Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures

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Posts tagged food

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Dinner at Tennessy Willems

It had been quite some time since the husband and I had been back to Tennessy Willems since our first visit last January (see here), so we thought it was time to return. I also thought my mother would really enjoy their pizza, so it was a good excuse to take her there while she was visiting recently.

I was happily surprised by TW’s new tapas menu, which is in addition to their regular menu. There were so many things that I wanted to try! It was tough to choose just one to share with my mother. In the end, we couldn’t resist the chicken liver and foie gras paté, which came topped with a maple jelly and three pickled cherries. Talk about amazing! The paté was absolute perfection, with the salty/fatty/creamyness of the foie gras and chicken liver being cut ever so gently by the sweetness of the maple jelly, and the tartness of the pickled cherries. Also, pickled cherries?? Wow - a pure delight. As well, I can’t forget to give a shout out to the accompanying toast points: they were crusted with salt and pepper, and tasted incredible. The perfect vessels!

A visit to TW would not be complete without having their mac and cheese, so we shared it among the three of us as an appetizer. It wasn’t quite as delicious as I remember it (I remember the tarragon flavour in the sauce being way more pronounced last time, which I loved, whereas it was much more subtle this time), but it was still solid: rich, creamy and oh-so-indulgent.

For our mains, we decided to share two pizzas: the wild boar (with local wild boar sausage, caramelized apple, sage oil and two-year-old cheddar), and the Capricciosa (with fire-roasted tomato sauce, fior di latte, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, Kalamata olives and Pingue’s capicola ham). Let’s start off by saying that TW’s crust is one of the most amazing in the city: that wood-fired smokiness just can’t be beat! The crust is thin, yet light and fluffy (not a thin papery crisp, which I find dissatisfying). The toppings on the wild boar were lovely, with the caramelized apple adding sweetness to the sausage’s saltyness. My mother and I thoroughly enjoyed the Capricciosa, as we are partial to toppings like olives and artichokes, which were ample and tasty.

Overall, it was a great meal (with lots leftover to enjoy the next day!), and the husband and I can’t wait to go back to try even more of their delicious pizzas…I still want to taste the pulled pork pizza!

Filed under food dinner supper Ottawa Wellington West Hintonburg pizza Tennessy Willems restaurant review mac and cheese sausage pizza crust boar artichoke olive sage fior di latte dough fresh wood-fired

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Easy summer supper: caprese salad

I love it when the ingredients for a dish you’ve been craving simply fall right into your lap when you least expect it! That’s what happened when I made this caprese salad while my mother was visiting recently.

I had been craving a caprese salad for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out how I wanted to pull it all together. Well, my mother helped to clear it all up by bringing fresh tomatoes and basil from her and my Dad’s garden, and a bottle of amazing olive oil from her trip to Spain as a gift to the husband and I.  All I needed was some fresh cheese, and I knew exactly what I wanted: President’s Choice’s new formaggio di bufala mozzarella!

The directions for making caprese are fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t bore you with how I did it. But I will say that I thought that interchanging the green and purple basil leaves made for an even prettier presentation! I also drizzled my salad with some balsamic vinegar and some of the olive oil from Spain. It was delicious! It is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the summer bounty of tomatoes and fresh basil from my parent’s garden. (P.S. - the zinnias in the background are also from my parent’s garden. So pretty!)

Filed under food salad summer caprese tomato basil fresh healthy balsamic olive oil formaggio di bufala President's Choice cheese fresh cheese dinner lunch garden Ontario

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I finally tried an affogato for the first time EVER today! I can’t believe it took me this long to try a treat that combines two of my favourite things: gelato and espresso. I had seen that Trii Lounge, a little outdoor gelato stand near my work, was selling affogatos, so I knew I had to try one. Trii Lounge’s affogatos come with one or two scoops of gelato topped with a shot of espresso, chocolate ganache drizzle and cookie crumble. You can choose your flavour of gelato, and I chose tiramisu. It was DELICIOUS! The gelato melted slowly and gently, and sweetened the espresso. I loved the added texture from the cookie crumble too. A fantastic first affogato!

Filed under food Ottawa Westboro Wellington West Trii Lounge affogato gelato espresso snack sweet treat dessert caffeine summer chocolate ganache tiramisu cookie cookie crumble

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Brunch at Navarra

Having brunched at Navarra once before (see here - it was amazing), I was pretty excited to return. I thought it would be fun to take my mother there during her recent visit, so off we went. 

