Browsing: Food & Travel

Mexican Village-Grand Forks

September30

Five of us travelled together to NYC last summer and we were trying to recreate the fun times with another stateside adventure.  Now Grand Forks is no New York City (sorry Grand Forkians, Winnipeg ain’t no Toronto either), but we still managed to have a nice rest, great shopping, fun times and good food.

We were heading for Mi Mexico to find that it was no longer open.  We’d done Paradiso, many times before so we landed at Mexican Village.  The waitress glanced at the clock over our heads as we arrived (it was 8:40) so we knew that we were being considered fashionably late diners. 

Cold Coronas and our food was out in a flash and that was lovely as we had worked up a thirst and an appetie at Gordman’s.

 A couple of sisters had the combination platter,

another fajitas

and I the chicken tortilla soup (very different from the recipe that I make in that I couldn’t make out the chicken and I’m not accustomed to a cream base) 

and a seafood enchilada (if you call crab flavoured pollock seafood). 

We were surprized that we got our choice of gravies because we didn’t recall gravy on anything when we dine in Mexico-mole sauce yes, gravy no.  It was explained to us that gravies were actually sauce variations.  Must be a North Dakota thing….

Mexican Village on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I come from a home where gravy is a beverage.”-Erma Bombeck

Memories of Nice

September7

I was going to write about a recent lunch at the Frenchway Cafe and got out my travel journal about France for reference.  But I have now been swept away with memories of Nice as we were there exactly at this time, two years ago.  When I open my journal, it is as if it were last weekend.

In celebration of a milestone wedding anniversary, D and I travelled to Italy and France (very much motivated by the food offerings of the regions).  En route from the Italian Riviera to Paris was a glorious stop in Nice.  D wanted me to experience his favourite hostel from his backpacking adventure with our son, a couple of years prior.

 

Can you see me under the palm fronds on our balcony?

Villa Saint Exupery was everything he promised and more.  He had booked us a “suite” which in hostel terms, meant that we had our own bathroom and did not  have to sleep with strangers

  

The view from our 5th floor window was of the city below us, all the way to the Mediteranean and from our 180 degree balcony of another cityscape, the hills and the sunset.

 

There was a delay in the preparation of our room because the hostel staff had run down to the Marche aux Fleurs to ensure that flowers were waiting in our room (as D had arranged in every city we arrived in on this second honeymoon).  The lilies were absolutely glorious and I can remember their scent even now.  No wait, those are fresh lilies I smell, a gift from D marking this year’s wedding anniversary.

I digress.  I am supposed to be musings about food, so back to the culinary adventure.  At the Villa, a glass of French wine was a single euro but if you bought the entire bottle, it was only 4 euros-duh.   The hostel’s chef prepares a pizza each evening in addition to one other dish.  So D and I shared an amazing sausage, red pepper and artichoke pizza and a grilled chicken breast, turnip puree, sauteed green beans and roasted baby potatoes-all for 12 euros! 

We sat in the garden and chatted with travellers from all over the world.  Truly, an unforgettable time for us.  

Kath’s quote: “Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me.”-Sarah Bernhardt

 

Beijing Eating Adventures: Guest Blogger-Sister #3

August29

I try to keep an open mind when I go to a foreign country, especially when it comes to their food.  I remember traveling through Turkey many years ago with a woman who would complain “you just can’t get a good hamburger here” and I remember thinking, there are lots of delicious things to eat in Turkey that you can’t get in Winnipeg.  I never wanted to be a picky Canadian when it came to travel.  I believe in doing my best to love the food I’m with, as it were. 

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that Mandarin food and I just didn’t hit it off.  Turns out I am a big fan of Cantonese and Schezuan food, found all across China, but not so much a fan of Mandarin food, the specialty of the Beijing area.  Don’t worry, I will be sure to share the Cantonese delights I discovered in a later blog entry, but for now, let’s talk Mandarin.  

 

My hosts were obsessed with me trying what they consider comfort food.  They know that I am passionate about food so they spent a lot of time deciding what restaurants to take me to so that I would have the freshest, most authentic taste of the food they love.   

So let me tell you about some of the classic fare I experienced.  Rice was the one thing I thought would save me on this trip.  I love rice and could eat it everyday but I only got it twice on this trip and both times I made a special request for it.  At almost every meal we had congee – a goopy, tasteless rice porridge.

 

Meat is something I usually enjoy however the cuts consisted mostly of organ meats and there was a lot of intestine being eaten.  Not so much what I had in mind. 

OK, chicken and fish, safe bet…right?  All the fish and shrimp of course were head on and I managed OK with that. However, I remember tucking into this big bowl of yummy bone in chicken, I saw the feet were in the bowl and managed to psychologically overcome that and then I saw the head and that was it.  Game over. I’ve sometimes heard vegetarians say that the  “don’t eat anything with a face”.  While I am far from being a vegetarian I must admit I prefer not to have the animals face looking back at me as I eat it.  

 

Many of the Chinese vegetables are really bitter. Most are served in a sauce that is tapioca starch based making them all pretty slimy.  Thankfully I love broccoli, carrots and asparagus so much that even that could not deter me.

