Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back in Canada

Print Friendly and PDF After a very long flight, with some very good movies( Invictus, Bend it like Beckham, and Crazy Heart) we arrived back in Canada. We seemed to have eaten nonstop on our Lufthansa flight. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks and wine!

I actually made shake and bake chicken legs for supper last night. I served them with some creamy coleslaw...as a sad little head of cabbage was the only thing edible in my crisper drawer! I also made some mashed potatoes, and some canned niblets corn mixed with some frozen peas! I picked up a blueberry pie from the grocery store, and served it with some vanilla ice cream.

It seemed really strange not to eat a tomato...or any arugula, or a nice piece of crusty bread, or any pasta! I'll buy some real groceries in a day or so...not cooking for 2 weeks has made me lazy...or maybe rusty...like this little Fiat I saw in Raito...

Back to Rome...Our last night in Italy

Print Friendly and PDF We had another travel day today. We were booked to take the ferry from Positano to Salerno, then to take the train to Rome. We arrived in Rome slightly before 6pm... just as the sky opened, and the thunder rumbled. We grabbed a cab, and made our way to our hotel.

We were of course, STARVING...so we dropped our bags, and headed down the street to a little restaurant called Teatro Cafe. Our hotel was in a neighbourhood very close to the Colosseum, so this restaurant was a neighbourhood hang out. This meant 2 things...it was very cheap...and it was very good. We sat in a crazy little tent in front of the cafe, practically on the road, and listened to the rain pound on the roof. After the storm had passed, like magic, everyone started coming back into the street, and our little place started to fill up. We ordered some wine...bianco for me, and rosso for the P-Man. This being our last night...we were feeling kind of sad. We decided on some Italian Comfort Food! I had tagliatelle with meat sauce, and the P-Man had lasagna. We sat and talked, and ate some bread, and drank our wine, and watched the people, and ate our pasta. It was delicious, and a real change from the seafood menu on the Amalfi Coast. It felt positively...ROMAN.

On the one hand, I felt almost ready to come home to Canada...on the other hand...I felt soooo comfortable in Italy, we actually spent some time discussing when would be a good time to return!! We had to be up at 3:30 am...for our 6:30 am flight to Frankfurt, so we finished our wine, and took another stroll around the neighbourhood. In the few blocks, we discovered 2 or 3 restaurants we had not seen before, as well as another church, and an ancient Roman wall, next to a women's hospital.

I had deliberately made my way to the Trevi Fountain last week, and thrown in a couple of coins. If fate, and superstition was on my side...it will not be too long, until I return to beautiful Roma!

Full moon dinner in Positano

Print Friendly and PDF
Tonight was our last night in Positano. When I was still home in Canada, I came across an article on a restaurant that was supposed to be amazing,so with the fabulous power of the Internet...I made a dinner reservation.
We walked out of our hotel, and up another flight of stairs...and there it was...Hotel Le Sirenuse. The restaurant was called La Sponda, and was even more beautiful than the photo. We were seated on a glorious patio,overlooking the harbour, and sat down just as the full moon was beginning to rise.
As we got settled with the menu, a small cart came rumbling up beside our table to offer us some champagne, or prosecco. A good sign, if ever I saw one! The menu was just the right size...edited down to the best of the best. We decided on the lobster stuffed ravioli, the grilled vegetables and the John Dory. The P-Man chose a delicious vino bianco, and the evening progressed at the most civilized pace. The pasta was incredibly tender and rich, with just a small amount of sauce. The fish was poached with lemon leaves,and floated on a delicate broth, accented with olive oil. It was truly exceptional. The vegetables were fresh and a perfect compliment to the fish, and a small pile of delicious mashed potatoes. The P-Man had some cheese for dessert...and we were given a taste of limoncello, to finish off our evening, and our wonderful couple of days in magical Positano

Scalinata...oh my aching feet...

