2019 Winnipeg Wine Festival: Wine Down Event-An Italian Kitchen Party

April30

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Have you ever attended the annual Wine Festival, here in Winnipeg? The gala dinner is an event not to be missed, see a previous post here. The public wine tastings are a hoot-you get to sample more wine than you ever dreamed. So too the Wine Down events which occur throughout this week are an opportunity to nosh while lingering over a vast array of wines.

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Even though the theme country for 2019 is Spain, Italian wines were featured at the “Italian Kitchen Party” event that we attended last evening and so too some great Italian tastes. My companion for the evening and I were thrilled about this preview as we travel to Tuscany together this fall.

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We started with this Italian crudité and moved onto some really exceptional appetizers. Different aracina recipes are found all over Italy. The first time I tasted these was when we visited my Sicilian friend and her husband in their little rural cottage outside of Castellammare del Golfo. Although slightly different,  we really enjoyed Chef Lindsay Platt’s version: creamy, garlicky and crunchy all in one bite! So too her meatballs were exceptional and I mean moan worthy. Bite sized and made from ground beef and panko flakes, they were first baked and then cooked in the sauce (a must if doing so in the Italian manner). They were not overly dense and absorbed the flavour of the sauce beautifully.

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My friend and I decided that we could contently dine el fresco on meatballs, potato chips and a great wine in Tuscany, and I expect we will do exactly that. Can you see us perched at the table where we will be staying? We hung around the kitchen for a bit to enjoy the creamy peas and gnocchi as well as a tasty bruschetta.

Typically I go on about something and have to remind myself to mention the food but in this case it is the wine! I immediately decided to eliminate tastes of half the wine: sparklings, whites and roses as I prefer the red variety. Even so, there were half of the almost forty wines to sample.

I enjoyed the bitter almond tastes of the Bottega Valpolicella Classico as well as a northern wine dubbed Vinicola Botter Gran Passione Rosso where it was explained that bolder Italian wines are made from grapes that receive a surmaturation; merlot grapes in this instance.

I enjoyed the smoky aromas of the Carpiento Chianti Classico Riserva. I have never visited Puglia but loved the Coppi Don Antonio from there. I knew that my husband D would love the Tommasi Rafael Valpolicella Classico with its hint of cherries. I once met a man who could easily afford any wine he chose to drink and he only drank Masi wines. I was impressed with the hazelnut notes of the Masi Brolo Camporifin Oro.

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When one of the wine reps discovered that we would be sojourning in Tuscany this fall, they recommended a detour after we see Firenze (Florance) to visit Castello (Castle) Nippozzano where we can sample their Chianti Rufina Riserva. That detour is definitely going on our must do list.

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In the end, I declared this wine my favourite: a velvety soft blend of sangiovese and merlot grapes!

If you have a best pal to attend a tasting event this week or weekend, call them and go. It is a lovely way to daydream of vineyards in Europe and in my case, anticpated times spent together.

Kath’s quote: “Il vino fa buon sangue = Good wine makes good blood (health)“. -Italian Proverb (I for one am sticking to that promise).

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Photo taken in Montecatini Alto in Tuscany on our last trip to Italy.

Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boo’s Birthday

April29

As a light snow came down this morning, I was reminded of the snow storm that blew in the day our youngest was born. This time of year is often like that. The following year on her 1st birthday it was 33 degrees and the hottest day of the summer!

When you have three kids 25+ birthday celebrations over the years are a blur. I never really considered myself a successful birthday party Mom. I always focused too much on the food and not enough on the activities or logistics.

I would say that now, I think we finally have the formula right. D and I cook the requested menu and dessert for the birthday dinner. And what is really fun is how the Wee Ones contribute to the event.

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They joined us Saturday evening so that they could help make chocolate trifle but also so that J1 and J2 could have one last evening out before their new baby arrives later this month.

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The youngest was put on chocolate pudding duty with Poppa and the eldest on whipped cream with me. The latter doesn’t care for chocolate (if you can believe it) even though she did enjoy chocolate Easter eggs recently.

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The requested menu was Meatballs in Bolognaise Sauce and Carbonara pasta. The latter being D’s specialty. Good thing we cooked Keto the last time we all were together.

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As the Wee Ones helped Poppa put the candles on the trifle, one of them said “Rainbow-my favourite colour”!

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These two have a very special bond. The Wee One organizes the time when we share what we love the most about the birthday person (the key factor why birthdays are always a breeze these days…). She said that Boo “lives in her heart”. No matter how great the food or fabulous the presents, it is this sharing time that is always the most special gift of all.

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I think that the Wee Ones were surprised when they successfully blew out all the candles in one breath!

Kath’s quote: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I am living, my baby you’ll be”. Robert Munsch

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Isla Mujeres 2019-Day Two

April26

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This was the day that the other half of my family arrived on the island. Unfortunately, as I wrote in my journal that day, Sister #3, Brother #3 and his wife were already two hours late. 

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So instead of heading to the ferry dock we changed our plan and went to church instead.

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We took in an 8 am church service at Guadalope Church across from Mango. We almost tried the church café but opted instead for Mango.

