Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Travelling’

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!


Sushi Lessons

My Scotland relatives who now live in California that we were visiting for Christmas are very hard to shop for.   But the one thing we knew they enjoyed was eating.  

And sure we cooked while we were there, which they always enjoy, but why not teach them some cool stuff that they can do on their own once we are gone?

It isn’t every day that you get a professional Chef coming to stay, so why not take full advantage of the situation?   So we decided to give them an “Asian party snack starter kit” and a coupon for a cooking class with the Chef!

It was a basket filled with all the fixins and tools to whip up some sushi, gyoza and assorted other things.

The lesson was well attended and the pupils fast learners!

Then we feasted on the fruit of the labour.  Which was really nice to have a break from freakin turkey!

Sushi lessons

If you’d like to make some sushi of your own,  click here  to check out an old posting of mine where I give you the blow by blow.

Or  click here   for the gyoza lesson.

The gift of food always seems welcome!

The Very Next Day

Well obviously we couldn’t eat ALL that food at one seating!!  No matter HOW hard we tried!

So what to do with it the next day?

I mean after the compulsory turkey sandwiches and what have you, we still had to eat didn’t we??

So the Chef whipped up a wonderful dish with the left overs.  A fantastic Turkey Pot Pie!

He started by lining the bottom of the casserole dish with those cute little piped potatoes because those are made by making mash potato, piping them on to a tray and then baking them slightly so they keep their shape and get a nice toasty bottom.

So they made a nice base for “innards” that would go in on top.  

Next he diced up the roasted root vegetables and turkey meat into nice bite size or smaller chunks then added the left over gravy and mixed it all together and heated it in a pot on the stove.   Once that was done, he poured it over the potatoes in the dish, leaving space at the top for the puff pastry.

Now HERE is where things get crazy!

He gently removed the puff pastry coating off of the left over Beef Wellington.  Reheating Wellington doesn’t do justice, the meat will be over cooked and the pastry soggy.   But as it was the pastry was still perfectly good, not only that, but if you know what’s in a Beef Wellington, you’ll know that on top of the beef is a delicious layer of  “mushroom duxelle”  and then the residual beef flavours of course.

Then the pastry is added to the top of the cassarole and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes just to make sure everything is heated enough.

Voila!  A turkey pot pie the likes of which you’ve never tasted!  Layer upon layer of flavour!

Christmas dinner left over Turkey Pot Pie

But I know what you’re thinking.  He used up a whack of left overs for that one dish but what became of the beef?   Well don’t fret, that went to good use too.   He cut it up into small bits and with the left over UN-baked puff pastry from the fridge, made a whole bunch of mini party snack beef Wellington that he then froze and bagged up for my relatives to enjoy for weeks to come!!

Nothing went to waste!

Scouts – Be prepared

I think that when heading out on any road trip it is important to be prepared.

Sure there is all the obvious stuff like making sure the car is in good working order and having some basic emergency items on board in case of incident.

But what I’m really talking about is how important bringing along the right food can be!

I’ll admit that I am very very bad about having food in the car.  Whether it is for a road trip or just a day out with picnic.  I can’t stand knowing food is there and so it makes me so hungry that I just can’t wait to eat it!  Many a “perfect picnic” destination has been missed in my life by my anxious “oh this place will do” attitude.  Sad really.

The deck of the M.V. Coho Ferry

We had to start this journey by taking a ferry.  Actually, when you live on an island, most journeys start that way.  I love taking the ferry except for the fact that it is so expensive so I always at least try to pack some food to ease the burden.

My favorite thing to bring along for the early morning wait in the ferry line up is a good breakfast sandwich.  I try to make most of it the night before and then just assemble it in the morning, wrap it in some parchment and then some tin foil and then bung it in the oven on a low temp while you are getting ready.  Then into one of those thermal grocery bags, if you have one and they stay warm enough till you are ready to eat them.

For a real treat you can make a breakfast pastry.

You’ll need:

  • a few sheets of prepared puff pastry rolled out to size
  • 1 egg per pastry
  • sliced ham
  • favorite cheese
  • Dijon mustard

I beat the eggs one at a time in a bowl and cook them omelette style one at a time.  Or you can make one big omelette and then cut it into pieces.

Roll out the pastry and cut it into about six-inch squares.   Put a bit of diction mustard in the middle ( or whatever other condiment you might enjoy) then layer the rest of the items as desired.  Fold the pastry over to make a nice pocket and make sure you seal the edges very well.  Poke a whole or two in the top and then give it a quick wash with some beaten egg or some milk and then bake as per pastry instructions.

