Home and away, I love to travel. Posts from trips in the UK and overseas including hotel and restaurant reviews and visits to specialist producers.

 

One of my earliest childhood memories is of a visit to Niagara Falls when I was four years old. Everyone donned waterproof ponchos before we walked through the tunnels to view the falls from behind the water. This memory, oddly, is so much stronger than the fragments of looking down on the falls from the viewpoints, though there are snatches of that too.

There are certainly other waterfalls around the world that are impressive. I remember a later childhood visit to Iguaza Falls in South America (forever associated in my mind with nearby Itaipu Dam, which had our childish minds giggling at the idea of eating a poo). A decade later, Pete and I clambered up Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls on our honeymoon and more recently we made our way to many beautiful examples around Iceland.

But few are as iconic as Niagara Falls, which has been attracting travellers and tourists for centuries; tourism becoming the area’s main industry by the 1750s.

Niagara Falls on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -1633 Niagara Falls on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -1630

The Falls (of which there are three) sit about halfway along the Niagara River, a short waterway of just 36 miles which connects Lake Erie in the South to Lake Ontario in the North. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the United States and tourists visit from both sides, though I’d say the views are most spectacular from the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -1635

The largest Niagara Fall is Horsehoe Falls, American Falls is next and Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest. The falls were formed at the end of the last ice age, when glaciers melted and waters from the newly formed lakes carved a way through the landscape, as they flowed North Eastwards to the Atlantic Ocean.

The best known attraction must surely be taking a boat ride into the heart of the gorge to view the falls up close.

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From the American side, tours are run by Maid of the Mist, on boats of the same name. The original Maid of the Mist, launched in 1846, was actually a steamer designed for a passenger service between New York and present-day Toronto, with stops in Niagara on route. However, the ferry business was no longer profitable once the first Niagara Falls bridge was built, and the boat quickly became a tourist attraction instead.

Tours from the Canadian side are operated by Niagara Cruises on its Hornblower boats.

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Ponchos are definitely advisable for the 20 minute trip which first swings by American Falls before taking passengers right into the plumes of spray that reach skywards from the Horseshoe Falls. If you don’t mind getting wet, head for the upper decks and stake out a spot by the handrail. The view is equally impressive from the lower decks, but also (a little) dryer! To me, this is the quintessential Niagara Falls experience; not to be missed! Current ticket price is CAN$19.95 per adult.

Here’s a short video clip, starting at American Falls before panning around to Horsehoe Falls.

Another wonderful way to see the falls is by helicopter; soaring above the falls for a bird’s eye view was one of the highlights of my trip. Niagara Helicopters’ Classic Tour lasts 12 minutes, though that includes boarding time, so your time over the falls is a little less. The pilot makes sure to do a few figure eights to ensure that all passengers have a good view from different angles. The views are wonderful! Current price is CAN$140 per adult.

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View my short video clip of our helicopter journey over the falls here.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. A big thanks to Niagara Cruises and Niagara Helicopters for making our day at the Falls so special.

 

When I was a child back in the Seventies, the only terms I knew for the aboriginal peoples of North America were Red Indians and Native Americans. As a child, I understood that the former was considered offensive, a relic clinging to the clichéd coattails of Hollywood Westerns. It also surprised me that early European travellers had confused the indigenous people of the North America continent with my own ancestors in India, or indeed with any of the various distinct peoples of East Asia. After all, their appearance and behaviour were completely different, each tribe with its own rich history, culture and traditions.

As a member of a minority ethnic group myself – albeit a large one – I was keen to give others the respect of addressing them as they preferred, rather than use terms associated with exploitation, marginalisation, derogation and prejudice. Of course, it’s never that simple – I’ve since discovered that there are some who still choose to identify as American Indians while others use Native American and others who ask for their tribal identity to be used, rather than a generic term that groups all tribes together.

The best way of finding out how someone prefers to be labelled, if such a label is even relevant to the conversation, is to ask them!

The reason it became relevant for me recently was my desire to find out more about the food of Canada’s indigenous peoples during my recent trip.

Until I started researching the trip, I didn’t realise the term Native American is not commonly used in Canada, indeed it’s pretty much only used in the United States.

In Canada, the collective term for the country’s indigenous peoples is First Nations, with an individual referred to as a First Nations person, man or woman. Generally this covers all the nations except the Inuit of the Arctic regions and the Métis, a formally recognised cultural group that was born of mixed-race unions between First Nations people and Europeans and between those of different First Nations.

Just as Native Americans has (somewhat) replaced American Indians in the United States, so First Nations has replaced Indian bands in Canada. There are more than 850,000 Canadians who are officially recognised as First Nations people on Canada’s Indians Register. As well as protection from discrimination (under the Employment Equity Act), Indian status also confers a range of additional benefits including property rights and tax exemptions related to Reserve lands, carefully controlled traditional hunting rights and access to a range of social programmes.

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Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, artwork in the museum and hotel lobbies

For those interested in learning more, Tourisme Wendake operates the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, less than half an hour’s drive from Quebec City. Established in 2006 by the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Tourisme Wendake is a non-profit organisation created to promote aboriginal culture and tourism. Their website is a mess – the navigation will make you weep; I recommend navigating directly from the Sitemap.

Visiting in person, however, is a pleasure and the site is a Must-See for anyone seeking an insight into First Nations history and culture.

At the heart of the museum and hotel complex, located on the banks of the Akiawenrahk river, is the Huron-Wendat Museum. Named for the Wendat people – also known as Huron and Wyandot – the museum opened in 2008 with the aim of protecting and promoting the nation’s heritage through permanent and temporary exhibits, activities and workshops. The museum also serves as a gateway for visitors keen to explore Wendake’s numerous heritage sites.

The complex is decorated with traditional and modern arts and crafts created by artists from many of Canada’s First Nations; indeed some of these items are available to purchase from the onsite shop.

I am shown around the museum, hotel and longhouse by Jason Picard-Binet, Marketing and Tourism Development Coordinator for Tourisme Wendake. Jason is part of the Huron-Wendat nation and takes enormous pride in sharing his culture with visitors. Indeed he says that many of the staff working in the complex are First Nations people.

