Browsing: Food Celebrations

Pop Up Chef’s Table hosted by Chef Rob at Winnipeg’s New “Kitchen Sync”

June11

Our foodie family had watched the transformation of a downtown lower level space with interest when we had heard that a brand new concept was arriving in Winnipeg dubbed Kitchen Sync. We were interested for a variety of reasons including Sister #3’s as she is always on the lookout for space to conduct her Zest Cooking Solutions events.

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I was blown away when I stepped inside the restored space!

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The plastered walls had been chiselled back to the natural foundation and original beams were treated to shine anew.

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The commercial kitchen space is a dream come true. The space can be booked for events large and small. I hope that Sheila, my new Facebook friend, won’t mind my sharing all those details through this link http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/everything-and-the-kitchen-sync-302290661.html so I can get on to describe our amazing culinary evening.

Since Winnipeg put restaurant pop ups on the international map with Raw Almond, I for one am happy to see the pop up craze expanded with a Chef’s Table concept. Chef Rob, known to most Winnipeggers, was the guest chef. Private Chef and world traveller, Chef Rob had recently spent a month of cooking and noshing in South America. He had a bevy of dishes and stories to share with us that evening. Included was the tale of dining at Astrid Y Gaston on a 17 course wine pairing dinner, which Rob simply stated was “the best dinner of my life!”

The extended group of friends of Rob, Sheila and her boyfriend John (whom I know from another career) and an entire book club were assembled around the chef’s table. Of the many things I learned that evening was this: book clubs are just as much about the wine and food as they are about reading! Who knew? I gotta join one.

We started the evening with a welcome cocktail, reminiscent of the ones that I enjoyed when I used to travel to Cuba, many years ago. Called a “caipirinka” it was sweet and tart at the same time, made from a fine Brazilian rum.

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Ceviche, a dish I love from time spent in the Yucatan is said to have been “invented” by the Peruvians. In this case, snapper was skilfully marinated in leche de tigre, (Sister #3 shared her Spanish speaking skills and whispered  “tiger’s milk” to me), lime juice, rocoto pepper, cilantro and chopped red onion. To scoop up the fare we shared yucca chips (called cassava in Brasil) and a delightful flat fritter made by frying a green plantain, smashing it and frying it again.

Glasses of Argentinean Torentes Riesling, a Leyda Reserva Carminere and  a refreshing water of watermelon and mint were continually topped up by Sheila and John, who were amazing hosts.

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Collard greens adorned crispy pork belly perched atop Feijoda-a black bean stew. Not typically fond of beans, I LOVED this dish!

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Chef Rob explained that Peruvian food melds the cuisines of the Chinese, Japanese and the Inca and suggested that we focus on trying to detect these influences in the next course:

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Loma Saltado, a beef stir fry served over hand cut French fries! Heaven, I’m in heaven……

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Not “needing” dessert but happy to indulge, we watched Rob assemble caramelized bananas served with a coconut dolce de leche, a flourless chocolate/chili cake with shards of white chocolate. Every taste was so good; I even ate the pansy garnish!

Chef Rob made a statement over the course of the evening, that I found particularly profound and I think can be used to describe many aspects of life: “the best food comes from poverty”. Thinking back to my Polish Grandma’s suppers of prune dumplings with melted butter and cinnamon sugar, I am confident that Chef Rob is correct. Think too of tough times that you have walked through and the sweet blessings that came as a result…

The evening was an absolute treat and I understand that they are planning another pop up very soon-June 25th to be exact, check out details here: https://www.facebook.com/kitchen.sync.Winnipeg.

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Sister #3 and I predict that Sheila’s concept will do very well and that Chef Rob is going places. Actually, he has already gone places…

Kath’s quote: “Any healthy man can go without food for two days — but not without poetry.” –Charles Baudelaire, French poet (1821-1867)

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Canola Connect City Camp-Keeping An Open Mind (and Heart)

May19

Our first morning of “camp” began with a presentation about how public perception is fashioned and our role in maintaining our own perspective a.k.a “keeping an open mind”. I added the “heart” part because I believe that perception isn’t just about what our brains process but what our emotions tell us as well. Sometimes I get labelled as being “too emotional”, typically by a person who is (in my opinion), too “rational”. In this, and most aspects of my life, I believe that the extremes must meet in the middle to find a common ground. I strive to do this on a daily basis.

