Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dad's Birthday & American Thanksgiving

I went to see my parents in Omaha for Thanksgiving...American style. I arrived the day before Thanksgiving, which was my Dad's Birthday. We celebrated his birthday with dinner at Zio's Pizzeria. We all started with a house dinner salad. Dad added HIS favorite, anchovies, to his salad. Mom and I did NOT. We shared the 3 cheese bread and then moved on to our individual slices of New York Style pizza...Y-U-M! If that wasn't enough...we arrived back at my parents' house and Mom surprised my Dad with cupcakes (2 chocolate with chocolate frosting, vanilla with vanilla frosting and a red velvet) from Jones Bros. Cupcakes (above). The graphic designer in me loves their fabulous logo, package and menu design and lovely web site. Oh and yes, they taste soo good, especially at the store with their coffee. But as always, those who know me best know that nothing beats Sweet Mandy B's cupcakes.

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious as always (No photos we ate too fast!). This year we had filet mignons from where else, but Omaha Steaks. They were a gift to my Dad from a vendor who happens to be a Canadian, a T.O. resident in fact! We also had mashed potatoes, King's Hawaiian rolls and I made the ever-so-tough to make green bean casserole. And of course for dessert, Mom's amazing Pumpkin Pie.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Flour Tortillas

I got an early Christmas present from Prosecco—a tub of Pork Lard! In return I promised to post everything I make with this delicious gift.

First up, Rick Bayless' Flour Tortialls. I saw him make this recently on Mexico - One Plate at a Time. It looked so simple and delicious I had to try it.

Topped with Mexican Black Beans, Chimichurri sauce, scrambled eggs, avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. Awesome!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To make and eat now

While out in the eastern townships over the long weekend, I brought home two bags of peaches and cream corn (among many other eat-able, drink-able items). And inspired by the gorgeous shots of fresh corn pesto pasta on Lottie + Doof, I knew that this exactly what I wanted to eat. I mean, duh, corn pesto… seems so obvious, why didn't I think of this before?

I didn't have tagliatelle or fettuccine, so I used a skinnier egg pasta, which was still fantastic. My photo isn't as pretty as Tim's from Lottie + Doof, but here it is:

And to drink? I finally opened up a bottle of Cab Sauv that my friend Bo brought me from a trip to Israel. Corn from Quebéc, basil from my balcony, wine from Israel. A nice combination indeed.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomato sauce weekend, the 2010 version

Thanks to an unusually warm (some might say sweltering) summer, the annual tomato sauce-making weekend came early this year. Last year we did them in September, but this year Uncle Luigi set August 28 as the day we would turn 10 bushels of San Marzanos into sauce.

Last year, there were only 5 adults and 2 kids (sporadically) working. But this year, one of Uncle Luigi and Aunt Marisa's sons came over with his wife and 3 kids who were all willing and ready to help so the tomatoes were all sliced and milled pretty quickly. After that, it was just the processing of the jars and waiting for them to cool down.

C just informed me last night that the final tally was 206 jars! Uncle Luigi was exceptionally proud of the fact that on average, 1 bushel of tomatoes produced 25 jars, which is about 3 more litres than last year's yield.

If you'd like to re-live our tomato weekend, enjoy the slideshow below.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Holy crap, I'm in trouble. Sprinkles Cupcakes opened on Monday in my neighborhood. It's a lovely and very welcome addition to the Gold Coast. Last night on my walk home from work I tried to stop in and buy a cupcake, but the line was down the block...even at 6:30 pm. They close at 7 pm Monday through Saturday. So tonight again on my way home, I stopped in. The line was much shorter and v. fast. The building is such a great and colorful design inside and out. The staff there is v. friendly and happy. Must be all the sugar... After examining every flavor available today...I bought a red velvet cupcake (left) and a vanilla (right), of course. I devoured the red velvet and saved the vanilla for tomorrow night. The red velvet was heaven and the cake was so moist!

Not to worry, I am still hopelessly devoted (I craved Sweet Mandy B's cupcakes ALL THE WAY from Toronto) to Sweet Mandy B's...still the best cupcake, hands down. But Sprinkles is conveniently on the way home from work, close to my favorite brunch/lunch/snack/dinner place, Feast and around the corner from Sarah's Pastries & Candies. I'm in trouble. I L-O-V-E my neighborhood.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eat Drink Chicago

Chicago is a great city. Spending a long weekend with Cupcake, eating and drinking our way across town, was as much fun as the last time we did it.

