Browsing: Food Celebrations

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Glee goes Italian


Sister #3 gets together with a group of long-time friends on a regular basis to eat, drink and be merry together.  Glee is an acronym for a phrase which I can’t recall at the moment.

“Gone are the days of stopping by the video store and picking up the movie you want to rent.  Sure there is Netflix but I’m still pretty old school and my computer equipment is not current enough to accommodate such things.  So with an upcoming Glee dinner to host, I sat down with my remote and searched MTS Video on Demand for a film I could build a dinner party around.  I decided on Woody Allen’s From Rome with Love. Primarily so I could make the theme: Italian.

The evening started with Heather’s bruschetta and sparkling Ruby’s; a combination of Italian Ruby port and prosecco. Kathy provided the salad, our best guess at Amici’s house salad made of butter lettuce and toasted pine nuts with a “from scratch” dressing.  I decided to be politically incorrect and make veal. Breaded in Italian bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, it was fried in olive oil and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. I picked up my veal, port and prosecco at Piazza Di Nardi along with some of their fresh spaghetti and made a delightful clam sauce.

Clam Spaghetti.jpg

Here’s the recipe I found on-line.  I’m so glad I did as it was scrumptious!

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce to Die For!
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T anchovy paste (I know, but it won’t work if you don’t use it!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • ½ c dry white wine
  • 1 can chopped clams with juice
  • 1 can chopped clams - no juice
  • ¼ c fresh chopped parsley
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put oil, minced garlic, red pepper and anchovy paste in a large skillet. Heat on medium low. Do not brown the garlic. Mix and incorporate the anchovy paste until it dissolves into the oil.
  2. Add wine and clam juice and bring to a boil for five minutes, until water starts to evaporate. Turn heat off, add clams and mix.
  3. Cook one pound of spaghetti. Add pasta and parsley to the sauce and mix. Let stand for 5 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

Barb and the other Kathy did what they do best, went shopping!  Barb’s visit to Goodies Bakery resulted in a lovely variety of mini cakes for us to sample and Kathy provided the wine.  An integral part of any good dinner party.  As for the movie…..not so much, but the food was stellar and the company unsurpassable!”

Kath’s quote: Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought– particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things. -Woody Allen


Love-that is all.

Tre Visi Cafe, Grosvenor & Stafford


Do you pine away over a particular food memory?  I’ll admit it-I do.  Years ago D and I were invited to dinner and the theatre by life long friends.  Since the original Tre Visi on McDermot Ave. is so close to The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, we could dine and walk to the theatre without having to repark our car.  Even though parking rates aren’t anywhere near as exorbitant as other major Canadian Urban centres, you do not want park twice.  The issue is not the money, it is the winter temperature in the middle of the Canadian prairie.  On that night, D and I shared a bowl of gnocchi and truth be told, I have lusted over that taste, ever since.

The newest Tre Visi location opened in my neighbourhood this past winter but even with my determination to get there, here it is almost summer and I have only now gotten the opportunity.  When asked where I wanted to go for an early birthday lunch by two good friends, my response was right on the tip of my tongue!


In anticipation of our autumn sojourn to Tuscany, I was delighted to chose a Tuscan wine to share over lunch.  Chiccio (sea salt crusted flat bread) accompanied the wine.  Mmm, bread and wine, as old as time itself.  We three old friends, settled in.


The pasta courses on the Tre Visi lunch menu are available in full or half portions with a side salad and opted for the latter.  I can’t put my finger on it precisely but I was blown away by the Misticanza salad.  It might have been the combination of the sparkling celery with the earthy black olives (pitted and halved)- I was smitten.


One of my lunch dates chose the Penne Forestiera, I intended to inquire if she enjoyed it but we were so busy getting caught up on the details of the months spent since Christmas, that I did not get a chance.


I know with certainty that my other dates loved the Carpaccio di Manzo that she selected as her main course.  She is a carpaccio aficionado and Tre Visi’s version suited her high standards.


The Gnocchi al Pesto was as sublime as I remembered it to be. I placed each speared morsel on my tongue and let it melt away.  That is how delicate and tender it was.  Sometimes, my old memory serves me well because this was a dish worthy of all the years of waiting to taste it again.


I agreed to a forkful of dessert since it was my birthday lunch.  OMG-the Torta de Polenta e Limone was to die for and I gave myself permission to have more than one taste!  The dense cornmeal and almond cake was saturated with lemon and yet the outside edge retained a crunchy texture that I loved.

Too soon, our time was over.  With hugs we agreed to reconvene for the next birthday in August. Turns out that Tre Visi means three faces, and was aptly chosen for this rendezvous.

