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Brooklynn’s Bistro-A Preview

April4

We were delighted to receive an invitation for a sneak peak to this new edition to the Exchange scene at 177 Lombard Ave.

Almost immediately, we were greeted by Franca who introduced herself as Broklynn’s Mom.  My brain processed: “Oh so not “Brooklyn” as in NYC but  “Brook Lynn”.”  Being a lover of babies and family, I was impressed even before I even had a sip of a specialty cocktail or a taste of a canape by a business named after a 3 year old child.  Enormous black and white close ups of the photogenic little girl are the few accouterments of the understated decor. 

Franca also indicated that Chef Darryl was incorporating many of the family’s authentic Italian pasta and sauce recipes onto the menu. While we chatted and waited for the the sampling trays to circulate, I sipped on a glass of Zero Negro who’s taste I remember from our time in Sicily and D a Basil Sky-a martini made with a swill of Sky Vodka surrounding a pinched sprig of basil.  The lip of the glass had been edged with lemon and salt-so clever.  By the end of the evening we changed things up with a Peach Bellini.  I was totally uncouth as I dug the peach slice out of the bottom of the glass to enjoy.

A shard of grana padano topped the carpaccio 

We spotted the pasta dough being tossed in front of the Italian wood-burning pizza oven.  Somehow authentic pizza dough has the ability to be light as air and yet substantial enough to hold a bevy of toppings.  The Margerita proved to be our favourite. 

Brocoli, pork belly on saffron polenta

Chef Darryl Crumb’s reputation proceeds itself, having competed for Canada’s Top Chef.  His spins on the family’s classic Italian recipes were our favourites of the evening.

Beef Ravioli with a Red Wine Reduction

Pièce de résistance-Pesto Gnocchi

We often order gnocchi when we dine as we haven’t mastered the knack for these pillowy clouds of potato at home.  When tossed in a light cream sauce and then a drizzle of pesto-the dish was in our minds, the star of the evening.

That was of course until we saw Brooklynn herself arrive to meet the guests. 

When we attend the theatre or an event at the Concert Hall, we often look for a spot in the area for a light bite to start the evening.  We like to park once and walk from a bistro to the venue (as parking is at a premium in the area).  We also enjoy a performance much better, if we haven’t been weighted down by our dinner.  This will make Brooklynn’s an obvious choice in the future and we predict much success. 

Thank you for your hospitality.

Brooklynn's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Often, admiring a chef and getting to know him is like loving goose liver and then meeting the goose.”-George Lang

Taking Stock

January5

So I’ve been hammering away at my computer every morning of this past year in my turquoise housecoat doing this blogging thing and with the New Year, it is time to take a fresh look at things.  Could I please get your help? 

In case you’re too polite to post your opinions in the comment section of the blog itself-here is my email address for your honest thoughts: kgrisim@gmail.com

Feel free to answer as many or as few questions as you wish:

1) the template that I’m using was intended to feel like a personal journal, is this appropriate or should I go to a fresh design? what design elements would suit the content?

2) I use a combination of my own photos and a photo service that I subscribe to-does this mixture of styles look inconsistent? is this an issue? should I use all of my own or all of a service?

3) I include many anecdotes from my personal life-thoughts, reflections, circumstances…..this makes for an interesting read or you don’t really give a poop?

4) I don’t consider myself a restaurant critic but more of a food appreciator and my restaurant reviews reflect this.  Is this helpful or do you want to know about all of my negative observations as well?

5) If you are from Winnipeg-how do you feel when I write about our travel destinations?  Are the details of a dining experience boring if it is a place that you will never get to travel to?

6) If you have come to the blog through trip advisor for info about Isla Mujeres, is the stuff about Winnipeg and Manitoba lake country tedious for you?

7) Are you able to navigate the site easily i.e. if you are looking for a specific topic or recipe?  What “Pages” or Categories would be useful to you?  i.e. should I further categorize recipes into breakfast, lunches, etc.

9) Is my heart sign off hooky and overly sentimental?

10) Are “Kath’s quote’s” interesting/funny/ironic or dumb?

11)  Are my entries too long or too short?

12)  I blog every workday, is this too often or not often enough?

13)  I currently have a single advertiser but have been approached to include more.  Do you mind blog advertising?

14) Do you find too many spelling mistakes, sentence structure errors and spacing issues?  Do you actually notice or care or does it drive you absolutely crazy?

15) What other suggestions do you have for me?

Kath’s quote: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes.”-Frieda Norris

12 Favourite Foodie Things (Part 2)

December24

Without further adieu:

7) Mandatory Sunday dinner with the kids. Even when we are up at the cottage for the weekend, we get back into town early enough to have them over for dinner.  In the summer we enjoy cocktail time in our big backyard while D has something roasting on the rotisserie and then assemble around the table on the deck. 

Chocolate croissants in the expired bread rack at Superstore.  if you have to get out of your cozy bed to get some groceries before your workday begins, I highly recommend this motivator.

9) A supper network set up for Mom’s with newborns by other Moms of newborns.  Imagine not even thinking about what to take out of the freezer for a couple of weeks. 

10) Home cooked foodie gifts: a good friend gave me a gift bag filled with a bottle of their homemade wine which we are serving over Christmas, a red pepper jelly which we have already put out for guests and plan to again and a loaf of banana bread which will be a our Christmas morning treat as we open gifts.

