Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring is on it's way...Welcome Back Vol Au Vent!

Print Friendly and PDF I am in great need of a Vol Au Vent FIX!!! The restaurant is by far, one of my favorite places in the world to eat, and the owners have been closed for their annual month off. I know they should be opening again any day I thought I would tell you about the best lunch I ever had... to welcome them back!
Even though it was late September, I had on a sleeveless dress and sandals. The sun was shining and a warm breeze washed over my skin. I was in possession of two of my favorite things. One was the current and largest issue of Vogue Magazine, The September Issue. Two was simply, a sunny day off! I turned into the restaurant and spied my favorite table on the patio, empty and waiting for me. I methodically re-arranged the settings to accommodate my 3 pound magazine, chose the chair with a little shade, ( always facing the beach.) and waited for my glass of crisp white wine to arrive. Just as I opened the cover of my magazine, and leafed through about twenty odd pages of advertising, my server, who also happens to be the owner, arrived. With a cheery 'Bonjour' she laid down the menu and my wine. I admired the unusual necklace she was wearing, and she greedily eyed my magazine. With a wink, she told me to read she could borrow it!
It is like this with us. I started eating lunch alone at Vol Au Vent, after I closed my clothing store of 17 years. I had vowed to take six months off, and at least once a week I wandered down the hill with a magazine and had lunch. Over the span of a couple of years, and a couple of hundred solitary lunches...this woman and I have become friends.
On this particular day, after letting me know the catch of the day, she mentioned that the special was Pork Roast. Nothing else, no description...just pork roast. Now I have mentioned my Ukrainian heritage before, and pork of any kind is aces with I said yes...I will have the special. I read a bit more, sipped my wine, and voila, my meal arrived.
She laid it down in front of me, and it was the smell that hit me first. Sort of apple-sweet, and buttery. You know things are on the right track when you can smell the butter! I looked at my plate, and there were four slices of pork roast, with big chunks of soft roasted garlic right inside the meat, shining in the sun all glossy with a buttery jus. On the side was an exquisite pile of the softest, smoothest mashed potatoes, with a pool of butter in the centre. The only other thing on the plate was 4 slices of a cored apple, sort of browned from being baked in the oven, with no peel, but a pretty fluted edge. The beauty of this plate took a minute to sink in. It was so simple, so 'un-fancy' , so perfect and so homemade made my mouth water.
I took up my knife and fork, and cut a piece of pork, and piled on a scoop of potatoes, and a slice of apple, over and over, and over again, until all that was left on my plate was a thin sheen of beautiful butter. I sat back in my chair, took a sip of wine, and felt utterly, and completely content. If I had been a cat...I would have been PURRING!
It was quite simply, THE PERFECT LUNCH!!
Welcome back Nanna and Michel...I'll see you soon!

spinach and ricotta canneloni

Print Friendly and PDF I don't like to have a ton of food in my kitchen. I watch the chefs on Food Network Canada, and read cook books that tell you that the easiest way to cook is to have huge pantries FULL of ingredients. I suppose there are people out there who are so devoted to cooking, that if they have a desire to create a 5 course Indian meal at two in the morning, a stocked pantry is all they need. Not me. I have cooked for the P-Man and myself for so many years now, that having cupboards full of food, just in case I feel like cooking 'X'...seems extremely wasteful . My mom was a big food shopper. It seemed that the bigger our house, the more cupboards and freezers we needed to store the FOOD. Did I mention that it was just my mom and I living in a big house? I remember all the food that we used to throw away, because it had gotten freezer burned, or things were way past their best before date, or little critters got into the half opened packages. When the P-Man and I first got married, we went through a COSTCO stage. The two of us used to waste half a day driving to the brand new COSTCO, that always seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. Once there, we would find a parking spot and get one of those ridiculously HUGE shopping carts, and start the long walk around the enormous store. We would always spend at least 200 dollars, and come home with food that would take us months to eat. It seems so insane, looking back.
Fast forward to today. I have 5 drawers that roll out of my modest pantry. I look at the food in those drawers almost daily. I then try to make a mental note of when I last purchased what...and decide what else I need to purchase to turn it into a meal. I have had a package of dried cannelloni shells for a month or so, and decided that this weekend, I would try to turn them into spinach and ricotta cannelloni. I purchased the other ingredients, and found a recipe that looked reasonable. This morning, I put them together. If there is a prize given for PRETTY looking cannelloni...I'm not going to get it. Some of the shells were a bit broken, so when I boiled them, a few more stuck to the bottom of the pot. My filling looked pretty good, except that I forgot to buy mozzarella cheese, so tried to use a bit more Parmesan. I also don't have a food processor...( Please don't get the P-Man started on that topic!) so I attempted to mince the spinach and parsley and green onions in the blender. I also didn't have a piping bag to pipe the mixture into the shells, so I did the old plastic bag with the one corner cut off, trick. I laid them out on little saucers and froze them. I will look at them later, and attempt to put them into little freezer bags, so I can dazzle the P-Man with my culinary razzamataz when he returns from his trip. I will also have to make a nice tomato sauce to bake them in, and get some mozzarella for the top. Thankfully, I know exactly where to get my last few shift starts tomorrow at 9 am!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Rough Night

