Browsing: Restaurant Features

Fools and Horses Coffee Company

August15

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The Fools and Horses Coffee Co at 101-379 Broadway Ave. is one of those gathering places that make a collection of streets a “neighbourhood”. The persons that had accumulated the morning of my first visit were downtown residents like my eldest daughter who I was meeting.

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But they were also the community of day-time residents who work in the area. People stopped to chat with acquaintances that they saw perched on the patio and others exchanged niceties as they kept pace and strolled by.

I was instantly taken with Lauren Kroeker, one of the owners and the welcoming smile behind the counter that morning.

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She shared with me the vision that they have for their beautiful room, with hopes that the hood will use the space for artistic gatherings and casual entertaining. Now that’s what I call urban planning!

The menu is simple and I always appreciate when a few selections are done exceptionally well, rather than the other way around. I asked what Lauren would recommend and she immediately responded with “toast”. In spite of thinking that toast might be a little mundane, I went with her suggestion. Woa!

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One version of seeded rye toast was donned with Otterburne yoghurt made from the milk of Optimist Holsteins, granola concocted with Manitoba’s Adagio Acres Rolled Naked Oats and local honey from a Hutterite colony in the area.

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The other toast was adorned with house made ricotta cheese and a sparkling strawberry/beet/vanilla jam from local jam aficionado Flora Farmer.

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With the risk of sounding cliché, you could taste goodness with every bite.

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My daughter visits regularly for their Iced Vanilla Bean Latte. I enjoyed the coffee from Pilot Coffee Roaster but it provided a little too much kick to my day and I had to keep busy to try to use up all my excess energy.

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Kath’s quote: “Honey comes out of the air….At early dawn the leaves of trees are found bedewed with honey…. Whether this is the perspiration of the sky or a sort of saliva of the stars, or the moisture of the air purging itself, nevertheless it brings with it the great pleasure of its heavenly nature. It is always of the best quality when it is stored in the best flowers.”-Pliny (A.D. 2)

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

The Merchant Kitchen

August5

Winnipeg’s Portage Ave and its side streets were once the home to many of the cities’ great restaurants. Rudy’s, Moxie’s and most recently The Merchant Kitchen have blazed the way for the trend to reignite. Upon my return from an evening at The Merchant Kitchen, I told D that he would love everything about the “kitchen”: the central bar, the communal tables, the open kitchen, the clever cocktails and the food!

Being long-time fans of Pizzeria Gusto, I knew that this particular ensemble led by Chef Eric Lee would produce clever fare and yes, they did. Chef Lee is one of the many talented Chefs who have graduated from the exceptional culinary program at Red River College. He credits this great start and the blessings of mentorship and travel, for his culinary proweress. Of course, he did not put it in this manner, I did.

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The well chosen red of their cozy/sleek decor stimulates the taste buds as soon as you walk in the door.

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The menu is a eclectic collection of world cuisine with an emphasis on Latin and Asian dishes.

In my humble opinion, the best Latin food is found in the Yucatan peninsula where simple ingredients are combined to produce flavours that sparkle! The essence is in adding the exact amount of lime juice and cilantro. For example, both the Guacamole and Pico de Gallo contain these staple ingredients and in both cases they shine not for their own glory but to enhance the silky avacado and the tomato and white onion.

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The Carnitas Taco were also elevated by the precise addition of cilantro and lime, this time to offset the premise-made queso fresco and slow roasted pork. The pickled red onion was a thoughtful topping and took me back to one of my very first meals in the Yucatan.

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You may never desire butter and salt on your corn on the cob again, once you taste it with mayo, cojita cheese, a squeeze of lime and cilantro. We order these from the street vendors in Quintano Roo and they make a meal in themselves.

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Other world cuisines understand the magic of lime and cilantro as well, for example this Thai salad -Papaya Som Tum. My absolute favourite dish of the evening was Spicy Thai Fried Rice but I was in such haste to eat it, that my photo was not in focus. Along with jasmine rice, Thai basil, prawns, chilies and egg, it included…cilantro. Do not conclude that Chef Lee uses these componants often because he has a limited number of ingredients in his pantry. I believe he knows Winnipeggers well enough to predict that these flavours, reminiscent of warm climates, will be our reward during our long winters.

