Monday, April 30, 2012

eat your heart out halifax

You know I don't need a reason to eat out. Ever. In fact, I usually have to convince myself the opposite. "Kathy, there is tons of food at home so just get off your butt and make some dins." Or something like that. But last Tuesday April 24th, I had a very good reason for dining out. It was Eat Your Heart Out in support of the Maritime Heart Center. In itself, the Maritime Heart Center is a great cause to support especially from someone so deeply involved with food but there was more to the story.  Eight months ago, a close friend Christena, a young and healthy and beautiful woman, had heart surgery. Definitely not the stereotypical heart surgery patient. Before the surgery, The Maritime Heart Center was instrumental in helping her understand the surgery and provided her with all the information she needed. More importantly, they sent along a former heart surgery patient to reassure her it was all going to be ok. Coming from someone who had been there, it meant a lot. I was thrilled when I found out Christena and I could support Eat Your Heart Out together.

While there were loads of awesome restos participating, we chose Morris East. Wood fired pizza made with local love? Yes, please! I love Morris East but living in the North End means I don't get down there enough. And, in case you haven't had the pleasure of meeting the owner Jennie Dobbs, well take it from me, she's downright awesome. Like for reals.

With red wine in hand, because it is after all heart healthy, we ordered up some pizza and settled in. They were actually featuring a three course menu in honor of Eat Your Heart Out but we all opted for a pizza each instead.  However, I couldn't resist but order some charcuterie to share. These days I am mad crazy for charcuterie, especially those late nights when I get off work. Crackers, cheese, meat, chutney, fruit, or whatever combination you happen to have in the fridge. Much easier to throw together than cooking something. Besides, after cooking all day, its the last thing I wanna do when I get home. Charcuterie is also great because it's always a little surprise depending on where you go. Morris East's take included a creamy peppered blue cheese, a house made terrine, pickled onions, cranberry chutney, Fox Hill goat cheese, candied walnuts, pear, and a cured meat (somewhat like a chorizo I think) from the talented Frederic at Ratinaud, all accompanied by olive oil rosemary crackers. All I gotta say is wow. So so good-like I wanna go back just for this kind of-good. I like sharing and everything but I could easily have devoured this plate all by my lonesome.

Sharing, however, meant I still had room for some amazing pizza. Despite the small menu of nine pizzas, I still found the decision tough. Damn you Morris East for making such delicious sounding concoctions! But with some help from Christena and our lovely server, I chose the pear pizza. Be still my heart. If I was given the choice to only eat one pizza for the rest of my life, this would be it folks. Red wine poached pear, tarragon aioli, blue cheese, prosciutto and shallots. Yup, pizza heaven. No wonder it's Christena's fav although this visit she mixed things up and ordered the mushroom with portobello, oyster, and button mushrooms, provolone, parm, garlic, micorgreens, and, the real kicker, truffle oil. Mushroom pizza is a go to for us at home but this one puts them all to shame. So savory and earthy and rich and delicious. I didn't try it since I'm not a fan of pepperoni but our other guest, Christen's bf, decided to kick it ol' school and order the pepperoni pizza. Leave it to the folks at Morris East though, they added a heap of hot peppers to kick it up a notch. Crafty.

Both Christena and I couldn't finish our pizzas so took the remaining two slices to go. But I'll be totally honest, that pear pizza didn't even make it to my fridge. Like mere minutes people! If you're thinking pizza or simply looking for a great restaurant, get on down to Morris East to have your mind blown. You can thank me later. And I highly recommend heading over to the Maritime Heart Center's site to see some of their incredible work like free for all fitness classes. Awesome, yes. They are even selling an Eat Your Heart Out cookbook filled with heart healthy recipes from local restaurants. And $15 in the cookbook world is a steal.

So thank you Maritime Heart Center. It felt great to catch up with an old friend, eat some incredible food, and be apart of something so wonderful. Is it wrong I'm already excited for Eat Your Heart Out 2013?

Morris East on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Monthly Miette: Lemon Tarts

A fellow food blogger and friend Aimee has a pretty cool thing going. Last month she started a monthly recipe challenge encouraging friends and fellow bloggers to recreate a recipe from the beautiful cookbook Miette by Meg Ray. Based on the bakery in San Francisco of the same name, it is a lovely book with pretty scalloped edges offering up a well rounded collection of baking recipes. Aimee's Monthly Miette challenge is simple: buy the book, make the chosen recipe, photograph it, link to her blog, and get this, eat your creation for breakfast. Cake for breakfast? Hells yeah.

Last month I had yet to purchase the book so I totally missed out on what looked to be a super delish cake from the cover, The Tom Boy Cake. Check out Aimee's round up of last month's submissions and get your drool on over some pretty incredible food photography. But this month I was determined to get in on the action (three days late is better than nothin!). This month instead of a single recipe, Aimee simply made the theme 'tarts' of which there was a whole chapter of tarty goodness to choose from. Being mad addicted to lemons as of late, I couldn't resist but make the Lemon Tarts.

I won't get into tons of detail since I suggest you get your hands on your own copy of this baking beauty, worth it for the pics alone. The base of the tart, like most tarts in the book, was a pâte sucrée. This pastry was easily executed with the help of the new kitchen aid stand mixer, Big Red. It literally took minutes. The lemon curd was equally as easy and fast although I halved the recipe since I made 4 individual tarts. In retrospect, bad always need more curd! Although not part of the recipe, I made a meringue for my tarts cuz it was only logical what with the leftover egg whites. I didn't use a recipe but simply threw in some sugar with my whites, cooked over a double boiler til the sugar dissolved then threw it in Big Red and let 'er rip. A little torch action and viola lemon tarts!