As some of you may know, Navarra’s owner and head Chef, Rene Rodriguez, won Top Chef Canada earlier this year. I was wondering if the experience might be a little different at Navarra since my last visit due to Chef Rodriguez’s huge success on Top Chef Canada, but it was very much the same. I don’t think the fame has changed anything about this already fantastic spot, and I think it is a good thing. In fact, for a Sunday brunch hour in Ottawa (Ottawans love their brunch, let me tell you), I was kind of surprised at how quiet it was at the restaurant. 

The menu had of course changed since my last visit, and I was excited to try something new (and perhaps try a few bites from the plates of my brunch companions). As you can see from my photos, it was a beautiful spread! I don’t feel my words can do this beautiful and delicious food justice, so I’ll let my photos do all the talking (if you click on the photos, I have added captions to at least give you Navarra’s description of each of the dishes).

I’d still like to get to Navarra for dinner: just reading the menu makes me drool! If you’re ever in Ottawa, this is definitely one restaurant I highly recommend. 

Filed under food brunch lunch Ottawa restaurant Navarra lamb serrano ham egg scrambled eggs frittata feta feta cheese dining fine dining bricklayer chilaquiles Spanish Mexican review

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Weeknight summery supper: pork and mango fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce
The husband and I love to order fresh spring rolls when we go out for Vietnamese food, and our love of these delicious rolls inspired me to try to make them on my own. My sister had made them for my family a long time ago, so I had seen it done before, but I still wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I was also inspired by a few of the food bloggers that I follow who had made posts about them in recent months (see here and here).
I knew I wanted my rolls to have some sort of meat in them, along with mango. There is just something about mango that I think works so well in these savoury rolls. I also wanted to add some lettuce for texture and freshness, and vermicelli noodles to make them filling (and vermicelli is a pretty typical ingredient in these rolls).
After preparing my ingredients, I set out to start rolling. It took me a few tries on the first wrap, but I got the hang of it surprisingly quickly, and the rolls came together quite nicely. The husband and I both loved them! The flavours came together wonderfully, and we were so pleased with how they turned out. We have since made them again, and will continue to make them in the future!
Pork and mango fresh spring rolls
Ingredients - for two, to make about 6 small rolls
- 2 to 3 boneless pork chops, bbq’d, cooled and sliced into strips
- 1 Atalufo or regular mango, peeled and sliced into thin, long strips (you will have leftover mango)
- 4 to 6 pieces of romaine or red/green leaf lettuce, washed and de-stemmed
- 1/4 package vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
- fresh cilantro, washed and dried (use as much or as little as you like in each wrap)
- 1 package of rice wraps (you’ll have lots leftover for future use)
Directions
Lay out all of your prepared ingredients.  Fill a large, flat bowl (I had to use a frying pan as I don’t have a bowl that large and flat) with very warm water to use to soften the rice wraps. One at a time, soften a wrap, then fill with ingredients (be careful to not over stuff the wraps as you’ll have more difficulty rolling them up. Use a burrito rolling technique for an effective roll.
Once rolled, enjoy immediately or refrigerate. I recommend eating them within the same day, or the next day. 
We love having our rolls with homemade peanut dipping sauce, and I can recommend this recipe that I have tried from the lovely How to Eat blog. Trust me, these wraps just LOVE this dip - don’t eat them without it! Enjoy!

Weeknight summery supper: pork and mango fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce

The husband and I love to order fresh spring rolls when we go out for Vietnamese food, and our love of these delicious rolls inspired me to try to make them on my own. My sister had made them for my family a long time ago, so I had seen it done before, but I still wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I was also inspired by a few of the food bloggers that I follow who had made posts about them in recent months (see here and here).

I knew I wanted my rolls to have some sort of meat in them, along with mango. There is just something about mango that I think works so well in these savoury rolls. I also wanted to add some lettuce for texture and freshness, and vermicelli noodles to make them filling (and vermicelli is a pretty typical ingredient in these rolls).

After preparing my ingredients, I set out to start rolling. It took me a few tries on the first wrap, but I got the hang of it surprisingly quickly, and the rolls came together quite nicely. The husband and I both loved them! The flavours came together wonderfully, and we were so pleased with how they turned out. We have since made them again, and will continue to make them in the future!