Make sure you let them cool really really well before you wrap them, otherwise they get sweaty and unpleasant.   Then pop them back in the oven in the morning to heat them before you go.

But the breakfast sandwiches are usually long gone before we ever actually make it on the boat!!  The wait line can take awhile.

Then we load up the cooler with whatever planned or unplanned food we have kicking around that can be easily eaten along the way.  But be careful when crossing boarders because some countries don’t want you bringing your stuff to their side.  For instance, British Columbia lamb is for some reason forbidden when crossing into Washington State.   And of course don’t even think about bringing fruit to the Pacific West.  Don’t forget that Washington, Oregon and especially California are big agriculture States and they don’t need any pesky stowaway!!

My other favorite thing is to hit up the bulk section of the grocery store.  There are a multitude of pre mixed or make your own combinations of munchie snacks!  My favorite is sesame sticks with dark chocolate covered almonds!!

Packs some drinks and some water and some stuff to clean up with and you are ready for whatever the open road has to offer!!!

California Dreamin

So the Chef and I are heading out on a California bound road trip to visit the relatives for the holidays.

I suspect there will be a lot to eat along the way, not to mention when we get there!

I hope to share some of the journey with you!

The old favorites

There certainly have been a lot of changes in Montreal since my last visit.

Between all the good ol places that are now gone and the slew of new places that have appeared, I guess it’s just not my city anymore.

Luckily there were a few of the truly old favorites left.  Places that have been there as long as I can remember.

One such comforting place as  Rotissierie Italienne on St. Catherine Street West.

Rotissierie Italienne

This was always a great place to get a cheap, hardy, comforting meal that would satisfy.  And on a cold snowy night with a glass of red wine, there was no better place to be.  Very glad to see it is still there and has passed the test of time.

Another place I was happy to see was still there, in spite of itself, is a place called Calories Restaurant further West on St. Catherine Street.

Calories Restaurant

I say in spite of itself because it has managed to endure through years of diet fads that have come and gone.  And as a delectable dessert establishment, there never seems to have been the “all cake all the time” diet just as yet.  Going to Calories was always a guilty late night pleasure.

Then if you wanted to turn it around and get a hit of healthy, then Le Commensal Restaurant is your place!

Le Commensal Restaurant

Le Commensal is a vegetarian buffet that can be rivaled by few.  They have a few locations ( including in Toronto) but this one was always my favorite.  Perched high above St. Catherine Street, there was nothing better than scoring a window seat and watching the world go by while loading up on delicious fortifying fare!!

In fact, back when I used to work in the movie business, on one particular show, we had the highly acclaimed actor Sidney Poitier in the cast.  Rumor has it that he was such a fan of Le Commensal that he would insist his driver take him directly there from the airport before even checking in at the hotel!  So if you like good vegetarian food, you might want to check this one out!

Now this last place, is a legendary Montreal eatery.  Schwartz’s Deli home of the famous Montreal Smoked Meat!

Schwartz’s Deli

This picture was taken at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday and there is still a big line up!

As a former Montrealer I am almost embarrassed to say that I have never been to Schwartz’s!  I know, I know, but I was just never into the line ups and then being crammed inside and yelled at just for a sandwich.  Especially when there were several, much less abusive, perfectly delightful other establishments where one might procure the equally traditional Montreal smoked meat.

But this is the one that is in all of the tourist brochures, so knock yourself out!

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.

Sunday lunch in the country

When living in Victoria BC, “going to the country” to look at the scenery seems a little silly because everything is so beautiful most days that a ride to the so-called country just seems like over doing it!

But every now and again it is nice to “get out-of-town” and spend the afternoon taking a  drive to look at all the other beautiful landscape.

Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean

Today we headed out of Victoria and  up the West Coast of Vancouver Island, on highway 14 towards Port Renfrew.  This is fairly wild country but still populated enough that you aren’t completely in the wilderness like many other parts of the island.  There are a few Provincial parks along the way that are popular camping, hiking or picnicking locations.

We decided to stop for lunch at a popular resort that is at about the half way mark between Victoria  and Port Renfrew.  A place called Point No Point.

Point No Point

They boast a cute little restaurant with a spectacular view along side cottages of various sizes and amenities all nestled into the side of the hill overlooking the Juan de Fuca Straight.

Restaurant at Point No Point

The Restaurant looks pretty unassuming from the outside but is extremely cozy and inviting inside.  With a sweet little lobby filled with books and games to pass the time or wait for your table.

Lobby at Point No Point

Fireplace at Point No Point

The lobby then leads out the dining room that looks out over the ocean.

Dining room at Point No Point

The view

Once we got over the thrill of the breathtaking view, it was time to order lunch.

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