Print Friendly and PDF Our second day in Positano...I wanted to have a look at the town. Everywhere we looked up, around us, were stairs. I let the P-Man know that I wanted to go UP! My blisters had finally healed from5 days of walking around Rome, so I strapped on my walking shoes, and we ascended the first set of stairs. Up, and up,and up we climbed. There really wasn't much of a view from the stairs we climbed because they were wedged between many buildings. By the time we could actually see down at the town, or at the sea, we were descending down the stairs past more buildings and hotels, and headed to an unknown beach, at the backside of Positano. We walked for at least an hour, and after climbing back up, and walking on the road back down towards the town...we decided to stop for lunch.

We ate at Caffe Positano. The P-Man and I found a seat in the shade, ordered some wine, and marvelled at the differences between owning a cafe in Canada and in Italy. What do you think the BC health inspector would think about waiters running across a busy street, carrying plates of food and drink, serving people seated practically right on the road? Yikes! We ordered some lunch, as we were starving from the long walk. I decided on the insalata mista, with fried calamari. The P-Man had a cold salad featuring thin slices of local octopus, followed by spaghetti with fresh basil pesto.

My salad was fresh and peppery, and containing the first bit of CARROT I have seen since I arrived in Italy. My calamari was tender with a light breading, and a HUGE chunk of local lemon. The P-Man's octopus salad was tender and flavourful, again brightened and enhanced with some local lemon and olive oil. His pasta was a basil flavoured explosion! I swear that we could smell it from across the busy, scooter filled street! He ate it with a smothering of fresh Parmesan...and made some extremely ' porco type' noises in the process!

We finished our wine, and headed down the road...today was a perfect day for a dip in the beautiful clear sea!

Pretty Positano

Print Friendly and PDF
Positano is one of the prettiest places I have ever been to in my life. I was starting to get an aching neck from all the gawking around I was doing! We dropped our bags at our hotel, and headed out for lunch. Compared to the quietness of Vietri, Positano was really a bit shocking. Kids and families scattered all over the small rocky beach. People walking around looking at all the quaint little shops, and full restaurants. Kind of a cross between Rome and Vietri...history, beauty, beach, shopping, and restaurants. We took the first little winding staircase down towards the beach, and ended up at a restaurant called Buca di Bacco. It was just perfect. Right on the beach, overlooking the harbour,full of people, nice big menu...One of the first of the great meals we would experience here in Positano.
We started by ordering a bottle of local vino bianco, Falanghina Taburno. It was crisp and cold, and tasted of all kinds of fruit. The menu was quite extensive, with a definite focus on all local fish and seafood. I decided on 3 items: Fusilli with zucchini flower sauce, a skewer of local fishes, with a mixed salad, and green beans with lemon and olive oil.
My fusilli was handmade, and decidedly elongated. Very clever shape, allowing every nook and cranny to be filled up with the delicious, floral and vegetable, saffron coloured sauce. I had never eaten a zucchini blossom before, so even though everything was quite broken down, and reduced, the flavours were so intense, every time I closed my eyes, I could see the pretty blossom. The pasta was rich, and the whole dish was finished with olive oil and a bit of black pepper. It was really exceptional! The skewer of fishes was a revelation. It contained a pearl onion, a cherry tomato, squid, 2 kinds of white fish, a local prawn, and chunks of zucchini and eggplant. The skewer was lightly grilled, and tasted of the sea AND of the grill. The green beans were so tiny and beautiful, that the olive oil and squeeze of lemon, just managed to brighten an already fantastically fresh taste of summer.
The P-Man ordered a cherry tomato and arugula salad, and tagliatelle with wild boar ragu. I am not sure how it was, because he smacked my hand when I attempted to have a taste! The speed and intensity at which he devoured both items was perhaps an indication of his affection for these dishes.
We finished our wine, and watched the owners of the restaurant having lunch in a small room to our left. It was a family style affair of salad, and bread, and wine, and a whole fish, with an espresso and cake for dessert. It was a sight that we got quite used to seeing in Italy. Whole families dining together, chatting and enjoying simple delicious food.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Move...Vietri Sul Mare to Positano

