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Tallest Poppy



J1, J2 and the Wee One were recently at the Tallest Poppy as I was writing about it for the Canstar Community Newspapers. You may have already read about the amazing food, but if not, read below.  In the mean time as more and more community restaurants open up especially in places like Wolseley, I wanted to share my thoughts about restaurants whom are inviting to children. If a restaurant claims to be accessible to all residents of a particular area and since children are often what binds a neighbourhood together, this makes good sense both from a business perspective and a social one.


High chairs and booster seats are very much appreciated by family members. More than anything though, some kind of acknowledgement from the server is essential-after all the server will be interacting with every other person at the table. In addition, some kind of interchange as other staff members assist at a table is very appreciated. These go along way to put the parents or grandparents at ease. A little portion of food brought right to the table (with permission from the adults) will make everyone’s dining experience more pleasurable. The Keg Steakhouse +Bar brings out a little plate with a packet of crackers and a couple of orange and strawberry slices-a fabulous gesture. Accommodation of a toddlers’ appetite by dropping off a side plate, for the adults to share with the child, is also a nice touch. When a child is older with more discerning tastes or dare I say is “picky” some flexibility from the kitchen is greatly valued. When Danielle and Alex were at 7 1/4 she once told me that they would whip up anything that a child desired as long as they had the ingredients already stocked in the kitchen. They would also let kids use the chalk at the blackboard. These are little things that go a very long way.

But to our time at The Tallest Poppy. Our server actually did not acknowledge the Wee One but every other staff member did and for this reason (and the food of course) we know that we will return and be there often. I got a real chuckle over Talia’s comment at our table: “I’m not kid crazy but yours is a keeper!”

I have long been a fan of Talia Syrie and have followed her around Winnipeg from Tallest Poppies’ first location on Main St. to her stint at Neechi Commons and now to Tallest Poppies’s newest home at Sherbrooke and Westminster in the Sherbrooke Inn.  Talia and her business partner Steve utilize fresh, whole ingredients and whips them up in a simple, wholesome fashion delivering robust flavours.


The revamped space at the Sherbrooke Inn is spacious, comfortable and funky and totally in keeping with the laid-back vibe of West Broadway and Wolseley.


Her chosen staff members exude the spirit of the neighbourhood too, but in an efficient and bustling manner which means that your coffee cup is always full and hot meals are delivered without delay.


We selected three breakfasts and when the plates were delivered, we spun them in a circle so that we could all savour the kitchen’s offerings.  First tastes were of Chilaquiles where a nest of crispy corn tortillas baked in salsa, cradled eggs and feta cheese.  The flavour was great but the hard edges of the tortillas were uncomfortable to the morning palette.


I panicked when we found out that the Double Stuffed Breakfast Potato was not available that morning and ordered the Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs.  For some reason it didn’t click that I was ordering beef for breakfast.  The perfectly cooked over-easy eggs, delectable hash browns and toast made from fergasa bread kept me content without the steak.


J1 has been intrigued by the inclusion of chicken and waffles popping up on menus of late.  He indicated that he had always been tempted to sample the unusual combination but had resisted until that morning.  The moist, tender southern fried chicken perfectly paired with the Belgian waffles.  We agreed that the fruity syrup completed the dish; regular syrup would have just added sweetness.  The berry syrup contributed a bit of acidity as well as sweetness, which was exactly what the combination required.  My taste was reminiscent of a little bistro in the Gramercy neighbourhood of Manhattan dubbed The Redhead.  Next to my Grandma’s, the best fried chicken I have ever tasted.


I look forward to returning for lunch and dinner when the chicken is featured in another couple of dishes.  I anticipate cosy evenings spent in their lounge.  Since all three of our brood live within walking distance of the restaurant, this is sure to occur very, very soon.

The Tallest Poppy on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The age of your children is a key factor in how quickly you are served in a restaurant. We once had a waiter in Canada who said, ‘Could I get you your check?’ and we answered, ‘How about the menu first?'”-Erma Bombeck


Love-that is all.

Christmas at Earl’s


I asked J1 to be my date to this invited evening at Earl’s on Main.  Earl’s does a tremendous job of keeping in touch with Bloggers (we are now calling ourselves “Curators”) and the local media.  In fact, Earl’s does many things very well.  I am surprised over and over again by the lengths that they go to in order to get a dish exactly right.


Case in point: The Royale with Cheese Burger created by Chef David Wong is described as containing smoked cheddar, dry cured bacon, portobello mushrooms and house ketchup.  When in fact local Earl’s Chef Matt Frost has shared with me that first they griddle a shredded cheese blend with a daily house-baked brioche to make a cheesy bun to which they add mushroom ketchup, tomato aioli, tomato relish (all made from scratch in house), mild yellow banana peppers, lettuce on onion.  Topped with said bacon and house made applewood smoked cheddar slices. The patty is ground chuck and Certified Angus Beef.

