It seems like there is an influx of invitations to restaurant openings and product launches right now. It happens a lot with the arrival of spring. Most events I cannot be bothered with that much but there are exceptions. If something really grabs my attention and peaks my curiosity I will be there. And that is how I was introduced to a new product from Rise Kombucha by receiving an invitation for the launch of their two new flavors: Mint Chlorophyll and Rose Schizandra.
The curiosity word here is Kombucha. What the heck is it? The company calls it sparkling living tea. A more complete explanation would be that Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a yeast, called Mother culture, thus creating effervescence.
This is hardly a new product, there are claims that the history of this beverage goes back 2000 years in China or Japan. So it covers my ethnic food attraction plus it is a local, raw, organic, vegan and a fair trade product. The Rise Kombucha company is located in my city of Montreal. Actually they are located 3 blocks away from where I work. So before the official launch party I asked for a visit of their brewery. I could not take too many pics to reasons of corporate secrecy but you will still get a unique glance here.
Happy Saint-Valentin’s day to everyone. I love you all my readers. This year I will celebrate it as a single and I am more than happy about it. As a matter of fact I have 2 outings planned this February 14th with friends. I will be celebrating the love for my friends that are there day in and day out, year after year. I consider them more precious then gold.
Still, I cannot think of any other occasion that is both desperately desired or despised depending on whom you ask, whether single or in a couple. The only way to survive the whole ordeal is by consumming lots and lots of chocolate. And that is a sacrifice I am willing to partake in. Go ahead, twist my arm.
I receive 3 tabettes of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate, a fairtrade product. How can I say no to chocolate! I did make one big mistake: I had it delivered at work and I told my colleagues. I had no choice but to share lol. Well only the 2 flavored ones…
We tasted the Milk Chccolate Butterscotch Pieces bar which created with delicious milk chocolate blended with crisp, crunchy toffee. Now I am more of a dark chocolate kind a gal so milk chocolate does not knock my socks off but I do have to say these were quite tasty. And you can definitely taste the toffee. tI was more popular with the male colleagues.
We also sampled the Orange and Spices Dark Chocolate bar. The taste of orange was quite intense and I enjoyed the touch of spice. Unfortunately the spices are not specified. I did enjoy my dark chocolate in this one and, for some reason, this was the winner with the ladies at work.
The 70% Dark Chocolate I kept for myself as it was perfect for this recipe for pots de creme – minus the cream – created by a local food star, Ricardo. I added a touch of puree mixed with pain yogurt as a finishing touch. I present you a perfect chocolate sacrifice.
Raspberry and Chocolate Pots de Creme
Recipe Type: Desserts
100 g (3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250 ml (1 cup) seedless raspberry puree
60 ml (1/4 cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
Place the chocolate in a bowl. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the raspberry purée with half the sugar.
In a bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar with a whisk. Gradually add the warm raspberry purée, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook gently for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Strain through a sieve over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, without stirring.
With a whisk, stir until smooth. Divide among six espresso cups or 4 verrines. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
For about 250 ml (1 cup) seedless raspberry puree, puree 1 liter (4 cups) thawed frozen raspberries until smooth, then strain the puree through a fine sieve.
Just wanted to share with you quickly a neat treat that was sent to me recently. If you are a fan of soy and like soy pudding then you will love the Super Squeezies soy dessert tubes. It works perfectly as a portable pudding for the lunch box. Or you can freeze the tubes for a soy frozen pop. They come in a box of 8 tubes with 2 flavors: chocolate and strawberry banana. Both flavors were great but I actually like the strawberry banana the most.
The the Super Squeezies soy dessert tubes are all natural made with non-GMO soybeans; have no preservatives; are gluten free, peanut free and lactose free (great for those with allergies); and cholesterol free.
If you want to learn more about soy products and tofu click here.
