Good-bye iWeb, hello WordPress

Whew. After much deliberation, and redundancies, and work… I’ve finally moved my blog. I’ve managed to pull it off one day before MobileMe comes to an end… so, just in time.

As you can probably recognize, I’m now blogging from WordPress. I have to say it is a bit of a relief… there’s much less maintenance and work compared to when I was using iWeb. Now I can just type, upload my delicious photos, and go. No more formatting, no more stretchy background images. A much simpler, cleaner look. Let me know what you think in the comments section. Please?

In the meantime, here’s a photo gallery of a Titanic-inspired meal I ate last weekend at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. This was part of the Destination Halifax fam tour. The event was catered by Scanway Catering.

The meal was a recreation of a menu served in the first class dining room on the Titanic!

Yes, I ate filet mignon with foie gras. Bam:

Homemade Sushi Party

Here are some fun photos from my time in St. John’s this past April.

Props to my friend Dave’s roommate, Sarah, for her and her girls prepping and serving us homemade sushi all night! The pics look great.

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Eating on the Rock: The Rooms Edition

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Originally posted May 14, 2012

Alright, so I’ve been back in Halifax for a couple weeks already, and this post is a bit tardy. During the last week of my internship at Downhome in St. John’s, some of the editorial team headed to The Rooms complex for lunch.

The Rooms sits near the top of the giant, steep hill that is downtown St. John’s. It houses a museum, gallery, performance space, event space, etc.

This place is incredible – I wish I had explored it more. We went to café located on the top floor, which has floor to ceiling windows and offers the most incredible view of the city.

I had heard great comments about it’s restaurant since I arrived in St. John’s at the end of March. It didn’t disappoint!

Pictured at the top are my risotto cakes. They were sliced in a triangular shape and I think pan-seared. They were topped with an array of perfectly roasted vegetables, rosé sauce, Parmesan cheese and a slight balsamic drizzle.

Overall the dish was quite rich – but the sauce had nice tomato and garlic, and the little bit of balsamic glaze was a perfect touch. The risotto cakes fell apart in the middle when I was eating them, but it didn’t matter, the flavours were really great.

I shared the strawberry rhubarb pie a co-worker. The filling was nice and tart, with enough sweetness, and I thought the presentation was quite cute. The crust was not flaky at all though, so that took away from the dish.

My editor Janice, and assistant editor Ashley (fellow King’s grad) each ordered this chocolate croissant sticky pudding that they wouldn’t stop talking about. It was pretty much the reason we went there. It doesn’t look like much but is apparently the best dessert around!

Savour St. John’s


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Originally posted April 22, 2012

This past Thursday I was lucky enough to score a media pass for Savour Food & Wine St. John’s. This fantastic event is put on by the Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (RANL) and was at the beautiful Delta Hotel in downtown St. John’s.

I had a ball: chatted with the mayor, tried moose for the first time, tasted some wines, and most importantly, got to sample creative dishes from the best restos Newfoundland has to offer.

There are too many photos to cover them all in one blog post, so I’m giving up my top picks, and the rest you can find in the Facebook album here.

Here are descriptions of the photos:

Five Brothers Artisan Cheese: NL ash chevre/pepper cheddar/queso fresco/raspberry compote/crostini (photo above)

Quinn’s (Delta St. John’s): Local Lamb Burger, Chia Seed Cone with Five Brothers Mozzarella, Peach Habanera Chutney and Organic Farm Micro Cress

Raymonds: moose poutine with Montreal cheese curds and housemade sea salt (and adorable paper bags)

Aqua: Scallop/Pork Belly (what’s on my sheet is NOT what they served… there is also an apricot chutney on there and I think beet)

Atlantica Restaurant’s “Bacon & eggs” – Fresh pig cheek bacon/smoked egg foam/crisp sweet potato/quince jam/organic cress salad

Raymonds: housemade ice cream sandwiches

Eating on the Rock: The Brunch Edition


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Originally posted April 6, 2012

We drove from Halifax to St. John’s in a hazy 24-hour trip that included a Gravol-induced coma on the overnight ferry, making awesome time zipping along the Trans Canada, and arriving in the city the night before a massive spring blizzard.  Good times all around.

We did manage to make it out to brunch both mornings; Saturday, trudging through snow up to our mid-calves (luckily I brought my snow boots) just around the corner to the Hungry Heart Café, and Sunday, when roads were ploughed and driveable, down to the much-recommended Bagel Café.

Two very different experiences, but both exceeding my expectations. Let’s start with Saturday…

The location may have been what spurred our trip to the Hungry Heart Café, but the food, service and cause are more than enough to bring us back.

