Sunday, January 17, 2016

I've Moved!



Please join me at my new online home: www.aftertheharvest.ca !!


Thank you for reading, eating, drinking, and connecting! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Cure for the First Chilly Saturday in November


When faced with a grey, chilly Saturday morning in November, usually I go back to bed after walking my dog, and curl up under the blankets, at least for a little while. This morning, however, I had scheduled a coffee meeting with a friend about the future of our local co-op The West End Well, so I was up and at 'em. 

I put on a warm sweater, an inside scarf and outside scarf (does anyone else do this?) and set out on foot to meet my friend in my lovely neighbourhood of Hintonburg. We met at a busy Bridgehead and enjoyed some hot beverages and conversation among the young families, students, and other Saturday morning coffee and laptop people. 

After our meeting, I set off for home, with the intent of making a few neighbourhood stops along the way. After a pleasant run-in with a fellow food blogger and her adorable family, I enjoyed checking out a new pop-up shop, hoping to be permanent: Maker House Co. Today was their grand opening and they had a lot of beautiful handmade items inside -- I especially loved the hand-turned rolling pins and the vintage radio that had been re-wired to play music from an iPod or iPhone. 

After resisting the temptation to buy all of the beautiful housewares, I stopped in at Hintonburg Market to pick up some ingredients for soup (recipe coming soon!). Maybe it was the act of grocery shopping itself, or perhaps the fact that all I'd had for breakfast was a cocoa-chai, but suddenly I started craving one of my favourite brunch items in life -- smoked salmon on toast with capers, red onion and lemon. I picked up some capers and a red onion, and was on my way. 

I stopped in at the awesome neighbourhood bakery, Bread By Us next. They still had some of yesterday's country sourdough which would be perfect for my smoked salmon treat, so I bought a loaf. 

All I needed now was some lovely smoked salmon, which I picked up at The Bagel Shop in Wellington West, but not before running into another couple of friends who were fuelling up at the other Bridgehead before heading to a family party. Back to the apartment I went to put together what I call my cure for the first chilly Saturday in November. 

Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 a juicy lemon
  • a few thin slices of red onion
  • Vegenaise (or cream cheese if you prefer) 
  • capers, drained and rinsed
  • Bread By Us country sourdough (fresh or toasted)
  • smoked salmon (this one hailed from Quebec)
  • salt and pepper to taste
I didn't bother toasting the bread because it was still soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside just as I like it. I spread some Vegenaise on the bread (damn you, GP for getting me addicted), and then topped it with the smoked salmon, thin slices of red onion, and salty capers. I recommend using a very juicy lemon to dress this open-faced sandwich with a liberal amount of lemon juice. The perfect brunch snack for a grey, chilly day like today -- salty, savoury, bright, and refreshing, I devoured it before my fish-loving dog could even begin to beg.  If you're in the mood to get a little day-drunk, you could pair this with an affordable Vinho Verde like Gazela, or Aveleda. For a non-alcoholic pairing, I would suggest something as simple as hot lemon water, or a sparkling water with lemon. 

Bundle up everyone and enjoy your weekend!

What is your cure for a chilly Saturday in November? 






Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dinner at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, MN and Q & A with Chef Gavin Kaysen


I fully enjoyed my beautiful, delicious dinner at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I sat at the chef's bar and enjoyed the ambiance. My favourite thing was watching one of the chefs stoke the wood burning stove. 

I love open kitchens! 

Chef Kaysen (L) finishing a dish before it is served.
Chef Kaysen's favourite ingredient is butter, and tasting this butter
from Hope Creamery told me why - so creamy and delicious! 

I love starting a meal with fantastic fresh bread, and creamy artisan butter. I was also treated to a black truffle arancini amuse bouche, but it went into my mouth before I could pick up my phone. 

This Bordeaux Blanc Petit Chapeau 2014 was a perfect pairing. 

