On Sundays at Mandatory Dinner for our family, we often go around the table and share three things: 1) the best thing that happened that week 2) the big disappointment of the week and 3) the thing that you are most looking forward to in the week to come. Last evening over an early New Year’s fondue we changed the framework to be the year. The reflections were varied from landing a job, seeing Ireland, spending time in Montreal to starting a Fantasy football league, going to a Bruce Springsteen concert and starting new studies and businesses. The anticipations are equally thrilling like an upcoming family wedding, a baby’s birth, starting grad school and possible travel. We decided not to share disappointments.
It occured to me that the same could be true as far as food and dining is concerned, so here are my highlights:
- Our year started on Isla Mujeres where the food literally sparkles in your mouth and is expertly prepared (and so affordable) such as pork chops and beans at Fredy’s, breakfast at Rooster’s, fruita de mare pizza and pasta at Angelo’s & Brisas Caribe, chiles relleno at La Lomita, Tino’s weekend ribs, and literally everything at Basto’s Grill.
- Teaching in Thompson Manitoba. I shared my knowledge of food and beverage service with them and learned a couple of things of my own like the beauty of the north and that good food is not only found in major cities, discovering Nanny’s Diner and Santa Maria Pizza.
- Travelling to Ireland, noshing on mussels and pork belly at an ancient pub in Galway, walking to a five star restaurant in a thatched cottage in Adare, lunching at The Falls Hotel in Ennistymon (near the cliffs of Moher), trying bangers & mash and shredded duck salad in Limerick and purchasing cider, scones and black and white pudding to eat at our gorgeous villa.
- Writing for the community newspapers and my first time visits to Sonya’s, Luda’s and Magic Sushi 2. The food was amazing but the people who run these little places even better.
- Winning the opportunity to attend a Foodie Conference in Washington, DC. I met fascinating people that helped me improve my blog, toured a gorgeous city and got to eat at The Old Ebbitt Grill and my first time at a “raw” restaurant..
- Spending the summer at the lake and loving the crepes, poutine and burgers at Le Gouter in Albert Beach in addition to our own family brunches and barbeques.
- Loving our garden share and roasting beets and carrots and Jerusalem artichokes into the fall.
- Travelling to western Manitoba with the Canola ladies to meet farmers and producers and feasting on the amazing local specialties at our field lunches and dinners.
- Heading to another food bloggers conference in Toronto and walking the board walk at the beach with delicious wraps in hand, even though it was late October.
- Loving the incredible restaurants within walking distance of our house: Inferno’s and Pizzeria Gusto on Academy and Bonfire Bistro on Corydon.
- Celebrating birthdays and holidays at Deseo’s, Rudy’s and Hermanoes.
- Trying other places for my first time like the Modern Taco Company, Saigon Jon’s Kitchen, Corrientes Argentian Pizza and the new fish house at Terrace in the Park.
- Food-styling for a number of top Canadian chefs and especially working alongside Chef Michael Allemeier.
- Cheering on the Manitoba Culinary Team that won silver in Germany this fall and celebrating Chef Osten Rice’s win at the gold plates. Osten is the son of a good friend and I have watched his culinary rise to success over the years.
I am off to Isla Mujeres and Thompson again in the next couple of months. I have already booked D’s birthday dinner at The Promenade and I was thinking that it was high time that we walked to Fusion for an upcoming dinner (perhaps Valentine’s). I will be travelling to the Hockley Valley Resort in rural Ontario (where Top Chef Canada was filmed) for another food bloggers event and then look forward to time again at our beach house. There are no plans as of yet for the fall but we are always on the watch for deals to Europe and hope to get to Spain soon. AND most of all continuing to cook for my family and friends to demonstrate to them how very much I love them.
Happy New Year…I wish all my readers good health, happy hearts and joy in food.
Love-that is all.
Perhaps the best part of a vacation at the cottage is going out for dinner. This treat actually makes the entire day seem longer. You can stay on the beach later in the afternoon and there is no worry if you forgot to plan on getting something out of the freezer. Mind you, it may mean that you have to get out of your bathing suit but this is only a preference. I think that the casual atmosphere of the Sand Bar would accommodate you in any attire. I love a summer when you change from pjs to bathing suit and back to pjs. The summer of 2012 was a summer like this.
