Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Boy Is One Long, Tall, Cool Drink of Water

On Monday nights I hang out at the Drake. It's where most of the food community meet up since that is usually the night off of the chefs, the sous chefs, the waitstaff, the restaurant owners and all those people who just generally speaking, love to eat and drink. We've done everything from the Holy Guacamole smackdown to a Crunch & Munch for pickled food. Hell, there's even been Manhattan Monday. I say, bring it!

I have a regular crew I hang with. They are fun. Ivy Knight, I want you to know that this girl appreciates how much more fun you've made Monday nights. I'm going to do my very best to make it out to the cookie exchange.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Like it Tart!

No matter what you put into that little pink cup at Menchie's newly opened fro yo corner shop along the busy strip of the Bloor & Bathurst hood, it is simply all fun. Hey, how can you not smile at a fro yo called the "Original Tart". That just speaks to the old broad in me because this old foodster still has some 'tude left in her.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hands for Husking....a girl goes west!

Living in Caledon, life with things like tractor pulls, fall fairs and local corn roasts just becomes a part of everyday life. These events are usually benchmarks of the seasons that we live with. Caledon is an enigma of a community. It is where urban meets rural, golf tees butt up against cow farms and the Forks of the Credit is not a restaurant but rather one of the most popular viewing spots in all of Ontario for the fall colours. Caledon boasts ownership of such landmarks as the Oak Ridges moraine, the Niagara Escarpment and one of my personal fave spots, the Badlands. How can you not love a community with a spot called the Badlands?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Candy Dandy Palooza, Flourgate & Nutella Cake!

If you should be smart enough to spend an evening dining at The Big Ragu then be sure to ask the waitress for a drink called the Candy Dandy Palooza! Chef/Owner Carmine (pronounce that Car-meeeeeen-ay) Accogli (the G is silent) is a proud daddy to his delightful daughter, Amelie. Amelie is often seen hanging out in the restaurant until her Mother, Barb, one of the best cake makers this side of the Great Lakes, called CakeStar picks her up. I just happen to run in to them last night

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Friday Night Rights!

Friday nights doesn't get any better than this! A quick stop at the Cheese Boutique and the end result is we find ourselves on our back deck laden with food treasures. Thunder Oak, Fifth Town, Smoked Applewood Cheddar, Riopelle, Serrano Ham, olives, duck pate, baguette and most importantly lots to imbibe with. This is Friday night right.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ruby Watchco Squared

Ruby Watchco really is all that and a bag of chips. The food here is as honest as it gets. While you know in your heart there is a thread of pretentiousness that is the aura of this food harbour you simply give it up the minute you wrap your lips around one of their buttery, hot, freshly baked herb & cheese biscuits. All of a sudden you don't notice the noise, you don't notice the seen and wannabe seen's sitting all around you and any thoughts you have about Restaurant Makeover makes a swan song exit out of your brain. Those are some MoFo kinda biscuits. Ask for refills, they gladly oblige.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mexico meets the Maple Leaf!

It was a beautiful sunny day at Harbourfront. The Tall Ships were in port and the demo centre was in full swing for a Canada Day food demonstration. MaryLuz Mejia of Sizzling Communications was a fun and fabulous host as she moderated a cooking demonstration by Chefs Luis Valenzuela (Torito) & Jose "Pepe" Hadad (Frida). It was an afternoon of Churros & Bunuelos topped with maple syrup as the chefs walked us through the steps of making these marvelous munchies. What a perfect way to celebrate the country's

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Welcome to the Inglewood Farmer's Market

Located in the nook and cranny on McLaughlin Road just north of Olde Base Line is the Inglewood Farmer's Market. This little market is open every Wednesday from mid June to late September. I've been on a quest to search out the summer markets and try to enjoy the seasonal treats that Mother Nature puts on our tables. This is a small market, almost on the side of the road on a grassy knoll beside the Inglewood General store.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A "Mangia Cake's" Take on Bolognese Sauce!