It turns out the café is part of a Stella Burry Community Services program. It’s mission is to assist adults in job training so that careers in food services and the culinary arts will be more accessible to them. Along with that, 100 per cent of the restaurant’s profits go back into career training and meal assistance programs.

When we arrived there was absolutely no one there and the blizzard outside was still raging. Over the course of our brunch, luckily, a couple more tables came in.

I ordered the salmon cakes served with potato hash, and my sister the Jaeger Toast (named after executive chef Kathy Jaeger).

The café first scored major points with my sis because she just started a gluten-free lifestyle. All of the bread products at the café were available in gluten-free versions, and the menu was completely labeled as to what was available.

The Jaeger Toast, on gluten-free herb focaccia, had cured ham, swiss cheese, sliced tomato and a fried egg on top. The potato mash was an incredible surprise: a non-deep-fried potato and sweet potato mixture, complemented by other vegetables like peppers and asparagus. Healthy deliciousness!

My plate included THREE salmon cakes, topped with a modest amount of Jaeger’s own hollandaise – made with low-fat Greek yogurt. I also got the hash. I took home a cake-and-a-half, along with some leftover potatoes. Coffee was good, and refills were free.

We left stuffed, after resisting a lengthy and very tempting dessert menu.

Sunday morning I completely cancelled out my healthy brunch by indulging in the Newfoundland Benedict at the Bagel Café on Duckworth.

I had several people recommend the Bagel Café, and was a bit surprised when I walked up to it, reading the signs out front touting its all-day breakfast. It looked like a joint. A cool joint. I walked inside and I was right – it was just about the coolest breakfast joint I’d ever been in. Sorry for no interior shots. It was kitschy to the MAX – in the best way possible. Service was beyond friendly, and quick. Coffee came in cozy, big black mugs, and the entire place had the vibe like you were hanging out in a friend’s kitchen. Most of the tables were pretty private.

I’m not sure how I made my decision on what to order – the menu pretty much has every breakfast option in existence. I was hovering over a bagel sandwich when all of a sudden I saw this (pictured above): the Newfoundland Benedict. That’s two fishcakes topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon and smothered in hollandaise. Served with the biggest portion of home fries I’ve ever seen.

It’s no wonder with up-sell options on the menu like “poutine your home fries.”

This is where hungry people eat breakfast. They’re using poutine as a verb now.

I also noticed on the back of the drinks menu, an appetizer/drink called the Lobster Claw Caesar. This is a caesar made with lobster broth, and served with a giant meaty lobster claw on the side. I’m comin’ back for that one.

Stay tuned for four more weeks of #stjohnsfood.

(Also pictured, fish and chips at The Duke of Duckworth)

Valentine’s Day: Doing it Better at Home

 

Originally posted Feb. 15, 2012

Last night I had one of the best meals of my life – made at home – just the two of us. Almost all of my ingredients were sourced from the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.

This delicious, seasonal meal came together exactly the way we planned. We totally nailed it:

Roasted golden beet salad with basil, goat cheese, arugula and citrus & avocado oils

Seared scallops with balsamic, on a bed of parsnip, caramelized onion and roasted garlic puree (forgot to get greens for on top!)

Seared salmon with Brussels sprouts and Oulton’s double-smoked bacon, on sweet potato puree with white truffle oil

Dinner Club from the Farmers’ Market

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Originally posted Feb. 26, 2012

We’re still in the first round of our new dinner club, and it was our turn to host this past Friday night. Of course, we wanted to show off a little bit, it being our first go, and, use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Our theme was “From the Farmers’ Market”, which we followed strictly for our savoury courses, but strayed a little for the sweets.

We paired our seven course meal with wines from all over the world, one being from NS. Below are photos of each course with captions! Let me know what you think in the comments section.

First Course:

Salad of roasted golden beets, honey crisp apple and

goat’s cheese. Blood orange infused oil & lime vinaigrette.

Topped with arugula.

Avocado oil on the plate.

Pairing:

Freixenet Carta Nevada (Cava)

Second Course:

Parsnip soup with whipped cream,

roasted pumpkin seeds

and fresh chives

Pairing:

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Third Course:

Norwegian style haddock

fish cakes,

pickled cucumber salad,

dill and lemon yogurt

Pairing:

Jost Eagle Tree Muscat (NS)

Fourth Course:

Peach & Mango Sorbet

Fifth Course:

Roasted rack of

(Northumberland) lamb,

heirloom carrots, celeriac purée, Brussels sprouts leaves,

braised shallots & double smoked bacon demi glace

Pairing: McManis Zinfandel

(note: not a great pairing)

Sixth Course:

Dessert Trio

Crème brûlée,

chocolate cake with anglaise,

and strawberry ice cream

Pairing:

Botter Moscato

(sparkling dessert wine)

Seventh Course:

CHEESE and Port

Smith’s Bakery: Simple Food in the North End

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Originally posted Feb. 8, 2012

Smith’s Bakery had caught my eye many times while driving on Agricola, but never had I actually stopped to go check it out.

