Easy, peasy pizza dough

Pizza Party!

easy-pizza-dough-recipeA while ago, I got an invitation for a Pizza Party and before I even knew the when or where I immediately signed up. It turned out to be at Benjamin’s and hosted by the Canola Growers. Benjamin’s is owned by Chef MJ Feeke and is famous for their brick oven pizzas (among a other things, such as their baked goods). I have been using this pizza dough and sauce recipe that I love for years but I didn’t dare miss an opportunity to learn from Chef MJ Feeke (remember my Christmas cookie adventure last year?)  Especially since I knew this may be my last opportunity. Chef MJ is closing down her bakery/restaurant/catering business, packing up and moving to Europe! This is sad news for us in Manitoba but an exciting time for her so I wish her and her family lots of luck.

Now, about that pizza. MJ started with some theory. We observed and learned hands-on the differences in various types of flour, yeast and got a lesson in gluten. We practiced kneading (I had no idea I was doing it wrong) and she answered all our questions about everything pizza, including: how to determine when your dough is ready, how to properly use a pizza stone, why we should saute our veggie toppings first and even what to do with the leftover dough (make foccocia and pretzels).

She also shared three reasons she prefers to use canola oil for pizza dough:

  1. It makes a good tenderizer.
  2. It keeps flour moist and helps in browning – try drizzling some on the outside edges before baking.
  3. Sauteing toppings in canola oil removes moisture to keep the dough nice and crispy.

We then got to make our own dough that we let sit and rise while we rolled out some dough MJ had made earlier and created our own pizzas that we cooked in her brick oven. We paired it with some wine and enjoyed our creations fresh out of the oven.

A gift from Chef MJ

The highlight of the evening was MJ gifting us some of her dough starter, also known as bread starter, mother dough pre-ferment or my favourite – pate fermentee. If you are not familiar with what dough starters are for, they are fermentation starters used to make bread. Essentially you save a piece of dough each time you make dough and add it to your next batch of dough, and so on. Why, you ask? This allows more time for the yeast, bacteria and enzymes in the dough to create greater complexities of flavour. The older the starter, the better. The one MJ gifted us has been in use for as long as she’s been making pizzas at Benjamin’s – 13 years! MJ was adamant that we not take the starter unless we were committed to the process, that being, keeping it “alive” by using it to make pizza dough at least every 4-6 weeks. So, I am happy to tell you I have committed to making pizza at least once a month for the rest of my life!

That won’t be difficult at all, as we already do this in my household. I’ve been pushing my friends and family on this recipe since I started using it. It actually takes longer to order a pizza than it does to make this dough. Plus, I like to explore my toppings.

Growing up, my mom used one of those Kraft pizza-in-a-box kits which they still sell at the store. Salvadorans aren’t known for their pizza making skills but that’s ok – what I cherish are the memories of homemade pizza that I am so happy to carry on.

Here are the steps MJ taught us to make pizza dough.

Pizza dough step one

Step one: make a well out of the flour.

easy pizza dough step dough

Step two: pour water into the well.

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Step three: add yeast to the water.

easy pizza dough

Testing to see if the dough is ready by trying to open up a window. If there is a thing window, it is ready. If it rips apart like this, it is not ready.

easy pizza dough recipe

Adding our pizza toppings.

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easy pizza dough recipe

My pizza cooking in the brick oven. It takes about eight minutes to cook.

easy pizza dough recipe

Chef MJ making pizza in the brick oven.

easy pizza dough recipe

Fresh out of the brick oven.

Pizza Dough & Quick Pizza Sauce

Recipe from CanolaEatWell.com

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (250 mL)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour (375-500 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ (30 mL) *see note below
  • 1 pkg (7 g) quick rising instant yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 cup warm water (250 mL)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil (15 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 mL)

Quick Pizza Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (30 mL)
  • 1 small onion, diced (1)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3)
  • 3-4 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 Tbsp each of fresh oregano and basil (45-60 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (1 mL)
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) crushed tomatoes (1 can)
  • 1/2- 1 tsp sugar (optional- it helps to reduce the acidity of tomatoes) (2-5 mL)

DIRECTIONS

Pizza Dough

  1. In a large bowl, mix whole-wheat flour, 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Stir in warm water and canola oil.
  2. Gradually stir in enough of remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly-floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  3. Shape dough into ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Quick Pizza Sauce

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil.
  2. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper and crushed tomatoes. Simmer sauce for 5-10 minutes.