First dish: Chilled corn soup, Biscayne Bay crab, fennel, vanilla oil, brioche. 

Smooth, rich and delicious. 


Wine pairing: Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Pepiere Loire, 2012

Second dish: Spaghetti Nero, prawns, mussels, octopus, far diavolo, fines herbes. 

Loved this dish! 



I barely had room for dessert so I asked for a sorbet, and received this gorgeous raspberry sorbet with chocolate sauce. I sipped some green mint tea to finish my meal, and my attentive waiter wouldn't let me leave without some tasty petit fours for my trip home the next day. 



Q & A with Chef Gavin Kaysen: 

If you were a tourist in your own town, where would you eat?
Do you have any favourite food-related films or books?
What was the last cookbook you bought?

The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
*It has to be said that this is how generous Chef Kaysen is - when I asked this question, he immediately gave me this book as a gift, as Hugh Acheson had recently had his book party at Spoon and Stable. 

What is your favourite ingredient:

BUTTER - Chef Kaysen sources his amazing butter from Hope Creamery in Hope, Minnesota

And...the signature After the Harvest question: 




If you could dine with any 5 people, living or dead, who would they be, where would you eat , and what would you eat and drink?
  • Daniel Boulud, his wife, kids, and maternal grandmother Dorothy
  • Napa Valley, outside on a patio in a vineyard
  • "Eating simply and enjoying wine"
Thank you, Chef Kaysen, for your time, and for sharing your beautiful food. It was a fantastic experience! Also, thank you for your gift of Hugh Acheson's The Broad Fork -- another thing that made  me feel at home -- a cookbook not only written by a Canadian, but a chef that grew up and trained in my hometown of Ottawa. Very cool. Read more about Chef Kaysen here.

   Stay tuned to the blog for my attempts at some of Chef Hugh Acheson's recipes! 

A Conversation with Chef Gavin Kaysen

"I'm going to Minnesota" I told people when they asked about my summer travel plans. "Why would you go there?" was often the response. Besides a friend getting married at a lakeside resort just south of the Canadian border, I would also be visiting family in Minneapolis. Until May of this year family and friends would have been my only reasons to travel to this state of 10,000 lakes.

What happened in May that suddenly made Minnesota more interesting to me? I heard Chef Gavin Kaysen speak at Terroir Symposium in Toronto. Terroir's program has many compelling speakers on topics relating to food, but it was the passion in Chef Kaysen's voice when speaking about his Ment'or BKB Foundation that had me intrigued. When I found out his restaurant was in his hometown of Minneapolis, I was excited about adding a bit of culinary tourism to my trip.

Little did I know that visiting Minnesota and getting to know Chef Kaysen would actually make me feel quite at home, and not like I was traveling at all.


The glass doors come up and seating is created outside
resulting in a relaxed patio atmosphere for guests.

When I arrived at Spoon and Stable in the trendy North Loop neighbourhood of Minneapolis that sunny Tuesday afternoon, I felt a bit like I was in the Distillery District in my former home city, Toronto. Historically a warehouse district, the North Loop has an industrial vibe, mixed with modern amenities to please any thirtysomething hipster: yoga studios, coffee shops, high end boutiques filled with handcrafted pieces by local artisans, and of course, fantastic restaurants that focus on local, seasonal, sustainable cuisine. Spoon and Stable has been open for two years, and it has not had a slow night since. The popularity of Spoon and Stable could be due to the hip neighbourhood; or it could also be because of Chef Kaysen's pedigree, having trained under Daniel Boulud, won silver with Team USA in the Bocuse D'Or, and been a guest judge on Top Chef (I must admit that's how I first came to know him); but something tells me the food and service is in large part the reason why the restaurant had reservations for 180 on a Tuesday night in August. Read the account of my dinner at Spoon and Stable here. 

I loved this vintage mailbox detail in the foyer.

