QUEST: Raspberry Rhapsody

BY CINDY DEACHMAN

Originally published in the September 2014 edition.

RaspberryRhapsody

Heirloom Cafe Bistro’s smoked paprika and cumin spiced Berkshire pork tenderloin with grilled peach and raspberry-red onion jam. Photo: Christian Lalonde

Remember picking raspberries out in the countryside as a kid? The fruit, with its velvety feel, fairly burst against the roof of your mouth, didn’t it? Although perfection was right rare. Either a hard unripe berry would not come free of its white cone (the receptacle), or the fruit was dull red and past its peak, or birds had picked the bush clean. Thank goodness raspberries have gone commercial, then. (Not to say they’re not still prone to dampness, mildew, and overripeness.) So sweet when prime — sprinkle with sugar, pour a little cream over. And as Edward A. Bunyard in 1929 understated the matter in The Anatomy of Dessert, “I find the smallest drop of a fine champagne in [this] simple mixture is acceptable to many.” Although, c’mon, raspberries can be awfully fun to dress up even more!

Smoked Paprika and Cumin Spiced Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Peach and Raspberry-Red Onion Jam
Imagine cooking turkeys with raspberries in the combat zone! Yet that’s what 17th-century founder of French cuisine Pierre La Varenne suggested in Le cuisinier François in the chapter “Cooking With the Army.” On the other hand, Richard Kletnieks, chef and co-owner of the Heirloom Café Bistro, dreamed up a raspberry-red onion jam to accompany tender, juicy Berkshire pork tenderloin. Spicy sweetness — there’s ginger in the jam — together with the loin and its smoky paprika-cumin rub makes for one great combo. Grilled peaches add a surprise element to this well-thought-out dish. $26.
Heirloom Café Bistro, 7 Mill St., Almonte, 613-256-9653

Mozart Torte
Mozart Torte, an old German recipe, is “a balance of flavours,” says Margret Stubbe of Stubbe Kanata. That concept matches the well-tempered music of Mozart. Thus we have the harmonious notes of almonds, chocolate, and raspberries. Stiffly whipped egg whites give the sponge cake lightness. Then instead of flour, ground almonds make up this gluten-free number, giving not only substance but fine taste. Dark chocolate glaze enrobes the whole of it, while dark chocolate ganache fills the four layers. The raspberry filling in the middle?  Pure brilliance! Eine kleine Nachtmusik, indeed. $35.
Stubbe Kanata, 500 Hazeldean Rd., 613-435-4336

Raspberry Lemonade
Union Local 613 (finally a hip spot that doesn’t take itself too seriously!) produced its own pop from the beginning. Therefore it’s no surprise that they make their own raspberry lemonade from scratch. “It takes a boatload of work!” says co-owner Ivan Gedz. So is it worth all that bother of mixing juiced lemons with made-in-house raspberry syrup and mint syrup? We say yes! Lively, fresh, with a touch of raspberry. For a honey-caramel version, Union 613 adds Wild Turkey bourbon, which is cured in oak casks. The corn makes it sweet. $4; with whiskey $10.
Union Local 613, 315 Somerset St. E., 613-231-1010

DESBRISAY DINES: Clover Food and Drink

By ANNE DESBRISAY

Clover's corn chowder. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Clover’s corn chowder. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

There’s a spartan look about Clover. High school chairs, bare benches, caged industrial lights, walls of open brick and plywood (sanded and varnished, but still plywood) are either indications of a work in progress, or the carefully considered props for the homespun look this new Bank Street restaurant seeks. It makes the warming touches — the pots of sage on the tables, the white linen napkins, the amber glassware — all the more appreciated. Come winter, the addition of some visual drama, some colour, (and certainly some padding, ahem), might help.

But the frugal decor and the bum-aching-bench whinging evaporate once the food starts to arrive. This restaurant is taking interesting culinary risks. And the pleasure of Clover is that the risks taste very good indeed.

Clover chef West de Castro — bee keeper, honey farmer, and most recently sous chef of Zen Kitchen — chose to work with smelts as her fish. Sourced from The Whalesbone, these were big (boned, floured, and fried) guys, and they were absolute champs. She set them on a warm salad of tomatoes, zucchini, shaved fennel, leeks, and cucumber, with black olives, fennel fronds, and a marvellous avocado aioli. A big hunk of grilled sourdough bread finished the plate.

After smelts we had a puffball. Have you ever seen puffball featured on an Ottawa menu? Neither had I. Paired with grilled broccoli and roasted fingerlings, the outer bits of the big white mushroom find had been cleaned and diced and fried up. These were meaty textured. The inner bits were surprisingly soft and creamy, almost custard like. Beneath the mushroom was a pea purée, and strewn overtop bacon, almonds, fresh sage.

Some dishes were less out there and no less pleasing. The corn chowder was gossamer, a great rendition of the classic late summer soup, with chewy lardons of smoked bacon bumping up the pleasure factor. A gazpacho was like slurping up the September-garden. It arrived properly chilled, with good acidic balance and well seasoned. Having drunk up an assertive marinade, bison flank steak was grilled to rare, sliced in thick chewy strips and set on wilted greens. It came with a hunk of very commendable corn bread.

