Tag Archives: pizza

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!

Osteria Marco makes a mean pizza

From the street, Osteria Marco looks more like a tea shop or gourmet food store than a restaurant. Once inside, the hostess leads you down the winding staircase to the cavernous, but not oppressive, dark-panelled basement dining room. Looking at the room, you wouldn’t even know that we’re in the midst of a recession. It was buzzing on a Tuesday night.

Since we were a large group, we were given a prix fixe menu to choose from. I started with a baby arugula salad, smartly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted baby pine nuts and currants. The arugula was delicate and didn’t have its typical bite, and the pine nuts provided a lovely nuttiness and richness to the salad. There were a few too many currants for my liking, but they did provide a sweet contrast to the dish.

The main course was touted as a margherita pizza from their wood-fired oven, but the menu didn’t say that it was going to be 14″ in diameter. I would have liked the crust to be a wee bit crisper, but aside from that it was delicious. The tomatoes were rich and meaty (San Marzano tomatoes, I’m sure), the basil nice and bright, and the mozzarella fresh and gooey. After trying to hock a few pieces of pizza to my dining companions, I ended up taking half of the pizza home with me.

The dessert menu was a little uninspired, but I was also so full of pizza that dessert wasn’t an option.

The kicker: all this food (including next day’s breakfast in leftovers), plus a glass of wine, came in at $20 including tax and a generous tip.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO
(303) 534-5855
Osteria Marco on Urbanspoon

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

It’s snowing cats and dogs

I haven’t seen this much snow, or snowflakes this size, since my first year living in Kingston. And that was Kingston, not Vancouver. Crazy.

Apparently, grocery stores are running out of food. We’re definitely getting creative at my house. With the Christmas party (and turkey) cancelled, this might just be the year to start a new tradition: Christmas pizza.

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Oh! The glory of fermented dairy products!

My current obsession is homemade pizza.  I made a big batch of pizza dough a few weeks ago and portioned it out for the freezer.  It defrosts in about an hour at room temperature, and with some homemade tomato sauce and carefully selected cheeses, it makes for a rather tasty concoction. So far my favourite is broccoli/cauliflower/provolone/gouda, but I also really liked the simple but delicoius combination of roasted tomato/mushroom/baby leek/provolone/gouda. Yum.

Birthday pizza

To celebrate my 27th year of existence, I hosted a movie marathon with a “make yer own pizza, bitch” component. The latter featured homemade pizza dough and tomato sauce and whatever toppings I purchased at the market the day before: mushrooms, arugula, asparagus, spicy olives, and three kinds of cheese (brie, bocconcini, and regular mozzarella). It was deliciousness, although there was an almost-incident when an over-greased pan started smoking in the oven for a few minutes, and for a few minutes the kitchen looked like a bad 80’s nightclub with the smoke machine cranked up.

I did end up making my own birthday cake, but since it was a caramel-pear mousse cake I didn’t mind. It was a chance to practice all those techniques I worked so hard to learn in culinary school.

Exploding pizza! Ka-boom!

Today I went to Future Shop, where I fondled a brushed chrome Kitchenaid Mixer.

Then Paul and I went to Steph’s place where he and his wife were making lasagna from scratch. Like, from scratch: home-made noodles, sauce, five kinds of cheese (they would have made the cheese too, had they had the time and the cows)…

They put the whole mixture in a pyrex baking dish and put it on the barbecue. Twenty minutes later we removed the lid to reveal a mess of cheese, tomato sauce, and shattered glass. The entire container had spontaneously shattered into a million pieces, rendering the lasagna an inedible, cheesy mess. It looked like ice cubes, except that it was broken pyrex. We left it for the raccoons (is that mean?) and called up the pizza place.