As we stand in the entrance lobby to the museum, Jason points out colourful paintings on floor and ceiling, and tells me the story they represent. The creationist saga of the Huron-Wendat people relates how Aataentsic was banished from the sky world for breaking the rules. As she fell through the sky towards the world of water below, the water birds flew up to help her and gently held her above the water with their wings. As they tired, Great Turtle arrived to relieve them and held her on his back instead. Toad arrived, and dived into the water to retrieve earth from the ocean bed, giving it to Aataentsic to sprinkle over Great Turtle’s back. Soon after, Aataentsic gave birth to twin sons and they created all the elements of the earth and sky. Where one created light and human life, the other created darkness and destruction. The twins fought, and when the good brother won, the other was banished into the underworld where he remains.

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Chef Martin Gagné, La Traite Restaurant, some of the dishes served during my Autumn visit

One of my key interests is to find out more about First Nation cuisine, including some of the unique ingredients traditionally farmed and foraged from the local landscape.

Jason introduces me to Martin Gagné, the Executive Chef at Restaurant La Traite, an elegant restaurant at the museum-hotel. In summer months, tables on the peaceful outdoor terrace are particularly sough-after.

We sit down for a chat over tea. Martin offers me a choice of teas and infusions, highlighting those made with herbs and berries that have long been a part of the First Nations diet. Arctic Blend features juniper and other local berries and herbs. Cloudberry and crowberry teas are both fruit infusions. I follow Martin’s lead and choose Labrador tea, an infusion of a flowering plant in the Rhododendron genus which has a refreshing, mildly minty and rosemary-like flavour. Some of the traditional First Nations ingredients are becoming more popular of late, says Martin. Labrador tea is one such ingredient; traditionally used to cure headaches, to relax and to help mothers through childbirth, it is now being investigated by Western Pharma and has tripled in price in the last few years.

Although Martin is not registered Indian, he is part Algonquin and has always had an interest in First Nations culture. I ask him how he came to work at the Huron-Wendat Museum and Hotel.

After studying catering Martin worked at a number of prestigious restaurants, eventually taking up the head chef position at Manoir St-Castin, not far from Quebec City. It was here that he became more inspired by First Nations food traditions, and began to incorporate them more regularly into his cooking. Indeed it was during a visit to Wendake to purchase a teepee in which to host events at Manoir St-Castin that he first met the Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat nation. Later that year, he was invited to cook at the community’s Harvest Festival. There, the Grand Chief told him of the nation’s plans to set up a new museum and asked Martin to head up the restaurant.

Other First Nations restaurants in the area tend to serve traditional First Nations food, but Martin wanted to take things further – to take the traditional and bring it up to date. At La Traite, he uses local products to create a modern, nature-focused menu with strong influence from First Nations traditions, but not bound by them. The cooking is informed by his classical French training, the wider Canadian-Quebecois food culture and some international references. These he skilfully fuses with a larder of wild game, seafood and many vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices foraged from boreal forests that still cover much of Canada. It is a celebration of the abundance of nature, seasonality and the ethos of sustainability.

As much of the restaurant’s customer base is repeat diners and corporate clientele, Martin is keen to offer a menu that not only changes seasonally but introduces diners to new ideas and dishes each time they visit. Alongside traditional game meats of the region, he also assimilates ingredients and ideas from aboriginal traditions elsewhere in the world – hence the menu has also seen dishes using Australian kangaroo and Mayan shrimps (from modern day Belize) over the years.

When it comes to adding flavour, Martin uses herbs and spices favoured by First Nations cooking to complement his main ingredients, but often looks to use them in new ways. Gathered when in season, some are are dried and preserved for use throughout the year.

We want our customers to discover new flavours in our forest’, he says, ‘but we also want to show them that with our local products, we can produce similar tastes as the spices of the Orient’.

Dune pepper (poivre des dunes), for example – the small buds from the green alder tree – is traditionally used with game meat such as buffalo; Martin describes its aroma as the perfume of the forest, adding that it has a peppery flavour but not the heat of peppercorns; it is good in a creamy sauce, much as one might use peppercorns.

Balsam fir (sapin baumier) is similar to pine; Martin uses it to smoke fish, imbuing the fish with a citrusy woodland flavour.

Coltsfoot (tussilage) flowers are found all over Quebec and traditionally used in medicinal infusions; with a flavour resminiscent of chamomile, Martin likes to pair them with fresh fish.

Myrical gale (myrique baumier) is also known as bog-myrtle, sweetgale and royal piment (pepper); the leaves and buds have a nutmeg-like aroma and taste and can be used in similar recipes.

Horsetail (prêle des champs), also called sweet grass, is a sacred medicinal plant for the Nation and has a very particular scent. Martin grinds it to make a marinade for prawns.

There are over forty such herbs and spices in Martin’s kitchen, each of which brings a unique flavour to his cooking.

As restaurant service starts, Martin heads back to the kitchen and Jason and I take a table in the restaurant, to enjoy some of the flavours I’ve recently learned about.

With traditional bannock cornbread rolls, we have a refreshing ‘rhubarb water’ – I’m not usually a fan of rhubarb but the perfect balance between sweet and sharp, and the gentle flavour, is delightful. Our first course is a traditional Sagamité Soup featuring the three sisters, red beans, squash and corn, in an elk broth – the ingredients are so known because of the way they are traditionally grown together – the tall stalks of the corn provide a frame for the beans to climb, and these in turn provide shade to the squash plants growing beneath; an early and enduring example of companion planting.

Next comes a beautiful tasting board with several perfectly-presented little dishes including smoked salmon, lemon ‘caviar’, salicornia (a beach or marsh-growing succulent) and capers; foie gras with a spiced apple butter; a fresh vegetable salad; venison with parmesan and cheddar cheeses, confit onion and wild blueberry jam; crab rillettes with sweet peppers and gherkins and a smoked L’Algonquin Cheese, grilled with pear.

To finish, we enjoy fresh fruit with maple syrup mousse and maple syrup – of course the First Nations people harvested and used sap from the maple tree long before the Europeans arrived in North America!

As I’d hoped, the cooking is accomplished and delicious; the way Martin and his kitchen team weave together ingredients, techniques and dishes I already know with those I’ve not previously encountered is a special experience indeed.

I’m reminded that there are many such ingredients available in Europe – foraged for centuries, perhaps even millenia, but somehow forgotten by modern cooking, yet readily available in our local woodlands, verges and untended grounds. First Nations food is above all about that link to the local environment, and making best use of the produce it offers; surely a good lesson to take home.

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The Ekionkiestha’ longhouse at Huron-Wendat

After lunch, Jason shows me more of the site.