Print Friendly and PDF I needed some coffee this morning. Last night I went out to a local pub to meet some old friends. We were there to wish someone GOOD LUCK in their new job in the big city! I had been out for my LARGE Cactus Club lunch a few hours prior to walking down to the pub for 5 I didn't bother to eat. That was my first mistake. I had a couple of glasses of wine, and someone was nice enough to buy me another...and before you could say: " Cathy's Drunk!"...I was. Mistake number two was helping myself to some of the complimentary appies that were generously provided. I had some raw vegetables with some creamy dip, and a variety of deep fried treats such as little egg rolls,chicken wings, and zucchini sticks. Before I could finish my paper plate full of artery clogging , stomach churning goodness...some dear soul bought me ANOTHER GLASS OF WINE !! Wine was drunk, plate was cleaned, and I seem to recall something about a few more egg rolls being consumed. After all the entertainment and chatting, I glanced outside, and discovered that the sun had set. People were filing out, and the guest of honour was making his final rounds. I said my good-byes, and headed out into the night for the short 10 minute walk home. It must have been the fresh air, but I was feeling pretty good, and was hardly staggering at all! As I approached Slainte by the Pier, I noticed that there were 3 young ladies playing guitar and singing. I had no idea what time it was, but the P-Man was probably just falling asleep on the plane, so, I thought a good plan would be to walk the rest of the way home, grab my debit card, as I had spent all my cash at the pub...and come back and hear the ladies sing! Mistake number three. The ladies were great...all up and coming singer/songwriters, with CD's in the works...I hardly noticed how quickly I managed to drink another couple of glasses of wine. Have you ever seen in the movies, when the drunk person walks out of the door of the establishment, and sort of does a sideways walk right to the edge of the sidewalk, and then veers back to the middle? I did that! I tried to breathe deep, and headed up the big hill to my apartment. At this point, my stomach was starting to make some strange noises. I got in the door, took my coat off, and turned the tv on, convinced that I just needed some water and perhaps a few tums for the noises. Unfortunately, the tums and the water did not like it in my stomach, and started to fight it out with the deep fried eggrolls and the creamy dip! As this blog is supposed to be about EATING FOOD...not the opposite...I will leave the rest to your imagination. Note to the P-MAN...I obviously can not be trusted out alone on a Thursday night. Note to SELF...Drinking, and fried food, and fast walking, and tums, and water is a deadly combination. Today, I managed to have a cup of instant coffee, ( Maxwell House is what my mom and dad drank 40 years ago, and I still do!) and 3/4 of a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios, with a half cup of 1% milk. An hour or so ago, I had a huge plate of leftover spaghetti with homemade tomato/meat sauce, and everything stayed where it belonged...IN my stomach.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another day...Another lunch...

Print Friendly and PDF This is me sitting at The Primeburger in NYC.
I was just finished eating breakfast...but it was almost lunch time!

Cathy's List of Favorite Lunch things:
  • A nice wine list with a selection of white wines by the glass for under 10 dollars.
  • Some sort of a view. Even a brick wall can be interesting if viewed from a nice looking window.
  • A menu full of variety, in ingredients and preparations. Please, someone tell the goat cheese lobby..." WE'VE HAD ENOUGH!!"
  • Servers who actually seem to enjoy eating, and who understand something about cooking.
  • A restaurant full of animated people discussing interesting things! ( I love to eavesdrop on conversations.)
  • Great music! The soundtrack to a memorable Lunch!

