Tuesday, January 29, 2013

kale love

I sure do love me some kale. Raw in a salad, cooked as chips, added to soups or stews or pasta. Pretty much anyway. And since kale is in season right now, might as well spread the kale love.  

Lemony Kale Salad

1 bunch kale, thinly sliced, stalks removed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1 apple, julienned or diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
140 g goat cheese

Juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

To make dressing combine lemon and honey. Whisk in olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with all salad ingredients except goat cheese. Top with goat cheese.

And that is as easy as it gets. Get your kale on people. 

the future looks delicious

Back in December some bloggers and I were lucky enough to get invited to a holiday buffet at the NSCC Akerley Dining Room. Not just any buffet however. This was more of a small plates bonanza showcasing the work of the second year culinary students. And being the food lover I am, I almost made it through the entire menu. Everything except the seafood chowder to be precise. And don't even get me started on dessert...

While I can't begin to describe just how incredible all the food was, there were certainly some stand out dishes. First, the borscht. Great beet flavour, added texture from the sausage and that sour cream ice cream totally blew my mind. Tart with a hint of cinnamon. This takes borscht to a whole new level. No surprise I also loved both the squash ravioli with Old Growler and the salad with lardon vinaigrette and quail egg. Both perfectly executed and oozing with flavour. Poached quail eggs? I mean really. Lastly, the salmon dish with wild blueberry maple sauce, beet puree and crispy kale was stellar. The perfect marriage of flavour, texture and colour. And while the dessert table was overflowing with goodies-brownies, tortes, homemade marshmallows, cheesecake, cookies, macarons-it was the creme brûlée squares that stole my heart.

the fab five
Best buffet ever. So much more fun-not to mention incredibly fresher-moving from station to station to see the students work their magic. Every Thursday you too can get your small plates buffet on and at $37.50, it's a steal. If, however, you wanted to leave without the buffet inducing food baby as I like to call it, the dining room offers an a la carte menu every Wednesday, designed by the students themselves. You may want to follow their facebook page to get all the drool worthy updates.

Big thanks to Chef Sue Morrison, a Pastry Arts Instructor, for opening my eyes to a whole new culinary experience in my own backyard. These students are the future of dining in our city and if these dishes were any indication, the future is looking delicious.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

the buzz: Jan 24

This week's news has got food bloggin written all over it. That's right people. The details for the Food Bloggers of Canada 2013 Conference is out and tickets go on sale tomorrow!!! Other than it being the first event of its kind in Canada (incredible right?), there are loads of incredible speakers and workshops and even goodies to take home. Plus, I'll be there so what are you waiting for? For you local bloggers, I'm having a lil' food blogger meet up/potluck in February to chat about it so get at me if you want in.

What's bubbly and hoppy and refreshing? You got it. Beer. And lucky for us in Hali a new microbrewery has joined in the beer game. Bridge Brewing opened yesterday at 2576 Agricola after months of hard work by owner Peter Burbridge. Folks were so eager to get their hands on the brew that they sold out in three hours. Yup, three. Lucky for us, they were fully stocked when we dropped by to check it out today. The space is rad, the beer is delish (I may have tried it before! Shh!), even the bottles are cool. So drop by, get yourself a growler and be prepared to go back the next day for a refill.

Well, out here on the East is pretty damn cold. The only thing getting me through it, other than hot baths and my couch blankie (yeah, I have a blankie, so what!?), is a February full of food and drink. Like I mentioned last week, next month will bring us both the Winter Wine Festival and the Savour Food and Wine Festival. New deets are out for both so click your way over to their sites. In particular, check out the Dine Around menus. Last year we had an incredible post Valentine's day dinner at Chives, taking advantage of the sweet three course Dine Around deal. Their menu this year is looking equally as delish but I have a feeling we'll be checking out somewhere new. Although there are 28 days in February...

Lastly, today I finally made my way through the entire Ace Burger Co. menu after demolishing a Jerk Chicken. Another party in my mouth. If you haven't been, you really gotta check it out. Truly, the best damn burgers in the city. GET SOME.

Until next time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monthly Miette: creme fraîche scones and lemon curd

Back in December, I finally, after a few months of missing out, got back in on the Monthly Miette action. In case you have forgotten, Aimee of the blog Food: Je t'Aimee posts the monthly challenge from Miette, a cookbook from the San Fran bakery of the same name, and then we get our bake on. We also must eat the cake or whatever it happens to be for breakfast. A mighty fine rule indeed. December's challenge was creme fraîche scones accompanied by another item in the 'essentials' section. And what better to go with lil bite sized scones than lemon curd.

First up, the scones. I opted to make my own creme fraîche out of buttermilk and cream rather than searching around the city for some to buy. Apparently it's on the pricy side and besides, having buttermilk in the fridge is always great for those Sunday mornin' pancake cravings. The recipe itself involved a bit of mixing action in Big Red, pressing the dough into a pan, cutting them into lil squares, freezing, and lastly, baking. Many steps, I know. One thing I will say is the dough was rather crumbly so some inevitably fell apart during the cutting. The curd, which I made for the lemon tarts the last time I participated in the Monthly Miette, also involved several steps: cooking, cooling, straining, adding butter, straining, and cooling. But not one to follow directions, I opted to save some time and cut out the second straining step.

Now who 's gonna help me eat all these scones? Well, the ladies of course. Yup, I invited over the same food bloggin' food lovin' ladies for a little Saturday afternoon tea party. How fancy. Table set. Kettle's on. Let's do this.