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Chef Lee’s roasted duck rolls introduced mint, peanuts and sesame to our palates and they too were exceptional.

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Although we were initially drawn to Pizzeria Gusto and Chef Lee’s fare for their astute renderings of pizza, most recently we would visit for their “veggie-centric” dishes like their Brussel sprouts. The Merchant Kitchen’s version is equally stellar along with the Dry Fried Green Beans above and the Charred Shishito Peppers not shown.

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The Korean Fried Chicken was a guilty pleasure which reminded me not of Korean cookery but of the fresh whole chickens that my Polish Grandma would fry up on hot summer days on the farm.

I spoke at length to Chef Lee about his skill in creating so many excellent tastes. He redirected the praise to the local ingredients and growers that he has been successful in securing as suppliers. So too, he credited Bobby and Suzy for the space and the overall experience. The entire Merchant Kitchen package is of shared food, shared tables, shared glances of the open bar and kitchen and even the shared bathroom!

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Just before I headed home to report to D of my new restaurant find, along came Pound Cake Churros which were heavenly in themselves. Our family ordered dessert on Christmas day from a Churro cart by the turquoise Carribbean sea, but these blew those right out of the water! The texture of the pound cake was perfectly porous to soak up the surprise of the bowl of warm chocolate milk. The taste allowed memories of dunking hot buttered toast into our mugs of hot chocolate with my many siblings around our kitchen table at home. There was love around that table and in my mind you will feel that way here too. All that was missing was being tucked into bed with a bedtime story.

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Kath’s quote: “I don’t need to tell you I love you, I made you pancakes”. –Kathleen Flinn

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Sushi Terrace

July30

Glowing recommendations about Sushi Terrace have made their way to me, from Canstar readers to the sales person where I was recently vehicle shopping. Knowing that my sushi aficionado (aka Boo) would enjoy the eating adventure, we headed out to the Westwood neighbourhood.

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We were the sole diners that evening but there were many persons who were warmly greeted by the husband and wife team who own the restaurant, when neighbours arrived to pick up “to go” orders.

We had no idea about the portion size so ordered a tempura to start, a couple of rolls and a traditional Korean dish. Suffice it to say, the mixed tempura was a meal in itself and we took half of our selections home for lunches.

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Included in the tempura basket were two savoury spring rolls, two succulent prawns and a bevy of veggies including a squash that we could not identify, along with sweet potato, broccoli and more. The sweet chili and soy dipping sauces were plentiful and we ate our fill.

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But of course, there was still more to come. Undaunted, we pressed on. All three rolls included seafood: the “Burning Love” special, the “Happy Mouth” (I got a kick out of the name) and the Crunch Roll. My daughter could detect the heat from the “Burning Love” but all I sensed was the delicious melding of cucumber, red roe, shrimp and torched salmon. The “Happy Mouth” lived up to its name with variations of the above with silky avocado added for good measure. My favourite were the Crunch Rolls as I love the popping sensation of the fish eggs in my mouth along with the additional crunch of crispy panko flakes.

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The grilled marinated beef of the Bulgogi dish was more delicate than I expected, so we had a few tastes of that too.

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As a lovely surprise and the perfect ending to our meal, was a beautiful orange that had been cubed and then placed back into the carved out peel.

Owners Jooncheol EO and her husband JINHEE JEONG (they spelt it with the caps), were delightful hosts. Each time she came to the table with a dish, she perfectly placed the plate for us to feast with our eyes before we tucked in.

Even though we are centrally located, Westwood was a bit of a jaunt for us. Even if you make the trek from the east of the city, you will not be disappointed.

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Kath’s quote: “Making sushi is an art, and experience is everything”. –Nobu Matsuhisa

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Live simply, laugh often, ove deeply.