I know, I know I have been bad. I have been quiet, I have not been posting as much or catching up with commenting. I blame November. It’s such a blah month and my energies plummet. But also one of the reasons I have been more quiet is due to much research and experimenting. I have been working on a few very original recipes which would be a perfect fit to round off that fabulous menu for the holidays. Come back later today on the blog as I will be publishing one of these creations.
These recipes feature two products I was lucky enough to win recently on eRecipeCards: the O Clementine Olive Oil and O Zinfandel Vinegar from the Natural Box collection. Winning this prize also meant entering a contest. So I hope you come back and vote for me by putting this mysterious recipe (which will be posted later today) in you eRecipeBox. I’ll tell you all about that a bit later. Contest alert: YOU can be the winner of an absolutely divine vinegar too, details are at the bottom of the post!
This prize was awarded by my new favorite oil and vinegar company. If you follow my blog regularly you are well aware that I do the occasional product review and they are often interesting finds but not necessarily something that would knock my socks off. This time I was completely taken aback with my prize from O Olive Oil. I would even say pleasantly flabbergasted! I know it sounds like a huge and ridiculous claim but it is 100% sincere. I LOVE my new oil and vinegar. So what makes O Olive Oil so special and unique to dazzle my exotic taste buds? The answer is surprisingly simple: keep things organic, keep things basic, take the time it needs and make it with love.
Let’s looks first at the Citrus Oils. This collection of oils are beautifully crafted by using the crush method. Fresh hand harvested California Mission olives are crushed directly with whole organic citrus within 48 hours of the harvests. It takes about 1½ lbs. of fresh, whole citrus to make each bottle of oil. As the extracts of both the olives and the fruit mingle in such a unique way the tastes bond, making for an intense marriage of flavors. This bit of info makes you realize quickly the poorer quality of many companies who mass produce by infusing or flavoring the already produced olive oil, sadly a common practice in the industry. There final product pales in comparison.
I received theO Clementine Olive Oil.I was already cooking up a storm in the kitchen before I really sat down to have a proper taste testing. I have a confessions to make: after pouring the amount required by my recipe of the Clementine oil I actually took a mini swig from the bottle. The beautiful coating of olive oil in my mouth was delicate and light in flavor but I did not taste a lot of the clementine at that moment. But once I sat down to take the pictures and properly savor it with a slice of white French bread, I had a completely different reaction to the taste. The clementine miraculously came to life and was now bursting with notes of zesty citrus all nicely layered in with a sweetness of the oil. The sumptuous yellow color coated the bread wonderfully. I was also really impressed by the results in my coming recipes.
The O Clementine Olive Oil is limited production. Keeping mind this is NOT an oil to fry foods is. A gentle warming in a pan will heighten the flavors, more will burn it. I could see myself using this oil in a light salad mixed with a crisp and light vinegar. A light brushing over cooked seafood or chicken would be lovely too.
The second part of my prize from O Olive Oil was the Wine Vinegar collection. Again the company blasts the competition by nor rushing a good thing. The old world Orleans method is employed here by filling ventilated oak barrels with premium wine which naturally ages the wine turning it into vinegar over months or years. The fact that the wines comes from near-by Napa Valley does not hurt either. Natural flavors are added slowly over time as the wine turns to vinegar. The competition usually just mechanically ages using artificial flavors and ingredients.
I was thrilled to find the O Zinfandel Vinegar in my prize package. Before I even opened the bottle I was captivate by the magnificent ruby orange color. I dipped my bread in the aromatic liquid and took a bite. My taste buds where delighted with the wonderful sharp, smoky and tangy cherry notes the harsh vinegary taste. And as the taste lingers in your mouth you start wishing there really was a bottle of Zinfandel nearby.