*Adding wheat germ when using whole wheat flour, makes your recipe whole grain, making it good for you. If you don’t have any, omitting it won’t alter the dough, it just won’t be whole grain.

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Patios for the picking downtown

finditdowntown

Winnipeg is known for it’s long, cold winters and because of this Winnipeggers really know how to make every ounce of summer count. Sitting on a patio on a warm day is a summer ritual we take seriously. The only downside can be that our favourite patio is full. But have no fear, more patios are popping up in prime downtown Winnipeg spots. Whether you’re looking for a place to have your coffee, lunch or after work drinks, you are sure to find it downtown (#finditdowntown). Thanks to the Downtown Winnipeg  Biz, downtown restaurants are getting some help in clearing the obstacles they must go through to set up their patios. They also lend out patio chairs and tables and aid in the design of the patio space and fencing so that they meet regulations.

Their Patio Program has been such a success they’ve seen a jump from 22 patios in 2006 to 36 this year. I joined the Downtown Biz on a patio crawl last week to learn about the program and check out some of the newest to take advantage of what the program offers.

Casa Burrito

The first stop was Casa Burrito. Its location across the University of Winnipeg makes it a hot spot for students. It is the ideal location because of Portage Avenue’s wide sidewalks. Its view is picture perfect — students lounging on the beautifully landscaped grounds, a man playing catch with his dog. The food is worth a visit too of course. We sampled burritos filled with frijoles (my favourite), rice and pico de gallo, chorizo and frijoles quesadillas and curried lentil quesadillas accompanied by three sauces: a hot verde sauce made with jalapeños and cilantro, a smoky chipotle sauce and a mango sauce which is their most popular.

Casa Burrito

Portage Avenue is ideal for patios because of its wide sidewalks.

Fools and Horses Coffee

The next stop was Fools and Horses Coffee on Broadway. If you’re part of the bustling office life in downtown Winnipeg, this little patio offers some respite. It features Manitoba’s only Modbar coffee machine, an espresso system located below the counter which enhances customer interaction. Coffee isn’t the only thing on tap; at 11 am they open up their taps for beer from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as wine through their FreshTAP pouring system. This makes Fools and Horses Coffee the perfect place for a coffee meeting, lunch or after work drinks, a unique characteristic not many other places downtown offer. Besides their excellent coffee and other beverages on tap, their menu consists of locally produced products (see their menu here).  Their charcuterie board won me over —  it’s the best one I’ve had in a long time (and I always order the charcuterie at restaurants).

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view at Fools and Horse Coffee Company.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Patio view and charcuterie at Fools and Horses.

Bar Red Sea

The third stop was Bar Red Sea also located on Portage Avenue. It occupies the former Chocolate Shoppe and later Arkadash. Their patio was an example of the red tape that restaurants sometimes have to deal with; on this particular day they were waiting for a liquor license to serve which is separate from the patio licence. This is the type of issue the Downtown Biz can help restaurants out with. We sampled some of the authentic Ethiopian food the Red Sea Bar offers and that alone should be enough to lure any Ethiopian food lover.

Bar Red Sea

Ethiopian Food at Bar Red Sea

Clay Oven

Our last stop was at Clay Oven whose patio over looks the Manitoba Hydro Place Plaza, where on this particular day, Thursday, the Downtown Farmer’s Market takes places (also a Downtown Winnipeg Biz initiative). Following the success of its other locations throughout the city, Clay Oven recently opened downtown and has become a very popular spot for lunch and it’s no wonder. They’re open until 8 PM, which is longer than other downtown restaurants. Their menu offers chicken, lamb and seafood but does not contain any beef or pork products; it also offers an array of Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Halal and Vegan friendly dishes. It’s truly Indian food at its best and the patio’s prime location in the middle of the busy plaza cannot be beat.

Veggie pakoras

Veggie pakoras from Clay Oven.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Patio view from Clay Oven Express.

Next time you’re looking for a patio, don’t think twice about heading downtown where the wide range of options are sure to please your palette! See what places others enjoy and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FindItDowntown

What’s in a name?

