Browsing: Restaurant Features

Horfrost-Part 1

July23

I think that events like Christmas and summer holidays are made more enjoyable because of the anticipation surrounding the dates.  I have waited over a year to visit Horfrost.  Portage la Prairie is a mere hour west of Winnipeg and would be an easy drive for dinner.  In fact, if we lived in any other major city in Canada , we would probably be used to driving for that amount of time to spend an evening out, on a regular basis.  But this is Winnipeg, where D and I often walk out for supper and if we do have to take the car, the drive is 20 minutes (max) to cross the city.  We often do eat at out of town restaurants, but they are typically to the north of us, en route to the our little beach house.

When D presented me with a rural road trip for Mothers Day-I jumped at the chance to spend time with him, visit the Lilly Festival in Neepawa and stay at a historic B&B in Minnedosa.  But I was also scheming, even months ago, to stop at Portage la Prairie on our way home with Horfrost in mind.  I even knew what I would likely order last week, as I started chatting in twitterverse about our weekend trek.

As circumstances turned out, Sister #3 beat me to Horfrost with her visit for lunch last week.  She subjected her colleagues to our automatic photo taking when the food arrives.  D says that he has not had a hot meal since I began this blogging adventure.

She enjoyed the Beef Tenderloin Burger-pieces of beef tenderloin steak, homemade bun, lettuce, tomato and house dijon sauce and

her friends had the Tofu and Mushroom Melt with Baked Tomato Soup with mozzarella.  I think that she enjoyed the expertise and attention to detail of Horfrost’s chef as much as we did.

But alas, we haven’t even gotten to my eating adventures.  As I said at the beginning of this, aniticipation can be wonderful-see tomorrow for Part 2.

Horfrost on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “the most usual, common, and cheap sort of Food all China abounds in, and which all in that Empire eat, from the Emperor to the meanest Chinese; the Emperor and great Men as a Dainty, the common sort as necessary sustenance. It is called Teu Fu, that is Paste of Kidney Beans. I did not see how they made it. They drew the Milk out of the Kidney Beans, and turning it, make great Cakes of it like Cheeses, as big as a large Sive, and five or six fingers thick. All the Mass is as white as the very Snow, to look to nothing can be finer….Alone, it is insipid, but very good dress’d as I say and excellent fry’d in Butter.”-Friar Domingo Navarrete, 17th century

Love-that is all.

Luxalune Summer Menu Launch

July17

There is something immensely satisfying about supporting a neighbourhood place like Luxalune Gastropub.  Most Winnipeggers know the story of the Warwaruk brothers and their efforts to save the family farm by opening Lux Sole (one of Winnipeg’s original Tapas restaurants), followed by their move to the Gastrobpub concept and Luxalune.

Last evening, through the one of the many advantages of social media, we were invited to and attended the launch of their new menu.   We got one of the last empty tables, as most of the enthusiasts were able to get there more prompt ly than us.

Our biggest decision of the evening was which on the many fine craft beers that Luxalune features, would we select.  I had tastes of a couple and decided upon a blueberry beer, selected both for taste and because I imagined it to be full of the anti-oxidants that I normally consume in my glass of red wine.

After which, no further decisions had to be made for the rest of the evening.  We sunk deeply into the leather couches and just accepted the food tastes that kept arriving at our table.  All tolled, we tasted samples of the Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip (with a nice little punch of heat) served with Lux tapas garlic bread, Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings (that were deliciously citrusy-tasting to us), Garlic Bruschetta Pizza (my fav of the pizza choices with feta and fresh mushroom slices), Caribbean Jerk Pizza (smothered with marinara jerk sauce, Cajun BBQ julienned beef and carrots!), Lux Poutine (which warrants special accolades below), Sweet n Savory Mahi Mahi Pizza (featuring a Thai peanut base and Cajun seared Mahi Mahi) and Marshmallows Pops (drizzled with dark and white chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of sugared peanuts) to end up.

I will say at this juncture, that we were very satified with our little tastes, as were the rest of the guests and could have easily departed for home but it was a rare date night with J1 and J2 and so we paused and then sampled a couple more.

Chris and his manageress Kim conspired to deliver us a new pizza invention that I believe they called Pouza (a word combination of poutine and pizza) that describes it literally.  Being the potato and poutine aficionado that you know I am-I was delighted.  

We had missed out on the Lux Enchiladas, as they were sampled earlier and so a full order arrived for us to sample.  We love the Mexican rice that is stuffed alongside the chicken, cheese and veggies  into a crispy baked enchilada.  Do you know how half of the fixings fall out onto your plate when you are trying to eat a Mexican wrap?  Well this is cleverly rectified with the inclusion of a handful of taco chips served alongside, so that you can scoop up every delicious bite.

