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

Snow Pea Slaw

There is a jungle of tomatoes in our backyard. Raspberries are ripening at a rate that is hard to keep up with (though we are happy to try!). Herbs are running wild and the apples seem promising enough to look forward to. But the snow peas are done. Their tendrils climbed quickly for a short little while. I’ll be filing this recipe away for next summer’s crop. Continue reading

Beach Riesling

lake ontarioNHAfter sleeping through alarms and a later than anticipated start, we arrived in Prince Edward County in time for lunch at Norman Hardie’s.  We snagged a seat in the shade, and pizza hot from the wood oven arrived soon after with some cold County Chardonnay. The winery was hopping for a Monday. Amidst the soundtrack of clinking glasses and wine chatter, we mapped out our next stops in the county.  With only a short day to get away to one of our favourite places in Ontario, we planned to squeeze in as many wineries and breweries as we could before hitting the beach.  But we never made it past Norm’s. Continue reading