Da Emma -Montreal

July24

Some of my clearest memories surround food. Others are connected to the warm display of affection. D might remember the date and year that we were in a certain country but I will remember the same circumstances differently-with tastes and aromas and specific ingredients or that love was present in the room or emanating from the kitchen.

Case in point, when D and I traveled to the Amalfi coast in Italy to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, one meal sticks out more clearly than any other. It was a lunch that we shared at a place called Cumpa Cosimo, way up high on the mountainside in Ravello. The restaurant had been run by the same family for decades. All the dishes served were Netta Bottone’s family recipes and she still supervised the cooking, greeted all of the guests herself and then collected everyone’s Euros before they departed.

More recently I have had the opportunity to dine at Restaurant Da Emma in Old Montreal. Emma Risa is a Montreal restaurateur that I was equally fascinated in meeting and knew that my memories of the evening would similarly stay with me for years. We were hosted by Ocean Properties associated with the Marriott Chateau Champlain which had been our home base for the weekend and the evening was the piece de résistance of our remarkable Montreal itinerary.

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Housed in Montreal’s first prison for women, the walls were impossibly thick but contrary to what you might first expect,

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the ambiance was warm and inviting.

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But to the food…we started with bruschetta where I confirmed anew how much I love fresh garlic and tomatoes and crunchy baguette.

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Next up was eggplant which featured thin layers of my favourite vegetable and a delicate tomato sauce.

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For my main, I chose “Piglet” even though I felt awkward about ordering something with such a cute name. The skin was crunchy, the silky fat melted away and the meat was perfectly seasoned and prepared.

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The highlight of the evening though was the invite to meet Ella.

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Perhaps you can see why I remembered my meeting with Netta in Ravello, now?

Netta had hosted the likes of Jacqueline Onassis, Humphrey Bogart and Mariah Carey.

Ella had hosted George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonny Depp.

In both cases, I was in good company.

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Kath’s quote: Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” – Sophia Loren

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

Bon Ami Louis-Just Opened

July22

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This fabulous location on the Provencher St. Bridge has remained empty as the city searched for a suitable tenant. WOW! Hospitality Concepts knew that the summer was the perfect time to stroll across the bridge in either and drop in for a bite with a view of the famous junction of the Red and Assiniboine River, but making that same trek during one of Winnipeg’s winters was not quite so pleasant. As a result, the restaurant will be open during summer months and the space will be a special event venue during fall, winter and spring.  I understand that businesses have already begun booking their Christmas parties in the space even though the venue opens today!

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Chef Luc Jean pictured above is bilinqual, as is Irene the assistant manager at the new restaurant. Providing additional service for persons strolling the Provencher Bridge will be this “to go” window, where the team will serve up poutine,

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burgers made with hand-formed patties and premise-made barbeque sauce,

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and ice cream sandwiches concocted when frozen chocolate mousse is slatered between two home-made cookies.

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At the media preview event last evening, we also sampled brie and walnut croustinis, pictured above. As well as an amazing one of gravlax (smoked salmon), horseradish enhanced creme fraiche and a sprig of dill.

 

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As mentioned, poutine will be available at the take out window. I am also hoping that these scrumptious French fries-one variety with a chipolte aioli and a second with parmesan shards and truffle oil, will be available as well.

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There were two flatbread tart flambees that you must try. The crust was impossibly thin and crispy and the generous fillings overflowed with each bite. The one pictured above contained chicken and artichokes.

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We particularily loved the fig jam, proscuitto and arugula flatbread. We encouraged friends who sat with us to try the fresh figs when they venture to Italy in the upcoming weeks ahead. D and I often recount our memories of picking fresh figs for breakfasts in Sicily!

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Desserts were lovingly deconstructed and reconstructed, like this redo of a lemon merigue pie. The delectable shortbread cookie, meant that it could be picked up and consumed in a couple of bites.

The wine and beer lists were simple but well-thought out. We looked over the more extensive dining menu and spied some offerings that we look forward to returning for.

Kath’s quote: “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”Francois Minot

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

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