The main hotel is within the same complex of buildings as the museum and rooms are gorgeous. Spacious, attractive, decorated with traditional and modern First Nation art and crafts, they are really delightful and of course, staying one or more nights gives you more time to learn about the First Nations as whole and the Huron-Wendat nation in particular. It’s also a great base for outdoor activities in the region such as hiking, boating, fishing and more.

Just outside the hotel and museum buildings is the traditionally constructed Ekionkiestha’ longhouse. Here, guests can learn traditional First Nation myths and legends over a cup of Labrador tea and some bannock bread. Guides are also available to teach interested visitors about First Nation cooking, hunting and craft-making. For a more immersive experience, guests can book to spend a night in the longhouse, under the supervision of the firekeeper.

My visit this time is too short to stay overnight. I’d like very much to come back and spend longer next time, learning more about Huron-Wendat culture and traditions.

 

Kavey Eats visited Wendake courtesy of Destination Canada, with the assistance of Tourisme Quebec. Huge thanks to Jason and Martin for their time and all that they taught me.

 

The first produce market I visited in Canada was the impressive Marché Jean-Talon in Montreal, a wonderland of fruit, vegetables and other produce, plus a paradise of specialist food shops and delis. I’ll be writing more about my non-market food finds in Montreal soon, but next I want to tell you about the next destination (and food market) to win my affections.

Quebec City lies just 160 miles North East of Montreal, also on the banks of the St Lawrence River. I journeyed between the two by train, taking VIA Rail’s comfortable direct service from the heart of one city to the other. Next time I’d like to drive the whole stretch, to better appreciate the beautiful scenery and small towns along the route.

Whereas Montreal offers a energising mix of old French and English plus modern North American culture, architecture and language, Quebec City is altogether more French. The old French architecture is spread more widely around town, French is the dominant language spoken, and one could easily imagine oneself back in a corner of France, culturally-speaking. Of course, it’s a modern city too, but its heart is a little piece of France in North America. It’s an enchanting place to visit.

You’ve probably already realised how much I’m drawn to food markets and Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec is another fabulous example, located directly opposite the Gare du Palais, the city’s central station.

Under cover, the market is open all year round. It sells produce direct from the farmers and artisan produce is often sold by the people who make it. You will find fruit and vegetables, meat products, maple syrup, cheese, charcuterie, jam, sweets and more. Stall holders are friendly and happy to answer your questions about their products.

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Though I’ve jumped in to tell you about the market first, I actually visited just before leaving Quebec City; taking the train back to Montreal before flying down to Toronto for the next segment of my trip. Before that, I discovered the other attractions of the city and surrounding area.

On my arrival at Quebec City Gare du Palais (train station), I was met by local tour guide Michelle Demers. We headed straight out of the city to Île d’Orléans, a large island located in the river just off the shores off Quebec City. Accessed  from the city via a narrow road bridge, the island retains a feeling of rural peace and detachment. Though some residents do commute to the mainland for work, the island’s primary industry is farming, and much of the landscape is put to agriculture. We spent a lovely afternoon driving a circuit of the island, enjoying the pretty villages along the main road and the stunning views of the river and mainland to both sides.

Michelle told me a little about the history of the area – the island was one of the first areas of the province settled by early French colonists and many French Canadians trace their ancestry back to the settlers of that period. The island was also occupied by the British during the Seven Years’ War (1755 and 1764), after which Britain took ownership of much of what had previously been known as New France, in North America. In the 19th and 20th Century the island also became known for it’s boat building, and developed a thriving fishing industry, both of which have declined in the last eighty years.

One of the joys of exploring the Île d’Orléans are the farm gate stalls along the roadside, from which local farmers sell produce to passers by. Some are manned, others operate on the honesty box system. All were piled high with beautiful fruit and vegetables of the season.

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We stopped in at Cassis Mona, a family business specialising in blackcurrant products including a range of delicious wines, vinegars, syrups, jams and sweets.  You can taste before you buy, and I wish I had more space in my luggage to bring back a treat or two.

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My favourite stop on the island was at a cheese dairy, one that has won awards for its high quality cheese. One of their cheeses, La Faiselle de l’Isle d’Orléans, is the fresh version of the very first cheese made in North America. I loved it fresh with maple sugar and pressed, squeaky like halloumi and served hot from the pan.

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One of the most famous products of Canada is maple syrup and Michelle told me about the traditional sugar shacks of the region. In times past, the season for harvesting and processing maple sap was short, and producers called in their extended families to help during the busiest period. The sap must be harvested and cooked down to make the syrup we know and love. Food traditionally cooked and served to workers during the harvest have become a nostalgia-inducing comfort food for locals and a tourist attraction for visitors. Serving up the kind of hearty food enjoyed for generations, sugar shacks also teach visitors about the traditional production process and let them enjoy snow taffy – maple syrup that has been reduced to a thicker consistency than usual is poured onto fresh snow where it quickly starts to solidify and can easily be wrapped around a stick to eat as a chewy lolly. These days, shacks use shaved ice made in modern freezers to replicate the snow taffy experience even when it’s warm and sunny outside.

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During my visit to Quebec City I stayed at the Auberge Place d’Armes, a beautiful French-style inn with an unbeatable location. My room was utterly gorgeous, one of the most charming of my trip, and service from the front desk was helpful and genuine. I appreciated the voucher for a sweet treat which I was invited to choose from the crepe stand in the cathedral grounds opposite or the ice cream shop beneath the auberge. Delicious ice cream, which I ate perched on the window ledge in the ice cream parlour, watching people walking by.

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From my room windows I looked out onto the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the famous and enormously grand Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. There’s a wide wooden boardwalk that extends from the chateau – a lovely walk on a sunny day.

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The auberge was also just steps away from the furnicular down to the pretty Quartier Petit Champlain, an area full of cafes, restaurants and tourist shops. The central square here was rebuilt to original plans and is a beautiful place to stop for a hot chocolate or coffee.

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I particularly enjoyed several modern art installations around the Petit Champlain area and further afield in the city.

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I only had a short time in Quebec City, as I also made a visit to Huron-Wendat to visit the museum, hotel, restaurant and visitor facility; these collectively showcase the culture, traditions, food and hospitality of the Huron first nation. More on that in a future post.

Next time I visit (and I will definitely go back!) I hope to explore more of the city’s many attractions, including world-class art galleries, beautiful parks and excellent restaurants.

 

Kavey Eats visited Montreal courtesy of Destination Canada, with the assistance of Tourisme Quebec.

Nov 082015
 

I can’t believe two months have flown by since my last In & Out Of My Kitchen post!

