Browsing: Food & Travel

PEI Trip Report Day Two

October16

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After leisurely coffees on the front porch, we piled into M’s gorgeous car to hit the local Farmer’s Market. I loved the car so much that a picture of me kissing it was captured!

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I was fascinated by these PEI potatoes. I asked the growers if they had removed the potato eyes to make the product easier to prepare. “No” they said. “They grow that way!”

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Peppers were plentiful in all shapes and sizes.

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A beautiful sea of sprouts.

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The colourful carrots also caught my eye.

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We also went “home” with some delicious gluten free bread as well as a product we had never previously heard of -PEI Potato Garlic Jam. We haven’t found a use for it as of yet.

We intended to visit the PEI Shellfish Festival on the Saturday of their four day run. Tickets that we had purchased for a “Signature Experience” included admission to the Festival itself. Our intent was to visit the site until the time came to hook up with the tour leader . I will be frank, we were surprised when we arrived at the festival grounds that the entire event took place in one tent, it was a very large tent, mind you.

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We visited the stalls and then found a spot to drink our Clamato Caesar and Moosehead Beer.

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Of course we had to have food to go along with our libations so D scouted out some mussels and fries.

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As we ate our late breakfast, Chef Lynn Crawford gave a seafood cooking demonstration. Actually she had members of the audience do the cooking as she supervised. There were some hilarious results to this.

So it was not long until we left the festival grounds and hooked up with our exceptional Experience PEI tour guide for a three restaurant shellfish tour of the waterfront.

The first stop was Lobster on the Warf where we could smell the saltiness of the bay.  Our tour guide first took us to the retail area where we learned more about PEI Lobster including how to determine a male lobster from a female one.  The attached restaurant was bustling with their late lunch crowd.

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Our first taste was of Malpeque oysters. They are PEI’s most famous oyster and are grown wild in Malpeque Bay. Their taste was briny but not overly so and they easily slid down our open throats. The correct manner of this was demonstrated by one of the managers of the Lobster on the Wharf. The oysters came with a wedge of lemon and a couple of unique sauces.

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The second seafood offering at Lobster on the Wharf was of both soft shell and quahog clams. These too were served with a wedge of lemon and salty melted butter for dipping. Both varieties are native to the eastern shores of North America from Prince Edward Island to the Yucatán Peninsula.

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A short walk along the harbour took us to Peake’s Quay where scallops were the shellfish offering. If you wish to know what a scallop shell looks like, think of the logo of Shell gas stations. We are purists where scallops are concerned, loving when they are allowed to caramelize in a hot pan of butter. Peake’s Quay’s version were bacon wrapped and good too.

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Our last stop on the tour was right next door at Brakish which you might think was an odd name for a restaurant. Blue mussels were the shellfish offering there. Next to scallops, mussels are our favourite as their subtle flavoured flesh take on whatever they are cooked in be it white wine, garlic and/or fresh herbs. Remember though, this was our second feed of mussels for the day!

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PS What did we have for supper that evening? Pan fried scallops!

Kath’s quote: “I like seafood in general. I feel when you have really good quality Canadian seafood; you don’t really need to do much to it. It’s just some of the best in the world. It also has this kind of briny, salty quality to it, that you don’t have to season much. You can use the natural flavours of the ocean to your benefit”.- Chuck Hughes

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Food Bloggers Canada 2018 – The Great Canadian Road Trip

October5

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Last year at the wind up of the 2017 Conference in Ottawa, the announcement was made to expect a different twist for 2018. Instead of filling a banquet room up with hundreds of food bloggers for three days, a decision was made that the FBC team would come to us. I was faced with a troubling dilemma. D had purchased tickets for us to go to Charlottetown on the weekend that the team would arrive in Winnipeg. I hastily made additional arrangements to catch up to the tour on their final stop in Toronto.

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One of my many blogging friends who have come to Winnipeg over the years.

I have always contended that my favourite part about an FBC Conference are the relationships that come to be as a result of the gathering. This year, we had less time to make the rounds. Sitting to one side was Fables + Foccacia curator Jenny Arena as well as Stacy Blair from 27th and Olive. Both were a delight and I hope that we find a way to meet up again.

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I was particularly impressed with two of the speakers. Suresh Doss of the CBC Metro Morning Show is an expert in the suburban food of Toronto, stating:

“We’re talking about places that are not your ‘typical’ restaurants,” Doss said. “They offer food that reminds people of life back home. They’re often times the best places to get good food.”

