Browsing: Food & Travel

“Worth the Trip”-Part Two

July6

Part two of my summer column in Winnipeg Women/Dish Magazine.

“You’ll find Rembrandt’s Bistro at 1 Wellink Drive in Lockport.  The service and food is fantastic – like being at Terrace 55 but in the country.  Of special note, is the Red River cereal crème brulee which is served as a first course on the winter brunch menu.  

If you are ever heading south on Highway 59 en route to St. Malo, stop in at St. Pierre-Joly’s Le Bebe Rouge Drive In.  They are only open in the summer and the burgers are sensational (we can’t quite figure out what makes them so).

While en route to Clear Lake, driving west on the Trans Canada, you’ll want to veer into Portage la Prairie for a visit to Tres Unique Café in the historic Land Titles Building.  Check out their Facebook page to see what’s for lunch.  I’ve seen messages about Fiddleheads and asparagus (just picked from her garden) being made into quiche.  Chefs that I follow on Twitter are raving about Horfrost at 190 River Road also in Portage.  The inventive chef is serving up local ingredients prepared in a classical style but with surprising twists.

Honourable mentions from other Facebook friends go to Pine Ridge Hollow at the edge of Bird’s Hill Park and the Harvest Moon Café in Garson.  All of these little finds are within an hour of Winnipeg and definitely worth the trip.”

Kath’s quote: “A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”-Jeff Harms

“Worth the Trip”-Part One

July5

Part one of my latest column in Winnipeg Women/Dish Magazine:

Our cottage is named “Life is Good” as indicated on this vase

Our drive to the cottage on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg is often delayed by a supper stop.  Barney Gargles on Main St. in Selkirk is a popular choice.  The décor is not fancy but the home-cooked food and baking is fabulous.  The platters of fish and chips that we thought we saw going by the table are actually their chicken finger platter.  Whole chicken breasts are covered in a crunchy beer batter.  The milkshakes are so huge they’re served in wine flagons. 

 

The Sandbar’s Breakfast Skillet

The Sand Bar Motor Hotel just outside Grand Beach Provincial Park is another favourite destination.  Tyler Gray is the chef putting out savoury breakfast skillets as well as confections like maple pecan Danish.  Friday nights we stop in for his steak special –an 8 oz. sirloin with all the fixings INCLUDING a beer or glass of wine for $10!  We also head there on Wednesdays for AYCE (all you can eat) Pickerel with their yummy hand-cut French fries. At $11, I know that they lose money on us.

 

Sandbar’s Omelette

Le Gouter is an amazing find on Saffie Road in Albert Beach.  Last summer they installed two huge crepes pans.  I like the one made with hollandaise, ham and cheese on a hearty Buckwheat crepe.  And although they do not use cheese curds in their poutine, every thing else about their offering is perfect in my humble opinion-sharp, gooey cheese, a savoury gravy and the best French fry along highway 59 north.

 

“Fisherman’s Breakfast

The “other” side of Lake Winnipeg offers a bevy of exceptional dining too.  I recently enjoyed the Fisherman’s Breakfast at Mask Café in Gimli: pan-fried pickerel with a lemony hollandaise, crispy bacon, an egg and lacy hash browns.  Acquaintances also tell me of Jane and Walter’s Restaurant in Sandy Hook.  There is a lot of buzz from Facebook friends about Casa Bianca in an old house across from the park in Winnipeg Beach.  Samplers say that if you’re a garlic lover you’ll particularly enjoy it.  

Kath’s quote: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” –Luciano Pavarotti

Memories of London

April29

I’m tardy with my post this morning because I have been enthralled by snippets of the Royal Wedding.  No I did not set my alarm for a ghastly hour but when I awoke at my normal time, I reached for the remote at the exact moment of the balcony scene.  

I consume a lot of news by osmosis, as my husband is a news junkie.  In fact, he has a newspaper collection and I know that he will purchase two copies tomorrow-one that we will enjoy with our coffee and the second which will be wrapped and put away to pull out in the future and see what the world was like on April 29, 2011.  I spend countless hours with D watching elections and protests and war.   Today I was delighted to witness love and hope and new beginnings.

 

I have been to London on a couple of occasions but most memorable was my post-university excursion to Europe at just this time of year.  I was a picky eater in those days-I mean horribly so!  The first time I had ever eaten a fried egg was on that trip. 

The London leg of our journey held many other first tastes:  -Salty, crunchy crackling from a suckling pig consumed on a floating dining room on the Thames.  -Bangers and mash at a boisterous pub called “The Spread Eagle”.  -Halibut and chips served in newspaper with malt vinegar and nary a bottle of ketchup in sight.  But most memorable of all: we mistakenly found ourselves in an upscale restaurant where Shahs had been reputed to dine and where a plate of  vegetables was ordered on my behalf.  New asparagus and zucchini; green and yellow beans; the sweetest of beets and tiny potatoes-all tasted for the very first time (except the potatoes of course).  I recall the array of lemon slices and cellars of salt and sweet butter that accompanied the dish.  And then I remember the price: a cocktail and a plate of vegetables for 70 pounds which back then represented a huge percentage of my discretionary budget which was to have lasted seven weeks!