Even the smallest bite produces a veritable explosion of complex flavours and textures.  I suppose that this is what occurs when a chef of Dave Wong’s stature goes about making a burger. Some background on David: he works full time in Earl’s Test Kitchen. He is an award winning chef from Vancouver, most recently as Executive Chef of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the award winning restaurant ORU. Dave has too many awards and medals to even list but Earl’s would say (and I would agree) that his Gold medal win as part of Culinary Team Canada in Basil, Switzerland and representing Canada at the  Bocuse d’Or held in Lyon, France – are two of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.


That evening we tasted the burger in a slider presentation as well as a Crispy Tuna Sushi Cones assembled from tempura crunch, Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger and tobiko (flying fish eggs).  The satiny tuna contributed to an over-the-top taste.


Matt confided with us that he eats an order of Tuna Tostados every day for lunch. Chili rubbed albacore tuna, cilantro aioli, avocado and jicama slaw are all perched upon crisp corn tortillas. No wonder Matt!


Although the appetizers were sensational, my boy needed some additional sustenance and Matt recommended the Kung Pao Noodle Bowl where vegetables, garlic ginger soy, roasted peanuts, mama Wong’s (I am assuming Dave’s Mom’s recipe) hot sauce are tossed together in a wok.  I was too full to have more than a nibble but J1 gave it accolades.


We had worked up a thirst with all the delectable ingestion and there were Holiday libations for us to try. I expected a warm and savoury drink when the Cabin Fever arrived at the table but J1 explained to me that it would likely be a take on a Moscow Mule because the blue tin cup that it was served in is a traditional presentation for a Moscow Mule.  In addition to the standard ginger beer and bitters that makes a mule a mule, Crown Royal and port had been included.  The icing sugar frosted pine cone contributed both beauty and flavour.


We didn’t catch all ingredients of the Clover Club cocktail but detected raspberry juice, Smirnoff and egg whites.


The extra artistry of the drink was a seasonal touch.


Before we waddled out into the winter night, we indulged in one last treat: hot Gingerbread with salted caramel sauce.  Ohh my.  I am not a sweet lover but this desert is not to be missed.  The cakey bread was full of deep, earthy tastes and when coupled with


the salted caramel sauce (we were sent home with a sample of the sauce) was the perfect crescendo to a enjoyable evening.

Earls Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread.”-William Shakespeare


Love-that is all.










Boston Arrival Day



Our plane touched down just as the sun was beginning to set on the city of Boston.  By the time we retrieved our luggage and caught the shuttle to the water taxi stand, it was gone but there were still gorgeous colours in the western sky.


Our water taxi driver was a lovely gal who asked if we minded taking a couple of extra minutes to rendezvous with another boat.  She explained that her parents had arrived by water from their home and had her dinner for her.  Hey, we’re laid-back folk from the Canadian prairies, it certainly sounded neighbourly to us.


Boston harbour is gorgeous.  I guess we should not have been surprised by the number of huge yachts also enjoying the waterway.


We came closer and closer to what we found out would be our hotel for our stay-the Battery Wharf Fairmount.


After a quick check in, we ventured out again to see where we could scrounge up a late dinner. There were a number of cozy looking restaurants all within walking distance of our hotel.  It was going to be hard to choose.


We had done our research and we knew that we wanted seafood as fresh as we could get it.  An restaurant dubbed the “sea” in Italian presented itself as a likely candidate and we were able to secure the last table at Mare Oyster Bar.



We commenced with a couple of local beer and knew that we had come to the right city and would be in good hands.  We had been tempted to order the Shellfish Tower which included 18 oysters, 6 clams, 4 jonah crab claws, 4 shrimp cocktail, and 1/2 chilled lobster, when we had seen it delivered to other tables.  I was glad that we had restrained ourselves.


We cleverly settled for a platter of oysters on the half shell.  They were amazing but our server seemed taken aback when I requested my customary Worcestershire sauce to make them even more stellar.


Our jumbo shrimp cocktail blew us away.  They were $6 for each shrimp and were so enormous that we had to eat them with a knife and fork like a lobster tail.


Next up were two absolutely enormous pan seared scallops, the likes of which we had never seen before.


These were the seafood meatballs composed of calamari tentacles and shrimp.  We were more than satisfied with our first tastes of Boston and decided to stroll and do some more exploring.

Mare Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


We walked through this door into Mike’s Pastry a.k.a. cannoli heaven!


D loved his pistachio cannoli and I managed to limit myself to a single bite.

We couldn’t believe that we had only been in Boston for four hours.  We headed back to the gorgeous Battery Wharf Fairmount  to rest up for the next day.

Kath’s quote: “And this is good old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod…”-John Collins Bossidy


Love-that is all.

Sydney’s at the Forks


After this past weekend it looks like winter is officially here.  I don’t particularly like winter meaning that I am not into snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing or the like.  With the onset of the cold and snow I make sure that the cupboards and fridge are well stocked and that we have an adequate selection of red wine and craft beer available.  I do love to read and this is when I get caught up on the stacks of books that have been waiting for me to crack open.  D and I are also hooked on Netflix and TV series available on ITunes.  We often get into our jammies and binge watch a series on a weekend.  As a result, it sometimes takes an effort to get our butts off of the couch and out into our city.