When D and I visited The Sand Bar last summer, we were disappointed by the quality of the pickerel special and not surprized when we saw racks of it already fried and ready to plunge back into the fryer to warm it up. But this summer, batch cooking had been rejected and as soon as we ordered (all of us choosing the same thing) our server rushed to the kitchen window to ensure that there were five fresh orders left. The bar around us was almost empty, but supposedly the dining room was jammed with pickerel lovers.
We started off with an order of fire-dusted calamari. There was plenty to share and one member of our party declared that it was perhaps the best calamari that he had tasted in a very on time. This was high praise, as The Australian resides near the ocean in Melbourne. Perhaps it was the Long-Island Ice Teas and Bloody Caesars that elevated our appreciation.
The “old school” crunchy batter is not a necessary enhancement because pickerel retains a delicate flavour (when freshly caught and never frozen it actually sparkles in your mouth), but this recipe is fun every once in a while. Unless of course you are trying to get back into shape to play professional rugby after an injury and surgery, which happens to be the case for the Australian. He left a mound of the batter on his plate but still seemed to enjoy the treat.
The sun was just setting as we departed. Another perfect ending to a perfect day.
Kath’s quote: “Grilling is like sunbathing. Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it.”-Laurie Colwin
Love-that is all.
I am on my summer vacation. We are at our beach house and there are various configuration of family that come and go to the 4 cottages that we enjoy here. The fact that my extended family is here too, means that there are often extra people at our table, sometimes invited and other times a meal just appears on the table on the deck, where some have accumulated to recount the latest fishing trip or time at the beach.
Life is different here-intentionally so. Now that the analog signal expired, we cannot catch the National! I was kind of liking this. But this summer everything changed. I was entitled to a remote access upgrade from my internet rocket stick and for less money, we acquired a wi fi hotspot at the cabin. One morning, as I tidied, there were 4 laptops, 1 mac tablet and three i phones recharging. Nothing is constant except change, they say.
Thankfully, there are some traditions that are still accomplished in a slower manner. This week I saw a corn sign on the highway and so we swung in to make our purchase. When the gentleman who was working on a project in his home came out, I asked him if he had had a chance to pick any corn that day. He said no-he picks to order. So he hopped on his little tractor and 4 minutes later, we were driving away with 2 dozen freshly picked ears! We ate a platter full that night for dinner. It was so firm and sweet that butter was not required. I had mine with a squeeze of lime and some freshly ground sea salt-oh yum…
Today will be spent walking the dogs in the forest, riding my ancient bike to the beach or reading in the hammock-perhaps a little of everything. Life is good.
Kath’s quote: “For the millions of us who live glued to computer keyboards at work and TV monitors at home, food may be more than entertainment. It may be the only sensual experience left.”-Barbara Ehrenreich
Love-that is all.
If you are in the Grand Beach area, you will not want to miss out on this surprizing foodie adventure. Just north of the Hwy. 59 Grand Beach turn off, on the west side of the highway, sharing the parking lot with a Woodstove company is a little yellow school bus which has had various personas over the years. If you are expecting a plain fast food burger and frozen fries, hold on to your beach hat!
The burgers are hand-formed patties from grass-fed beef and the cheese-burgers come with your choice of five Bothwell cheeses. I do not have the entire run down of selections because we were in a hurry to get back into the city yesterday. But from the three parties of people from my family who are raving about the little place, I know that there is smoked Gouda and jalapeno.
Bothwell cheeses are also featured in their artisan grilled cheese sandwiches.
Smoothies can be whipped up and I understand that the milkshakes are very good but the star of the show (for me at least) are the hand-cut fries and poutine made with Bothwell cheese curds! I got to taste the fries first hand when a take out box of them appeared with a roving gang of friends this weekend (they just opened Saturday). The fries are sliced daily and retain that sweet and almost nutty flavour that only fresh cut fries can. I can only imagine what the combination of a savoury gravy and Bothwell curds would do to enhance them. I understand that from-scratch onions rings are also on the way. Yum-cannot wait until Friday when we had up to the Beach area again.
Tell them Food Musings sent you and I predict that you will get extra curds on your poutine!
Kath’s quote: May your potatoes always be crisp and may the cheese “sing” in its freshness. For, what is a poutine but a glorious ode to the perfect melange of spuds, curd and brown roux!-LouLou, Laval Ouest, Québec (from poutinechronicles.ca)
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.
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.
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