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In early September we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a lovely lunch at Hutong in the Shard. Marvellous views, good food and friendly service.

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One of my favourite lunch options near my office was Ju Mak, I always ordered lunch bowl number 1 – with sweet fried belly pork slices, kimchi, spring onions and a fried egg over rice. Sadly, when I went last week, the place was closed and I can’t tell whether it’s being refurbished and will reopen as the same restaurant, or whether Ju Mak is gone and a new place will open. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to enjoy this tasty lunch again soon.

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Schwartz’ Deli, Timbits from Tim Hortons, Notre Dame Basilica, Restaurant Lemeac

In early September I headed to Canada for a really fantastic press trip. I’ve started sharing some of that with you already, but there are many, many more posts to come. My first stop was Montreal, a fantastically foodie city with a delightful mix of old and new districts, a really varied food scene and an incredible food market I fell head-over-aubergines for!

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Next stop was Quebec City which started with a driving tour around the gorgeous Île d’Orléans. Much of the island is farmland and I loved the farmgate shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Quebec City was a French food lover’s delight – had the best sweetbreads there I’ve eaten for a long time. And it’s also where I had my first real poutine, in the very place that is said to have invented them!

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One of the most fascinating experiences for me was my visit to the Huron-Wendat Museum – a museum, hotel and restaurant dedicated to sharing first nation tradition with visitors. I loved chatting to executive chef Martin Gagné about the traditional ingredients he uses in the modern restaurant.

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After my time in Quebec I flew down to Ontario and made my way to Niagara-on-the-Lake for an incredible few days hosted by Michael and Anna Olson. Not only did they take us to their favourite local vineyards, restaurants, delis and farms, they also invited us into their home for dinner and breakfast, teaching us some of their delicious recipes before we sat down to eat.

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I adored the farmgate shops, especially the large one at Whitty Farms, where our group tasted our first Canadian Butter Tarts – an utter delight!

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I was particularly excited about this segment of my trip because it included visits to several local vineyards that make (amongst other types of wine) the famous local ice wine. This stunning dessert wine is a regional speciality and as a lover of dessert wines, I was absolutely in my element! I bought two bottles home with me but wish I could have carried back an entire suitcase!

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No visit to this beautiful region would be complete without a visit to the Niagara Falls and we enjoyed both a boat cruise and a spectacular helicopter ride over the falls, before being flown straight to our next destination – another wonderful vineyard for a very delicious lunch!

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I think what made the biggest impression on me about this area of Ontario was the locally grown produce. The variety was amazing (thanks to a very varied local geography that gives rise to a wide range of microclimates) and the quality absolutely superb. Of course, I bought some maple syrup (from both Quebec and Ontario) back home with me! Recipes featuring this gorgeous ingredient to come soon!

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My last stop was Toronto, a world class city that I absolutely loved exploring. After a zip around the eclectic wares of Tap Phong in China Town, and a phenomenal dim sum lunch at Luckee’s, we said goodbye to our hosts and to the lovely Diane, the tour manager who had looked after us so well for the preceding days. I stayed on in Toronto, returning first to China Town for a more in depth wander – the red bean bun I had in Hong Kong Island Bakery was one of the best such buns I’ve ever tasted!

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I also loved Kensington Market, a small but hip area with another fruit and vegetable market, and lots of small hip restaurants, cafes and ethnic groceries full of tempting ingredients and speciality foods.

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Once again, there were wonderful historical buildings and areas amongst more modern Toronto. And oh my goodness, just look at that view from my hotel room!

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When I got home, autumn had kicked in, though weather was still warmer than expected. We harvested lots of delicious plums from our allotment, and a handful of very tart but pretty red apples from our two youngest apple trees.

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Missing Canada, the first thing I cooked on the weekend following my return home was an adaptation of Anna Olson’s sticky buns, a recipe she taught us during our visit to her home. You can find the original recipe, and my variations, here.

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One late September weekend I visited Food Blogger Connect, grateful that the rain stayed away given the unexpectedly outdoor nature of the venue. The street food stalls included treats from The Athenian (fantastic, delicious and generously sized wraps), Crazy for Pasta (who not only cooked but made their pasta fresh for every customer), The Pandan Bakery (who kindly introduced us to a variety of Malaysian treats) and Churros Garcia (which I confess I visited three times!)

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I was treated to some delicious foie gras products courtesy of Foie Gras Gourmet, an online mail order service specialising in high quality products from the Perigord.

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A lovely lunch at what I am certain is the best Lebanese in London reminded us that we should go much, much more often.

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Lunch is nearly always a mad rush out for a local takeaway and back to eat it within my half hour lunch break. Recent lunches include pork katsu don and a sushi box from Ohaio (affectionately known as the hole in the wall, located in New Malden Station), chicken katsu curry from Noodle Express, a mixed box of beef, rice and sweet and sour chicken from Do Bento, a huge jacket potato with bolognese and cheese from Village Cafe and a lamb wrap from somewhere at the other end of the high street, that one of my colleagues kindly collected on behalf of several of us for Shawarma Day!

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I will never ever get bored of eggs and toast!

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I went into China Town with a friend to review Viet Food, during which we popped into Cinnabon for some weekend treats and enjoyed the lanterns left up after the Moon Festival.

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A dear friend visited London and we caught up over a lovely lunch at Portrait Restaurant in the National Portrait Gallery. Lovely views, good food and warm and attentive service. Would go again!

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Absolutely loved reviewing the latest food subscription service – Cheese Posties. Each delivery contains everything you need to make a delicious cheese toastie, with innovative flavour and ingredient combinations that make it lots of fun.

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What greater way to spend a weekend lunch than with friends over dim sum at Pearl Liang?

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Another recipe I really must share with you soon is the quick beef rendang we learned to make on a cookery class we attended earlier this year. This delicious recipe is a one pot meal (everything goes in together) and takes just a few hours rather than the traditional 12-18!

Quick Golden Baked Peri Peri Chicken Yoghurt and Rice Cake - Kavey Eats (text1) Rostizza - Potato Rosti Pizza Base on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (2)

Lastly, please let me share some work I’m really proud of: It’s not unusual these days for food bloggers to take beautifully styled and photographed images of their recipes that are every bit as professional as tempting as those you find in glossy food magazines. But I’ve very rarely styled the food I post on Kavey Eats, snapping a few super quick grabshots before we tuck in to dinner; my ability to produce a planned and styled shot has remained pretty much untested. So I was really, really pleased with the recipes and photos I created for two recent commissioned posts, one for Quick Golden-Baked Peri Peri Chicken, Yoghurt & Rice Cake and the other for my Potato Rösti Pizza Base – I call it the Röstizza!