I am sad today, as the P-Man is off on another business trip. It is raining, and I got up too early to get him to work, and didn't have time to brush my teeth until recently, and am anticipating being lonely for several days! ( Heavy Sigh, Whine, Whine!) To make myself feel a bit better...I took myself out to lunch. I went to The Cactus Club in South Surrey. I always to prefer to eat in a non-chain restaurant, but I quite like the Cactus Club. The food is reasonably priced, and best of all, very consistent. They change their menu seasonally, and I can taste the freshness. Today I had the Halibut Soft Tacos, and the yam fries with chipotle mayo. I guess you could say I was sad AND hungry today! The tacos were very good. Two tacos plus a side of guacamole, a few crisp tortilla chips and some fresh salsa. The tacos were filled with blackened halibut with fresh green cabbage slaw and some fresh tomatoes. I shoveled some guacamole into the taco and started eating. The taco was a fresh white flour tortilla, at room temperature. The fish was flaky, and a bit spicy, but I wouldn't call it blackened, as it was described in the menu. The cabbage was crisp and fresh. It was a nice textural contrast, and a fresh combination. It just could have used a bit more spice, or perhaps a bit of sharpness...maybe some lime. The guacamole tasted fine...again really light on heat, but the thing that I didn't like was the brownish color. Someone had forgot to coat the avocado in lime juice, to preserve it's almost iridescent lime green color...and it looked sad and unappetizing. The fresh salsa was nice and zippy with heat...but tomatoes are so far from being at their best this time of year, I really don't know why they bothered. The yam fries were sweet and salty, and the accompanying chipotle mayo was rich and mildly spicy. I have never been to the Southwestern United States, or to Mexico, so I cannot compare it to the authentic dishes they were modelled after. Today, on a rainy Thursday in BC, with a heavy filled me up.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

From the 'Grass is alway's Greener' file!'

Print Friendly and PDF I took this photo as we were walking through Soho in NYC. I think it is kind of funny, because in the small town I live in...the cost of parking is ALWAYS a hot topic. ( FYI...our parking rates are 2$ per hour! HA!)

I go back to work tomorrow. Officially the end of my vacation. I still haven't managed to cook very much since I came home...but I did manage to walk uptown and pick up some fresh veggies, and a couple of pounds of ground beef. I decided to make some meatloaf. It has been ages...but that's what I wanted. I had a look for a recipe on one of my favorite websites: . I like this website for many reasons, but most of all because you can type in the dish, or simply the ingredient you are wanting some inspiration for, and voila...a list pops up. In my case, I chose a new recipe called : ' Dinner Meatloaf Muffins.' It promised meatloaf in half the time, by cooking it in muffin tins. I had all the ingredients except for the saltine crackers. I substituted some other crackers I had in the cupboard, threw it all in a bowl, gave it a mix...formed big meatball shapes, plopped them in the muffin tins, and 25 minutes later I had some seriously delicious mini meat loafs! I roasted some asparagus, and added some leftover mashed potatoes. Despite using regular ground beef...the meatloaf came out incredibly moist and tender. The carrot added some sweetness, and the ketchup topping added some zing. I gave the P-Man a meatloaf lunch today, and he said it was excellent warmed up in the microwave. I will definitely save this recipe for the future. I wonder how it would work for meatballs?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hello BC

Print Friendly and PDF We struggled through one more rainy, windy New York day, a bit of thunder, a cancelled flight, and arrived back to BC approximately a half an hour earlier than originally planned...thanks to a very cooperative tailwind. It is taking me a bit of time to get myself out of vacation mode. I have no food in the apartment, and am trying to do some laundry, and am feeling that post vacation hangover. The P-Man has headed back to work, and I am sitting here in my pajamas listening to one of the finest albums ever made, ' Sea of Change' by Beck. It is St Patrick's Day today, and the sun is starting to come out. Perhaps I will wander down to Slainte for a glass of green beer and make a grocery list. With the cupboards and fridge empty, I will definitely have to improvise. It's so quiet here. I miss the horns honking and the crowds of cell phone chatting people. I miss seeing something NEW every 5 seconds. It was a GREAT TRIP! Thanks New York...

A late lunch and MOMA

Print Friendly and PDF The rain continued to fall...and we decided to stop for a late lunch before heading to The Museum of Modern Art, for Friday night...Free Night! We found a little place a block from our hotel called Saju Bistro. We staggered in, soaked and hungry, and were seated at a cute little table by the window. The menu was Mediterranean, and we started with some wine, and nibbled on the excellent bowl of olives and bread on the table. The olives were all sizes and colors, coated in a peppery olive oil, nestled beside large peeled cloves of garlic, YUM! We shared the country pate, which was excellent. It was a nice chunky mixture of meats/liver, studded with truffle and bright green pistachios. It came with a little celery remoulade, cornichons, and some mustard. We had a bit more wine, and decided on some pasta. I had a great linguine vongole. Once again, my dish came absolutely PIPING HOT, and was a delicious mixture of fresh sweet clams, lots of garlic, fresh parsley, and white wine. It was both warming, and filling perfect for this rainy afternoon.
We headed off to MOMA, and I am really glad we decided against eating there, because the Museum was PACKED!! There was am exhibition of Tim Burton drawings and short films that was completely sold out, but I really wanted to see the lobby exhibition of Irving Penn black and white photographs. They were great, and we headed upstairs to have a wander around. There was a fairly large exhibit of charcoal drawings by a South African artist named William Kentridge. I was not familiar with his work, but I liked it. In particular, there was one piece that was titled ' HER ABSENCE FILLED THE WORLD' that made my night. I wasn't expecting anything, so to have seen something so moving...was another unforgettable NYC moment.

