Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The pearls & the family businessThe annual tomato sauce factory was set up this year again at Zia's abode. My nephew, sporting his green pearly beads again, this time in green, assisted; last year he was whisked away to the park to not interfere with serious Sicilian business.

He was very meticulous at his tasks and was very well behaved, well done PJ. At one point I was in charge of the home made grinding contraption which is about 25 years old, is most likely unsafe to use electrically and felt like it would explode at any moment (there are strange noises and pieces that look like bathroom plumbing sticking out of it) but who cares about health and safety when Uncle Frank guarantees that it is sound!

Luckily it made it through but I was hesitant along with the other workers on the day to comment as I may not get to eat any of the delicious results or worse I could be written out of the will, and I would love to get my hands on that machine when the Lord takes the tomato chiefs! It is a work of art.

After a few hours of jokes, mean looks from 'the boss' and lots of tomato splatter, five families have their delicious supplies for a year. If anyone would like a jar I am selling them for £10 a piece -cheaper than Carluccios'. I haven't tasted this year's batch but am hoping for a special delivery soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Laura's £5 lunchEvidence of how expensive London is? It was from Whole Foods and it tasted great but the portion of fish was so teeny that I couldn't even have a taste!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

$1 cookie for charity
I love this idea as it is simple and attracts all audiences in Timmies target market. It increases brand awareness of Tim Hortons being socially responsible and having a philanthropic side and it is easy for those latte activists who want to do good and donate to charity but don't actively seek out the donation of money. Therefore, buying a cookie is an easy way to get pleasure from the chocolatey goodness while doing good at the same time. Much better than a fatty boom boom doughnut.

The only downside is it is run for a short time -6 days which is a little burst of goodness. It should've been a month or at least two weeks as am sure all the prep, collateral print and logistics of this might have costed a lot for such a short campaign. In short, I think it is a great campaign for Tim Hortons, who have also in the last few weeks re-located their head office back to Canada. They went to the US for tax breaks but are now back (what is the Canadian government doing to businesses if they have to move to the US for tax breaks?!)

Anyhow, v. simple: customers buying their daily coffee pick up a coffee and a cookie (for a dollar) you can't buy much for a dollar these days unless you go to these crazy places like Dollarama and then you can buy a tea set from China for $1 (?!), and proceeds go to the local charity. When I purchased my cookie the local children's hospital in Hamilton would benefit, I wonder what the proceeds per cookie actually are?

The munchkins loved the Smile cookie, I felt better for it, it averted a doughnut purchase (which I think is fattier) and all were pleased. And who doesn't love a soft and chocolatey cookie? Job done!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The 'roll up' craze

You can buy turkey with ranch dressing roll ups at Tim Hortons, you can buy pre-made cream cheese roll ups at the grocery store and you see roll up ads on TV. Not a new concept but I guess some marketing peeps are breathing new life into the craze of a a few years ago wraps (!) or pita or crepe concept. In keeping with the theme of the month, I made fajita and Nutella roll ups for my nephews. I think we can call the fajita ones 'soft tacos' but let's stick to roll-ups as there is a theme here going people.

So JJ and PM enjoyed their roll ups immensely. JJ played with his in his mouth til his gobber rolled down the middle of the roll up, 'awwh how cute' you are saying; well everything is cute to me except the gobber! And notice the glam Mardi Gras beads he sports with every outfit. He has them in several colors but some days he accessorizes with one strand and other days he is more Coco Chanel and wears several strands together, oh so fashionable at such a young age, must take after his devil wearing Prada Aunty.

Back to the RUs - heat your pita or fajita in the microwave for 10seconds and the wrap becomes nice and warm so the chocolate melts a little, yum. That might be my breakfast for today if I can source some fajitas at the Tesco in the petrol station??!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A lunch spot in Moscow - the Academy of Sciences Building
Spectacular views, an amazing building and great food! A must go when you are in Moscow. I can't tell you the price of anything as the meal was expensed for business and menus are in Russian so you are a bit in the dark most of the time there - tourist signs are not even in English (go with a security guard, driver or a guided tour!). Since it is such a great spot with fantastic ambiance am sure you need to save a few Roubles to go here.

Like my friend Diana said her $36CDN/£20 mojito at the Ritz overlooking the Kremlin was worth every penny. Maybe she was a little drunk? I recommended it there for the great views and people watching. I am curious to know what our expenses came out to that week?