Pork and mango fresh spring rolls

Ingredients - for two, to make about 6 small rolls

- 2 to 3 boneless pork chops, bbq’d, cooled and sliced into strips

- 1 Atalufo or regular mango, peeled and sliced into thin, long strips (you will have leftover mango)

- 4 to 6 pieces of romaine or red/green leaf lettuce, washed and de-stemmed

- 1/4 package vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cooled

- fresh cilantro, washed and dried (use as much or as little as you like in each wrap)

- 1 package of rice wraps (you’ll have lots leftover for future use)

Directions

Lay out all of your prepared ingredients.  Fill a large, flat bowl (I had to use a frying pan as I don’t have a bowl that large and flat) with very warm water to use to soften the rice wraps. One at a time, soften a wrap, then fill with ingredients (be careful to not over stuff the wraps as you’ll have more difficulty rolling them up. Use a burrito rolling technique for an effective roll.

Once rolled, enjoy immediately or refrigerate. I recommend eating them within the same day, or the next day. 

We love having our rolls with homemade peanut dipping sauce, and I can recommend this recipe that I have tried from the lovely How to Eat blog. Trust me, these wraps just LOVE this dip - don’t eat them without it! Enjoy!

Filed under food dinner lunch snack rice rice wrap mango pork lettuce recipe cilantro blog How to Eat How to Eat blog Annie's Eats healthy easy quick meal meal idea Annie's Eats blog peanut peanut dipping sauce peanut sauce fresh

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Happy Friday! What better way to celebrate the weekend than with a boozy blender drink? 
The husband and I have been enjoying our Blendtec's amazing blending properties for more than just its ability to make the most deliciously smooth green smoothies. The recipe book that accompanies the blender has some super tasty and easy boozy frozen drinks, and we have been having some fun!
We’ve tried a few of the recipes from the Blendtec’s accompanying cookbook, including the frozen mojito, the pina colada (see here), the frozen margarita (see my photo above, left) and the peach daiquiri (our take on Blendtec’s strawberry daiquiri recipe, above right).
We have never made homemade boozy blender drinks before, and it has been a revelation! It has been a fun summertime experiment and treat.
Here is Blendtec’s recipe with a few of my modifications for the peach daiquiri - enjoy!
Peach Daiquiri - serves 2
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices
- 3 oz light/white rum
- 1 oz Malibu rum
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup ice cubes
Directions
Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth! (For the Blendtec, choose the “ice crush” setting).

Happy Friday! What better way to celebrate the weekend than with a boozy blender drink? 

The husband and I have been enjoying our Blendtec's amazing blending properties for more than just its ability to make the most deliciously smooth green smoothies. The recipe book that accompanies the blender has some super tasty and easy boozy frozen drinks, and we have been having some fun!

We’ve tried a few of the recipes from the Blendtec’s accompanying cookbook, including the frozen mojito, the pina colada (see here), the frozen margarita (see my photo above, left) and the peach daiquiri (our take on Blendtec’s strawberry daiquiri recipe, above right).

We have never made homemade boozy blender drinks before, and it has been a revelation! It has been a fun summertime experiment and treat.

Here is Blendtec’s recipe with a few of my modifications for the peach daiquiri - enjoy!

Peach Daiquiri - serves 2

- 1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices

- 3 oz light/white rum

- 1 oz Malibu rum

- 2 tsp lime juice

- 2 Tbsp agave nectar

- 1/4 cup ice cubes

Directions

Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth! (For the Blendtec, choose the “ice crush” setting).

Filed under food drink beverage alcohol daquiri margarita summer slush ice iced drink slushy boozy Blendtec blender blender drinks recipe

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Dinner at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar

While my mother was visiting one recent weekend, we decided to try somewhere new for dinner. I had read about Juniper’s recent menu overhaul (see here), and thought it would be fun to give it a try. The husband and I had been to Juniper once many, many years ago, so it was also time for us to return.

I had forgotten about Juniper’s great the atmosphere. It is so big and bright from all of the floor to ceiling windows. We were promptly greeted and seated when we arrived, and that great service continued through the evening.

We decided to order a couple of appetizers to start, but before that came an adorable and tasty amuse bouche, a meaty strudel. I love amuse bouches; they are such a treat and I find that very few restaurants do that anymore. For my appetizer, I ordered the crispy lamb dumplings, which were so rich and delicious. The husband had the inverted poutine, which he liked for its unique take on the classic Canadian dish. My mother had the gazpacho, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

For our mains, I absolutely had to have the scallops with bacon-garlic scape risotto.  Wowsers - this was magical! The dash of chimichurri added an insanely fresh and tangy flavour to the whole dish. The scallops were perfectly cooked, of course! The husband had a few of the small plates for his main dish, including the pulled pork grilled cheese with onion rings and the sous vide pork ribs with fries. He enjoyed both - the ribs were very tender and flavourful. My mother opted for the cornish hen, which came with a very spicy slaw and rice. She enjoyed it but the spicyness of the slaw was a bit of a challenge.

