Browsing: Food & Travel

Recreating Cumpa Cosismo

February9

When I joined the Foodbuzz Blogging Community I had to fill out a foodie profile and I was asked where my favourite restaurant in the entire world was located.  This proves to be a very daunting task whether you are a world traveller or just trying to think back over the thousand of restaurant meals that you’ve likely enjoyed in your lifetime.

After much deliberation I choose Cumpa Cosismo in Ravello Italy.  It is said to have been Jacqueline Onassis’ favourite restaurant when she vacationed in the area which I understand was frequently. 

The cafe is a little off the beaten path, that is to say not off of the main square.  But the reason why it was hard to find is that it is known simply as Nettie’s to the locals, after notorious Chef/owner Netta Butone.  Her traditional recipes are simple and exquisite.  Nettie knows her stuff-she personally brings the laden platters to the table and then you don’t see her again until she presents you with the cheque.  

Every once in a while, I attempt to recreate her anti-pasta which is a selection of local vegetables.  Hers was cauliflower, diced zucchini, swiss chard, peppers, eggplant a bit of soft cheese. 

For mine,  I separately saute or grill a number of favourites in extra virgin olive (use your best stuff here) and one or two in black truffle oil for variety.

 

For a couple, I’ll add freshly chopped garlic or fresh basil -but just use what you have on hand and keep it very simple. 

A tip I learned about the eggplant, is that after lightly grilling you stack it, so that the steam in the veggie will continue the cooking process.  To serve, I take each eggplant slice and roll it into a tube. The platter can be served hot if you are entertaining at home or cold if you are taking it to a friend’s. 

Kath’s quote:  “I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.”-Madame Benoit
 

Bon apetito!

Hermano’s

January21

I tried hard to honour D’s birthday request as he had a yearning for some Mexican flavours and we still have a month before we depart for the turquoise Caribbean.  But we couldn’t get into La Bamba because they do not have wheelchair access (shame on them) but he was more than content to try Hermano’s and their South American fare.

And speaking of wheelchair access-with one quick phone call from the car, the owner was at the accessible entrance to escort us to our table.  He came by again later to teach us that one of our favourite winter holiday dishes-ceviche, was invented in Peru.  He also enthralled us with tales about his frequent trips to Brazil and the story of how he has recreated this Latin approach to dinner for us in Winnipeg.

So the wide open spaces, long tables and boisterous atmosphere is not by accident.  South Americans gather as a family to share their day over an evening meal.  This is the goal of our family too and yet with working late, volunteering, late university classes and trying to fit in some exercise, it rarely happens.  Or shall I say, that it does not occur as often as we would like.

We started by ordering a Chilean Merlot (very familiar) but also found a Chilean Gewurztraminer that was lovely.  I professed my love for D over a bottle of Alsatian Gewurztraminer almost thirty years ago….

We ordered just about everything that wasn’t off season from the Tapas menu and were delighted.  The large bread board was laden with Potato Rosemary Sour Dough, Portuguese Pumpkin Loaf and Onion Jalapeno Corn Bread.  They were all distinctive and we concluded that the corn bread was the hit.  But in all honesty, any bread with a scoop of the spinach & basil pesto, or dunked into the white wine juice from the mussels or the garlic butter which accompanied the shrimp, would be delicious. 

food musings

Of the three Empanada’s that were served, I tasted the Chicken and Sausage-a lovely and savoury concoction in a crunchy wrapper. 

food musings

Pipa Camaroes were served “head on” as we recall eating them on seaside vacations.  I was quite adept at lopping off the head with a sharp knife but our Frenchman guest decided to twist his off with his fingers and was sprayed with a red juice-cacbaca perhaps? 

food musings

The grilled chicken skewers with mango salsa were a nice complement to the other seafood items. 

The Calamari tasted particularly fresh which is unusual in the middle of the prairies in the midst of winter.  The tentacle portion was particularly crunchy in its corn crusting.

food musings

Two of the girls were happy to see that we weren’t going to have to eat 13 pounds of mussels when they misread this on the menu: “13/LB”.  I think D&I could and likely have eaten 13 lbs of mussels in the past, thinking back to our honeymoon on Cape Cod where they were served in a big black cauldron (think the witch scene in McBeth).

We also enjoyed what are simply called “chips” on the menu.  OMGoodness-  hand cut potato chips with just a hint of salt.  And there were lots of folded ones which were extra crunchy.  Does anybody else remember the Mr. Greenjeans days when a version of these were served with every order?

Even though we had brought along our traditional Jeanne’s Banana log birthday cake, we couldn’t resit the Tempura Banana split.  Fried bananas is a family favourite-we even make them for late night, “around the fire-pit” snacks.  This version did not disappoint especially because it was served with Eva’s gelato.  Eva’s original storefront was near the end of our street and became the destination of many summer walks.  We think that their Argentinian recipe is superior to the offerings elsewhere on Corydon as they use “real” ingredients not merely the flavouring and colouring of the real thing.

