Coming Up: A Taste of the Arctic

My lunch break yesterday was a departure from my regular sandwich or salad. Instead, I sampled pitsi and maktaaq and tuttuminiq quaq.

…Intrigued? Then you might want to check out A Taste of the Arctic! (That’s dried Arctic char, beluga skin, and raw caribou, if you were wondering.)

taste of the arctic previewAs I munched on (more than a few) pieces of candied Arctic char, I watched as meat was expertly  sliced with sharp ulus, traditional Inuit made blades, and learned more about Inuit culinary customs (apparently the eye of the fish is a treat that people fight over!).

Bannock, the quintessential bread, was the only food on offer that was familiar to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the new things I tried. One of the ulu-yielding women drew similarities between the raw fish and meat we were eating and Asian sushi, something that doesn’t seem so unfamiliar. Raw, smoked, dried, candied, or frozen, it was neat to see fish and meat prepared in so many ways on one table. (The most traditional way being “pulled straight out of the water and served” I was told — talk about catch of the day.)james bay (3 of 3)

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humbler than pie [olive oil apple crisp]

humbler than pie (15 of 15)humbler than pie (14 of 15)A good friend of mine and I sometimes joke about worrying that we peaked in high school. We were just big fish in a little pond, but I sometimes feel that I lost some of the confidence I had after I left that teenage-comfort zone. It might be that I’m overthinking things, or it might just be a part of growing up—maybe a bit of both.

While I often found my undergrad challenging, I find myself occasionally missing the structure that came with the “occupation” of being a student and the kind of certainty it offered; I knew what I was doing with my life for a solid chunk of time (that good ole’ BSc), at least most of the time. And even if I didn’t know what lay ahead after graduation, I had another year or two to think about it, another semester or two, another week or two…

Since graduating, I’ve doubted myself a lot in a way that doesn’t feel like “me”. I’ve given in to mini-cry sessions that creep up on me without warning, and indulged in little pity parties for seemingly no reason. Motivation has been a little low, Netflix usage has gone up. I have learned how to cross stitch. Continue reading

so gouda

cheese at homeHappy Cheese Lover’s Day! (There are food “days” for every day of the year now, I think. But this looks official enough for me.)

I did a little research in the name of spreading the good cheesy word — you can go learn about some of Ottawa’s top cheese authorities and their favourite cheeses over at Ottawa Magazine. Continue reading

on the move [grapefruit ricotta pudding]

SONY DSCSONY DSCJokingly, I told Tristan that upon moving into our new aprtment, my first order of business would be to get a little Christmas tree. Strangely, once we moved, my priorities shifted slightly — suddenly I was more concerned about getting a real mattress (off the floor!), and having vegetables in the fridge. But Tristan took me seriously, and a week after the move he delighted me by suggesting that we best go pick out a tree.

So, with my priorities straightened out, we’ve been settling in nicely. We hosted our first little shindig the weekend before Christmas and it was so fun to see our friends in a place we’re calling ours.

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pumpkin granola with cacao nibs

west van & granola (14)west van & granola (3) The west coast smelled like fir trees and cedars – likely due to a small wind storm that hit shortly before our arrival, but I’m happier romanticizing it as part of Vancouver’s charm. On a too-quick trip to hug my aunt and cousin, we managed to climb most of the way up a mountain, see a couple shows, try a bunch of beer, and enjoy some impressively sunny November weather.

West Van seemed even prettier than I remembered (“Oh my gosh, you can see the mountains from here! And the ocean from here!” etc, etc…). Or, maybe it is so beautiful out there that I just can’t help gushing. With coniferous breezes and palm fronds waving by the seawall, it seems instinctive to inhale as deeply as possible. (Woah, did I just get a little yogic/life coach-ish on you? Blame Vancouver.)

So, four days on the other side of the country did us good. Vancouver smelled like firs and cedars, and fresh baked granola every morning.

I credit my aunt with introducing me to homemade granola a few years ago. It comes together so quickly, and is such a versatile thing to bake that it quickly became a staple in my kitchen repertoire. Variations are endless, which is part of the fun. This warm spiced pumpkin and cocoa nib combination is one I have been enjoying a lot lately. I hope you do, too.west van & granola (5)

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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

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