Walking into the restaurant I was greeted with a smile by the friendly staff, and while I waited to speak to the chef, I spied the bartenders prepping beets for a specialty cocktail they would serve later that night. As I walked over to the banquette where Chef Kaysen was sitting with his computer and paperwork, I noticed the open kitchen with chefs bustling around testing a tomato, feta, basil, saba vinaigrette and compressed watermelon appetizer. The dish was plated and photos were snapped, and then forks dug in for a taste.



After a warm handshake and a smile, I sat down with Chef Gavin for our conversation. I instantly felt welcomed and relaxed. He had an ease about him, and we instantly started talking about food. Like many who have written about him, I also wanted to know why he moved from New York back to Minneapolis, but I made the decision not to ask that question right away. I decided I'd like to know more about him as a person, a chef, a family man, and a Minnesotan.

Gavin's desire to become a chef first sparked when he baked Christmas cookies with his grandmother Dorothy. He was 7. When he saw the smiles on his brothers and cousins' faces when the cookies were served to them, he was "excited and inspired by something as simple as Christmas cookies". "That was when I knew I would do something to do with food with my life", he said. Today, Gavin continually honours his grandmother and the effect she had on him and his culinary career. You can see her in the pillows, which are covered in fabric with her handwriting on it. You can see her in the coffee, which is also named after Grandma Dorothy.



Family played a big part in Chef Kaysen's journey to becoming a chef. Growing up, his parents rarely cooked, and since the age of 12, it was his and his brother's job to cook dinner two nights a week each. "Since I was the youngest I ended up cooking more", he joked. On his cooking days, he would wake up in the morning and mix up what he called his "potions", often using a crock pot and Betty Crocker's cookbooks. He made pot roast, meatloaf, chicken dishes, and a leg of lamb marinated in yogurt. Friday nights were pasta nights, as they often had hockey games on Saturdays and they needed the carbo-load.

His brother created this beautiful spoon-themed art piece.


These days he's still the main cook in the household, although his wife and kids also enjoy cooking. Recently he made pork chops marinated in harissa paste with coconut milk, ginger, scallions, and fish sauce, and served it with a succotash of corn. I asked him if his kids liked his cooking, to which he told me that there is one rule in the house about food "You have to try what Daddy cooks". His kids love food and will try everything once, but like most kids they have their mac and cheese type favourites. Family meals often start with what's fresh and growing in the garden: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, herbs and cucumbers are summer staples.

At Spoon and Stable, tomatoes are the star in late summer, and they get them, as well as many other vegetables, from a local supplier called Pork and Plants. The restaurant also sources fresh produce from local markets, and from their hydroponic herb garden in the basement.



Gavin tells me that the food philosophy at Spoon and Stable is all about "breaking boundaries, amending traditions, and redefining fine dining." His goal is to break down the notion of fine dining from white tablecloths and lofty prices to something more approachable. He wants to provide great food, service and ambiance for his guests. It's not surprising that having worked under Chef Daniel Boulud, his style is rooted in French cuisine, but it's also based on local, sustainable product. He tells me that in the midwest the style of cooking he adopts is often referred to as "fanatically seasonal fare" as the weather changes so often, chefs who choose to source ingredients seasonally are often bound to what's fresh and seasonal any given day.

After much of my own internal protest, I decide to ask him the question so many have asked before, "Why did you leave New York to return to Minneapolis, and what has the experience been like coming home?", and he graciously answers. "Being back is great," he says, as he humbly admits that it is wonderful that the restaurant has been successful, and been well received both locally and nationally. "My personal family life is awesome," he smiles and states that although he loves New York, "it's nice to be able to hear the trees swaying in the wind at home and see the beautiful green grass." Family closeness and continuing family traditions also played a large part in his decision to come home.

"Going out to eat is more about the people I am with than what I'm eating."~ Chef Gavin Kaysen


I reflect upon this and realize that he's right when he says, "if the food is good, people find you. Look at Faviken", referring to the remote yet wildly popular and critically acclaimed restaurant run by Chef Magnus Nilssen in Jarpen, Sweden.  With so many chefs vying for a successful career in the larger cities, it does seem to be becoming more popular for chefs to head home and open their own restaurants, bringing their culinary skills and experience back to the place where they grew up.