Pea and lovage soup

Pea and lovage soup. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Lovage is an unloved herb. I can’t recall the last time I saw it on a menu, or tasted its distinct flavour. But there it was, featured in Clover’s daily soup at lunchtime: fresh pea and lovage. It was a regal green, with a pretty swirl of creme fraiche and a bump of snipped chives. The flavour of fresh peas was clear and bright, but so too was the parsley-like, celery-ish and slightly anise flavour of the herb. A panini that featured zucchini was more on the dull side, and though there were parts of the grilled romaine Caesar we enjoyed (the egg mimosa, say, and the terrific dressing), the unwieldy hunk of grilled baguette and the bitterness of the wilted lettuce meant this dish was less of a thrill.

But we were grinning again by dessert time. De Castro’s panna cotta infused with thyme and lemon, and topped with stewed peaches and rhubarb was simply gorgeous, with edible flowers, fresh raspberries, and chopped pistachio crowning the glistening custard.

At my visits the restaurant had been largely empty, but this will surely change.

Panna cotta. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Panna cotta. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Wines are all Ontario VQA (Niagara and PEC) and beer on tap is from Beau’s, Kichesippi, and Covered Bridge in Stittsville.

Clover is open weekday lunches but only Fridays and Saturdays for dinner.

Lunch mains, $8 to $15; dinner mains, $18 to $23

Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

155 Bank Street, 613-680-8803, cloverottawa.ca

DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Che Chartrand takes Muse Restaurant at Wakefield Mill Inn to the next level

By ANNE DESBRISAY

Photo by Anne DesBrisay

King mackerel sashimi. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Scoring a table at the Muse Restaurant in the Wakefield Mill Inn this summer had proven tricky. And sure enough, when one was found (“we could seat you at 6 or 8:45”) we arrived to a packed room, both on the more sought-after solarium side of the restaurant, the bit that juts out over the MacLaren Falls, and in the dining room proper. Every table was filled, staff was scrambling.

“We have a new chef,” our server explained to justify the full house. “He used to own Chez Eric and he had many fans. They’re coming here now.”  She was referring to the wee village restaurant on Wakefield’s Valley Drive.

Two years ago, Che Chartrand left Chez Eric and landed the job of chef de cuisine at the new Gezellig Restaurant in Westboro. But last February he moved back home, accepting the top job at The Wakefield Mill Inn and reducing his commute to three minutes. Six months later, Chartrand’s mark on the menu eats very well indeed.

Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Fresh pea and watercress soup. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Beginning with the bold amuse of garlic scape kimchi paired with a cool square of pickerel mousse, dribbled with herb oil and scattered with micro-greens. And then a marvellous summer soup — fresh pea and watercress, the bullying bitterness of the cress tempered with rich nuggets of local chèvre.

A salad of “jeunes pousses” proved to be a highlight. The greens seemed more days old than weeks, and yet had such grand flavour, caught in a ribbon of cucumber, scattered with crunchy wisps of shallot and dressed smartly in a classic honey-mustard vinaigrette sweet with raisins.  The “ Chef’s choice of sashimi” was King Mackerel – a bold choice, though its oily fishy flavour was cleverly tempered with creamy elements (an avocado mousse) with a rousing wakame salad and with dobs of a sweet carrot purée.

Read the rest of this story »

Lunch Pick: Moscow serves up great brews and terrific pierogies

BY ANNE DESBRISAY

Pierogies, photo by Anne DesBrisay

Pierogies, photo by Anne DesBrisay

The day was glorious and the Moscow Tea Room was barren — inside, anyway. The lavishly decorated, grand cafe room, which I imagine bustles with the Beautiful and the Young at night, did have patrons, but they were all on the patio. I walked through the room — admiring its many assets — and found their courtyard humming with a decidedly middle-aged crowd, plus a couple of exhausted mommies-with-babies. (It all made the server stand out as someone more suited to the nightlife at the cafe than during their midday service.)

The lunch had its moments, but was mostly mediocre. My tea choice — Kimicha’s Jin Jui Mei — was, however, splendid. I also loved the pierogies, which I believe are house made.

Much of what the Moscow Tea Room serves seems more assembled than cooked, brought in from elsewhere — I was told — and plated up. In this category goes the cheeses, charcuterie, smoked fish, baked goods, pastries, scones, and cakes.

photo by Anne DesBrisay

Borscht, photo by Anne DesBrisay

There was borscht, which was pretty thin on flavour, and then a salad for which the smoked sturgeon was the standout. I’ve had this product before (from New Brunswick’s Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar), but what a treat to see it again.

IMG_9674

Salad, photo by Anne DesBrisay

The salad was generous, a nicoise of sorts, with boxed greens, potato, onion, grated beet in a vodka dressing. It would improve with fewer dull greens, more guts, and less fridge cold.

But the pierogies were terrific and generously served for six bucks. Stuffed with cheese and potato, boiled then fried, topped with clean tasting sour cream, snipped chives, and roasted red onions. Bacon lardons would have made them even better, as bacon tends to do. But so be it. This was the best of the few things I ate.

