Month: March 2015

The best thing I ate this month – March 2015

Restaurant 18 spring salad

I stared at it like I would an expressionist painting. What was his vision? His Motivation? Was he in pain? Troubled? Inebriated? No. Just “Inspired by spring,” I was told. As a visual, it was bright and uplifting, expressive and assured. It pained me to take the first bite and unravel the masterpiece but this canvas was made for savouring.

Layered on a brushstroke of pesto were little diamonds of young yellow beets. The earthy quality of the beets were a perfect match for the refreshingly tender peas, served alongside their shoots. Crisp little domes of pastry hid luxuriously rich duck pâté. The honeycomb gem was a treasure and provided sweetness and unique texture.

There was nothing not to like about this salad. Within a flash I had devoured it. I was sad yet ever so thankful to have enjoyed a wild-fully original gustatory chef-d’oeuvre. Bring on Spring.

This bright jewel of a dish was created by Chef Kirk Morrison for his tasting menu at Restaurant 18. And it was the best thing I ate this month.

Kettleman’s Bagel Co.

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Walk into Kettleman’s and you’re right in the hub of the action.

To the left, the bagel roller cuts and rolls the dough. To the right,  the bagels are boiled in honey water to seal moisture. The baker then finishes the bagels with fresh poppy or sesame seeds and bakes them for about twenty minutes in a wood-burning oven. The bagels never stop streaming out of the oven (over 6,000 a day), so it’s not uncommon to get one that’s still piping hot.

Founder and Montreal native Craig Buckley opened the first store in Ottawa in April of 1993. By rolling, kettling, and baking traditional Montreal-style bagels in a wood-fired oven using handpicked hardwood, this Ottawa-based business has become a legend around these parts.

A Kettleman’s bagel is toasty and crunchy on the outside and soft, chewy and sweet on the inside. These carby delights come in all the classic varieties like sesame, poppy and cinnamon raisin as well as more audacious flavours like lemon cranberry, mueslix and chocolate.

Whatever bagel you choose, they’re even better schmeared with one of the shop’s cream-cheese spreads. Kettleman’s also happen to make some of the most delicious bagel sandwiches. Best of all may be the Breakfast Bagel. Smokey bacon, a perfectly cooked egg, gooey cheddar cheese and served with a crunchy latke on the side.

To keep the line moving, they only accept cash or debit. Service is kind and fast. Kettleman’s is open 24/7 every day of the year, so you can nosh at any time of day or night. And believe me, it’s worth the schlep!

Kettleman’s Bagel Co. is located at 912 Bank St in the Glebe.

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Kettleman's Bagel Co. on Urbanspoon

Product Review: Food Huggers

food huggers

Check out this cool product called Food Huggers. They are silicone reusable food savers that provide a protective seal over produce and are meant to prolong the life of cut fruit and veggies. I found that this claim was actually true. They also help reduce on plastic wrap waste. The silicone seals the produce snuggly and doesn’t suffocate it like a plastic bag. The Food Huggers come in four sizes so it allows you to protect different sized fruits and veggies. In testing these products, I found them easy to store, dishwasher, microwave and even freezer safe. The silicon stretches to fit and will also work on jars and cans.

My personal fav was the Avocado Hugger. It comes with a pit pocket that can be pushed in or out depending if the half you are saving has a pit. They come in two sizes for avocados large and small.

If you’re interested, Food Savers are available for $9.99. Find out more here.

 

Food Huggers

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Southern Dinner 2015

I’ve long ago surrendered to the fact that I was just born with smothered chicken gravy running through my veins. And why should I fight it? There are worse fates than having an innate ability to cook fried chicken and shrimp & grits. When it comes down to it, I am drawn by Southern cuisine’s hallowed traditions and unique cooking styles, its use of fresh ingredients, but mostly of its ability to provide feel-good comfort.

It is for this reason that every year I play host to a group of friends who indulge me in my zeal to create a Southern tradition north of the border. And I’m more than happy to be their comfort food ambassador. Here are some pics from this year’s “Southern Dinner.”

Recipe: Lee Bros. Fried Green Tomatoes

Every Southern Dinner begins the same: with Lee Bros. Fried Green Tomatoes. Tomatoes are especially delectably sliced and deep fried; their tangy flesh is a perfect foil for a rich, toasty crust. The tartness of the tomatoes are amped by the Buttermilk-Lime Dressing. This creamy herb dressing is refreshing and green, and the small amount of honey rounds out the acidity in the lime and buttermilk.

Recipe: Patti LaBelle's "Over the Rainbow" Mac & Cheese

As told in LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About, back in the 60’s when Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles was touring London, the British band, Bluesology, played backup. Elton John or Reggie Dwight as he was known in those days, was the band’s piano player. Patti writes that she used to prepare a savoury, spicy, soul food feast for the band members while on the road. It was Ms. LaBelle’s macaroni and cheese that Reggie loved the most. As you’ll note from the recipe, it’s made with five different kinds of cheese, and as she tells it, that’s how many times Reggie went back for more. In my house, it’s a Southern Dinner staple and we always go back for more. God bless Patti Labelle and her Mac N’ Cheese!

Recipe: Bon Appétit Skillet-Fried Chicken

What’s not to love about fried chicken?  The crunchy crisp crust, the fantastically moist and juicy meat,  the luscious flavours and textures. This recipe from Bon Appétit brings it all together in one easy to execute recipe. I can bring some down home Southern soul even way up North of the Mason-Dixon Line. As god is my witness, I will never use another fried chicken recipe again!

Recipe: Kil't Greens with Bacon Jam

In all the haste of getting the dinner on the table, I forgot to snap a solo pic of the most talked about dish of the night, Kil’t Greens with Bacon Jam. See below top-right for a small glimpse. Published in Garden & Gun, a magazine about the sporting, culture, food, music, art, and travel of the Southern United States, this recipe was simple as can be. When delicate greens meet a boiling-hot dressing of bacon, onion, and vinegar, they soften and wither immediately. The result? A savoury and syrupy deliciousness that made this dish the star of the night. Chef Ouita Michel serves a versatile version of this Appalachian classic at the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Kentucky.