Sunday, January 17, 2010

i'm sorry i left you...

Dear readers,
It was wrong, very wrong of me to ever think that if I stopped writing, nobody would really notice. Thanks for the nudges and prods to get me to tell you some more delicious and hilarious stories that are food that is my life.
So much has happened since I paused to take stock of my year in food. More meals than I could possibly recount, it seems. However, the New Year has certainly started off with a bang. Not going to lie, I ate more Chinese food over the holiday than I care to reveal. Suffice it to say that my stomach was starting to hate me when I contemplated the umpteenth plate of spicy, saucy, greasy beef. There were some lovely meals among them, to be sure.
Christmas day at The Garden Bakery was memorable, if only for the fact that I'd been serving food to others for 8 hours before and was altogether famished and so grateful when the food arrived. The manager brought over a big bowl of popping hot soup for my whole family as a gift. Most of my family does not eat pork, though, and felt compelled to send it back. Some of my sisters and I felt terrible, exchanging glances at this cultural slight. So to the wonderful people at the Garden Bakery, who have fed me at all hours of the day and night over the years, I say most gracious thanks.
My dad and I also discovered a new gem hidden along 97th street. Urban China is housed in what used to be Rosie's bar and grill. Inside, the restaurant is bright, with swanky upscale clean-lines furniture and white tablecloths that drape the large, round tables. The owner is friendly and helpful. Every time we go in, he comes over, chats over the menu, remembers the dishes we've tried and enjoyed and also recommends other unlisted things we might like to try. This place is upscale and classy, and the prices reflect these attributes. However, the freshness, the innovation, and the portions definitely make this new addition to a rather stagnant Chinatown eating scene a top contender for my new favourite spot.
I cooked tons with my sisters while they were home. My eldest sister is a vegetarian, so I had a lovely time stepping outside of my usual arena and finding new ways to dazzle my diners. I brought back my eggplant parmesan. This time I got a little too enthusiastic about salting the eggplant to drain the water and the entire dish came out a bit too salty for me. Everyone ate it anyway and even the leftovers were gobbled up shortly after. We tried a recipe for buttercup squash soup that I found in Pim Techamuanvivit's The Foodie Handbook, The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy. I like her style so much. Her recipes are simple and ingredient driven. I think the next time I prepare this soup I will be more judicious with the use of butter. I get it, it's buttercup squash, but for heaven's sake... it was so rich I couldn't eat more than one bowl. And I want to be able to do that! Going back for seconds is one of the greatest indulgences one can permit oneself. But only so long as one's stomach is willing. Either way, it was a magnificent soup. Shout outs to the lovely folks at the Edmonton farmer's market in Strathcona for selling me such a lovely, and unfamiliar vegetable. I think it was one of the Ukrainian bubbies that sold it to me.
I finally ate at Culina! For years now I have heard gastronomical mumblings about this place. I tout it as one of the best restaurants in the city. I always encourage guests to our city to stop in for a meal there. I love that they feature local growers so prominently in their menu choices. My lunch there was so good. I had a classed up salad nicoise. The tuna was pan seared and crusted with onion seeds. Everyone enjoyed their meals so much. The decor was lovely. The wine list looked quite nice, though at lunch I didn't indulge. I can't wait to go back again, this time for a lovely, slow dinner.
One other prominent meal out was enjoyed at Cafe de Ville. It was my little sister's last night in town. We went all out. I began with escargot, baked on a portabella mushroom cap, smothered in cheese. For my entree I had their duck confit. Though it should have read confitS. There were two! The meat was dropping off the bone with the slightest touch from my fork. The side vegetables and spetzle were a perfect contrasting accompaniment. Of course, one cannot resist dessert when it is paraded out on a silver platter, festooned with berries, flowers, and peacock feathers (I' m not even joking, this is how they display dessert here), so we had to share a few of them too. Oh, was I ever feeling this meal later. But it didn't even matter. The pain was nothing compared to the ecstasy of the meal.
Then there was lunch today. Today my family assembled to celebrate the 71st wedding anniversary of my grandparents. After the year they've had - moving, illness, walkers, falls, family coming and going - we sat down in the dining room at my hotel, and they were treated like royalty for an afternoon. We ate a delicious meal, drank cups and cups of coffee, visited and told stories, and Baba and Zaida were even given a congratulations plate at the end with chocolate truffles and a candle. They were so impressed by the gesture they wanted to pass the plate around and nearly forgot to blow out the candle. My Zaida called his plate of buttermilk pancakes "honest", high praise indeed from such a laconic man.
There were more, so many more wonderful meals I made and shared over the holiday. I'll try to take some time to recount them to you. But it is most certainly a new year. Which means I have so many new stories yet unknown, waiting to be told. May the New Year bring you bounty, creativity, space, and friends to share these things with.


  1. so lovely!
    also 'honest' is the best adjective for good pancakes i've ever heard

  2. love the photos! keep blogging!