I don’t know where they get their desserts (“a Market bakery”), but they should consider another source. The chocolate mousse cake tasted like an edible oil product, lacking in chocolate flavour with a too-sweet fake tasting cream. I didn’t want to finish it. (An occupational hazard, averted. Thank you.) Instead, I ordered more hot water for that great tea.

Pierogies, $6, Salad, $10.50; Soup, $5.50
577 Sussex Street, 613-723-6216
moscowtearoom.com

photo by Anne DesBrisay

Chocolate mousse cake, photo by Anne DesBrisay

KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Celebrating one year of Kitchen Chronicles PLUS some acknowledgements

By Barbara Sibbald

After-mash 

Fiona walks into the kitchen, prepared to tangle with the mess of bottles and debris from last night’s party. Luc wasn’t in bed when she woke up so she assumed he’d gone to buy the paper. But there he is, sitting at the kitchen table, with his usual cappuccino. The kitchen is spotless, the dishwasher hums gently.

—   You cleaned up! she exclaims. And it was such a wreck when we went to bed.

—   Sleepy head, he chides with a grin. I’m not a total slug, you know. Besides you did the lion’s share of party prep.

—   It went well, didn’t it? she says, settling into the chair across from him.

Luc nods.IMG_4300

—   It was great! he says. Loads of people. I don’t think I talked to anyone for more than three minutes. Did you get a chance to talk to Georges or Anne?

—   Anne. I can’t quite face Georges on his own yet, after what he did. But then I keep thinking, if Anne can forgive him, who am I to hold a grudge? I think it’s the way it all went down. Anyway, Anne was gushing about how things were going so well with them, but then later in the evening she was steaming because Georges was flirting with Trish.

—   No way! says Luc.

—   Oh, yes. Trish does look fabulous. The short hair suits her and her breastfeeding cleavage is fabulous! She was flirting with him too.

—   What was she doing? asks Luc.

—   Oh the usual Trish stuff, touching his arm and shoulder, touching her face, flipping her hair. As I was passing, I heard her telling him how good he looks and guessing he’s like fifteen years younger than he actually is. She knows his age! Usual BS. Trish hasn’t lost her touch. Craig didn’t seem to notice at all. Or maybe he doesn’t mind.

—   Just as well if he’s going to stay with her, says Luc.

—   Yeah, well Anne should take a page out of his book. Georges is incorrigible. I think he’s grown up a bit this past year, but some things will never change. He’s a flirt to the core.

—   Still, he should be more considerate of Anne, says Luc. If he has to flirt, he should at least make sure she’s not around.

—   For sure. Anyway, they seemed okay by the end of the evening. Holding hands, laughing.

Luc takes a sip of his coffee.

—   Trish and Craig seem really happy together too, he says.

—   And Sunshine is adorable, adds Fiona.

—   But what a flakey 70s name, says Luc. What were they thinking?

Fiona shrugs.

—   Maybe it will suit her, Luc. Hey, could you please make me a capp too? she asks.

—   Oh, yeah, sure. Sorry.

Luc gets up and begins fussing with the machine. You’d think it was rocket science, thinks Fiona with amusement.

—   Jacen looked well, says Luc.

—   Yeah, you’d never know he has HIV. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. How’s he liking the geriatric gig?

—   So far so good. The patients — clients, I guess — they love Jay.

—   No surprise! says Fiona. He can be so entertaining. And he’s a good listener.

—   I’m sure the old guys love that, says Luc. We all need to someone to listen to our old stories. That’s what makes us who we are.

—   Did you know Neil phoned last night? says Fiona.

—   Oh did he?

—   Yeah. He was sorry he couldn’t come to the party.

—   And he’s doing well?

scrambled-eggs—   Finger’s crossed. So far, so good. He likes his new job, designing apps. And he’s out of his apartment, working in an office. All guys, but still, he at least has a social life. Plus he loves living in Burnaby. I have to hand it to Dad….

—   Speaking of which, did you talk to Don? I know he’s your gardening buddy, but this as the first time I’ve met his girlfriend. She reminds me so much of Lorelei.

—   Except she’s really nice!

—   Meow! Your Dad’s wife isn’t that bad.

—   Best thing about Lorelei is that she lives far away! I have to admit she’s being good to Neil though. And she did back down on the will.

—   After you stuck your big oar in!

—   Rightly so!

—   Oh believe me, I’m not being critical, says Luc, handing her a cappuccino. I couldn’t be happier about him paying for Gavin’s university.

—   I know, says Fiona. What a great break for us! And Gavin. Hey did you see him cadging a beer last night?

—   I figured he might, says Luc. He is fourteen after all.

—   Oh, I forgot to mention. Don and his girlfriend got engaged.

—   That was quick, says Luc.

Fiona shrugs.

—   Some people just like being married.

—   Would you? asks Luc.

—   What do you mean?

He laughs.

—   Would you like being married?

—   I haven’t thought of it in years, says Fiona.

That’s not entirely true, she thinks, remembering a year ago when they moved in. House and all, I thought it might be time to make it all official.

—   I remember you made a big fuss about it when Gavin was born, continues Luc.

