Browsing: Food & Travel

My 10 Favourite Sights in Philadelphia at Eat Write Retreat 2013

June12

This is the first in a series, on my recent time in Philadelphia at Eat, Write, Retreat 2013.  Since this entry is a collection of my favourite sights, I’ll let my photos tell the story.

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The Hilton Double-Tree was perfectly located, right in the heart of the city.

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Everywhere I walked, I was thrilled with the gorgeous details of Center City.

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We came across this gorgeous funkified area of downtown on our walk to our first lunch outing at Supper Restaurant .

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This beauty is now luxurious condos.  She reminded me of the architecture of the “ladies” that line Central Park on the Upper West Side in NYC.  We discovered that Philadelphia’s urban park is 10 times the size of Central Park.

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That evening we were 37 stories high at R2L Restaurant where the Gala Awards were given out.  I consoled myself for not winning with my California Raisins entry by gazing out at the Philadelphia skyline, in the setting sun!  Just kidding, I was thrilled for the lovely winner Roxanna with her Raisin Cheese Crackers.

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I was also able to capture the Bellevue, where we had lunch at Williams Sonoma the next day.

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After the conference had concluded, my roomie and I purchased a 24 hour pass for the double decker bus tours.  This was taken as we zipped by.  There was rain coming so we did the loop to decide what sites we would stop at the next day.

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I thought that this view of what Rocky would have seen from the top of the steps after his triumphant run, was far more interesting than the stairs themselves (or the statue of Rocky for that matter).

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I was so disappointed that the galleries in Philadelphia are closed on Mondays.  I would have loved to have seen the Impressionist collection and the Rodin exhibit.  Ah well, my memories of Paris will have to suffice.

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Joannie, depicted here, was my symbol of all of the valiant women that I met at the conference.  One in particular, I know will be my lifelong friend.

Kath’s quote:  “I’d like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do.” Mae West

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Love- that is all.

 

 

Amazing Appetizers Culinary Challenge-My Secret Ingredient: Califoria Raisins

May7

Hello readers!  Ready to root me on in a cooking contest?  Part of the fun for the upcoming “Eat, Write, Retreat” conference that I will be attending in Philadelphia later this month, is a Culinary Challenge.

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When my contest package was delivered, I was thrilled with all of the OXO gadgets that it contained and quite frankly stumped, when I saw that my secret ingredient was …RAISINS! For an original appetizer challenge, good grief, what was I going to come up with?

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I had already imagined that I would be preparing an olive tapenade or figs wrapped in a smoky bacon or something with potatoes.  Why didn’t I get potatoes?  I’ve not been dubbed the “Queen of Carbs” for nothing!

Don’t get me wrong, I love raisins.  In my cereal, cookies, rice pudding and even salads they are an integral addition, but an appetizer?  Up until that moment, the only appetizer dish with raisins as an ingredient that I have had the pleasure to enjoy, married them with baked brie, pecans and brown sugar.  I still make this dish each Christmas, much to my family’s delight.  The sole experience I have had with raisins at dinner time, though, was in a regional dish served to us when visiting friends in Sicily.  While Concetta (Connie) was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on our supper, her cousin called to inquire what was being made for the Canadian visitors.  When Connie explained, her cousin responded with “What, you are making them eat peasant food?”  Connie defended herself by saying:  “They requested Sicilian recipes, what was I to do?”

When you hear a recounting of Sicilian history and make note of exactly where the island dwells in the Mediterranean, it is not surprising that there are many Arab influences on the cuisine.  I think that both Connie’s recipe and my adaption of it hold true to this notion.