We were looking for a new place to have a quick lunch. So I checked out the Yelp reviews on the drive, and they were fantastic. We quickly found street parking and wandered in.

The space is tiny, with maybe 20 seats, a few of them being stools in front of the windows. We sat a table and looked at the laminated white menu lying in front of us. One side had the cafe menu, and the other side had the bakery prices.

I loved the front counter, where you ordered. There were two huge chalk boards hanging above it with most of the cafe prices, adding character to the small room. Wooden racks of baked goods were behind. There were also two big glass cases under the counter filled with pre-made foods. They do pizza, quiches, baked beans and more.

The prices were doable. I settled on a tuna melt for $6.50, made with their multigrain bread. We decided to split a large corn chowder ($5.79) and a chose the tea biscuit to go with. My lunch date went for a Reuban, the most expensive sandwich, for $8.39. We shared a drink. Lunch for two was around $23.

I love me a good sandwich, made with homemade bread. Sometimes there’s nothing better. Ours were served with pickles, and regular potato chips.

My only problem was that my tuna melt was made with processed cheese. HUGE black mark. If I go back, and order that again, I would have to ask them to make it with real cheese, or no cheese at all. I can’t do fake cheese.

The bread was delicious, and I could actually only finish half my sandwich it was so large. So, good value. I had a snack for later.

My date’s Rueban was pretty good, but it didn’t have Dijon, so it lost points. He’s a mustard snob, and it was regular French’s yellow. The humanity!

I really enjoyed the corn chowder, and the tea biscuit was heavenly.

When I want a simple, hearty lunch, I will definitely re-visit Smith’s Bakery.

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Chabaa Thai Downtown

Originally posted Dec. 17, 2011

This one is a little late coming (sorry, it’s busy being a journo student) – but about a month ago, I celebrated a good friend’s birthday with a big, spicy, delicious feed of Thai food at Chabaa Thai – and I’m still thinking about it.

For a long time, I had heard that Chabaa Thai was the best Thai food in the city. I’m a big fan of both spicy and Thai, and I’ve had pretty good meals at some of the other Thai restaurant in Halifax.

We arrived pretty late on a Saturday night, after debating back and forth over where to go for the birthday celebration that was good, but not too expensive (don’t let two foodies, the birthday boy, and a chef ever try to debate on a restaurant).

I was intrigued by the interior – it wasn’t what I had expected. It was sort of modern, almost with an industrial feel, bright colours, and touches here and there of Southeast Asian flare. I really liked it.

I started with the hot and sour soup, and chose tofu as my protein. The soup is flavoured with lime leaves, lemon grass, tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots and of course chilies. The broth was a nice deep tomato-herb base. I loved the heat in this soup – it wasn’t overpowering, as in your mouth wasn’t burning with each bite – but a slow, deep heat set in your entire body and began to make you sweat it out about half-way through the bowl. Perfect.

For the rest of the meal, the four of us ordered a few different dishes for sharing. These were:

  • Fresh spring rolls (cold)
  • Spicy seafood noodle
  • Garlic and pepper squid
  • Cashew vegetables
  • Green curry prawns
  • Steamed jasmine rice

Everything was delicious. While my all-time favourite Thai dish is green curry prawns, I actually enjoyed the spicy seafood noodle the best on this particular occasion. This dish is pictured above. It had fantastic heat, with the seafood (squid, mussels and shrimp) all cooked very nicely. Great use of fresh herbs, especially cilantro, in most of our choices.

The rest of the dishes were done well, the curry also having nice heat. But the two dishes that really stood out for me were the hot and sour soup, and the spicy seafood noodle.

Service was excellent. We enjoyed a bottle of wine, lots of Thai beer (Singha), and of course copious amounts of water.

I was surprised when the bill came – we had chosen Thai over some of the fine dining restaurants in the city because we thought it would be more economical – but we still spent more than $200 among the four of us. Beer and wine will do that.

I agree – this is the best Thai (I’ve had) in Halifax. I’ll let you look for yourself with some photos.

What’s Better than Soup Toppings?

Originally posted Feb. 3, 2012