Another busy day in NYC

Print Friendly and PDF This was a photo I took yesterday, as the P-Man and I were walking through Central Park. I mean, I am a lousy photographer...and look how pretty this is. The whole city is photogenic!! Today, the weather changed, and it started to rain. I love Hotels. I don't know why, but when I am away, I love to walk through Hotel lobbies, to get a feel for the place. This morning we walked from our Hotel on 44th St to 19th St to The Ace Hotel. I have been to the Ace Hotel in Seattle, and wondered how it would translate that Northwest laid back vibe to NYC. The review I read about the hotel said that it was located in a 'transitional' neighbourhood. Everything was fine until the last 2 blocks. All of a sudden it was like we walked into the twilight zone, and we were the only white people on the street. Me with a map in hand, and a camera around my neck! Yikes! When the streetlight turned green, we crossed the last block, and walked another half block towards an awning covered with little white lights that simply said ' HOTEL'. That is another great thing about NYC...if the place is really cool. they don't bother to put up a are just supposed to know where you are. We made our way through the huge lobby, with 25 ft ceilings , and the biggest oldest American flag I have ever seen, draped up on the wall. The restaurant was called Breslin's, and looked like an old saloon, with the waitstaff dressed in jeans and sneakers and distressed t-shirts, with BRESLIN'S Ace Hotel NYC on the back. The menu was as eclectic as the setting, and the P-Man settled on curried lentils with poached eggs, and I had 2 scrambled eggs with a croissant. We both had the excellent coffee from Stumptown Roasters. My eggs came in a small ramekin, and the texture was luxuriously silky. ( I would hate to think how much butter was used!) The eggs were steamed, I think, and had chives mixed in. The croissant was almost too much, as the eggs were so rich, but the flavour of the two was so amped up, it was like breakfast on steroids! The P-Man is not a big fan of spicy food, but he said that his eggs and curried lentils combo was excellent, and said that he would walk here again, just to have them. He gave me a taste, and they were firm and nutty tasting, but with a flavourful curry flavour that was dynamite with the simple taste of the poached eggs. The group next to us was having fresh baked pastries that were served on a beautiful wooden platter that looked like a polished slab of Douglas Fir. For the hour or so I was there, I really felt as if I had come home. With the rain falling outside, and the fire roaring in the lobby, I could almost smell the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Primeburger

Print Friendly and PDF Another morning in NYC...another search for a breakfast place. We ended up at The Primeburger this fine morning! This place was the real deal. It had a really long counter, a guy named Vinnie at the front cash, and the soundtrack was right out of 1965. We sat down at the most peculiar little tables. You couldn't sit across from each other, you had to sit side by side. The seats had a padded back, and a hard wooden seat, and the front of them was a cross between a school desk and an airplane seat. Each seat had a sort of oval wooden tray that swiveled open so you could sit down, and then you swung it back in front of you to eat your meal! There was a newspaper clipping on the wall that said that Sarah Jessica Parker filmed an episode of Sex and the City there in 2005! The menu was classic diner, and the P-Man and I each ordered a breakfast sandwich, and a cup of coffee. Tasty and filling, the bill came to a reasonable $ 9.69. There was a little write up on the place, on the wall near the door. It was from 2009, and it said that The Primeburger was opened in 1930, and it was open 24 hours a day until the 1990's. It also said that it had been given a James Beard award for the best authentic restaurant in NYC. I just love the fact that the culture of the city is so intertwined with the food culture, you just can't separate the two. We finished our coffee, and set out along 5th Avenue, for another day of shopping. The P-Man had arranged for us to go to the theatre tonight, so at about 4 pm, we decided to have a late lunch at Bergdorf Goodman's flagship store on the corner of 59th and 5th overlooking Central Park, and kitty corner to the Plaza Hotel. The restaurant is on the 7th floor, so it gets a nice view of the busy street, with the horse drawn carriages, the park, and the start of the Mansions along 5th Avenue. We were lucky to get a table at the window so we could see it all. Another benefit of eating in a department store in NYC is that they are certainly NOT cafeterias! This was a lovely elegant place, quite the contrast to our thrifty breakfast, We each had a couple of glasses of wine, a bowl of soup, and a salad. I have to say, I really like salads in the USA. They are so historic and traditional, with simple ingredients. A real departure from today`s fussy designer greens, and exotic toppings. I chose to have the chopped salad. It consisted of finely chopped iceberg lettuce, finely diced tomato, Swiss cheese, ham, hard cooked egg and cooked beets. The piece de resistance is the Thousand Island dressing. The dressing is not glopped on top, it is gently mixed into the ingredients, and presented in a large deep bowl. Not even a dark green sprig of parsley could disturb the sea of pastel colored vegetables. As I grew up eating iceburg lettuce salad smothered in Kraft Thousand Island dressing, I ate this lovely salad in a blissful haze of nostalgia! My soup was equally as good. It was ginger carrot, and it seems that listing the ginger firstwas deliberate. An indication of the heat. It was so spicy with fresh ginger, that I temporarily developed a case of hiccups! It was wonderfully smooth and flavourful, a great contrast to the very sedate, ladylike salad. Did I mention that the salad was 25 dollars...well it was, and for an hour or two, I felt as if I had just walked down 5th Ave from my 10 million dollar pre-war 10 room flat, and met this really cute boy, who bought me lunch, and had great tickets to a play, and wanted me to go with him...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lupa, NYC