"You have to be true to who you are and believe in what you do", Chef Kaysen says. With this in mind, I ask him about his work with the Ment'or BKB Foundation. Inspired by the world famous international culinary competition, The Bocuse D'or, at which Chef Kaysen and the USA team won the silver medal in January of this year, the Ment'or BKB Foundation's mission is to:
"build a sustainable community of young American professionals that are knowledgeable and confident in their career pursuits and will be life-long ambassadors of quality and excellence in the world of gastronomy. The organization is dedicated to making the careers of serious young individuals more meaningful and successful by offering them unique educational opportunities, internships and access to a Culinary Council of established mentors(www.mentorbkb.org/about)."
 The foundation has three main programs, all focused on mentorship:
  • Offering Grants as continuing educational opportunities for culinary professionals looking to expand their education and skill set
  • Identifying and promoting young chefs through the “Young Chef Competition Series”
  • Selecting and training the most promising young chefs to represent the Bocuse d’Or Team USA at the world’s most prestigious culinary competition

I ask Chef Kaysen to tell me more about his involvement in the foundation. "It has given us an opportunity to take our training to a new level", he says. After winning silver in the Bocuse D'or, the foundation was created in order to give back to the national chef community, and "to create an organization to find, train and motivate better cooks." He mentions being grateful for chefs like Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud, who "laid the foundation for chefs of my generation." Giving back to the chef community what was given to him does not sit lightly with Chef Kaysen, as he asks himself, "What is my responsibility to give back to the next generation?" He works hard daily with his staff of 80+ to make sure that they are constantly learning, honing their skills and evolving. "We take care of the guests who dine here," he says, "Why can't I take care of the person I stand next to 16 hours a day?"

People and family seem to be a recurring theme with Chef Kaysen, something to which I can relate. As we wrap up our conversation, I ask him what's next for Spoon and Stable. He expresses a goal toward constant evolution and creativity in the restaurant, and continuing to "create food that is crave-able". I found out first hand how crave-able the food at Spoon and Stable is - click here to read all about it. 

My conversation with Chef Kaysen, my dining experience at his restaurant Spoon and Stable, and my visits with family and friends ended up making Minnesota feel more like home than a place to visit. Now when people ask me why I would go to Minnesota, I can ask them, "Why wouldn't I?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The After the Harvest Podcast, Episode 3: Chef Ned Bell, Four Seasons Vancouver and Chefs for Oceans

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/chef-ned-bell-four-seasons/id975981006?i=347048266&mt=2

 

Click this photo to listen on iTunes! 


I am so psyched to finally be sharing Episode 3 of the After the Harvest Podcast! This episode would not have been possible without Arlene, Susan, and Ivy of the Terroir Symposium team, so I am quite grateful to them for arranging my sit down with Chef Ned Bell.

You can find the podcast on iTunes here, and on Soundcloud here (also embedded below).

In this episode I welcomed Chef Ned Bell, Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, and Founder of Chefs For Oceans. Listen in as we talk about sustainable seafood, local strawberries, Chefs for Oceans, China, gelato, black licorice, and more!

The music featured in this episode is from a local Ottawa band, Amos the Transparent. Scroll to the end of this post to hear more music from Amos the Transparent and to see their video for their song "The Cold Escape".

So, pull up a chair at the table and join me. Grab a drink and a favourite snack -- eat, drink and connect along with me and my guest.




To harvest means “to collect” or “gather” and there is nothing I love more than gathering great food and drink and even better people around a table. It is in these moments that we eat, drink, … and connect.  So, that image of sitting around a table enjoying good food and drink and great conversation? That’s what I hope this podcast will be.