Print Friendly and PDF We have another travel day today. We have had 5 great days in Vietri, and are taking a ferry this afternoon to Positano. We have had spotty weather all week, so we have done some exploring, as sitting by the pool was not an option. A few days ago, we walked up a huge, high, uneven set of stairs in between two buildings, directly across the street from our hotel. We ended up on a very old street paved with cobblestones, like the ones we walked on in Rome. We followed the street and found a few shops, and a church, and a very pretty village called Raito. We took some photos of ancient ruins almost swallowed up by the lush greenery of the mountain, saw a couple of the scruffiest, skinniest cats I have ever seen in my life, and imagined what life was like here.

We were getting pretty sick of the food in our hotel. The road either went straight up. or straight down...no such thing as sidewalks...so we took a little local bus into Vietri, to catch another one into Salerno. We had to go to the train station anyway, to buy our return ticket to Rome...so off we went. The P-Man is definitely not as seasoned a bus rider as I am. After a half hour wait for the phantom bus, in the heat of the day...we decided to watch the bus stop from a high shaded patio at Vera Cucina...a little Ristorante-Pizzeria across the street, next to the scalinata (stairs) that would lead us to the RIGHT bus stop! It was after 2 pm...so I was very glad they were still serving lunch, as I was hot and HUNGRY!! I was not disapointed. The P-Man and I had a mezzo carafe ( way to mix the languages!) of a sparkly cold vino bianco, and spaghetti vongole. It was just as good as the dish I had in Rome...except the spaghetti was more al dente...my boss Penny would highly approve. The tiny little clams were just as beautiful and tender as before, but I think the shells were even MORE beautiful. Some looked as if they were etched with a magic pen that drew masses of organic swirls and shapes, perhaps explaining the secret of the ocean. We also had an insalata mista, that was made with the most flavourful arugula, and mixed lettuces. It came with a HUGE chunk of the local lemons we have seen growing everywhere here. With a little salt and olive oil added...the P-Man pronounced it to be one of his favorite dishes. Simple and fresh, and refreshing.
We paid our bill, and with some proper directions, climbed the stairs to the Autostrada, and waited for the RIGHT bus. We made it to Salerno, bought our train ticket, and had a wander through a very busy street, with lots of people heading home for the day. We did a bit of shopping, and caught the bus back to Vietri, and our Hotel. We had a couple of glasses of wine on the patio, with some snacks, and watched the lights twinkling in the village below. It reminded me of Whoville...I expected to hear singing...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do You Speak English???

Print Friendly and PDF The P-Man and I have been trying to speak a little Italian since arriving in Italy. Thank goodness for Delitalia! My almost 2 years of working there has paid off...as I seem to know EVERY food word on EVERY menu! One afternoon, we decided to eat lunch in our room, on the little balcony overlooking the sea. Our package, at this hotel includes a bottle of prosecco in our room every day! WHOO HOO! We have been in Italy for more than a week now, and I am getting homesick for some Canadian food! We decided to order a hamburger with an extra order of french fries, and drink our prosecco, to make our lunch extra special!
What happened next could have been a sketch right from Monty Python...or more likely Fawlty Towers. I was quietly reading my book on the patio, to be interrupted by the P-Mans voice getting louder, and louder! The exchange went something like this:

P-Man: I would like to order some room service. For the ROOM. A HAMBURGER and some extra FRIES!! EXTRA FRIES!! And a bucket of ICE!! NO!! SOME ICE!! A BUCKET OF ICE!! YES, and SOME EXTRA FRIES!! AND A HAMBURGER!! ROOM 516...AND A BUCKET OF ICE!!!

An hour or so later, we had not seen the hamburger, or the fries, or the bucket of ice. The brave P-Man, tried again. He was told that there had been some CONFUSION...and that we would have our order in 5 minutes.

