Food Fun at Mongo’s Grill

May12

Since D and I grew up in the hospitality business, we still chat about culinary market trends. He recently shared with me that “Fast Casual” is the fastest growing restaurant segment in the world. When you drive into the packed parking lot for the Mongo Grill on Ellice you can see that this must be the case. Jolibee and Za Pizza are their neighbours and there are many more options in the vicinity.

So how do you choose one over the other? I am confident that all have good tasting food but Mongo’s, in my eyes, puts together the most nutritious option. The icing on the cake is how much fun the place is. We were a largish group and the fun started as soon as we sat down. Actually, we got a tour of the self serve food areas and the enormous grill and then we sat down.

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I don’t know about you, but I miss the days when salad bars were a part of the dining experience. In Mongo’s case you can add the soup or salad bar to the cost of your bowl. I chose the Spicy Thai Chicken Soup to start and thought that it was just as good as soups I have enjoyed at Thai restaurants and certainly tastier than I could have made at home.

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Mongo’s salad bar was full of healthy veggies with a great selection of protein options.

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I tucked into a seafood salad, a scoop of cottage cheese and pickled beets (one of my favs).

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We got some coaching from a Mongo’s expert in our group (her son was one of the cooks that evening) about how to put together our bowl to make the most of the space. She suggested that we make a wall of meat in our bowls in order to fence in the rest of the ingredients.

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I chose scallops instead of meat, so the strategy didn’t work for me. But I had such fun choosing all my ingredients and then piling the noodles on last. She also suggested that we would want to keep the stir fry moist with plenty of ladles of the many sauce choices. I stuck to teriyaki and was really pleased with the end result.

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A number of dinners can be on the grill at the same time. separated by weighty, long spatulas that are also used to turn the ingredients over as the cooking takes place. A number of our group chose to be their own broiler chefs. The females remarked what an arm work out they received when maneuvering the food and spatulas around.

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Once mine was plated, I still had the opportunity to add some texture and taste. I did so with a liberal sprinkling of chopped peanuts and some sweet chili sauce.

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My favourite part of a stir fry is the abundance of noodles and I was sure pleased with my veggie/noodle ratio. My son tells me that he never piles on the noodles but asks for a side of rice that is generously offered so that he can fill his bowl with more protein and veggies. The good news is that everyone can be accommodated exactly the way they choose. That is the beauty of Mongo’s.

What I thought was particularly clever about the Mongo’s concept is that there was never any “lag” time while waiting for your food. Because the guest decides when to assemble their ingredients and then watches their dinner be finished on the grill, there isn’t any awkward time spent waiting for food to come out of a busy kitchen. Brilliant! Going to have to take my grandbabies next time.

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This was the Pecan Brownie that someone else at our table ordered.

But wait, there was more. The dessert menu was extensive and I was so full of noodles, that I couldn’t imagine eating another thing. The staff graciously suggested that they pack up a Turtle Pie for me and I enjoyed immensely the next day.

Kath’s quote: “I love Chinese food, like steamed dim sum, and I can have noodles morning, noon and night, hot or cold. I like food that’s very simple on the digestive system – I tend to keep it light. I love Japanese food too – sushi, sashimi and miso soup“. -Shilpa Shetty

TSR Watermark - 5600

Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Wedding at Zama Beach Club

May10

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Our side never quite got it organised for our family picture.

When the bride and groom and their parents were selecting the perfect venue on Isla Mujeres, I am quite sure that the quality of the food figured into the equation in a very big way. With their decision to host the wedding at Zama Beach, they got both excellent food and one of the most beautiful settings in Mexico. I cannot speak for the groom’s family except to say that I have seen pictures of them at beautiful vineyards, markets and restaurants enjoying themselves immensely. I have also seen the groom tuck in to his mother-in-law’s food with relish, so I have a hunch that food is a love language in their family as it is in ours.

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My sisters and I first discovered Zama in 2005 with our first trip to the island. Little did we know at that time, that it would host one of the most wonderful events of our lives.

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We assembled in an outdoor lounging area upon arrival and enjoyed a welcome cocktail of Blue Margaritas to help settle the nerves. I especially appreciated mine as I was officiating at the marriage; a task I had never done before. We all doffed our shoes, made our way down the aisle and sat with our feet in the sand. Somehow, this simple act put us all on equal footing and we became one family, as opposed to many to witness the couple’s vows.

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Since I played an official role, I arrived early to get ready for my responsibilities. It gave me an opportunity to obtain a preview of where the wedding supper would take place.

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Our long time friend Javi and his father were there to serenade us as we transitioned to the pier and then the dining room.

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After the ceremony there was an opportunity for glorious pictures as the sun was just setting; including this one of the guests from all over the world.

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There were appetizers of ceviche and empanadas that were very delicious and made us all look forward to the dinner getting under way. We enjoyed a salad of greens with hibiscus dressing. The entrée was a combination of succulent chicken and fish done in the Tic ‘n Chix manner.

