Browsing: Food Celebrations

Not Good-Bye but Farewell

February23

We have a very good friend of our entire family who happens to be our priest.  He officiated at the wedding of our son and has been with us through difficult times and others of immense joy.  So how do you appropriately say farewell (if even for a short time) to someone that has shared these life experiences with you?  Well in our world, you prepare a special table for them and you cook your heart out.

As soon as he sat down at the dining room table he admired the china and turned it over to see where it was from.  It is a pleasure to go to the trouble of using your best china for someone who actually notices.

Two other couples were invited to join us that evening.  The menu was Sicilian as we had all traveled there at one point or another.  The first meat course was provided by one couple.  They served a bevy of Italian meats and olives in beautiful dishes that they had brought home from their Sicilian travels.

I assigned the pasta course to the maestro herself.  Conchita (Connie) was born in Sicily and resides there for most of the year.  She prepared a light and sparkling tomato sauce that was gently spooned over perfectly cooked penne; topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

For the salad course, I tossed red, purple and green lettuces with a classic vinaigrette.

For the main, these baby potatoes were presented with discs of tarragon butter and coarsely chopped parsley.

Asparagus had been sauteed with garlic, pancetta and pine nuts.  A squeeze of lemon offset the richness.

Two whole chickens had been roasted and frequently basted with the butter and olive oil that was first put into the cavity.  The skin was rubbed with Mediterranean herbs.  The juices were collected and served gravy style-very decadent.

Vanilla cake, grapes, three kinds of pears, chocolate truffles and a variety of cheese were served as the concluding course accompanied by tiny glasses of lemonicella.

We will certainly miss you friend.

Kath’s quote: Oh, better no doubt is a dinner of herbs,
When season’d with love, which no rancour disturbs
And sweeten’d by all that is sweetest in life
Than turbot, bisque, ortolans, eaten in strife!

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1831-1891)

 

Pop Sodas Coffehouse Gallery

February20

Pop Sodas Coffeehouse Gallery was the perfect location for the Frenchman’s surprize birthday party.  Daughter #2 searched far and wide for a place that would be casual and laid-back just like she and her beau and yet stimulating and fun to match the occasion.  When we arrived, we were told that a birthday party was just clearing out: the place was filled with young couples, toddlers and babies-we had come to the right place!

There are a variety of rooms strung together which different vibes given off by each.  All are a comfortable collection of miss-matched chairs and tables or huge overstuffed couches pulled together for conversation and to put your feet up.  A local artist has used the walls as her canvas and the result is gorgeous.

When the birthday boy arrived, he was surprized (to say the least) by the accumulation of friends from different pockets of his life.  But best of all, was when he spotted his sister who had flown in from Peterborough that morning.  She was with their Aunt, Uncle and cousin and as is often the case in Winnipeg, various extended family members who were introduced to them, realized that there were a variety of common touch-points in our lives.  In fact, they live on the street where I grew up and our Mom still resides.

But, onto the food.

This was a piled high Rueban

and the smoked chicken and mozzarella.

It turns out that the owner Joseph is from Naples where pizza was invented so it is no surprize that his version is very tasty and authentic.  Sister #2 had this ricotta and smoked chicken version.

D, I and Daughter #1 shared their Pissed Off Chicken nachos that put us in an angry mood-jk.  There were very different and we were impressed whereas when the birthday boy ordered them, he was so busy visiting and chatting with people that his got pretty soggy.

The bruschetta was fabulous-very garlicky and the tomatoes were screaming out their freshness.

I got a forkful of the baklava -mounds of walnuts and almonds which had been drenched in honey and and spices.

D was very impressed with the banana cream pie and he knows his pie!  He remarked that the flaky crust was homemade and the banana essence was allowed to be very prominent.  There was a custard layer and he predicted that more custard had been whipped into the whipping cream.

We’ll be returning as soon as possible for more tastes of delicious food but also to soak up the congenial neighbourhood atmosphere.

Pop Soda's Coffeehouse & Gallery on Urbanspoon

“I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.”-Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Mardi Gras Winnipeg 2012

February18

You still have got one more night to party until the wee hours at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.  Last evening it would have been very tempting to order a pizza and watch the Jets game but Mardi Gras only comes around once a year and we were so glad that we ventured out.  Besides, today offers the best of both worlds: we tucked into our romantic dinner for two and were able to check for scores on D`s phone.

We know the Mardi Gras colour scheme to be purple, gold and green so D donned a purple shirt and I dug out our beads and my purple boa and felt perfectly dressed for the occasion.  There were others that I would say were overdressed, but this is another story and a fun attraction of the event.