Before I wrap things up I would like to send out a nice Thank You to eRecipeCards for hosting the give away and contest. If you are not familiar with this site you should. eRecipeCards is the home for food lovers, all of them. It is not a community based site like Facebook per say as you do not ‘make’ friends. The soul purpose is to share, add and bookmark recipes. Food bloggers love it as they can link and share their posts, and non writing foodies can discover fabulous recipes which they can keep in their eRecipeBox with one click. It is a new site that is growing rapidly. There are already thousands and thousands of recipes. It is free so why not join now and you will accumulate a collection of great new recipes to try. Go visit eRecipeCards.com
A drop of vinager in the oil - so colorful and pretty
O Olive Oil is more than just the two types of products mentioned above. They also offer products like the Citrus Oils and Wine Vinegars. Extra Virgin, Roasted Garlic, California Balsamic, Rice Vinegars, Citrus Tapenade, and more. You can find them in gourmet, natural food and specialty stores in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe, and Latin America sell these products. Or you can simply order online. O Olive Oil is offering a 20% discount sale through the end of the year on ANY order. Just use the exclusive promo code e-recipecards when you check out. Plus if your order total is more than 60$ you will get free shipping.
CONTEST TIME! Win a bottle of O pomegranate champagne vinegar which is describe on the site as sweet, round, and subtle. A hint of raspberries and faraway Mediterranean lands. Ripe and scarlet. California pomegranate steeped in barrel-aged champagne. Splash on spinach, feta and pecan salad. Punch up late summer stews and soups. Brush on roasted rosemary lemon chicken. Yes, yes and yes please! O Olive Oil is not hosting this contest. I will personally send a bottle of this fine vinegar out of my own pocket because I really think their products are that good!
To enter all you have to do is go O Olive Oil on Facebook (I will be checking) and then come back leaving me a comment saying you did so. Open to everyone around the world! Deadline Dec 6th 2011 noon EST.
Staying on the theme of street food from my previous post, did you know street food in Montreal is illegal? Apparently there is a municipal by-law banning the sale of street food has been on the books since the 50s. I always enjoyed having my NYC hot dog or roasted peanuts when I went down to the Big Apple for a long weekend but I have to admit I was pretty happy Montreal was free of a hot dog cart on every corner. Back then street food was junk food.
But now street food is the new chic dinner outing amongst the big cities foodie world. Parks have dedicated weekends where the best street food vendors sell their tasty small sized treats in a group. Cities that allow street vendors have seen the quality of the dishes rise, it’s a dog eat dog cut throat competition now to impress your customers and have them come back.
But not in Montreal, or are the times a changing? Queue the entrance of Grumman ’78, a taco truck that can operate during events when hired by the event organizers. This suggested loop in the law was allowed by City Hall. So if you want to hire Grumman ’78 for an event and have them sell their tacos on the street…that is OK. I have enjoyed their tacos twice: once at a cookbook launch event and once at the Food Court @ Foodlab, an event that was organized by Grumman ’78 of course.
Setting up shop on the now deserted stretch of Saint-Laurent street between Sainte-Catherine and René-Lévesque (due to a business offices/condo political fiasco), at the Place de la Paix urban square, the Food Court @ Foodlab took place on September 30th 2011. I went there with another wonderful foodie friend of mine, Johanne. Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed…
A Grumman ’78 taco of course! The menu changes all the time and today it was curried goat. It was so finger liking good. With this taco we ordered each a hibiscus juice and we shared a gooseberry cheese cake. Who else would think of gooseberry for a cake! I love the white picnic tables set up to eat our goods.
L’Expérience Kangourou is run by these 2 wacky dudes! I first hear about them about 3 years back when the dinner group went to the Mondial Gourmand. Back then allt hey served was exotic kangaroo meat. If you have not tried it I urge you to taste this succulent meat. They had kangaroo on the menu but we decided to try the other 2 meats….
muskox on the left - seal on the right
The first was seal, double verdict: gross! If you like liver you will adore it, if you hate liver don’t even try. It had a strong iron taste with a meat texture. But the second meat oh so made up for it, we had muskox which is also an Arctic animal. Now this was heavenly meat, a perfect marbling of fat and muscle nicely grilled up. I wanted a full steak after.
Next we shared a very nice pulled turkey sandwich from Pas d’cochon dans mon salon, which translates into No pigs in my Living Room, what an awesome name.