The sting of the memory makes it very real even today as I saw Westminster Abbey and the Mall and Buckingham Palace.  London looked her best today.  I add my warmest wishes to Diana’s precious William and his beautiful Kate.

Kath’s quote: “But I will place this carefully fed pig
Within the crackling oven; and, I pray,
What nicer dish can e’er be given to man.”-
Aeschylus

M&J Cazuela’s-Isla Mujeres

March21

Until recently, I understood that a cazuela was a baked omelet that I have sampled over the years at M&J’s various locations.  I now know that the restaurant is so named for the little terra cotta baking dish that the egg blend is poured into for the cooking stage.  I have also learned that because of the special high heat that the clay dishes endure, they take on special properties and your food continues to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes after the cazuela is removed from the oven.  So when I have been disappointed that my eggs weren’t cooked to my desired doneness (with no “jigglies” as one of my 3 bros likes to say), it was actually because I was being an impatient tourista and consuming my brunch dish too soon! 

There was a vendor set up for the locals for carnival a couple of weeks ago and I wish that I had purchased a stack of these affordable casseroles for home.  They would have been great for the serving of our staggered breakfasts at the lake.

M&J’s original location at the unrenovated Roca Mar hotel had a magical charm. (When I peaked in on this trip there was a bride receiving a spa treatment).  Tables were set out on the sidewalk at a busy curve of the route into Centro and you could look down the slope to the west shore and the Bay of Cancun while experiencing the roar of the crashing waves of the Caribbean just feet away.

M&J’s new home at the corner of Guerrero and Abasolo has a lovely, cozy feel.  We sat under a trellis that allowed the dappled morning light to fall across our table.

And the Holbox Cazuela of tortillas, eggs, beans and salsa topped with fried bananas was cooked to perfection (or perhaps after all this time, I am learning the patience of the Mayan people who I so love, and didn’t dig in too soon).

V and I also shared a Crepa Amanecer- a delicate crepe surrounding ham, asparagus, herbs and that wonderfully rich Mexican cheese.  The crepas are served with M&J’s potato casserole (a recipe I have tried to unpack for years).  The coffee was wonderful and the freshly squeezed orange juice even better. 

Marco and Julie-your new spot is a gem and I predict much continued success.  My only regret is that I didn’t finally get to meet the infamous Julie who so many of my Isla friends speak of so fondly. 

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

Arroz a la Mexicana

March14

Whenever we come home from a vacation, we try to keep the memories alive by maintaining holiday routines and eating and drinking favourite treats from the trip.  In all honesty, we even do this when we come home from an extended time at the cottage.  When we arrived from Italy, D went out to pick up some milk and fruit but found himself in De Luca’s -throwing salami, olives and capers into his shopping basket.

We asked Daughter #1 whom accompanied us to Isla Mujeres, what she was missing most.  We were expecting the warmth, the turquoise ocean or the friendly Mayan people, but true to form, her reply was-the food!  So when we assembled for mandatory Sunday supper I did my best to recreate the flavours.

D put big thick pork chops onto the barbeque flavoured with mango/chipolte seasoning.  It wasn’t the same as eating Fredy’s prok chops on the sidewalk on Hidalgo-but they were really good.  We are completely out of groceries but I did find a bag of cole slaw in the fridge that was the basis for an Isla Slaw with a sour cream/orange & lime juice dressing.  But the big hit was Mexican Rice.  On Isla, a version of this is even served at “fast food” windows like Tino’s Ribs and Rotisserie Chicken.

Last family trip to Isla

I found this in “Cocina Islena” a fund-raising cook book for PEACE(Protection, Education, Animals, Culture & Environment) -a name for people interested in working together for a better Isla Mujeres. 

1 1/2 c rice

1/3 c oil (I used butter)

1 large chopped tomato (8 oz.)

4 oz. chopped onion

1 chopped garlic clove

3 1/2 c chicken broth

Heat oil in rice pot.  Stir in rice until all grains are well covered, then saute, stirring constantly,  until a light golden colour.  This should take about 5-10 minutes. 

In a blender, blend the tomato, onion and garlic until smooth.  Add to the rice and continue to cook while stirring and scraping the bottom until the mixture is dry.  Add the broth and reduce to a medium heat, uncovered until the liquid has absorbed and small air holes appear in the rice.  Remove from heat and cover tightly, so that no steam can escape, for about 20 minutes and the rice continues to cook in its own steam. I wanted to visit my guests so I put a lid on after I added the chicken stock and simmered on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Kath’s quote: “Rice is a beautiful food.  It is beautiful when it grows, precision rows of sparkling green stalks shooting up to reach the hot summer sun. It is beautiful when harvested, autumn gold sheaves piled on diked, patchwork paddies. It is beautiful when, once threshed, it enters granary bins like a (flood) of tiny seed-pearls. It is beautiful when cooked by a practiced hand.”-Shizuo Tsuji

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