—   Yeah, well, it’s different when you have a baby. I wanted more security, for him as much as for me.

—   And I was such a jerk about it. It would have been easy enough.

—   Luc! I never thought I’d hear you say that.

—   Yeah, well, I’ve grown up a bit. I’ve been thinking about us, about getting married. I’d like to celebrate, to formalize….

—   Why now? she asks. After all these years.

I can’t believe it, she thinks. Then again, everything’s always on his terms. Luc shrugs.

—   Georges and Anne were a real wake-up call for me. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it. And when I was talking to Georges about what it would be like to be single, well, it made me realize how sweet I have it. With you. And then Georges talked about how he doesn’t treat Anne very well, and I wondered whether I treat you well.

—   You do, says Fiona.

—   Well, I thought maybe I could show it by buying you some bling or something, but then I thought about what you’d really like, and I wondered if you’d like to get married.

She smiles at him affectionately. He really is trying, she thinks.

—   You’re so sweet, she says. Let me think about it. I don’t want to mess with something that’s working. Marriage might change the dynamics.

—   What do you mean?

—   I don’t know exactly, says Fiona. It’s just a gut feeling. Maybe we’d stop trying as hard. Like sorting out the control thing we both have going.

—   It’s sorting, says Luc. Well, except you want to be the boss.

—   Ha ha, she says, grinning. You know what I mean, Luc. If we were married, we might not work at the relationship in the same way. We might just settle in. Stagnate.

—   So you don’t want to? he asks.

—   Just give me some time to get my head around it, she says.

—   Another fifteen years?

—   It’s been working so far! Fiona says.

They smile at one another across the kitchen table.

THE END

Acknowledgements

Thank you to my thoughtful readers, Kathlyn Bradshaw, Stuart Kinmond and Jeremiah Bartram, for their excellent suggestions. Thank you to the friends and family members who shared their wonderful recipes with me over the years. They’ve become my favourites. Merci to Joelle and Danielle Dumont, the talented sisters who graciously and quickly corrected all my French language errors. And finally, I thank my beloved husband and cooking partner, Stuart Kinmond, for the illustration, encouragement and endless Chronicle-related conversation. Cheers!

 

 

DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar

BY ANNE DESBRISAY

IMG_9820

Scallop ceviche salad: raw scallops served in fat juicy disks and plopped on a bed of superior greens, with rings of jalapeño and radish, and carefully sectioned lime Photo: Anne DesBrisay

After what seemed to me to be a rocky start, culinarily speaking, Rosie’s Southern Kitchen and Raw Bar, which opened in December 2013, appears to have settled comfortably in the southern bit of the Glebe.

The restaurant (its sister is the Big Easy on Preston) has positioned itself, pretty cleverly, just north of the massive Lansdowne Park development in the former home of the original Mexicali Rosa’s (from 1979). Where there used to be parking, is now a likeable outdoor patio, complete with a come-hither fireplace, thoughtful wind blocks, funky vintage-y fans, and great lights. It’s a great place to be on a fine night. Inside, the room is dominated with wood, tables are both high and low top, while most of the visual drama takes place above our heads, with chandeliers of clustered jars stuffed with Edison bulbs. The oyster/booze bar is zinc-topped, leggy, and lovely. During my visits, the room was loud and full, and while there are TV screens, they didn’t dominate.

When it opened, and upon my first visits back then, the food was largely unimpressive. Didn’t seem right to complain about a fun new neighbourhood place with southern comfort cooking, but the dishes I tackled — with the exception of the raw oysters and fried calamari — were decidedly mediocre. I gave it a few months and returned.

Quel difference! The menu has shrunk considerably, and the food has risen a considerable notch. Dishes were more daringly plated and southern flavours decidedly more pronounced.

IMG_9823

Crab cake: beautifully seasoned, lightly fried, and served with a powerfully green chimichurri featuring cilantro. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Diners should be aware there’s some serious heat in the scallop ceviche salad. Here the raw scallops are served in fat juicy disks rather than the usual thin slices, and plopped on a bed of superior greens, with rings of jalapeño and radish, and carefully sectioned lime. The crab cake was a terrific rendition, the meat untainted with iodine, left in large, lightly-packed chunks, beautifully seasoned, lightly fried, and served with a powerfully green chimichurri featuring cilantro. Full marks.

A small salad of heirloom tomatoes and cucumber dressed well and served with a likeable guacamole felt a tad overpriced at $12 bucks, but still, it was pretty on the plate and lovely to eat, and if the quantity were bumped up a bit, the salad would make a fine lunch.

IMG_9830

Blackened catfish properly spicy and cooked, topped with juicy disks of chorizo, a few unseasoned shrimp, and served with well seasoned Mexican rice Photo: By Anne DesBrisay

Ribs were tender and meaty; the blackened catfish properly spicy and cooked, topped with juicy disks of chorizo, a few unseasoned shrimp, and served with well seasoned Mexican rice.

The only real disappointment was with the pork chop. It arrived overcooked, grimly grey, though supported with a fine Bourbon apple sauce, chunky and perfumed with thyme and cinnamon. We loved the fried potato dumplings, though the pile of vegetables — heirloom carrots, green beans, braised radish, baby kale — looked more promising than they ate, injured by a heavy hand with (what I suspect is jarred) garlic.

