Archive for March 2014

Spring – What’s In Season??

Early To Late Spring:

A bevy of wonderful, fresh, local delicacies are coming into season. Once tasted, never forgotten! June brings juicy, jewel red strawberries with cream; just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Halibut comes into season in April. I love this fish, especially when marinated and barbecued. In May come the spot prawns. This year I want to try some new and interesting, (I hope) recipes. Haul out the barbecue; throw some spot prawns on;  in a couple of minutes, Heaven!

  •  radish trout lake May 19Arugula, Asparagus, Artichokes
  • Cauliflower, Cherries
  • English Peas
  • Fava Beans, Fresh Herbs
  • Green Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Nettles, New Potatoes
  • Radishes, Ramps, Rhubarb
  • Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries
  • Turnips
  • Halibut, Spot Prawns

With all of this, how can you not get all fired up and want to head straight to the kitchen and start cooking?  Buon gusto!

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The Arrival of Spring

Counting the days until the spring season begins providing us with amazing goodies to enjoy. Hands up if you are as tired of squash as we are!  

the arrival of spring 2Spotted at the Nat Bailey Winter Market little French Breakfast radishes at Sole Food. Fergus Henderson, of St. John’s restaurants in London, England uses the whole thing, leaves and all. May as well give it a go! Next up, thinly sliced the radishes; with soft, cultured, unsalted butter mashed up with a couple of drops of Worcestershire and Tabasco, to be spread on slices of baguette, piled on the radishes; added a pinch of sea salt and a sprinkle of chives and  bit into the first taste of spring. Delicately peppery and crisp, offset by the creaminess of the seasoned butter.

Also spied some new little micro greens. Thoughts of these little greens mixed with the radish leaves, glorious, zingy, especially with a light, lemony vinaigrette!  Wow…it is Spring!

When I look at the list of beauties to come, I can hardly wait and am already dreaming up some things to feature them. Don’t tell my Husband, but I dream of barbequing and have some plans for him too!!

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Afternoon Tea At The Del Rey

I am craving afternoon tea outside in the garden but it’s still not patio weather!  So a friend and I took ourselves to Rosie Daikin’s “Butter Tea Room” on Arbutus Street for afternoon tea!   So, I simply have to blog about a favourite thing of mine: celebrating afternoon tea on a beautiful day in the garden.  I can’t resist an invitation to tea in the garden; can you? So I will be inviting myself to my garden and asking a few friends to enjoy afternoon tea with me soon! How could they resist; well-chilled Prosecco, a scrumptious selection of little crustless sandwiches, homemade currant scones with clotted cream and lovely strawberry or raspberry jam and instead of different little pastries I’ll opt to make a spectacular homemade Victoria Sponge filled with lemon curd-whipped cream and fresh berries.  I am so ready!

DSCN0181 nx2What the heck is it about those yummy little sandwiches anyhow? I know…it’s the tasty fillings…so many to choose from…which one to choose…maybe I’ll have one of each! Don’t forget to save room for the little pastries or cake!

You might like to join in the fun in your own garden or patio! Perhaps you are looking for some ideas for fillings for your little sandwiches…and if you have never tried homemade scones slathered with clotted cream and strawberry jam, then you haven’t lived, they are divine!

You could serve tea but hey it’s a celebration so some bubbles may be in order!

**For my currant scone recipe, click here.

**For a recipe for making a Victoria Sponge, click here.

**For a selection of my favourite fancy sandwich fillings, click here for Chicken salads.  Click here for Cheese & egg.  Click here for Seafood & fish.  Click here for for ham, corned beef & roast beef.

Fancy Sandwich Tips:

  • It’s best to search out a bakery that makes the square loaves of bread as they will probably need some notice ahead of time. I like to use both white and whole-wheat bread.
  • Your butter should be very soft.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper to place the prepared sandwiches on. You should be able to stack them 3 sandwiches high if need be. One thing that absolutely needs to be done is you must cover the prepared sandwiches with more wax paper and then cover the whole thing with a damp tea towel. The sandwiches should be chilled for at least one hour to make it easier to remove the crusts. My husband calls the trimmed crusts “gourmet crusts!”
  • Once the sandwiches are trimmed and cut into triangles, keep them covered until you are ready to assemble the tea tray or the 3 tiered stand you are using one.

Note: I usually cut my sandwiches into triangles because I make pinwheels, round double decker and round open face sandwiches and these add the visual interest that is so appealing on a sandwich tray. If you are not making these then  feel free to cut them into fingers or squares or triangles which will make the tray look more interesting.  If you have space add something pretty for a garnish…perhaps a rose or other flower and a few leaves.

For the Sweeties:

If you like to bake, then make a few different squares or tarts (lemon curd would be wonderful), scones would be awesome too. Or perhaps you might just want to bake a sponge cake and fill it as I did instead of different squares and tarts.

Clotted cream is available in a few places, such as Whole Foods but in a pinch I have used homemade crème fraiche or purchased Devon cream.

**To make homemade crème fraiche, click here.

**If you are ever in Oak Bay in Victoria, give the White Heather Tea Room a call and make arrangements to have afternoon tea with them.  The location is not at impressive as the Empress Hotel but the tea is really, really good!

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Vintner’s Brunch 2014

The wind up event to the Vancouver International Wine Festival at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Center took place on Sunday, March 2nd where us lucky attendees get to sample a variety of food and wine pairings. The brunch is a fundraising event for “Bard on the Beach,” a hugely successful production that takes place in Vancouver every summer for a couple of months.

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One of the highlights of the year, we always go with two friends every year and this must be our 10th time, at least, to partake of all the delights the chefs have conjured up for our pleasure, along with a wine pairing for each plate. What great fun! There were offerings from sixteen different restaurants this time, good thing there is a programme handed out at the beginning so one can plan their strategy! I go through and select things I want to try and then select things I don’t but my husband does e.g. oysters, smoked salmon or raw fish. It’s a lot of fun…one of our little group is a vegetarian so she is always coming back to the table bringing tastes for the guys of things neither she or I will be able to eat. Then when I am on my reconnoitring missions, I bring back plates and wine pairings for my husband as well as for myself. We are sort of like birds that must get out there and bring back food to the nest!

 

 

The standouts for us this year were:

La Pentola with their duck and foie gras terrine with preserved onion

Dungeness crab “croque madame,” cured ham, leek fondue and poached quail egg from Forage

DSCN0148 nx2From the chef of the Vancouver Convention Center, poached egg meurette, braised lamb neck and hedgehog mushroom sauté, honey smoked sakura pork belly crostini

Dungeness crab and arugula crepe, potato and apple pave from The Fish House in Stanley Park

The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar, braised beef with quince, black kale, pickles, my personal “best”

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN0165 nx2Bella Gelateria sent forth a fabulous port gelato, port cassis mousse, stilton cheesecake sphere and raspberry cassis sauce to wrap things up! James Coleridge of Bella Gelateria was recently named 2014 Gelato Master of the Year by Italy’s oldest gelato organization!

 

 

And not to overlook one of the best parts of the brunch is the live band! They play throughout but during the last 30 minutes they switch things up and play rock and roll with Mustang Sally, Brown Eyed Girl, Purple Haze, I Saw Her Standing There, Roll Over Beethoven and Satisfaction.   Just about everyone gets up and boogies!

Another successful, fun brunch…looking forward to next March!

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