Tag Archives: garlic

Salt Spring Island weekend mini-vacation

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of getting older, or the fact that I moved from a house into a high-rise apartment building, or the fact that there are two construction sites across the street from me, but I’ve been finding the city tiresome. Don’t get me wrong. I love Vancouver, I love my neighbourhood (and its impressive 95% score on a walkability index) and I love not having a car.

View from Salt Spring Island getaway house

This is an arbutus tree. I never knew they were red. Or so pretty.

But still, it’s nice to have friends who invite you to islands for long weekend mini-vacations. Friends with parents with houses on Salt Spring Island. You know, friends with parents with houses on Salt Spring Island with views like this from the back porch.

And speaking of said porch, candelit dinners with friends are also wonderful. One night it was barbecued ribs, another night handmade pizza.

And piiiiiie. One strawberry-rhubarb, one blueberry. I did not, however, bake them in this darling little wood stove—I used a convection oven. But they sure look pretty on top of it, so let’s just pretend. Let’s also pretend that this picture isn’t blurry. And I’ll pretend that I hadn’t been drinking wine in the sun all afternoon.

Pie!

Pie! One strawberry-rhubarb, one blueberry. Both delicious.

Salt Spring Island, for the uninitiated, is a mecca of educated hippie artistic fantasticness. Where nary a multi-national chain can be found, and where there are no fewer than three soap companies. (These are clean hippies, understand.) And at last weekend’s Saturday market, it seemed that the entire island could be found at the city square.

And what a market it was. Gorgeous pottery, hand-knit hats, sock monkeys, carnival masks, tie-dyed yoga pants, hula hoops: it was all there. And, of course, lots of artisan food vendors and stunningly fresh produce. The farmers market aisle was fragrant with the scent of basil, and everywhere you looked there was an heirloom tomato more perfect than the last. And stripey Portuguese garlic, all coy in its basket.

Portuguese garlic at Salt Spring Island market

Stripey!

I discovered that Foxglove Farm, with its farm dinners, accommodation and education programs, has the best raspberries that I’ve tasted in years. I ogled the selection of fresh goat cheeses from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company (almost too pretty too eat).

And yes, I found chocolate.

Salted caramels from Chocolate Beach

Caramels with Himalayan sea salt. Tasty.

Chocolate Beach is a teeny tiny chocolate company run by Joanne and Rob Burns. She’s the chocolatier, formerly goat cheese maker, formerly something else. She’s now retired and making chocolates with certified fair trade chocolate from Cocoa Camino. Her sea salt caramel, a pleasantly chewy caramel dipped in chocolate and topped with pink Himalayan sea salt, was lovely. Rob manned the other side of the booth with an impressive display of fudge.

While I didn’t try this tarte au chocolat, it’s awfully pretty. And I’m a sucker for a cursive chalk on a chalkboard. It helps that this table was run by a very friendly French couple who spoke like zees.

Tarte au chocolat

Cue accordion music and Audrey Tautou cameo appearance.

My sweet tooth also spied other treats: stacks of buttery shortbread from Bite Me! Gourmet Treats and honest-to-goodness cannoli from an Italian food stand.

And, because I clearly hadn’t had a decadent enough day, I had a pineapple-coconut popsicle from the Salt Spring Island Fruitsicle stand. Self-proclaimed “creators and purveyors of delicious, fruit based iced lollies,” these were the hit of the market. Popsicles that taste like real fruit. How novel.

All in all, a great weekend away.

Stacks of shortbread

Stacks of shortbread from Bite Me! Gourmet Treats

Cannoli

I love cannoli, but I can't get a good cannoli in Vancouver. These were good (but not like the stuff you can get in Montreal).

Chocolates from Chocolate Beach at Salt Spring Island market

An assortment of chocolates from Chocolate Beach

Candlelit dinner on Salt Spring Island

Life was made for candlelit dinners with good food, good wine and great company.

Sunset, glorious sunset from the porch.

And now I'm just being mean by posting this. But look! Stunning!

Advertisements

Main Street Station farmer’s market

Apparently, it’s local food week on this here blog. That was unintentional, but maybe a reflection of the plethora of the events and whatnot that are going on this time of year, and in Vancouver.

Yesterday was the opening of the Main Street Station farmer’s market. Had I been more on the ball, I would have told you yesterday so you could go, but I’m telling you now so that you can go next week. There are early strawberries (a bit tart, but still infinitely better than the stuff carted in from California), beautiful rhubarb, garlic scapes, kale, arugula, radishes, eggs…the list goes on. And, yesterday, opening day cake!

I have visions of rhubarb pie, swiss chart tart, radishes with salt, and roasted scapes. It’s going to be lovely.

And just when you thought I had chocolate off the brain: when you go, say hi to Kelly at Bad Girl Chocolates, and tell her I sent you. She has two new things in her arsenal: a beautiful molded chocolate spattered with green, containing a rosemary caramel; and a fresh mint truffle. Oh, to die for.

The Main Street Station farmer’s market is on until October 21, every Wednesday from 3-7pm. It’s in Thornton Park at Main and Terminal, across the street from the train station. Look for the tents, local produce and happy people: you can’t miss it.

Best of New York: John’s Pizzeria

John’s Pizzeria
(Greenwich Village)

My second cousin took me to John’s Pizzeria. I had to double-check the address with him, because there are tons of variations on the name in Greenwich Village. He impressed upon me that we weren’t just going for the best pizza in New York; we were going for The Best Pizza in New York.

To be fair, he didn’t give me a chance to try any of the impersonators in the neighbourhood, so I have no idea what the competitors were offering.

But John’s pizza is delicious. The thin crust is simultaneously crispy yet chewy. More amazingly, the crust actually tastes like something: like flour, yeast, and salt. We had a margherita pizza, with brightly fresh tomato sauce and basil. It was perfect. The tomato sauce is rich and full, just salty enough, and complements the crust beautifully.

We also had one with pepperoni and garlic, and another with anchovy and black olives. Both were good, but neither came close to the plain old tomato sauce and basil pizza.

Also, the Murray Cheese Company is just down the street at 254 Bleeker Street. They have a beautiful selection of cheese, meat and other goodies. Like chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

John’s Pizzeria
278 Bleecker Street, between Seventh Avenue and Jones Street
New York, NY
212-243-1680
John's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe

I make a really simple, but really tasty, tomato sauce. It consists of tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt & pepper, and a bay leaf. With such a simple recipe, it’s really important that you’re using the absolute best ingredients. And, since tomatoes are the star of this sauce, you’d better use the best tomatoes you can find: San Marzano tomatoes.

Continue reading

Reminiscing about Toronto

Outside the Jamaican fish store in Kensington market

Outside the Jamaican fish store in Kensington market

An anti-So.cial sandwich

For months, I’ve been meaning to go to Social at Le Magasin.  It’s a two-part restaurant, with a little bistro on Water Street and a butchershop/deli facing West Cordova.  I keep walking by the bistro and seeing signs for oysters and cheap martinis.  I haven’t even been in there, and they already know what I like!

I’ve heard great things about their sandwiches, so it was about time that I tried one.  They’re good value – I got a small sandwich for $6.75 and only managed to eat half of it.  Each sandwich also comes with a bag of homemade potato chips, which are delightfully salty and ever-so-slightly burnt.  It’s a daring but tasty move.

Continue reading