Browsing: Food Celebrations

Willard Lake 2017

September6

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Every summer, D and I get together with old friends from Toronto at their summer home on Willard Lake. Although we have lived in different cities for almost 20 years, our friendship has stayed strong with these annual visits and finding other reasons and places to connect as well.

We met when M and I were both enrolled in the Dramatic Studies program at the University of Winnipeg. We shared our second pregnancies and lived on the same street. In between, we both worked at The Keg ‘n Cleaver now known as The Keg Steakhouse + Bar. In addition to our meet up, I met husband D at The Keg as well. A third couple join us every year and what is our connection to them? Well she worked at The Keg Garry St. too.

Each year, we establish a theme for the Saturday evening of our weekend together. This year we tossed around a Canada 150 theme and then our host suggested that since we all met at and still love The Keg, we should have a Keg themed dinner. To acknowledge how long we have known each other, we add the 70’s to the formula. So even though some of our menu items are still on the Keg menu today, they had to have appeared on Keg menus in the 70s.

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Our Saturday afternoon began on the dock with decadent Silver Clouds, made with cream de cacao and amaretto blended with cream and then topped with whipping cream and Kahlua.

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From there we moved the short distance to an outside dining area where a blush wine was served with three traditional Keg appetizers:

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Escargot,

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops

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and Shrimp Cocktail. At this point we took a wee break, changed our clothes and moved inside. D (on the far left) had already gotten changed into his Keg attire.

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D was a broiler assistant in the 70s and so here he is pictured in a chef’s jacket with his hair slicked down as it would appear after an evening in the steamy broiler area.

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Here he is after a shower enjoying our next round of pre-dinner cocktails. This time Kamikazes!

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This is me in my full length dress like the ones we had to wear when I was a Keg hostess.

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This is former cocktail waitress M

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and her husband R, the Torontonians.

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L was a Keg bartender back in the 70s but you may recognize her as your more recent bartender at Winnipeg’s Palomino Club.

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Her significant other fit right into the 70s theme.

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But I digress, back to the food. M and L set up an abbreviated Keg salad bar complete with baby corn, which we decided not to take out of the can.

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Here is our Keg entrée: mushrooms served in an authentic mini iron skillet, a perfectly cooked medium rare steak, baked potato with the works i.e. sour cream, butter, chives and bacon (that had been cooked on the barbeque the day previous). We added some fresh beans to increase the vitamin content of dinner. As you can see, we always imbibed in a selection of red wines.

Full disclosure here: I was full after our appetizer course and had to cease eating my entrée after a couple of bites. BUT, there was more!

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Bartender L made us all Spanish Coffees

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to slurp along with our Billy Miner Pie!

When I think back to the day I landed my part time job at The Keg: who knew I would meet my future husband and so many lifelong friends? We worked our young butts off and partied hard. We also learned about teamwork, putting the guest before our personal needs and the difference that quality makes. Whatever The Keg had going for it in those early days has not changed a whole lot and I for one am proud of it.

Kath’s quotes: “Treat the guests of The Keg like you were inviting them into your own home.” -George Tidball, founder of The Keg

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner at the Garry St. Keg-40 Years in the Making

June12

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Many of us remember our first paying job. In truth I often forget mine because I only lasted 3 days at a egg grading station and my pay was 50 cents an hour! I think that I have successfully purged the image from my brain. After that first venture, I worked at the book department at Eaton’s which I quite enjoyed because we could loan a book off the shelves and if we were very careful while we read it, we could do so for free and return the book to the shelf. But the job that I think was most important in my late teens was the job that introduced me to my husband and many life long friends. Nobody knew a whole lot about The Keg ‘n Cleaver (as it was called in those days) when it started to renovate the former Hudson Bay Livery Stables at 115 Garry.  The way it was described to me was as a “copy” of the locally owned Butcher Block restaurant. I learned later that the copying was actually the other way around. No matter, I turned up at the Garry St. restaurant for an interview and a few days later, climbed into a full length skirt to be a hostess on their opening evening. I remember the line up being out the door and spilled onto the front sidewalk. Being a hostess was fun because you stood with the guests at the back of the line and took their name on a clipboard and then waited for the next group to join the back of the line. I thought I had it made in the shade as I just chatted to people all night long and was not only paid an hourly salary but also a share of the tips!