Print Friendly and PDF I woke up this morning a little bleary from my special day. The P-Man and I decided to head back down to Soho to finish shopping...but before that, I had to eat breakfast. We decided to get ready and start walking down Broadway toward Macy's department store, and see what we could see. About 3 blocks from Macy's, I saw it. Jimmy's Coffee Shop. If you are a breakfast person, if you see it, you know it's right. Jimmy's was a find. As I swung the door open, I could smell the grease. There were beige Naugahyde booths as far as you could see. A good breakfast was not far away. We sat down and before long we had a cup of hot coffee and a fried egg sandwich. I had ham on mine, and the P-Man chose sausage. They were simple and filling, and perfect. After breakfast we headed down to ABC Carpet and Home. The P-Man and I are still decorating our apartment, and ABC had 9 floors of inspiration. As we were finishing off the last floor, we were hungry AGAIN...and it was 2 we headed down the stairs to a restaurant located in the store called Le Pain Quotidien. It was a nice open space with 3 communal tables. We sat down, and decided on a snack to get us through until supper. This was essentially a bakery, although many people around us were eating wonderful looking salads or tartines, lovely little open faced sandwiches. I had an organic buttermilk scone made with steel cut oats and flax seed, served with fresh ricotta drizzled with honey, and homemade apricot preserves. The scone was hearty and substantial and slightly warm. The ricotta was super creamy and sweet with honey. The apricot preserves were absolutely wonderful. A combination of tart and sweet, they paired beautifully with the cheese and scone. Another taxi, and we were back in Soho. More shopping, and then, LUPA!!
I love Mario Batali, and have been looking forward to dining in one of his NYC restaurants. We had a 6 pm reservation, and were a bit early, so headed over to a bar I had read about in a magazine. It was called Minetta Tavern, and we got there at 5:10, and took a seat at the bar. The place looked like a movie set, with the checkerboard floor, and the red leather booths, and the 3 bartenders dressed in white coats, kind of like pharmacists. We ordered a glass of wine, and looked at all the photos on the wall of Eddie Minetta with a variety of celebrities such as Rocky Marciano, in 1941. As Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra played in the background, the crowds started to arrive. By 6 pm, the crowd at the bar was 4 people deep, and we had to go. A couple of blocks to the West, and we were at Lupa. It was a tiny, unassuming place that was already half full. We sat down and ordered some wine and one of the most delicious appetizer platters I have ever eaten. It was all vegetable. 6 different items, from olives, to roasted beets with pistachio butter, to brocolli rabe with ricotta, to treviso with honey and walnuts. After we devoured that, it was on to pasta. I ordered the special, which was a sort of elongated gnocchi with lamb,with a bit of spice. The P- Man ordered the papardelle with chicken ragu. My pasta was tender and delicious, with the most flavourful lamb, I have ever eaten. I am at this moment trying to figure out, when we can go back again, before we leave on Sunday! The P-Man's papardelle must have been good. When I looked up from my lamb, to have a sip of wine, IT WAS GONE!! The P-Man needs to work on sharing! No coffee or dessert...we were too blissed out. Lupa...I LOVE YOU!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Special Day!

