Food Musings

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

Fun Asian Themed Dinner

August16

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Our honourable hosts

Each year at approximately the same time, we join good friends from Toronto at the lake house that they retain at Willard lake. Designating a theme for each weekend we are together, happened quite by accident but has been one of the highlights of our time together. We were lucky this time as BIL David had gifted me with a real kimono when he traveled around the world a number of years back. D was able to find a judo uniform at Value Village so we were all set.

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Saki Mojito Cocktails were served as we were perched on the floor.

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This was after the entrance of another guest (check out the beard!)

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We were assigned to the appetizer and dessert and D had done a dry run the weekend before so we would have a sense of timing and recipe difficulty. The recipe for Korean shrimp and green onion pancakes was suggested by Sister #3 who had a Korean student live with her for a year (recipe below).

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Dinner stretched into the evening with prepping together and visiting our host as he barbequed double-boned pork chops that had been marinating all day.

Fun Asian Themed Dinner
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or entree
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
We served a whole pancake to each person which was really too much for an appetizer portion. We intend to have them again for dinner this week.
Ingredients
  • Pancakes:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c cold water
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t gochu garu (Korean red pepper powder-we found it an Asian specialty market). If you are unsuccessful you can substitute a ⅛ t cayenne pepper or a quick glug of sirachi sauce.
  • ¼ t pepper
  • 1½ c flour'1/2 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeked deveined, cut into ⅓ in pieces
  • 1 medium onion, halved, very thinly sliced
  • 8 green onions cut into 3-4 inch matchstick size strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut as green onions
  • Sauce:
  • ½ c soy sauce
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1 t gohu garu
  • Pan preparation:
  • 4 T canola oil
Instructions
  1. Pancakes:
  2. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in 1½ c cold water, ½ t salt, gochu garu and pepper.
  3. Add flour and whisk until smooth.
  4. Mix in shrimp all onions and carrot.
  5. Let batter stand 1 hour at room temperature.
  6. Sauce:
  7. Mix all sauce ingredients and divide into small dipping bowls.
  8. Heat 1 T of oil into each 10" non-stick skillet that you have.
  9. Add 1 c pancake batter to each, spreading to the edge of the skillet.
  10. Cook until edges are firm and bottom is golden brown about 4 mins.
  11. Using a couple of spatulas or egg lifters, turn pancakes over.
  12. Cook until second side is golden brown and shrimp is cooked through, about 4 mins. more (centre will still be soft).
  13. Cook until underside is deep brown, approximately 1 min. more per side.
  14. Slide pancakes onto a cutting board.
  15. Repeat with remaining oil and batter, forming to more pancakes.
  16. Cut pancakes into wedges.
  17. Serve warm or at room temperature with dipping sauce.

The pancakes were a novelty and a big hit.

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Next up was a simple salad of cellophane noodles and slivers or cucumber.

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Our entree was the hearty pork chops, caramelized onions and roasted sweet potato halves.

We let ourselves rest a bit before we were in the kitchen again on dessert duty, preparing a Vietnamese dessert of battered and fried bananas with a sweet coconut milk dipping sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

The evening and rest of the weekend was picture perfect. We recounted our joys and sorrows of the year since we had last been together. Then we toasted the time together, the time past and the time ahead.

Kath’s quote: “They talked in the shorthand of old friends and shared memories.”
― Dee Henderson, Before I Wake    

 

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As we opened fortune cookies over the weekend, they were taped to these antlers to be a permanent record of our time together.

Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuscany Trip Report-Day Two

August8

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Our first glance of the blue Tuscan sky through our bathroom “window”

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and a view of our terrace in the daylight.

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After breakfast in our hotel we took the same route that we had walked in the dark the previous evening

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arriving at the town square.

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This is the handsome man with whom I spent the time of my life in Tuscany.

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One of our first stops was the wine store in case we needed a night cap in our room.

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After depositing the wine safely in our room, we wandered down Viale G. Verde passed the various spas by which the community became famous.

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We knew from our research that Montecatini was divided into two communities-Montecatini Ferme where we were staying and Montecatini Alto that we could see high above us. We guessed that there was a route by road but we were tourists and opted to do tackle the journey by the vintage Funicular which was kind of like a slanted trolley car.

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This as the gorgeous view of Montecatini Ferme from Montecatini Alto.

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Almost upon disembarking we spotted this tribute to a loved one. Did someone have a funicular accident?

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We had to climb straight up to the town square.

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This lovely spot awaited us.

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Before we decided which restaurant to have lunch in, we had a little snoop around.

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There were flowers everywhere.

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As well as historic buildings.

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We were most fascinated with the every day life of the residents.

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I would have dearly loved to have purchased something here but we waited until near the end of our stay to decide what to buy once we had a chance to window shop.

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The restaurants put out baskets of their ingredients to lure you in.

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This lady sat all by herself at one restaurant, never ate or drank anything and her expression never changed. I think that she might have been ordered to sit there and to not make any (more?) trouble.

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My first taste of house wine-I was in heaven. We drank the house wine at each and every place we stopped-it was about being economical but also to compare and contrast tastes and flavour profiles.

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I choose this unappetizing looking lunch as my selection-Tuscan Crostini sounds innocent enough but had a pungent, heavy taste. I had struck out at my first time at to bat.