5 minutes later we received a hamburger, a bucket of ice, and some fries.

We drank our prosecco, and split our burger, ( kind of dry...bun was DRIER!) and ate all the fries ( fried in OLIVE OIL!! Made up for the dry burger.)

I think it was our first truly Italian moment... Somewhere Manuel is laughing!

Rainy Amalfi

Print Friendly and PDF We have had a bit of bad weather, since arriving on the Amalfi Coast. Our hotel overlooks the sea, and every half an hour or so, we see some new and exciting WEATHER! It kind of reminds me of Salmon Arm, where my mom used to live. At any time during the day, you could walk out the back door to the lake, look up into the sky, and see what kind of weather you were in for next! Since arriving we have experienced :bright blue skies and warm sunshine, thunder and lightning, sudden soaking downpours, light sprinkles, and fierce winds that whip the clouds across the sky. We managed to lie at the pool for about an hour when we first arrived, and received a sunburn for our efforts! YIKES!!

Yesterday the weather was particularly fickle, so we decided to take the little bus into Vietri Sul Mare to have a walk around, and maybe have lunch. We arrived around two in the afternoon, but still managed to find a restaurant open, and willing to feed us. It was called:
Il Principe & la Civetta. I had a fresh shrimp salad, that featured local shrimp, and a simple dressing of fresh lemon juice. The shrimp was served on a bed of mixed lettuces like radicchio, and arugula. The shrimp were extremely fresh and smelled and tasted of the sea. The P-Man had spaghetti with a pesto of fresh anchovies and pine nuts. He said that it was one of the best things he has EVER eaten! It looked wonderful. A beautiful little pile of spaghetti, with small pieces of fresh anchovies, garlic, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts. I am not a big fan of pine nuts or sun dried tomatoes, finding the nuts at home quite bitter, and the tomatoes too strong and acidic. I managed to sneak a taste, and the flavours were so subtle and mellow, it was a revelation. We have been drinking local wine with all of our meals here, and they have been simply delicious. The P-Man had a glass of red wine with his spaghetti, and he said that it was smooth and flavourful, similar to a Pinot Noir, but MUCH better.

Today the sun has made an appearance, so we will try the pool again...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vietri Sul Mare

Print Friendly and PDF Sorry, for the lack of photos...but I am using the free internet in the hotel lobby. The P-Man and I left Rome on Saturday afternoon, and took a VERY scary looking train to Salerno. The train was going to a million places...final destination...PALERMO!!! A couple of the train cars were absolutely covered in graffitti, but the train number matched, so we hopped on the ghetto train. We found our seats, and asked the man seated across from us if this train was indeed headed to Salerno. He assured us it was. Two and a half hours later, we arrived in Salerno, a pretty little resort town, and took a short taxi ride to Vietri Sul Mare. The hotel was beautiful, perched on the edge of a cliff, with a super cool James Bond type elevator located in the centre of the patio that magically transported us down 3 floors to our rooms. I keep expecting to see DR NO holding that big fluffy white cat, every time the doors open! After we settled in, we headed to the poolside restaurant for some lunch. It had been a long time since breakfast, and as I had been a nervous wreck on the ghetto train, I needed some food. We both had a plate of spaghetti with tomato and tuna and capers and olives. It was great! The tuna was strongly flavoured, as were the other ingredients. The whole dish was salty and rich, and I immediately felt a million miles away from Rome. Now I was at the sea.

