Friday, 23 December 2011

Simple Holiday Treat

Looking for a simple dish to "WOW" your guests give this 15 minute elegant dish a shot.

It really couldn't be easier, the ingredients are simple to find in any grocery store and are as follows:

2 Uber-Fresh Salmon filets, about 3-4 lbs each (from a fish shop);
2 cups course salt, I like Kosher for this;
2 cups brown sugar, I use Turbinado it has a less sweet more molasses flavour to it;
1/4 cup of white pepper;
1/2 of a fresh ground nut meg; 
2 oz. vodka, vermouth, absinth or any clear alcohol you like, but nothing sweet;
1 good sized bunch of fresh dill.

Mix all dry ingredients together, that's the cure.  Coat one side of the salmon with a generous layer.  Cover with all the fresh dill.  Sprinkle a liberal amount of the cure on the other salmon filet.  Splash your alcohol of choice over the filet with the dill on it and then flip the salmon with the cure on to the one with the dill, head to head, tail to tail in a glass dish.  Cover with Saran wrap.  Place a flat object on top of the filets and weigh down with 4 large cans.  After 48 hours in the fridge remove from the container, rinse ingredients off with very cold water and pat dry.  Slice paper thin on the bias and serve on thin wafers or rye bread and add a sauce made of sour cream, dill, lemon juice and grainy mustard.  Enjoy

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Roasted Chestnuts and Fire Smoked Garlic

Not sure what I am going to do with them but I"m really sure it will be pretty darn good whatever it is.  Quite frankly, pretty good right off the fire with a touch of sea salt.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Fatboy's Southern Smokehouse, Ottawa mmmmmmeat

So, as previously stated I am a hard-core carni-vore.  Watching the construction of this joint over the past few months had me salivating with anticipation of a traditional southern BBQ joint in the heart of the Market.  
In Ottawa we are blessed with the annual Rib Fest that fills the streets of the business district with thick plumes of hickory goodness and a plethora of baby backs, wings, pulled pork and pools of smokey sauces, but sadly in never lasts long enough and quietly makes is way out of town to its next destination.
Walking down Murray St. on this cold afternoon while making our way to an inaugural visit to F.S.S. the unmistakable scent of hickory filled our lungs and seemed to remove the chill from our bones.  
The place is deceptively large, unexpected from the outside as the new restaurant had replaced a rather unassuming florist shop.  The interior is all "roadhouse" with motorcycle and beer promotions adorning the walls and bathrooms.  Thankfully there are not an overwhelming amount of distracting tv's hanging from the ceiling.  As a Harley rider myself I did find the bathroom sinks interesting, you'll have to go in to see what I mean.  
Service was quick, knowledgeable, polite and very pleasant.  
The menu was by comparison to other pub-ish/tex-mex types  simple, they seem to know their niche and are not going outside the concept with offerings from every corner of the earth.  
Every table had a good selection of three in house made sauces ranging from sweet BBQ, a whole grain mustard based and a "red neck" that had a really good, not blow your head off heat balanced with sweetness.  
We sampled four dishes in all (and one really good Belgian beer).  First, pulled BBQ pork poutine.  The pork, undeniably the super star here.  Smokey, warm, flavorful, moist and I can go on.  Resting on top quality cheese curds, well cooked fries and a house made gravy pulled together from the drippings of the meats slowly cooking in the smoker.  How do you go wrong with that? I'd also point out the American size portions, very generous.  
I ordered wings to try out the sauces.  The wings are served bare, they were well cooked and pleasantly non-greasy.  The sauces, I would have taken a bath in if they'd let me, delicious were all three.  They have an amazing product with these, I am not sure if they bottle it for sale or not, but hope so.
A beet salad served with the smoked chicken was divine. We agreed that this may have been the best chicken we've had (see pork description above). 
The last item we sampled was the fried green tomato app.  I make these myself at home in the summer and have had them down south too. I would say this was the only item we were not fond of.  The batter was too thick and the slice of tomato could have been more generous.  Batter to tomato ratio was about 75-25 so really could only taste batter.  I would suggest a more tempura style batter to lighten them up a bit.  On the positive side they were served with a zingy remoulade that was very good.
I am going back to F.S.S. as there was too much promise in the rest of the menu items not to try.  If you're in the mood for a southern smoky delicious hearty experience F.S.S. should be tried.  They are very new, less than two weeks I believe so I'd suggest going soon because once the word get's out I suspect "by reservation only" might be the only way to get a seat here.
34 Murray St. just off of Sussex.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Kid Friendly Shortbread Cookie Recipe. FaLALALALA

Want to keep the little darlings amused during this hectic time, here's a super simple shortbread cookie recipe easy enough for the kiddies.  You are going to need a digital scale or conversion calculator, but that's as tough as it'll be.