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In those days the simple menu was printed on a wooden platter and when the “hunky” guys (don’t laugh- it was a compliment!) were done taking orders at a table, they would slide the menu boards down the back of their pants en route to the waiter station. I remember one waiter in particular, he would come up to the hostess stand and say to me: “Load me up and keep them coming. I will take tables for other servers if they don’t want them. Don’t take me off the clock, I will stay and pick up all the late night diners.” This guy was a serving machine. His name was Tommy Lau.

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Fast forward 40 years-yep that is not a typo. We were reuniting with Tom and a couple of Keggers from that time, who had been there at the beginning and still lived in Winnipeg. Tom had brought his wife and two grown sons back to Winnipeg with him. He wanted them to see the city and meet the people that he remembered so fondly.

He left Winnipeg in 1977 and went to study at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. From there he went to New York to spend some time with his Mom on Long Island. Then he returned home to Hong Kong. His first job was working at a Hong Kong TV station as a producer. He moved to another station and married Clara in 1988. In the spring of 1990 he returned to Long Island hoping to spend more time with his mother and brother. TV careers were hard to come by and a year later he as recruited to set up a Cable TV station in Bangkok, Thailand. In 1993 he set up his own TV program distribution business in Hong Kong which he still runs. In 1995 he took up studying Fengshui with a local Master and in 1996 became the Master’s disciple. His sons were born in 1992 and 1995. The eldest has his masters degree in Forsenic Toxicology (hey, that might make a good TV show!) and his youngest is working on his degree in physiotherapy.

When we met Clara, I was struck by how petite and quiet she was-the exact opposite of her husband! Their sons had the most perfect manners and delighted in every little detail that we shared about the time we spent with his Dad.

The owner of the Kegs in Winnipeg who worked with us all those years ago was our host that evening. We sat in a “T” in the room with the most privacy. It is not that we wanted to be left alone, it was the noisy din we created with sharing our crazy stories and memories.

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Dinner that evening was stellar. I sampled an item new to the menu-a grilled cauliflower steak which I loved.

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I  noticed that Tom order steak and lobster just like the old days (except for the price of course).

A wonderful evening with wonderful friends. Time stood still and we were bag in the 70’s.

Kath’s quote: “I love everything that’s old, – old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.”  -Oliver Goldsmith

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations Nicolino Cucina Italiana

June5

We were invited to a special party recently at Nicolino’s. The occasion was their “impossible to believe” 30th Anniversary. We spotted a number of on air media types, some suppliers and persons who I imagined were regular customers. I was never really certain why we received an invitation, but I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

We do know that we are of the same mind set as Nic of Nicolino’s. This is what he states on his website:

We are in love with high quality food and drink. We care about the people who produce the food, and the places it comes from. We have dedicated our lives to promoting a real understanding of high-quality food and drink. We know that by ensuring we create and offer the best quality products, we improve the lives of our family and yours.

We’ve enjoyed over 25 years of business in Winnipeg, MB taking the traditions and recipes from our home town in Muro Lucano, Italy and bringing the “family style Italian dinner setting” to Winnipeg, MB. We know that Food tastes better when you eat with your family, and we consider all of our staff and customers famiglia.

We were certainly impressed with his family of staff. They tripped over each other trying to serve and make you feel appreciated and welcomed.

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You can taste the love that he refers to in the food. Last evening there were hot out of the oven, crunchy crust pizza that were in circulation. We ate our fair share and remarked about the spritely sauce and exacting use of cheese.

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We LOVED the selection of meats and cheeses

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but especially the truffle salami and truffle cheese. I went so far as to snatch one last wedge of that cheese and we headed out the door. So too the ravioli that we sampled in little bowls.

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We watched with fascination as the chef poured ample amounts of brandy into an enormous hollowed wheel of what we expected was Grana Padano.

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He then ignited the liquor and poured the ravioli into the cheese made gooey by the flame. The results were sensational and if we were not polite Canadians, I may have gone up to the Chef’s table over and over again.

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We washed it al down with a lovely rose poured by old friend Andre Lambert.

In the end, it should not be a surprize that Nic has been in business some thirty years. With his passion for food and his guests, he has a winning philosophy.

Kath’s quote: “If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?”- Martin Scorsese

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Love never fails.

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Curry Dinner

June2

While writing this post, I have really been thinking a lot about my own premise i.e. food=love. I think that a really integral aspect of this statement is “time”.  Time is so precious that when someone very intentionally sets aside time to plan, shop and prepare a meal for someone, it is a substantial investment of themselves towards another .