Later that evening, we headed up to the bar for a drink and a snack. We had sampled some delicious local wine with lunch, and decided to continue the trend. Along with our wine came the most appetizing tray of snacks. Forget potato chips or mixed nuts...this selection included sweet shrimp with a creamy sauce, tiny grilled rounds of zucchini, chunks of tangy Parmesan cheese with peeled roasted hazelnuts, delicate little balls of fresh mozzarella cheese with the sweetest cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil, and smoky, rich pieces of raw fish. The wine was marvellously cold and refreshing, and the snacks were all extraordinary in their own way. We sat looking over the edge of the patio, at the lights of Vietri Sul Mare glittering below. We ordered another glass of wine, before taking the tiny little James Bond elevator, in the DARK, back to our room.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Tasty dinner at Ristorante Massenzio

Print Friendly and PDF
It was really hot today. It was our day to visit the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. We pre-booked our ticket in Canada, so all we had to do was present ourselves to the ticket office approximately 20 minutes before the tour began. We took a taxi, and were let off in one of the largest piazza's I have seen so far. We followed the long line of people, and asked someone in a uniform if we were headed in the right direction. We were not. We were directed to turn around, stay to the left, and follow the Vatican Wall. We proceeded to walk, and walk, and walk, all the way around the Vatican wall, until we arrived at the entrance to the Vatican Museum. This entrance was new and modern, and was certainly no indication of the wonders we were about to see! Three hours later, after an excellent tour, we made our way back to the hotel for a snack and a rest.
After the sun had set, and the lights had come on at the Colosseum, we walked down a new street and found Ristorante Massenzio. The place was packed, and the evening was fantastically warm. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and they had no problem squeezing in another small table for 2. We reviewed no less than 3 menus...one that featured the specials of the day, one for the wine, and another one for the pizza and pasta! We gave everything a good read, and I decided on Spaghetti alla Vongole. The P-Man had a pizza with funghi and prosciutto. Both were delicious! My pasta had the cutest little clams. They had shells that were tiger striped in green and brown. Even though the shells were small, the clams were quite large, and tender. The dish was a flavourful mix of garlic and white wine, and olive oil. The P-Man's pizza was delicious as well. His first bite was full of fresh tomato flavour, and the mushrooms and ham added an earthy, salty zing.
If you can believe it, we have been in Rome for 4 days, and have not had ONE BITE of gelato. As we were finishing our wine, the man next to us was presented with the most beautiful sundae, covered with pieces of kiwi and whip cream. That was enough for us. I had a Coppa Fragolosa. It was essentially a strawberry sundae with strawberry gelato. YUMMMM! The P-Man had a Coppa Alle Creme. It was a small waffle bowl, with 3 scoops of gelato, and some whip cream. EXTRA YUMMM! We both had a coffee, and walked back to our hotel. I can't believe that tomorrow is our last day in Rome...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Day in Rome

Print Friendly and PDF
Today was my first full day in Rome. The P-Man and I woke up to rain...not what we were expecting. We slept extremely well, so we were more than ready for breakfast. As in most hotels in Rome, some sort of breakfast is included in the price of the room. Our breakfast room is located on the top floor of the hotel on a lovely terrace. I was kind of concerned what kind of items would be offered, as I am a breakfast lover! I was pleasantly surprised with fresh scrambled eggs, whole wheat croissants, cold ham, and the most delicious coffee. They had many other items, so I don't think I will be bored by the selection over my five days in this extraordinary city.
We walked, and walked, and walked some more, today. As I mentioned it was a bit drizzly and overcast, so for me, it was the perfect opportunity to explore the wonders of Ancient Rome. We started at the Colosseum, and walked around the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. I spent the day mostly with my mouth hanging open. It was one wonder, after the next. The buildings were so surreal, just quietly existing, behind a fence, with modern Rome whizzing by all around them. Pieces of columns, marble arches, recently excavated stone floors in Caesar's Palace...It was so interesting, and more than I could have imagined.
We ate lunch in Trastevere, at a little cafe called Ombre Rosse. I had an arugula salad with pear and Pecorino, simply dressed with olive oil and salt, followed by spinach and ricotta ravioli. Both were fresh and delicious. The P-Man had a fennel and olive and orange salad, and fusilli pasta with salami and zucchini. The oranges in his salad were soooo orange, they were almost neon-coloured! He was hot, and tired of walking, but this meal revived him, along with a few glasses of wine!
We will decide tomorrow's itinerary over breakfast. We just had another great meal, and took a short walk over to see the Colosseum at night, lit up. I have never been jealous of another culture before. After seeing the ruins of Ancient Rome...I kind of wish I was Italian. The checklist of accomplishments is quite staggering. Created modern civilization, check. Created a simple delicious cuisine that is admired all over the world, check. Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Carravaggio, check.
Grazie, Roma...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