The chocolate pecan pie was perfect, though the whipped cream was icky sweet… but so what. At Rosie’s, there’s much more right than wrong now.

Mains, $20 to $43. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. 895 Bank Street, 613-234-7674 www.rosiesonbank.ca

KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Is Trish in labour? PLUS a seasonal dill pickle recipe

By Barbara Sibbald

Pickle

—Why do we always choose the hottest day of August to make these things? asks Anne, cramming another pickling cuke* into a quart jar.

—   What are you complaining about? asks Fee, grinning. I’m the one pouring the boiling water. How many more to go?

Anne eyes the pile of washed cukes in the sink.

—   I’d say about five more jars.

—   That’s not so bad. It goes faster every year, doncha think?

—   We’re quite the team! Can you pass me that dill, Fee?IMG_4300

Fiona passes it over just as the phone rings. She gets it on the second ring.

—   Hi. What? Hang on Trish, Anne’s here. I’m putting you on speaker.

Fiona whispers to Anne: she thinks she’s going into labour. It’s nearly a month early.

—   Trish? It’s Anne here. What’s going on?

—   I’m having contractions. Real ones, not those Braxton whatchacallits. Every 10 minutes now — I timed them — and Craig’s out.

There’s panic in her voice.

—   Have you called him on his cell? asks Fiona.

—   He’s not picking up. I left a message, told him to call on my cell. It’s a month early, Anne. Will the baby be okay? Oh, gosh here’s another one.

—   Anne, should we go over there? whispers Fee.

—   Let me talk to her, she replies.

They both pause for a half minute or so, listening as Trish breathes heavily.

—   Frig! says Trish. No one told me it hurt that much! And I know it’s gonna get worse.

—   How long have the contractions been regular? asks Anne.

—   About twenty minutes maybe, says Trish.

—   And are they getting closer.

—   Slowly. Like ten seconds closer each time. And I’ve lost my mucous plug, but my water hasn’t broken.

—   Good, good. Labour usually lasts about five and a half hours, so you’re probably okay, but I don’t like that you’re alone.

—   Oh, my cell’s ringing. Craig? Yes. Yes, it’s time to go. When? Ten?

—   Anne, is that okay, ten minutes?

—   Yes, but we’ll keep talking to you so you won’t be alone.

—   See you in bit, Craig. Bye love.

—   What were you doing when the contractions started, asks Anne, more to divert Trish than anything else.

—   It’s so textbook, says Trish, I was washing the baby change table my cousin gave me. She’s loaded, so it’s top of the line, oak. It’s been sitting around for weeks and all of a sudden, I had to clean it. Just as well, I suppose.

—   Now that’s nesting, says Anne.

—   I’m so scared, says Trish. Of the pain….

Anne nudges Fiona, nods at the phone.

scrambled-eggs—   I know it hurts, honey, says Fiona, you already know that. But the thing about labour is that you know the pain will end and when it does you’ll have this lovely wee baby. Usually when you’re in pain, you don’t know when or how it will end…it’s all so out of control. But with labour, it’s all for something wonderful, something positive. It feels indescribably good at the end of the day.

—   Mom says you forget about the pain later on.

—   I don’t know about that, says Fiona, laughing. I’ll never forget the seven-and-a-half hours it took to deliver Gavin. But then I had Gavin, an amazing human being and we made him.

—   He’s a great kid, agrees Trish.

—   You’ve taken your Lamaze classes? asks Anne.

—   Most of them. Craig too, of course.

—   How are things with you two? asks Fee. Last time we talked….

—   We have a therapy appointment with Dr. Foster for Friday.

—   Might have to delay that, says Anne.

—   Reschedule, says Fee. I’m sure you can bring the baby with you. She’s good that way. Accommodating.

—   Yeah, well Craig and I had a good talk too, says Trish. It’s like you said, Fee, he’s really anxious about being a father. I’ve been so fixated on my body and my feelings and everything, but he’s got a lot of concerns. Mostly financial. As soon as I’m able, I’m going to give him a hand at his business.

—   Chocolate?

—   Yeah, I know, it’s a far cry from writing the great Canadian novel, but I’ll always have to have some sort of paying job, and it might as well be in the family business. I’ll just help out wherever he needs me. I’m good at talking….

—   I’ll say, says Fee, laughing.

—   Ha ha, says Trish. Anyway I might be good at sales. Not right away obviously. I need to look after the baby full time until Christmas at least. But Craig’s really happy with that solution because he needs help. And this way we’re both working toward the same goal.

And what about school? thinks Fiona. What about your degree? But she knows this isn’t the time to broach that topic.

—   Speaking of goals, says Anne, how are you feeling now?

—   Good, but Anne, I’m nearly a month early. Will the baby be okay?

—   You’re due the nineteenth, right? So really it’s only three weeks. That’s hardly early at all, they come when they need to come. Don’t worry about it. Best to get through labour first. When you get to five minutes apart, that’s when you should go to hospital.

—   What do I do now?

—   Something relaxing and distracting, watch a video, talk to Craig.