Each episode I will invite a guest or two to my table to enjoy, and talk about, delicious food and drink -- as well as travel, childhood memories, and...life in general. Each episode will also feature a band or musician, and I plan to focus on independent artists. I will also ask each of my guests my "trademark" After the Harvest Question: If they could have a dream dinner with 5 people, who would their guests be, where would the dinner take place (location and setting), and what would they be eating and drinking? Stay tuned to the blog to see who Ned's dinner guests would be!

After each episode is launched, I will be providing "show notes" -- links to some of the people, places, food and drink my guest and I mention in the episode. See below for the show notes from this episode:

Show Notes: Episode 3
I'm hoping to share a recipe from Chef Ned, so stay tuned to the blog as I'll be making the recipe and sharing it with all of you! Thank you for listening, reading, eating, drinking and connecting.



http://chefsforoceans.com/

Check out more music from Amos the Transparent: 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Podcast Recipes: Dominion City Lost Train Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Cake




Hello friends! In case you missed it, I recently launched Episode 2 of the podcast with Josh McJannett from Dominion City Brewing Company here in Ottawa. Take a listen here on iTunes and then try this absolutely delicious and easy to make cake recipe! It's never too hot outside to have an excuse to bake a cake and this one is a crowd pleaser for any birthday or other special occasion. I served it on Father's Day and received rave reviews. 

If you don't have iTunes you can also listen on Soundcloud by clicking below:



 

After each After the Harvest podcast episode, I will be asking each of my guests for a recipe to share with all of you. I will be making and blogging about each recipe, and I encourage you to join me in trying them yourself. Make them "by the book" or put your own spin on them, and please share your photos and experiences with me on Facebook and Instagram! 

Dominion City Lost Train Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Cake 

Ingredients:
(I received the ingredients in grams but converted them to cups which I found easier):

Cake
  • 250ml (1 cup) Dominion City Lost Train Oatmeal Stout
  • 250g (2 sticks) butter
  • 75g (2/3 cup) Dutch cocoa powder *Dutch cocoa is so worth it -- richer and better quality. I used Camino. 
  • 400g (1 and 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 150ml, minus 2 tbsp (just under 1/2 a cup) plain yogurt  -- I used Organic Meadow.
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 275g (2 and 1/2 cups) flour *I worried about not using cake/pastry flour but all purpose flour worked fine.
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 200g (almost a whole package if using the rectangular package) cream cheese
  • 150g (1 and 1/4 cup) icing sugar
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) whipping cream

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottom of a 22cm (8-1/2 inch) springform pan with parchment paper. Pour the beer into a large sauce pan and add the butter in chunks. Heat over medium low heat until the butter melts.



Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and the sugar. Whisk together the yogurt, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl. Add yogurt mixture to the beer mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk together the baking soda and flour. Whisk the flour mixture in to the beer mixture. 



Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing it from the pan. 

At this point I got too excited about the rich, chocolatey batter to take a picture...

Whip the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar and continue whipping until smooth. Add the whipping cream and whip until light and a little fluffy. Spread on top of the cooled cake.


Your finished product should be a rich, dense chocolate cake and a sweet, creamy icing. I highly recommend enjoying a glass of the Lost Train Oatmeal Stout with the cake, or while cooking, or any time of day at all, really -- it is a rich, chocolatey stout that is also quite refreshing and soul satisfying. You'll love it if you love chocolate or coffee…or both. 


Happy cake eating, everyone! After I made this I thought it might be fun to think of unique ways to decorate the cake - if you decide to make this recipe yourself, please share your photos on my Facebook page -- After the Harvest -- or tag me @aftertheharvest on Instagram!

And…if you're free on July 1st and you want to enjoy some more delicious beer from Dominion City Brewing Company and other local breweries, as well as tasty food, great music and a super fun time away from the Parliament Hill crowds, you should definitely come to Dominion Day! Hosted by Dominion City Brewing Company this event brings together local food, beer, and music and a heavy dose of old timey Canadiana! Buy your tickets! 