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I understand that his back stories are fascinating tales of the lives of new Canadians and how they ease into the transition of settling into a new country by sharing familiar food from their home.

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Afrim Pristine was the final speaker of the day and therefore the last presenter of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Afrim is a passionate lover of food and his family business: The Cheese Boutique. I was thrilled to come home with his new book: For The Love of Cheese.

“Afrim Pristine may possess the most distinguished professional title a cheesemonger could ask for–maître fromager–but if you ask him what business he’s in, he’ll tell you he sells happiness. That’s because cheese is inextricably linked to wonderful memories and celebrations for so many of us. No matter the occasion, cheese and cheesy dishes are always greeted with a smile.”

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The highlight of the day was a tutorial and cheese tasting with Afrim. I loved them all but was particularly proud of the smoked Gouda from Manitoba’s own Bothwell Cheese.

My husband D and I are always trying to figure out what are the best varietal cheeses to place on a cheese board and how many ounces of cheese to allocate for each guest. Afrim’s book answers these questions and more. D was thrilled that I arrived home from FBC 2018 with this fabulous reference and cookbook. Having just gotten home a couple of days ago, I haven’t had a chance to make and serve any of the scrumptious looking recipes but this one caught my eye…

Cheese Boutique Very Much Alive Pasta

Entitled “Very Much Alive Pasta” it contains rapini, orecchiette pasta with a creamy goat cheese as the star of the show. Thank you Penquin Random House for hosting us and for permission to use this gorgeous photo.

Every year I come home from Food Bloggers Canada inspired to devote more love and attention to my blog and this year was no exception.

Kath’s quote: Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”― Ronald E. Osborn

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Jatujak, Thai Street Style Food, Kingston Rd, Toronto

October3

The part that I love most about being a food blogger are the friendships I have made over the years. They happen quite by accident like the morning a beautiful tall and shy redhead asked if she could sit in the seat next to me at my first blogging conference in Toronto. Little did I know that years latter we would still be kindred spirits. She calls me her angel, a title I don’t take lightly.

She lives in the same neighbourhood that I stayed in last weekend so it was easy for her to pick me up and find a spot not far away. Asking if I liked Thai food, I responded with a resounding yes!

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We started with a Mango salad appetizer. The ribbons of mango were perfectly sweet and the slivers of red onion and crushed cashews added appropriate crunch. Acidity came from freshly squeezed lime juice and the freshness popped out with the subtle use of cilantro. I would visit Jatujak a 1,000 times for the taste of that salad!

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My favourite Thai soup arrived next. I am not used to a red Tom yum but the carefully simmering of a variety of hearty ingredients was soothing and delicious.

I had read that Jatujak was one of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto, and the culinary measuring stick is often Pad Thai.

Jatujak brings street-style elements to its pad Thai dish. Made with stir-fried rice noodles, with egg and a house tamarind-based sauce. You can get the Pad Thai with just the noodles, or with the option of adding tofu and vegetables, chicken, beef or shrimp.

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I added chicken and tofu also made an appearance. It appears under the Lunch Special section of their menu and this enormous portion was only $8.95! It was so good, I am vividly remembering the tastes now that I am back home in Winnipeg.

Although the time was brief with my lovely friend, our hearts connected once more.

Kath’s quote: “Food makes travel so exceptional, because you get to taste what it’s actually supposed to taste like. To eat the real Pad Thai or finally have a proper curry is something pretty amazing”. -Meghan Markle

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Love never fails.

Mezes, The Danforth, Toronto

October2

I spent this past weekend in Toronto at Food Bloggers Canada (more on that later). On Saturday evening my Bestie M and I met her husband halfway between his work and their home where I was their guest for the weekend. We started at a place called Allen’s that maintains the tag line “Air Conditioned” not “where good friends meet”, not “why not tonight?” but “air conditioned”. I got such a hoot out of that! The beer was ice cold and I chose my favourite Canadian brand Moosehead, whereas R selected a cream ale. M stuck to her fav white wine. The place was hopping and the vibe very comfortable so we stayed and enjoyed another.

By the time we walked down and across the Danforth to Mezes, the place was lined up to the sidewalk. In a very small way, I felt in solidarity with the fellow pedestrians and diners. The memory of this summer’s violence was too acute to have faded, and yet here we all were strolling the Avenue and gathering on the side walks when hunger struct us.