Recently we were invited to a friend’s home for a curry dinner. These folks have been cooking curry for a long time and knew that D and I were unschooled in the essence of curry cuisine.

When we arrived there were the most amazing aromas wafting from the kitchen. With little pre-amble we sat down to a veritable feast.

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This Tandoori Chicken was deliciously spicy. I removed the skin where the intensity originated and experienced a more subtle flesh. Typically Tandoori chicken is marinated in yoghurt (which increases the tenderness) and spices and then baked in a tandoor oven. I am quite sure that the latter was skipped but the resulting dish was equally fine.

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The Spicy Shrimp in Coconut Milk was my favourite dish. I could have helped myself to a bowl of rice, ladled this sauce over top and been quite content. Somehow the shrimp remained firm and meaty in spite of swimming in the sauce.

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Being a lover of potatoes, any potatoes, I was over the moon with the Bombay Aloo enhanced by two of my other fav foods: garlic and cilantro!

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The delicate and ribbony Basmati rice was spiced with tumeric and pumpkin seeds.

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A lovely way to offset the spice was with a cool and cleansing Raita dip made with yoghurt and cucumber.

Of course we had Naan bread and various pickles to scoop up and enhance the tastes.

Kath’s quote: “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you“.-St. Augustine of Hippo

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Love never fails.

 

Picasso Feast at The Winnipeg Art Gallery

June1

You may have heard that the Winnipeg Art Gallery is hosting a special exhibit of the works of Pablo Picasso this summer. In celebration of this fabulous exhibit, the restaurant at the Gallery, headed up by Chef Mark Andrews is hosting a special dinner and gallery tour entitled “Feast: Picasso & Mediterranean Cuisine”.

“Feast” is both a noun and a verb. Recently some of my social media friends and I were treated by the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery) to a Picasso Feast. This was in celebration of the unique opportunity to view the “Picasso in Canada-Man & Beast” exhibit. We feasted upon three Mediterranean Cuisine courses as Picasso was born in Spain but lived in southern France for much of his life. The dishes themselves were exquisite to look at and we feasted with our eyes.

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We commenced with a first course of omelette nicoise, cherry tomato gazpacho and root vegetable ravioli. I chose this option and was delighted by the tartness of the gazpacho to balance the savoury ravioli and omelette.

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The non-vegetarian option featured a lamb rib instead of the ravioli.

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Our Main Course was free-range chicken with lemon paella cake, baby spring vegetables and the piece de resistance: saffron balsamic syrup! The vegetarian entrée substituted a wild mushroom and mixed bean paella.

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Stuffed to capacity, I do not know how I had the room for dessert but somehow managed to slurp down a banana caramel custard topped with sherry and coconut. The dinner from start to finish was absolutely delectable and enhances the Picasso exhibition with symbolic food choices. See if you can connect the significance of the cherry tomato gazpacho to the Picasso story.

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Our subsequent feast for the eyes was moving to the upper galleries for the Picasso exhibit. We were particularly blessed to have Rachel Baerg, head of education at the WAG along as our personal tour guide. Having studied the history of art as my second minor in university I knew that Picasso was a man way ahead of his time and was truly a genius artiste. Rachel’s enthusiasm absolutely bubbled over and I became to know more about Picasso the man, the husband, father and womanizer.

The installation is awe inspiring with hundreds of prints from The Vollard Suite as well as enormous and significant pieces on loan from other Canadian Galleries. I won’t tarnish your experience by revealing too much.  I had my favourites and so will you when you visit, and  visit you MUST!

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An artist’s (or a chef’s) hands have always fascinated me. How does the vision of the finished product move from the head, past the heart and into the fingers that then puts the piece on a canvas or a plate?

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I had never seen this gorgeous depiction of one of Picasso’s many muses. Her beauty is breathtaking and lovingly put to paper.

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My personal favourites were and always have been Picasso’s simple pencil drawings. He is so masterful that the simplest line is perfection!

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I also got a significant kick out of his self-portraits. What was it about this man that attracted younger lovers in a string over the decades?

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The exhibit is beautifully laid out.

The Feast at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (300 Memorial Blvd.) is available June 8, July 6 and August 10th, 2017. Dinner is at 6 pm dinner and the tour at 7:30 pm. Tickets to Exhibit Only are $18, to the Feast & Exhibit $70 and $65 for WAG members. Reserve your spot at http://wag.ca/visit/events/specialevents/display,event/991/feast or call 204.789.1290.

Kath’s quote: “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”- Pablo Picasso

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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