Bolognese a la coopspeakeats!

The diva'fied version just for your pleasure.

Ok, asked for it, you got it! Unlike most pasta sauces this manna in a pot has no oregano, no basil or no garlic which almost seems unheard of for Italian pasta sauce but trust me my little food gobblers, this sauce doesn't need it. This is a traditional Romagna styled Bolognese. This basic meat sauce is so damn good that you'll just want to lick the plate. Oh by the way, it freezes wonderfully and makes a handy quickie supper.

Let's get Started!

You'll need:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
2-3 carrots, finely diced
2-3 stalks of celery finely diced
1 large onion finely diced
2-3 tbsp. of Olive Oil
2 tbsp. of butter
1 cup of milk
1 cup of white wine
salt & pepper
grated nutmeg to taste
2 jars of Italian strained tomatoes
(those tall skinny jars) make sure
they have no basil in want plain strained tomatoes

Now get your arse to the stove!

Get out your biggest pot.

Toss in the Olive oil & the butter and heat 'er up.
Toss in the onions, carrots & celery, cook until tender, constantly stirring.

Add beef & pork in. Cook until meat is completely cooked. Season with some
salt & pepper.

Add milk. Stir well. Grate in nutmeg. Nutmeg in Bolognese is a very northern
Italian thing. Trust me, it'll make this sauce pure magic. I'm liberal with
the addition but then again, I have a love affair with nutmeg. Cook meat until the milk has evaporated in to the meat.

Add wine. Stirring occasionally. Cook until the wine is evaporated in to the meat.

Add tomato sauce. Stir in well. Let sauce simmer a couple of hours. Stirring occasionally.

Voila! This is pure, simple heaven in a pot.

Bolognese a la coopspeakeats goes well with any cut of pasta. Please be respectful of this dish and be sure to serve your pasta with decent Parmesan cheese. Splurge on a nice little chunk of Reggiano or Padano parmesan at the grocery store. You'll be surprised at the difference it can make to your pasta dishes. On the Beaver we prefer our Parmesan freshly grated. Life is too short not to make your food dishes a "10"!

One small pasta tip....if you are using dried pasta, DO NOT rinse with water in a colander after cooking. EPIC FAILURE peeps! There is this silly thinking that you are rinsing off starch. That tackiness is what helps sauce stick to the pasta. All you are doing when you rinse off the pasta is making it cold and facilitating for a big 'ol puddle of water on the bottom of your pasta bowl.

One more small deet....this pasta deserves to have an big, bold, kick you in the ass red wine served beside it.

La dolce vita!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting me some South American loving in the rolling hills of Caledon

There's gold up in them 'thar hills of the Caledon Niagara Escarpment. I'd take my fork over to that Credit river area any day of the week if Chef Rossy Earle of the Belfountain Inn promised to cook me up a batch of her Chupe de Chorizo. Talk about love in a bowl. It was a lovely summer evening as we headed over to the Belfountain Inn to join Mary Luz Mejia (maryluzonfood) and Vanessa Yueng (aphroditecooks), my tweet divas, along with their partners in organized food crime to enjoy a South American inspired menu by Chef Rossy Earle. The Amuse Bouche was a an Empanada de Pino. I could have chowed down a plateful of these mini empanadas made with lamb and beef and perfectly spiced. Next up was pure comfort in a bowl of Chupe de Chorizo which is basically a Spanish sausage, potato & vegetable chowder. The chorizo was not grizzly, fatty or chewy. You could taste that smoked paprika. I love how nonchalant Chef was when we asked about where the chorizo came from and she so matter of factly said "I made it of course.....". Oh of course, how silly of me to wonder where you sourced it. Then came my personal favorite course of the evening, a Steak & Palmito Salad. I'm going to be honest here, I've never been a big fan of hearts of palm but in this salad they work beautifully. This salad is strips of Argentinian styled Chimichurri beef atop a bed of hearts of palm, tomato salsa and a guacamole cream, dressed with a sweet onion vinaigrette.

