Local Bounty

Hey everybody! It’s been a while! I’ve been through a bit of a transition as of late, but I’m now house-sitting in the tree-lined community of Cambie Village in Vancouver, taking care of a gorgeous cat named Max in a 111-year-old heritage house painted powder blue. My payment? A basket bursting with fresh produce delivered to my doorstep from Glen Valley farms each Thursday. This week I received crunchy cucumbers and zucchini, a fragrant fennel bulb, lettuce, juicy beefsteak tomatoes, six cobs of sweet corn, wild blueberries and leeks. Plus, a friend dropped by to share some extra beets they had on hand. I was set to eat fresh and local all week long. Then a good friend of mine, pastry chef Merri Schwartz, who also founded the amazing local food childhood education program Growing Chefs, took me to the Kits Farmer’s Market on Sunday where I picked up organic Okanagan peaches, sweet-as-pie golden cherry tomatoes, apples, tiny apricots and golden brother tomatoes. Then we headed to the best cheeserie in town, Les Amis du Fromage, for some goat cheese and bocconcini. Below are pics of some of the meals I cooked up over the course of the week.

Adorable kitty not for consumption
Adorable kitty not for consumption

Tell me, have you been eating local this summer? Any good recipes to share?




Eating In: Aussie Style

L serving up grilled kangaroo

I live in a city where I can have Greek one day and Ethiopian the next.  But after living in Montreal for a few years, I’m getting a little tired of the Greek-French-Thai-Mexican-Ethiopian rotation. So, when my friend L, who is an expat from Australia, invited me to her Australia day party last night, I was intrigued.

I must admit that before yesterday, I hadn’t given much thought to Australian cuisine. When I used to think about Australian culture, food wasn’t top of mind the way it is when I dream about going to Northern Italy and eating an entire thin-cruster to myself  in the courtyard of a local pizzeria. But last night was all about the food. And it was good.

To start, we sipped on passion fruit (native to Australia) cocktails and nibbled on (big in Australia) sausage rolls. Then came piping-hot meat pies (very Australian), in curry and butter chicken flavours (not at all Australian). Next we had kangaroo. Yes, kangaroo. It was grilled on the barbeque and tasted like gamey, but mild, beef.

For dessert there was light-as-air pavlova (as in the light-as-air Australian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova), piled with handfuls of passion fruit, kiwi, blueberries and whipped cream. Chocolate-dipped, coconut-dusted Lamington sponge cakes, made by yours truly, with a little help from Betty Crocker and David Leibowitz. And Violet Crumble, a homemade, gourmet version of a Crunchie Bar.

Lamingtons, or 'lamis' as I like to call them

The party reminded me that there is  a world to explore beyond the culinary borders of Greece-France-Thailand-Mexico-Ethiopia. And it prompted me to try Tourtiere Australienne, an Australian cafe on Parc Avenue that I’ve been meaning to go to for years. My tastebuds are happy again.

What’s your answer to a culinary rut?

(good) wine on a dime

There are many reasons why I love living in Montreal, but the Bring Your Own Wine (BYOW) restaurants fall pretty high up on the list. As far as I know, in no other city in the world can you sip on a bottle of homemade rosé while chowing down at your favourite neighbourhood bistro – without a corkage fee. Plus, there’s nothing more romantic that the dapper young men I see walking briskly throughout the Plateau Mont Royal on Friday evenings, wine bottle under arm. I always wonder who they’re rushing to meet.

So, whether you’re going to a  BYOW, to a friend’s place or just staying in for a cozy night with your honey this weekend, here’s one well-priced wine I highly recommend:

Boussac Coteaux du Languedoc 2010, $10.60. Hailing from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France, this is my go-to red for all occasions because of the value and the fruity, spicy, full-bodied yet somehow supple flavour that goes down smooth with or without food. I discovered this one summer Saturday afternoon when my mom, brother and I ordered the house wine at the lively Parisian Marche de la Villette, bistro in Old Montreal.

It was one of the best house wines I’d ever tried and I decided right then and there it would be one of my staples. That was two and half years ago and after trying many other reds, this still tops my list and impresses whoever I share it with; even my discerning foodie/wine connoisseur friends who are shocked to learn how low the price is.

I personally think this wine goes with everything, but the experts recommend you have it with game, poultry and pasta. A la votre!

What is your go-to wine under $12?