My Favourite Restaurant Experiences of 2015

December28

Here is a round up of my favourite restaurants for 2015 (sorry Winnipeggers only one is from here).

For Christmas last year D gifted me with a trip to White Rock and then Seattle early this past year to visit old and dear friends.

1. The Seahorse Grill, Crescent Beach, White Rock BC

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D could not resist the Pan Seared Scallops in lemon grass sauce accompanied by fregola pasta and market vegetables. The taste of the enormous scallop that he shared with me as absolutely delectable-sweet and silky, just like a fresh scallop should taste.

Friend Nance ordered what she claims she cannot resist with each of her many visits to the Seahorse Grill-the Linguine Vongole. She offered me a swirl and I know that if the opportunity is afforded me in the future (and I am currently making those plans), I would certainly order her selection. The freshest of clams were poached in white wine broth, olive and plenty of garlic and then perfectly heaved together with el dente linguini.

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My Smoked chicken and pasta choice was perfect with generous slices of chicken breast and a bone in cuts as well, the dish was laced with garlic and beautifully paired with a hearty pasta.

2. The Fat Hen, Seattle Washington

The morning we visited, Owner/Chef Maximo was in the tiny café kitchen where he whipped up the most decadent and rich breakfasts for D and I. His wife had baked all the pastries that were featured in the restaurant including the perfectly bubble filled baguette that I used to sop up every single bite of my delectable sauce.

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Since we were in seafood territory, D chose the Benedict with wild Alaskan smoked salmon. The petite roasted new potatoes were a delectable accompaniment.

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I needed help with my baked eggs alla boscaiola where two eggs had been plunged into a bubbling solea tomato sauce with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, to finish the cooking process. At least, this is how we guessed the dish had been prepared. The more quickly you broke into the egg, the softer the yolk was that had been poaching in the hearty sauce. By my last bite the egg was fully cooked.

We spotted Maximo as he efficiently let down a counter to cover the doorway to the kitchen to lovingly plate and complete his delicious fare. He was shy (and busy) but came out for a moment to shake our hands in greeting.

Fredy’s, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

One of our regular stops on Isla Mujeres is to our friend Fredy’s. We met Fredy many years ago when we first started visiting the island. His dry wit, love of family and fabulous food, keep us coming back, year after year. We even ate Christmas dinner there one year.

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On this year’s visit at the end of February I couldn’t resist Fredy’s double boned pork chop. Perfect seasoned and grilled, sometimes I dream about them.

Da Emma, Old Montreal, Quebec

In July I visited Da Emma housed in Montreal’s first prison for women. The Restaurant’s walls were impossibly thick but contrary to what you might first expect, the ambiance was warm and inviting.

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We started with bruschetta where I confirmed anew how much I love fresh garlic and tomatoes and crunchy baguette.

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Next up was eggplant which featured thin layers of my favourite vegetable and a delicate tomato sauce.

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For my main, I chose “Piglet” even though I felt awkward about ordering something with such a cute name. The skin was crunchy, the silky fat melted away and the meat was perfectly seasoned and prepared.

Toscano Doc, Montecatini Italy

When I read through Trip Advisor reviews of a restaurant I am interested in what fellow travellers have to say but even more so when a local goes to the trouble of commenting and recommending their favourite spots. On the very first night that we were in Tuscany in October, we went with one of these suggestions. Little did we know that first evening that we would return almost every other night of our week’s stay. One reason was our server Francesco who spoke great English as a result of spending six months in Australia. He hopes to come to Canada for an extended stay as well. One evening D went in to order a couple of pizzas to go and waited with a beer. When the pizza was ready, Franccesco wouldn’t hear of D paying for it, saying that he appreciated our business (and our company).

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Everything we ate there was delectable but I want to give special accolades to a pretty non-descript menu item: fried seafood. OMG-perfectly seasoned, the lightest of coatings and a delicate plunge into the fryer produced a dish so fine that once D gave me a taste when he ordered it, I schemed to return so that I could indulge in my own plate.

Enoteca, Winnipeg

In the same manner that someone might say “I admire the work of a certain photographer or craftsperson”, I admire the work of Chef Scott Bagshaw. I have never laid my eyes on a plate that he has composed without given due respect to his artistry. Our recent visit to Enoteca Wine Bar was no exception.

When you identify yourself as a new guest at Enoteca, a server explains how to order and how the dishes will be served. One and a half to two dishes per person were recommended and each dish was served separately to the table. The intention is that every dish will be shared by dinner companions.

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The first dish that arrived was Blue Swimmer Crab which had been pulled from its shell and enhanced with cucumber and apple. The delicate texture of the shellfish was offset by the caviar and especially the crunchy grains of rye. The silky crème fraiche finished our appetizer in both texture and taste.

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Knowing that vegetable centred dishes are the new culinary trend, we were not surprised to see that Chef Scott was ahead of the movement. Veg-centric dishes focus on flavour. Being meatless is secondary. Proteins are still included, but they’re more of a flavour enhancer. We spotted many such dishes on Enoteca’s menu and finally decided upon the Roasted Cauliflower utilizing “cave aged” gruyere to intensify the taste. Panade added moisture, rough cut almonds provided crunch and capers the saltiness.

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Our final plate was Chef Scott’s take on a meat and potato dish. Hanger steak was once referred to as “butcher’s steak” because meat cutters would set the especially flavourful cuts aside for their own use. Pan-seared oyster and morel mushrooms both added meaty tastes to the dish as well. For crunch (can you see a trend here?), crispy baby potatoes provided the crib for the dish.

2015, oh what a year for food and travel!

Kath’s quote:  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

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Love, that is all.

 

 


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