on sundae

vanilla ice cream with balsamic syrupThe old aphorism “opposites attract” probably best describes this pairing. The slightly acidic tang from the balsamic syrup with the softly sweet vanilla is a winning combination. Elegantly simple. Vanilla pairs perfectly with so many things that we made the ice cream our vehicle for taste testing several different flavoured balsamic vinegars. Fig, black cherry, chocolate, pear…just a few of the versatile vinegars from the Unrefined Olive, and all delicious. David Lebovitz’s recipe for vanilla ice cream has been my go-to. I was so excited to get a double batch done while family was visiting (so that we could have our balsamic tasting experience!) that the second batch might not have been completely frozen…I tried to pass it off as soft serve. Continue reading

wine weekend

One night when I was around 11 years old, I heard a steady knocking coming from our basement as I got ready for bed. I don’t know what spooky things I was expecting to find, but I do remember holding my breath as I tip toed down the stairs.

It was just my dad hammering some DIY-wine bottle racks together; nothing frightening (although, I guess Dad with a hammer could be a bit of a scary sight). Thus my first exposure to wine appreciation was at home—kid-Katie thought white wine was pretty tasty, but red was revolting. Am happy to report that my taste buds have evolved.

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berkeley birthday

In contrast to the chilly October weekend that just passed, my twin brother and I celebrated our birthday last year in sunny California. Between hiking along the coastal beaches and under sequoia canopies, and roaming the hilly street of San Francisco, we spent a night and a day with most of our family in Berkeley.On our birthday-eve (not something we typically celebrate!), we wandered through town in time to hear the tower bells on campus, and back too late for the farmer’s market. Upon having our ID checked at Jupiter, we were challenged to a birthday beer race by our server (we lost, obviously). There were birthday candles floating in our stout which was a big enough win for me. We ate pizza and then my brothers and I fell asleep while watching Harry Potter in the motel room; a great way to ring in another trip around the sun.

Before driving across the bridge to San Francisco the next day, we had a late lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. I will attribute the same-day reservation that my parents made to being a birthday miracle.

My mum had introduced me to the name Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse many years ago. When the assigned reading for my high school French class was Marcel Pagnol’s Marius & Fanny, the connection to the character named Panisse, in my mind, was the Californian restaurant. I thought it was an exciting coincidence at the time. (It’s not a coincidence, of course.)

The significance of Alice Waters’ influence on American cuisine is expansive – extending far outside of Californian kitchens, into farms, schools, and global communities. Many more skilled writers and cooks than I have described her impact in the industry and beyond. I’ll just add that it was a real treat to sit in the sunlit café on my birthday, with some wonderful people, eating delicious, simple food that was a testament to all the good things I had heard before getting there. Another birthday candle, this time in my persimmon pudding, was icing on the (birthday) cake. I can’t wait to go back.cali bday (1)
We left with one of Alice Waters’ cookbooks, with recipes ordered by season and ingredients. It’s almost encyclopedic, and wonderful to flip through for inspiration. The recipe I’m sharing is certainly not Continue reading

early fall [tomato & sourdough soup]

Without the back-to-school rush in September, there was less of a definite seasonal shift in my head. A little less excitement, less novelty, less homework, less sense of impending doom. A freeing feeling for the most part, but occasionally one that I let stress me out when thoughts of future plans (or lack thereof) get the best of me.

Of course, classes or not, the learning never ends. Working Continue reading

late summer [melon berry juice]

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Dewy, hazy, sunrises by the river. Any excuse to be outside. Lingering on patios, on the porch, with the pooch, with friends, with family. One night in a tent, not enough time on the tennis courts, learning how to bat, and picking as many raspberries as possible. Summer flip flops between feeling luxuriously languid, and disappointingly fleeting. According to the calendar, the summer months are over; make sure you squeeze out every last drop. Click for recipe

40 Hours in Montreal

Aside from the childhood landmarks –the penguins at the Biodome, my grandmother’s kitchen, the mountain, a family favourite souvlaki joint– I’ve realized that I don’t know Montreal all that well. It’s still a familiar place; most of our extended family and many friends call la belle province home, but despite years of visiting I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the city.

With my twin and his boyfriend as our local guides, we had a jam-packed 40 hours exploring in the city. Le Plateau. Mile End. Le Vieux Port. There were some places of nostalgia, but mostly lots of new-to-me spots. We café crawled, bar hopped, and karaoked our hearts out. Continue reading