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Going Oystering

Going Oystering 1

The bridge you see in the background of the above picture runs over PEI’s Pinette River, a small estuary about thirty minutes’ drive from downtown Charlottetown. This summer, the National Criminal Law Conference was hosted in the island’s capital and, as part of the program, the organizers had arranged a number of tours for attendees to choose from during our ‘free’ afternoon of the week.  A few were simply sight-seeing drives, one involved kayaking, whilst another, which definitely appealed to me, was called ‘The Oyster Lover’s Experience’.

By the way, the boats you see in the foreground above have nothing further to do with my story (indeed, I think they may actually be lobster boats); rather, our tour took us to the home of John and Jackie Gillis, not much more than 500 yards from the bridge. John harvests oysters from a small leasehold on the estuary and, together, he and his wife regularly offer a three hour ‘experience’ during which small parties can learn a little about the business of actually fishing for oysters( and, just as importantly, get to sample their fill of the freshly shucked article). If you are interested in attending one of these ‘experiences’, Jackie maintains a Website providing contact information, and I can heartily recommend you do so if you get the opportunity. I learned a lot and really enjoyed myself, as you can see, if you read on.… Read more

Crispy Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions 1

I can’t imagine serving an Indian Biriyani without including crispy fried onions on top of the dish. Indeed, this rather simple ingredient is not only just pretty much de rigueur for a Biriyani) where it is sometimes called ‘Birista’), rather, you can find also the condiment being added to many rice, meat and vegetable dishes in  India, Indonesia, and a host of other eastern cuisines.

In the west,  however, fried onions, either in the form of flakes or ‘strings’ are quite easily  available commercially in many supermarkets but  they still don’t seem to be as popular or as widely used as in Asia. One does find  them being used toppings for salads or burgers, from time to time, but not, as it happens, in  a great deal else.  This is unfortunate, really , as the sweet and savory flavor these onions provide could easily be adapted to many sorts of dishes , including omelets, ground meat mixtures, vegetable seasonings, or plain old sandwich toppings.

That being said, the commercial varieties available here, are often not all that good (being frequently stale or tasteless) but, luckily, the making the condiment at home is not at all complicated… Read more

Review: Sim’s Corner Steakhouse & Bar

86 Queen St, Charlottetown – Website

Sims 1A

Date of Visit – July, 2016

I found this place on Queen street in downtown Charlottetown whilst exploring the neighborhood near my hotel after arriving from Ottawa on Canada Day. It looked very much the sort of place that would serve an excellent dinner (albeit a fairly expensive one) but it was mid-afternoon and I had had no lunch as yet. I was also more than ready for a refreshing beer after a long flight and this looked like an excellent spot for a quaff and a little bite… Read more

Review: Row House Lobster Co.

146 Richmond St., Victoria Row, Charlottetown, PEI – Website

Row House 1B

Date of Visit: July, 2016

The Row House sits half-way along Victoria Row, which is a pleasant, tree-lined pedestrian only street running alongside the Confederation Centre of the Arts. I passed by the place while shopping in the morning and, after I looked at their menu, I made a note to return later in the afternoon. I meant to have lobster at least one during my visit to Charlottetown and this looked liked a good prospect… Read more

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad 1

A few days ago, I came across a recipe that used smoked salmon in a hot pasta dish and I gave it a try. I didn’t like it much, as it turned out, chiefly because, as with canned tuna, I find that the delicate and best flavors of smoked salmon are lost when it is heated. I still had some of the salmon left, however, and it struck me that pairing it with pasta in a cold preparation should work just fine. The recipe I settled upon for today’s post is not only very tasty, but dead easy to make… Read more

Review: Pub Italia

434 1/2 Preston St., Ottawa – Website

Pub Italia 1A

Date of Visit: June, 2016

What first intrigued me about this establishment when I came across their website was the curious logo consisting of a shamrock in the colors of the Italian flag; it certainly bespoke some potentially interesting cultural fusions. The other thing that captured my interest was a very comprehensive Beer menu, with draft and bottled selections both local and international. The prospect of such a wide range of choices was alone enough to make me venture there for lunch one Thursday morning… Read more

Review: Kiko Sushi Bar

439 Preston, Ottawa – Website

Kiko Sushi 1A

Date of Visit: June, 2016

Kiko Sushi Bar is a nice little place in the Little Italy section of Ottawa but, as the name may suggest, serves no Italian cuisine at all. I was actually thinking of eating at a particular Italian spot for lunch one morning but, when I saw this place, I developed a sudden craving for Japanese… Read more

Summer Travels

Summer Travels

This year, the National Criminal Law Conference was in Charlottetown, PEI and, as usual, I combined my attendance with my summer vacation. I not only had a terrific stay on the island, I also made a side trip to Halifax and spent some time on Ottawa as well.

The picture above shows Victoria Row, a pedestrian street in downtown Charlottetown. It is about two blocks from the waterfront and has several lovely restaurants where I got to sample some great food and many craft beers. Also, during my week-long visit, I took advantage of a tour to a small oyster fishery where I not only saw how a fishery works, but also got to eat nearly 2 dozen oysters as they were shucked. In the next few weeks, I will post a story about that excursion along with a whole slew of restaurant reviews and some interesting posts featuring different foods I encountered…

Ginseng Drink

Ginseng Drink 1

This rather intriguing product has been sitting in my kitchen cabinet since I picked it up in Ottawa’s Chinatown way back in January.  It rather caught my eye because, as you can see, if you look closely, that the bottle contains a whole, albeit small, Ginseng root. Anyway, after having forgotten it about for so long, it was high time I got around to tasting it.

The drink is produced in China (although the Ginseng used is listed as being Korean). The ingredients, aside from the Sodium Benzoate used as a preservative, are limited to distilled water, honey, and ginseng root. My only other real experience with Ginseng has been in tea blend (where the other components were quite strong tasting), so I figured that the ginseng flavor should be quite plainly apparent and relatively unadulterated in this beverage.

The aroma has a rich earthiness, rather reminiscent of a freshly-ploughed field, and this is the basic component of the taste. The honey must be used in very small quantities only as the sweetness is very mild and doesn’t quite cover a slight bitter quality right at the end. Beyond the earthiness, there are woody notes, and even a faint nuttiness, while the dominant component towards the very end is a taste very similar to raw potato, or canned water chestnuts.

I can’t say I especially enjoyed the beverage over much. It wasn’t bad but it’s not something I would choose as a drink any time soon. I rather suspect that this is actually a product sold for its supposed health benefits rather than taste enjoyment. The root is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is supposed, among other things, to boost energy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and even act as an aphrodisiac. I’ll pass on commenting on the veracity of those claims, but, suffice it to say, I didn’t feel particularly energetic or… well, frisky, after I finished my bottle.

Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Bell Peppers

Shrimp Stuffed Peppers 1

I have recently been tweaking a recipe for a dumpling filling based on shrimp and pork. It is still a work in progress but I came across some Baby Bell Peppers at the Supermarket the other day and it inspired me to try combining the two in a Dim-Sum style appetizer… Read more

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