying carrots and rice were topped with a cool dill sauce to offset the subtle spicy tastes of Moroccan spice. I did not see any plate retrieved by the volunteer staff that still had food on it. Everyone consumed every last bite. A sign of a meal well loved.

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Dessert was an espresso panna cotta (Italian cooked cream) with a raspberry coulis. The refreshingly thin fruit sauce complimented the rich panna cotta beautifully.

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In short, the meal was perfect but so too was the company and the setting. All this and creating a little bit of assistance to our lovely friend who is Greece bound.

Kath’s quote: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give”.

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Sardinia Smile – Isla Mujeres 2017

May15

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D and I arrived before the time of our reservation because we were so darned excited for the evening to commence. Plans had been made the year prior and that’s a long time to anticipate an evening. We met these precious Australians in person by “accident” in Tuscany in the Fall of 2015. Read the whole story here: http://foodmusings.ca/italy/tuscany-trip-report-day-3-part-2/

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In the time in between their son became engaged to our niece and planned a destination wedding on Isla Mujeres; which was another beautiful story: http://foodmusings.ca/food-celebrations/anywhere-in-the-world-he-chose-our-beach/.

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The first time D and I dined at Sardinia Smile on Isla Mujeres, the evening was so delicious that we sat back and reminisced about our time in Tuscany, and then we remembered that we would be together with G & H when the wedding took place. We sent them a FB message asking them to dinner at Sardinia Smile a year  in advance!

The evening had finally arrived. D was grateful that we were early so that he could study the wine list in advance and make a couple of Merlot selections for the evening. As guests started arriving and we had an opportunity to spend some extra time when G & H and their lovely friends G & A and B & K, the evening just flew by, so it was a good thing that we had the opportunity to gather our thoughts at the beginning.

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This was exactly how I predicted the time would be when we finally were reunited.

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We started with bruschetta and octopus ceviche and whatever else was ordered by the table which included Sister #2 (the Mother of the Bride), my wonderful brother-in-law and old friends of theirs.

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Once entrees came along it was considerably later in the evening and the lighting was not opportune for food photos. This was the shrimp ravioli that D enjoyed.

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H chose the spinach ricotta ravioli and loved it as did I with the fruita de mare fettucine.

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The best choice of the evening was made by G who decided upon this simple mushroom ravioli with truffle sauce. In deed we were all enthralled with our selections, the wine an our time together. I felt badly when I heard that dinners at the other end of the table were less than stellar. Perhaps our anticipation of the evening made everything taste that much better.

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Mini desserts ensured that the time would be remembered as sweet and delicious.

Since that evening we have been planning and dreaming about another traveling adventure. We intend to meet up with G & H, their family an their delightful friends B & K in Melbourne. How soon this will occur? No one can predict, but when it does, I know the time will one again be sweeter than honey.

Kath’s quote: There isn’t any questioning the fact that some people enter your life, at the exact point of need, want or desire – it’s sometimes a coincendence and most times fate, but whatever it is, I am certain it came to make me smile.” ― Nikki Rowe

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Fun at Mongo’s Grill

May12

Since D and I grew up in the hospitality business, we still chat about culinary market trends. He recently shared with me that “Fast Casual” is the fastest growing restaurant segment in the world. When you drive into the packed parking lot for the Mongo Grill on Ellice you can see that this must be the case. Jolibee and Za Pizza are their neighbours and there are many more options in the vicinity.

So how do you choose one over the other? I am confident that all have good tasting food but Mongo’s, in my eyes, puts together the most nutritious option. The icing on the cake is how much fun the place is. We were a largish group and the fun started as soon as we sat down. Actually, we got a tour of the self serve food areas and the enormous grill and then we sat down.

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I don’t know about you, but I miss the days when salad bars were a part of the dining experience. In Mongo’s case you can add the soup or salad bar to the cost of your bowl. I chose the Spicy Thai Chicken Soup to start and thought that it was just as good as soups I have enjoyed at Thai restaurants and certainly tastier than I could have made at home.

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Mongo’s salad bar was full of healthy veggies with a great selection of protein options.

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I tucked into a seafood salad, a scoop of cottage cheese and pickled beets (one of my favs).