Above: We got major props from the bartender at Frontera Grill when we ordered guacamole and a round of margaritas for dessert. That's how we roll. Holla!

When we arrived, Cupcake took us to a great spot across the street from our hotel called The Purple Pig. Double bonus—we sat next to five local chefs who were on a food tour... we quickly made some new friends. They insisted we share their wine and snacks. By the end we'd sampled the entire menu and only had to order a few dishes of our own. This one was awesome—fava beans, egg and crispy pancetta.

Grilled bread and chicken liver pate with crispy sage leaves.

This one was awesome! Chopped pig's ear with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers and fried egg. Spicy!

Fresh strawberry soft serve with balsamic drizzle. You know you want it!

A spicy breakfast at Xoco, another Rick Bayless spot. A bit too much bread for my taste, so I just grabbed a fork and enjoyed the filling of this chorizo-egg torta.

Grilled fish at Frontera Grill.

The favorite stop of the weekend—Big Star Taco! We were too tired to walk around in the heat shopping so we camped at the bar for the afternoon sampling tacos, guacamole, beer and tasty Mexican Coke (cane sugar instead of nasty corn syrup). It goes really well with $3 whisky shots. Big Star, I love you... let's make it work... even if it's a long-distance thing.

Partied out and relaxing before heading to the airport. We headed back to The Purple Pig to relax on their outdoor patio. Grilled bread with whipped feta and cucumber. So good!

Purple Pig's house made sausage with kale and grapes.


Ketchup & Coke

Not really... but when I saw the bartender make this from a distance I thought he was pouring ketchup over ice, adding some lime juice and planning to crack a can of coke over the whole thing. Turns out he was making a Michelada, which is beer and hot sauce. Fusilli was brave enough to order one and she claims it was quite refreshing. I haven't include the reaction shot I took when she had her first sip. It wasn't the face you make when sipping a refreshing cocktail... more like a glass of hangover medicine.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Paella Party

I was lucky enough to be gifted a precious petri dish of saffron, transported across the ocean by a generous friend a couple of months ago. So of course the first thing that pops into my head is: paella! By happenstance the following week, I found a paella pan on sale for $10 at a kitchen outlet store and the idea for a paella party was born. I know that traditionally Spanish paella is made with rabbit and green beans, but I opted for the seafood version this time: Littleneck clams, squid, jumbo tiger shrimp, haddock, peas and some chopped up kale (I had it laying around in my fridge so I just tossed it in). And what's a paella party without sangria and good friends? Check! If you're going to make paella, don't forget to keep it on the stove just a bit longer so you get that delicious crispy caramelized soccarat on the bottom. Here's the recipe I used, in case you want to have your own paella party this summer, enjoy!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guess What's Coming to my Neighborhood!

YAY! Sprinkles Cupcakes!! I love the exterior design of their stores and cannot wait to taste their many flavors of cupcakes. I hope they bring this with them too.


Friday, June 11, 2010


Its been a while, rabbit pappardelle at hearth new york, zow.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It's Rhubarb season! Enjoy it while it's fresh!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

A night at the Publican

A wish I've had for the past year has finally come true. I finally had the chance to eat dinner at the fantastic pig-centric Publican last weekend. Join me in re-living this happily over-stuffed evening, won't you?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gotta love the ricotta

In the past couple years, I've become quite fond of ricotta cheese. And when I was on a liver cleanse last month, it was one of the only cheeses I was allowed to consume since cow dairy was prohibited. I think it's because ricotta's made from whey and most of the milk protein gets removed during production, so technically it's not really a cheese; it's whey cheese.

I was exposed to ricotta more through C and his family. His mother likes to have it at the table when she serves a rice sidedish, and though nobody else in the family does this, she enjoys a scoop of ricotta mixed into her rice. Then C made me pasta once that was just tossed in a mound of ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. He said that it's a typical Roman dish. C's mother often makes cakes containing a lemony sweet ricotta filling and at Easter they make little pastries also filled with sweet ricotta. But my favourite way to have ricotta is very simple and no-nonsense: slathered on bread or in this case, rye cracker, and drizzled with honey, and I'm not talking about no Billy Bee honey. This snack is like a little piece of heaven– crispy, creamy, airy, delicately sweet. I was lucky enough to pick up fresh, homemade ricotta at my farmer's market. But turns out, you can make your own ricotta easily enough at home. I haven't tried yet, but it's definitely on my to-make list.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Last night's dinner