Sydney’s at the Forks is in a gorgeous setting with views outside of the snowy landscape and Christmas lights strung across a foot bridge.


Inside is warm and cozy with subdued lighting and the hushed conversations of fellow diners.   Sydney’s has a prix fixe (fixed price) menu where you chose a starter, an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert for $55.  Although the selection is extensive, I find $55 a bit steep.  Our favourite Prix Fixe restaurant is across the river at The Promenade Café where the all inclusive price is $28. Read on for a remedy to offset the expense.


We both started with the smoked crab croquette.  I particularly liked the  caviar aioli that was dotted around the plate.  Alas, I missed out on the promised beet popcorn, so D shared a couple of his kernels with me.  I was surprised at the smoky taste and wondered if I might like smoked crab as well as I do smoked salmon.


For the appetizer course, I chose a truffle mushroom ravioli topped with a  chestnut purée, floating in a tomato broth and garnished with sage.  I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t deeper tones of the truffles.  I am absolutely hooked on the pungent, musky taste.


Even though D was having a pork entrée, he decided on the pork belly appetizer as well. The fatty meat had been braised with apples and bourbon and was perched upon butternut squash succotash.  He couldn’t detect the promised hickory stick crumble.


By this time, we need a little rest and were pleased with the red pepper/strawberry sorbet that came by to cleanse our palette.


I was drawn to the main of flounder because the menu promised roasted artichokes.  In fact, there was 1/4 of a marinated artichoke that looked more like the garnish. The fried squash was delicious but I could not detect the pickled jalapeno aioli.  In the mean time though the flounder was plentiful and fabulous.  The searing of the fish in browned butter lent it a salty and nutty flavour as well as keeping the flesh of the fish succulently moist and piping hot.


As I filled up on the scads of fish, I felt badly for D who was presented with this tiny plate.  He did appreciate the pork tenderloin and single gyoza but would have appreciated a bigger portion of the gyoza at least.


Normally, we would have not indulged in dessert but because it was included in the one price, we couldn’t resist.  D decided upon the pecan pie, anticipating that it would be as good as his Mom’s.  Unfortunately, it was not.  I, on the other hand loved the flourless gianduja chocolate cake.   Gianduja is a sweet chocolate spread containing hazelnut paste and since I prefer savoury over sweet desserts, it was just my cuppa tea.  I gave the chili brandy snap and white russian ice cream to D who needed more sustenance.

The table service was attentive and polite but a little bit on the robotic side for my tastes.  Case in point: I was enamoured by the way the server indicated that he could make me a special cocktail until I heard him use exactly the same words and intonation with the lady sitting next to me. The evening had some pitfalls but we thought that we came out quite well as we had used a special gift card with a value of $75 that had been purchased for $60 (available from a participating Safeway, Sobeys, PharmaPlus, Real Canadian Superstores). This was accomplished through a program entitled Main St. Offers.  Check out their website to see their other Winnipeg promos at:  If you are celebrating a special occasion, you may want to do the same.  The setting is very intimate and romantic.  Had we dressed a wee bit warmer, we might have taken the opportunity to stroll along the river walk.

Sydney's at the Forks on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Pork fat rules!”-Emeril Lagasse


Love-that is all.

Jane’s Restaurant


The first thing that I was struck by when I entered Jane’s Restaurant was the presence of light that flooded into the grand room that used to be a bank.  The windows were huge and the sunlight bounced off the walls.  A beautiful place to have lunch with my eldest daughter-Beep (as the Wee One affectionately calls her).

Jane’s as you may already know is the teaching restaurant of Red River College’s esteemed culinary program.  Many of Winnipeg’s top chefs are graduates of the program and we knew that we were in for a treat.


A bread basket laden with lavash, focaccia and a three leafed clover bun arrived with plenty of butter that had been whipped up with emulsified red pepper.


We shared an Asian Salad that was adorned with crispy bites of pickerel (my favourite fish).


Beep chose a tagliatelle pasta that had been tossed with sage, toasted walnuts and crumbled gogonzola cheese.  She thought that the bold flavours complemented each other perfectly.


I was saving myself for my entrée of Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin which were succulently moist and pink inside-exactly the way I like it.  The tenderloins were perched upon a barley pilaf.  The garden-pulled rainbow carrots steered me to the other end of my plate.


A perfectly seared scallop adorned this end of the plate.  Scallop flesh is as sweet as dessert to me and especially so when adorned with a sweet acorn squash.  I was in heaven!


We had the Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie wrapped up for another time but I happily ate the thin little cookies and homemade coffee ice cream that decorated the plate.


As we were leaving I spied a salad being prepared in the advanced culinary lab.  Even though I could not possibly taste another thing, the artistic assembly of the salad was a feast for the eyes.

If you are planning on dining at Jane’s and I strongly recommend that you do, be sure to check out their website for their exact hours as their hours are designated for the needs and requirements of the student’s curriculum

Jane's on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”  -Julia Child

peach heart.jpg

Love-that is all.


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