Out of the many Greek restaurants to choose from, Mezes was the first choice.

The emphasis here is on sharing; a kind of collective dining that transforms a meal into an experience. Mezes promotes the most genuinely Greek method of dining: order multiple dishes, celebrate variety, and sample everything. There’s a remarkable unfussiness to the process that enthuses more vigorous conversation, and rippling laughter. While their list of entrées is considerable, it’s their Mezes they hope you’ll try.

Try, we did. With the guidance of our waiter, who encouraged us to take our time, start with a variety of dips and fried anchovies and go from there. If we were still hungry, we could keep ordering.

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First up were a small trio of Mediterranean dips: an amazing Tzatziki, a fish roe dip called Taramosalata, a chick pea Homous, and Melitzanosalata which I thought was very similar to my favourite baba ganoush. All were delicious with garlic pita and then when that was all gone, with the fresh baguette delivered to our table. We had watched in fascination when platters of flat cheeses were set on fire and then doused with lemon at neighbouring tables.

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Next I tasted fried anchovies for my first time. They were prepared like calamari with a more pronounced flavour. I had not had anchovies since I miss-ordered them in Positano Italy (see link here).

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I had been out for a big lunch and passed on the lamb chops although the nibble that I had was divine.

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I opted for sharing this fantastic salad as well as a very big surprise…

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these white beans recommended by our server had been slow cooked in a luscious tomato sauce.

Every thing was washed down with a couple of lovely house wines. It was a wonderful evening. We hailed an Uber home as the streets got increasingly crowded with folks from nearby neighbourhoods.

Kath’s quote:“The Greeks’ fierce pride in their heritage has kept the basic culture intact. Whether a slave under Roman rule, a captive under Turkish domination, or a newly arrived immigrant, the Greek is always aware that he is the direct descendant of men like Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Aristophanes. The Greek who begins life in a new land on the bottom step of society as a dishwasher needs only to remember how Aesop left a legacy of poetry while cooking as a slave.”-Theresa Yianilos

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Love never fails.

 

Era Bistro-Winnipeg

July11

In the same manner that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights elevates our city to a national (even international) tourism level, Era Bistro elevates the Museum to even higher heights. I have had the pleasure of noshing at the at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Musee D’Orsay in Paris, The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem

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and more recently the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence (my husband and I at the Ufizzi pictured above). All were tasty enough but none had the integrity of local produce and regional menu as Era does.

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I have met both the Director of Food and Beverage and the Executive Chef at Era Bistro. The former named Toni is gluten intolerant and strives to give persons with this, vegan and vegetarian preferences plenty of menu choices. On the lunch menu alone there were nine delicious options. I enjoyed the gluten free Quinoa Salad on my visit.

Executive Chef Kirk Hanson couldn’t visit for long as he was hands-on in the kitchen. He did linger long enough to fill me in on their seasonal menu emphasizing locally sourced, Certified Fair Trade and sustainable products. Somehow they manage to do all of this and keep their lunch prices reasonable, ranging from $8-21 at lunch.

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Over a couple of visits I have managed to tuck into the Pickerel Po’Boy and California Club, having a difficult time trying to discern my favourite. The former was assembled from panko-crusted Manitoba pickerel and iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickled onion & jalapeño remoulade. The latter, roasted herb-marinated chicken breast and prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, avocado spread, mayo, sprouts & aged cheddar. Both were wedged between halves of toasted ciabatta buns.

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In addition, I just might have tried Era’s famous carrot fries where beer-battered carrot sticks were served with  a fresh herb & jalapeño buttermilk dip for…..dipping!

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Era’s desserts are in a league of their own. Both that I have sampled were gluten free-the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a blueberry lavender and lemon compote

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and the Roasted Peach and Rhubarb Parfait with house-made graham crumbs and Chantilly ream. I understand their home-made ice cream and crème Brule daily specials are amazing too.

As I was oohing and ahhing, Toni reminded me that Era Bistro is the exclusive caterer for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and does off-site catering as well. The Bistro is available for private events like weddings, holiday parties and corporate soirees.

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As my lunch date and I were leaving I popped outside to get a glimpse of the beautiful summer patio. In addition, I just had to stop in at the boutique where I made a mental note to purchase future hostess and birthday gifts.

Kath’s quote: “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”-Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) (1694-1778)

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Love never fails.

 

 

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