Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Restaurants’

Retro New Years

For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time well know, that my philosophy towards food is “Do the best you can with what you’ve got!”  And that if you can eat properly 90% of the time, then that 10% when you indulge , shouldn’t really do that much harm.

So, that being said, if you are one of my uber-healthy, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, etc type blog friends, then, I suggest you just move on from this particular post……..nothing to see here.

I gave the Chef a cheese fondu set for Christmas.  We live in the sort of climate that welcomes bread dipped in molten cheese type dishes, and New Years Eve is a perfect time to indulge!

I was probably about twelve the first time I ever tasted cheese fondu and it was made by ACTUAL Swiss people, new neighbours who had moved in and invited our family over for dinner.

Coming from the “boil it or fry it” cuisine that I grew up with, this “Swiss Fondu” had to be the most exotic and delightful thing my young palette had EVER had!!

And all the ritual around it, with having to kiss the person next to you if you should inadvertently lose your bread in the pot!!

( The Chef pointed out that perhaps this played a part in the 70’s when both fondu parties and swingers were at their peak of popularity!!)

My love of fondu continued in the 90’s, back in Montreal, when my friends and I often frequented a restaurant called Alpenhaus which specialized in fondu.  There was not a better place to be on a cold Montreal night, than tucked into the dark wood laden walls of this Swiss Chalet stuffing your face with warm cheese on bread, to warm the cockles!

So to say good-bye to 2012 we fired up the fondu pot!

Now as the holiday season winds down ( although mine doesn’t finish for another week because January 7th is my birthday so all resolutions in my world start on the 8th!) you really start to feel as though if you NEVER had another meal it would be TOO SOON!!

So we tried to add just a little healthiness to the meal by adding a salad and instead of just bread as dippers, we also had blanched cauliflower, lightly sauted mushrooms……so yes and some (pre-cooked) spicy Italian sausage!

Here’s to 2013!!!

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Laurelhurst Market Restaurant and Butcher Shop

We figured on our last night in Portland, we would go big or go home!  Wait…we were going home! 

You know what I mean!  It was our last night so we wanted to make sure we made it worth our while!

And now that our Cuban Sandwich and fries had worn off, it was time to get back to some serious eating!

We ended up going to a place called “The Laurelhurst Market Restaurant and Butcher Shop“.

Which is right on the edge of a unique Portland neighbourhood by the same name of Laurelhurst.

What is really interesting about this resto / Brasserie is that as you enter, it also has a full service Butcher Shop.  So you know your product is fresh!!

We opted to sit on the patio, to squeeze out those last hours of our summer vacation!  I was so pleased and surprised to see apples and pears growing right along side the fence!  Talk about “local produce”!!


We started with “Fleur de Lis Breads — with Housemade Ricotta and Olive Oil

This cheese spread was SO wonderful.  It was creamy delicious and had a hint of lemon!  SO good!!


I ordered “Steak & Greens — Piedmontese Bavette, Local Salad Greens, Ancho Chili Romesco, Jacobsen’s Oregon Salt


The Chef got “Grilled Brandt Flat Iron — Sauteed Chard, Cipollini Onion Jam, Madre Terra Olive Oil


And then we shared a couple of sides “Mac & Cheese with Tim’s Chip Crust” and “White beans with ham hock and pickled vegetables“.


It was all a wonderful treat!  So much so that we were too full for dessert!

And I thought it was so cute how the check came on a little chopping block!  Nice touch!


And so that is it for our little Oregon vacation.  By no means do I recommend eating like we did these last few days,  all the time, but sometimes you have to let ourself enjoy life just a little.  Sure we’ll be back to our brown rice and kale when we get home.

Eating is one of the true pleasures in life, so please do it well.

Dinner at La Buca

After our Oregon journey to the beach at Lincoln City and our adventures in Woodburn, the Chef and I finally made it to Portland.

Now I’ve said this before on other trips through these parts, but I have to remind you that Portland is a serious food town! ( Check out last time we were through here)

The worst thing is trying to narrow it down as to where to go!  It can be quite overwhelming.

We decided to check out the East side again, because we had such luck last time.  And because it is more neighbourhood like, it is easier to park!