We were testing out restaurants for our high net worth customers so we only went to the top spots around town and tested out lots of champagne, lobster and desserts. Lucky E and I love to sample the finer things in life so we had a great time, minus the maniac boss acting like a complete arse, but it wouldn't be normal if he wasn't a complete slimy and stupid twat!
Anyhow, get to the Academy of Sciences Building to impress your boss, date, lover or Russian Oligarch. And then pay the bill in your local currency a month later when you get your Amex statement. Spasiba!
360 degree views

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mr McGregor's House...

...has now re-opened under new ownership. For those of you who were disappointed when its doors were shut you can enjoy some tea and puddings in the garden or in the old tea house again.

I haven't been since the new owner rescued the lovely business but we found out the news from a friendly neighbour in Kleinburg. Rexi, Povi and I were having some 'limone' (gelato) across the road after our walk in the McMichael Art Gallery's grounds (it's a lovely spot for a nature walk along a beautiful little stream with a mini forest around you). I think many locals will be pleased to have this food institution continue continue to delight patrons.

My only wish is that it remains old fashioned and that you still pay via the honours system when you are done and that there is still that lovely round table in the centre with all of the pies and cakes for sale. Check it out and report back foodies!
Mr. McGregor's House Tea & Bake Shop
10503 Islington, Kleinburg, Ontario L0J 1C0
(905) 893-2508

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wonder Years menu(Dolce Snr's vegetable medley- stick all your veggies chopped up in a dish and bake with mozzarella, Parmesan, salt and pepper)

My sister lives in the Wonder Years movie, all her neighbours say hello, know each other, have street parties, are so nice and are invite each other for potlucks. The above dish was made for a party at one of these such events. I am not a fan of the vegetable medley she made as it was a little soggy and cheesy for my liking but I did like my brother-in-laws tomato salad with fresh basil, mozzarella and lovely olive oil (below).
I think the reason for the soggy vegetable dish was that she left the oven on (!) for a few hours while we were at the beach; it was set to a low temperature so the vegetables cooked but they didn't really roast. Leaving the oven on is not a good idea in my books but it did cook the concoction in time for the party. I think at the end it needed a bit of a broil so it crisped everything up! After a few vinos the neighbours ate everything and the rest the dogs and bees had a go at, so well done for another creative cooking experiment big Sis!

My brother in law is the very adept chef in the family. We all strive to be naturals like Momma Dolce but that may take many years still...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cottage life
At the cottage the world slows down, there's time to read the whole paper, stroll along and say hello to your neighbours, cycle around on a crickety old bike, swim out to the pier (my sister did that and left me with the kids for an hour-nice trick!) and also time to make French toast with fresh fruit and real Canadian maple syrup. It is definitely the simple things in life; let's ignore the fact that the kids put syrup and French toast all over the floor and furniture, they make up for it when they are sleeping and look incredibly cute and angelic!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

OmyI wish I was at this festival to witness the 'womanly skills' being performed. I need to get practicing for next year, I would love to try the cow milking! And what do you think a typical hog call is??? Bunsy, can you shed some light on this?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's on for foodies in TO -this weekend

Vegetarian Food Fair

Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Fri: 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM - Sat: 12:00 noon to 9:00 PM - Sun: 12:00 noon to 7:00 PM
free admission

The Toronto Vegetarian Association and Harbourfront Centre present the largest event of its kind in North America. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of this special event which gives visitors an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a diverse cross-section of vegetarian cuisine. Discover new products and ideas from more than 100 exhibitors and enjoy a wide variety of presentations, workshops, cooking demos, the World Café's vegetarian cuisine. (Continues to September 13th.)
[more info]

Cabbagetown Festival
various locations in Cabbagetown
various times

Now in its 33rd year, the Cabbagetown BIA is proud to host the annual Cabbagetown Festival, featuring a parade, street entertainers, fabulous food, wine tasting, corn roasts, pancake breakfasts, square dancing, arts and crafts street vendors, running side-by-side with sophisticated house tours, an independent film festival, fun runs, theatre and much more. (Continues to September 13th.)