For dessert we decided to share the brownie with ice cream. Juniper’s menu overhaul included switching out expensive, large desserts for smaller, reasonably priced dessert bites (most are just $5). Indeed, the brownie was small, but it gave each of us two bites or so to satisfy our sweet craving, and that it did! 

Overall, we enjoyed our dinner, and would return. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the ambiance lovely!

Filed under food Ottawa dinner supper restaurant Juniper Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar Westboro Wellington West dining fine dining lamb scallop risotto cornish hen pulled pork grilled cheese fries onion rings chimichurri brownie chocolate dessert main appetizer

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Lunch at the Mill Street Brew Pub

When your acting manager asks if you want to spend an extended lunch on a beautiful patio on a beautiful day, your answer should always be a resounding YES! One of the managers in my group happens to love beer, a good patio and delicious food, which is what has brought us to the Mill Street Brew Pub on so many Friday lunch hours over the past couple of summers.

Feeling like something fun and different, my coworker and I split the pretzels as an appetizer: these in-house made beauties came with two dipping sauces, a marinara and a mustard aioli. They were soft, chewy, and oh so salty. Perfect pretzels, really!

I was craving something other than a sandwich or a big meal for my main, so I opted for the red thai mussels, with red thai curry, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and lime juice, served with their in-house made spelt grain bread (which is amazing) on the side. These mussels were tender and full of flavour! I preferred them over the Brewmasters mussels that I had eaten last time (see here).

It is moments like these that I have to keep in mind during the frigid winter months: the thought of a beautiful summer day on a patio with friends and good food!

Filed under food lunch meal mussels restaurant pretzel pretzels thai red curry curry steamed steamed mussels Ottawa Mill Street Mill Street Brew Pub

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Weekend baking: marbled chocolate banana bread

Up until now, my go-to recipe for a marbled banana bread was this, which is technically a vegan recipe. But I wanted to use up some eggs that were getting pretty close to their expiry date, so I went on the hunt for a more traditional marbled banana bread recipe. I came across this one on the Globe and Mail's website, so I gave it a try.

This recipe features a mixture of both all-purpose and whole wheat flour, which I found added some great texture. The result was a fluffy, not-to-sweet bread. I followed the recipe exactly as described except that I reduced the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup (from 3/4). I will also note that I found the directions for making the chocolate swirl (taking 1/4 cup of the batter and adding the cocoa powder) proved to be difficult, and I needed to add a bit of milk to the mixture to loosen it up enough to be stirred.  

I would definitely make this banana bread again; it was easy, quick and delicious! Click here to link to the recipe.

Filed under food eating baking baked bake banana banana bread chocolate marble marbled recipe Globe and Mail snack dessert swirl

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Lunch at Fiazza

While doing some shopping in the Byward Market on recent weekend, the husband and I were in the mood for a snack. We decided to try the brand new Fiazza, a casual, custom pizza restaurant.

The restaurant is pretty big, occupying the space of a former bicycle shop. To order your pizza, you line up (in the manner of Mucho Burrito or Subway) to choose either one of Fiazza’s specialty creations or to pick your own toppings. For our first time, we decided to go with one of Fiazza’s specialty pizzas (which range in price from $7.95 to $12.95), the Sicilian, which came topped with local spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and a mix of Fiazza’s cheese blend and blue cheese.

We watched our pizza being prepared right in front of our eyes, and then off it went for a quick bake in the incredibly hot oven (we could see the temperature gauge and it was set to around 500 degrees). As we proceeded to the cash to pay for our pizza, we noticed small containers of aioli (presumable for dipping) in the self-serve bottled drinks refrigerator, and added one to our order (for $2.95).

Our pizza came out beautifully: it was perfectly cooked for our taste, and the toppings were ample. The sausage had a bit of kick to it and the blue cheese added a fantastic tang. We realized as we were eating it that this was the exact same pizza we had shared in South Beach, Miami earlier this year, so we had some fun reminiscing about our trip and our delicious eats. But I can’t forget about the aioli: WOW! It was perfect! Super garlicky, creamy and everything an amazing aioli should be.

Overall we really enjoyed our pizza at Fiazza, and the ample open air seating area which was great for people watching. The self-ordering and pick up system allows you to have a quick bite if that is what you need, but there is still the option to linger. We can’t wait to return to try their other pizzas!