We followed it up with delicious meatballs from Nora Gray. I just love to witness to what extent my friends will go to make a good pic for the blog when I make a request!
Still sometime a challenge for me when it comes to acquired tastes, Curtis Vargo did not disappoint with wonderful fresh oysters. Oh Curtis, LOVE the apron!
After all these small dishes I think a dessert is well deserved. From la Dinnette Nationale we tasted 3 shortbread cookies: white peaches and anise seeds, goat cheese and hazelnuts, and both our favorite chocolate and black olives. I know it sounds like a weird combo but I was quite a revelation…just make sure to use only dark chocolate.
And the finale of our foodlab experience were soft and addictive homemade caramels: one honey flavored the other fleur de sel. Fleur de sel was the winner but it was a close call!
Our mini street food event was declared a big success, Johanne and I had a blast exploring the various food here. I hope there is many more such event to come in Montreal. Do you have street vendors in your city?
Today I have a very special post for you from my very good friend Karyn who spent a lovely weekend in NYC not too long ago with her friend Sari. Karyn mentioned to me they would eat their way through a street food festival so I could not help but ask her if she would like to write a guest post as a special on location correspondent. Happily she agreed.
Without further ado, here is Karyn with a special report from NYC. Thanks and love you hun!
Every year, my friend Sari and I head to NYC for 4 days of adventure. This is the eighth year of this trip, which is based around shopping and eating. It seems that as the years advance that it’s really more about the food and yet we had never ventured into the world of street food – except for Sari having a NYC hot dog in year 2, but it was nothing memorable! This year we decided that it was the year to crack the street food scene and see what NYC has to offer. My research led me to the Urban Space NYC blog about a street food festival in its second year, and wouldn’t you know it, it was happening exactly when we would be in NYC! It was meant to be!
We planned on hitting the Mad. Sq. Eats festival the day we arrived in NYC, and basically were just waiting to get there and eat! It was a perfect day for an outside festival and there was a fantastic collection of restaurants participating.
We took a walk around the grounds to see what caught our fancy and decided that we should start in style at Red Hook Lobster Pound, with Lobster Macaroni. We placed our order and waited, mouths watering, as we watched our order come together. There were a few technical difficulties as the blow torch being used to melt the cheese on top ran dry during our order, but Emma, our hostess was very pleasant and it gave us a chance to explain that we were doing this blog. I took a picture of Emma and the way her arms came out, made her look kind of lobster like, don’t you think?
Finally, the blow torch was ready for action! It was great to watch it come together.
The noodles were very large macaroni noodles, the biggest we’d ever seen and WOW for 9$ we sure got our money’s worth in lobster! There were quite a few large chunks and I think we each got a claw! Definitely a great start although I would have preferred the cheese sauce to be a bit warmer, but fantastic street food otherwise!
We barely paused before searching for our next victim, deciding on Fatty Snack, which I had read about. They have a restaurant in their group, the Fatty Crab, and I was very excited to try their food. We decided on one order of pork buns, which were actually two little buns overflowing with wonderfully spiced pork for $6.
They were fantastic. I would go back for another one anytime but maybe not for a first date as it’s not the most elegant thing to eat!
That’s Sari in the pic, waiting for our buns. The man in the picture was wandering around the grounds trying to decide on what to eat and he approached Sari, asking about what to try and she gave him great feedback yet he continued to wander… I don’t remember what he finally ended up with, but there was something there for every palate. He looked a little overwhelmed with all the choices.
Sari was parched after this and decided on a beer from a place whose specialty was beer and chocolate. She had a Southern Tier Pumpking. I’m not too sure if the g in Pumpking was intentional or not, but I took a pic of the sign to prove that I can spell! They also had chocolate covered bacon caramel that I really wanted to try, however they were out of it and were only receiving more the next day.
Did you think we were done? Not even close! Next on the tour was a stop at Waffles & Dinges. Of course we needed to know what a Dinge is. Well, it’s a term that basically means “Things”. We ordered a waffle with Spekuloos! I was SO excited when I saw they had Spekuloos and they were even selling it! I showed some restraint and didn’t purchase as I would have had to carry it all day… oh yeah and I have a bottle at home.