We headed towards East Burnside Road and parked on one of the side streets.  There was such a selection of places that we kept walking back and forth trying to decide.   We finally agreed on La Buca because it looked very inviting and had an outdoor patio.

La Buca Portland

It always makes me SO happy to be able to eat outside!  I was very used to that coming from Montreal where we would persevere patios from April to October just so we could say we were eating outside!  But I find that living in Victoria, there isn’t quite as much of that.  So I like to take advantage whenever I can!

We started with a nice little order of Bruschetta Pomodoro and some wine that came in a regular little juice glass.  I love wine like that, like you are over at someone’s Nona’s house.

It was fresh and delicious.

Then we split the salad of  romaine lettuce, with apple, walnuts and creamy gorgonzola dressing.  

And home made bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Also fresh and wonderful.


Then the Chef ordered pollo marsala: chicken medallions sautéed with mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce, served with mashed potatoes.

Chicken Marsala


And I went for the abituale: penne tossed with spicy italian sausage in a parmesan & roasted garlic tomato cream sauce.  I love spicy Italian sausage and just can’t resist it!

Pasta with spicy sausage

I couldn’t have been happier!

There isn’t too much I can think of that is better than sittin on a warm patio as the sun goes down, with your best person, eatin some pasta and sausage and drinkin wine out of a juice glass!!  That’s LIVIN!!


And then, that temptress of a waitress enticed us to try the Tiramisu: a dessert of espresso dipped italian lady fingers layered with mascarpone and belgian chocolate!  By then we were giddy with delight so how could we resist!


The real kicker in all this?  Just last week, at home in Victoria, we had a comparable, if not slightly inferior Italian meal at a local hot spot that cost us THREE times what this cost!!   Have I mentioned there is no sales tax in Oregon??


After dinner we took a little stroll around the neigbourhood  ( mostly to let the food settle a little before we tried to stuff our bellies back in the car!)  and we found this lovely Art Deco style Coca Cola bottling plant!

Coca Cola plant

A Taste of Mexico

We often make a pit stop in Woodburn Oregon.

Well, at the outlet mall by the side of the I-5 anyway when we are on our way to or from California.

Usually we pull in late, grab and hour or two of shopping, eat whatever, sleep in the hotel and then head out early the next morning continuing on our journey.

But we found ourselves with some extra time to kill and get a jump on our shopping before heading to Portland.

It was nice and warm so we had a dip in the pool then got dressed and headed over to the mall.

Come dinner time we decided to do a little research and see what was in the area other than the Denny’s or Elmers.

We weren’t sure if there was an actual town of Woodburn or if it was just an off ramp.

Turns out there is an actual Woodburn!!

The Chef checked the internet and came up with a few selections of places we might try.  All were Mexican places, which was fine by me, being that Mexican is in my top three favorite cuisines!

We had NO idea what we were in for!

We found ourself in what one might call “Little Mexico” if you were in a big city.  The whole main strip was filled with Cantinas, Carnicerias and Taquerías not to mention a number of stores with a lot of fancy dresses and the craziest cowboy boots I’ve ever seen!

Finally we made our choice.   Lupita’s!

Lupita’s Woodburn, Oregon

Now if you can get past being just a little intimidated by the decor and the atmosphere you will be pleasantly surprised!

It is like walking into a different time and certainly a different place.

It is a big reception hall type place with horseshoe booths on one side and long tables in the middle.  There were a number of people just sitting around watching a Mexican game show of some kind and they all stopped to look at us as we came in.

We just smiled and nodded and went to the counter to order then took a seat in one of the booths.

The nice lady brought us a basket of fresh cooked nacho chips and fresh salsas with our drinks.

Fresh salsas

Then an order of one of the freshest guacamoles I have ever tasted.  I don’t have a picture of it because we gobbled it down before I had a chance.

Finally the main event.  We both got the combo plates of tacos and enchiladas with rice, beans and salad.

I got the beef taco with chicken enchiladas while the Chef got the pork taco and chicken enchiladas.

Beef tacos with chicken enchiladas

The food was so flavourful and fresh tasting and certainly made with love!

And then I washed it down with a nice Mexican beer!

Mexican beer

Meanwhile the locals kept strolling by checking us out and a couple of young boys rode their bike inside the restaurant, giggling all the while.