—   Oh, I think I hear his car. Hang on.

Anne plunks a few more dills in her jar.

—   Yeah, it’s him, says Trish.

—   Good luck, Trish, says Anne.

—   I hope you have a fabulous birth, says Fee. Next time I see you, you’ll have a little baby. Remember, it’s probably the most creative thing you’ll ever do. Bye love.

*Kinburn dill pickles

Makes about 12 quarts

5 quarts of pickling cukes, well washed

Bunch of fresh dill, rinsed

Alum (adds the crunch)

 

Per quart:

½ cup vinegar

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon coarse salt (not iodized)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon pickling spices

 

  1. Sterilize clean jars: remove lids, place jars upside down in 225 °F oven for 20 minutes.
  2. Sterilize lids and sealers by pouring boiling water over them.
  3. Per quart: Pour vinegar in bottom of hot jar, add salt, sugar and spices. Swirl to mix. Add garlic and one sprig of dill, then pack in cukes. Top off with another sprig of dill. Fill to overflowing with boiling water. Use sterilized tongs to place sealer lid on top, then screw on lid.
  4. When cool, screw lid on tight.
  5. Leave minimum of 3 weeks, then enjoy!

 

Thank you to Phoebe Hunter for this recipe.

 

LUNCH PICK: Teatro Café puts on a grand show

By ANNE DESBRISAY

Teatro Café's Lamb and fig skewer. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Teatro Café’s Lamb and fig skewer. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

It’s been a long time coming, but the little café space on the ground level of the Great Canadian Theatre Company seems to have grown and found its groove. This based merely on lunch, mind you, but it was a good one.

Mook Sutton is the chef at Teatro Café. New to Ottawa, Sutton is a New Zealand native whose career has taken him to Toronto, B.C. and the Cayman Islands. I first heard of him when a fellow judge at the Canadian Culinary Championship was extolling the virtues of a weekend he’d had at Galiano Island’s Bodega Ridge , where Sutton was then in charge of the kitchen.

Two dishes to tell you about. An elegant chicken liver paté, appropriately smooth and rich and unctuous, its surface lightly bruléed for a bit of crunch and sweet, served with fruit compotes and crostini. This was followed with a skewer of lamb — a substitute (with warning and approval) for the bison that hadn’t shown up. The meat was seared and perfectly ruby-pink. It shared the stick with marinated figs, bronzed and boozy. Beneath the lamb, there was a row of braised heirloom carrots and a healthy dollop of whipped feta. A red wine gastrique patterned the plate, and lent tang, and the dish was finished with a squirts of smoked paprika oil and a flourish of micro greens. Appropriately dramatic looking for a theatre café.

I’m looking forward to an encore.

1233 Wellington St. W., 613-699-1020 teatrocafe.ca

KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Trish learns the bald truth about family PLUS recipe for Gado gado chicken skewers

Drama Queen

By Barbara Sibbald

Saturday morning chores: Luc’s gone to buy groceries while Fiona makes the satay sauce for the chicken*. She’s washing up the blender when Trish barges through the backdoor. Bald.

—   Omigosh, Trish! Your hair! What happened?

Trish bursts into tears.

—   I know I look terrible. Like a tondue.

—   Oh honey, says Fiona, wrapping her arms around her friend. It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.

Fiona can’t help reaching out to caress Trish’s head. There’s a fine stubble already, but her exposed skull is beautifully smooth.

—   At least your head isn’t all lumpy, like mine, she says.

—   She pulls back and looks at Trish, trying to ignore the razor cuts and razor burns.IMG_4300

—   It actually looks okay. What happened, Trish?

Trish wipes her eyes and sits down heavily, her legs splayed to accommodate her pregnant belly.

—   Craig and I had a big fight. I quit my job yesterday.

—   You did? But you’re not due for what…six weeks?

—   Yeah, but I’m just too tired and big. My boss has been great, he let me sit on a stool behind the cash most of the day, but I feel like a cow and every customer who comes into the bookstore makes some comment or another.

—   You look fabulous, Trish. And people comment because it’s a happy event, a new baby.

—   Well anyway, I quit and Craig went ballistic last night: “You have no self-discipline,” says Trish, mimicking him. “Don’t expect me to support this family all by myself, that’s some 50s woman’s wet dream.”

—   He actually said that: a wet dream? That’s pretty funny.

—   Yeah, well, it flopped with me. Anyway, it’s the other stuff that upset me. He has no faith in me, no confidence.

—    Did you tell him you were going to quit?

—   No. It’s my business. Besides, I just couldn’t do it for one more minute.

—   So you quit on the spot? Burned your bridges?

—   It’s just a minimum wage job at a book store. A summer job. I thought you’d be supportive, Fee!

Trish snuffles into a squirrel’s nest of Kleenex. Fiona grasps Trish’s hand but shakes her head.

—   Trish, I love you, you know that, but you’re in a relationship now, a family. It’s not just your business. I understand why Craig’s upset. You should have talked to him first.

—   Oh, so now you’re taking his side!