That’s an exhausting (but by no means exhaustive) meander through some of my food experiences during the last two months.

Thanks for reading!

And a warm wave at fellow In My Kitchen posters this month.

I’m submitting this post to Celia’s In My Kitchen series. Cheers, Celia!

 

Within hours of touching down in Montreal I was comfortably esconsed in Restaurant Toqué!, one of Canada’s most-respected and highly awarded restaurants.

The name amuses me greatly – a ‘toque de cuisinier’ is a chef’s hat but ‘toqué’ means goofy, crazy, loopy, mad… Perhaps the implication is that wearing one indicates the other?

When Toqué! first opened back in 1993, its focus on seasonal, market-fresh, locally-sourced products was a rare notion rather than the industry norm it has become today in high end restaurants. Chef proprietors Normand Laprise and Christine Lamarche  also took a risk by opening a high end gastronomic restaurant at a time when the city was in the grips of a fierce recession. But the quality of their cooking, the warmth of their welcome and the strong relationships they developed with local producers proved to be a winning formula and the restaurant has been a huge success ever since.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1253

In 2004 they moved from their original location (right by Jean-Talon Market) to new premises in the city’s International District, an address handily just across the road from my hotel, the InterContinental Montreal – an superbly situated hotel, by the way, for exploring both new and Old Montreal.

Although it meant fighting the jet lag during the last couple of courses, I ordered the Tasting Menu to enjoy a wider range of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Despite a desperation to get to bed by the last course, I was hugely glad I did.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-191110 Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1255

The space is large but broken up into smaller, cosier areas. My spot was not too far from the floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the free-standing bar within the unusually shaped room. The restaurant is often fully booked, so the restaurant offers last-minute diners a place at the bar, should they wish.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1257 Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-192052

The amuse bouche was tuna confit covered in a glossy white dome of tomato water foam. Beneath the aerated blanket tiny shards of crisply toasted bread provided textural contrast. The flavours were surprisingly classic for just a modern-looking dish. A lovely start.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1259

Princess scallops with chervil mousse, lime and physalis were fresh and sweet, the combination of fruit, herb and citrus complemented them well.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-194554 Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1263

The halibut was a surprising dish and I could not entirely decide whether I liked the combination of white fish, melon, black sesame seeds, kohlrabi , coriander, cucumber, radish and yuzu gel – it felt a little random on the plate and especially so on the palate. That said, each element was delicious, the fish wonderfully fresh and delicate and I’m a sucker for yuzu!

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9490

Foie gras was served with curried candied pistachios, argan oil and brioche. The foie was perfectly cooked – not easy to achieve such caramelisation on the surface without melting away most of the substance – and the candied pistachios delightful with it but the brioche was an enormous dry slab, providing neither crunch nor softness.

For those who prefer not to eat foie gras, or simply don’t enjoy it, the tasting menu offered an alternative choice of sea urchin and mushrooms.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-202850 Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9494

This unassuming dish was one of my two favourites of the evening – the dish I went away dreaming about! A thick slice of tuna loin was cooked rare, its meatiness enhanced by a bone marrow sauce. Served with white beans, fresh cherry tomatoes, a few tiny pieces of lightly pickled courgette and a thyme and lemon sauce, the combination sounds almost nondescript and yet this dish was anything but.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9498

A juicy venison steak was served with a dense venison sausage, yellow beetroot, a fiery pink chilli sauce and a cherry sauce. The flavour of the meat was excellent and the sauces balanced each other nicely, and yet I found it a rather forgettable dish.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9503

The tasting menu offered a choice of two dishes for the cheese course. I struggled to pick between the two,  asking my waitress for advice before eventually choosing the polenta and almond cake with caramelised goat’s milk, sweetcorn mousse, chilli oil and roasted peach sorbet.

To my surprise, I really didn’t like this dish – neither the component parts nor the whole. I did like the roasted peach sorbet though it was a little too subtle to stand up to the rest. The sweetcorn mousse was a thing of fascinating strangeness. The caramelised goat’s milk was OK. All the flavours seemed to clash; this was too discordant a dish for me and I left most of it uneaten.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9500

Luckily for me, and without knowing my reaction to the first cheese course, my waitress had already decided to serve me both!

Out came this delightful glass bowl cupping a stunning soft, fresh curd cheese – made from sheep’s milk I think – with melon granita and rocket granita spooned over, a dribble of lemon and thyme sauce and a pair of tiny grissini. Gosh, this was fantastic; even against the ice-cold punchiness of the two granitas the fresh cheese held its own. I adored this dish and it was my other favourite of the night, and the other dish I dream of tasting again.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9507

Confit strawberries were served with a strawberry gel, caramelised black garlic, a creme fraiche ice cream and lemon balm syrup, tiny flat shards of meringue finished the dish. The sticky black garlic caramel was the surprise star of the dish, working amazingly well with the red fruit – much like balsamic vinegar does, but with a wholly different flavour profile. The lemon balm provided a balancing freshness and in this case, all the elements came together perfectly.

Tasting Menu at Restaurant Toqué! in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9509

Just in case there was any corner of me left unsatiated a beautiful plate of petits fours were served. The teeny tiny blueberry financiers were moist and delicious and there were cubes of the softest fudge, its texture quite unlike any I’ve tried before, it dissolved on the tongue into a pool of liquid sugar.

I’d love to dine here again, perhaps for a regular three course meal from the a la carte menu. Creative, delicious cooking makes the best of high quality ingredients; the setting is comfortable, attractive and welcoming and the service is attentive, friendly and professional.

That said, the Tasting Menu is priced at CAD$122 per person; that’s just £61 based on the exchange rate on the date of my visit, which makes Toqué! a must-visit restaurant for British visitors. But do make sure to book a table – the locals know they’ve got a good thing going!

 

Kavey Eats visited Montreal courtesy of Destination Canada.

 

Visiting the Marché Jean-Talon in Montreal’s Little Italy district, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop; overwhelmed by stall after stall piled with beautiful, fresh, brightly-coloured produce, I didn’t know where to look next.

