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Jessie’s Kitchen Ukrainian Restaurant and Deli

 jessie1The residents of the apartment tower at 60 Whellams Lane are very fortunate indeed, especially throughout this past winter.  They didn’t even have to put on their winter boots to dine at one of the tastiest restaurant and delis in the Kildonans.  If you have never been to Jessie’s Kitchen before, you will need to pay close attention.  The restaurant is located in the lower level of an apartment block and you are required to buzz in and then follow a maze of hallways to  obtain a prized visit.


We were immediately greeted by a vivacious woman who I assumed was Jessie.  When we inquired, we were told that Jessie had moved out East but that we were still in good hands.  Jessie left her scrumptious recipes and the restaurant in the care of married couple Bruce and Margaret.  Not only had both worked at Jessie’s over the years but their daughter is married to Jessie’s son, so they are “kooms” (as such relationships are referred to in Ukrainian).


My lunch date appropriately started with a bowl of borscht.  The beet soup was only one of three offerings that day.  In fact, Margaret shared that in any given week they go through 30 L of soup “to go” on top of what is served up in the bright and pleasant surroundings. 


This was followed up with a Ukrainian Reuben (at my urging so that I could taste a bite).  Winnipeg Old Country Kolbassa is grilled on rye bread with mozzarella cheese, an unusual sauerkraut including carrot strips and a lively dressing.  The resulting sandwich is juicy and delectable.


I opted for another spin on an old favourite and chose the Potato Pancake Pizza.  The enormous pancake was scrumptious enough but made even more so when topped with kolbassa, sautéed onions and a cheese blend.  The tomato sauce made it closer to an authentic pizza, but I loved the other tastes so well, that I could have happily done without it.  Margaret noticed that I hadn’t used the accompanying sour cream.  I sheepishly responded that I was trying to reduce my calories and fat.  What a crazy notion, at a Ukrainian Kitchen!  Ukrainians have faced hard work and adversity throughout history and they needed this kind of sustenance to weather their hardships.


My companion ordered an enormous slice of strawberry/blueberry pie to go.  Margaret divulged that they had picked the strawberries themselves and kept them in the deep freeze.  She and Bruce utilize fresh local produce wherever possible and the sparkling tastes from their kitchen are confirmation of their philosophy.

Jessie's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Kath’s quote: “You cannot fight fire with fire, so what makes you think you can overcome hatred with anything but love.”-Unknown


Love-that is all.

St. Patrick’s Day at 529 Wellington


I have said it before, I live a blessed life.  I have been teaching up in Thompson MB and fly back there tomorrow which means I have been hard to pin down for a lunch date. There were to be three and perhaps four of us for a midday meal celebrating the success of the Sochi Olympics for CBC Winnipeg.  I thought when I arrived home from a week of teaching up north late on Friday night that I was especially tired but this morning I put two and two together and realized that with my daily headaches, body aches and overwhelming fatigue, I must have the flu.  I pulled myself off of the visiting schedule to see my Mom.  The last thing that her geriatric ward at the Misrecordia Hospital needs would be me, spreading my germs around.  I also cancelled a supper date with D, instead we’ll enjoy some soup and homemade bread and watch the Jets game together.  But I didn’t feel that I could/should renege on my lunch date.  Besides the rendezvous was at 529 Wellington!

I made the correct choice because when I got there, she was sitting all alone.  Life is unpredictable and sure enough, I was the only one from the group who could accept her invite.  My host is animated enough to keep the conversation going single-handedly (not in a bad way, but a warm and gregarious one).


She knew what she was having without even opening her menu.  She declared that she always has a steak when she is at 529-Beefsteak that is.  She is hooked on the Beefsteak Tomato Salad and I can see why.  The enormous, meaty slices of tomato were smothered in thin rings of red onions and blue cheese dressing with morsels of blue cheese, crumbled on top.


She consistently couples the salad with 529’s French Onion soup.  She enthusiastically lapped up the broth, sautéed onions and cheese and managed to leave the bread floating in the bowl. Just before she broke through the bubbly cheese crust, our server came by and poured a glistening of sherry over it.


As I have been yearning for spring, I have also been longing once again for a taste of Manitoba pickerel.  529’s is typically battered and deep fried but the chef was coaxed into sautéing it for me.  The result was sublime, especially with a squeeze of the provided lemon.


This meant that I could justify (in my own mind at least) the inclusion of 529’s fabulous fries.  Fries are my weakness and with the exception of Mexico, I have not had a fry since New Year’s when I made my resolutions.  529’s fries are definitely worth the indulgence.

Our perfect lunch was made even more so by running into old friends: Jim Armstrong and Doug Stephen, the gallant owner/operators of Wow Hospitality Concepts (with Janet Cunningham, another long time friend).  After such an engaging lunch and lovely chats with all, I felt as if I had successfully shaken off my ill effects-amazing how friends can lift your spirits in an instant.

529 Wellington on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “It takes a long time, to grow an old friend.”-Unknown


Love-that is all.

















Come N’ Eat in Neechi Commons

come4.jpgNeechi Foods Co-op at 865 Main St. in North Point Douglas is incorporated as a worker cooperative, owned and operated by its staff and the Neechi Commons’ building with its exposed brick walls and sunlit rooms was beautifully designed to let the sun and sky flood inside, while at the same time keeping the prairie wind at bay.  We wound our way up the spiral staircase to their restaurant dubbed Come N’Eat and found the last available table tucked next to the window.  The inauspicious dining room is pristine and unadorned with the exception of huge paintings on the north wall.  We shopped many times at Neechi Foods when they were located on Dufferin for pickerel, wild rice and blueberries and I had pretty much decided that I would go with one of these authentic ingredients.  Would it be the bannock French toast covered in blueberries or the wild rice and sweet potato croquettes?  I knew too that Come N’Eat would be memorable because I had also visited the Tallest Poppy Restaurant just down the street.  The connection?   Talia Syrie who operated the novel little café in the Occidental Hotel is now the Food-service Manager at Neechi Commons.  I was also familiar with her talents from her work with Raw-Almond, the temporary pop-up restaurant on the river near the Forks.    