*IMG_4714Before you stop reading, this post is NOT about the Royal Baby’s name the world awaits for today.*

Have you ever bought a bottle of wine based on its name? Went to a restaurant based on its name?

A few months ago, my husband and I were in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was there for IABC Leadership Institute, so I knew the IABC Dine-Around I’ve mentioned here before was something to look forward to.

There weren’t many restaurant options in the vicinity except for a Fogo de Chao across the street. We decided to skip it since we had reservations to the new churrascaria opening in Winnipeg when we got back.  We were a 10 minute bus ride from downtown Scottsdale so we ended up there everyday. On our way there we saw a place called Papi Chulos, then a place called Dos Gringos. Both of them stuck out at me because of the names so I made a note to try to get to them. I was on a mission to get to College Dropout, a place I had read about before my trip.

The evening of the infamous IABC Dine Around, I opted to do my own thing since I had my husband in tow, but we chose a restaurant from the Dine Around list. We went to Mexican restaurant Barrio Queen in downtown Scottsdale and what a fabulous choice it was. The name intrigued me but it was the food that left me really impressed.

I had the carne asada entree mainly because it came with: black refried beans, grilled onions, avocado and one my mother used to make and I haven’t hads since – calabacitas (sauteed zucchini usually cooked with onions or garlic and some chill). It was perfect and comforting.

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Carne Asada entree.

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Sangria and Corona with a side of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

This was accompanied by fruity sangria and coronas. It was a meal reminiscent of our Mexican vacation that was still lingering in our thoughts. After our meal we sat in the bar and chatted with the bartender. Their tequila selection was impressive, they have over 275 kinds.  It wasn’t until the day after our visit to Barrio Queen that I happened to run across this article and getting a glimpse of the chef made me even happier we had been. One thing is certain – her food’s got soul!

We loved the dia de los muertos decor, and the Virgen de Gudalupe veladoras (prayer candles) on the tables. They even sell t-shirts, earring and other merchandise with the logo. Their slogan “a toda madre” doesn’t translate literally into English well, but it refers to something being “absolutely awesome”. I would go back or check out the chef’s other ventures, and I absolutely recommend Barrio Queen if you find yourself looking for Mexican in downtown Scottsdale.

Side story: The day we left Scottsdale, we walked over to The Good Egg (another fun name) for breakfast. It was full but I decided to go in to see how long the wait was. As I opened the door, a mother and her child came out and I held the door for them. “Excuse me,” the mother said. I looked up and it was Pink. I got a little star struck, kinda froze and forgot what I was doing and walked out of the restaurant following Pink with my eyes to confirm it was her. It was; a tweet later that day confirmed she was in town recording an album.

Meal full of memories

Have you ever had a meal so memorable you’re still thinking about it the week after? One month later? Three months later? As I woke to a fresh layer of snow on the ground this mid-April morning, I found myself thinking back to a meal I had three months ago in Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico.

Margarita's. Note the disclaimer.

Margarita’s. Note the disclaimer.

I shared my one of my special Honeymoon Meals earlier this year, but there was another meal from my honeymoon worth sharing. The owner of the condo we rented recommended to us the first restaurant he stumbled upon when he first went there 10 years ago, so we decided to check it out.

The restaurant is called Margarita’s and it located right in the middle of restaurant row in Punta Mita. We had some friends visiting us for the day, two of them being my sister and her fiancée so we had good company start off. We entered the restaurant which leads to a wide open dining area facing the beach and no flooring. Sand completely covered the ground.

Margarita's - viewWe could see and smell the fresh, salty ocean from the table we sat at. We were directly in front of the popular El Anclote surfing break so we enjoyed watching the surfers throughout our lunch. We could also see fishing boats way out in the distance and we knew we’d be foolish not to take advantage of the seafood offerings at Margarita’s.

The seafood is so fresh that they ran out of some of their usual offering but there was still plenty to choose from. Due to its location and access to seafood, they don’t stock up for more than one day at a time. That day’s catch had yet to arrive.