This was not made by me but thoroughly enjoyed by me. Prepared by Maurizio, C's cousin, we had brisket with gravy, rice and beans, a crispy non-mayonnaisey coleslaw and fantastic potato salad. You too can enjoy Maurizio's homecooking very soon with the launch of his ready-to-eat organic dinners, prepared using locally sourced meat. Check it out here.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Queen and Beaver

I've been on a liver cleanse for the better part of 21 days. No coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no wheat, no fruit except for organic bananas… you get the idea; basically nothing that tastes good. So now that I'm OFF that cleanse, I had a hankering for a good old fish and chips (plus my mom sent me some birthday dinner cash!).

Last night, C and I decided to take a hike over to The Queen and Beaver on Elm street. A definite pain in the you-know-what to find parking, but well worth it. We were both craving fish and chips but each started with something different. I had the salad with Stilton, poached pear and walnuts. Nice big, fresh leaves of radicchio, butter lettuce (I think) and endive with just the right amount of dressing. And C had the smoked salmon special appetizer that came with a little mound of minced beets. I was lucky enough to have a taste of the salmon and it was fantastic… smoky, melt-in-your mouth delectable.

The fish and chips was just the right amount of food. A light, crispy batter that wasn't oily or greasy and the fish was perfectly cooked. Add some thick cut fries and homemade ketchup (Normally I am a ketchup hater, but this was so good! Not too sweet like regular ketchup), with a cider to drink and I'd say that's a swell Saturday night, chilling out, end-of-liver-cleanse-meal. Oh, and on the way home, we stopped for a Jager on the rocks at the Gem.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oyster mushroom harvest

 I grew oyster mushrooms in my living room. Crazy, right? I must admit, it was a bit creepy when I first spotted the little fungus nubbins poking through the plastic bag containing the bail of straw in which mushroom spores are embedded. And awed and amazed when with each passing half day the mushrooms kept getting larger and larger. And just this past weekend, they were large enough to harvest! The instructions that came with my mushroom kit said to twist off gently so as not to disrupt the surrounding environment, but the whole mushroom family came off together and didn't want to be separated when we tried to remove them individually. Sadly, I'm on a liver cleanse until April 6 so this harvest was bequeathed to C's mother. I trust she will make something delicious with them and here's hoping for a few more harvests so I can sample them for myself!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Traveling Cupcake: North Carolina, Day 2

The next morning after our night at Mamma Mia!, my Aunt and I drove first to A Southern Season which I would describe to you as a LARGE Dean & Deluca of the South. A huge wine section (I bought a bottle of French wine, "La Poule Blanche" to take back to Chicago), cheese section, chocolate section...really need I go on? Let me tell you if you're in the Raleigh/Durham area anytime on over to A Southern Season and spend a good 2 hours won't regret it. After tasting and shopping our way through A Southern Season we headed over to Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. Before exploring this quaint shopping spot, we decided to have lunch at The Old Granary Restaurant. And we were so glad we did. My Aunt had the Chicken Salad (which consisted of: celery, gala apple, red onion, grapes, spiced walnuts, potato straws, mixed greens and rosemary dressing). I had the Chicken Pot Pie which was served with the ingredients (slow-cooked chicken, winter vegetables, mustard and parsley cream) outside the buttery puff pastry.


Traveling Cupcake: North Carolina

I spent last weekend in North Carolina visiting my Aunt. What's the first thing we did after leaving the airport? Eat! My Aunt found this great place called, Mamma Mia! in Apex, North Carolina. When we walked in the lovely man that greeted us said buona sera in a real Italian accent, I knew we were in for a wonderful dinner. We started with a glass of wine each and then ordered a 16 inch Bianca pizza ("New York style thin crust with fresh garlic, ricotta and mozzarella cheese") and added eggplant and meat balls for our toppings. Soo good and soo much pizza that when I left last Tuesday afternoon there were still slices in my Aunt's refrigerator to eat! What I also loved was as we left the restaurant in this strip mall were the kids sitting outside telling us to have a good night and to come back soon for food made by their Dad and Grandma. Love it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


OMG, I can't get enough of pickle! Cucumbers, red onion, pepper corns, jalapeno, habañero, white wine vinegar and cider vinegar. Let it sit for a few hours and you'll have a spicy, épicé, picante and delicious condiment. I like it on everything except my breakfast.