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D couldn’t resist the pablano chilies.

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I had Mango quesadillas. They were stuffed with potato, bacon, onion and cheese. I could only eat two triangles and took the rest home.

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We have enjoyed watching the growth of Mango over the years. When we first started going, we would stand in line down the sidewalk to get into their little seating area. D orders the same thing, each and every time we visit.

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I enjoyed a nap in the hammock and then a long stare at the ocean’s blues and then we were off to the ferry.

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It was a busy day in town.

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We met our DIL’s parents D and V who we also expected that day and then on the very next ferry my siblings and a new friend Rena arrived.

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We walked Sister #3 and Rena to their Air BnB which I was very impressed with. Check out this gorgeous kitchen!

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Mango Margs and Fish Tacos at Bally Hoo were in order-a long standing tradition for many of us.

Later that same day, we met Matteo at his fabulous pizza restaurant-Pizza and A…More. Check out the adventure with this link. Pizza and A …More.

Kath’s quote: “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity”.-Voltaire

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Easter 2019

April22

When my side of the family gets together for a family celebration, it is no easy fete to pull off. On this occasion two sisters and a sister in law got together for a planning meeting over lunch (courtesy of the latter).

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We were treated to fancy sandwiches, a orange almond salad and strawberry angel food cake! I think that there is some irony here: we are certainly a family who uses food as a love language.

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Since we are a family of 45ish, we had to rent a room for our Easter dinner! In the foreground are our recent transplants from Australia with more on the way later this summer.

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An egg hunt was arranged by A and A and the little girls had a blast.

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The youngest of the grandchildren (a boy!) was too little to participate this year.

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One of the Wee Ones didn’t make the little girls pic so here she is feasting on watermelon! And another is missing that I didn’t get a picture of.

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We had access to a rooftop patio and enjoyed one of the first balmy days of spring. Pictured here is the Frenchman and…another Frenchman!

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My handsome brother and my handsome husband! There sure are handsome men in my family!

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The food, as is typical of our get-togethers, was amazing; ham, peppercorn meatballs, vegan meatballs, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, non dairy mashed potatoes, pasta salad, broccoli salad, Greek salad and more!’

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There were so many desserts too: death by chocolate, rice krispie bars, skor bars, a brown sugar and almond wafer that I have loved all my life and these delectable cupcakes!

My amazing brother-in-law went through the frustration of getting the live stream of the Jet’s game (frustrating in more ways than one). When food doesn’t draw us together, sports does. So we were meant to be together either way.

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Sister #2 and her husband were away for Christmas and they missed the family get together so much that she arranged for us all to be together at Easter. She added that we assembled to honour our late Momma and her desire for us always to find a reason to gather. I sure hope Mom knows that there will soon (next month) be another baby to add to the assembly. And so goes our family legacy.

Kath’s quote: Our family is a circle of strength and love…with every birth and union the circle grows, every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.-Anonymous

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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Isla Mujeres 2019 Trip Report-Day One

April17

Day 1 February 23

Day 1 Sunrise

We typically stay in the little apartment style unit at Luna D’Miel with it’s separate kitchen/living/dining area, bathroom and bedroom. But the year previous when we were making arrangements for the current year, we were informed by Mario that Isabel the owner might be renovating and adding a second floor. If this was going to happen we wouldn’t have access to the special apartment unit.

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So we stayed in Unit One which felt kind of like a second honeymoon as the first time D came with me to the island, we occupied that room.

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We love everything about Luna d’Miel. To be right on the ocean side of the island is splendid: always a breeze, staring at the crashing waves and privacy.

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But we love the street side of the apartments too. There is a natural canopy of trees which protects us from light rain showers and offers some coolness to the hottest part of the day. There once was a time when we could see the sunset in all its glory from our lawn chairs in front of Unit 1. Now trees and bushes on the south end of the airport strip have obstructed our view so we have to walk a couple of spots to the north to get a good vantage.

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I had a reasonable sleep but D did not.

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We were up with the sunrise and saw its first light from our bed.

We walk into Centro for a small grocery shop and then to Bally Hoo for breakfast since we missed meeting friends there when we were so late the evening prior.

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D thought that there were too many peppers in his western omelet and I thought that there was too much raw garlic in my Spanish omelet. 

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But the view was wonderful and once again we felt like we were home. I took a cab back to Luna with a small grocery bag. D waited for our youngest daughter and her husband to arrive on the ferry.

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In mean time he bought a ¼ chicken for us to have as a snack since neither of us really ate our omelets.

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Boo and the Frenchman joined us at Luna to sit in the sun and get caught up. Then they headed home (Xbulu Ha) for naps and showers.

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Just like that….it looked like rain.

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We all met later for dinner at Lola Valentina’s (see bog post here) including one of my SILs and her sister. We had a lovely evening with them and the food was amazing.

Kath’s quote: “I believe in the Ocean curing all bad moods. I believe in the waves wiping away worries. I believe in seashells bringing good luck. I believe in toes in the sand, grounding my soul.”-Mystic Mermaid

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Love never fails.

 

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