A whole film festival about food? Yes please! Films about growing food, making food, eating food? This is what the world is made of people. A few weeks ago, Adam and I drove out to Wolfville to attend the Devour Food Film Fest. I was pumped! To start …
Back in April right after Adam finished his first year law exams, we decided to take a spontaneous mid- week vacation to Lunenburg. Being born and raised in Newfoundland, neither Adam nor I had ever been to Lunenburg, and after hearing countless Haliogonians going on …
Ladies and gentlemen, my utmost apologies, for this is a very late entry for May’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! Lots of things have been going on in my world lately that have kept me away from the blogosphere. First things first: We moved! Adam and I are literally moving up in the world from the basement of a 1970s student cave to seventh heaven in a brand new building in the North End. We are very excited about our brand spanking new home, and I am even more excited about my very new and very white kitchen, with a double sink and fancy pot drawers!
Because we moved at the end of the May, cooking the month’s Cover Recipe Challenge was impossible to complete because everything was packed up. And, can I say, that I was baffled at the amount of boxes labeled “kitchen nic nacs” that took up a lot of space in the moving truck. The most of any room in our apartment, in fact. Apparently since moving to Halifax I have developed an obsession with accruing kitchen gadgets, which includes but is certainly not limited to: a cast iron dutch oven, pizza stones, about 1000 wooden spoons, 6 sets of S&P shakers, and even a Soda Stream (yes people, I make my own soda these days.)
Needless to say, it took a few days in the new place to get everything organized enough in the kitchen to get cooking! But the minute we were settled, Erin and Matt joined us last Wednesday evening for May’s Cover Recipe Challenge, and it was one for the books.
MAY COVER RECIPE:
Mixed Grill with Fresh Tomato-and-Pepper Salsa
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
When Adam saw the cover of May’s Food & Wine magazine, he practically skipped back to the apartment from the mailbox. This month’s recipe was a full plate of various meats done on the BBQ with a delicious looking chunky salsa. Simple, easy, and tasty right? Well yes, it was, but honestly, it was nothing to write home about.
The preparation of the recipe was very simple. The first aspect of the dish was to prepare the Tomato-and-Pepper Salsa the day before in order to let it get extra juicy and tasty. It was really easy to make, consisting of peppers, tomato, red onion, garlic, and EVOO.
The day of, I prepared the chorizo sausage, lamb roast, and beef short ribs to be grilled and left Adam in charge of our newly acquired BBQ. Our lovely friend Samantha moved home to Newfoundland this past week and was generous enough to give us hers! He did a great job cooking those choice cuts!
While Adam and Matt were ‘manning’ the patio, Erin and I prepared the side dishes for the evening: a green salad with homemade honey dijon dressing and Potato-and-Mozzarella Croquettes, also from May’s F&W. The croquettes seemed easy enough to make, and most of the preparation was fairly simple. Erin helped with the tomato sauce that was served with the croquettes:
The recipe was clear and easy to follow, although I cannot lie, I do not understand how a spherical mound of potato is supposed to be evenly browned on all sides. Once the potatoes were rolled and dipped in the egg and the breadcrumbs, I had one hell of a time keeping them from rolling to one side in the sizzling oil! But, in the end they turned out pretty good, despite their lack of uniform brownness.
The most amazing and wonderful part of the meal came before all of these delicious things. The oysters. Oh man, let me tell you about the oysters. While perusing F&W for an appetizer (like I do every month) I came across the recipe for Grilled Oysters with Chorizo Butter and I was intrigued. I had never ever thought about cooking oysters, let alone barbecuing them! But they sounded delicious and easy, so I decided to be adventurous and go for it.
Truth be told, I have never prepared oysters at home, and though I love them at restaurants, I couldn’t help but be a little shy about preparing them at home, for guests, on the BBQ. But in the end I am oh so happy I did.
The first step to the recipe was to make the Chorizo butter, which basically consisted of removing the casings of a few chorizos, frying them up in a pan and then melting in A LOT of butter and lime juice. Easy. Grilling the oysters required a little more time and attention. It was all very exciting, and all four of us gathered around the BBQ, prosecco in hand, to watch the process.
All you had to do was make sure the oysters were laid flat side down on a very hot grill and wait for them to pop open. Well, you never saw four people get so excited for a shellfish to open! It was great fun watching them open, ever so slightly, one by one.