Punnets of tiny physalis, known locally as cerise de terre (ground cherries) sat next to the last of the season’s blueberries. Bowls of aubergines ranged in colour from the almost-black of a midnight sky through day glow purple to white; the latter a reminder of why Americans call them eggplants. Peppers glistened in traffic light colours of red, orange, yellow and green. Cabbages, leeks and all manner of greens sat next to red and white onions as big as a baby’s head. Teetering piles of plump cantaloupe melons released a heady scent, as did sun-warmed figs. More exotic fruits such as prickly pears, mangoes and papaya vied for attention with grapes, plums and luscious peaches. There were boxes, buckets and baskets of brussels sprouts, green and yellow beans and multi-coloured carrots. Courgette flowers with no hint of a wilt must have been picked just hours before. Ropes of garlic and chilli hung like garlands above the rest. Stall-holders invited shoppers to taste the season’s tomatoes, finally ripened much later in the year than usual.

The majority of the produce was locally grown either in Quebec or neighbouring Ontario, with just a few of the more exotic items sourced from further afield.

Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1328 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-1334
Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-1352 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-1338
Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-9553 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1313
Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1344 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1311

Jean-Talon Market, originally known as the Marché du Nord, opened to the public in May 1933. It soon took on the name Jean-Talon after Jean-Talon Street along its northern boundary. The street commemorates Jean Talon, Count d’Orsainville, the first Intendant of New France in 1626 – the French colony that comprised a swathe of modern-day Canada and the United States.

In 2004, renovations provided parking beneath the market and created a semi-enclosed structure to one end of the market space; this now houses speciality food shops. Here you can find a fishmonger, a bakery and various patisseries, a number of butchers and charcuteries, a juice bar and an oyster bar, a maple syrup specialist, a marvellous stall specialising in foraged foods such as wild mushrooms, a fresh pasta maker, a dairy shop, a cheese deli, a sandwich bar (known locally as a brûlerie), an artisan ice cream maker and many, many other delightful delis and shops.

I had a lovely meeting with Arik de Vienne at his family shop, Épices de cru, during which I learned all about how his parents came to source spices from around the world to sell in Montreal. He and his sister have now joined the business, expanded to include her specialist teas and his hand-made ceramics. I’ll be sharing more on Épices de cru soon.

Unlike many farmers markets, Jean-Talon is open year round, albeit vastly smaller in size during the coldest months – in winter the newer permanent area is fully enclosed against the elements and the outdoor fresh produce stalls sit vacant.

Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1305 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1385
Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-1376 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1309
Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1345 Marche Jean Talon in Montreal - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-1306

During my visit, local shoppers are busy buying groceries, eyeing up produce from different stores to pick the best quality or most keenly priced. In amongst them, foodie tourists like me gawp in utter envy.

Marche Jean Talon Collage - Kavey Eats

Kavey Eats visited Montreal courtesy of Destination Canada, with the assistance of Tourisme Quebec. I was shown the foodie delights of Montreal by Mélissa Simard, founder of Round Table Tours; Mélissa offers a range of guided culinary tours of Montreal.

 

The Sky Garden is one of the latest ways to enjoy a birds eye view of London. And it’s free!

Unlike some of the other tall buildings of London, it’s not a gherkin-shaped office block with no public access nor a soaring pay-to-ascend tourist attraction. You don’t even have to book a table for dinner and drinks – you are welcome to enjoy the terrace and garden area completely free, as long as you book in advance.

The Sky Garden is on the 35th floor of the building most commonly referred to as the Walkie Talkie, though personally I think it more closely resembles an old-school mobile phone.

We booked our free visit to the Sky Garden for a sunny weekday afternoon in March and marvelled at the views but didn’t stop for a drink or snack at the Sky Pod Bar, as all the available seating was taken.

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Instagram images from our visit back in March

Those looking for a full meal can book a table at Darwin, a brasserie located on the 36th floor, or Fenchurch up on the 37th, which serves a ‘British contemporary’ menu.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7533 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7536
Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7539 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7543

It was drizzling mid-September evening when we visited Fenchurch but the rain didn’t temper the glory of the views.

Our table, next to the windows at the West of the restaurant was one of only a handful to look out across miles and miles of London.

Other tables along the south-facing internal windows had their views almost entirely blocked by a large empty terrace just outside the restaurant. With the building’s glass roof overhead, locating tables out on to the terrace would be so much lovelier and make use of a somewhat pointless space.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0202

We wondered if the original name for Fenchurch was 37? The menu branding seemed to suggest so.

Fenchurch offers a regular a la carte, a Tasting Menu (£70) and a vegetarian Tasting Menu (£50). The Wine Pairing for both Tasting Menus is an additional £39. With cockles and mussels both featuring in the regular Tasting Menu, Pete decided to order the vegetarian one, which allowed us to try many more dishes between us.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-181543 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0200

The bread was excellent. The olive bread and rosemary focaccia were superb in taste and texture, and very fresh; the butter was soft and spreadable, rather than fridge cold. So many restaurants give scant attention to these two elements so it’s always a good sign when they are given proper respect.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0203 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0205

Although we giggled that the popped rice amuse bouche looked suspiciously maggot-like, the tiny nibbles were delicious. My crumbed pork was fantastic, Pete’s vegetarian one a little burst of flavour.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0209

First course on the non-vegetarian tasting menu: Chopped mackerel, pickled cockles, sea herbs and oyster cream. I loved this delightful jumble of tastes, textures and colours. Soft fresh mackerel, sweet pickled cockles and the most fantastic crunch from crispy tempura bits scattered through the mixture. Lovely bursts of flavour and salt from the sea herbs. A super dish.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0206

The vegetarian first course: Pea soup, poached egg yolk, mint and sourdough croutons. This was a beautiful soup; the essence of pea and mint, crunch from the croutons and richness from the oozing yolk.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185109 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0213

My second course was my absolute favourite of the menu: Rabbit bolognaise, harissa, Berkswell and sourdough. Again, the balance of textures between soft pasta, meat which was tender but not pappy and crunch from the sourdough was spot on. Likewise, the balance of flavours between rabbit and harissa was superb, with the harissa giving just the right level of heat and flavour.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0211 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185122

Second for Pete was Burrata, peach, grapefruit and fennel. The combination was given a thumbs up but the burrata was enormously disappointing, with none of the oozing creaminess that a burrata should have, this was far more like a regular ball of mozzarella and not a very creamy or fresh one at that. Still, the flavours worked.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0217

Confusingly, my next dish was not the Cornish turbot described on the Tasting Menu but Dover sole with brown shrimps, capers and samphire and a single squid ink pasta parcel stuffed with scallop mousse and more brown shrimp. Once again, the combination of ingredients was very good, with sea salt and crunch from the samphire, acidity from the capers and a welcome oomph of fishiness from the brown shrimp but the dover sole was a little overcooked, giving it a texture that was on the chewy side.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0214 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0215