Friday, May 22, 2015

The After the Harvest Podcast, Episode 2: Josh McJannett, Dominion City Brewing Company


Click this photo to listen on iTunes! 


I am excited to share Episode 2 of the After the Harvest Podcast! It has been a few months in the making due to day job commitments and that nasty Spring cold which also delayed things, but I am very happy to finally be sharing it with you! I have more episodes that I'm editing and I promise it won't take me as long to get those episodes on iTunes :)

You can find the podcast on iTunes here, and on Soundcloud here (also embedded below).

In this second episode I welcomed Josh McJannett of Dominion City Brewing Company! Listen in as we talk about beer, brownies, guacamole, and local farmers, among other things.

The music featured in this episode is from the talented singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski and his band who hail from Seattle, Washington. (Scroll to the end of this post for more music from Kris).

So, pull up a chair at the table and join me. Grab a drink and a favourite snack -- eat, drink and connect along with me and my guest.



To harvest means “to collect” or “gather” and there is nothing I love more than gathering great food and drink and even better people around a table. It is in these moments that we eat, drink, … and connect.  So, that image of sitting around a table enjoying good food and drink and great conversation? That’s what I hope this podcast will be.

Each episode I will invite a guest or two to my table to enjoy, and talk about, delicious food and drink -- as well as travel, childhood memories, and...life in general. Each episode will also feature a band or musician, and I plan to focus on independent artists. I will also ask each of my guests my "trademark" After the Harvest Question: If they could have a dream dinner with 5 people, who would their guests be, where would the dinner take place (location and setting), and what would they be eating and drinking? Scroll down to see who Josh's dinner guests would be!

After each episode is launched, I will be providing "show notes" -- links to some of the people, places, food and drink my guest and I mention in the episode. See below for the show notes from this episode, and you can also enjoy some photos from Josh in this post!




All three above photos by Blair Gable Photography.

Show Notes: Episode 2

The After the Harvest Question: If you could have dinner with 5 guests (living or dead) anywhere in the world, who would you dine with, where would this dinner take place, and what would you eat and drink? 

Josh's Answer: 

Where: A beach in Tofino, B.C. 
Guests: Anthony Bourdain, Michael Jackson (not that one), Peter Mansbridge, Margaret Atwood, and Lester B. Pearson
Food: Fresh-caught salmon cooked over a fire
Drinks: A B.C. Beer - an island-brewed IPA and an Okanagan Valley white wine
Dessert: Dominion City's Lost Train Oatmeal Stout served with a warm brownie :) 

We also talked about some of Josh's favourite things:
  • Dream Concert: Opener -- Hey Rosetta, Headliner -- The Band
  • Favourite movie: Jurassic Park
  • Favourite book: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Favourite actor: Denzel Washington
  • Favourite actress: Jennifer Lawrence
Josh also shared his wife Margaux's recipe for chocolate cake made with Dominion City Lost Train Oatmeal Stout, so stay tuned to the blog as I'll be making the cake and sharing the recipe with all of you! Thank you for listening, reading, eating, drinking and connecting.

Hope to see you at the Dominion Day party! 



Check out the video for Believer by Kris Orlowski! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Terroir Symposium: Chefs, Conversation & Community


Imagine an event where you are able to enjoy some of the world's best food and with people who are as obsessed with it as you are, and where you can rub shoulders and clink glasses with some of Toronto's food elite, as well as accomplished chefs, sommeliers, food photographers, culinary tourists, food writers and more from all over the world. Then imagine you pack this all into one day and cap it all off with a wicked after party. Don't think about the hangover yet...

You don't have to imagine, as this event does exist, and it is called Terroir Symposium, and it is taking place on Monday, May 11th at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. Will you be there?

