Month: August 2012

"Birthday Month" – My dinner with Humphrey

My uncle is a fascinating guy. Apart from being an admirable person, he loves Paris the way I love Boston. Hard to imagine, I know. He spends oodles of time in France hanging out with his friends. He fences (with a sword!) He’s a wine aficionado and a proficient chef. He has the ultimate green thumb. He’s a skilled photographer. He’s kind to my mom (his sister), to me (his godson) and he’s a supportive father to his two great kids. And if that wasn’t enough, he has the raddest dog on the block, Humphrey.

I always enjoy spending time with my uncle and I was happy to snag an invite to his groovy abode. Not much to report but suffice it to say that it was a nice evening, with some fine wine, some good food and a cool dog. Sometimes, that’s all that matters. Enjoy the pics below.

My boy Humphrey
A jade plant
Another jade plant. This one is humungous.
I think this is an azalea.  I’m not a plant guy so I can’t be sure.
A funny birdie
A pensive Humphrey

 

Stuffed tomatoes
Chicken brochettes, potatoes and stuffed tomatoes. Delicious!
The darkening sky as seen from the backyard

"Birthday Month" – My peeps take me out

My employees mean the world to me. If you met them you’d understand. Smart, funny, talented, hard working, good looking and they even smell good! Quite frankly, I’m the luckiest guy around to have the privilege of managing these terrific people. In addition to being great, they are also quite thoughtful and favour a good old beer and burger combo now and again. So with that, my birthday lunch was set at The Clocktower Brew Pub in trendy Westboro.
The Clocktower Brew Pub Westboro, 418 Richmond Road, Ottawa

This new location in Westboro is stellar. It’s also the largest of its four Ottawa locations. We took advantage of a sunny day to sit out on the patio. A big plus of the Clocktower is that they brew their own beer. Their website states that “attention to detail, authentic ingredients, no preservatives, no additives and small batches ensure our enjoyment.” They also have some cool imported beer. I had Kölsch, a lighter German ale. It tasted great.

House brewed Kölsch is a refreshingly crisp light blonde ale.

I ordered the Rise & Shine burger. Anytime I can incorporate breakfast items into my meal, I’m in! Eggs and bacon on a burger? Brilliant.

Rise & Shine Burger had a sunny side egg, crisp bacon and HP sauce.

One of the crew had a burger with goat cheese, banana peppers and spicy mayo with some soup on the side. His plate was wiped clean so I’m guessing he was pleased with his choice.

Angry Goat Burger: Herbed Goat cheese, banana peppers and spicy mayo.

 

 

Soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish & chips and steak & frites make up the majority of the menu. You can also find some unexpected items like the Kung Foo Noodle Bowl, the Chicken and Leek Crock Pot and a Hummus Platter. But in the end, my table went with the tried and true pub grub and we all left full and satisfied.

I wasn’t feeling the greatest that day but it was made better by hanging out at a great new spot with some of my fav people. This birthday month is really about spending time with the people in my life that mean the most to me. And if I get to celebrate at a great place like The Clocktower, then I’m all for extending my bday into September!

Clock Tower Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

"Birthday Month" – BBQ #5

My family knows how much I dig birthdays. Lucky for me they’re always willing to do it up big. This year’s celebration included gourmet burgers, salads and make your own sundaes. Sweet! My family is pretty fly. I’m a very lucky guy. Check out the party pics below.

Baseball balloon. Coolest thing ever.
Choice of drinks. And no, I didn’t go for the Skinnygirl cocktail.
Spectacular salad
Burger toppings: Guacamole, sun-dried tomatoes and aioli.
More burger toppings: Bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms.
Burger and salad. A great combo.
“Make your own sundae” toppings
Sundae in a waffle bowl.

"Birthday Month" – BBQ #4

It’s been a long while since my last barbecue. Some pals of mine threw together the most fancy pants BBQ I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Salad, vichyssoise, steak, potatoes, fennel and my favourite pie in the world, coconut cream.