Tre Visi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” –Francis Bacon

BeFunky_wine heart

Love-that is all.

Lovey’s BBQ & Smokehouse


Does the date of your birthday conflict with other celebrations? I love my May birthday, as the blossoms on our flowering fruit trees typically bloom this weekend and the weather is balmy, without any pesky bugs, that will be along soon enough.  Often times when my birthday arrives though, I feel as if I was just showered with affection and gifts for Mother’s Day and that doing so again so soon, must feel redundant for D and our family.  They don’t display this in the least, it is me, projecting how I might feel in their shoes.

I am more than content to celebrate in the back yard with something fun put onto the barbeque but this just occurred for Mother’s Day and I think that everyone needed a break from cooking and hosting.  So I asked if we could go to Lovey’s BBQ and Smokehouse.  Reputed to be the best barbeque in the city, I had yet to see for myself.

Even with our late afternoon arrival on a Sunday, the place was hopping and our large party was asked if we would like to sit in their party room.  We were having a party, so why not?  We did feel a little bit cut off from the rest of the restaurant, which was not such a good thing when we wondered where on earth people had disappeared to, when they went to place our order.  There was a new cashier on, doing her level best to pick up the procedure, but the poor girl was a bit overwhelmed.  We had no concern about the wait, but because we all have hospitality backgrounds, it was hard not to vault over the counter and help her out.


We got the entire family in 1 shot including the waitress!

Our privacy did mean that we could carry out our birthday tradition started by Daughter #2 for The Frenchman’s birthday this past winter.  We go around the table and share what we especially love about the person who’s birthday is being celebrated.  This is my favourite part about getting another year older, secure in the fact that my short term memory loss and brown age spots aren’t negating the way my family feels about me.  Or perhaps, they do feel differently, but they are all so sweet, they would never tell me so.


But to our dinner…. D ordered a round of Hog Spit beer, Burnt Ends and Fried Pickles.  I especially enjoyed the burnt ends, but some in our family were concerned about the fat content.  I know that fat is what delivers the flavour, but tried to restrain myself.


Dinner choices were varied from Pulled Pork Poutine (Daughter #2’s favourite dish from last summer spent in Montreal),


to a full rack of back ribs


and my half chicken (I ate the wing and the fabulous hand cut fries and packed up the rest for home).


Pulled pork was chosen by the rest of the gang and was also a big hit.  All meat choices were lovely and moist, but still firm, which is our criteria for good pulled pork and ribs.  The barbeque sauce was tasty and so appreciated, that additional cupfuls were requested.

We all know that good barbeque must have a bevy of “sides” and Lovey’s are amazing: a dense cornbread with a pleasant sweetness, homemade pit beans and creamy cole slaw.  D sampled the potato salad but everyone else went for the hand cut fries, which were plentiful and perfectly prepared.


An extra side of real chips was placed in the centre of the harvest sized table and even though we were all stuffed, they were fun to pick at (like peanuts).  I would go back for these even if the meat had not been exceptional.

Our dessert was also a family tradition: Jeanne’s banana cake with a shortbread cookie bottom and lots of chocolate shavings.  Even though I am not a big dessert eater, I could tuck into this cake morning, noon and night and often do so, when there are leftovers after my birthday celebration.

When birthdays are recognized as another year well lived and well loved, how could they be a dreaded thing?

Lovey's BBQ & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

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
James Beard

FBC Cookie.jpg

Love-that is all.


Easter Remembered


Are you looking forward to the May long weekend?  So am I (in spite of the forecast of rain) but first I am compelled to write about our glorious Easter dinner.  Somehow, it doesn’t seem fitting that I would allow anymore time to pass.


J1 and J2 (our son and daughter in law) whom I sometime call Daughter #3 in this space, are expecting their first child this summer.  This is significant for so many reasons: 1) they lost a pre-born baby that we mourned greatly 2) he/she will be our first grandchild and 3) this child physically embodies a long friendship that began with J2’s family, even before J1 and J2 were a couple.  Their marriage joined us emotionally and legally but this first shared grand-baby will mix our flesh, blood and genetics.  Our families consistently have Easter dinner together-even last year when D and I were in Ireland and J2’s Mom and Dad were also traveling.



J1 and J2 have an enormous dining room (bigger than either of their parents) which have hosted many wonderful dinners but never one with just the two families.  To further enhance the dining space there is an adjoining butler’s pantry, where the dishes which have all be contributed by family members, can be laid out for self-service.