Next for Pete was a dish very poorly described as Baked potato mash, sour cream and lovage. The description in the a la carte menu of the main dish version was far more accurate: Textures of potato. I loved this more than Pete did – he enjoyed it but felt it was more of a side dish, whereas I thought it stood alone rather splendidly. Potato was showcased three ways – a rich, layered block of fondant potato, a pool of smokey mash and soaring crisps that broke with a satisfying snap. Flavours were subtle but delicious. Pete was particularly impressed with the wine pairing for this course, a Tokaji Dry Furmint Béres 2013.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0221

Goodwood Estate lamb, garlic, artichokes, basil and olive jus was a generous dish with lamb cooked four ways – there was loin served rare, another cut I forget, a meatball and a pulled lamb croquette. The garlic puree was a little too raw garlic pungent for me, but the rest was well presented and delicious.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0225 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0224

Pete’s Jerusalem artichoke and ricotta agnolotti, summer truffle, hazelnuts and sage was one of his favourites. The dish was not the most attractive but once again, textures and flavours came together nicely. The tomato sauce was delicious but the fresh tomatoes were seriously under-flavoured and lacking in oomph. Our message to the chef – if you can’t source better tomatoes, take them off the menu! Critical sourcing of ingredients, and rejection of any which don’t meet standards, is surely a basic tenet of a restaurant of this calibre?

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-195834 Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0227

The two dessert courses were the same across both versions of the Tasting Menu. The first was Coconut cream, lime granita with mango and sesame, a gorgeous little pot bursting with flavours. Very intense. Rich and yet refreshing.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0232

Last was this Glazed peanut and chocolate bar with banana yoghurt ice cream. I loved this! Intense, rich, sweet and salty peanut and chocolate against tangy yoghurt with banana flavour, this was, as we were coming to expect, a lovely combination.

Sky Garden Fenchurch Restaurant - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0233

Petit fours were a decent chocolate truffle, soft and melting in the centre, and a mouth-puckeringly sharp elderflower lemon fruit jelly – so sharp the waiter gave a warning about it as he served it. Pete liked it, finding the level of acidity quite refreshing.

Our meal at Fenchurch was certainly enjoyable and fairly priced for the City location.

The cooking was accomplished; most of the dishes were very well conceived and cooked, providing superb balance of textures and flavours, with visual appeal an added bonus.

It’s a shame the layout of restaurant and terrace doesn’t give diners the view you might expect and I’d have been disappointed had we been seated elsewhere – we were allocated one of just a handful of tables with a wow-factor outlook. Of course, you can enjoy the views by walking around the Sky Gardens before or after dinner but be warned that if you don’t get the right table, you won’t enjoy the full effect of the views while dining.

 

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Fenchurch restaurant.
Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

 

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or my blog’s Facebook page you’ll have noticed that I visited Canada recently, taking in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and the region around Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’ll be sharing lots (and lots and lots!) from that trip in coming weeks. I totally loved all the destinations I visited and cannot wait to go back with Pete for a self-drive holiday.

Our tour of the Niagara region was hosted by husband-and-wife chefs Michael and Anna Olson who not only took us to visit their favourite local producers, vineyards, restaurants and markets but also invited us into their home for dinner and breakfast. We learned several of their delicious recipes, getting involved, asking questions and taking photographs as we laughed and chatted the hours away.

A recipe we all adored was Anna’s Blueberry Sticky Buns, which she made for us with blueberries and peaches, both in season in the local area.

Keen to take inspiration from Anna’s reverence for local and seasonal ingredients, I switched the blueberries and peaches for plums and blackberries gathered from our allotment just hours before.

Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle - textoverlay

Anna’s original recipe calls for buns to be cooked individually in a muffin tin, but I’ve followed the variation she showed us to tuck them all together into a baking dish and turn them out whole for a wonderful family-style tear-and-share result. Also following Anna’s example, Pete and I made the dough, filling and buns in the evening, popped them into the fridge overnight to rise slowly and baked them for a perfect Sunday breakfast the next morning.

Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-183230 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-183757 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-184852
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185252 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185301 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185335
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-182704 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185736 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-094608
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095403 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095417 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095614

I’m sharing Anna’s original recipe below.

To make my plum and blackberry version, just switch out the blueberries. Of course, you can use your choice of berries or chopped fruit.

To make the tear-and-share version, smear some of the maple-cinnamon filling across the bottom of a baking dish, and sit the buns side by side on top of that, within the dish. Either rise for half an hour at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.

We found that the buns need an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven when cooked this way.

 

Anna Olson’s Blueberry Sticky Buns

Makes 12 sticky buns

Ingredients
Dough:
2 ¼ tsp / 8 g dry active yeast
¼ cup / 60 ml warm water
1/2 cup/ 125 ml milk, room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp/ 25 g granulated sugar
2 ½ cups/ 375 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp / 2 g salt
½ tsp / 2 ml ground nutmeg
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup / 125 g cream cheese, room temperature
Sticky Bun Filling:
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup / 200 g packed light brown sugar
3 tsp / 45 ml maple syrup
1 tbsp / 15 ml cinnamon
2 cups / 500 ml fresh or frozen blueberries

Method

Sticky Bun Dough:

  • Dissolve yeast in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixer, add milk, egg and sugar and blend. Add flour, salt and nutmeg and mix for 1 minute to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 1 hour.

Sticky Bun Filling:

  • Combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon a tablespoonful of filling into bottom of each cup of a greased 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle 1/2- inch thick.
  • Spread remaining filling over the dough, sprinkle with blueberries and roll up lengthwise.
  • Slice dough into 12 equal portions and arrange them in muffin tin. Allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, and turn out onto a plate while still warm.

 

Huge thanks to Anna for sharing and showing us her delicious recipe, and for giving permission to share it with you. And of course, thanks to all of those involved in making my trip to Canada so amazing. I can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Kavey Eats visited Canada as a guest of Tourism Quebec, Ontario Travel & Destination Canada. The Anna Olson recipe is reproduced with permission.

 

Islay, aaah, Islay, it’s always such a pleasure to visit your beautiful landscapes again.

Even if you made a liar out of me when I told our Islay newbie friends how we have always had gorgeous weather for Feis Ile (whisky and musical festival) week and would surely have it again.