And then it was time to eat. Right when everyone was sitting down to the table, I drizzled (more like smothered) the oysters in the chorizo butter sauce.
By the time I got to the table, it was clear that everyone was very hungry and excited to eat some oysters!
THEY WERE SO GOOD. Like crazy good. I could not believe how good the Chorizo tasted with the oysters. It was heavenly and I am not kidding you when I say it was one of the best things I have ever eaten. They were so easy to make, you literally have to melt butter with sausage, and you don’t even have to shuck the oysters. Everyone at the table was loving life.
The main was also delicious. The croquettes were ooey gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside, and the meat turned out awesome! Adam did a great job cooking the meat; the lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare and was tender and juicy. The salsa added a lot of flavour to the meat, but honestly, it wasn’t the best mixed grill I have ever had.
THE WINE: For the evening, we had three different bottles of wine. To start we had an excellent Chablis that Erin and Matt brought that went perfectly with the oysters. The Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2011 was crisp and light, and complimented the rich and buttery oysters very well.
For the main course, I chose both a prosecco and a red wine, as they were both suggested for the various dishes that we had that evening. The recipe for the Potato-and-Mozzarella Croquettes suggested a prosecco to pair with them, so I chose my favourite: LaMarca Prosecco. It is light and delicious and I think it goes with just about any food. But I might be biased, I really love prosecco…
For the Mixed Grill, it was suggested that we pair the dish with a Chilean red, the Cono Sur Vision Cabernet. However, this is not available at the NSLC so I chose the Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2011, because I knew it would pair well with meat. It was a great choice in the end and its fresh and fruity finish paired well with the meat and the salsa.
Overall, I consider May’s Cover Recipe Challenge another success, but mainly because of the delicious oysters. The cover recipe was good, not great, but it has definitely inspired me to try more roasts on the grill. I will say that I have gotten over my fear of oysters in my home kitchen, and I will definitely be willing to Explore.Eat.Repeat all types of oyster recipes in the very near future. Barbecued oysters definitely do not shuck.
Yesterday afternoon Adam and I strolled up Agricola, an area which we rarely seem to visit but we love! We really enjoy Sunday afternoon strolls and though we love popping into some of our favourite antique shops, we were anxious to have our first visit to Liquid Gold, …
As if it hasn’t already been deliciously obvious to readers of The Food Girl in Town, I really love brunch. In fact, I have written numerous articles about my love for the midday delight, and discussed at length the rise in popularity of the filling phenomenon. Because of this love for brunch, I decided to actually use my Masters degree for something useful and do some research about the history of the creation of brunch and, more specifically, my favourite brunch entree, Eggs Benedict. I will not bore the non foodie nerds with a long essay about the historicity of brunch, however, a brief tasting of its fascinating beginnings seems more than appropriate.
Firstly, the obvious consensus among food historians and foodies on the web seems to be that the word “brunch” is a portmanteau of “breakfast and “lunch.” Though there are several myths surrounding the actual coining of the name brunch, the most popular states that the term was created by an Englishman under the name Guy Beringer who discussed brunch and its ideas in an essay entitled ‘Brunch, A Plea’, published in Punch magazine in the late 1890s. The article basically describes how it would be better for people to eat their breakfast later on Sundays so that they could stay up later on Saturday night drinking, which opposed the norm at the time of rising early for church and eating a very hearty meal post worship. Genius, right? The ultimate hangover cure at its earliest stages!
Brunch rose in popularity in America during the 20th century as people became less concerned with formal heavy meals and church going, and more preoccupied with Bloody Marys’, Mimosas and, of course, Eggs Benedict.
The beginnings of Eggs Benedict seem to be much more hazy, with several controversial myths surrounding the delicacy, however, one seems to stand out. The tale begins at what is considered to be the first legitimate restaurant in America: Delmonico’s in New York City (it stills exists, check out there website here!). It was said that in 1893, a woman by the name of Mrs. Legrand Benedict entered Delmonico’s for lunch and when she saw nothing on the menu to her liking, asked for something new to be created for her meal. Thus, Chef Charles Ranhofer came up with Eggs Benedict to satisfy a needy customer, and a legend was born. (Sidenote: Baked Alaska is also said to have been invented at Delmonico’s)
After studying all these wonderful creation myths I decided that I absolutely needed some Eggs Benedict, so Adam and I decided to try the new restaurant at the Delta Barrington, Tempo Food+Drink. Excited about the prospect of a brand new restaurant and intrigued by a chance walk by of the restaurant on its opening night, Adam and I jostled through the hotel lobby that Sunday morning with anticipation and hunger.