What made this meal so spectacular was that every single dish exceeded our expectations. They were cooked simply, yet with such expertise. There were no fancy ingredients, the freshness of ingredients and seafood is what stood out in every dish. My husband is allergic to shellfish so we don’t often have it back home so on this trip I indulged as much as I could. Here are the highlights from our meal:

The BEST and freshest scallop ceviche I have ever had!

ceviche2

My friend Katherine ordered the crabs. They were big, meaty and cooked perfectly. On the right is the pico de gallo, a popular accompaniment to seafood in Mexico. El Salvador’s version of pico de gallo is called chimol – see my recipe here.

margarita's - crabs

Marg- chimol

Fish tacos. Simple yet probably the best I’ve ever had and as healthy as a fish taco can get –I was happy to see they were grilled (opposed to breaded and deep fried) and served on corn tortillas (rather than flour tortillas).

margarita's - fish tacos

Mussels, that were not steamed, but fried in what tasted like a combination of butter and oil, perhaps a dash of wine, but not much else. The fresh green mussels spoke for themselves. All in company are huge mussel fans and have tried them in a combined eight countries from all our travels. We all agreed these were the very best each of  us of have ever had anywhere.

margarita's - mussels

The service was spectacular. The person who’d recommended the place suggested I ask for the owner Hector and my first margarita would be on him. Hector wasn’t around but our server brought us over a round and gave us their 2 for 1 happy hour pricing even though it was not nowhere near happy hour yet.  The selection of flavours was as it usually is in Mexico, amazing. I had a -er two- platano margaritas. It turned into three very happy hours. Margarita’s has a sign at the front warning you that their margarita’s are the “strongest in town.” The sign speaks the truth.

Cheers to a wonderful afternoon spent with friends over a three-hour lunch!

marg- drinks2

Margarita’s infamous margarita’s which claim to be the strongest in town!

Carnaval is here


carnaval caipirinhaThis Wednesday, I had the pleasure of getting a sneak preview of the much anticipated new Brazilian BBQ restaurant Carnaval. Located in the East Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg on Waterfront Drive, the restaurant is opening its doors today.

It’s second floor dining room offers a not-too-often-seen view of Portage and Main and the Human Rights Museum. We were first led to the cozy bar with very comfortable stools which is a nice change. There is a delectable looking tapas menu that we didn’t try that night but will be doing so in the very near future.

As we were led upstairs to the dining room, we were overcome with the smell of barbecue. The BBQ is not something you usually get to see, it’s located right in the middle of the dining room allowing you to smell and see the 48 skewers of meats rotating on three levels.

This was a practice night of sorts for the restaurant, but clearly the people behind the scenes are experienced. The meat was flavourful in a way only an expert gaucho could make possible and the sides were just as delicious. There is no room for a salad bar like in many other churrascaria’s, but that isn’t a bad thing. Sides, or acompanhamnetos in Brazilian, just like the meats are served rodizio style.

carnaval gaucho

Some of the sides include panzanella (bread, tomato, and bocconcini salad), maionaisse (Brazilian potato salad), chickpea salad, arroz cubano (Cuban style rice), heart of palm salad, fried, mashed potatoes, roasted yams and potatoes and feijoada ( a black bean stew with beef and pork). My favourites were the panzanella, and chickpea salads. Pao de queijo (a cheese-filled bun) and queijo de coahlo , a soft cheese grilled on skewers are automatically brought to each table. The queijo de coahlo instantly became one of my new favourite cheeses.

carnaval sidescaranval queijo

Like at all other Brazilian barbecue restaurants, you are provided with a card that will indicate you want the gaucho to stop by your table with meat, or whether you’re full and will pass. Simply flip it up on the green side for yes, red side tells them no.

carnaval--simnao

Sides and the barbecued meats are all included for the price of $39 for dinner. Keep in mind, it’s rodizio style, which means all you can eat. Drinks and dessert are extra and I’d suggest saving room. We tried the caipirinha’s made with real lime juice, and the tamarind creme brulee. There are a few wines available by the glass, but there is a larger choice for wines by the bottle including Brazilian and Uruguayan wines. We chose a bottle of Tierra de Luna, a Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon that we found paired well with the variety of meats.

I left very satisfied and will return again. Very soon to be exact, we already have reservations. I’m looking forward to going again after they’ve been open for a while and I recommend you make a reservation soon because by the looks of it and the response from the public,  it is going to be busy for months to come!

Top 12 food memories of 2012 Part 2

Last week I shared my top 12 most memorable meal of 2012, starting with the first 6 which took place January-June. Here are the remaining 6.