Hermanos on Urbanspoon

D was delighted with his gifts and was a very contented man.  He deserves it: “Cause he’s good, so good, and he treats (me) like a real man should”-Carrie Underwood

love, love will keep us together

La Trattoria

January14

It’s been more than a year since our sojourn through Sicily and the east coast of Italy and we miss the people, the exquisite views and the food!  So when I spotted a cozy looking dining spot while driving down Provencher Ave. in St. Boniface  and then discovered that they served “classically Italian” food-I was enthralled.

It took a bit of time to find an excuse to give La Trattoria a try.  The last occasion that I made the suggestion to D, we ended up staying in our neighbourhood so that we could could also go pot shopping.  Now that doesn’t sound like an ideal date to a most but to a foodie acquiring her first Lagostina cookware-it was bliss.

I digress….I was treating a business associate to a lunch meeting so I suggested we finally give the cafe a try.  I looked longingly at the spacious patio facing the street and a park and began yearning for summer (or spring at least). 

food musings

The dining room was bright and fresh with only one other table occupied.  I choose a spaghetti with Aglio Olio topped with shrimp-this version seemed light on the garlic but spiced up with red pepper flakes.  My friend tried the recommended Ricotta Crespelle-an Italian crepe stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with tomato basil sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Both dishes were served with garlic toast and salad sides.  I was delighted with a light tasting Cesar with an authentic oil, lemon and anchovy dressing as opposed to the creamy (an calorie laden) version that many restaurants serve.  We chose a lovely Sicilian wine to accompany lunch.

La Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”-Ruth Reichl

get tangled up in love

Beloved Falafel Place

January4

We have followed the Falafel House from its tiny location on Academy to its first location on Corydon (at the end of our street) to its current home at Corydon and Wilton.  We have been hosting a guest who is vegetarian so it was the perfect place to take her for our last brunch together.

As D had travelled to Israel this fall, he had a real hankering for falafel and ordered the “Middle East” with eggplant and extra spice.  I had a taste of the eggplant-perfection.

“Israeli” falafel was also ordered and came topped with home made French Fries.  There were eight perfectly seasoned falafel in each order.  Even the big appetites at our table had trouble cleaning their plates.

Our vegetarian guest was delighted with her vegetarian hash and they allowed her to substitute her toast for potato pancakes which we all got to taste.  Crunch on the edges and hearty in the middle-just the way we like em.

I wanted to taste the schnitzel but also wanted eggs to go with their hash browns that can be customized with onion and garlic.  A huge brunch plate and great value (but made for a boring photo).

We waited in line to get in and were kinda squished in our booth so we dined quickly to make room for the line up that was now out the door.  I have read that some people take offense to the owner’s “hustle in and out” atmosphere.  I think many appreciate it when a table gets vacated for them but change their mind when they are told: “no more coffee for them-thank you for leaving”.  We love his good natured chants-it reminds us of our favourite New York deli and bagel shops.

The Falafel House puts out fresh food, deliciously prepared and so affordable-he can run his restaurant any way he wishes.

Falafel Place on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”-Albert Einstein

love shouts

Kath’s 2010 Foodie List (Part One)

December22

Ellen has her “12 Days of Give-Aways” and Oprah has her “Favourite Things” so I am reflecting on my year with my “12 Favourite Foodie Things” list:

1) the new kettle chip that I found at Shopper’s Drug Mart.  The label is “Simply Food” and they have a couple of flavours but I always get the basic.  You can actually taste the potato and they are not over salted.  The best thing is that almost every chip is folded into a half or even better-a quarter.  When my husband and I are sharing-he eats the flat ones and I get the rest!

2) the poutine at Le Gouter at Albert Beach.  Amazing fries even when “naked” and then topped with exactly the right amount of cheese and gravy.  Only thing that could make them better-real cheese curds like the ones served at The Peasant in the Exchange.

3) anything that I’ve tasted at Segovia!  Finally got to try it for my birthday in the spring and just a couple of times since.  My New Year’s resolution is to dine at Segovia at least once a month in 2011.

4) the Southern Fried Chicken at the Redhead in New York City.  I didn’t even order it but tasted it from Sister #3’s plate. We determined that it was marinated first in buttermilk but haven’t figured out the rest.   I am so blessed to have sisters and friends who are willing to take culinary adventures with me. 

5) Speaking of firsts…my first of what I know will be many visits to the  Mango Cafe on Isla Mujeres.  I’m happy to say that I’ll get that chance in just two months….ah Isla.

6) the tiny cookies that my Son’s new Mom- in- law made for their wedding.  I’ve asked her numerous times for the recipe but perhaps she knows that I will be sharing with you and so has yet to do so.

Stay tuned for the second half…..

Kath’s quote: “I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.”-Anthony Bourdain

love-exciting and new

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