And the best part?  The whole kit-an-kibootal only cost us $20 bucks…..for EVERYTHING!!

What a delightful time it was.

Then we wandered over to the town square for an evening concert.

Evening concert in the square

If you ever find yourself in Woodburn, Oregon, do yourself a favour and venture into town.  You will be pleasantly surprised!

Foraging – The series

Historical moment here folks!

This is the very first  official “GUEST BLOG” from What Have We Got Here!

And what’s even MORE exciting is that it isn’t just one little ol blog but a series!

My good friend Jacquie who lives in Montreal, Quebec recently had a VERY note worthy food adventure and really wanted to share it with us!

Please enjoy Foraging – Part I



Photo: Joe O’Leary, author of the Wilderness Survival Guide. Used with permission


Forage /ˈfôrij/

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): -ed/-ing/-s

Etymology: Middle English foragen, from Middle French fourager, from fourage

intransitive verb

1 : wander in search of food

2 : the latest development in the “eat local” movement

Early humans were hunters/gatherers, in other words, foragers finding their food in the local countryside. Using trial and error, our ancestors were able to identify plants that were useful to them and weed out those that weren’t. Some plants could remove the sting of poison ivy, some fruits could prevent scurvy

Lemons and limes were carried on early sailing voyages to supplement the sailors’ poor diet and help prevent scurvy. Photo: André Karwath

and some leaves made an excellent poultice to help heal wounds. Some trees produced seeds that were edible (and nutritious), some roots could be made into delicious drinks and some bark and seedpodswere found to boost the flavour of other foods.  This lore was passed down through the generations and may still linger as a spark in our collective unconscience.

People have always used vegetation for food and medicinal purposes. While early humans started cultivating some plants, such as wheat and rice, through the ages other  plants dropped off our radar. They became “weeds,” even though they had once been used regularly to cure our ills or provide sustenance.

 Food is now an international industry. Our grocery stores are filled with produce from all over the world, all through the year. Popular products are genetically modified to survive early picking, natural pests and longer transportation times. But the pendulum is swinging back and foraging is once again gaining popularity as a way of providing food for our tables.  

As a logical extension of the eating locally philosophy, foraging brings “local” right to your doorstep. And you don’t need to be living in the wild to take advantage of natures abundance.  Edible plants abound in parks and along the sides of roads. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.

An abundance of useful and edible plants can be found growing naturally all over. Photo: J. Dinsmore

It became popular in the seventies to use “natural” ingredients in skin- and hair-care products and to revive homemade recipes for everything from soap to lipstick. We started growing our own sprouts and making our own bread with new old grains such as spelt and flaxseed. This movement levelled off for a while, but with the newfound interest in eating locally, people are re-discovering, and delighting in, the edible world around them. Local now means the park across the street, the bushes surrounding your cottage and the side of the road you take to work.*

But you don’t need to go out and pull edible roots out of the ground yourself. A new type of restaurant that cooks up  dishes based on foraged ingredients  is popping up like dandelions in the lawn to satisfy the curiosity of foodies and the need of some to go “back to their roots.” I recently had the luck to dine at one of these restaurants, in the Laurentian mountains outside of Montreal, and will be writing a review of the restaurant and the meal.

* Please be aware that most vegetation in public spaces is sprayed for pests and disease and is therefore not suitable for eating. Many municipalities also have by-laws concerning the harvesting of plants on public property (including roadsides), so make sure you research and do your homework before setting out to forage.


Check back tomorrow for Part II of Jacquie’s adventures in Foraging!


Ulla La

This last week The Chef and I had the opportunity to go to Victoria, BC restaurant Ulla.

Ulla caught my attention when it was voted one of the “Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada for 2011 by Enroute Magazine ( Air Canada’s in flight Magazine)

I can’t even really tell you when exactly it opened, but I know it is still considered a fairly “new” restaurant in town. 

Unfortunately like most places these days, restaurants seem to come and go before you even get a chance to try them, but I’d only heard good things about Ulla so I thought we best get at it.

I really liked the vibe upon entering.  It is kind of trendy but not too hipster.  I’d say it seats about 40 depending on the configuration.  But I liked that it was spacious enough that you didn’t feel like you were in everybodie’s business.

