Browsing: Food Celebrations

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

December4

Do you find that you are so preoccupied with preparations for Christmas, that you don’t give any thought to how you will spend New Years Eve?

There was a year when D had access to tickets for the formal New Year’s Eve bash at the Winnipeg Convention Centre featuring Ron Paley’s Big Band. We asked good friends to join us and had a really special time together. It was an opportunity to dress up as if we lived in a city not quite as informal as Winnipeg; she in an exquisite floor length gown and white gloves past the elbow and he in a dashing tuxedo and black bow tie.

The dinner was superb and the music and dancing a fine distraction until midnight. If you have never had a chance to attend this elegant tradition, book now before the event is sold out newyears@wcc.mb.ca.

Today that same friend and I had the opportunity to attend a preview event of this year’s New Year’s Eve Celebration. We met the RBC Convention Centre’s new President and CEO Drew Fisher. He explained that what the special evening is known for is the elegant ambience with superb food and libations and so the theme of this year’s party is just that…A Tradition of Elegance.

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True to the name, the noon kick off event was a lovely and delicious way to start a week. I was the designated driver so did not partake but my sidekick was delighted with the champagne selection.

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On New Year’s Eve the party will commence with a pre-dinner reception with a number of gourmet food stations. Two of them were set up for the event preview and we enjoyed a selection from the Parisian Charcuterie and Fondue Station.

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We enjoyed the European meats but were so glad that they featured local Bothwell Cheeses.  My favourite black truffle cheese went well with the marinated artichokes and especially the handmade yam and beet chips!

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As we ascended the stairs to the event we were struck with the wonderful aroma of sauteing garlic. The source was the Moroccan Shrimp Station where shrimp were flambeed with either a creamy harissa (chile sauce) or chermoula (like a pesto but with the inclusion of warmer spices). Both complemented the shrimp perfectly!

When the dinner event commences a Amuse Bouche trio will be served first.

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We sampled the house made tuna tartare topped with an avocado salsa,

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and smoked pheasant breast topped with a harvest apple compote.

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The third element of the trio was my personal favourite- an Asian grilled scallop on a bed of okame seaweed. In both the case of the shrimp and the scallops, they met with heat sources just briefly, producing succulent morsels of seafood.

The MC for the upcoming evening was on hand for the preview event describing the five course menu in store for the guests. His description of the soup course: a roasted fennel and garlic bisque drizzled with truffle olive oil and a carrot crisp had my mouth watering!

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Before we were done the preview of tastes we enjoyed champagne gelato with fresh berries.  And so a lovely Monday lunch was shared with anticipation of the festive season ahead.

Kath’s quote: “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Goat Food & Drink, Winnipeg

November28

A group of wonderful women who do the same vocational training work that I do have also become my good friends. We didn’t want to leave our Christmas lunch until December when we are all so busy with festivities and have a tendency (or at least I do) to get “lunched” out. That is why a recent get together was just the thing. I was appointed to pick a spot and I have been wanting an excuse to visit the Little Goat on west Portage Ave.

Our server Milaine with her gorgeous green eyes and delightful demeanor made us feel right at home. When I couldn’t determine what I was going to order, she helped me out by suggesting her favourites-a small dish of Mac & Cheese with a Verger salad.

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Tucking into the roasted pears, candied pecans and crumbled goat cheese (Milaine’s suggestion when she heard that I didn’t love Blue Cheese), I would trust her advice at any time.

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My lunch mates all started with cups of the soup of the day- a yellow squash and wild rice concoction that was divine.

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I had been tempted by the French Fried Chicken and was so relieved when someone at the table ordered it so that I could taste and photograph it. The dish was petite but rich and satisfying and the little drizzle of balsamic vinegar added just a dash of acid so that every subtle ingredient was enhanced.

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Restaurant owner and Chef Alex puts out a new Tartine (open faced sandwich) each and every day. On this day it started with wild rice topped with a mixture of garlicky kale and quinoa, a beautifully poached egg and a lemon sauce on top of it all. The portion was enormous and not a surprise when more than half of it was boxed up for later.