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Case in point, I had preconceived notions about what I was going to see and learn about on an agricultural based biotechnical tour, which was the first stop of our day. I imagined robotic machines and rooms of whirring and spinning contraptions with few, if any, people involved in the process. I was surprised to be shown otherwise. Canola plants were lovingly being tended to by real people.

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I love farmers and I am especially fond of the Canola farmers that I have met over the years. They are risk-taking, intelligent, educated, family-centric, land-protecting, animal-loving, community-giving persons who work hard, so very hard. In my mind, I am all for whatever can be done to make their jobs easier. They feed me, my family and the world.

We learned about the making of improved canola hybrids ( simply put: a hybrid is like the offspring of D and I). Scientifically stated: “A cross of specific parent plants using controlled pollination. The resulting seed will produce plants with very specific characteristics.” Just like our son is the perfect blend of my husband and my characteristics… “From the twinkle in the breeder’s eye (tee hee), it takes 7-10 years to develop and make a canola hybrid available to the farmers.” We’re talking disease resistance, water use efficiency, etc. and why this is so important on a Global scale was explained to us the next morning. The lady wearing the gorgeous turquoise gloves above is carrying off the “controlled pollination”. In other words-the Canola Connect group were voyeurs of plant sex!

Having worked up a hearty appetite, lunch was served in the adjacent dining room. Lovingly prepared and catered by Seasons Catering, the menu was an extensive offering of prairie treats:

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The Wheatberry Salad featured was a delightful assembly of cranberries, pepitas and diced apples tossed in a blood orange vinaigrette utilizing Winkler Virgin Canola Oil.  Thick tomato slices of tomato were topped with boccocino cheese, ribbons of basil, balsamic vinegar and East Selkirk Virgin Canola Oil. A third oil -Grandview Canola was highlighted in the Chimichurri. We would learn more about theses artisan oils over the weekend.

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Sablefish (also known as Back Cod) has a high fat content and is perfect for roasting. The dollop of pesto added to its moisture and flavour.

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Dessert was a selection of verrines including Cholocate Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Mousse, Lime, Coconut & Mango and Raspberry & Lemon. All were silky and sublime. We campers were wonderfully nourished, rested and off on our next adventure.

Kath’s quote: “I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts.” –Graham Kerr

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dining with New Foodie Friends

May12

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My husband D and I enjoy dining with new foodie friends as we did recently with Canstar reader and contest winner Janice Sawka and her guest, at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Southside location on McGillivray Blvd. The co-workers and pinball aficionados toasted the evening with a French 75 Martini and a Ginger Crantini.

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As soon as we could stop talking about our favourite Winnipeg restaurants, the friends selected appetizers of Tuna Tartare and Baked Brie. Janice was determined to try something that might have typically been outside of her comfort zone.

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After mustering up the gumption, she was surprised at the lovely texture and subtle flavours of the tartare. Tartares have French origins when a meat or fish is finely chopped and served raw. She also enjoyed the tastes of Mushrooms Neptune and Crab Cakes that we shared with her.

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For their salad course, The Keg’s renowned Caesar salad and a nouveau Spinach Salad were chosen. Janice was tempted by the addition of chèvre (goat cheese) and the chardonnay vinaigrette on the spinach one.

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D tried the Wedge salad for the first time.

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I waited and had my salad as my entrée. I love this new option on the Keg menu.

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Janice was still working her way through both her appetizer and salad when her Sirloin Oscar entrée arrived.  She was happy to indulge in both seafood (shrimp and scallops) and one of The Keg’s excellent steaks, all in one dish. The asparagus and béarnaise sauce were her “icing on the cake”.

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But speaking of sweets, dessert was yet to come.  My husband suggest a mini-dessert trio of butter tart, fudge brownie and crème brûlée (literally: burnt cream) for the undecided.  Janice considered and then concluded that the famous Keg Billy Miner pie was her choice, if she could request that it not be served with caramel sauce.  The Keg is always happy to accommodate substitutions, so everyone got exactly what they wanted.