Filed under food lunch dinner supper pizza Ottawa restaurant new Byward Market dough toppings cheese self-serve Fiazza fresh Sicilian blue cheese cheese blend sausage Italian sausage local review food review

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Weeknight dinner: Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake
Have you ever actually made one of the recipes that is on the back of a milk carton? I had not until just recently, when an abundance of leftover 3% milk was sitting in my fridge begging for a purpose. I had bought it for when my niece was visiting, and it had ended up not being completely used while she was here.
I had no idea what to use it for, as neither the husband and I would drink it straight up, and since I no longer take milk in my coffee, I couldn’t use it in that way. So when I noticed the recipe for a cheesy chicken and broccoli bake right on the carton, I thought, why not?
The result was comfort food heaven! A rich, cheesy sauce coated the chicken and broccoli  to make for a hearty and comforting dinner. We served it over a bed of rice to help absorb the extra sauce.
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Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake
Slightly adapted from Sealtest
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: about 6 servings
Ingredients:
- 4 cups (1 L) cooked chopped broccoli
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or cubed
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
- 2 packets (4.5 g each) chicken stock powder (I used OXO)
- 2 cups (500 ml) homogenized milk
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1.5 cups (375 ml) grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put broccoli in 9” (23 cm) square baking dish. Arrange chicken slices on top. 
To make the sauce:
Make a roux: melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add bouillon cubes, milk, mustard and dried herbs. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.
Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.
Serve over your favourite starch!

Weeknight dinner: Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake

Have you ever actually made one of the recipes that is on the back of a milk carton? I had not until just recently, when an abundance of leftover 3% milk was sitting in my fridge begging for a purpose. I had bought it for when my niece was visiting, and it had ended up not being completely used while she was here.

I had no idea what to use it for, as neither the husband and I would drink it straight up, and since I no longer take milk in my coffee, I couldn’t use it in that way. So when I noticed the recipe for a cheesy chicken and broccoli bake right on the carton, I thought, why not?

The result was comfort food heaven! A rich, cheesy sauce coated the chicken and broccoli  to make for a hearty and comforting dinner. We served it over a bed of rice to help absorb the extra sauce.

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Cheesy chicken and broccoli bake

Slightly adapted from Sealtest

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves: about 6 servings

Ingredients:

- 4 cups (1 L) cooked chopped broccoli

- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or cubed

- 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter

- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour

- 2 packets (4.5 g each) chicken stock powder (I used OXO)

- 2 cups (500 ml) homogenized milk

- 1 tbsp (15 ml) Dijon mustard

- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs

- 1.5 cups (375 ml) grated sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put broccoli in 9” (23 cm) square baking dish. Arrange chicken slices on top. 

To make the sauce:

Make a roux: melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add bouillon cubes, milk, mustard and dried herbs. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.

Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Serve over your favourite starch!

Filed under food recipe sealtest milk broccoli chicken cheese cheddar roux dinner supper Sealtest agropur easy cheesy rich comfort food

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Weekend dinner: Cilantro and lime marinated chicken fajita kebabs

The husband and I are loving kebabs this summer! They have been an easy, delicious and quick weeknight meal for us to simply put together and toss on the grill. So far this summer we have kept things simple, which has allowed for us to be able to whip them up so quickly, so recently I decided we needed a bit of a flavour punch for the meat. I was thinking a marinade for the meat would be the perfect way to spice things up. I found this recipe on one of my favourite foodie sites, Serious Eats, and decided to give it a whirl.

If you want to save time and make kebabs on a busy weeknight, with a little bit of prep, making kebabs is a breeze. I like to cut up my veggies (usually bell pepper and onion) into 1 inch pieces in advance to save some time. As well, I get my wooden skewers soaking in the morning, and let them soak all day. You don’t have to do this but I find it really helps to prevent the skewers from burning up. All they really need is a good half-hour soak in some cool water, and you can soak them leading up to dinner time if that works better for you. I like to lay them out on a cookie sheet and add water until they float a little bit. Then I use a heavy mug to press them down into the water until they are completely submerged.

For this particular recipe, due to the timing of the marinade (the recipe indicates to marinate the meat anywhere from 1 to 5 hours), we decided to try it on a weekend so as not to over-marinate the chicken. The result was amazing! The chicken was tender and jam packed with flavour from the cilantro and lime.

I followed the recipe exactly as noted on Serious Eats except for that we used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thighs, so click here to head on over to their site for the recipe. Happy kebab-ing!

Filed under food dinner supper kebab kebabs chicken recipe cilantro lime Serious Eats bbq barbeque