Rumour has it, the menu changes frequently because they are really on board with the currently popular practice of eating seasonally and locally.  Both things I am all for!

I’ve had many reports about the polenta fries with truffle mayonnaise.  So we decided to jump in with that right away.

Polenta with truffle mayo

They are actually more of a polenta square but regardless of their shape, they are delicious and I could easily just sit down to a glass of wine and a few plates of those and be very content!

With that we also got the salad of beets, yogurt cream, apple jelly, almond crisp, citrus puree, raspberry vinaigrette.

Beet salad

I really liked this.  So many interesting tastes and textures.

Then it was time for our main courses.

The Chef ordered the short rib steak, mushroom and veal cannelloni, poached endive, crunchy cipollini onions, red wine jus.   Which he very much enjoyed.

Short ribs with veal cannelloni

I ordered the lamb four ways; leg, sausage, lacquered press, bacon, cipollini,  turnip, French beans,herb puree, lamb jus.

The plate was beautiful and I wanted to love it.  I started right away with the little squares of lamb bacon, but I found them desperately salty and gave them away to the Chef.  But I thought that it was just because it was, you know, bacon.

Lamb four ways

But then I went on to the other three lamb products and regret to report that I found them all way too salty for my taste.  But in their defence, the Chef is always accusing me of “under seasoning”.  I cook with too much salt myself so perhaps it is just my palette.

The texture of lamb was wonderful melt in your mouth and all of the vegetable products were superb.   So don’t let my saltiness put you off.

Then then we ordered dessert.  We usually “share” because I don’t care for too much sweet but then it usually leads to someone feeling unsatisfied with their portion.  And then we were going to each order something different and try each others, but no one wanted to be the one who didn’t order the chocolate thing.  So be BOTH ordered the chocolate cake, rice crispy crunch, dulce de leche cream, aerated chocolate, chocolate soil.  Why ruin a perfectly lovely evening with chocolate envy??

Over all it was a very enjoyable meal and evening in general.  

If you live here and haven’t gone, I’d recommend trying it.   If you don’t live here and find yourself in town, it’s worth the trip!

Cabbage rolls on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon coast is one of the most breath-taking areas around and I like to take Highway 101 down the coast any chance I get.

After Portland we cut off the I-5 and took Highway 18 West till we hit the coast again at Lincoln City.  I often make a pit stop in Lincoln City because there is a big outlet mall and of course on sales tax in Oregon so you can often pick up a deal or two.

The trip along the coast took a little longer than planned because we made a lot of stops to look at everything.  Then as we grew hungry, it was so hard to choose what to eat because every little town seems to have somewhere interesting to stop.  But we kept saying “just one more town and then we will stop for lunch”.  Before you knew it we found ourselves at almost 3:00 in the afternoon.

We pulled into a town called Reedsport and saw they first place on the left, looked kinda like a light house.  This is the place!  We can go no further!

We didn’t really have much expectations because it just looked like a road side coffee shop but were surprised to see so many cars there this late in the afternoon. 

Harbor Light Restaurant

Inside, it was very charming and had that “coastal town” theme of a lot of fish related decor.  But the atmosphere was friendly and the waitress extremely pleasant.

We went for the special of the day which was a cabbage roll dish.

What arrived were two huge plates of food.  Beautiful home-made tasting cabbage rolls topped with a zesty merinara sauce and a big portion of salad with dressing that definitely didn’t taste like it came from a bottle.

All the other customers seemed very pleased with their dishes as well.

When I looked up the Harbor Light Restaurant on restaurant review sites there appeared to be only great comments.

Well done Harbor Light, you were a beacon in our day!!

A Day on Salt Spring Island Part 2

After lunch we did the town wander.

There are a multitude of art galleries and interesting shops and all sorts of activities.

Big mobile whirling sculpture thingy

View of the marina

View of the harbour

And there is quite a selection of restaurants as well.

So after we saw all that we could see in town, we headed out into the country side in search of other things to eat.

Salt Spring Island boasts several wineries and is famous for lamb and cheese.

Lamb Farm

I guess if there was ever any sort of trouble, they would do pretty well at sustaining themselves there for awhile.

In FACT, Salt Spring Island has what’s called a “seed sanctuary” .  Which is this place that collects all sorts of seeds, so that if something should ever happen, you know, like an “end of the world” type scenario, then they could start over and be able to grow things again.