Our server Cory was more than gracious with us when the dining room emptied, as the four of us sat and chatted about dining in Italy, Seattle and Jerusalem and where next our food adventures may take us.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

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

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Easter at Purcell

April6

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New life, hope and joy-what we experienced this Easter. We commenced the weekend with a special Maundy Thursday lamb dinner, attended a poignant Good Friday service and then scooted out to our beach house for a piece of the weekend, returning bright and early Easter morn for a glorious celebration. The fall was an especially tough time for our family but we persevered through winter and now spring has arrived as it always does.

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We are a family who loves traditions and our annual Easter get-together is a highlight. Dinner provides the two families of our daughter-in-law J2 to sup together. She and J1 do such a marvelous job of hosting. Their mutual attention to detail makes my heart sing! There were three spring cocktails to choose from (in addition to his home crafted beer and plenty of contributed wine). This basil, amaretto, spiced rum and lime juice creation being just one.

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Appetizers included guacamole & salsa, brie baked with slivers of garlic, pesto and red pepper jelly. The Wee One joined in with gusto.

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Dinner items were contributed by all in attendance: a spiral ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes, pecan sweet potatoes, sherried mushrooms & green beans, stuffed mushrooms, maple brussel sprouts roasted with pancetta and from-scratch Caesar salad! Our dessert tradition is pavlova and this particular year, it was stellar.

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The Wee One patiently waiting for one of her beloved Poppas to serve up hers.

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The Wee One’s reading chair set by the fireplace, reminded me anew of the simple pleasures and blessings of life: a basket of books, a cozy throw, warm lighting and a family who thinks that she is the bee’s knees! What else could a 20 month toddler need?

We hope that you experience new life, hope and joy this Easter.

Kath’s quote: “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.”-Al Bernstein

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Are you firing up the grill for Valentine’s Day dinner?

February10

Check out these suggestions from Napoleon Gourmet Grills:

Grill a Valentine’s Feast to Remember

There is a lot of pressure to get it right on Valentine’s Day – the right meal, the right ambiance, the right romance.

But at the end of the day, it is about making that special someone in your life feel, well, special. That doesn’t mean you have to shell out for the most expensive, exclusive restaurant in town or go heavy on the gifts. With a little investment of time, you can build the right ambiance in your own home, and spoil your Valentine with a home-prepared meal on your backyard grill.

“There is the Valentine’s Day stereotype of a couple seated across the table of a dimly-lit fancy restaurant, enjoying a chef-prepared dinner,” says Stephen Schroeter, Senior Vice President of Napoleon Gourmet Grills. “But the romance is much more real if you recreate that atmosphere in your home — think setting up a table in front of your roaring fireplace — take on the mantle of the chef and put your heart and soul into the meal you serve your loved one.”

When grilling in the winter, there are some things you should take into consideration. Schroeter offers the following advice for premium backyard winter grilling:

Be patient. Winter grilling is different than throwing some burgers on the barbecue in the middle of July. Cold air temperatures mean it will take longer for your grill to reach optimum cooking temperature, and every time you open the lid you will lose valuable heat.

Pick a good menu. Only you know what your Valentine likes and dislikes, so plan the menu accordingly. Steak is always a good option, or a rotisserie chicken smoked with woodchips. Dating a vegetarian? Grilled vegetables or vegetable shish-kabobs are a winner, as are burgers that use portabello mushroom caps in place of meat patties. Speaking of portabello mushroom caps, they are great stuffed and grilled as well!

Clear the snow. No matter how cold it is, do not set up your barbecue in your garage, shed or any enclosed space. This increases the chances that are you will be grilling in the snow, but that is part of the experience — and even an expression of your dedication to your Valentine! Position the grill near your door and make sure you have shoveled a clear, safe path to your grill.

Get the right equipment. Heat resistant gloves will both keep your hands warm and protect you from the heat of the grill. With the early arrival of darkness in winter, chances are you will need additional light. If your BBQ doesn’t come equipped with it’s own light, there are lights you can attach to your grill, or even to your spatula. If you are cooking a big cut of meat like a roast or whole chicken, a digital termometer allows you to monitor the temperature of your meat from the comfort of your warm living room.

Kath’s quote: “Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”-James Beard

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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