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The beautiful lemon and coconut wedding cake was adorned with fresh flowers and was enthusiastically consumed (especially by the Wee One).

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The newlyweds started off the dancing and then virtually everyone spilled onto the dance floor and danced the night away.

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Later in the evening quesadillas were served as well as churros. We all appreciated the midnight snack as we had burned many calories on the dance floor.

What can I say? The day was perfect in each and every way.

Kath’s quote: “Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one”.-Friedrich Halm

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Bally Hoo 2017

May9

ballyhoo5 Continuing with our new tradition of joining J1 and J2 for Happy Hour while they and the little girls enjoyed an early supper, Bally Hoo was our next destination. We were lucky enough to snag a table for all of us, as Bally Hoo was hopping as usual. ballyhoo2 The Wee One with Auntie Boo We have always loved the location, perched right over the water but this year even more so than most. ballyhoo8 It meant that D and I could take the wee ones for a walk on the piers when they got rambunctious waiting for dinner. ballyhoo7 The acorn doesn’t fall fare from the tree. J1 and J2 order their meals in tandem so that they share them as D and I love to (especially on vacation). ballyhoo3 They ordered fish tacos ballhoo4 and coconut shrimp to share ballyhoo6 and then quesadillas for the little girls to split. They were all very pleased with their meals and the way that the Bally Hoo did their best to accommodate the kids and indeed all of us. Kath’s quote: Ballyhoo are frequently used as cut bait and for trolling purposes by saltwater sportsmen. The fish is known to have reports of ciguatera poisoning to humans”.-Wikpedia turquoiseheart Love never fails.

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Bouchee Boucher

May8

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If you travel to major cities in Canada you may have noticed the new urban practice of creating spaces with multiple purposes. Winnipeg restaurants are catching on too as you may have noticed at Fools & Horses on Broadway, Thom Bargen on Sherbrook and now Bouchee Boucher (101-300 Tache Ave.). In the case of the latter a butcher shop and a full service restaurant share the space on the corner of Marion and Tache Ave. in St. Boniface.

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I have had the pleasure of visiting for brunch and then lunch later that same week. With all the new and established places on my long list to check out, why did I do so? Bouchee Boucher is that good!

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The kitchen kindly split our salad onto two plates.

The day I met a work companion, we arrived early to ensure that we got a seat. We started by sharing a cucumber salad enhanced with green beans, edamame beans, radish, polenta chips and ricotta. The combination was both clean and crunchy with the ricotta adding a creamy texture.

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For mains my lunch date chose the Creole shrimp rice bowl. We traded tastes and I agreed with her exclamations of oohs and awws. There were layers of flavours and textures with Creole spice providing the smoky heat, cucumber and peppers adding crunch and fresh tastes, avocado contributing silkiness and arugula, basil and parsley supplying complexity.

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Even though I was very tempted to order the crispy fried eggplant, tomato and mozzarella sandwich, I veered towards the butcher’s salad because it gave me the opportunity to sample some butcher shop offerings. I especially loved the ham. I can’t stand when ham is overly salty and wet. Their ham was anything but. The bowl was chocked full of other offerings and with plenty of freshly made green goddess dressing, it was all delectable.

Chef Alexander Svenne & Danielle Carignan Svenne formerly of Bistro 7 1/4 are the butcher shop and café owners. Bouchee Boucher is open Monday to Thursday from 11 am-10 pm, Friday & Saturday from 11 am-11 pm and Sunday from 10 am-2 pm. Their Dinner & Lunch Menus change weekly and their Brunch menu changes monthly. They are wheelchair accessible.

Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.

Bouchée Boucher Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “After I won the Oscar, my salary doubled, my friends tripled, my children became more popular at school, my butcher made a pass at me, and my maid hit me up for a raise”. -Shirley Jones

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Love never fails.

 

 

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La Lomita 2017

May4

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La Lomita is the very first restaurant that I ate at when I first arrived with my sisters in 2005. From that first day, the quirky place with the authentic Mexican food wins our heart over and over again.

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So much so, that when we had one evening for our immediate family to have dinner together, we chose La Lomita. Please excuse the camera hog in the forefront of the photo.

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We have so many favourites on their menu but especially the Chilies Relleno.

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We have even found an authentic recipe for the rellenos so we can enjoy the chillies at home.

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We love the authentic earthenware that all their fare is served upon. Being a beer loving family (J1 has studied to be a Brew Master) we really appreciate the clay tumblers like the one pictured are kept in the freezer to serve their beer in. The beer arrives at a lovely frosty temperature. We have even commissioned a potter at home in Winnipeg to replica the experience for us.

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The sopa de lima with chicken has always satisfied and now we have turned a whole new generation onto the tastes, namely our granddaughters.

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La Lomita’s shrimp ceviche tastes sparkling fresh and stands up to other ceviches on the island at double the price.

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The garlic fish is another favourite. The portion was plentiful and perfectly cooked.

Kath’s quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. - Benjamin Franklin

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Love never fails.

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