Dessert, surely one can get enough calories from eating sweets at every meal.  Unfortunately dessert was also a challenge.  When we would stop at a road side stand for a cold ice cream I would be told I could “get that at home” and instead be handed a bowl of lukewarm runny custard topped with red beans or filled with slippery bits.  Even the candy in Beijing is made out of bean curd. 

Thankfully I started each day with toast and a hard boiled egg at the apartment. Beijing had the most delicious eggs I have ever tasted.  I was grateful to have packed a half dozen granola bars.  And Priscilla’s cravings for American food occasionally won her mom over to allowing us to go to Pizza Hut or Subway.  Not my favourite food but boy did it ever taste good compared to congee.

Kath’s quote: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”-James Michener

On Her Way to China-by Guest Blogger Sister #3

August13

Today I leave for China to visit Priscilla, and international student who lives with me during the school year.  I have been preparing myself for this trip for months, yet I really don’t have any idea what to expect.  Sure I have looked at the websites and talked with others who have made the trip, but I think that China is going to be a totally mind opening experience for me. 

Of course I am looking forward to experiencing the food.  People from Asia tell me the food is very different from what we Canadians think of as “Chinese” food. When Priscilla and I go out to eat we love to go for dim sum which she says is similar to what she would eat at home, although she had never heard the expression “dim sum”.  I am thrilled to hear that lovely steamed dumplings and noodle soups are what I have to look forward to. I doubt that there will be a deep fried shrimp in sweet and sour sauce in sight and to that I say hallelujah, bring it on. A few friends that visited Beijing told me about street vendors serving live scorpions and beetles on a stick, something I will be sure to avoid. I am an adventurous eater, but there are limits.  I am most looking forward to trying Beijing “Peking” Duck. 

On the day I picked up my Chinese visa I stopped at my favourite Chinese place, The New Hong Kong Snack House. Owner, Robert likes to give me a hard time about not visiting as often as I used to. I once worked with a woman who ate there twice a week so needless to say I was a regular.  I treated myself to his wonderful hot pork noodle soup and beginner plate which includes steamed shrimp dumplings, sweet pork bun, Peking perogies and yummy meatballs.  A great way to get my taste buds ready for the culinary adventure I am about to undertake.

New Hong Kong on Urbanspoon
 

Kath’s quote:  “(In Canton) the Chinese fondness for snacks and small eats reaches a kind of apotheosis.”E.N. Anderson

To Market-My Annual Trip to St. Norbert

July20

I stayed in from the lake this weekend (on the hottest weekend of the year) for my annual visit to St. Norbert Market.  Was it worth it?  Well the amazing tomatoes that we have sliced thinly onto clubhouse sandwiches or topped with an old balsamic vinegar and chevre, and the tiny cucumbers that we added with fresh mint to our shrimp rice rolls-say yes it was!

I am reminded once again of my favourite read of this spring: Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini.  I want to share this partial recounting of her visit to her favourite green market vendor:

“On that sunny August morning, Domenico was selling fat round heads of soft Bibb lettuce and wild-looking heads of curly endive.  He had crates of romaine lettuce, whose elongated heads form the base of many salads, and tight little knobs of red radicchio, to add colour.  He had fistfuls of wild arugula, which the Romans call rughetta and use to add a peppery bite to a meal.  He had foot-long bunches of Swiss chard, tiny new shoots of broccoli rabe, bunches of slim scallions.  He had bouquets of zucchini flowers, which Romans stuff with mozzarella and anchovy, dip in a light flour-and-water batter, then deep fry until golden.

He had flat, green broad beans, the kind Romans stew slowly in garlic, onion and tomato.  He had red and white runner beans, which housewives use to fill out a summer vegetable soup, and regular green beans, tiny,  just picked, perfect for blanching and serving with a dribble of olive oil and lemon juice.  Domenico also had the usual array of tomatoes, each with specific uses: tiny cherry tomatoes, so good halved and turned into a Neapolitan-style sauce; meaty, plum tomatoes used for endless tomato-based pasta sauces; salad tomatoes, always slightly green, as the Romans prefer them.  He had Casilino tomatoes too-small, flat, highly creased, with a sunlit, concentrated flavour, favoured by Roman housewives for raw sauces during summer’s worst heat.  He had gigantic beefsteak tomatoes, too, meat for stuffing and baking with rice, potato wedges, oil, and herbs.

That day Domenico was also selling carrots, celery, cucumbers, lemons.  He had skinny frying peppers and fat bell-peppers-red, yellow, and green-which the Romans love to roast and serve with garlic and oil.  He had yellow-and red-skinned potatoes and the tough cow corn that Europeans seem to think people as well as cows can eat.  He hat fat, glossy, black-skinned eggplants, and long narrow white ones with bright markings near the stem.  He had hot red pepperoncini, tiny peppers still on the stalk ready for drying, and several types of zucchini, some a deep dark green, others light and striated, none of them much bigger than an American hot dog, all sweet and free of seeds because of their tiny size. 

He was selling round yellow onions, sweet red onions, and flat white onions.  He had garlic and fennel bulbs, their feathery dark tips a dark, cool green,  He also had eggs, brown-shelled, as the Romans favour them, their shells never quite as clean as a shopper would hope.” 

Kath’s quote: “Farmers are the only indispensable people on the face of the earth.”-Li Zhaoxing

 

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