Yogurt Hoarding Squirrels

We're all squirrels to a certain extent... hoarding stuff, easily mesmerized by shiny objects. Fusilli hoards toothpaste for fear they may stop making Colgate Winterfresh flavour. I once found ten tubes in the bathroom cupboard... seriously.

Anyway, now we're so addicted to our apples, yogurt and granola routine that we've started hoarding our favourite yogurt! It all started when we discovered Liberté's Méditerranée style vanilla yogurt and then quickly realized it's not always in plentiful supply. Running out of yogurt can lead to morning trauma, which is the worst kind of trauma. So now when it's in stock, we just grab everything on the shelf and run erratically to the checkout.




Splake is spotted lake trout. Add sauteed rapini with cannellini beans and garlic for a delicious dinner.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New, New York

I've said it before... last minute trips are the best. If I liked surprise birthday parties, I imagine they'd feel like it did when Fusilli mentioned Dawes were playing at the Bowery Ballroom. Surprise!

What more could you ask for than a great live band in an incredible venue... in New York? Imagine Massey hall crossed with the HorseShoe. It's Perfection!

This trip we decided we would only try new things, no old favorites, only new, new, new! First new thing: the hotel. We arrived Friday night, and checked onto the Hampton Inn Soho. This might be the best deal in town. Set on the edge of Soho, just above Tribecca, you can anywhere in a flash.

We changed and went straight to dinner. Next stop on the new tour, Public on Elizabeth in Nolita. No pictures, too hungry. Fried Oysters in shizo leaf, white anchovy on lentil cakes and berkshire pork something. I ate so fast, I can hardly remember.

Why do concerts always start late? Do they want to sell more drinks?

By the end Dawes had the entire place singing along. Bonus points if you can spot me in the audience near the end of the video.

After the concert we headed to the next new spot, Los Felis, for Tequila and snacks. The list of Tequilla options was so long I just let the waiter decide what to put in my margarita. We had guacamole and a grilled shrimp soft tacos. So much better than late night pizza.

Saturday morning was bright and cold as we headed to Bread, a new breakfast option around the corner. We both had baked eggs in tomato sauce based on a vauge recollection of Prosecco's recent post. For some reason mine was full if garlic, but Fusillli had none. I picked out all the slices of garlic (totaling about 4 cloves) and just enjoyed their essence. Garlic and onions are like scotch, best enjoyed after 4pm. Topped up with breakfast we headed to Soho for a walk.

My ears were in danger of disappearing beneath my mop, a sight not seen since they emerged in 1984. Not wanting to revisit the "awkwark years", I stopped in at my favourite spot... The NYC Shaving Co. The only not-new stop on our trip. I always love visiting here for their old school vibe and skilled barbers. Plus, what's more obnoxious than saying... I had to go to New York to get my hair cut? Ha!

Observe the perfection master barber Fracesco bestowed on my slowly disappearing head of hair. That perfect line was the result of much clipping, buzzing and staight shaving. Bravo Francesco!

It was time for lunch, so we headed to the much anticipated Breslin in the swank (new?) Ace hotel. This was turned out to be the highlight of the trip, and the reward for trying something new. I was expecting fancy pub food, but it was so much more.

First up, caesar salad. Perhaps the best I've ever had. I loved the full uncut lettuce leaves and the light and lemony dressing. It was topped with anchovy croutons and whole anchovies. Wickedly good.

Next we had a moist and delicious lamb burger with what I'm told are the best fries in NYC. They might be the best fries I've ever had! Thrice fried, and accompanied with a delicious cumin mayo dip.

The fries were so good, I had to take a close-up. They were thick and crispy, without the mushy centre. Bravo Breslin!

Saturday night we wanted to try Dinero's restaurant in TriBeCa, Locanda Verde. Unfortunately, the place was so packed so we had to come back for breakfast instead. No complaints, the brunch was incredible. I had Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberries and meyer lemon curd.

Fusilli had the Uovo Modenese with cottechino hash, spinach and tomato hollandaise.

I loved the giant balls of yarn. I've never seen that before. New? Check!

Stopping for a glass of prosecco after walking for a few hours was nice, but the real treat was sitting outside on a patio in February. Cheers!

By the end of the day we needed one more meal before heading to the airport. Our first choice was closed, but they were kind enough to recommend Ideya, just down the street. They make excellent Mojitos.

What's better with a Mojito than a cuban sandwich?

Proof that we weren't the only summer jumpers enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. At least I wasn't in shorts and flip-flops.