Browsing: Restaurant Features

Star Grill at the Conservatory

June24

The Conservatory at Assiniboine Park has been a long time destination of my family’s.  When my Polish Grandma (with an incredible green thumb) would come for a visit, we would often take her there.  You had to keep your eye on her though or she would try to steal a slip of a favourite plant.  When in her later years (she lived into her 90s) she finally acquiesced and allowed indoor plumbing to be installed, she placed a hoya on the edge of her bathtub.  A soak in her tub was jungle- like when the little plant climbed and twisted itself all over that corner of the bathroom.  The plant itself outlived my Grandma and I have been the caretaker of one of its babies for 23 years-isn’t life amazing?

As is my habit-I digress….  I still go to the Conservatory whenever I can drop in for a quick visit and see the seasonal displays outside of the Star Grill which is the reason I write today.  The park is situated about half way between the homes’ of a friend and business collaborator so is a perfect spot to meet for lunch.  On this day we sat in the beautiful terrace and enjoyed the sun.

Since I am of Aboriginal descent wild rice is a natural craving and because it is so nutritional, we try to include it in as many recipes as possible.  The Wild Rice Bowl is a salad selection on the Star Grill’s menu and includes a delicious mixture of sun-dried cranberries, grated carrots, cucumbers, red onions, lettuce, roasted peanuts & peanut sauce.

The regional menu also features local pickerel served a vaiety of ways and bison, another treat tyipcal of the prairies.  The next time I’m there for lunch, I already know that I will chose the Open Faced Mediterranean sandwich -smoked turkey with artichokes, spicy eggplant , black olives, Feta & Swiss.  The life of a foodie-always anticipating the next meal……

Kath’s quote: “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)

La Lomita

June16

This photo was taken on Hidalgo, no where near the restaurant.  But I like the shot because for me it kind of depicts the uniqueness of Isla Mujeres (check out the Sesame Street fabric on the dog).

One of my favourite restaurants on Isla is unique as well, to say the least.  A kind of haphazard decor, irregular service and one of the most basic kitchens I have snuck a peak at -BUT THE FOOD!

Chicken soup sounds pretty basic-it was divine.  The broth was bursting with flavour and the pulled chicken so fresh tasting.

This is empty lot next to the restaurant.  The first time I ate there in 2005 there were chickens living here-now that’s fresh!

Freshness continues to their papas fritas-upon ordering they peel and slice the potato and drop it into a shallow fryer.  The piece de resistance is the wedge of lime that comes with every order.  You’ll never want to eat your fries any way else.

Ophelia’s Chilies Relleno-nuff said.

On this day, my companion and I shared this lunch as we were trying to fit many food destinations into our final days.  I can’t specifically recall the price but I think we each put in the equivalent of $7. and we were stuffed.  We had to walk along the sea wall to wear it off.  Ahh Isla…..

Kath’s quote:

“Tropical the island breeze
All of nature wild and free
This is where I long to be l
a isla bonita”- Madonna


Guest Blogger: Sis #3 & Watermelon Salad

June9

“Recently visiting the community of Georgetown, Ontario (just north of Mississauga) we discovered a great little steak and chop house called the Cellar.  Located in the basement of the town’s old bank, this cozy space was a lovely mix of exposed brick, candle light and crisp white table cloths.  I think the photos speak for themselves.  It was a good as it looks.”

Kath here: I heard a story today about someone with too much watermelon on their hands and I thought of this first watermelon salad photo.  I wish I had that recipe!  In the mean time, here’s a tried and true one of mine (for Ben):

Watermelon & Feta

1/2 small red onion

3 c watermelon balls or cubes

1/2 c crumbled feta (chevre would also work)

enough balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Slice onion into thin rings.  Place in glass bowl with watermelon pieces and toss.  Top with crumbled feta & drizzle with balsamic.  So easy and so delicious.

Kath’s quote: “Watermelon — it’s a good fruit.  You eat, you drink, you wash your face.” –Enrico Caruso

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

June8

I cleaned out my spice cupboard last night-yea!  I came across the Dean & Deluca  Jerk Rub that was given to us as a wedding favour.  We have friends who wed in Jamaica but assembled friends for a lovely brunch at The Gates upon their return.  Perhaps you know that my mind is like a long winding spaghetti noodle…..the discover prompted me to remember that I had been recently sent this delicious recipe by Granny’s Poultry.  Our plan is to try it the next sunny barbecue day.

2 kgs Chicken legs, back attached

2 T of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2-4 hot chili peppers chopped

2 bay leaves

3 bunches green onions., chopped

1 T ginger, chopped

1/4 c dark rum

2 T fresh limes juice

2 t salt

1 1/2 t ground allspice

2 t fresh thyme

Add all ingredients except chicken to a food processor and pulse until just finely chopped.  Prick the chicken pieces with the point of a knife and then rub with jerk marinade. *Skin may be removed first.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 -24 hours. Cook slowly over medium heat on the oiled grill of a barbecue for 45 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Chicken is done when the juices run clear or internal temperature reaches 170°F or 80°C.

For an extra hot marinate use Habanera or Scotch Bonnet chilies. For a milder version use Jalapeno chilies.

Recipe courtesy Chef Jason Wortzman of Granny’s Poultry.

Kath’s quote “Eating highly seasoned food is unhealthful, because it stimulates too much &  provokes the appetite too much.” -Catharine E. Beecher (1846)

Coconut Shrimp

June7

I was reminded this morning by a posted comment that I have readers who share our mutual love of Isla Mujeres.  I wrote and saved a couple of entries after my most recent trip:

“I have been tempted to sample Coconut Shrimp here in Winnipeg when I been to the  The Star Grill on Portage Ave or their sister at The Conservatory in the park.  For me tasting is a multi-sensory experience, Winnipeg even in June is not quite the right setting-I need to smell the sea and hear the whoosh of the palm fronds around me.

Sounds like I’m making a case for my constant treks to Isla Mujeres. My first taste was in 2005 at the Sunset Grill.  We were staying on the south end of the Island and it was our first full day.  With our fabulous map reference we found the Grill on North Beach and ordered exactly what Laura the writer of the map suggested and I was hooked.  We’ve returned to the Sunset other years hoping to enjoy the same quality.  One year I was with Sister #2 and our girls and we had the privilege of witnessing the most romantic wedding on the beach.  That same year our kids treated my husband and I to a progressive dinner and we shared the shrimp as our first course before meandering elsewhere for dinner.

Coconut shrimp

On another trip with Sister #3 and an Honourary Sister, we tried the shrimp at El Pulito near Punta Sur.  The restaurant is mostly outdoors with a little covered kitchen.  The views are stunning and shrimp pretty darn good.

My husband and I have only been alone to the island on one occasion and we stopped at Chili’s Loco right on the main street of Hidalgo.  I was very impressed but for some reason the taste is enhanced by sitting right on the beach when the shrimp is consumed and so we head to the strip of restaurants along Medina.

You can’t get nearer the sea than the Miramar.  I’ve been to the restaurant twice-once with my adventurous friends from TO who took a chance on IM with me and are now hooked  and the second time with my friend V who also happens to be the mother-in-law to my son.  Along this strip of sand where the ferry arrives from Cancun, is where the locals mend their nets sitting on overturned pails.  The shrimp is beautifully cooked in a crunch coating and the huge serving comes with all the trimmings. “

Kath’s quote:  “We’ve been sold on the idea that travel is no longer a luxury  It’s a staple, like soymilk.”-James Morris

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