Print Friendly and PDF Today is our special day. We have been married 25 years! Our day started with a lovely breakfast at our hotel. I had coffee and a toasted bagel with cream cheese and fresh fruit compote. The simplest things taste the best, especially after yesterday's disappointing food. The coffee was made in a French Press and was hot and delicious...sort of sweet tasting. The bagel was well toasted, and the cream cheese was super smooth. The star was the fruit compote. It was like the best jam you have ever tasted. It was full of strawberries and blueberries. Not too sweet, but wonderfully fruity! After breakfast, we headed off to Soho to shop. A couple of hours later we stopped for lunch at the Mercer Kitchen. We shared two delicious dishes. A fennel, mushroom,and arugula salad, and a chicken, avocado, and bacon sandwich. Both were fresh, and tasty, and tasted as if the person who made them, perhaps from time to time, may actually have eaten them! After MORE shopping...we started walking to the restaurant that we were having supper at...Little Owl. This place had the sort of charm that you usually only see in the movies. It was tiny, with only about 30 seats. The menu was simple, and everything looked great. I decided on the baked clams and the baked cod with butternut squash risotto, and sauteed cabbage. The clams were HUGE, and a little chewy...but the cod got better and better with every bite. The fish was cooked perfectly, and was moist inside and a bit crisp on the outside. It sat on a pile of risotto that was creamy and crunchy with tiny cubes of butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. There was a little pile of sauteed red cabbage on top of the fish, that was sweet and a bit tart. The combination of the three tastes and textures made for a fantastic meal. As this was a special day, I finished with a cookie plate consisting of warm chocolate chip, shortbread with a fresh raspberry, and a biscotti flavored with aniseed. Little Owl was a delight...kind of like the last 25 years. Surprising, sweet, and great with a glass or two of champagne!

First Day in NYC

Print Friendly and PDF The last time I was in NYC was in 2002. One of the things that struck me on that visit, was how even the nicest restaurants have these HUGE posters showing what to do if someone chokes while eating! Our first meal of the day on Monday morning was breakfast at a restaurant called ' The Red Flame'. A typical NY coffee shop. We had a regular breakfast, nothing special, and we headed out to shop. A couple of hours later, after much walking...we needed a snack. We had a muffin and coffee at a little bakery called Bouchon. Our muffins were lemon/poppy seed, and were really more like cake. Combined with a really good cup of coffee...we were energized, and ready to go. After a nice walk through Central Park, we headed down Madison Avenue towards Barney's Dept. store. It was time for a late lunch. The restaurant at Barney's is called' Fred's', kind of funny if you are a fan of the Flintstones! Weird, considering the P-Man says I laugh like Betty Rubble! HA! We split some calamari and a thin crust pizza topped with caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, zucchini, tomatoes, and yellow peppers. Disappointingly, the pizza had a soggy crust, and the calamari was a bit rubbery. The muffin was definitely the high point of today's food intake. Sort of sad...but true.

Travelling...NOT Eating!!

Print Friendly and PDF I woke up at 2:30 AM on Saturday morning. The alarm was set for 4 AM...but I always worry that I will sleep through the alarm and miss my plane! At 4 AM the alarm finally DID ring, and the P-Man and I got ready for our NYC adventure! Arriving at YVR at 4:45 AM...we got checked in...begged once again for an upgrade and were turned down...and made our way to the lounge to have some breakfast. We had some coffee some cereal and skim milk and a piece of toast with some butter and jam. After chatting with a man about the horrible turbulence he had on his last flight to Hamburg in a snowstorm, ( WHY do people share things like that with you, just before you have to board a flight??), we made our way to the gate, and left right on time...7 AM. The flight was 4 hours to Toronto...and considering the effort it takes to sit there and read...I was STARVING! We tried to buy some food,but everything looked so disgusting, and was so expensive,we just had another drink, and waited to land in Toronto. After passing through security, we had about 30 minutes till our we headed to a bar and split the WORST smoked meat sandwich I have ever had in my life. It was supposed to be was cold. The meat was supposed to be was thick. The bread was supposed to be was, I have no idea. We wolfed it down, along with some lukewarm fries...and headed to the gate. We did sit in business class from Toronto to New York, and were served a nice little plate of 3 kinds of cheese, 2 kinds of crackers, some red grapes, and a slice of tomato. FRESH FOOD!!! I nearly wept. We ate what we could, as the flight was only an hour...and then we were at our final destination, NYC. After a speedy taxi ride to our hotel...we dropped our bags, and headed out in search of some REAL food. We ended up at a restaurant called 'Cafe Un Deux Trois'. I had poached salmon with Bearnaise sauce, sauteed broccoli with garlic, and mashed potatoes. I was both tired and hungry, which for me is a deadly combination, that requires IMMEDIATE comfort food! This salmon was PERFECT. The texture was absolutely incredible. It was so soft, that you sort of had to scoop it off the plate. Once in your mouth,the luxuriousness of the fish was so surprising! I eat salmon all the time...but this was like salmon from heaven. The plates were hot, and the fish was also incredibly hot...but as I ate, and it cooled down...I realized that the initial few bites had contained the essence of the salmon. The Bearnaise sauce was draped onto the fish the way a silk gown drapes beautifully across a woman's body. It was tangy and rich, and they gave you just enough to tease you. The sauteed broccoli was soft but still a vibrant green...and the punch of fresh garlic was unexpected, almost embarrassing ,considering the subtleness of the salmon. the mashed potatoes were good...but almost unnecessary considering the excellence of the other 2 items on the plate. Oh, wait, There was also a broiled tomato half, brushed with butter, and topped with fresh thyme. It was tart, and soft, and hot, and the thyme smelled more than it tasted... it was a perfect addition to the plate. I walked back to the hotel after that meal, feeling as if I had just been to a spa. I was pleasantly full, and feeling warm and satisfied. I love New York!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The BIG salad