YVR June 13, 2010

Print Friendly and PDF Today is the day! The P-Man and I are sitting comfortably in the Air Canada Lounge, enjoying a nice lunch, before heading to the gate to start our trip to Rome. If you haven't already guessed, the P-Man is a big-shot! There, I said it. He travels enough with his job, to allow him to accumulate lots and lots of Air Mile points, so that this flight was FREE! Sitting in the lounge is also included in the Free-ness, so here I am, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, using free YVR wireless, drinking a glass of free wine, hoarding 2 free newspapers, and at least 4 free magazines for the long flight, and eating a free lunch. Today's lunch was a buffet affair that included some vegetables and dip, ( MMMM bottled Ranch dressing! I'm having a 1980's Keg Flashback!) a delicious marinated chick pea salad with cucumber and tomato, and a hot stir fried noodle dish that tasted light and satisfying, and with a bit of soya sauce, went surprisingly well with the remaining Ranch dressing that was left smeared on the bottom of my plate! I just had a small bag of plain ripple potato chips, and will head back to the P-Man to finish my wine. A toast to the good life...we're almost there!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A nice roast chicken

Print Friendly and PDF Three days until I leave for Italy. So much has been done...a bit more left to do. I have been off for 3 days, and have been trying to keep my cooking to a minimum. I decided to roast a chicken.

Is there anything more versatile than a simple roast chicken? It tastes great right out of the oven, or reheated in the microwave the next day for lunch, or shredded on top of a salad, the day after that. I roasted mine at 375 degrees. I gave it a quick rinse, with cool water, inside and out, and loosely stuffed the cavity with quartered lemon, red onions, fresh dill, and celery. I salt and peppered the whole thing, and sprinkled on quite a bit of summer savoury. I splashed on some olive oil, placed 6 new potatoes on the bottom of my roasting pan, and placed the tasty looking bird on top and shoved it in the oven for half an hour uncovered to brown. I cooked it covered for another hour, and checked it. It was juicy and tender. I basted it with some of the lovely lemony juices that had collected in the bottom of the roaster , and let it sit, with the lid 1/2 on, for another 30 minutes or so until the P-Man arrived home from work. We ate it with some peas, and some egg pappardelle bathed in butter.

Tonight I will cut up the potatoes and re-heat and reduce the lemony juices. I will pick the rest of the meat off the carcass, and toss everything together with the leftover peas, and call it: Cathy's Chicken Surprise!! I better get to it...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Local Salad...Local Community

Print Friendly and PDF Sunday was a market day, and I managed to pick up some nice looking lettuces, and a beautiful heirloom tomato. I washed the lettuces this AM, in anticipation of a fresh, delicious dinner salad for the P-Man and I. After the market, we went home to warm up, and got ready to head down to Slainte by the Pier for brunch with friends. It was absolutely pouring rain, and when we arrived, our friends were sitting on the patio, under an awning, and a heat lamp, and someone else had joined them. The gentlemen was introduced, and we discovered that he shared an interest in cars with one of our friends. He had been walking by, and been invited to join our little group. Sunday's at Slainte are very special. Around 2 pm, musicians and singers start arriving. They get settled into a loose circle, set up their equipment, select a thirst quenching beverage, and entertain the patrons for the next couple of hours. The songs and the players are always changing, but the feeling is always the same. You just have to look around the room, to understand how important this music is to the people who come to hear it. People tap their toes, and sing along, and keep time by clapping or by using the tabletop as their drum! One of my friends was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I swear, she knew the words to half of the songs! We were a bit of a motley crew, but probably represented the diversity that Canada is famous for. At our table we had: A Ukrainian, a Scot/Irish, a South African, a Hungarian, and a Canadian, who was raised by a Scot and a Mexican/Brit! Our server was from New Zealand!