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D on the other hand loved his grilled cheese sandwich.

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All the patrons sat outside that day but I peaked in to see what the interior was like.

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I would have loved to have visited again on a rainy or chilly day but we still had so many restaurant meals ahead of us.

Kath’s quote: “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck

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Love never fails.

I found this little bus shelter the square.

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Segovia

August4

Whenever I am asked which Winnipeg restaurant is my favourite-the answer is always Segovia Tapas Bar (484 Stradbrook Avenue just west of Osborne St. in the River & Osborne neighbourhood of Fort Rouge). We first visited the year that Adam Donnelly and Carolina Konrad opened the tapas restaurant and return as often as we can. The trouble is, there are so many great restaurants in this city, we don’t get to visit as often as we would like. Our kids, on the other hand, visit often, especially our eldest daughter. She loves their patio and that it is completely wheelchair accessible. Before you go, you need to decide whether or not you are comfortable sharing a number of small plates with your dinner mates. We love tapas as you get to sample a variety of dishes without filling up on only a couple of tastes.

On this occasion I was dining with girlfriends and celebrating my birthday.

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We started with one of my old favourites-Patatas Bravas ($7)*. This typical Spanish dish of fried potatoes is usually topped with a spicy tomato sauce or aioli, Segovia offers both in a circular design on the delectable fries.

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Next up were Fried Beets adorned with Cashew Dukkha (Egyptian sauce) and Berbere (Ethiopian spice) Aioli ($10).

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I love Beef Tartare ($15) but one of our group was hesitant to try the dish of minced raw beef. Our delightful server, knowing that it was my birthday, brought the dish as a gift to the table. We made a believer out of our hesitant friend and were delighted with the cold, sleek taste.

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Another friend is a fried chicken lover so we chose Segovia’s version. Not your typical fried chicken; these were chicken morsels with some lovely heat that were offset by a Spicy Lime Dressing and Parsley Salad ($15).

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I love salty/sweet combinations, so the next dish was my favourite of the evening- Whipped Feta drizzled with pistachios and honey was absolutely divine.

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The piece de resistance were the mascarpone stuffed Medjool dates ($2 each) indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. They were drizzled with Canadian maple syrup and topped with California pistachios to produce an international taste sensation.

Segovia is open daily (except Tuesdays) at 5 pm and close at 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 pm other days. They offer evening dinner menu only but a second restaurant by the same owners is Clementine (not yet visited) at 123 Princess St. It is open during the day for breakfast and lunch. Segovia is accessible to persons with mobility issues. There is a metered surface lot across the street, evening street parking available and a small lot to the rear of the building.

* A couple of Canstar readers asked me to include prices in my bi-weekly column but the editors declined. This was the version I submitted before that decision was made.

Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” –MFK Fisher

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Love never fails.

Tuscany Trip Report – Daily Breakfast at the Hotel Puccini

July27

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We wandered down to Hotel Puccini’s dining room with a number of other travelers that we suspected were on the same Gate One package as us. Not a particularly chummy group, we all nodded hellos but pretty much stuck to ourselves. We picked a particular table and then had breakfast at the same one all week long.

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Having travelled to Italy previously, we knew that “breakfast” was more like a Canadian “brunch” with a wide selection of pastries, cheeses, meats, egg dishes and dessert! Omelets were sliced into pinwheels as illustrated above. There were always hard boiled eggs to enjoy as well.

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We were partial to the Italian cheeses and fresh tomatoes.

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Although untested, the coffee cakes and fruit galettes looked tasty and plentiful.

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On most days I repeated my favourites-a café au lait, cheeses, meats and the crustiest brown bread ever. Fresh fruit was not plentiful but juices and preserved fruit was. On our final day, the delightful server who took care of us all week, made a “real” café au lait from the machine in the bar rather than the automatic dispenser in the dining room. It was a little gesture but an indication of how willing the Italians were to share their hospitality and make us feel very special.

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This was how the hotel management persuaded you from lugging your key with you when you were sight-seeing. We left ours at the front desk and provided a daily opportunity to chat with the warm front desk staff.

Kath’s quote: “Amor non conosce travaglio – Love never tires”. -Unknown

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Love never fails.

 

La Cantina del Toscano DOC

July26

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Before we headed to Tuscany, I did some research and had seen that a local recommended a couple of his favourite restaurants in the town of Montecatini where we were staying. La Cantina del Toscano DOC was one of the two. We then found out from Patrizia the owner of Hotel Puccini that La Cantina was within walking distance of our hotel. Little did we know at that time that we would fall instantly in love with the food and our server Francesco and that we would return almost every evening of our stay.

Dinner that evening started with a bread basket and plenty of good quality olive oil for dipping.

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I was over the moon with my selection of pasta with seafood, tomatoes and fresh basil.

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D was delighted with his choice of noodles with clams and mint.

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I am not sure why it struck us to also order pizzas to go, but we did. Mine was this gorgeous creation with thinly sliced eggplant and cheese.

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D’s was even tastier topped with sausage, ham, oregano and stracchino cheese. There was a fridge in our room so we repackaged them and placed them in there.

Kath’s quotes: “Five tender apricots in a blue bowl, a brief and exact promise of things to come.” ― Frances Mayes, In Tuscany    

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Love never fails.

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