Ingredients: 250g of butter, 100g castor sugar, 250g plain flour and 1 x tsp pure vanilla extract.  If you have vanilla sugar (and who doesn't) you can use that and skip the vanilla extract.
Special Gear: Electric mixer, Cookie cutters and digital scale

Preheat the oven to 180c or 350f
Cream the butter and the sugar together with a mixer until fluffy
Add the vanilla extract or the aforementioned vanilla sugar, sieve in the flour and mix well, but don't over mix they'll be tough.
Remove the mixture from the bowl and roll out until it’s about 1cm thick
Cut out shapes and place onto a baking tray
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until they just begin to harden
Sprinkle a little sugar or decorative seasonal sprinkles over the top, leave to cool (if you can) and enjoy!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Sushi Delivery, KAMPAI

Well I never thought that I'd get decent sushi from a delivery service in Ottawa but WOW, did I get a surprise. was a long shot but for the convenience I thought I'd give it a shot.  First good sign when they called me back to confirm the order and tell me precisely what time my order would arrive (and it arrived almost to the minute of the quote) is that this is a Japanese owned service.

The order took about an hour and a half because I was told they are made to order, good to know.  

The Sashimi platter's, freshness was as good if not better than any sit down Sushi joint in this City (pictured above) and the Sushi tray below was neatly assembled with fresh sticky rice and with just a touch of wasabi holding it all together and a side of seaweed salad, mmm.  Miso soup was pretty standard, I usually throw in a few things just to dance it up a bit but for only $1 what can you expect?  What arrived was more than enough for two people and for less that $40 delivered you can't go wrong with this service.  Keep in mind they are only open weekdays 12:00pm to 10:00pm, Fri 12:00pm to 10:30pm, Sat 12:30pm to 10:00pm Sun 3:00 to 8:30pm so if a late night Sushi bender is what you have in mind, order early.

Shortest Lunch Blog Ever...

The Prescott Hotel on Preston, Meatball Sandwich.  Nuff said.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Mambo Ottawa, Mystical Garden Wednesdays

I am a Carnivore and I love eating meat, all kinds of meat. I firmly state this to say simply that in order for me to go to an establishment only to eat vegetarian fare on a cold Ottawa night I'd really hope not to be left wondering at the end if I made the right decision? 

Mambo Restaurant, located at 77 Clarence Street (613) 562-2500 in the historic Byward Market of Ottawa is celebrating 5 years of service and is now offering a menu titled "Mystical Garden Wednesdays", a South American/Mediterranean inspired vegetarian and vegan menu made up of 23 items ranging from $6-$8 for salads and app's up to $16 for mains. 

The restaurant itself is attractive, almost sexy in a Latin lover sort of way.  The staff wear tidy crimson and black uniforms reminiscent of a well groomed matador.  Mambo is not an over the top decked out "Tex-Mex" joint with child like fresco's and cliche mariachi music, but has an interior of subtle refinement.  It's clean, simply appointed dining area does not intend to compete with the food about to come out of the kitchen from the hands of a talented, humble chef.  Mambo also has a romantic basement "Grotto/wine cellar" available by reservation for private events.  

Ok, now the food.  I trusted the ordering to my hostess, a simply charming lady clearly passionate about food and the restaurant industry and her passion comes through in many aspects during the evening.  

We started with a sampling of traditional Sangria's both red and white.  The red features the nice addition of Cherry Brandy and fresh juice, enjoyable even on a cold night.  It made my memory return to my younger days when my grandmother would slip me a Cherry Brandy and Cola, but only at Christmas.  The white sangria, which was a bit sweet for my pallet also containing fresh juice and a splash of sweet sparkling water would be perfect on a hot summer patio.  

As the portions arrived I am pleased to see they are not Tapas sized, usually a disappointment unless of course you're bar hopping around the streets of Barcelona at 2am.  The four items artistically plated focused on each dish as a whole, not on an individual component of the dish.  That said, there were some standout ingredients that must be addressed.  We sampled the Tostada, Carpaccio de Tomate y Queso, Los Zetas de Veracruz and Gringos Tacos. The multiple ingredient layers of each serving played wonderfully together without any of the dishes being "muddied" by excessive guacamole, sour cream or over seasoning often found in this style of food. 

The Tomato Carpaccio was elegantly light with a bold balsamic reduction and capers, a great start.  The Tostada layered like a Mille-feuille featured soy cheese (a first for me) that danced nicely with the house made salsa verde.  There were the wild mushrooms with pear and parmesan in a creamy sauce on flat bread that melted in my mouth and finally the grilled pineapple in the Gringos Taco which worked wonderfully as a sweet unintentional desert.  I was assured the ingredients were locally sourced, when available and all were of the utmost freshness.

Indulge me a metaphor if you would please, if I could summarize the overall experience I would have to describe it as an elegant, gastronomical Tango, rather than a fiery Flamenco.  

You won't be disappointed with a visit to Mambo, I surely wasn't.
Buen provecho

MAMBO Restaurant,
Mystic & Manicure Tuesdays* Featuring complimentary Manicures, Crystal Readings & Cocktail-Tapas specials
Mystic Garden Wednesdays*Featuring our delectable Latin inspired Veggie & Vegan menu
El Barrio Thursdays *Featuring complimentary Tango lessons from 8-10pm & Cocktail-Tapas specials
Zona Viva Fridays*Featuring DJ Frederico on deck to serenade & entertain
Suave Saturdays *Featuring DJ Jim Reilly on deck to mix & mingle