—   No, I’m not, Trish, I’m not taking anyone’s side. I’m looking at the big picture. In your defence, the mitigating factor is that you and Craig haven’t known each other very long and now you have a baby coming. It’s a lot to get used to. It took Marcel fifteen years to get his head around buying a house. People adapt to things at different rates. Craig’s probably anxious about the baby coming, about money. About his responsibilities.

—   I guess, says Trish, slowly. He was really upset. We argued, then he went out, said he had to get away to think. But what about me? I’m the one who’s pregnant. I’m the one who has to give birth and look after the baby.

—   Oh my goodness, says Fee, I just thought of something. What about mat leave? Will you still get it now that you’ve quit?

Trish shakes her head.

—   I’m not eligible anyway. You have to have worked six hundred hours.

Fiona looks into Trish’s pale face.

—   Oh, honey.

She wraps her arms around Trish, giving her a hug, then sits across the table from her.

—   It’s always difficult getting used to living with someone, Fiona says.

scrambled-eggs—   What do you think I should do?

—   I can only speak from my experience. Counselling has always been good for us.

—   You and Luc go?

—   A few times a year. I think all couples need to go now and then, just to keep things going well. To check in. One of the key things is learning to be patient with each other. We expect so much. I mean it often comes from a good place — a desire to see the person we love succeed or to make a nice home together. But it gets distorted by our own agendas. You have love and limerence on your side, so I’m sure you can work it out. Do you want our counsellor’s phone number? She’s great. She’s very fair, doesn’t take sides at all, and she helps you set rules of engagement. You’ll like her.

—   I don’t know, says Trish. I’m not sure if Craig will go.

—   Just take the number, says Fee. You can talk to Craig about it. And if he wants to talk to Luc, I’m sure Luc won’t mind.

—   Okay, says Trish reluctantly.

—   Sorry I can’t help with your hair, says Fiona. Oh, but I do have a head wrap. Black silk. I bought it on sale at Holt’s eons ago, thinking I’d wear it, but I don’t have that dramatic flair. You, on the other hand….

—   That would be great, Fee, says Trish, grinning. I’m such an idiot for doing this. I was just so upset with him and I wanted him to see.

—   What did he say about it?

—   He says I look great. And this morning he said he was sorry for getting so angry and that we needed to talk, but then he rushed off to work. Thank goodness I caught you at home.

 

She rubs her head.

 

—   It matches your belly! jokes Fiona.

—   Ha ha.

*Gado Gado

Marinade or sauce for chicken or pork. Makes wonderful chicken satay on skewers.

2 tablespoons  peanut butter

1 cup (200 g) raw peanuts (without skins)

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 shallots, chopped (or 1 onion)

1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon red chili powder or ¼ teaspoon red chili seeds

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 cups water

1 tablespoon tamarind water or juice of a lime

3 tablespoons raw coconut

2-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped

 

  1. Heat a skillet on low heat (no oil). Put in the raw peanuts, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until they turn light brown. Remove from burner and leave for about 15 minutes to cool.
  2. Grind peanuts into a fine powder in a blender or with a mortar.
  3. Blend the garlic, shallots and shrimp paste with a mortar or in a blender with a pinch or two of salt.
  4. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or non-stick frying pan. Fry the blended paste in the oil for about 3 minutes on medium heat, reducing the heat if it starts to burn.
  5. Add the chili powder, brown sugar, soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil, add the ground peanuts.
  6. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes thick; about 8–10 minutes.
  7. Add the tamarind water or lemon juice and more salt, if needed.

You can refrigerate in a covered jar for up to two weeks. When you need some, take out the required amount, put it in a pan, add a few tablespoons of water, and reheat on low heat.

Thank you to Anne Fouillard for this wonderful recipe.

 

 

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TASTING NOTES: Prince Edward County Wines Rarely Seen at LCBO

BY DAVID LAWRASON

(Originally published in OTTAWA Magazine, Summer 2014)

125310 Norman Hardie#6459D7

Prince Edward County has been shaking off a scary winter. Grape growers were crossing fingers (and toes) that their tender vinifera (European) vines, anchored in the limestone bedrock on the shores of Lake Ontario west of Kingston, would survive below -23 C, since vinifera vines can give up the ghost at that temperature. But County vintners have become accustomed to the painstaking practice of “hilling up” — as it sounds, the process involves burying trunks within insulating earth. So things may work out.  By the time you visit this summer, the verdict will be in.

And visit you should — and make it a long weekend. Once there, your days will decelerate to a crawl and you won’t want to leave. There are now about 30 wineries to tether you to what has become one of the most interesting, idiosyncratic wine regions in North America — just two and a half hours from Ottawa. Furthermore, the towns of Picton, Bloomfield, and Wellington are replete with fine, comfortable, and non-ostentatious restaurants, galleries, and craft and antique shops. Can you really just drive past a store called Dead People’s Stuff?

But back to wine. You will experience the first reds from 2012 — a vintage that may prove to be the best yet — as well as some 2010s, a close runner-up.  These include primarily pinot noirs, with cabernet franc and gamay (Beaujolais’ grape) showing prowess. The 2012s will include the barrel-fermented and/or barrel-aged chardonnays. Watch 2013 vintages for the good lighter whites — the pinot gris and rieslings — that are now trickling out of the vats and into bottles.