Seafood Ceviche can be a wonderful thing, when it's done right. I've had ceviche that had me feeling like I was gnawing on rubber bands but Chef nailed it tonight. The ceviche was one of the best I've had in ages. Maybe it was the size of the serving. Sometimes I get to feeling like Goldilocks...too big....too small...just right. Then came the real test. My daughter Meg who lived in Chile for a year told me that Pastel de Choclo was akin to being Chile's national dish. Oh oh. Pastel do Choclo is the Chilean version of Shepherd's Pie except it is made with chicken and pork and topped with a sweet corn crust. This little individual casserole was really delicious. The crusted corn topping added a real sweetness to the finish and I have to say that this isn't anything like I thought it would be. One doesn't really think about this type of dish to be something connected to South America. We finished off the meal with a Passion Fruit Creme Caramel. My favorite part of this dessert was how the chef did a burn on the sugar and orange sauce on the plate because it creates such an interesting balance for the richness of the dessert. If there was a weak spot in this dinner I'd have to say it was in the wine flights. We are on the cusp of Summerlicious and I have to say, dollar for dollar, this food tasting, at $35.00 per person was an absolute bargain. Six courses, all beautifully presented was an absolute delight for this price point. Thank you Chef for this wonderful effort. I want you to know that my daughter Megan particularly appreciated it. Memories of Chile! It just warmed my heart listening to her prattle in Spanish with Mary Luz!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Lackey, Kilikanoon Winery, Shiraz $17.95 @ bottle

Australians are making wines that are pretty.....pretty darned good tasting...pretty darned good price point and pretty darned good lay downs. The Kilikanoon Winery is one of the more higher end estate wineries producing out of Australia these days and its not uncommon to find the bulk of what you can buy here priced in between the $30-$50 a bottle range. They are notorious for producing thick, lush, black currents in a glass types of wine and accordingly so go the price tag.
That is why finding their $17.95 Shiraz affectionately called The Lackey just made my day!

This 2007 Shiraz, which is very young, and can easily be laid down for a few years, only to have the age improves its drink-ability, is an absolute steal for the price. This baby has legs on her like Tina Turner. Long, tall and luscious. A good swirl around your glass is the first hint that this wine is like a 2' x 4' and has backbone. The Lackey ain't for the weak of heart. It's got a fruity bite of well ripened black currents and black berries together and you'll almost think that maybe you should get out a spoon and eat this wine like a fruit compote.

By far and away The Lackey is hands down one of the best red wine wines for under twenty bucks this side of the Great Barrier Reef. Be warned though, don't drink this wine unaccompanied without some noshing. It needs something akin to some hearty meat (lamb, beef, spicy Thai or some kick you in the ass cheese) or a well smoked charcuterie. This ain't no wine for the weak of heart or for those who tend to tipple Chardonnay. The Lackey 2007 is definitely what I call the Killer B's....big, bold and beautiful.

Make sure to open this wine opening it up! Give it 30 minutes to breath before you start in on it. Decanting would also be recommended. Use large glasses, pour 3-4 ounces and move this fruit in a glass round and round. You'll find The Lackey in the Vintages section of the LCBO and the label shows a pair of Blundstones. :) At least it ain't a goat. G'day mates.

Meet my newest fave summer beverage!