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Cauliflower & Raisin Strudel
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Sicilian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into large florets
  • ¼ c canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ t red pepper flakes
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ½ c golden raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
  • ¼ c natural raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
  • ⅔ c pine nuts
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed in refrigerator overnight
  • ½ c canola oil
  • 1 c dry breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of salted water, par-boil the cauliflower for 5 minutes.
  2. Drain and let sit in colander for a couple of minutes.
  3. Place a large skillet on high heat.
  4. Add the canola, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  5. Add the drained cauliflower and heat until well browned in spots.
  6. Don't be tempted to turn the cauliflower too often.
  7. Add the orange and lemon juices, orange zest and raisins and then turn off the heat.
  8. Adjust with salt and pepper.
  9. On a clean counter, lay out the phyllo dough and cover it with a barely damp tea towel.
  10. Peel off one sheet and lay it on the counter surface.
  11. Replace the damp tea towel on the stack of phyllo.
  12. Brush the sheet with canola oil.
  13. Lightly sprinkle bread crumbs over oil.
  14. Continue with another five sheets, brushing each sheet with oil and sprinkling bread crumbs.
  15. End with a sixth sheet of phyllo.
  16. Arrange half the cauliflower mixture along the long side of the phyllo about 2 inches from the edge and the bottom and sides of the dough.
  17. Starting at the edge nearest the filling, carefully begin to roll the phyllo over the filling.
  18. Poke in the edges of the dough while rolling.
  19. Continue to roll so the dough completely encases the filling.
  20. Place the strudel, seam down on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  21. Cut 12 diagonal slits along the top to allow steam to escape and for easy cutting when you serve.
  22. Brush the top with remaining canola.
  23. Repeat the procedure with for the second strudel.
  24. Bake for 40 minutes or until crisp and brown.
  25. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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I didn’t actually know the difference between natural and golden raisins (natural are brown and golden are well, just that) until I was putting together the ingredients for this appetizer.  This recipe, along with a healthy dose of your day’s veggies, contains 3 portions of fruit because it takes just 1/4 of a cup to provide a fruit serving.  This was new to me too!

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My readers know how important family is to me.  Many of the farms that produce most of the world’s supply of raisins are century old family farms where raisin knowledge is passed from generation to generation.  I would love to wander the rows and rows of grapevines and meet the growers of the San Joaquin Valley in California.  San Francisco has long been on our bucket list and is only a three hour drive away.  Now, I’m California dreaming……

Kath’s quote:  “Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.” 1 Samuel 25:18

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Love-that is all.

 

Dream Destinations-Another Opportunity to Win through a Sobey’s Pinathon

April29

The truth is, I truly can’t decide which is my favourite destination between Italy and Mexico and the food is the reason why.  How do you choose between the fresh sparkling taste of cilantro when paired with chilies, tomatoes and freshly squeezed lime and the earthy tones of rosemary, garlic and red wine which transforms a tomato into something else, indeed?  Thankfully, now a days, the world is truly our oyster, so why do I just have to have one favourite?

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The first time I set foot on Isla Mujeres, I knew that the little island would always be a part of my life.  We have already booked a villa on the sea for the 2014 season, when we take the entire family including “Baby”, who will be born this summer.  Getting to Mexico can be fairly affordable, if you plan carefully and start researching airfares in advance.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you choose to travel at the last minute, there are often some tremendous deals.  But, we don’t roll that way.  My readers know that the anticipation of a trip for me, is often as satisfying as the trip itself.

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Italy and the rest of Europe is a special treat.  We reserve overseas travel for significant birthdays and anniversaries.  With the exception of this fall, when we are taking time in October so that I can lead a blogging workshop in Tuscany.  The vacation package includes tutelage in the kitchen by Chef Enrico, whose ancient restored estate is where the participants will reside.  That is, when we are not touring the cities and towns of Tuscany or foraging for truffles in its forests.

But in the mean time, here is a more immediate reward.  If you are interested in one of four $100. Sobey’s gift cards, create and then share your own Sobeys West Pinboard.  Copy and paste your board  URL(s) in the comments section below. How the contest works: Anyone who creates a pinboard and repins 4 pins from http://pinterest.com/sobeys, using the keyword SobeysWest, is entered to win!  You have to reside in Manitoba and west to do so.

Here’s a link to my own pinboard: http://pinterest.com/foodmusings/dream-destinations-mexico-or-italy/

So, make a cuppa tea.  Sit back and let’s dream of where we want to travel next….happy pinning!

Kath’s quote: “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There  is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes  open.” – Jawaharial  Nehru

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Love-that is all.

Nice Musings

April25

D and Daughter #1 are huge tennis fans and so this weekend the Monte Carlo tournament was avidly being followed at our place.  This prompted D and I to remember our wonderful time in Nice.  The timing was early October and the weather was perfect.

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The summer crowds had diminished

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and we were free to roam the flower and food markets,

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stroll along the boardwalk

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and have sunset drinks at beach clubs.  Ah, it would be so lovely to return.