Having tasted many of the new releases, I offer the following as guidance to the wineries offering the most thoughtful wines. As you head out to taste for yourself, pack lightly to leave room in the hatchback for wines that you will rarely see for sale at the LCBO.

WINE & SPARKLERS

2012DogHouseWhiteCCThree Dog Winery 2012 Dog House Vidal Riesling
$12.95 I Ontario I 87 Points
As you drive from Ottawa, this new winery will be your first temptation over the bridge off Highway 49. It’s predicated on inexpensive, easy wines, which are rare in the County. This blend works, with pear, lemon, and stony aromas and flavours in a light, fresh veneer. Good tension and length. Vidal is a hybrid variety (i.e., not Euro vinifera), so Ontario’s uptight regulators don’t allow it to be labelled Prince Edward County.
Fish Lake Road, Demorestville

Rosehall Run Defiant 2012 Pinot Gris    
$18.95 I Prince Edward County I 89 Points
Rosehall Run is a must-visit. They make generous, elegant, and likeable wines from A to Z.  Pinot gris (a.k.a. pinot grigio in Italy) is a lightweight amid serious pinots and chardonnays, but this vintage is showing ripe fig, honey, and bread-crust notes mindful of some Alsatian examples. Medium-weight and fleshy, yet firm on the finish. Delicious!
LCBO 307769
Greer Road, Hillier

Keint-He 2012 Portage Chardonnay
$20 I Prince Edward County I 91 Points
This bottle offers great value, with a beautifully made chardonnay from a Wellington winery with three vineyards near Hillier, which is considered the County’s epicentre. It comes across like a fine Macon, perhaps even Pouilly-Fuissé, from France. The nose is reserved but nicely balances fruit, honey, and spice. It’s mid-weight, fresh, and smooth, with some tail-end firmness and County minerality. Portage 2011 Pinot is also very good.
LCBO 374819
Loyalist Parkway, Wellington

Stanners 2012 Chardonnay
$25 I Prince Edward County I 88 Points
Colin Stanners and his son, Cliff — both former scientists — direct an idiosyncratic, engaging range of County classics within the thick walls of a straw-insulated winery in the hamlet of Hillier. A touch of fried onion and garlic on the nose is accompanied by notes of lemon, apple, and toast. Overall nicely complex; very firm and mouth-watering, with excellent length. Stanners is also strong on pinot and cabernet franc.
Station Road, Hillier

ROSEHERO2011small_1024x1024

Hinterland 2011 Rosé Method Traditional  
$37 I Prince Edward County I 90 Points
Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras have turned a dairy barn into the hub of the exciting sparkling-wine scene. Bubbles are all they do, and all are made with great care. This is the most Champagne-like, with a faintly salmon-coloured pinot-noir-based sparkler that is taut as a piano wire, with well-integrated and subtle floral, raspberry, and mineral flavours.
Closson Road, Hillier

REDS

Huff 2012 Gamay     
$24.95 I Ontario I 89 Points
Gamay — the Beaujolais grape — has a big future in Ontario. This edition contains Niagara fruit, but it is so nicely rendered that I could not resist including it. It is very pretty, fresh, and juicy, yet firm, with cherry-strawberry, a touch of pepper, and minerality. Huff’s French winemaker, Frédéric Picard, is doing consistently great work across the range. A top inn and gallery are also on-site. County Road 1, Bloomfield

Norman Hardie 2012 County Unfiltered
Pinot Noir
$35 I Prince Edward County I 91 Points
The most famous, hardworking, and experienced County winemaker deserves his County-defining cred. This charming, lively pinot shows fragrant raspberry and sour cherry fruit buttressed by florals, oak smoke, toast, and vaguely meaty corned-beef notes. Complex, with a juicy, mouth-watering edge and minerality. Also excellent chardonnay, riesling, and cab franc.
LCBO Vintages 125310
Greer Road, Hillier

Casa_dea_cabfranc2010

Lighthall 2010 Pinot Noir
$25 I Prince Edward County I 89 Points
Ottawa’s Glenn Symons bought the almost famous Lighthall vineyard in the County’s extreme (and warmer) south, near the village of Milford. He is very much on my radar for sparklers, whites, and reds. This mid-weight, firm, dry, and maturing pinot has a subtly complex nose of sour cherry, evergreen forest floor, wet stone, even a hint of lakeshore. Good structure and intensity, but dry and lean too.
Lighthall Road, Milford

Casa-Dea 2010 Cabernet Franc
$18.95 I Prince Edward County I 89 Points
Casa-Dea owns some of the oldest vines in the County, and talented winemaker Paul Battilana is creating a range of very good-value, well-balanced sparklers, whites, and reds. This is a very pretty and spry cab franc — not dynamo, but very even and restrained, with cran-raspberry, tobacco, twiggy, and almost wet slate aromas and flavours.
Greer Road, Hillier

 

SCORES David Lawrason assigns scores on a 100-point scale. They reflect a wine’s overall quality. A rating of 95 to 100 is outstanding; 90 to 94 excellent; 86 to 89 very good; 80 to 85 good.