Thanks to Greg at Taste TO for the info

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grappa faces
Bron's fake one (she is a marvelous actress)

Chadwick's real one

The grappa
At least it wasn't the home made stuff my uncle used to make that would curl your toes.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chew to help Olympic athletesAm glad my gum consumption is helping Olympic Athletes prepare for the winter games in Vancouver next year. The 2010 Olympic game fever is everywhere! I especially like the little maple leaf stamped on each piece of gum.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

No such thing as a free meal

After eating bbq and fresh and yummy food all weekend at the cottage I offered (well I was told by my sister!) to help tidy up. I went to the closet, grabbed the Hoover and proceeded to Hoover/vacuum, which I did with some delight as it had been a long while, god bless cleaning ladies!

When I was Hoovering within sight of my sister I emphasised how I was quite enjoying a little manual labour, to which she keeled over with laughter until she could scream over the noise that I was using the steam cleaner!

I did think it was extremely large and that it wasn't doing a very efficient job of colleting crumbs, but didn't want to bring it to her attention as that may have meant that I would have to change a bag or empty something. I had to start again - indeed, there's no such thing as a free meal!

Friday, September 04, 2009

A letter to my Kiwi mother

Dearest Momma Hale,

I put together a little guide of what to eat while you are in Sicily next week, rest assured you will be fed at all times of the day and will eat a little more than usual. If you climb the volcano you will burn some of these calories, but do bring some elastic-y trousers as you may expand a little. Here is your daily menu.

Breakfast-A piece of watermelon, fresh fruit, espresso from the little old man near the cannoli lady near your hotel, water and some Melba toast and Nutella

Morning snack -An icy granita to cool you down before lunch or a gelato - my personal favourite flavours are lemon or coffee granita - lemons come straight from the abundance of tress on the island so you know that it is fresh.

Lunch – A rice ball or a piece of pizza (daily rice balls are a must). Pizza can be plain or potato.

Afternoon snack – a Sicilan cannoli – usually on your way home from the beach –sold in two sizes -small and large, located next to espresso man shop. I usually like to get two small ones as you don't feel as piggy as when you have one large one. They are made with fresh ricotta, sugar, pistachios and encased in a freshly made shell. Divine!

Relaxation time before dinner – more watermelon and fresh fruit, some biscuits that you can buy at the supermarket and perhaps a glass of Campari and soda, you can enjoy this on the rooftop terrace while reading trashy magazines or while playing some Scrabble or a game of 'Scopa' with Sicilian cards (the espresso man may be able to teach you if you can understand him)

DinnerPesce spada (sword fish), Beccafico – rolled and stuffed sardines, fresh tomato salads, caponata, limoncello and whatever else tickles your fancy from the menu. The first two are super fresh and specialities of the islands so I would recommend having these more than once.

Apres dinnergrappa, Averna(digestif, bitter liqueur), or gelato al limone as this is refreshing and not heavy before you go to bed, or be adventurous and have whichever flavour you like (I just get stuck in my lemon fascination when I am in Sicily).

Midnight snack - not an option as you should be sleeping and trying to let your body digest all the food as you have to do it all over again the next day! Unless you are Spanish dancing at the outdoor gay bar at the port, then you can have one last indulgence.

I am still burning off my Sicily fat but it was well worth it. I hope you have a great time and look forward to seeing you in LondonTown!


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Percy Pig and friends

Now you have Percy (right) with his friend Cola Cow (Coke flavoured) and its Ba Ba white sheep friend (which I think is grape flavoured). The farm is expanding! This confectionery is only found at Marks and Spencer.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Put your Creative Caps on!

I love cereal and it's National Breakfast Week so I thought I would share this competition with y'all. There is a prize for the most creative cereal idea!

What you need to do: Suggest a new cereal flavour - include ingredients and its new name and why you think this would make a great cereal. Radio jingle and box designs get you extra points. Simple, non? The hardest part is for me to get the prize shipped to you!

The prize: A cereal hamper - see pic, the packaging has even been resurrected from the Archives in America. They are the only boxes with the original packaging that exist outside of the Kellogg's museum in Excited States of America and will even contain yummy cereal for you to gobble!

Get creative! Otherwise the nice people at Kellogg's give me the prize and I have no space for any more cereal in my kitchen, it is overflowing at the moment with cupcakes still.

Good luck peeps and remember to email me your ideas using the email address in the Contact Me section.