Community is hard to create. It just happens, in small places, at different times. As much as the food, and service was excellent, the experience is what I will remember most about that Sunday afternoon in the rain. A group of strangers brought together by music and a common,uncommon ancestry. Everyone was welcome, and from my view on the patio, everyone was enjoying themselves.

Restaurants come and go... Slainte has become part of White Rock's Community. If you don't believe me, I'm sure you can get a reservation for next Sunday's brunch... I'll be on a plane to Rome on Sunday...I wonder if I'll find a place to eat, that feels like home away from home?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Freezing!!! Farmers Market.. June 2010

Print Friendly and PDF It's the first Sunday in June. From the temperature outside, you would never know it! After a lovely breakfast of homemade multi grain/blueberry pancakes and coffee, the P-Man and I decided to go to our local farmers market. Once we had our winter jackets on, we headed uptown to check out the bounty. It was better than I expected. It has been a bit of a rough spring for local farmers. We have had frigid temperatures, very little sun, and days and days of rain. Today I picked up a couple of really nice looking lettuces, a greenhouse grown, heirloom tomato, an unusual looking, yellow sweet pepper, and some new carrots and potatoes.

I am planning to roast a chicken this evening. I will stuff the cavity with some fresh dill and a couple of halved lemons, Herbes de Provence, and some garlic.

Today marks the one week countdown to my much anticipated trip to Italy. This time next week, I will be on a plane, eating and sleeping and stretching. We will make one stop in Frankfurt, with our final destination being Rome. We will spend 5 days exploring Rome, then take a train to Naples, and another train to Salerno, for 5 days at a resort near Vietri Sul Mare, and then a ferry to Positano for 2 nights. We will reluctantly ferry back to Naples for the train and sleep one final night in Rome before heading back home to Canada. I have wanted to visit Italy for a couple of years now. I have a strong, determined, but slightly un-focused mind. In my mind, I wanted to go to Italy. My mind misunderstood, and I ended up working at an Italian Delicatessen! I am planning to prepare today's chicken, with a variety of salads and sides that should leave us with an empty fridge for our 2 weeks away. This week will be a blur of final preparations, that does not include any complicated cooking.

But First...brunch with friends at Slainte! I have to go and look for my mittens....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fried Egg Sandwiches

Print Friendly and PDF Peonies are one of my favorite flowers. They remind me of an old ladies bathing cap. I walked home from work the other night. It was dry, and quite mild, and I had a feeling that it would be my last chance to get out and enjoy some fresh air. Almost every house I walked past had peonies ready to bloom. I couldn't help but think that they looked almost too fancy to be just growing in someones yard. I remember reading an article about one of Martha Stewart's many houses. This particular property had almost an acre, planted just in peonies. Can you imagine the heavenly smell! I only have 5 in a vase, and I can smell them all over the apartment!

I went out yesterday afternoon with a friend of mine, who is visiting from Australia. Her dad is in the hospital in Surrey, so she definitely needed a break. We headed down to Charlie Don't Surf...probably one of the most recognizable restaurants on the Marine Drive Strip. We drank wayyyyy too much wine, and ate some horrible nachos, and made a night of it. Thank goodness the P-Man got my text, and came down to join us so I had someone to hang on to on that long walk up the big hill. The walk seemed much longer than usual, as I was walking a bit slower than usual, all the while cursing my choice of platform footwear!