You’ll notice the absence of a shot of the vichyssoise. I’m a photography dunce. I’m working on getting better so I ask for your patience. [As an aside, if you have tips for taking better pictures with an iPhone, send them my way. I would be eternally grateful.] Suffice it to say, the vichyssoise pic didn’t turn out and I was not going to subject you to the blurry mess. Although I have to say that the salad shot ain’t bad, no?

Thank you kind friends for throwing me a beautiful birthday BBQ. I appreciate you and all of the time you put into this great meal. You guys are brilliant!

A colourful and delicious summer salad
Dinner by candlelight. Steak, potatoes, fennel and wine. Mmmm.
My favourite pie, coconut cream

"Birthday Month" – Italians do it better!

Basil. Roasted tomato. Garlic. Walk into Parma Ravioli and the smells of Italia assault your senses. There’s a flurry of activity in the open kitchen. Cooking, chopping, baking. Rolling dough, stuffing pasta, simmering sauces. Man this place is cool!

I was psyched when my friend brought me to Parma for lunch on account of my bday. Nice! One of the sweet features of Parma is their express lunch counter. I indulged in a chicken parm sandwich. Pretty much the best I’ve ever had.

I work near Parma. I’ve been there a million times and will be back a million more. Their pastas are awe-inspiring, probably cause they’re made right on site. Need some assistance with dinner? Take away their fresh pastas and sauces or try their ready made dishes. Asparagus and Mascarpone and Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash are two of my favourite pastas. Apparently they do catering. If anyone is listening, maybe for next year, how awesome would it be to have a Parma catered CFD birthday lunch? Way awesome.

Although I intended this post to be more about my bday outing I couldn’t help but give a shout-out to a very deserving establishment. Thanks friend for springing for lunch and for remembering my birthday. And thanks Parma for another great meal. I’ll see you again soon.

Parma Ravioli, 1314 Wellington Street, Ottawa
Lots of take out options
Best chicken parm sandwich I ever ate!

Parma Ravioli on Urbanspoon

Birthday Month – Celebrating with "Endless Shrimp"

My friend loves Red Lobster. She also happens to have a birthday near mine. A double birthday celebration at the RL was in order. Although I’m used to amazing New England seafood, Red Lobster ain’t half bad. I worked there when I was a teen so I know just what to order. You can never go wrong with clam chowder and lobster. Great combo. Happy Birthday to us!

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

JC100 Tribute: Visiting Julia Child’s favourite butcher

This post is part of a weekly series celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Julia Child leading up to what would have been her 100th birthday on August 15, 2012.

When I am in Cambridge I like to go to Savenor’s on Kirkland. It’s where Julia shopped and it’s about a five minute walk from her former house on Irving Street.

Savenor’s Cambridge is located at 92 Kirkland Street in Cambridge, MA

The Harvard Crimson reported that the store has been a family-run operation since its beginnings. When it opened in Cambridge in 1940, it was operated by Ron Savenor’s grandfather, Abraham. Abraham started the store after fleeing Lithuania, where he and his wife had a small food store. According to the Boston Herald, Abraham’s son Jack took over the shop when Abraham died a year after the shop’s opening, dropping out of a college pre-med program to become a butcher.

A picture of Jack Savenor appearing on “The French Chef” hangs at the front entrance

The turning point in Savenor’s history came when Julia Child and Jack Savenor struck up a friendship. Jack Savenor became Julia’s butcher and would provide items for Julia’s television program. According to MySecretBoston.com, Jack Savenor was a frequent guest on Julia Child’s “The French Chef.” The Cambridge Historical Commission quotes Jack (referring to her popular television show on which he appeared) as saying “How many geese do you think a guy could sell in a year? Maybe six, maybe seven. But the week after she works on the goose, I sell 65.” Loyal customers fondly recall times when they would find Julia in the store and would be peeking in her basket to see what she was bringing home.

Savenor’s is not your standard butcher. It carries antelope, lion, kangaroo, python, rattlesnake, turtle, black bear, buffalo, alligator and even iguana. But don’t be put off by this exotic selection of meats. You can also get more traditional fare like beef, chicken and pork as well as a wide variety of produce, cheeses, breads, herbs, spices, marinades and prepared food.