We found a cozy place at the oyster and wine bar where we could watch the chefs prepare food orders.  Having lived those hectic times ourselves, it was relaxing to see the food machine in operation without having to pitch in ourselves.

We started off with an Appetizer Sampler Platter which included

oysters on the half shell,

peel and eat shrimp,

deep fried dill pickles,

sweet potato fries, an extended array of dipping sauces and our first taste of alligator fritters. This recipe finely minced the meat with a variety of spices and they came out tasting more like a sausage than the wild animal taste that I was expecting.

Our favourite item on the platter were the freshly shucked oysters and next year, we will likely order half dozens of them.

The Big Mama Chicken Creole was absolutely delicious-chuck full of savoury chicken  and served over top of rice which ensured the consumption of all the spicy sauce.

The Carbonara also contained a spicy chicken as well as sausage, mushrooms and a creamy sauce over penne.  Both dishes came with a crostini slice and a topping of frizzled leeks which I adore.

Once we were well satisfied we moved closer to the, stage to hear the headliner from New Orleans and various other talented acts.

The most fascinating aspect of this part of the evening was the people watching-as varied a group as we`ve seen anywhere on our travels to New Orleans and Europe.

So get off the couch and get out to Mardi Gras 2012-it will chase away the February blues.

Kath`s quote: “Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods. The stay in bed all day and night. They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them.”-Hector Bolitho

Mardi Gras in Winnipeg

February16

On many calendars Wednesday, February 22, 2012 is the beginning of the time before Easter known as Lent.  “Mardi Gras” when literally translated means Fat Tuesday or a time to indulge in sugars and fats before the Lenten fasts begin.  

I am often in Mexico for this day, when Carnivale is celebrated with the same intention.  The time is spirited and festive with colourful costumes, all night dances, parades and other such merry-making.

We love  New Orleans.  The city, especially the French Quarter is a fascinating place to stay and the eating adventures are unequalled.  So any time an opportunity arises to dine Louisiana style, we grab it.

Now if you can’t get away to celebrate Carnivale or Mardi Gras, fear not, for Mardi Gras is once again coming to Winnipeg!  We plan to attend and have an authentic Louisiana dinner at the Food, Oyster & Wine Bar that will seat 200 and be set up at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Chicken Creole

We will have the opportunity to choose between Chicken Creole or Gumbo, Crab Cakes or even alligator Fritters.  We’ve gotten a preview look at the menu and all features are very affordably priced from $5-$15. 

Chicken Gumbo

There is a nightly Parade and over 30 entertainers including many directly from New Orleans.  I have a collection of Mardi Gras beads from our time in New Orleans.  How I earned them is a story in itself and a secret that I am not quite ready to tell.

Crab Cakes

Warm up winter in Winnipeg!  See winnipegmardigras.com for more details.

Kath’s quote:  “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”-Mark Twain

Superbowl Fixings: Teriyaki Beef Skewers

February7

One might think that when you are requested to “bring something along to share during the game”, you would pick up a bag of chips or whip up some nachos.  But oh no, the guys at our house spent the afternoon making kabobs and beef sliders (more on that dish tomorrow). 

I could hear D rustling around in the freezer downstairs but was still suprized when I saw six gorgeous New York steaks thawing in the sink.  At one time D was the Food Manager at the Garry St. Keg Steakhouse and Bar, so the recipe for teriyaki sauce which was made from scratch, once a week, was firmly ingrained in his brain.  So too was the memory of the aroma of garlic, ginger and soya sauce which greeted me at the door when I returned from brunch out with my Mom and sisters.

The sauce was put together early in the afternoon so that the steaks could marinate for a couple of hours.  This ensures not only great flavour but that desired tenderness.  In truth, when you are using a steak cut like a New York, the tenderness is pretty much guaranteed.

In D’s Keg days, the meat morsels would have been skewed with white onion and green pepper but D added red and orange peppers, purple onion and huge cubes of fresh pineapple for good measure.

D fired up the barbie and got out his “good” tongs to turn them over the flame before they left for the game.  I enjoyed mine with a quiet glass of Merlot as I watched the Superbowl solo and got caught up on some writing.  The sweetness of the pineapple and the brown sugar of the marinade was the perfect offset to the saltiness of the soya sauce and the tartness of the veggies.  The beef itself was perfectly cooked-medium rare inside with a crispness on the surface where the natural sugars had met the flame.

I don’t know if it was these skewers that boosted our son’s energy and enthusiasm, when he ran down the middle of his quiet street in celebration when his Giants won!

For less expensive beef cuts that are perfect for marinating, check out www.beefinfo.org.  I am dreaming of a food bloggers scholarship to Eat, Write, Retreat www.eatwriteretreat.com as I write this…

Kath’s quote: “Beef is the soul of cooking.”Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833)

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