6. July 2012, Lake Brereton

This meal was a feast made up of the usual cabin favourites: barbecued steak, potatoes, mushroom, asparagus, corn fresh greens salad and garlic toast. What made it so special was that my closest friends and I rented a cabin at Lake Brereton for the weekend, a rare weekend full of tranquility, but best of all two full days spent together.  The meal was timed perfectly and we ate in the sunroom and watched the sunset over Lake Brereton together. We finished it off with a homemade (by moi) rhubarb strawberry crisp.

cabin

5. September 24, 2012, Corrientes, Winnipeg

In September, I was stumped over where to take Mitch for his birthday. Fortunately I had just discovered the new Argentine pizza place Corrientes in the Exchange District with a friend so that’s where I took him. I had a hunch he’d love it and he did. Its intimate South-American feel won him over instantly. The intimate, dimly-lit restaurant playing the sounds of Kevin Johansen, an Argentine guitarist had us feeling like we were at an Argentine pizzeria in no time. The menu consists of pizza and empanadas. We had the Manitoba pizza loaded with pesto, bacon, pickerel, goat cheese, arugula, sun dried tomatoes along with a couple of empanada (carne for Mitch and the four cheese one for myself). Although those are two of my favourite foods, I don’t often eat them together. A bottle of Argentine torrontes made for a very special evening. We ended the evening sipping coffees on the couch in the small library at the back of the restaurant. Just one of those perfect nights.

(p.s. The owner of Corrientes and Hermano’s is opening up Carnaval, a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in the east Exchange District that will open in January 2013. Something I’m very much looking forward to!)
Corrientes2

Corrientes1

4. September 20, 2012, my bridal shower

My bridal shower was a total surprise, in more ways than one. I showed up and was surprised to have all the important ladies in my life all in one place, including my maid of honour Laura who had flown in to surprise me from Toronto. The food and decor was amazing and all tied into my wedding theme. Coral and turquoise and latin food was plentiful. I had a few people comment it was the best shower food they’ve ever had. Cucumber sandwiches are not my style and my bridal party did an excellent job of truly representing me int he planning of it. A beautiful selection of mexican wedding cookies and dainties from my mother-in-law and her sisters such as my favourite butter tarts, plus a cake made by the Kildonan East Collegiate pastry students pleased my sweet tooth. I also heard there was some potent sangria made by my sister that went so fast I didn’t get a sip!

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3. October 2012, home made chorizo tacos

I heard about Whiteshell Dairy Foods, a new cheese maker, had opened its doors in Winnipeg and although not available in store yet, it was selling cheese from it’s location in the North End. We set out to buy some queso fresco but because it was a Saturday it was closed. So, we went looking to El Izalco, a latin american store on Sargent. Thew owner, Esperanza, a friendly little lady chatted us up. Turns out she knew my mom and told me about how my dad used to come in to buy tamales de elote for her all the time.  I was touched she remembered such a fact. We bought some freshly made pupusas and her home made chorizo. After visiting De Luca’s and Sobey’s we finally got a hold of queso fresco and made the best home made tacos we have ever made. The fact it took all day and four local grocers to find the ingredients made it even more delightful.

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2. October 2012, Granville Island, British Columbia

If you’ve been, you know what an experience the market at Granville Island can be. I made the mistake of going hungry and I wanted everything! Unfortunately, it was also before heading to the airport so buying everything was out of the question. Fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, pasta, honey, jam, syrups, baked goods, chocolates, there’s truly something for everyone there. I enjoyed a few items and bought some smoked salmon and some home made granola clusters to bring home. It was one of those days where I wandered around for hours all alone and i enjoyed it thoroughly.

granville grapes

granville choc

1. December 25, 2012, Christmas.

Christmas is always a memorable meal, but this one was really special to me. My fiancee Mitch’s sister Nic and her husband Garrett hosted it at their house in St.Andrews. It included Garrett’s parents, Mitch’s mother Viv and this year my family. Since we’re all going to eb related and spending time in mexico very soon, it was a good time for everyone to chat and get to know everyone. A few cultures were represented in the food, we had turkey with all the trimmings, plus cabbage rolls, tourtiere, and tamales! It was enough to feed double the amount of people there but most importantly it was a lovely evening that brought three families together.

xmas cabbage rolls xmas meal   xmas tourtxmas tamale

Top 12 food memories of 2012 Part 1

As of today there are 12 days left in the year. There are also 12 months in a year, so I thought today would be a good day to do a countdown of my 12 most memorable meals of 2012.

Some are local restaurants, some are from my travels, and some were home made meals. I realized the one thing they all had in common and made them memorable was the company I had for each.

My countdown starts with the oldest and ends with the most recent. Here are my first 6, next week I’ll post the other 6.

12. January 2012, Bistro 7 1/4

I don’t have any photos of this evening but it was one of my favourite nights of the year. It was a cold day and we (Mitch and I) had reservations for dinner at Bistro 7 1/4. We almost bailed on it because it was later than we wanted and the weather was uninviting, but we decided against that and I’m glad we did. It turned out to be a fabulous evening where we had great conversation, made even more memorable by the food and wine. I had the seared scallops with creamed corn and bacon jam plus one of their daily specials that consisted of grilled halloumi, Mitch had the braised beef short ribs and we shared moules et frites, although I can’t remember which ones. Not only was it a memorable meal, it’s one of my favourite dates ever because it was spontaneous.

11. February 2012, Wynood Kitchen and Bar, Miami, FL

I was in Miami for an IABC conference and I took advantage of the cuban cuisine. One night in particular stood out.  It was an adventure getting there and the restaurant’s location in the art district made it a treat for all our senses.  We took in the art covered walls, delicious tapas, exotic drinks, and a jazz band simultaneously. The company I had were fellow IABC members from Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco and more. I captured it all here.

Wynwood band 2

10. March 2012, Woody’s in Farallon, Panama

A Canadian-owned sports bar, poutine and ceasars are the last thing we expected to have on a trip to Panama. As awesome as the seafood and Panamanian food was, this little place called Woody’s found a place in our hearts.

Woody's - shrimp

9. May 2012, Ste.Rose du Lac, MB

This truly made in Manitoba meal took place at the farm. Everything is our meal came right from my fiancee’s dad’s farm in Ste. Rose. It was memorable because it was in the spring, a promising time of year for farmers. I even “helped” seed canola and rode in the tractor as my future father-in-law Art taught me about seeding. Check out what we ate and why it was so memorable here.

farmmeal

8. May 2012, Wascana Park, Regina, SK

In May I had an IABC leadership conference in Regina. Again, I reunited with IABC members from all over western Canada. On the Saturday night we were treated to one of the most delicious meals I’ve had all year, in the equally stand-out setting of Wascana Park. The dinner was catered by Regina’s top-rated chef and featured local foods – my kind of meal!

Regina 3- trout

7. June 2012, 1,000 tastes of Toronto, ON

In June I visited one of my best friends Laura in Toronto. She loves food, beer and wine as much as me, so the entire weekend was filled with happy moments made up of good eats, drinks and good company. We had a blast at 1,000 Tastes of Toronto.  Set up in the Distillery District, there was plenty to see and eat. It was the perfect Toronto summer night spent with a great friend!

Tastes - tacos Tastes - Mill St

Check back next week for my final 6 memorable food memories of 2012.

Bidding farewell to Kelekis

Kelekis5Kelekis restaurant in Winnipeg’s North End announced last month it’s closing its doors after 81 years in operation.  Mary Kelekis who still runs the restaurant to this day, will turn 88 in January. The restaurant has been a staple sight on Main street since 1931, but most importantly a staple in the community’s restaurant scene. Its last day open will be January 30, 2013.

I went to bid it farewell, and although I don’t personally have memories from there, most of the people in the group I went with did. The lineup was steady and out the door at times. It was lunch time on a December Saturday so that was to be expected.

kelekis3The restaurant is known for its hot dogs, burgers and fries. I had one of each (just kidding, but I wanted to.) I ordered a Yaleburger (a cheeseburger with tomatoes and lettuce), a strawberry milkshake and stole a few fries from those sitting across and next to me.

One of the walls is packed with photos of celebrities who have visited the iconic restaurant.

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The other wall is a mural representing Winnipeg’s history.

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On my way out I had to pause and smile to watch Mary at work. What a gem, I can see why her passion will be missed.

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Farewell Kelekis!