If you are interested further in this topic,  check out a documentary called “Hijacked Future”  ( click here to get info on this ).

Then we decided to make the trek up Mount Maxwell  (  click here to check it out ).  Well, in the car anyway.  I would recommend if you are going to do this, that you have some sort of 4 x 4 or sport utility vehicle because honestly, that road is the worst!  But the view at the top is quite spectacular.

View from Mount Maxwell

Looking over to Vancouver Island from Mount Maxwell

Finally it was time to head back to catch our ferry.  

What’s strange about the ferry from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island is that you pay to get there but you don’t have to pay to leave.  Strange really.

So we wanted to get down to the dock early enough because this ferry isn’t very big and the last one leaves fairly early.

We arrived at Fulford Harbour and found our place in the line up, parked the car and went to look for something to eat.  It had been hours after all!

There is an interesting little area around the ferry terminal with little shops and restaurants.

There is this one really groovy place that sells all kinds of super healthy stuff including books about healthy eating and enviromental type topics.

Groovy cafe

Groovy cafe

Regrettably we didn’t go there.

Instead we went next door to the other place.

Now, anyone who knows the Chef and I, knows that we are pretty good eaters and are pretty open minded about what we will eat and are always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But I gotta tell you, we had some of the worst food that I have ever had in a restaurant in my life!  I mean, we ate it, because we were starving, but it was just awful.

Regrettable food

 Now, maybe they were just having a bad day but I don’t really see how these things could have been any better.  I normally wouldn’t bother saying anything, but they really do have a captive audience at this place so they really need to step up their game.

We ordered a couple of appetizers.  The first item sounded wonderful, some lamb meat balls with a mango dipping sauce. Sounded great and what with lamb being a local favorite, how could you go wrong?  Unfortunately were dry and tasted odd and came with a weird piece of grilled baguette and random loose lettuce.  Perhaps they wanted you to construct your own meatball sandwich?

The second item we ordered was some sort of baked chicken tortilla thing.   I take it back, this one we couldn’t really eat.  It had unfortunate bits of yellow squash and tasteless chicken and then topped with an even more tasteless sauce and then obviously microwaved to death because the tortillas themselves had gone to mush.   Disappointing wouldn’t even begin to describe this one.    Boo!

So please, when leaving Salt Spring Island, I suggest you skip this one.  Bring your own snacks from town!

Finally we boarded the ferry and sailed away.

Sun setting on Fulford Harbour

Pulling away from the dock

Heading back to Vancouver Island

The sun setting on Mount Baker

A day well spent.



I didn’t actually get to try this place but it sounds so very interesting.

O.NOIR or translated means “in black” is a restaurant where you eat in the dark!

O.NOIR Restaurant Montreal

I understand they are popping up in a lot of major cities and are the latest rage.  Promising that without being able to use your sense of sight, it will heighten all of the other senses making the dining experience all that more intense!

Not only is it a restaurant with an interesting new twist, but it is also contributing to a good cause.  The staff are visually impaired  and are part of a program which prepares them to enter mainstream employment and part of the proceeds from the restaurant go to various organizations for the blind.

Reason for O.NOIR

Sounds like an all round good place.

Farewell Faubourg

Well all the rumours are true. 

My beloved La Faugbourg Ste Catherine  is no more! Well at the very least nowhere near her former glory!  I mean at a quick glance it seems like it is “under renovations”, but there is a sad feeling of abandonment that I just couldn’t shake.

I think of all the hours I spent there over the years.  Shopping, eating, waiting, meeting, planning and day dreaming  my days away.  There was always something going on and lots of choice for whatever your mood desired.  Fabulous people watching, great place to read the paper with coffee and a croissant or grab a quick supper before running off to a class or picking up from fruit and bagels for breakfast.

In fact, for one reason or another, I was even invited to the grand opening of the movie theatre that used to be there.  It was an extravagant affair with champagne and fancy snacks and even some sort of art unveiling.  Now there appears to be some sort of video store with a porn selection in the corner.

Very sad.

But there are certainly a whole slew of new places to try and enjoy!  Some sound a little questionable, but never judge a book by its cover!




Not quite ready to try this one.

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