I spent a week in Halifax last month. Visiting favourite restaurants is like visiting old friends – there’s never enough time to spend with all of them. I made it to the Economy Shoe Shop, the Wooden Monkey, Sushi Nami, and of course, the Henry House (twice). The food was all just as great as I remembered, especially the seafood. I tried to get at least one dish a day made with fish or shellfish. The night we went to Five Fisherman, I had a lovely seared tuna and many, many plates of mussels from their mussel bar. Nothing says “vacation” to a prairie girl quite like a week’s worth of fresh fish. Yum.
Archive for the ‘Travel’ category
I made a fantastic discovery while in Edmonton this weekend: The Duchess Bake Shop.
I spent my Sunday morning looking for just the right spot to have some elevenses, and happened upon a review of Duchess on Urbanspoon that looked extremely promising. After a quick drive over to 124th Street, I was not disappointed. I managed to snag the last little table along the side of the shop and sat down with a big old latte and a dark chocolate croissant. Not as flaky as the pastries I used to eat in Paris, but for a Canadian croissant, this was downright spectacular. The dusting of cocoa on the top was an especially nice touch.
The pies and cookies in one of the display windows kept calling to me…
But it was the macarons that won out. I took a sampler box back to my friends’ apartment, where we saved them for a light post-dinner dessert with tea. Unlike the pain au chocolat, there was nothing lacking with these macarons. The flavours were strong but not artificial and the texture and size were perfect. If I lived in Edmonton, I would probably visit this sweet little cafe on a weekly basis.
I love markets. I especially love springtime farmers’ markets – something that has been lacking in my life since I moved back to Southern Alberta. While there are plenty of bakers, canners and meat producers who have things to sell in the winter, the Lethbridge market closes between October and May due to a perceived lack of shoppers. No fresh produce seems to equal no market in these parts.
When I got out to Vancouver, I spent an afternoon at the Granville Public Market, shopping for ingredients for a “thank you” supper for my sister and her boy. After a preliminary cruise around the stalls, I settled on a nice springtime risotto with seafood to reflect my stay in the city. Dinner was preceded by an appetizer board featuring olives, cheese, beer sausage, bread, fiddleheads and smoked mackerel from various stalls around the market.
(the following is the risotto recipe for 3 people)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cloves garlic, crushed and thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock
1 handful broccolini, tops separated from stems
1 handful asparagus, tops separated from stems
3 tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
9 scallops, patted dry
6 spot prawns, rinsed and patted dry
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter in the olive oil until it melts.
Add the rice and stir until it toasts and turns a light brown.
Add the garlic and cook until soft but not browned.
Pour in the white wine, stirring until absorbed.
Add the first cup of vegetable stock, stirring slowly while it absorbs.
Stir the vegetable stems into the rice with with the second cup of stock.
At this point, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, and arrange the seafood in a single layer.
Add the veggie tops and basil to the risotto with the last cup of stock, stirring while keeping an eye on the seafood.
Turn the seafood once after 2-3 minutes – that’s all it should take per side to get a nice sear on the scallops and to make sure the prawns are cooked through but not rubbery.
Plate everything up and serve with the rest of the bottle of white wine. (I think we went with a bottle of Naked Grape Pinot Grigio.)
Last weekend, I took a couple days off work for my birthday and flew out to Vancouver to visit my sister and some friends from library school. I spent most of the time wandering around Kitsilano and Granville Island and eating at some truly fantastic restaurants. Here’s a recap of the best places I hit over the four days:
Friday’s lunch was at Pelican Seafood Restaurant where I ate enough dim sum to last me about three days. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten dim sum, and now it’s something I’ll be seeking out whenever I’m in a big city. Lovely stuff, especially the little radish cakes, pork sticky rice and steamed donut-y things. We also had spicy tripe and tendon, which was a tasty surprise.
My birthday breakfast was at Solly’s Bagelry in Kitsilano. I haven’t had a good bagel in years – possibly since I left Montreal. The bagels at Solly’s were chewy and yeasty and perfect when smothered in a schmear of fresh dill cream cheese. Their cinnamon buns are also fabulous according to my sister’s friend.