Browsing: Restaurant Features

Scotia Amex Cross Canada Meet Up

October25

I am often sent invitations to events where the details are on the mysterious side.  Such was the case, with the recent event hosted by Scotiabank.  There was no mention that food would be offered and yet I should have known with Deseo Bistro being the venue.  With D out of town and my wanting to get caught up on some culinary visits, I asked Sister #3 to join me for the evening.  Our first destination was a new restaurant in the neighbourhood for one writing assignment and then desert at another place for a different writing commitment.  By the time we arrived at Deseo, we had already enjoyed a wonderful evening filled with delightful tastes and good fun.  Little did we know that there was considerably more of both to come.

The cross Canada bloggers meet up was to engage us with a new travel rewards card from the Scotia Amex folks.  I am definitely going to explore applying for the card.  The food theme for the evening was regional tastes from all the participating provinces.

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First up was BC smoked salmon topped with creme fresh and caviar (although it looks as if the caviar was not present on this later offering).  The salty smokiness and richness of the salmon was beautifully offset by the buttery cream and caviar.  The latter was lightly applied which was appreciated because although I enjoy the intense taste of caviar, too much could have overpowered the star of the appetizer-the salmon.

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Lobster croquettes topped with blueberries, representing Nova Scotia came around next.  I adore the taste of lobster and found that the fieriness of the ingredients which were intended to enhance the sweet shellfish, may have actual masked the delicate taste.  I will happily eat lobster at every opportunity and this is certainly not a criticism, just my preference.

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The Alberta beef tenderloin took on a Korean influence with a topping reminiscent of kim chee.  The treat took two bites to eat and was wonderfully messy.

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Two delicacies were appointed from Quebec-poutine and foie gras.  Fingerling potatoes contained a scoop of delicate duck liver.  Oh my!

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My two favourite tastes are pictured here: from Ontario and Manitoba.

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Representing Ontario: baby cobs of corn were wrapped in prosciutto and then grilled.  There were so much fun and equally delicious.

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From Manitoba: Omgoodness-the pork belly was sublime!  The strip of natural fat stayed firm until it entered your mouth and then it just melted way into sheer loveliness.  Chokecherries provided that salty/sweet taste that I constantly crave.  Heaven, I’m in heaven…..

Deseo Bistro on Urbanspoon

We were hosted with other lovely treats besides food, including a cocktail dubbed the Lumberjack which was like a whiskey sour made with a maple infusion.  One lucky attendee walked away with a $400. Travel Voucher!

Thanks Ben from Scotiabank for hosting us for this fun and delicious evening.

Kath’s quote: “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill.

Love-that is all.

 

 

Ferraro 502 Toronto

October7

On a weekend where we had already gathered for a casual help-yourself breakfast, been out for a dim sum lunch and had plans to celebrate a monumental birthday in the evening at a cocktail party reception, we decided to assemble for a supper of salad at a neighbourhood restaurant.  We have dined at Ferraro many times over the years that Bro D has lived in midtown Toronto and we have visited and stayed with him.

All the ingredients that are assembled into salads, pastas and pizzas are hand-made on premise with a light tough.  Their tomato sauces as I recalled and then tasted again that evening allowed the fresh tomato taste to shine through,  without masses of garlic and/or herbs.

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There was no tomato sauce on our salads, but one member of our group couldn’t resist his favourite item on the menu and ordered the Pescatore Spaghetti.  This is how I got to sample the delightful sauce that I remembered.  Pescatore means fish and this dish was chock full of mussels, calamari and shrimp.

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When Bro D drops in for a quick salad dinner, they often select the Griglia con Pollo.  We are crazy for grilled red peppers and zucchini that provides the base of the salad. The addition of chicken tossed in balsamic vinaigrette with more dressing on the mixed greens provides deep and pungent flavours.

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Montagna is another of their favourite.  Black olives, roasted red peppers & feta cheese are also tossed in balsamic vinaigrette before being laid a top of more mixed greens.

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I knew that the Eggplant & Arugula would be my favourite taste of the evening as soon as I spotted it listed in chalk on the black board and my hunch was right.  The thinly sliced, crispy breaded and lightly fried eggplant was a delight when complemented by freshly sliced tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.  The dish was a bit like Eggplant Parmigiana meets Caprese Salad.  I was in heaven.

Ferraro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When I was alone, I lived on eggplant, the stove top cook’s strongest ally…. “-Laurie Colwin

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Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger:Sister #3-Deer+Almond Revisited

September30

I have had a few more occasions to visit Deer + Almond this summer and I continue to enjoy the food and atmosphere of this trendy little tapas restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. 