Print Friendly and PDF I had a BIG salad for lunch today. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld? Elaine wanted George to pick her up a salad at the coffee shop...but she wanted the BIG salad. George had never even heard of a BIG salad...and had an issue with paying for it, and of course everything went sideways from there! I have always been a 3 meals a day sort of eater. Not only 3 meals a day...3 BIG meals a day. I had a dad and 2 older brothers, so if they were having a full meal at lunch...I wanted one too. I always remember when we lived in Yellowknife. I was in grade 5. My dad had a hotel with a coffee shop...kind of like the one in Seinfeld. I would walk to the hotel at lunchtime... through the front door, and all the way to the back. There was a waitress named Mary who worked there...and she called me little Sam, because I looked just like my dad. At the very back at a table to the left, sat my dad, and two or three of his friends. They would be drinking coffee, waiting for me to show up. Now my dad wasn't a typical parent. He never asked me how I was, or how school was. All he wanted to know was what I wanted for lunch. My favorite meal at that crazy coffee shop was Veal Cutlets, with mashed potatoes and gravy, and frozen peas/carrots/corn, with a white porterhouse roll. We usually had pie for dessert! My dad and his friends would sit there and eat their lunches, and marvel at how a 9 year old could put away that much food! I still remember how proud he was of my appetite...and it was even more remarkable because I was a GIRL!! After lunch, I'd put my parka back on and head back to school. Holey trans-fats Batman! It's a miracle I stayed AWAKE for the rest of the day.
Maybe my childhood cutlets and pie make it easier for me to have salad for lunch now? When I started going to Weight Watchers, the idea of having salad for lunch was SCARY. What if I starved to death? I mean salad was something you had BEFORE you ate the veal cutlets...not INSTEAD of the veal cutlets!! So what I did was make a BIG salad. I needed to have some volume. I needed to do lots of chewing and swallowing...and I also needed some protein. A bowl of vegetables does NOT keep me full for very long...and after a day or two, my stomach begins to ache with all the heavy digesting, combined with the acid from the salad dressing. Over the last couple of years I have put just about everything into my salads...and had some really good discoveries. My salad today consisted of the following:
Fresh crisp green leaf lettuce ( washed and torn into bite size pieces ready to eat.) I DO NOT buy bags of salad. I bought a huge lettuce on Monday that cost me 49 cents, and I washed it and spun it dry...didn't take 5 minutes
1/4 red pepper, cut into small pieces ( much easier to digest than green pepper)
1 carrot sliced into thin pieces
Italian flat leaf parsley chopped ( Stems and a nice taste to the salad )
1 hard cooked egg
shavings of Parmesan cheese
roasted sunflower seeds
dressing, I make it from scratch and change it sometimes, but the basic for a large plate of salad is 1 tsp olive oil 1 tsp red wine or balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard, dried tarragon, salt, pepper.
I waited about an hour after I ate the salad and had a glass of apple juice and soda water, and a banana. I'll have a yogurt in another hour or so, and then have supper later with the P-Man. It's hard to believe, but I haven't starved, yet! My dad would NEVER have believed it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's never a bad thing to learn something NEW