From the Terroir website,
Terroir Hospitality brings together innovative and creative influencers from the field of hospitality, including chefs, food and beverage experts, writers and business leaders. Our organization attracts people who are serious about the business of hospitality and who are looking to constantly develop and refine their careers. Terroir is a not-for-profit committee of industry professionals that put on an annual symposium that is about education, networking, sharing collective resources and building a community that helps to strengthen our industry.
Basically, if you're serious about food and you want to talk about it, eat it, and maybe even meet people who you can work with, you want to be at Terroir. It's a day of chefs, conversation, and community, where important food topics are discussed, ideas and connections are sparked, and bellies are happy. Don't get me wrong, it's not just about gluttony, although it's difficult to refrain from re-filling your plate throughout the day. Each year there is a theme, with this year's being "Pioneering Change: Crafting the Way We Eat". 

Check out this video which can tell you more, featuring three of my favourite people who are pioneering change in the food industry: Chef Jamie Kennedy, Joshna Maharaj, and Rebecca LeHeup.




So who are this "food elite" I'm referring to? Last  year I breathed the same air as the likes of David Chang, and Daniel Boulud, among countless others. I was a volunteer last year, and although I enjoyed running to and fro to do whatever needed to be done, I decided to attend this year and soak up as many of the talks and networking opportunities as possible.

Chef Daniel Boulud

This year I look forward to meeting many of the amazing speakers and food professionals they have lined up. To check out who's coming, click here.

They have also put together a dinner series in Toronto where traveling chefs will collaborate with the locals. I am unable to stay in town for any of these dinners, but if you are in Toronto, you should totally check them out. You can read about the dinners and events by clicking here.

A creative veggie display by the team at Ryerson Eats from last year's Terroir.


If you'd like to buy tickets to Terroir Symposium, click here. Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Taste of Spring with the West End Well ~ Saturday, May 30, 2015


Hello friends! I am very excited to announce that I am collaborating with my local food co-op, the West End Well, to bring you "A Taste of Spring" -- a food and wine pairing event that celebrates local, spring vegetables and Ontario wines! I will be hosting the event and leading you through the pairings, and Chef Sam and his team at the West End Well will be preparing the dishes. 

If you click on the event poster above it will lead you to the West End Well's website, where you can find out more information, and also check out some of the other great events they have going on! 

I have been longing to host an event for some time now, and I am so happy to be doing so at the West End Well. Not only am I a member of this amazing organization, it is also just a warm, welcoming environment where I can meet with other food and wine lovers to enjoy an evening of fun, learning, and community. 

This will be an easygoing, casual event and I know Chef Sam and his team are going to cook up some delicious dishes. If you're in Ottawa, I look forward to seeing you there! There are 30 seats available in the cafe. 

Lastly, check out the beautiful poster -- right? It was hand-painted (acrylic on birchwood) by my very talented sister Wendy of Tiny Brushstrokes. If you like her work, click here to check out her Etsy shop to see what else she has in store!

For more about the West End Well, click here

For the Facebook page for this event, click here


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Podcast Recipes: Mandi Loo's Pear and Parsnip Soup



Hello friends! Did you listen to the podcast yet? If not you can do so on iTunes by clicking here or you can listen on Soundcloud below. Mandi was such a fun first guest!


Although I've only just begun, this process is so fun! After each podcast episode, I will be asking each of my guests for a recipe to share with all of you! I will be making and blogging about each recipe, and I encourage you to join me in trying them yourself. Make them "by the book" or put your own spin on them, and please share your photos and experiences with me on Facebook and Instagram! 

Mandi Loo's Pear and Parsnip Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 1 pound Vidalia or other sweet onions (1 large or 2 small), peeled and thinly sliced into strips 
  • 4 tablespoons organic pumpkin seed or sunflower seed oil, or butter 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • Pinch ground white pepper 
  • Pinch ground ginger 
  • 3 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes 
  • 2 pounds Bartlett or bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 
  • 3 litres cold water 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • Salt to taste 


Method: 

In a large soup pot, heat oil or butter over medium-low heat, add sliced onions, salt, pepper and ginger, and sweat onions gently until soft and transparent. Add chopped parsnips and pears and continue to sweat gently over medium-low heat until parsnips and pears have started to soften. You can add butter and oil at this point if you want a richer, creamier soup. Stir frequently to prevent browning. 