I absolutely adore Prosecco. Ever since I drove down la strada de Prosecco in the Veneto region, top down on our convertible (feeling a little like Grace Kelly!), wind blowing, sun shining....and prosecco to be drank. Some people call it poor man's champagne, I just call it fun in a glass. Last Friday night we attended a charity event called Wines of the World hosted by the Palgrave Rotary Club. Our fave booth turned out to be the only booth serving Prosecco and also a tasty little red wine by Killakanoon Wineries out of Australia. So here's the kicker!They did a little spin on the Prosecco and turned it into a Prosecco cocktail by adding a splash of an Apple Cider from Quebec. I loved it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just Another Day at the Evergreen Brick Works

I hauled my daughter's arse out of bed this morning and hit the road for a Saturday morning road trip to the Evergreen Brick Works. She had never been there before but for me it's becoming my Saturday morning shopping stop. I bumped into Joel (foodie411) and later in the morning I had the good fortune to meet and gab with Chef Brad Long who told me he was building a new restaurant in the brick works development.

Lettuce is alive and well at the Evergreen Brick Works. With all the rain we've had the lettuce this year has been one of the best crops I've seen ages. There were more than a half dozen booths selling greens of one sort or another. From Garlic scape to Tatsoi Greens there is something for every ones taste buds. I couldn't resist the snow peas at Vickie's Vegetables and then when I saw the white asparagus at Cookstown Greens I knew exactly what I was having for dinner with those lamb kebabs. We munched on a cone of Jamie Kennedy's fries laden with fresh rosemary, sipped some dark roast fair trade coffee with Harmony cream, and shared a grilled cheese & caramelized onion sandwich. I most definitely have a few favorite spots at the market. There is an older couple who have a baked goods booth that I just cannot resist. Today I bought an apple loaf that was hands down the best loaf cake I have ever purchased from anywhere. This booth is just laden with breads, muffins, loaf cakes and Chelsea buns. I coughed up $24.95 for a 1 litre bottle of maple syrup which I'm good with. I must say though, $7.00 for a pint of organic strawberries is a bit outrageous. I meandered out the back of the brick works with my coffee, sat down and enjoyed the view of the pond. You almost can't believe that directly behind you, behind all this food goodness, lays the Don Valley Parkway. The EBW is my Saturday morning destination and whatever is seasonal on those days is what will end up on my dinner table that evening. I love me some farmer's markets.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Caledon Farmer's Market

Live local. Buy local. Eat local. Caledon and its surrounding areas is home to some of the best farming/agricultural communities in Ontario. This past year there has been a real push on to develop the Caledon Farmer's Market so every Thursday, from June to October (3:00-8:00 p.m.) you'll find a hub of local farmers, producers, growers, artisans etc. hawking their wares at the Albion Bolton Agricultural Fairgrounds. I have always been true to the tenet about supporting my local businesses and the farmer's market is no exception to that rule. So you'll usually find me there on Thursdays, with my enviro-bags in hand, rummaging through what is seasonal for that week. Last week I couldn't resist the baby beets (I roasted them with fresh rosemary....delish!) and of course the bundles of sweet carrots. I stocked up on lettuce, peppers and got a gorgeous Acorn squash. My favorite produce booth at the market is Everdale Farms. It's an environmental farming centre of excellence that prides itself not only on its produce but its educational programs for farmers and for the public. I also learned that there is an actual Soapmakers Guild in Ontario, go figure. The bargains this past week included a grab of glorious Gladiolas (15 stems for ten bucks!) , those sweet baby beets (3 bucks a bunch of 20) and the peaches which are in full season. I realize that Bolton/Caledon is an out of the way spot for many but Agro-tourism is a growing trend across this province and often makes for a nice day out and about. If you get a chance I'd encourage you to stop in to the Farmer's Market. The fairgrounds that the market is held on is one of the oldest fairgrounds in North America.

The Stockyards

Oh there is gonna be some good lovin for Momma tonight! Yowza! I was on my way back from a meeting at St. Clair & Yonge, trundling along in the construction when I hit Christie St. and before you could sing R-E-S-P-E-C-T I was hauling my junk into The Stockyards. I was starving for a bit of lunch and I figured might as well get my fill of 'smokin good meat. It was mid-afternoon so I caught a break and the place was winding down from the lunch mania.