In the end, I opted for the Pickerel Burger.  The cost of this local fish is forever accelerating which makes me happy for the toiling fishermen of Lake Winnipeg.  But the dear price of the fish must be a challenge for chefs who are trying to prepare affordable dishes incorporating our local delicacy.  Come N’Eat chooses to economize by preparing a patty of potatoes and some minced pickerel which delivers a delicate fish flavour.  In truth, I would have liked to have known this in advance because the menu description of Breaded Pickerel had me salivating for a different taste altogether. 


The grilled bun was set aside and instead I tucked into the House Salad of wild rice, cucumber, corn and apple.  The dressing was light and the nutty full-bodied taste of the rice was allowed to shine.


My luncheon date decided upon Talia’s New Breakfast which proved to be a casserole of sautéed mushrooms, peppers, bacon and potatoes, crowned with two glorious poached eggs and triangles of bannock.  Glistening green kale poked out of the casserole.  She remarked that she had never tasted kale prepared in this way before.   The cook had gone easy on the salt and the entire dish “felt” and tasted full of nutrients and very healthy. The fruit accompaniment was a nice light extra.

This is a lovely spot for delectable food at breakfast and lunch.

Come 'n Eat on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Eggs taste best in the spring. Fresh eggs are given to young mothers to drink, and popular wisdom holds them to be good for newlyweds too.”-Pellegrino Artusi


Love-that is all.

More Smoke


I have been faithful to my new regime of eating, low fat, no deep-fried items, no processed foods.  I decided a month ago that it would have to be a really extraordinary dish to get me to veer off my clean eating track.  This week I received an email announcing that Smoke’s Poutinerie was opening a second location and would I like to drop by for a VIP preview of the restaurant?  We have visited their Albert St. location a number of times since they opened in 2011.  They have enjoyed such success.  Well if anything was going to make me break my vows to myself, poutine would be it.  I love poutine, but it has to be absolutely authentic.  That means a savoury gravy and real cheese curds-the squeakier the better.  Smoke’s Poutinerie fills the bill.


Add to it, Daughter #2’s recommendation to try their “Country Style” poutine with grilled chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and baby peas and oh la, la.  I ordered it, I ate it, I loved it!  The toppings should be dubbed something else because they don’t merely sit on top but are found threaded all through the hand-cut, yellow-fleshed fries.


So every forkful contained the winning combination of tastes.  I especially enjoyed how the sweetness of the peas, offset the saltiness of the gravy and sautéed veggies.


D followed the lead of The Frenchman and selected the “Montreal”.  Get this: shaved Montreal smoked meat, kosher dill pickle slices and a squeeze of yellow mustard.  I thought that it sounded yucky but D absolutely loved it.


He described it as very unique and said that all the flavours together tasted like a smoked meat sandwich, the likes of which we’ve savoured at the world-famous Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal.

I predict that Smoke’s will do very well in Transcona with their meal in a box.  D’s family once lived in Tcon and they are a hard-working community who love their meat and potatoes.  Thanks for the invite Smoke’s.

Smoke's Pouitnerie Regent on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Vive La Poutine Libre!”-unknown

Love-that is all.

529 Revisited, Again


Like many of you, I love the Christmas season and especially the excuse to get together for special parties, lunches and dinners.  For me there is sometimes a little bit of a let down when the season is over, especially if I am working hard at keeping my New Year’s resolutions.  One of my suppliers must feel this way too because she invited me out for a Christmas lunch that we celebrated just yesterday-perfect timing.



529 is often heralded as being one of the more exclusive restaurants in the city.  Indeed, it does feel as if you are dining on someone’s estate or at their private club.  The lunch time menu is very accessible, offering everything that you might imagine from burgers and sandwiches to steaks and seafood.  What the public often chatters about is that 529’s menu is entirely a la carte but at a time of year when I am turning away anything deep fried or carb heavy, this is very much appreciated.  Why pay for fries when they are only going to tempt me and make me feel as if I am wasting food (I scorn food being needlessly wasted).


As it were, one of the guests at our table never has to worry about over indulging.  He indicates the he has a very high metabolism, eats whatever he wishes and remains perfectly slim.  He went for the burger special which on this day was adorned with brie and apple jam.  I watched as he took his first bite (perhaps a bit too longingly), with meat juices bursting forth and luckily landing on the plate below.  I know that 529’s fries are exceptional as I have taste them before, and I was tempted to reach across the table and nab a couple of his.  Somehow I restrained myself.


Our host is a careful eater each an every day and a real inspiration to me.  She selected the salmon and spinach salad.  At first glance she was concerned that the fillet was on the small side but it was a very thick wedge which ensured that it could be perfectly cooked.  She managed to portion the salmon so she that she could have a piece with every taste of spinach and was well pleased.


I order mussels every chance I get.  Our helpful server relayed a message to the kitchen to go heavy on the white wine and easy on the butter.  The result was light but satisfying.  The huge mussels assembled at the bottom of the bowl had benefitted from extra marinating and were exploding with perfumed flavors from the wine and briny ones from the sea.  I was able to enjoy each dollop of sauce with the toast triangles which gilded the plate. We all glanced at the dessert menu and determined what we “would” have had, were we to be ordering and then happily departed ways without experiencing any regrets.

529 Wellington on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quotes: “I’m strong to the finach, ‘cuz I eats me spinach”-Popeye

Love-that is all.

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