Add the water and increase heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid reaches a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer until parsnips are very tender (about 20 to 30 minutes). Remove from heat and puree in a blender (do not fill blender more than halfway, cover with a dry tea towel, hold down lid and start at low speed), food processor or with an immersion stick blender. For the best texture, pass the puree through a fine sieve. Return to a clean pot, adjust thickness as desired with water. Heat to the boiling point, add cider vinegar, and season to taste with kosher or sea salt.


Ta da! The finished product is above! This made a good amount of soup for one person so I froze some and I plan to give some away to my parents. As you can see I had a kitchen helper who was patiently hoping for me to drop a tasty morsel, but he was not so lucky. When this soup is blended and served, it is a pure, creamy, white colour. I decided to slice some pears and sprinkle in some raw pumpkin seeds as a garnish. I enjoyed this soup -- I am not a big fan of parsnips, but the pears sweeten the soup and the result is a much more mellow taste. Enjoy! 


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The After the Harvest Podcast, Episode One: Mandi Lunan, Owner of Auntie Loo's Treats

Click this photo to listen on iTunes! 


The After the Harvest Podcast is officially here! After I published my book in 2013, I knew I wanted to do another creative project inspired by this blog, I just didn't know what would emerge next. After becoming obsessed with a slew of other podcasts, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. I am excited to be embarking upon this podcasting journey, and I hope you will listen along with me! You can find the podcast on iTunes here, and on Soundcloud here (also embedded below).

In this first episode I welcomed Mandi Lunan of Auntie Loo's Treats! Listen in as we talk about beer, vegan cheese, family dinners, the big orange bowl, Italy, Vermont, and The Manx, among other things.

The music featured in this episode is from April Smallwood, a talented singer/songwriter who hails from Sydney, Australia. (Scroll to the end of this post for more music from April).

So, pull up a chair at the table and join me. Grab a drink and a favourite snack -- eat, drink and connect along with me and my first guest.



To harvest means “to collect” or “gather” and there is nothing I love more than gathering great food and drink and even better people around a table. It is in these moments that we eat, drink, … and connect.  So, that image of sitting around a table enjoying good food and drink and great conversation? That’s what I hope this podcast will be.

Each episode I will invite a guest or two to my table to enjoy, and talk about, delicious food and drink -- as well as travel, childhood memories, and...life in general. Each episode will also feature a band or musician, and I plan to focus on independent artists. I will also ask each of my guests my "trademark" After the Harvest Question: If they could have a dream dinner with 5 people, who would their guests be, where would the dinner take place (location and setting), and what would they be eating and drinking? Scroll down to see who Mandi's dinner guests would be!

After each episode is launched, I will be providing "show notes" -- links to some of the people, places, food and drink my guest and I mention in the episode. See below for the show notes from this episode, and you can also enjoy some personal photos from Mandi herself in this post!


Mandi Lunan, Owner of Auntie Loo's Treats 


Mandi as a child, enjoying some good family times 
at the dinner table. Look at those bangs and that smile!
 P.S. Who else had a dress like that? Total flashback. 


Mandi Loo and the big orange bowl! 

Show Notes: Episode 1 
  • Blowing out the candles on my birthday cake -- age 4 -- with Mom's brown sugar icing 

We also talked about some of Mandi's favourite things -- this didn't make the final edit, but I thought I would share anyway just for fun!
Mandi also graciously shared her recipe for parsnip and pear soup, so stay tuned to the blog as I'll be making the soup and sharing the recipe with all of you! Thank you for listening, reading, eating, drinking and connecting.

Listen here to enjoy more of April's music!