My bestie was in town to celebrate her 50th so I thought Deer + Almond would be a place where she would enjoy the food and we could have a leisurely visit with a couple of cocktails.  As usual our dinner started with a bowl of seasoned popcorn, an on-the-house amuse bouche to get your appetite going as you review the menu.  From the regular menu we tried the house salad of thinly sliced beets, creamy goat cheese, mixed greens and pecans in sherry vinaigrette.

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I have long wanted to try the grilled zucchini which in reality has very little zucchini but lots of hummus, tabouleh salad and tzatziki sauce.  It is served with lightly toasted pita, which we could of used a few more slices of to scoop up all that goodness.

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From that night’s special board we selected a prawn dish cooked with cilantro and tomato and served with garlic toast.  I liked it but long for the return of Chef Mandel’s Sultry Prawns. We also tried the steamed pork buns which I thought rivaled any I have had at a dim sum house. 

Being a special occasion we had to finish with dessert.  The sound of the affagato appealed to my friend so that is what we ordered. Although this dish of ice cream with crumbled amaretto biscuit and espresso had an enjoyable flavour, it is not an easy dish to share as by the end it is more a coffee drink than a dessert.  

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My most recent visit to Deer + Almond was for lunch.  Members of our department are spread out among three hospitals so we often meet in the Exchange District as it is a central location. The gang was looking for recommendations, so this was my recommendation. The tastes and levels of adventure when it comes to food are diverse in this group, so my hope was this place would offer something for everyone.  I must say I was impressed with the value at lunch. 

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The sandwiches and wraps included your choice of house salad or grilled corn on the cob. 

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My boss tried the soba noodle salad which proved to be too much food for her but was apparently still delicious as lunch the next day.

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A few of my coworkers had the smoked lamb pita which they thoroughly enjoyed.  A few of us had the chicken salad sandwich. Chunks of chicken with grapes, cherries and walnuts, however I could not find any cherries.  It was topped with alfalfa sprouts and served on delightful toasted pumpernickel.  Others had the pulled pork wrap from the daily feature board which met more mediocre reviews than the regular menu items.

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The dish that most intrigued me was the sprouted pulse ancient grains salad.  A mix of butter lettuce, radish, beets, carrots and grapes, enoki mushrooms with hemp and chia seeds in a goji dressing.  It is then topped with a soft boiled egg that has been soaked in beet juice making this a visually stunning plate.  I can’t wait to try it on a future visit.  

Deer + Almond on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee”.- Martin J. Nystrom

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Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Fitzroy

September27

I was treating a friend to lunch and needed a place that was close to my office that could feed us within my one hour time limit.  As my friend is a bit of a foodie and we were doing some brainstorming about food related things I thought I should find a place where the food was the star.  Fitzroy seemed like a logical choice to fit that bill and we were not disappointed.

Our waiter was attentive and displayed an obvious passion for the food he was serving. The menu is not extensive, which suits me fine.  I would rather see a menu with twelve items done well that with fifty items that are so-so.  Even with limited choices we had a hard time deciding as it was all tempting. We knew we wanted pork and shrimp as those are favorites of both of us.

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We started by sharing the warm pretzel with soft brown butter.

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We loved the sticky pork with corn and crackling.  I’m still not sure why it is called sticky as nothing about it was sticky but it was no less delicious.  The pork is prepared sous-vide, meaning it is vacuum packed in plastic then cooked in a water bath at a very precise temperature. This process allows the meat to quickly absorb flavors and break down connective tissue making the final product melt-in-your-mouth tasty.  The pork was served with corn that was creamed as well as crunchy corn nuts and crispy chicken skin. I thought they might have selected pork crackling instead of chicken but this was good too. This dish reminded both of us of our Mom’s pork roast dinners with cream corn and scallop potatoes, a classic in both our households growing up.

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Next we tried the buttery shrimp on parsley sauce with horseradish.  I was expecting much more heat from this dish but it was none the less, scrumptious.  The shrimp were nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked and the creamy puree complemented the lovely texture of the shrimp.

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On our waiters recommendation, we added the chopped salad, a smart idea as there were no vegetables with our other three dishes.  The salad was very pretty, crunchy and I really enjoyed the zingy dressing.  At $11.00 for a small bowl however I’m not sure the value was there.

Overall I really enjoyed our lunch.  I personally found the prices a bit steep for the neighborhood but the atmosphere is sleek and hip, the service efficient and friendly and the bites yummy.

Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “It is not elegant to gnaw Indian corn. The kernels should be scored with a knife, scraped off into the plate, and then eaten with a fork. Ladies should be particularly careful how they manage so ticklish a dainty, lest the exhibition rub off a little desirable romance.”-Charles Day, 1844

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Love-that is all.

Brunch at Earl’s on Main

September24

Being a foodie blogger has many fringe benefits.  I am able to make dates with my girls to join me for a lunch and other times I have invited D along to an opening or special dinner event.  J1 and J2 have even had the opportunity to “sub in” for us on a culinary tour of the Muskokas.  Rarely am I able to invite the entire family along to an event, but this past weekend we “almost” all got to participate.  My readers know how important family is to me and how I love to spread around the benefits of my wonderful life.  Last week, Chef Matt Frost of Earl’s on Main St. inquired whether we were available to join him at his Chef’s Table to sample their new Brunch menu.  The weekend was already very, very full but we were so glad to have agreed.

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Chef Matt met us at the entrance to the private dining room and we were delighted to have a separate area to ourselves.  It is not that we are rabble rousers or anything, quite the opposite in fact.

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We wanted to make sure that Wee One, who was accompanying us, didn’t give one of her urgent cries and disturb guests around us.  Coffee and mimosas were poured all around and we settled in to a brunch extravaganza.

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First up were Cream Cheese Cinnamon Buns which we were told will be served to everyone who joins the good folks at Earl’s for brunch.  Had it been the only thing that I knew that I would be eating that morning, I would have enjoyed every gooey morsel but anticipating that there was more ahead, allowed me to restrain myself after a taste.  I love a good yeasty and cinnamony bun, pure and simple, so I considered the frosting overkill, but I know that those of you with a sweet-tooth with go gaga for them.

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Matt then explained that a key component to the brunch menu was their crusty sourdough bread.  Matt created the starter himself and so you will know that whenever you tear into the flavourful loaf, no matter when in the future, you will be eating something that he created for your dining pleasure.

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When made into French Toast, we loved that the flesh of the loaf was airy but the crust was crunchy and full of ridges to make it even more so. The Chantilly cream, berry puree, real maple syrup and butter, were the icing on the cake-literally.

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We mistakenly thought that the frittata that came out next would be with a potato base (potato lover that I am).  J2 clarified that a frittata is simply a quiche without the crust.  This one is its own cast iron frying pan which kept it piping hot.  I particularly appreciated the nuggets of goat cheese when offset by the glistening green chives, which was likely added for a colourful garnish but was what I thought, an essential ingredient for my tastes.

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The Croque Madame was declared to be the favourite of many of our family members.  In short, it was a grilled ham and Swiss cheese sandwich that had been crowned with a rich yolked Omega 3 poached egg and surrounded by a Serrano cream sauce.

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While in France, D and I took every opportunity to order a Croque Monsieur which the Parisians often have in a cafe as a snack.  The addition of the poached egg makes the Monsieur, a Madame.

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Matt plans his tasting menu to serve the richest and heartiest dish last.  I would have selected it as my favourite, no matter when it had been placed in front of me, combining many of my favourite brunch foods into one dish.  Officially titled Chorizo + Mushroom Hash, the dish was exceedingly more delicious than its name.  The base of the hash were Yukon Gold Potatoes that had been roasted and smashed and then tossed in a garlic confit.  The poached egg and field mushrooms enhanced the dish but not, in my mind at least, to the extent that the delicate hollandaise and clever addition of avocado slices did.  The inclusion of breakfast sausage would have been an insult to this dish, instead the choice of chorizo was brilliant.

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You are certain that you have consumed beautifully created food when even the plate that is being cleared away is beautiful.

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Many restaurants are judged at brunch by their Eggs Benedict and Earl’s are sublime.  The substitution of thinly sliced Virginia ham rather than thick Canadian bacon, matched the delicacy of the poached eggs in a more appropriate manner.  The same potatoes as the ones utilized in the hash, accompanied the dish. Heaven, I am m in heaven……  Each time I go out for brunch I have to specially request that my hash browns be served crispy without being deep fried to extermination.  If I simply go to Earl’s in the future, I will never have to make that request again.

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As desert and to demonstrate a lighter offering, Greek yoghurt layered with home-made granola and berries arrived.  The inclusion of fresh mint and agave syrup elevated this Earl’s dish above the version that I prepare at home (yes-I even make my own granola).

Earl’s Brunch Menu is available at all Winnipeg locations on weekends and holidays.  Thanksgiving weekend would be a perfect time to go, but don’t wait that long.

Earls Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”-John Gunther

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Love-that is all.

 

 

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