After inspecting the menu and realizing that one of my man's most fav chowdowns includes Porcetta I opted to get some take-out that I could drag home for him and my daughter. I'm such a good woman. :) I bought three sandwiches: Porcetta; Pulled Pork and Smoked Pulled Chicken. I asked them not to put the meat on the bun as by the time I would get it home it would be sog city. When the guy at the counter took my order he was quite happy to help me out with my request. The girl behind the counter snorted "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat! Pack it all separately?!!!" as she screwed up her face at the inconvenience and extra work. I quickly shouted out "hey girlie girl....this food is gonna get me some good lovin tonight!". The place broke up in to hysterics. Then she replies "oh well in that problem girlfriend!", shot me a big smile and a big wink. It's smoked meat in the sisterhood ya know!

I also order the fried Chicken because I've heard so much about it. It is 12 bucks and what you get are four pieces (half a chicken), a pile of crispy, golden fries and some slaw. The slaw I could take or leave. The fries were perfection although they need to lighten up on the salt a bit. Any haunting demons about KFC will be exorcised with this fried chicken. Be prepared to wait, the chicken takes about 20 minutes. They also have daily specials, today was a five buck burger.

I sidled up to the counter with a glass of the house Limeade to wait for my order and began gabbing with Rochelle, the manager. She told me that they've struggled to meet the rib demand because the smoker can only hold so many racks in a day. I don't suspect that problem will get any easier, the place just reeks of bbq flavour from floor to ceiling. I felt like Pavlov's doggy when I walked in the door.

On a whimsical side note, I had a major childhood flashback. They use paper straws at the Stockyards! I can't even remember when I last saw one of those green and white swirly paper straws. All of their packaging is green/biodegradable/ compostable.

They completely packed my sandwich orders separately so when I get home tonight my loved ones can put their own sandwiches together. I had bites out of all of the meat they packed up. As God is my witness I shall never, ever become vegetarian. Pulled pork & Porcetta should never taste this damn good. The sandwiches are coming out the door with me shortly to make their way to the hinterland that is known as Caledon. I have a feeling that Momma's gonna have a happy hubby this evening and you know what that means baby.....there's gonna be good loving for this woman tonight!

The Berkeley Cafe

Gearing up for our annual event finds me on the corner of Berkeley & Queen again this spring and so we dash into the Berkeley Cafe for a bite of lunch and some respite from a long morning of meetings. My affection factor the BC has jumped a star and I've decided that as small and limited in their hours, this is just about one of my most favorite lunch spots in the city.

It's not cluttered with bric-a-brac like so many other garage sale decorated cafes that have popped up all over the city. There are no funky smells from old chairs and sofas and there are no greasy dust strings across old lighting fixtures. Is it a busy spot, yup, it is. A constant stream of coming and going for takeout, which in my opinion, tells you this is a place that makes decent food.

The soup of the day was a Mexican spicy chipotle lentil soup. I asked about getting it in a takeout container because I can never eat all this food in one sitting. The waitress suggests I order just a cup size. I jump at this suggestion and this soup was damn delicious, almost coming across like lentil stew. My lunch mate took one look at my soup and promptly ordered up one for herself. I ordered an egg salad sandwich with a side salad.
This was simply one of the best egg salad sandwiches I've ever had in a cafe. Red onion, fresh dill, lots of arugula and bean sprouts on super fresh whole grain bread. The side salad was pretty, bright and screamed fresh, fresh, fresh. Grated carrots, beets, big chunks of crunchy red peppers, spanish onions and cukes atop a bed of spring mix with a light, tangy vinaigrette.