Despite being a tad labour intensive, both the scones and curd were awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the slight tang from the creme fraîche in the scones and, while at first I was skeptical of their bite size, I ended up loving them. Each scone could be topped differently and, thanks to the ladies, we had a ton of toppings to choose from: clotted cream (holy spreadable whipped cream heaven!), local cranberry quark, strawberry jam (with local berries I picked this summer!), butter, molasses, and, of course, lemon curd. Trust me when I say this folks, you need curd in your life. It's totally the eat with a spoon kind of stuff dreams are made of. Tart, sweet, lemony dreams. While all this paired with some good ol' orange pekoe would make any granny proud, I obviously didn't stop there. We also enjoyed a bottle of Blomidon Cremant (an incredible local bubbly), minted cranberry orange punch, and my dark chocolate banana cake.

Just thinking of it makes me want to do it all over again. Ladies, tea party?

Monday, January 14, 2013

the buzz: Jan 15

Alright, it's January, the post holiday bingefest month. And that means most of you are probably taking a little break from the food and drink scene. But if you do happen to be looking for any food or drink related events, head on over to Food Bloggers of Canada for my monthly listings. And for all you Nova Scotians, best rest up for February. Next month brings the Winter Wine Festival (not all the details are out yet, but check out Susan's Grape Escape tours) as well as the Savour Food and Wine Festival. Not only are loads of restos participating in Dine Around, a month of special three course prix fixe menus created to showcase NS, but there's also the Savour Food and Wine Show, the Rare and Fine Wine Show, Decadence: Chocolate, Wine and Cheese and, new this year, Imbibe: A Cocktail Story. I was lucky enough to volunteer at Savour last year, and trust me when I say, this is THE food event of the year. Tickets are on sale now so get 'em while you can. If I get my way, I'll be eating my face off all month long! Giddy up.

Also helping with the whole 'eat my face off' goal are the Meet Your Local events from the Local Connections folks. Every month they're putting together an intimate evening or two full of food and drinks from amazing local businesses. If the pics from the first event (where Propeller beer was paired with eats from Ratinaud Charcuterie) are any indication, this is something to watch out for. Details are released via their monthly newsletter so get yourself signed up.

In other deliciously exciting news, Graeme Ruppel, formerly of Coastal at Night, Getaway Meat Mongers and Brooklyn Warehouse (what a resume, eh!), has now joined the Nomad Gourmet team. And folks, you know what that means. My chicken n' waffles dreams are coming true. I luckily got in on the chicken n' waffles action at Coastal at Night (you can read about that love at first sight here) before they closed their doors and was hoping this very thing would happen. Chicken n' waffles on a food truck is exactly what Hali needs. Something new and exciting and downright delicious. I plan on making my way there this week so follow @nomadgourmet on the ol' twitter or facebook to see where you can find them.

Lastly, we finally made it back to Brooklyn Warehouse to experience the awesomeness that is their monthly menu. Talk about seasonal! And January's menu totally rocked my world. While I'm sure everything on the menu is incredible, we did get the inside scoop on a few items to try, namely the beef tartar and the momofuku. Holy f. I know some people get totally grosed out by the thought of eating raw beef but this aged local beef was melt in your mouth, mind blowingly delicious. And paired with the raw egg, pickled onions, grainy mustard, crostini, and fresh horseradish, it was perfection. I could have easily ordered several more portions and been completely satisfied. Equally as incredible was the momofuku appetizer with soy pork belly, scallops, bacon dashi, glass noodles, mustard seeds, and homemade kimchi. What depth of flavor. This dish was something I have never before experienced in Hali and precisely why I am in love with the BW. They're dishin' up new and inventive cuisine every damn month and I want it all. Oh, the rabbit porchetta and the lobster chowder (vanilla, truffle and foie gras oh my!) were also amaze balls. That's right, AMAZE BALLS. So there is simply no way I'm letting a month go by without hittin' up the BW. I suggest you do the same.

And that right there is the first buzz of 2013.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the new year

First of all Happy New Year everyone! As you can tell by those pics, our holiday consisted of a lot of cooking and baking and eating and drinking. It was awesome. But it's well into January and my extended vacay away from the blogging world has come to an end. With a load of unfinished posts and a bunch of to dos, best get this party started.

So here we are in 2013 and I don't know about you but I'm not big on the resolutions. I continually have a whole slew of goals so I don't really get caught up in the whole resolution craze that happens every January, especially the diet ones. Yes, sometimes I wish I could fit more physical activity into my life. And after the sugar binge that is Christmas, a few more veggies certainly wouldn't hurt. But will I continue to eat butter and cream and bacon? Hells yes. Ain't no 'diet' products in my cupboards. You see, I'm all about eating real. I'll admit back in my university days I was suckered in by the so called "healthy" diet. You know the diet cola, low cholesterol margarine, low fat processed snack kind of diet. But years in the kitchen have taught me to love the real thing. For me, healthy has come to mean unadulterated, real food. The stuff our grandparents ate. But, of course, moderation is key. I don't eat butter every meal nor even every day so why would I ever feel guilty when I do. Gone are the days of feeling guilty over what I did or didn't eat. If I hear the term cheat day one more time, I'm gonna lose it. Just eat people. Like everyone I sometimes indulge in the processed stuff too but I'm not about to feel bad about that either. Hell, for dinner New Year's day, we had hot dogs. Wrapped in bacon no less. Take that New Years resolution.

So this year, how bout we just let food be food and enjoy it. Cook it. Share it. Savour it.

Here's to the new year. Bon appétit.