As we entered the restaurant through the lobby, the decor is immediately striking with its modern and funky furniture, colourful accents and awesome open kitchen; I was immediately impressed. It is very reminiscent of Bannock, a Toronto restaurant, with its sleek and earthy wooden furniture, which is cosmopolitan but at the same time comfortable. The girl at the counter of the grab-and-go station greeted us warmly, and a server approached us promptly to guide us to our table.
I knew exactly what I wanted, it was the first thing on the menu and number one in my heart: Eggs Benedict. Adam ordered the Skillet and we sipped on our Starbucks brand drip coffee while we waited for our food. Though we did not notice the time pass, our server approached Adam while I was in the restroom and apologized for the delay, saying that there was mix up with the food, and asked us if we would like Mimosas or Bloody Marys’ while we waited. We graciously accepted two Mimosas for our wait, and before we knew it the food had arrived.
It was worth the wait. My classic favourite had been reworked and jazzed up to Waffle Benedict: Poached eggs with crispy prosciutto, white cheddar on savoury waffles with a lemon hollandaise sauce. It was amazing. The lemon in the hollandaise was the perfect hint of sweetness to compliment the waffles and the prosciutto added the salt and the crunch to make this entree fantastic! The meal was presented excellently, with the crispy hashbrowns in a cute little paper bag, and a side of pineapple.
Adam was at first baffled at the sheer size of his meal (the server even commented on how it could probably have been shared), and was then pleasantly surprised at how delicious the Skillet was. The combination of three meats (Adam’s favourite food group) with egg, cheese, and hashbrowns was all the heartiness and goodness Adam wanted on that Sunday afternoon.
Overall, brunch at Tempo Food+Drink was a very pleasant experience; we were waited on by a plethora of wait staff, the manager even came over to apologize about the delay of the food, and it was a very comfortable atmosphere. One of the best features of the restaurant was that it did not really feel like a hotel restaurant but more of a place that is a destination, not a stopover. I would recommend this place to any out-of-towner looking for a good meal, or those weekly brunch going Haligonians who love to Explore.Eat.Repeat brunch right in their own backyards. Enjoy!
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: 45$ for two entrees, coffee, tax and tip! Probably would have been more had we had to pay for our Mimosas!
Things I liked: The wait staff and brunch served until 5pm…Amazing!
Things I didn’t: The long and complicated walk to the bathrooms.
The best place to sit: Near the windows to people watch through the giant floor to ceiling windows, or in the bar area with its funky lounge seating.
What to order next time: Dinner!
Over Thanksgiving weekend my parents came to stay with Adam and I. On Sunday we were lucky enough to enjoy an amazing turkey dinner that was cooked by yours truly and my mom…who am I kidding? I have to give pretty much all the credit to my mom, Cathy, because she did all food, other than my sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans, which, I might add, got rave revues (the recipe will be posted soon). Though I was thrilled with how the first Thanksgiving in my own place went down, I have to discuss the awesome dinner that we had just a few days before. That Friday, October 5th, was also my mom’s birthday, so we went out to The Bicycle Thief for dinner on that warm Fall evening to celebrate. As emphatic as my rant about French food in the last post was, I just have to say how much I love Italian as well: not just true Tuscan tortellini, but Mulberry Street’s Fettuccine Alfredo in NYC (did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo is not true Italian food, and derives from Little Italy, NYC? Click here for an interesting history), and even the crappy Spaghetti Bolognese from Vanelli’s in your local mall food court. I just love pasta! So when we entered the bustling restaurant on Friday night I was very excited to eat a fabulous bowl of carbohydrates.
At 8:30 on a Friday evening, the restaurant was packed! I am talking full sections, busy waiters, and hungry people seated at the bar. We were taken to our table immediately and were presented with numerous cocktail, wine and food meues, that were big in both content and size (they were huge!). The decor of the restaurant is cozy, vintage, and elegant all at the same time. The walls are covered in framed phtography and paintings, and all the antiques and nic nacs give it a comfortable, familiar feeling.The wooden chairs and tables are accented by big brown leather banquettes and elegant barstools, and the lighting was perfect for a celebratory Friday night meal, or a romantic dinner for two. The Bicycle Thief was busy and had a hip and trendy feel that reminded me of this amazing Italian restaurant that my friend Dana and I went to in NYC called Maialino.