I woke up around 9 am today. I drank quite a bit of water, and coffee, and have had a few tylenol, and have done a bit of cooking. Nothing too strenuous...but something warm and filling, and comforting. I decided to make myself a fried egg sandwich. I don't recall how old I was when I learned to make this sandwich...but it seems like something I have always known how to make. I never change it. Two pieces of fresh bread, never toasted. A small pan with a bit of butter and canola oil, and 1 cute little egg. The egg is never scrambled, just fried, with a broken yolk. Salt and pepper on the egg, and a little more butter on the bread, and THAT'S IT!! Happiness on a plate. Today...I didn't even cut it in half. If I ever taught a cooking class...I would lead with a fried egg sandwich. The ones who didn't ' get it ' would be OUT...and the rest of us would all move on to macaroni and cheese. The joy of being able to make yourself a meal...however simple, to suit your mood, and to fill you up, has got to be one of life's greatest pleasures. I am happy today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lunch at THE WHIP!!!

Print Friendly and PDF I got this new piece of kitchen equipment a few weeks ago. It requires 'seasoning' before I can use it. I haven't gotten around to that yet...but it looks lovely on my kitchen counter! I am anticipating creating a life-altering chicken dish... or a mind blowing pasta dish...Wouldn't it be wonderful if new kitchen equipment really had the power to change your life?

I have always been interested in Architecture and design. On Sunday, the P-Man and I picked up my dear friend J. and headed into the big city to go on a sort of designer showcase of new condos. There were 9 units, a variety of shapes and sizes, all decorated by a different designer. It was GREAT! The units were very interesting, and very different...and we all got to experience what living in this location would be like. After we had seen all the units, we were hungry for some lunch. It was an awkward time of day, especially for a Sunday. Vancouver is definitely not the sort of city that has restaurants that are open 12 hours a day. As we were close to Main Street, I suggested THE WHIP!


This restaurant was a great example of the food perfectly matching the marketing and design. Let me explain. I like to shop at independent stores. Having had my own independent store for 17 years, gave me a unique insight into how difficult it is to run a successful business. These businesses, and restaurants, need every one's support. Period. I picked up a copy of MUG ( Modern Urban Guide) at one of these businesses, and have used it quite a bit. I also walked past The Whip, when the P-Man and I were on the search for new patio furniture. All I remember was the restaurant had a cool name, and the building was old and painted brick red and black. I personally HATE that particular color combination...but on this building, it seemed to work. In short...I REMEMBERED The Whip.

We walked into a space that looked lived in. The girl who welcomed us had turquoise blue hair and a really nice tattoo. She let us know that the kitchen needed about 20 minutes to get switched over from brunch service to supper service, but if we could wait, she could seat us and bring us a drink. I liked this place, a lot. We each had a drink, and a look at the menu, and it was VERY reasonable, and quite interesting. They had PEROGIES, as well as burgers, and stir fries, and puff pastry tarts with savory toppings for an appetizer. I had one of the specials. A lovely fresh piece of halibut, with a light breading, on top of some roasted asparagus, and some herby, buttery rice pilaf. J. had one of the savoury puff pastry tarts. It was topped with pear and blue cheese, and caramelized onions. The P-Man had a burger. All was excellent. We had room for dessert, and decided to split a half baked cookie, and deep fried bumble berry pie. This is where my love for The Whip grew DEEPER. The 1/2 baked cookie was a small cast iron skillet containing chocolate chip cookie dough that had been baked, but not all the way, topped with vanilla ice cream. The texture was soft and melting. The cookie was sweet and rich and a bit salty. It was exactly the right from the oven temperature. In short... INCREDIBLE. I was so busy helping the P-Man with the cookie, I nearly didn't notice how quietly J. was devouring the deep fried bumble berry pie! I did manage to get a bite, and the dough was lightly fried, and you could taste each berry. It too came with a scoop of ice cream, and it was tart and sweet and yummy!
As we were finishing up, we noticed how BUSY the place had become! It was noisy and boisterous, and almost every table was filled. On a Sunday late afternoon in Vancouver! I am really looking forward to returning to The Whip!!

The Whip
Restaurant Gallery
209 E 6th Ave at Main Street
open daily for lunch, dinner, and drinks
brunch Saturday and Sunday