We’re not sure what the guy in the pic above was eating, but boy did it look like he was enjoying it!
Our waffle: Spekuloos and fresh fruit, cut in two for us to share.
Ah… OK, after that was done we thought, OK, we’re ready for dessert! Sari had spotted the cannoli and wanted to try it, so we did. The man working there not only guessed that we were Canadian, but Montrealers! He was an expat, having left in 1984 and could pick out our accent!
The cannolis were $5 for 3 of them and we decided on Peanut butter, Kahlua and Salted Chocolate. I am not a cannoli fan and even less of a peanut butter fan so I tried the last two only. The Peanut butter cannoli is missing from the picture below – I think Sari was just too excited to try it! I didn’t care for the Kahlua one as it was very cheesy… and the Salted Chocolate tasted good but the shell was way too hard for a cannoli, but the chocolate and salt was a really nice combination.
OK, after this we were stuffed! It was a great festival and intro to street food. The door to street fare has been opened and is far from being closed. The only advice I would have to someone going to a festival like this is to go with someone that you can share with so you can try more things!
About 10 days ago I was fortunate enough to attend an media event for a product launch by Weston Bakeries Canada. The new lined entitled Première Fournée is made of 4 different breads made the old fashion way. The breads are made with unbleached wheat flour, pure water, yeast and salt, and contain zero preservatives, color or artificial flavor. Then each bread has additional quality ingredients added to achieve the fours breads varieties: Stonemilled Wheat, Hearty Grains, Rustic White and Light Rye.
These breads qualify by the food norms as Artisanal Breads. Although the breads are kneaded by mechanical equipment, each bread is hand shaped – by a human being – and then baked in a stone hearth oven without a mold. Each bread takes 17 hours to make and taste like the bread your grandmother use to make. These breads just hit the shelves this week in supermarkets in Canada.
A fun event and we all got to take home a full loaf of each bread, like close to 5 pounds of bread without preservatives. I live alone! The hearty grains I kept but I divided 3 of the breads in 3 and made a loaf all flavors and repackaged them. One loaf went in the freezer, one I gave away and the last one I used for an awesome bread pudding recipe. This recipe claims to have its roots in the South, New Orleans more precisely. The original recipe calls for Bourbon but I only had Scotch on hand as a close substitute.
Ξ Boozy Scotch Bread Pudding Ξ
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey (or Scotch)
1 loaf bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups)
1 qt milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup raisins, soaked in 1/4 cup bourbon for a few hours (or Scotch)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Press with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture with the raisins.
Butter generously bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Pour in the bread mix and bake for 35-45 minutes or until set and the edges start getting a bit brown.
While bread pudding is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens a little bit. Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat. Whisk before serving.
Serve with the bourbon sauce on the side or just slather it on top and let it soak like I did. BEST BREAD PUDDING EVER, hands down!
Totally unrelated to food but I am so impressed I just had to mention it, plus we stay in the Canada only theme: have you heard of Glymm? It’s a high end beauty product club where you receive your Glymm Box once a month for only 10$ plus tax, shipping included. And you can cancel your subscription at any time, no strings attached.
Every month, your Glymm Box will contain 3-5 luxury samples that span over several beauty categories including cosmetics, fragrance, skincare, tools, spa and body, nails and lifestyle. Month-to-month, the products you receive will be different, and curated according to your beauty profile. I got my first Glymm Box yesterday!
Is that not the cutest pink box? Open it and pull the bow to see the detailed card telling you what sample beauty products are included.
This month I got a a blood orange and vanilla body wash and body milk from John Master, a blush from Vasanti, an Oscar de la Renta perfume, a pretty make up bag and some jelly beans! Of course if you fall in love with a product you can then purchase a full size version on the Glymm website. There is a point reward program too. A small price to pay for a monthly gift in the mail.