Now let's get to the real bizness, the taste. The crust was flaky and tasty although I didn't find it stood out from other crusts I have made. The curd, oh the curd, was tangy and sweet and smooth and the stuff dreams are made of.  This was my first curd attempt so I can't compare this recipe to any other but you betcha I'll be making this one again. And again. And again. Overall, the Lemon Tart was a winner. Check out the rest of the tart action over at Aimee's blog.

Apparently, next month's challenge is Buttermilk Panna Cotta. I have never made nor eaten panna cotta so this one is quite exciting. Stay tuned for next month's round up or get your bake on and join us. Because let's be real, panna cotta for breakfast can't be a bad thing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

meaty, meaty goodness

Those folks over at Chives are some crafty. Not being open for lunch, they transformed the little nook adjacent (the old Mud Room cafe I am told, thanks Gary!) and viola, Ciboulette was born. And guess, my English friends, what ciboulette means en francais? Chives of course. Yes, very crafty.

 It's a cute little place with great accents (I love me some red) and the sunniest seat in the city. Along with the usual cafe suspects of espresso bevvies, cookies, and muffins (signs written on teapots is pure genius btw), they have a selection of breakfast wraps, paninis and a sammie and soup of the day. Generally, I don't care for paninis with all those squishy ingredients blending into one hot mess but the folks at Ciboulette are doing paninis right. It's all about that perfectly crunchy bread a la Juliens and, of course, not pressing it til its dead.

The big fella chose the Southwest chicken club probably because I snagged the last meatloaf panini. Yes, I said meatloaf panini but I'll get to that in a minute. The club consisted of the requisite chicken, tomato, and bacon but they kicked it up a notch with mozzarella, avocado and chipotle mayo. Shit. yeah. Need I say more?

But the real star was this bad boy, the meatloaf panini with old cheddar and a bacon relish. Meaty meaty goodness people. The meatloaf was moist and maintained its thick shape well despite the pressing. I know what you're thinking though. Tell me more about that bacon relsih! Unfortunately, I can't say it was super pronounced. There was quite alot of mustard either on the panini itself or in the relish. Regardless, this panini was awesome. No wonder I've heard some twitter chat about it. It was, after all, the only one left.

On our way out, we couldn't resist but grab a blondie for the road. Moist and smooshy and chocolaty and caramely. It was everything a blondie should be. I hear they even have some killer sticky time Ciboulette, next time.

Check em out and get your meatloaf on!

Ciboulette on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

changing the world one cupcake at a time

Photo courtesy of Shelagh Duffet
Remember that lovely summer weather a few weeks back? Well, during one of those incredibly sunny days, I along with some of the other ladies (food bloggers of course) attended the Blooming Tea at The Prince George in support of Adsum for Women and Children. I have known of Adsum for some time but after meeting the lovely Nancy Stapleton, the Director of Fund Development and Communications, at Aimee's tea a few weeks back, I was interested to learn more. And when there's food involved, well do I even need to go there.

To start the afternoon, we bought some raffle tickets and 'bid' on some delicious cakes, cupcakes and bread baskets donated from local businesses. This was my kind of auction! As soon as we entered the room at the Prince George, my heart swelled: the room was filled with men and women of all ages sitting together at beautifully appointed tables filled with gorgeous bouquets, little tea sandwiches, a wonderful assortment of sweets, and get this, a cute tea cup all wrapped up for each person to take home. Love was in the air and you could feel it. You could even taste it. You can make fun all you want about me going to all these teas (well, at least Brent would!) but let me tell you, you are totally missing out. Smoked salmon canapes, cucumber sammies, scones with clotted cream and jam, macaroons, cookies, mini cupcakes, and some good English tea to wash it all down. There's something so nostalgic about tea and sweets and those little crustless sammies. Not only did we get to enjoy all this great food, but we were also entertained with a fashion show that included accessories from some local shops like Biscuit, Splurge, and J&R Grimsmo. Pair that with some jazz piano and lovely company (Shelagh Duffet, Kelly Neil and Sheena Clark) and this was one hell of a fundraiser. Just check out the photos!

But my whole purpose for going to the tea wasn't to write about the food (OK, I couldn't help it!), but rather to spread the word about the amazing work Adsum does for the women and children at risk of homelessness in our community. As part of their fundraising initiatives, Adsum recently created a video entitled I Am Here. Before we go any further, why don't you take a few moments and have a watch. Trust me, it'll be 7 minutes well spent. Not only was the video quite touching and inspiring, but it really confirmed for me why I was there. Many don't know it but I grew up in a single parent family with my mom raising three girls on her own. Needless to say, we didn't have much. I was lucky though and, with the support of family and friends, was able to make a life for myself, growing into the woman I am today. But I try not to take it for granted because my life could very easily have taken a different path and I could have been any one of those women in need of Adsum's services.

So, I Am Here asking you to simply follow this link and take a look at the awesome work Adsum does not only for women and children, but for our community as a whole. Maybe you feel inspired like I and click on that link to see how you can help.  You could donate your time or drop off items on their wish list or even plan your own fundraising event. Or maybe you decide to donate money. My money got me a wonderful afternoon full of tea and eats and friends and I will most certainly be back next year. But I want to share that experience with you so for every twoonie donated, I will bake you a little mini cupcake of your own and perhaps we can enjoy it over a pot of tea. Cupcakes can change the world right? I'm sure as hell willing to find out.