My lunch buddy ordered up a spicy grilled chicken salad topped with feta and dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. In addition to this I had an Americano at the end of my meal. The bill total came to a whopping $15.40 for both us together. Best lunch bargain we've had in ages. Check out the pics. The Berkeley Cafe is one of my most fave lunch destinations and considering I'll be in that neighbourhood for the next few months I'm grateful that they are there! Fresh, delicious food and easy on the pocketbook. Thank you BC!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Cheese is the bread of my life so when I serve it up to my company and friends I always want to make sure that I do it justice. Cathy Davison is the owner and artisan behind Wineplanks. I first met her at the One of A Kind Show a couple of years back when I bought my first cheese board from her. All of her work is made from reclaimed recycled oak wine barrels. I'm usually not easily impressed by a lot of that recycled woodwork but her cheese boards practically whispered at me...."psssssst.....Christine....think Lemon Fetish....think Riopelle....think smoked Applewood Cheddar....."

I own two of Cathy's boards. I love turning them over and seeing the incredible deep rich red of the wood knowing that it has been the aging of grapes that has embedded their hues into the wood. How appropriate for serving cheese. My latest acquisition is a monster round board with a fork and a spoon being used for handles. These boards are beautifully constructed and the different colours in the wood grain give the board depth and character.

Cheese boards run anywhere from $80.00 - $115.00. This year I noticed the addition of a large round lazy susan styled cheese board which can be very handy. Care is quite simple, never, ever submerge into water, just wipe with a damp cloth. If you find the wood drying slightly then you just massage in some vegetable or mineral oil and let it sit over night.
Wineplanks are available at several retail outlets, one being Rosehill Wine Cellars where we bought our wine storage unit, located in Etobicoke. You can also order directly online from Wineplanks.

Lady Marmalade

I'm pretty sure that most of the furnishings at Lady Marmalade were bought up in garage sales all over Leslieville. Sitting in there having brunch one can't help but to notice that you feel like you are at your Great Auntie Myrtle's kitchen table. I half expected my breakfast to be served on melamine plates. LM has a kitsch that is almost cartoonish but it works and it puts you into a comfort zone that is fun and laidback. It's clanging, banging and noisy but you don't notice and you don't care.

The lines ups to LM always seem to ooze right out on to Queen St. and it appears along that strip of Leslieville they are the only resto for blocks in either direction that this is happening at. We waited about 20 minutes for a table and when we left there was an even longer lineup waiting for a chance to get in the door. Lady Marmalade is a bona fide brekkie joint that has quickly found its niche among the pop spots of Joy, Lil Baci, Barrio and Sophie's, none of which I might add had a line up of any sort even though they were all open for brunch.I met up with my fella Yelptress, Shari "shut the barn door!" M. and my daughter Meg "My Mother has exquisite taste" M. for some Saturday brunch. I opted for the eggs/bacon/home fries; Shari went right for the Huevos Migas and Miss Meg was jones'ing for some Eggs Benny. Regular coffee with your breakfast is a bottomless cup (I love bottomless cups of the java on a Saturday morning!). Meg delighted in some tangy, tart, refreshing, lip smacking homemade lemonade and Shari slurped up and savoured a tall glass of some sort of Latte Machiato.My eggs were quite good, soft and buttery tasting. I hate when restaurants turn scrambled eggs in something rubbery and lumpy. I ordered brown toast and got three slices of that thin chewy rye bread which I love and I'm pretty sure it was Dimplifmier (sp?). Shari was savoring her Migas, at least it sure sounded like that with the big mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm's rolling around.

My first complaint about my breakfast is that the homefries suck. How's that for constructive criticism? The chunks of potatoes are way too large, not cooked enough and the seasoning makes them taste dry. I prefer my homefries in smaller pieces and just a tad crispier and of course since they are spuds, being cooked all the way through is a must. My second complaint about LM is that they won't do eggs sunnyside up. Hey, a girl likes her eggs the way she likes her eggs. I want them the way I want them.

All in all, I like Lady Marmalade. They rock the tunes, the joint is just humming, there is great art of the wall, the salt & pepper shakers at our table were a pair of little cowboy boots, the menu is quite large so there is something for every one (damn you vegetarians....yes there is some sort of effing tofu scrambled concoction on the menu). Next time I'm going for the french toast because it looked awesome!