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Another friend loved her French salad and I was more than content with my French Onion Soup bowl full of Mac & Cheese. The luxurious sauce of gruyere and mozzarella, crowned with grated old cheddar and toasted bread crumbs was scrumptious and just my cuppa tea.

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I had decided to order Melaine’s favourite dessert-bundt cake with apple slices, caramel, nuts and whipped cream.

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I thought that I could share it with my lunch mates but they ordered their own desserts. An enormous bowl came with not one but two wedges of bundt cake and we truly could have shared it four ways. Even though my mates obliged me with bites I was left to devour the rest on my own. And I did, savouring each and every gooey bite.

Kath’s quote: “There will always be ladies who lunch. Always. And apparently they live a long time”.-Elaine Stritch

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Love never fails.

Jerusalem – A CookBook

October23

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We invited a friend of ours to dine with us recently. We know that she loves Ethiopian food but I confess that I have not mastered those culinary skills. She has also been to Palestine recently so I pulled out my beautiful Jerusalem Cookbook. I have only prepared a couple of recipes from the book so I looked at the occasion as a great excuse. She was familiar with the book, not because she has cooked from it but because she read it like a regular non-fiction work instead of a cookbook. The narrative reads that beautifully.

Every single ingredient that I purchased for the dinner was from the produce department. I pulled a bag of shrimp from my freezer and a can of clams from the pantry.

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I prepped everything that afternoon. The sweet potatoes and eggplants were ready for roasting, the red peppers and onions were ready for sauteing and finishing the sweet potato dish, the tomatoes and oregano were ready to submerge and then bake the shrimp.

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The sweet potatoes called for fresh figs that are already out of season so I substituted them for little jewels of pomegranate.

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The recipe indicates that you leave the potatoes unpeeled and although I was skeptical of this, they were perfect. The dish was completed with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The spuds were even delicious cold.

The shrimp baked with clams, tomatoes and feta were also a hit. I mixed the leftovers with a pasta a couple of days later and it too was exceptional. Perhaps my new tomato sauce recipe will simply include oregano and sugar as this one did.

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If you are a regular visitor to this space, you will know that I love eggplant. Pictured above are the scored eggplants ready for roasting with Chermoula. Confession time…I misread the directions of the recipe and baked these with the topping that I had prepped in advance, when in fact they were to be roasted “bare naked” and you were to spoon the topping on after they came out of the oven. Unfortunately some of the raisins got too well cooked in the process. I had tasted the topping before I had baked it and knew that it would be fabulous on its own.

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I didn’t have Bulgar so I used a mixture of a variety of rices (brown, wild, long grain) which had been pre-cooked in my rice maker. To this I added pre-soaked raisins and slices of green olives for that sweet and salty combination that I love. Fresh tastes came from ribbons of fresh mint and cilantro. A silky olive oil and generous squeezes of lemon added the acidity and finished the dish beautifully. I made this up on a Sunday night to enjoy for lunches for a busy week.

I sent our friend home with leftovers as the recipes were of generous potions. She returned the container with a gift and this note:

In Kenya, I learned one does not return a plate (or container) to its giver, empty. I share with you my sister’s wonderful Masala Chai jelly-the bite comes after the fact! but so good. And a little memento of Jerusalem.

We enjoyed a taste of the jelly yesterday on our toast. And so the circle of giving and sharing was complete.

Kath’s quote: You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Weddings and No Funerals

September12

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D and I were invited to four weddings this summer. This was a record for us. They were all very different from each other.

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The ceremony of the first was at our neighbourhood church. It was particularly meaningful for us as the couple attends our house church. The reception for the first nuptials took place in the elegant Fort Garry Hotel where the bride’s Mom and Dad also held theirs. The setting matched the couples’ chic style.

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The food was classic and elegant. The speeches and dancing were a delight.

We were involved in the second wedding in a lovely and unique manner.