We happily blend the traditions of the two families together:


with ham, they always serve a hot curried fruit


and in ours we serve scalloped potatoes, candied yams and a special mustard sauce.


There are always roasted veggies.


These food traditions have unified us over the years AND it makes planning and preparing for such a dinner, a breeze.  J2 was in charge of set up and J1 for clean up.


He got lots of help from dishwashers Serena and Emanuel, a roommate whom was living in the house, but has since returned to her home outside of Paris.  Sister #3 also joined us on this day, as well as one of J2’s brothers (pictured in the foreground).  I didn’t get a photo of her eldest brother as he arrived after eating had commenced, fresh from a round trip in Western Canada with his band.


These are our dear friends whom we will share the blessings of being Grandparents with


and this is J2’s gorgeous sister whom also happens to be our Goddaughter.


We spent hours at the dining room table that day.  After our exquisite supper, the gluten free brownies came out as well as Sister’s #3’s Easter cupcakes.  Another tradition from J2’s family is the setting of china tea cups for a post-dinner cuppa.


When there were more guests than J1 and J2 originally anticipated being interested in coffee, J1 headed out the door to his friend’s shop-Thom Bargen’s.  This is a typical J1 move-the perfect host and provider.

Since this dinner together, one of J2’s brothers has moved to St. Louis to attend med school and her sister will be transplanting herself too, to enroll into a Dance Fine Arts degree program at a western Canadian university.  My oh my, change happens so quickly-who knew that this would be the last time that we would be altogether like this, for a very long while.

Kath’s quote: “Nothing is constant, except change.” Author unknown.

Love-that is all.

It is Time to Grill!


D and I are empty nesters for a couple of weeks while Daughter #2 is in Nicaragua on a study trip with the Canada Food Grains Bank.  She is not much of a meat eater.  So, when we don’t have to take her preferences into consideration, we have meat, primarily beef at most evening meals.  Our favourite treat to have with a steak is a fleshy/steamy baked potato with the “works”, as we learned to write it on our orders, when we both worked at The Keg Restaurant.  The “works” means both butter and sour cream and chopped green onions and real pieces of bacon.  Mushrooms are another favourite to have with a steak.  I saute slices in a hot skillet with butter and garlic.

yard sunrise.jpg

This week though, I changed things up a bit and seared a couple of thin New York steaks and then sliced them up to have over a salad of mixed micro greens with a fig and balsamic dressing.  I found that corn on the cob is now in at Sobey’s so I steamed up a couple of cobs and placed a loaf of bread into the oven to bake.  I typically make my own dough in a break-maker, but I recently found frozen bread dough (also at Sobey’s) that I used to buy, before I received my bread machine.  It is the easiest thing in the world to place a frozen loaf under a tea towel on a prepared pan and throw it into the oven at the last minute.  And what a treat-bread so hot that the butter just disappeared into its pores!

The steaks this week were the excuse I needed to try Earl’s Signature Steak Wet Rub that I received as a gift when I could not attend the preview of their spring menu event.  The rub is made with olive oil, soya, garlic, lemon juice, porcini mushrooms and cayenne pepper. To this, roughly chopped fresh basil, rosemary and parsley is added.  The wet rub tenderized our steaks and added such a depth of flavours.  I had never enjoyed the taste of lemon on beef before-brilliant.


Of course the only archived steak photo that I have, depicts it smothered in barbeque sauce….

D started his career behind the broiler bar at The Keg and prepares a perfect steak.  We are typically purists and only season a steak with Montreal Steak Spice which we enjoy on a variety of foods as well.  I think that the exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret but our best guess is that it contains (in addition to coarse salt and pepper and dehydrated onion and garlic), paprika, crushed red pepper, caraway, dill and coriander seeds and perhaps some mustard.

With D’s flare (no pun intended) for steaks, he often pulls out all the stops for celebrations like birthday dinners.  I recall one year when he offered up two choices of “toppers”.  One was sauteed garlic shrimp and Bearnaise sauce and the other was a balsamic tomato salsa and goat cheese.  Both were divine and it was impossible to choose between the two, so most of us had a nibble of each.


It has been a very long winter on the Canadian prairies but spring has finally arrived.  D has his special tongs polished up and the barbeque has been moved into position.  Let the grilling season begin!

Kath’s quote: “It is a very beautiful day. The woman looks around and thinks: ‘there cannot ever have been a spring more beautiful than this. I did not know until now that clouds could be like this. I did not know that the sky is the sea and that clouds are the souls of happy ships, sunk long ago. I did not know that the wind could be tender, like hands as they caress – what did I know – until now?” – Unica Zürn

heart bun jpg

Love-that is all.

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