Last, but by no means least, were another order of chicken wings.  These were a combination of the Electric Honey and Lemon Pepper choices.  There are another 10 flavours offered from Dill Pickle (on the menu’s Sweet scale) to Crazy Mexican (on the Screaming scale). Dry ribs come in all these flavours as well.

Of late, I have avoided fried foods and pizza and am proud to say that I am 19 pounds closer to wellness, as a result.  Luxalune very strategically does not deep fry any of their tapas offerings including their wings and potatoes for poutine!  So I can indulge in a special treat, guilt free.  And when potatoes are not deep fried they are actually very good for you, as they are an excellent  source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.   The wings are covered in a coating that creates the impression of deep frying but they are actually oven baked and beautifully done so.

I managed to assemble the team for a moment last evening, before they had to rush back to what they do best-taking care of their loyal customers.  Here are Chris, Lawrence, Kim and Tom.

On the horizon, is the arrival of Luxalune’s own brewed beer, which will come from their homestead near the village of Arden, between Neepawa and Minnedosa.  D loves the area and is treating me to the Lily Festival this weekend.  The matriarch of the family, who was there last night as well, suggested that we drop in on Lawrence-the farming brother (identified by his tan), but we think that we will just mosey along and enjoy all that a summer weekend in rural Manitoba has to offer.

Luxalune Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “Farmers are the only indispensable people on the face of the earth.”-Li Zhaoxing

Love -that is all.

Pizzeria Gusto Revisited

July13

I am so blessed to not live in the suburbs.  Not only do we have the river bank,  lots of green space, bike and walking trails, but we have our pick of some of the best restaurants in the city, all within walking distance.  On this day I was meeting a work associate, who had already started her summer vacation, but was including me in her day for us to iron out some last minute details.  The destination had to be one that made her feel as if she were truly on vacation (and perhaps no longer in the city).  The patio at Pizzeria Gusto delivers that wonderful feeling.

It was hot but breezy and we choose to sit without an umbrella.  This became a wise decision when the winds pick up and people were getting the surprize of a huge canvas umbrella crashing across their table. Gusto took on additional meaning at this lunch.

Both my lunch date and I are adventurous eaters and he have both dined at Pizzeria Gusto before, so we were looking for something completely different and our wishes were satisfied by the bistro’s eclectic offerings.

We asked to share both a salad and a pizza. Our salad choice was the Altezza, so named for the tail lights of a European sports car.  Beets are roasted and then married with arugula, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, a balsamic reduction and sea salt.  Orange segments were a lovely surprize addition to the menu description.  This proved to be a beautiful melding of sweet and salty tastes that is my palate’s favourite combination.

Also shared was La Coppa pizza. Now “coppa” of course is Italian for “cup” but can also depict a roughly made sausage.  In this case I think it aptly describes our rough looking pizza toppings of carmelized onions, pancetta, more goat cheese, the novel topping of thinly shaved raw brussel sprouts and a soft cooked egg!  The sharpness of the sprouts, offset the rich creaminess of the egg and cheese and the salty pancetta made for a full spectrum of tastes in each bite.  In truth, I could just eat the hearth fired pizza dough bare naked (the crust, not me).  The textured is firm and chewy and the sweetness of the grains, brought out by the flame is just my coppa tea.

There was no room (or time, unfortunately) for dessert.  Besides, the wind was picking up and we had enough excitement from the flying umbrellas for one day.

Pizzeria Gusto on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”-P. J. O’Rourke

Love-that is all.

Segovia Revisited-Part 2

July12

I took my seat on Segovia’s comfortable patio and then declared to D & Daughter #1, that whatever were their choices, I was happy to go along with them, because I had never tasted anything at Segovias that I was not delighted with.  But by the time we had a chance to settle in and sip on our refreshing Sangria, I was remembering all the tastes that I had experienced before.  When the server came around to take our order, I found that I was blurting out all of my “must haves” before anyone else had a chance to get a word in edge wise.  Thank heavens, I have a family who is as patient as they are, with my passion for food.

Patatas Bravas were a must.  I can not decide if it is the perfectly cooked potato slices themselves or the succulent aioli and bravas sauces. I think I may actually have to travel to Spain to get my fill of these.  I understand that there are a few subtle variations in how the dish is prepared according to the regions of Spain.