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Sister #3 (aka Zest Cooking Solutions) was the caterer of the rehearsal dinner the evening before the nuptials.

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We helped put out this delicious Greek dinner of lemon potatoes, moussaka, chicken souvlaki and peasant salad.

The second wedding also took place at our church and was another meaningful time. The bride is a singer and had assembled her friends to offer up a lovely layer to the ceremony.

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The beginning of the reception was held outside at Pine Ridge Hollow where we arrived to the serenades of a jazz ensemble.

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We were surprised and blessed to sit at the “Liverpool” table with family and guests from the groom’s city of birth.

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At Pine Ridge the portions were country sized. The meal was hearty and delicious. Since it was a Sunday evening and our carload all had to work the next morning, we unfortunately had to leave after the speeches.

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The third and fourth weddings occurred on the same weekend. The third wedding was of a nephew and all our family attended.

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The ceremony was held in a shady spot next to a glorious canola field. This wedding was relaxed and had an authentic country feel.

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The reception took place in this enormous tent that had been erected on the property of the bride’s family.

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The bride’s family was Ukrainian and we enjoyed a delicious ethnic buffet dinner of perogies, cabbage rolls and all the fixings. Since we had to be up early to be back in the city for the fourth wedding, we couldn’t stay terribly late. We heard the reception went on until the wee hours of the morning.

The fourth wedding also held at our church was an absolutely joy. The bride and groom were ecstatic that the big day had finally arrived and their enthusiasm simply poured over the rest of us. The church music was rocking and made the ceremony itself a whole lot of fun.

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The reception venue was my first time to Hawthorne Estates. With their rural setting and rustically elegant room, I hope to return on other occasions.

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1919 by Little Brown Jug (where our son is the head brewer) was the exclusive beer and we were touched by the honour and enjoyed it immensely.

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The delicious buffet dinner had been prepared by the groom himself (a professional chef). You could taste the love with every bite.

For dessert the groom arranged for a Belgium friend to prepare us waffles with all the trimmings. I was so anxious to tuck in that my photo turned out blurry! Formal festivities were over quickly so we had a chance to join in the dancing and still make it home at a reasonable time.

In each case, D and I were blessed and honoured to be part of the celebrations.

Kath’s quotes: Faith makes all things possible. Love makes all things easy.” -Dwight Moody

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

“Oh How She Glows” Dinner

August31

I have stated before and I will do so again: in my world, food=love. When one has the opportunity to prepare a favourite food for a loved one, it is an honour and a blessing for both the cook and I hope the receiver. Recently I had the opportunity to demonstrate love to a person that I had not ever met in person. Through inquiry, I knew that due to health concerns she was vegan, dairy and gluten free. Whereas I sometimes consider these dinners a challenge, I was happy for the task to cook for and thereby welcome a new person into our lives.

I don’t have a lot of experience with vegan cooking but I knew exactly where to go. A blogger friend of mine who is also vegan once gave me a “Oh How She Glows” cookbook. I had not used it often but I knew that the recipes were well-written and tested and that I should have most, if not all of the ingredients.

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These nibblies were actually all things that I had in the fridge and cupboard: mango salsa, red pepper hummus and antipasto. We also love these gluten free sweet potato crackers and sesame rice crackers.

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For the main I put out a kale salad and mixed fresh tomatoes, cucs and olives for a pseudo Greek salad. I also treated them to a taste of beach French fries which I reheated.

The focus of the dinner were avocados stuffed with black beans and corn and lovely fresh tastes of lime juice and cilantro. Cumin added a smidgeon of heat. I also soaked barley to add to my nephew’s and my dinner but left it out for the guest of honour to ensure that she was eating gluten free.

We had a lovely visit and I learned a whole lot more about her life in Australia. I think she might have acquired a bit more knowledge about my nephew (her new beau) as well, because I was able to add antidotes about our blended families and the joyful times when nine of us shared a 500 square foot cottage.

Kath’s quote: “Love grows best in little houses”. -Doug Stone

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Love never fails.

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