Though The Bicycle Thief brands themselves as “North American Food. Italian Soul.” I was impressed with the selection of Italian dishes on the menu. The dinner menu is very large and is divided into three sections, or courses, which are cleverly labeled 1st, 2nd, and High Gears. A traditional Italian meal consists of five parts with Antipasti, Primo, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolce courses, but most restaurants present the menus in three courses, like The Bicycle Thief. I started our wonderful meal with the Tourchon Foie Gras, something we all know that I cannot resist. Served with Stone fruit chutney and crostini, the foie gras was creamy and delicious and everything I wanted it to be. Adam thoroughly enjoyed his Sweet pepper studded pan seared Crab & Fish Cake with homemade Tartar sauce, and though Cathy thought there was a little too much tomato flavour in the sauce, really liked her mussels. My father, Dan, ordered the Sardines and was very impressed at their size. He loved them and the rest of the table loved that fresh Sardines did not come with the pungent odour that canned ones do. The three red wine drinkers at the table enjoyed a bottle of Côtes du Rhône from France, while I accompanied my appetizer with a glass of Tattinger, which I was very impressed about having on the menu by the glass. I love when real Champagne is on the menu by the glass!
The service was attentive and swift, with several different severs bringing our mains. Though you could tell that our server was very busy, with a packed section, he was still very personable and efficient. You could tell he knew how to do his job well. The wait between our mains was perfectly appropriate and I was so excited to see the presentation of my meal in front of me when it arrived. I ordered the Peppercorn crusted Beef Tenderloin Tagliata that was served with sea salted hand cut Frites, and was presented on a wooden cutting board! Both the presentation and the taste of the meal was awesome. The meat was cooked to the medium rare that I ordered, and though the Peppercorn crust was slightly overwhelming for my taste, was very enjoyable. Adam ordered the Veal Scaloppine Parmigiana, which to us seemed like the most recognizable Italian dish of the night. It was topped with prosciutto di San Daniele, smoked Provolone, and San Marzano tomato sauce and was delicious! Cathy ordered the Double smoked bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin and loved it! She was astounded by the price of the tenderloin and raved about the Marsala wine reduction. Dan revelled in his Rabbit, and enjoyed the accompaniment of polenta with fresh herbs.
Even though the 2nd Gear section, or Secondi, looked amazing there was no way that any of us would have been able to eat all three courses! The portions were a great size and the ingredients were fresh and flavourful. The funny thing was that none of us ordered pasta because they were for the most part in the 2nd Gear section. However, despite the common assumption that Italian food is based around pasta, the main dishes presented authentic and innovative Italian options. We all decided that we were two full of food and wine for dessert and were completely satisfied with the meal; Mom even got a delicious birthday shot courtesy of our friendly server.
Overall I would recommend The Bicycle Thief to anyone who enjoys Italian food and a good time. It was a great place to celebrate my parents coming to visit and my mom’s birthday. The experience was awesome, and I am anxious to try it a second time, making sure to starve myself the whole day so that I can have five courses in the true Italian fashion and Explore. Eat. Repeat.
Things worth mentioning…
Cost: Around 450$ for four people, including tax, tip, THREE bottles of wine, and more than a few glasses of champagne.
Things I liked: The atmosphere and decor, authentic bubbles by the glass, AMAZING fries, and the washrooms…beautiful.
Things I didn’t: Very little…a little loud for those who appreciate intense dinner conversations, wine by the glass was slightly expensive.
Best place to sit: Anywhere! At the bar, on a banquette or by the window, all have their own ambience. Next time I want to sit outside; the view of the harbour is great, and they provide elegant red pashminas to keep you warm!
What to order next time: PASTA! In particular the BLT Fettuccine, with Pancetta, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, Arugula, and Pecorino cheese.
Saturday midday in Halifax, Adam and I were doing what everyone seemed to be doing: looking for a good Brunch place to satisfy our hungry bellies and our hungover heads. We rendezvoused with an old friend from our Honours Program, Krysi, and set off in …