I also remembered Segovia’s aioli and really wanted more of it.  The Spanish Tortilla is topped with aioli in abundance!  The first time I tasted this dish I was surprized because ( in my ignorance), I thought that I was going to be served something in a Mexican tortilla.  But because “tortilla” actually means “little cake” in Spanish, tortillas can be made from a variety of concoctions.  The version from Spain is a little cake of eggs like an omelet or fritata.  The richness of the eggs and the aioli is countered with the grassy, freshness of the soft herbs.

D chose the sea scallops that are huge as any I’ve seen.  They sit perched upon scallop ceviche with a twist of a sweet potato crisp as the crown.  D enjoys when the scallops are just barely seared and these were perfectly cooked.

Daughter #1 added the Malfatti.  I cannot say with certainty that these are a Spanish dish, as the word actually is Italian meaning “badly made”, that is as if they were “a sloppily made gnocchi” or “ravioli without a pasta encasement”.  I do know that there is nothing “badly made” about this amazing dish. I suppose they become Spanish when made by Segovia’s recipe with Manchego cheese which is named for the La Mancha region of Spain (think: Man of La Mancha).  The pale yellow of the cheese is typical as are the small, unevenly distributed air-pockets.  The buttery cheese taste was offset by the spicy tomato sauce.

“A Friend of a Friend” came to visit at the conclusion of dinner, that being the title of a refreshing cocktail made with fresh lime juice, coconut juice and jalapeno lemon grass syrup.  The sips that Daughter #2 shared with us were such a surprize-the pepper tastes melded perfectly with sweet citrus.

In our opinion the food (and just about everything else) at Segovia Tappas Bar & Restaurant is nothing short of perfection.

Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) epitomizes the heat, the power, and the joy of the Provençal sun, but it has another virtue – it drives away flies.”-Frédéric Mistral

Love-that is all.

Segovia Revisited-Part 1

July11

This morning on Twitter someone posted these questions:  “Are restaurant critics, still anonymous?  Does anyone know what they look like? ” I have a fairly strong opinion about this for a number of reasons: 1) I personally am not a restaurant critic nor would I ever want to be, because just the title depicts a nit-picking personality.  I do not live life this way-I try to see the good in everybody and in everything (I am otherwise known as Polyanna).  2) I believe that the time of validity for a restaurant reviewer is passe.  In today’s cyber-world where we recognize strangers from their avatars, anonymity is a thing of the past and 3) I believe that liking or disliking something comes from a different place, in all of us.

An example of the latter point is this:  I make all decisions about preference on a purely emotional basis.  I like a novel when I am happy and surrounded by my favourite things, while I am reading it.  I like certain artistic works because they evoke a positive emotion or memory for me.  I like movies that have happy endings because I like to be happy myself!  And so too with food.  I like a restaurant because of the entire package, perhaps because of little things that others might never notice.

This preamble is to explain why I love Segovia to such an extent (even though I have only dined there a small handful of times).  These are my emotional reasons: 1) it uses natural elements in its decor like bleached driftwood that reminds me of my favourite place to walk at the beach 2) I used to work in the building next door to it and so I was interested in the assembly of it, even before I knew what it was going to be. 3) I especially enjoy a tapas style of menu because this is typically the manner in which my husband and I dine in the first place, with little tastes off of each others’ plates.  Segovia (imho) brought tapas dining back into vogue in Winnipeg. 4) I know many customers when I dine at Segovia and it feels good to be surrounded by a warm community. 5) The servers at Segovia are particularly inclined towards my eldest daughter.

Daughter #1 is a person with a disability, as is her best friend.  They manage their lives very independently with the use of motorized wheelchairs.  Accommodating a single one of these machines in an intimate dining setting is not easy and because they often dine together, even more complicated.  But the staff at Segovia embrace them in the most welcoming and gracious way.  When we recently dined there with Daughter #1, they anticipated which beverage she would order and remembered what small plates she had chosen the time previous.   Our server even went so far as to consult the other staff members for the best tattoo artist in Montreal, when they learned that she was interested in getting inked on her vacation.

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an understatement when you have reared a child with a disability.  There is so must pleasure and satisfaction, when you see how the community at large respects and admires your special child.  I believe that the servers at Segovia see past the big chairs of Daughter #1 and her friend and appreciate their intelligence, wit, savvy and beauty.  This brings me much joy.

So, do you see?  The food happens to be amazing, but Segovia means much more to me than this.  But because this is a food blog, after all, I’ll report on our perfect visit in tommorrow’s post.

Kath’s quote: “With money anyone can offer succulent dishes and famous wines, but courtesy and kindness cannot be bought.”-Lucien Tendret

Love-that is all.

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