When we last visited, our coffers were dwindling as it was near the end of our sojourn from Sicily and up the west coast of Italy into France.  From Nice, we took the train to Paris and then flew home from there.  Whilst in Nice, we stayed at a comfortable place perched high enough to see the city below us and the Mediterranean beyond that.

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The vista was beautiful from the window above our bed and the 180 degree balcony outside our shuttered door.

Just imagine the dining in Nice…garlic, artichokes, fennel, asparagus, olives, truffles and cheese meeting sea bream, crab, sardines and anchovies.  I recall the rich preparations of the Provençale kitchen and long to return.  If we get another chance to visit France and specifically the Riviera, we would likely want to find a place closer to the vibrant restaurant scene and the water’s edge.  When we originally planned this trip, I came across this hotel website on a regular basis: http://www.venere.com/france/nice/.  Oh, that we had the opportunity to use the site to book a Nice Hotel right now!

Kath’s quote:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”-Dr. Seuss

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Love-that is all.

Love Language

April22

One of the many blessings of aging is that my memory capacity is changing.  I won’t say “going” or “deteriorating”; I am not there yet.  This creates wonderful surprises for me each day.  For example: last weekend when I arrived home from the FBC Conference, I left my suitcase just inside the door.  I packed up a different case, to take with me (when I left the house at 5:30 the next morning), to fly back up north, to finish off a teaching commitment.  Now that I am home again, I opened my FBC suitcase like it was Christmas morning!

So too, as I read back over the notes that I took during the sessions, I am delighted by the nuggets of wisdom that I can apply to my craft.  I was especially struck by three people and they all happen to be men, which is ironic when you consider that the conference was primarily attended by females with mostly female presenters.  Don’t misunderstand me, I love the company of women: their insights and tenderness and affection.  Male voices just seemed to resonate with me last weekend, like the feeling you get when watching a parade and the drum corp marches by.

Dan Clapson made an first impression on me when he was part of the panel of speakers for the “Making Dough-Earning a Living with Your Words” session but when I was really inspired was when he spoke up during “The Changing Face of Food Writing” as he passionately interjected that he and his fellow writer/bloggers from Alberta were unified in their promotion of local food, producers and the provinces’ vibrant restaurant scene.  Were you also impressed by his courage to challenge the “Toronto-centric” perspective?

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I was bewildered when I saw other conference attendees swarm the speakers’ table to get Corey Mintz’s autograph.  But as soon as he mentioned his rubbing of shoulders with Ruth Reichl, I too might have been tempted.  Her books Tender to the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires are among my favourite culinary non-fiction reads.  I read Corey’s How to Host a Dinner Party in two sittings this week.  I immensely enjoyed his instruction, in spite of the fact that I felt like an idiot for not knowing what “guanciale” was (I still don’t know how to pronounce it).  Sarah Polley’s introduction of her friend Corey instantly connected me to him, with these words:

Through learning to cook, he developed an eloquent, uncomplicated way of showing love without irony.

This declaration confirmed my personal life equation: food=love.  Might I also add, that I adore when people “get” me and I think that I get Corey Mintz.  His book’s final paragraph, reads:

Because in the end, it’s about connecting with people over food.  That’s what’s important to me.  Within this book, hopefully, I’ve provided some guidance so that more people can make that happen more often, and with greater comfort.

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The last say was given to keynote David Leite, whom I will admit, I did not remember hearing of previously.  Perhaps it is the memory thing again because I avidly read  The Best Food Writing series each and every year and must have come across he and his writings before.  I really need to listen to his sage advice of backing away from the desk and the stove.  Being a relatively new blogger, I am too focused on the quantity of my posts.  I need to give myself permission to sit longer at our dining room table after the dinner has been consumed, walk my dog with less urgency (“would you please poop, so we can get home”) and just … be.

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When David declared: “I love language”, he intended “love” to be a verb.  I consider “love” to also have great significance as a noun and “love language” is my native tongue.  Since last weekend, I have spent time in a troubled Manitoba northern community and watched the horrific bombings of the Boston marathon.  If the language of love could be spoken more often, in our homes, communities, country and around the world, it might not change the world, but then again, it just might.

Kath’s quote: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”-George Bernard Shaw

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Love-that is all.

 

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