Courtesy of Living on Earth‘s website, loe.org

Its slogan is “The Best on the Block since 1939” and they truly are. Throughout the years, Savenor’s has been honoured by Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian and Boston Phoenix. And they’ve just done it again, having been awarded the title of “Best Butcher for 2012” by Boston Magazine.

Next time you’re in Boston definitely visit Savenor’s Cambridge store on Kirkland. Before walking into the store, direct your gaze down at the sidewalk. Ensuring her connection to Savenor’s would be forever preserved, Julia signed her initials and famous phrase “Bon Appétit.” 

 

Savenor's Market on Urbanspoon

Tennis and Ravioli at the Rogers Cup

The Rogers Cup is tennis nirvana. It’s where I go to be amongst my people. Around these parts, most folks are not tennis aficionados. The conversation never gets beyond Federer or Nadal. I can’t rhapsodize on the virtuosity of Katarina Srebotnik or Kveta Peschke without seeing eyes glaze over. It’s saddening. But at the Rogers Cup, I’m surrounded by tennis fans that are enlightened, passionate and just plain nuts. Walk over to any practice court, point at even the most obscure player and say “who’s that?” and not only will you learn the player’s name, you’ll get a personal and professional bio, an anecdote on the player’s likes and dislikes, which hotel they stay at and sometimes, the fan might even pull out a scrapbook filled with photos of past tournaments. It’s bonkers and sooo incredibly fun.

I couldn’t help but enjoy myself standing a few feet away from some of the best tennis players in the world. Check out a few pics I took.

Caroline Wozniacki
Daniela Hantuchova
Sam Stosur
Dominika Cibulkova
Anna Ivanovic
Parc Jarry Fountain

After hours of stalking players, my buddy and I decided to call it a day and get some supper. But where? The great city of Montreal is a culinary Mecca with no shortages of fine eateries. My friend chatted up one of the tennis fanatics and she recommended Ristorante Pomodoro, a favourite haunt of tennis fans. It was located on St-Laurent Boulevard in nearby Little Italy, about a 10-minute walk from the tennis stadium. It did not disappoint and I highly recommend it. Good service, fantastic food and a seat on the terrasse made for an outstanding end to our day.

On the drive home, I felt a twinge of sorrow and couldn’t help but replay the day in my head. Goodbye crazy tennis fans, fellow stalkers and overzealous Felicano Lopez devotee. Buhbye Rogers Cup Official who writes the names of the players on the white boards while we peer over her shoulder. See ya later nice policeman who helped us find a parking spot. Sayanora Marion Bartoli and your disturbing training methods. Au revoir Anna Ivanovic. I can watch you train all day. Sigh. Fare thee well Aleksandra Wozniak and thanks for the pic. Peace out Lidnt chocolate lady, “merci beaucoup” for the free samples. And so long grumpy stadium usher guy, telling us to sit in our proper seats. I will miss you all (well maybe not the usher dude.) Until we meet again next year.

Ravioli alla Gigi/Ravioli sauce rosée, pancetta and champignons

"Birthday Month" officially begins!

You know how some people shy away from their birthdays? How they prefer to downplay the festivities and jubilation? How they think that gifts are no longer necessary once they reach the age of 30? We’ll let me tell ya something, I’m not one of those people. I think birthdays are meant to be feted. That’s why a full month is dedicated to the celebration of my being. My family and friends know all too well that I like to make a big deal out of birthdays and they are happy to oblige.

If this is sounding a little too much to bear and self-indulgent, here’s how I see it. Life is short. Who knows? This may well be my last birthday. Why not do it up big? But the real reason behind this month-long bday affair is this: It’s a good reason to get together with the people I love, create some memories and enjoy our time together. And to me, that’s worth a whole lot. So check out CFD throughout the month of August for some bday postings. And from these postings you’ll be able to see what I already know. That I’m one the luckiest guys around.

View the food pics from a birthday celebration courtesy of some very good friends.

Stacked tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella
Salmon in a lemongrass hollandaise sauce, asparagus, wild rice and peach salsa
Berry cake