11) We’ve rediscovered Crepes.  The Garden Creperie used to be one of our favourite restaurants.  My choice was always the Crepe St. Jacques in those days.  I hear Kawaii Crepes in the village is absolutely wonderful and very affordable.

12) Breaking Bread with family at Christmas.  My Mom, three brothers, two sisters, three sister-in-laws, one brother-in-law, six nephews (and  their children and significant others), four nieces (and their SOs) all live in Winnipeg.  Two of D’s three brothers are home as well as two of his three sisters.    Along with D’s Mom and husband there are 13 nieces and nephews-7 are here to celebrate with us.

13) sorry I can’t stop….  the joy of giving and serving: fetching a beer, hanging up a coat, fixing a traditional recipe, sweeping a walk, cooking up a fancy breakfast for no special reason, tucking a surprize in a pocket, you take it from here.

I hope that you are surrounded with all of your favourite things this Christmas.  Perhaps you don’t have a list…then take a minute to create one.  It does the heart good to reflect on the blessings in our lives at Christmas.

Kath’s quote: “It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.”-Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Peace on earth and godwill to all people.

Celebrating Life with Food (from the couch)

December6

I’ve been “under the weather” as they say-first the flu and now a cold.  Wow, I sure appreciate my wellness after a few days of that.  But if I had to be in bed for a weekend-this was the weekend to do so.  I was absolutely delighted by the Christmas foodie specials of the Food Network.  Each host, as you likely already know, has their own approach and style.  

Guy Fieri with his bleached out hair and backwards sunglasses approaches everything with a wide-open mouth and enthusiasm that make your mouth-water.  We’re excited to check out a couple of his haunts from Diners, Drive Ins and Dives when we are on a road trip next weekend. 

Giada has her own brand of enthusiasm with her enormous smile and constant cleavage.  Her kitchen overlooking the beach is a dream of mine, so I watch Giada at Home and live vicariously.  I caught Sunny Anderson for the first time.   She is one of the few chef’s that doesn’t perplex me,  That is, I wonder how these skinny people are around so many glorious dishes without packing on the extra pounds.  Well Sunny’s hips and her indulgent cooking style, is closer to my reality than any of the others.  Her show is aptly titled Cooking for Real.

Ricardo and Friends gives a peak at culinary Quebec that makes me proud.  The local ingredients and rustic recipes and country-side take me to an earlier time in my life  when I enjoyed time in the Gatineau mountains and we honey-mooned in Quebec City and the Eastern Townships.  But let’s face it-I could just have the audio on and listen to his accent and emphasis on different syllables and giggle like a school girl.

Another Canadian show that has me hooked is French Food at Home hosted by Laura Calder.  She reminds me a bit of actress Laura Linney and is very understated yet kooky and spontaneous.  Her show style includes the shopping for fresh produce, very close camera shots of the preparation and instead of a long tirade describing what is happening as ingredients are added-silence and the food does the talking.

By Saturday night I was feeling well enough to sit upright on the couch and D joined me for Jamie Oliver’s Christmas at Home.  I have such a crush on Jamie, especially when he is captured teasing his 90 year old Nan or teaching his beautiful little girls how to make pancakes on a miniature wood stove.  Turns out Jamie comes from a pub family which explains his authentic real food recipes.  I get such a kick out of his expressions and saucy style.

Well I’ve rambled long enough-I’m a day behind on my “real” work.  But I am on the mend and have renewed enthusiasm to celebrate our health and well-being with food!

Kath’s quote: “Measure the girth of the chef and you can rate his restaurant.” -French saying

Love heals.

Casa Grande Pizzeria

November26

I have rediscovered Casa Grande just recently but it sure looks as if their following has not waned over the years.  We arrived for lunch before the strike of noon and managed to snag a table but had we been detained we might have been out of luck.  I recommended the cosy place recently when Daughter #2’s BF was looking for an authentic Italian place to plan a date.  With the red and white table cloths and wax-laden white candles, it reminds me of the spaghetti eating scene in “Lady and the Tramp”. 

I have yet to sample a pasta as I try to avoid carbs at lunch but the salads are divine.  I am a purist when it comes to salad dressings having carefully noted the technique while travelling Italy.  A salad like the Greek one that I chose this time or the Italian that I enjoyed on my last visit,  just need a couple of tosses with a good quality olive oil and some vinegar to let the veggie and protein tastes shine through.  If the salt and pepper have not been added in the kitchen, then season at the table and you’re done.  The mozzarella in the Italian and the feta in the Greek is plentiful and satisfying.  But just to make sure, my friend and I who were sharing the salad also ordered a small Italian sausage pizza.  And even though our eyes were bigger than our tummies, it was a  great lunch accompaniment.  Although, had we known that the salad also came with a basket of grilled garlic toast, we likely would not have ordered the pizza as we left the entire bread basket untouched. 

The pizza crust was as good as my home-made (imho) with lots of crunch and a hint of sweetness. Even smothered with cheese and topping, you could tell that the sauce was carefully prepared. 

I am really looking forward to my next visit as they serve one of my very favourite Italian dishes.  They call it Seafood Spaghetti-I remember it as Spaghetti ai frutti de mare from our travels up the east coast of Italy. 

The server was handsome and attentive and the gentleman behind the cash register who I am guessing also has a hand in the food quality, equally handsome and charming.

Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one.”-M.F.K. Fisher

That’s Amore.

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