Even in the driving winds and rains, you were beautiful.

Though the weather made me grateful for the cosiness of our self-catering house with its deep, soft sofas, small but well-equipped kitchen and comfortable bedrooms.

And its windows out across glorious views of green grass, yellow gorse, blue sea and cows. I spent long moments standing watch as baby rabbits, deranged with excitement, hopped and swallows swooped across the spring sky.

There were seven in our group this time; two crazy brave folks on bicycles and the rest of us in joyously rain-proof cars. I think – I hope – we all enjoyed the week, though I remain in awe of the cyclists’ sheer determination and tenacity!

We didn’t visit as many of your beautiful locations as we usually do – no excursions to Kilnave Chapel, the Kildarton Cross or to the ancient seat of the Lordship of the Isles, on the shores of Loch Finlaggan. Few meanders across sand beaches or stony shorelines. And a little less time sitting out in the sunshine with a whisky in hand and the merry notes of live music nearby.

Still we visited all the distilleries: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig and Islay Ales too.

We didn’t diligently attend every distillery open day this time – since our first visit in 2006 the popularity of the festival has grown year on year and there are far more fellow visitors to contend with than ever before. Of itself, that’s no bad thing – it’s an extra pleasure chatting to locals and other travellers – but the narrow, twisting roads and limited parking at many of the distilleries makes transport logistics ever more difficult and there were a occasions when we bowed out of the long, slow queues for park and ride minibuses and pootled away somewhere else instead.

We took it easy, visiting distilleries on their quieter days and booked into only a couple of specialist events – partly be design and partly because they now book out within minutes of tickets being released. I am reliably informed that Jim McEwan’s last Bruichladdich masterclass and Dr Kirstie McCallum’s straight-from-the-cask tasting session at Bunnahabhain were both very fantastic.

Congratulations to both Ardbeg and Laphroaig, both celebrating 200 years as legally registered distilleries. Lagavulin follows suit next year. And a hearty congratulations to Kilchoman on their tenth birthday!

We made two lovely visits to my favourite Scottish pub, An Tigh Seinnse in Portnahaven, run by lovely Laura and her husband.

Of course, I gorged myself on crab claws and scallops from the Seafood Shack – no squat lobsters this time but the crab and scallops were as good as ever.

We cooked three communal dinners in the house and enjoyed two barbeques in the fantastic barbeque hut in the garden – I refer to this handsome hexagonal hut as the Hobbit House, though in reality it’s plenty large enough for the tallest in our group and seven of us had plenty of space to spread out inside. A large central barbeque is surrounded by benches covered in soft animal skins with light coming in from small windows. Next time, I shall pack a few candles for when the darkness falls. ASPorter butchers in Bowmore were the source of delicious meats, and the Bowmore co-op provided most of the rest. Plus some wild garlic foraged by Lagavulin’s car park and, later, from the back garden when we realised it was growing rampant there too.

We returned to The Lochside Hotel in Bowmore for a couple of lunches.

And we made a new discovery when we stopped into the Ballygrant Inn to a warm welcome in the well-stocked whisky bar there. Another welcome respite from the rain, especially for damp cyclists!

Even in the rain, driving around Islay afforded one stunning view after another; verges bright with blooming bluebells and tightly curled ferns, marshy grassland dotted with sheep and cattle, wide sweeping shorelines with gently lapping waters or wind-whipped, white-tipped waves, winding single-lane roads with quaint passing points that were slightly hair-raising when the island’s bus or a large lorry hurtled at speed towards you.

I did a lot of the driving as the only non whisky-drinker in the group, though I rather enjoyed it, perhaps more than my passengers did!

And when the sun came out more resolutely, for our last couple of days… oh Islay, you were, as always, glorious!

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Views from the main house

 

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Inside the Hobbit House

 

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Two visits to Ardbeg, one for Feis Ile open day and one for a quieter lunch in the Old Kiln Cafe

 

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A salad with foraged wild garlic; a newly discovered pleasure – cambozola cheese in Pedro Ximinez sherry; ASPorter butchers; farm-fresh eggs from the chickens by the house; my sparkling sake whisky alternative; serving up my banoffee dessert; the aftermaths of after-dinner drinking

 

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Laphroaig, celebrating 200 years this year

 

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An Tigh Seinnse (with birthday boy Pete and frenzied crab-eating Kavey); Portnahaven harbour views

 

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Birthday puzzle; whisky and chocolate tasting at Lagavulin; Ballygrant Inn whisky bar; one of An Gleann tablet makers resident peacocks displaying at a very disinterested peahen

 

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Two visits to Bruichladdich, one for Feis Ile open day and another to buy whisky when the shop was less rammed

 

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The boys walked to Caol Ila, I waited for the minibus and beat them there; beautiful views across to Jura

 

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Just some of my lunch purchases from the Seafood Shack

 

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Although we missed Kilchoman’s open day we did go for tea and cake on a quieter day instead, completing a quick crossword in the car and cafe

 

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Two visits to Bunnahabhain during the week

 

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Whisky tastings at Bowmore; Bowmore’s round church, Kilarrow, designed to give the devil no corners in which to hide; lunch at The Lochside Hotel

 

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Taking shelter from the downpour in the Islay Ales open day tent; I found cake!

 

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A trip to Islay starts and ends with a CalMac journey

 

Although this isn’t a typical entry, I’m submitting this to Celia’s In My Kitchen, since we did lots of wonderful cooking in our Islay home-from-home and the fabulous Hobbit House!

Big thanks to my friend Matt Gibson for extra photos, credited by image.

 

Located on Iceland’s north coast, the townfolk of Húsavík primarily make their livings from fishing and tourism, the latter being focused on whale watching trips out from the harbour. Our 3 hour trip with North Sailing gave us some wonderful sightings. The most famous landmark of the town is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907. You’ll also find a few cafes and restaurants in the harbour area where you can enjoy a tasty lunch before or after your excursion.

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Húsavík harbour, as we head out to sea

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Húsavíkurkirkja, a wooden church built in 1907; a whale painting on the side of a harbour-side building

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Beautiful weather as we head out to sea; Pete admiring the views

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All-in-one protective suits; bird

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bird

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Nearby boats; whale disappearing back under the waves; Pete checking his camera

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A beautiful sighting of a humpback whale (I think), especially for those on the Haukur

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A different whale, possibly a minke?

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Onboard refreshments; Pete

 

See my other Iceland postcards.

© 2006 - 2014 Kavita Favelle Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha