Category Archives: dinner
I work with food and wine. Much of why I do is because it is a passion to share good food and drink with others. I love to see people enjoying time around a table for a meal.
In the summer season much of what I do is helping cater large events, like weddings and corporate appreciation events. This is not a cozy dinner party, unless you can imagine fitting 150 people in your dining room. On top of that, we prepare fresh food on site from scratch and my hubbie (the chef) cooks slow food – southern style BBQ meat.
These events work out to about a 14 hour day, usually. Much of it is outside in the elements, since we live in a piece of Paradise – the Okanagan. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate an event in the summer here?
I don’t tell you all this to make me sound special – my work day in the catering world is a variation on the work day most people spend if they work in the restaurant industry. The irony is, at the end of those work days I don’t feel much like eating or drinking any of the fine food we prepared. I taste of course, all day long, but by the end of service when there is time to eat, I’m tired and just want to wrap up. (I also feel like if I sit down I might not get up again.)
Tomorrow is the first wedding of the season. Today I’ve got my ducks in a row, getting platters ready and double-checking all the little details. I planned out my layers of clothes to wear in our less-spectacular-than-usual spring weather. I have snacks loaded in my bag: a banana, energy bar, nuts and raisins, and lots of water. I’m good to go!
Every occupation has its hazards. I can be grateful that mine are only that my feet hurt, my muscles are tired and I don’t have the energy to eat wonderful food for a day. There is no need to feel sorry for me, that’s for sure. On top of it all, I get to share in the joy of some momentous occasions. That is worth missing a meal in my book. I go to bed knowing that I have helped make great memories.
I was scanning the news this morning and thinking foodie thoughts in a rather stream-of-consciousness fashion. Nothing seemed to stick, it was all random. My brain went with that theme and suddenly I was humming the Arlo Guthrie tune about a pickle…
That was my inspiration today. My commentary on some of the new cooking and eating trends is entirely random, and without any expertise other than my own tastebuds. It’s fun to be adventurous and think outside the box, but when I threw so many random trends together it made me wonder if we aren’t trying too hard to be unusual. But then, comfort food and retro recipes are other popular trends. Anything is possible.
- Brinner – when you miss breakfast, you can have it for dinner! Some of this trend is centered around the concept of putting a poached egg on top of a dish, but there’s something to be said for making more meals acceptable for all those wonderful Sunday brunch dishes 🙂
- Gyros – it’s cooler when your wrap has an ethnic name, isn’t it? The Greek flatbread with flavourful fillings is the new wrapped sandwich craze. Portable food is always cool in today’s world. If only there was an app that would allow telepathic texting while you eat…
- Donuts – what else can you put in them? It’s frankly scary the range of fillings available in fried pastry, and then consider the variations of stuffed food similar to a donut – like kolaches (great with plum jam but now possible with candied jalapenos and smoked beef, just because).
- “I dare you” food – ever tried beef tongue? How about fresh grated horseradish? Foraged greens? Moss? It’s all out there for the adventurous. Chefs love shock value too sometimes.
- New twists on beverages – craft beer pubs are passé; look for beer bars with odd themes (think different glassware or decor and innovative beer styles). Wine is okay, but mead is more fun. And cocktails can come with any kind of garnish now, even scented feathers!
- Salt cod – no really, you have to try it! Andrew Knowlton, the editor of Bon Appetit magazine, said it looks like “a last-resort snack for those beyond the wall in Game of Thrones”, but treated properly it is delectable.
- Nitro coffee – because life just keeps getting more Fast & Furious. Seriously, why have just caffeine when you can have it injected with nitrogen and served from a tap? It has a creamy texture not unlike a pint of Guinness. Or you can just have cold brewed coffee, the minimalist version.
- restaurant names like never before – in an effort to be new and inventive, owners are picking terms like “luncheonette” and “provisions” to sound unique. Couple this with some wacky ingredient or animal name (think anise hyssop or blue oyster) and you’re all set. Only trouble is everyone else is using the same kind of formula – go figure. It sounds like the new Facebook quiz – “What would your name be if you were a restaurant?”
- Lithuanian and South African cuisine – it sounds like someone spun a globe and said “quick, what countries have we not featured on menus recently?” But there are some interesting foods to try – a Lithuanian stuffed potato dumpling called a cepelinai sounds delicious, and I love bobotie, a sort of South African shepherd’s pie.
- Pickles – you thought I was going to leave you hanging, didn’t you? Don’t you agree, what with kimchi everywhere now and pickled mushrooms as garnish and pickled fruit on cheese boards… the recession wasn’t that bad we need to preserve everything! I love a crunchy dill pickle like the next person, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
How trendy are you? Does any of this stuff even pique your interest, or are you more of a Meatless Monday, Tuna Casserole Tuesday kind of person? Does your family enjoy trying new things? I’d love to hear your comments.
This morning, I remember thinking, “it’s a good day to be a worm”. As I walked with Ella this morning in the pouring rain, the only other creatures outside were the worms. It was then I decided that we should have stew for dinner. But then, the sun came out at 1 pm.