Print Friendly and PDF When I first started at the deli, my boss P. walked me over to the big scary industrial sized espresso machine and said " Of course, you will also be learning how to make coffee..." I can assure you, I could imagine nothing worse than a counter full of DEMANDING coffee people all lined up, SHOUTING for their morning espresso!( You know who you are E.!) After some lessons...I am at least capable of making one or two types of coffee. Although, you should have seen me the other morning trying to change the coffee bean dispenser. Just picture coffee beans all over the damn place. It felt a little like an episode of "I Love Lucy" complete with big boss P. walking through the front door as I was trying to sweep up the beans...YIKES!! After I lost my forty pounds...everything felt a bit awkward as well. I wasn't quite sure what to eat, how much to exercise, I just didn't feel comfortable with the new me. I have been on maintenance at Weight Watchers for a little over two years now. That simply means I have to attend only one meeting per month...but am welcome to go to as many as I like, free of charge. I only go to one. I go to be weighed. I have a scale at home...but have never weighed myself. I don't like to think about my weight going up or down all month. As long as I can do my pants up...I think I am fine. Last month I lost 4.4 pounds. I had gained a pound or a pound and a half in Dec, and January, and decided that I would try to turn the truck around. I like to be around 130 lbs...and I was up to 134. At this rate, I could be up 12 pounds by next Christmas...NO THANK YOU! So...what did I do? I stopped drinking wine during the week, took a one hour beginners Pilates reformer class and I walked home 2 times from work, ( one hour ) and I walked an additional one and a half hours on my day off. So in 30 days... I added three days of walking, and four, one hour classes that I spent mostly lying on my back! Who knows...I may try to make someone a cappuccino tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vacation Fridge Clean Out

Print Friendly and PDF This was where I spent my last vacation. Believe me, it was just as nice as it looked! I am trying to clean out my fridge in anticipation of my trip to the Big Apple. It's never nice to come home to spoiled food. I am also trying to go A WHOLE WEEK without eating at a restaurant. For those of you who follow my blog, you will understand what a sacrifice that is...but money must be saved. I want to arrive in New York as a sort of FOOD VIRGIN. Cleansed of Canadian restaurant food, and ready to experience American restaurant food! Whenever you are on vacation...the idea of eating at restaurants, three meals a day for however many days is initially exciting, but towards the end of the trip becomes a bit of a drag. Sometimes you want to eat something that you always have at home. Maybe I am weird, but I kind of miss my own cooking. So, today was a clean out the crisper drawer, search the freezer for ingredients, and plan out the rest of the food week. The ultimate goal is to leave on Sunday AM with nothing in the fridge except the odd condiment. To that end, I walked uptown and bought some greens and fruit to supplement the meat and grains I found. This recipe is one of my favorites...

Brown Rice With Vegetables ... by Cathy Burrell
A couple of years ago I lost 40 pounds and have been successfully keeping it off. I have done it by re-tooling some of my favorite recipes to include more fibre and vegetables, while cutting down the fat. I grew up eating white rice with butter and soy sauce, and still crave those flavours. This recipe is a crunchy, filling, flavourful, one-pan dish that is great for lunch or dinner.

Servings: 6

1 tbsp canola oil
half medium onion, sliced fine
1 inch piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 orange pepper, seeded and chopped
12 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 medium cloves of garlic ,sliced
2 cups cooked cold brown rice-any kind
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
( garnish with chopped green onions and flat leaf Italian parsley- optional)

Preheat a large non stick skillet on medium high heat for 1 minute. Add canola oil, onion, ginger and garlic, and stir until you can smell it. Add all other vegetables and fresh pepper, and stir for 1 minute. Add the rice, soy, BBQ sauce, chili sauce, and sesame oil and stir for 1 minute. Add frozen peas and stir for 1 minute. Check seasoning...add garnish and serve HOT! When you add the veggies...feel free to add some cooked meat or shrimp if you want a more substantial meal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Working Girl

Print Friendly and PDF This is where I work! The awning says it all. I am off today, and have spent some of my time planning my upcoming NYC trip. New York is so huge, that you have to bite off a little of the big juicy apple at a time. The P-man and I spent some time yesterday, in between the Gold Medal Hockey game and the Closing Ceremonies looking at websites and menus for NYC restaurants. It was a mouth-watering hour or so! We made reservations at only 2 restaurants. I think my plan is going to be to try to put something AMAZING into my mouth at some point each day. I am not going to worry about when and where the magic is going to happen, I am going to have faith that it will. Besides eating...I am also going to try to fit in an architectural walking tour, visits to MOMA and the Guggenheim, and of course, shopping! For the last month or so, S .and J. and I have been researching and experimenting with some new soups at Delitalia. I am constantly amazed at how a hot, well made, delicious soup can satisfy customers on a level that I am not sure any other food item could. I would say that our soups garner the most complements of anything else we make. S. has become a soup ' SOUPERSTAR' !! I remember an AWFUL day about a month after I started working in the kitchen. It was early morning, and somehow S. got tangled up in a potholder and a pot of boiling water. She was very severely burned, and as we were getting her in the car she kept telling me how to finish the soup that was cooking on the stove! I swear, she was almost unconscious, and the last words I heard before they drove off to the hospital was " Don't forget to add the potatoes..." I finished the soup, by looking at a little scrap of paper that was supposed to be the recipe. I don't recall if I received any complements that day...but making soup every day for two weeks while S. recovered was a good crash course in soup making. One day in NYC will definitely be a soup day!