Thursday, December 17, 2009

cheese, anyone?

So, I really should have brough my own camera so I wouldn't have to steal from the FARM website, but they've done a fabulously artsty job of photographing their restaurant, so why should I bother?!
Anyway, I was just there for lunch (and I mean, I was just there and just put my leftovers in the fridge) and it was fab-u-lous!  Kristin and Aurora and myself try to meet up once a month for a lunch, and being able to head outside of downtown is a boon.  Aurora was absent today (being in Italy I don't feel so sorry for her) and as such Kristin and I were on lead to a tiny table for two and given directions by a very helpful waiter.

To start, we looked over the menu and I picked the mac'n'cheese (I ordered the large and should have ordered the small, hence the leftovers in my fridge).  Kristin ordered the goat cheese fritter.  Both were really great - my mac'n'cheese had a cayenne kick to it, and her salad had lovely sections of grapefruit.  We also both had tea, which was loose leaves and put into a French Press to steep (much like at Steeps in Mount Royal Village). 

We mulled over the list of cheese/meat selections and chose the 5 item spree.  Our waiter helped us to determine which particular ones to have.  I would love to say I remember them all, but I don't.  Each came with a specifically paired condiment.  The Lamb Liver Pate had a Saskatoon Berry compote of sorts; the coppa (much like prosciutto) had a grainy mustard; the german cheese had an onion spread; the Quebec cheese had a tomato-ey spread (I can't call these salsas but maybe they were); and the soft cheese starting with the letter M had a grapefruit puree to go with it.  It was so good and we were both so happy we decided to extend our lunch with this lovely platter.  And they weren't chintzy on the bread either - when he saw we had pretty much consumed our allotment, he brought a whole plate more! 

Wouldn't it have been great had I remembered the names of the cheeses though?  Alas, we just munched and muched away with nary a thought to writing things down.  I guess I'll have to go back again, you know, for further research.  And perhaps I'll remember to bring my camera too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Pink Door

Seattle, just north of Pike Place Market, up some little alleyway, we spotted a great patio.  But it looked like the access point was three flights of stairs down, which would imply three flights of stairs back up.  No way, Jose.  Looking down the alley, we saw people ducking into the side of a building.  No signs, no pomp, no circumstance.  Just a pink door.  Turns out, this woman-run Italian Restuarant has been in business for years all due to word-of-mouth advertising.  And I can tell you why it's been so successful - the food is great.  And unlike most of the other places we visited while in the States, the portions are human-sized (not giant-sized).  I had Linguine Pescatore and Scott had some spicey tomato based pasta dish.  He started off with a carafe of wine since I was busy with the Tarot card reader, and when I was done I joined him, although I had white and he had red.  Would love to tell you the names of the wine, but I don't remember.  We really enjoyed ourselves, after a long day of wandering around Seattle, just sitting there in the mid-September's dying light looking out at the ocean and listening to the other patrons talk about the football game.  It was a lovely start to our weeklong trek down the coast.

It was all good, and we had the pleasure of having Mr. Mustache as our waiter.  He was even a good enough sport to let me take his photo!  So if you're in Seattle and you're looking for a great place, try the Pink Door.  You will not be disappointed!  Mr. Mustache guarantees it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

pocket full of sunshine

"I got a pocket got a pocket full of sunshine i got a love and i know that its all mine."  Natasha Bedingfield

Pretty much, there is nothing cuter than a teenie tiny little pocket.  It's 2 inches by 2 inches and it's one of 24 for an Advent calendar a client ordered.  My paper Advent calendar would be toast pretty quick around their 2 year old, so a fabric one makes much more sense.  I've spent the past few days thinking about how to do it, and purchasing the fabric, ribbon, and threads.  Now that I've started, I am just in love with these little pockets.  Maybe after 24 the love affair will have cooled off, but I'm only at pocket #6 now, and I'm still smitten!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

over the fields we go

Dashing through the snow
On a one-horse open sleigh,
Over the fields we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob-tail ring,
Making spirits bright,
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.
-James Pierpont

If you don't live in Calgary, perhaps you aren't in the middle of a deep freeze with a mountain of snow.  It all started last Friday, the day I was to pick up my Mum from the airport.  It took us 3 hours to do a half hour car trip.  Great times.  White outs along the road, black ice, people in the ditch.  But it was warm-ish.  Now it's super cold and the snow is not going anywhere anytime soon.
So here I am in the studio putting together a couple Christmas card orders and trying to fill in my Christmas cards at the same time, when all I really want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep until spring.  I hear there are people who like winter, actually love it.  I am not one of those people.  Maybe if I'm head to toe wrapped in polar fleece and look like the little brother in A Christmas Story, then the cold is at least bearable.  I guess I should be thankful that we at least are sunny through these long months, instead of cloudy like Vancouver.  Oh, enough griping!  On with the card assembly already!  The clients await.

mmmm.... roasted garlic

For the summer, we generally host a Garlic & Brie afternoon at our place, rain or shine or scorching heat.  We whip up an assortment of appy's, depending on what is in the fridge and the cupboard (it's a great way to try new things or finish off things too!).  Along with our ad hoc assortment, we always roast two bulbs of garlic and bake a small round of brie, and have some bread on hand to smear it all onto.  It's a great time and a good way to connect with friends throughout the summer who are not always available for the One Summer Party, but can come by for an hour or so every once in a while.  Plus, it gets Scott outside and using his backyard, which is a priority for him every year since we have so few weeks of weather nice enough to sit outside in the late afternoons and evenings.  We usually get the chiminea going too, although Scott is gunning for gas heaters.  Keep dreaming, sweetie.

Here are the recipes for the garlic, the brie, and the toasted baguette rounds.  As you can see, preheat your oven 350°F, toss in the garlic, get your baguette going too, and in the last 15 minutes of the garlic roasting, toss in your brie.  I'd suggest cutting up your baguette while the oven heats up, but basically, most of this can be done while you sip some Sangria or get together other appetizers (or setting up the table).

Roasted Garlic
  • Cut the top ¼ inch off the garlic bulb, ensuring you open all cloves.
  • Pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil into the opened bulb.
  • Sprinkle cracked salt and pepper on the top. To add an interesting taste, crack different types of pepper on the garlic bulb (like Fire Dragon Pepper, White Pepper, Chile Pepper Flakes etc.).
  • Place in a small oven-safe dish and put on the top rack of the oven for 45 minutes at 350°F. It's done when you can squish the cloves out of the bulb easily.
Baked Brie with Apricots & Pecans
  • Unwrap the brie round and place in the brie baker. Leave the rind on (it is some people's favourite part!)
  • Spoon 2 Tbsp of apricot jam on top of the round.
  • Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of chopped pecans on top as well.
  • Cover and put in the oven on the top rack for 15 minutes at 350°F.
  • Be careful when opening the brie baker, and when first slicing into the brie, as it will be hot & bubbling.
Grilled (or Toasted) Baguette
  • Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch slices. You should have 20 to 25 slices. Place the slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked salt and pepper.
  • Bake the toasts at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are crisp and browned. Alternately, you could grill the slices in a pan ini grill, in a large frying pan, or on the BBQ.
  • Serve at room temperature.