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We got some coaching from a Mongo’s expert in our group (her son was one of the cooks that evening) about how to put together our bowl to make the most of the space. She suggested that we make a wall of meat in our bowls in order to fence in the rest of the ingredients.

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I chose scallops instead of meat, so the strategy didn’t work for me. But I had such fun choosing all my ingredients and then piling the noodles on last. She also suggested that we would want to keep the stir fry moist with plenty of ladles of the many sauce choices. I stuck to teriyaki and was really pleased with the end result.

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A number of dinners can be on the grill at the same time. separated by weighty, long spatulas that are also used to turn the ingredients over as the cooking takes place. A number of our group chose to be their own broiler chefs. The females remarked what an arm work out they received when maneuvering the food and spatulas around.

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Once mine was plated, I still had the opportunity to add some texture and taste. I did so with a liberal sprinkling of chopped peanuts and some sweet chili sauce.

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My favourite part of a stir fry is the abundance of noodles and I was sure pleased with my veggie/noodle ratio. My son tells me that he never piles on the noodles but asks for a side of rice that is generously offered so that he can fill his bowl with more protein and veggies. The good news is that everyone can be accommodated exactly the way they choose. That is the beauty of Mongo’s.

What I thought was particularly clever about the Mongo’s concept is that there was never any “lag” time while waiting for your food. Because the guest decides when to assemble their ingredients and then watches their dinner be finished on the grill, there isn’t any awkward time spent waiting for food to come out of a busy kitchen. Brilliant! Going to have to take my grandbabies next time.

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This was the Pecan Brownie that someone else at our table ordered.

But wait, there was more. The dessert menu was extensive and I was so full of noodles, that I couldn’t imagine eating another thing. The staff graciously suggested that they pack up a Turtle Pie for me and I enjoyed immensely the next day.

Kath’s quote: “I love Chinese food, like steamed dim sum, and I can have noodles morning, noon and night, hot or cold. I like food that’s very simple on the digestive system – I tend to keep it light. I love Japanese food too – sushi, sashimi and miso soup“. -Shilpa Shetty

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Wedding at Zama Beach Club

May10

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Our side never quite got it organised for our family picture.

When the bride and groom and their parents were selecting the perfect venue on Isla Mujeres, I am quite sure that the quality of the food figured into the equation in a very big way. With their decision to host the wedding at Zama Beach, they got both excellent food and one of the most beautiful settings in Mexico. I cannot speak for the groom’s family except to say that I have seen pictures of them at beautiful vineyards, markets and restaurants enjoying themselves immensely. I have also seen the groom tuck in to his mother-in-law’s food with relish, so I have a hunch that food is a love language in their family as it is in ours.

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My sisters and I first discovered Zama in 2005 with our first trip to the island. Little did we know at that time, that it would host one of the most wonderful events of our lives.

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We assembled in an outdoor lounging area upon arrival and enjoyed a welcome cocktail of Blue Margaritas to help settle the nerves. I especially appreciated mine as I was officiating at the marriage; a task I had never done before. We all doffed our shoes, made our way down the aisle and sat with our feet in the sand. Somehow, this simple act put us all on equal footing and we became one family, as opposed to many to witness the couple’s vows.

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Since I played an official role, I arrived early to get ready for my responsibilities. It gave me an opportunity to obtain a preview of where the wedding supper would take place.

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Our long time friend Javi and his father were there to serenade us as we transitioned to the pier and then the dining room.

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After the ceremony there was an opportunity for glorious pictures as the sun was just setting; including this one of the guests from all over the world.

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There were appetizers of ceviche and empanadas that were very delicious and made us all look forward to the dinner getting under way. We enjoyed a salad of greens with hibiscus dressing. The entrée was a combination of succulent chicken and fish done in the Tic ‘n Chix manner.

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The beautiful lemon and coconut wedding cake was adorned with fresh flowers and was enthusiastically consumed (especially by the Wee One).

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The newlyweds started off the dancing and then virtually everyone spilled onto the dance floor and danced the night away.

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Later in the evening quesadillas were served as well as churros. We all appreciated the midnight snack as we had burned many calories on the dance floor.

What can I say? The day was perfect in each and every way.

Kath’s quote: “Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one”.-Friedrich Halm

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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