Thankfully, I did my computer work early in the day, so when the skies lightened and the thermometer actually slipped into double digits I high-tailed it outside. The vitamin D did wonders for my mood and the look of the garden, after I finished trimming all the herbs.
I’m glad I had the ability to be so flexible in my day’s plans. Back in the days when I had an office job, I used to have to just pull the blinds up to soak in the rays. Today I even had time to stop and smell the flowers, hear the bees buzzing. Being self-employed has its advantages, especially in the shoulder season.
I did want to stay committed to dinner. I have a great cookbook for stew inspiration: Lobel’s Meat and Wine. It offers choices by meat type, with different themes based on recipes from various places in the world. Tonight I made a beef stew Provençale. The recipe is based on their Beef Stew Flavoured with Black Olives & Oranges, adapted for my tighter time schedule and ingredients on hand. We did still manage a nice local wine pairing.
I also got to chat with my brother today. We have had a tumultuous relationship over the years, running hot as great buddies or cold when we didn’t speak at all. These days, there is water under the bridge that doesn’t run smooth or clear, but we have found our way in the current and it feels good to have my oldest pal back. I suppose that speaks to the same theme of being flexible and committed, doesn’t it?
Life is about balance. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
There is a new trend going around, called “brinner”. It’s all about having breakfast food for dinner. The latest variation in comfort food, if you ask me. But I’m not complaining. It wasn’t dinner but rather lunch when my mom would occasionally make apple pancakes on a cold winter day – one of my favourite childhood memories.
But back to today’s meal. We are lucky enough to have a freezer with some pretty awesome leftovers. Since hubbie’s specialty in summer is southern-style BBQ, we have portions of some of the best pulled pork ever stashed away. Tonight it sat atop a delicious mound of steaming soft polenta. Polenta is just an Italian word for porridge made from cornmeal. Granted, it was served savoury – gussied up with aged cheddar, chopped zucchini and some coriander. The pulled pork was heated with some sautéed peppers, onions and then Greg cilantro at the last moment. I pulled a Sangiovese from the cellar, and presto chango, we had a trendy meal.
Here’s to your good health and happiness! I do hope you’re enjoying good food in good company. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s some of the best quality time you can have.
There are many reasons I count my lucky stars. Just living in this part of the world is a huge blessing, and the Okanagan in particular is a special spot for someone who is a foodie and a wine geek. But most of all, I’m spoiled by my hubbie.
Some people call it luck. Others call it fate. Whatever label you want to attach to the concept, when you find your soulmate, your live your life on a higher level. Quality time becomes precious time, not because it is rare but because it is special. Soulmates share passions, and so every moment shared holds special meaning. For us, the passion we share is food so every meal we have is a memory.
Contrary to popular belief, a chef and a sommelier don’t always eat lobster risotto and drink vintage French wine. Sometimes we have grilled cheese sandwiches, or salad, for dinner. Breakfast is often yogurt with fruit, and a protein shake. But when we decide to “dine”, we do it right. Yesterday was one of those days.
For breakfast, we had shakshouka. “What?”you say! I know. The only reason I know the same is because it’s trendy and I read about it – we call it eggs poached in tomato sauce.
My hubbie made the tomato sauce with a blend of sautéed and roasted veggies (artichokes, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and squash). He warmed the sauce up in the oven, using our spiffy boats that we bought for just such a meal. Then he cracked the eggs into the dishes and put them back in for another ten minutes or so. A bit of grated cheese went on top, and back in they went for a couple of minutes (we had Parmigiano Reggiano but any cheese you like will work). The rest of the cooking happened on the plate as I got toast and coffee ready. (I have a nifty milk steamer that he bought me so I can make lattes at home just the way I like them.)
And voilà. What could have been an ordinary day started off with a special moment shared.
We spent the day in the yard, spring cleaning. Each of us has our own responsibilities, so we mostly work alone outside. I prepped the greenhouse for early plants, and did some cleaning in the flower beds. Hubbie was busy being manly, chopping fruit wood that will be used for BBQ cooking this summer. We worked until cocktail hour. (What can I say, we work hard and live hard.)
As I made cocktails after cleaning up and feeding the dogs, hubbie prepared dinner. I had picked up a piece of fresh halibut at our local fishmonger, since the season just opened. He put a bit of a citrus spice rub on it, and prepared a Caesar salad to accompany it, with radishes instead of croutons for crunch (how’s that, gluten-free readers?)
Since I am his muse, I prepared just a bit of sauce: diced pieces of preserved lemon in a sweet wine reduction. (It might sound weird, but the sweet and salty elements were a nice foil for the richness of the fish.) I chose a new local wine from a winery I like that has a sassy image but great quality wine. If you have access to wines from BC, check out The Hatch.
Simple flavours, true to their character. (They say one way to test a chef is to have them make a Caesar salad. My guy could stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in any kitchen.)
It wasn’t a day celebrating anything special except another day together. But that’s how we live. Fridays are just as worthy of celebrating as anniversaries. I highly recommend it.