All posts filed under: Canada

Hunting Down the Waterford Blaa in Newfoundland (and a recipe for you to make it at home)

Do I need to reintroduce you to the blaa? I probably do. The humble bread roll from Waterford, it is fluffy, square and white with a flour crust, and we are a little obsessed with it. It is thought that it came to Waterford with the Huguenots who called it blanc (because it was a simple white roll), but with our accent and a little time to erode it, it became a blaa. It is a simple bread, slightly sweet with a little sugar and fluffy with a little butter. Allowed to rise slowly, it is the perfect vehicle for our traditional (and my favourite) chicken and stuffing sandwich. Also, for the occasional tayto (cheese & onion) crisp sandwich with butter to cushion the crisp. There used to be 60 bakeries in Waterford that baked the blaa, and it never really left it. You never used to see the blaa anywhere else. This has changed recently, in no small part due to the efforts of the remaining bakers, now only 4, who are trying to …

A Postcard from Niagara

I am working backwards, feeling slightly justified as I am still in Canada, even if I am writing about it the wrong way round. But hey, you have come to expect that now, haven’t you?! I am a mite passionate about wine. I love the stuff, and I love to visit vineyards, do tastings, and explore the wine culture of any country I visit that has one. I am in awe, and worried for, people that can deny themselves wine and/or pasta. Why? Just, why? Life is short, bring the joy, and buckets of wine and shovel loads of (great) pasta. Carbonara or tagliatelle with ragu for me please! With a gutsy delicious wine. Several Canadian provences make wine, and I have visited a few, the Okanagan, Nova Scotia and Niagara. My trip to Toronto was short, just 3 days, and I devoted one of these to a trip to Niagara for a little explore. Niagara (famous for the falls) is also a well established wine region, producing some excellent wines including ice wine. I visited …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 3]

Yesterday, I wrote a post extolling the virtues of a little sleep. This morning, or rather this afternoon, following far too little sleep and an overnight flight from Victoria via Vancouver, I am a shell. Restless legs are my permanent accomplice. I don’t even have the mind to cook. I need to sleep. But not yet, I want to write first. The past 9 days in British Columbia flew by and I am left with such a positive impression. What I saw was food with such integrity, and people preparing it and serving it who really cared. They care about the provenance of their ingredients, not just because it is trendy, but because it is good. They care about sustainability both in fishing and agriculture / viticulture. The cooking and execution, in the main was great too. These pictures are from Tuesday, when I visited terrific Whole Beast Meats who use the whole pig carcass and make lots of charcuterie, bacons etc. I then travelled to Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands between the …

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 2]

Good morning folks! Doesn’t some sleep make the biggest difference? I felt at the end of my tether last night. I woke up thinking “oh my god, won’t that guy just stop talking about that toaster?!”. In my dream someone was talking incessantly about one. Only I quickly realised that the guy was on TV and had thus invaded my sleepy head. I fell asleep with the TV on. I am off this morning to Salt Spring Island with Island Time Tours (who I also travelled with yesterday). A wonderful day lies ahead. For now, and for you, the second part of my photo post. I decided to make it three as I had too many to squeeze in here. So, come back tomorrow for the finale.

British Columbia, Canada, in Pictures [Part 1]

I have so many things that I wanted to write about, and I had planned to today. After a day of visiting vineyards and then an evening editing photos I am all out of energy. Rather than write something dull and uninteresting and lacking any passion, I thought I would share some of my photos from the trip with you instead. There are some I really love, and not all would actually fit in with any post I might write. I have taken hundreds. This is the first of two posts. Enjoy, and I will be back soon with the next photo post and then some lovely detail. When I am a little more awake and have the energy to enjoy it. Because one thing is for sure, if I don’t enjoy writing it, you won’t enjoy reading it. Niamh


Eating Victoria: Red Fish Blue Fish

I have been in British Colombia a week now, and it has been wonderful. It has also been very busy. I have spent the last week in Vancouver doing the urban thing, in Richmond exploring Asian food, the Okanagan visiting wineries and tasting lots of (delicious) wines, and for the coming three days I am on Vancouver Island, based in Victoria. Pretty busy. So I took today, my first day in Victoria, in my stride, visiting the museum (highly recommended for the First Nations gallery alone), and wandering about, poking my head in here and there, taking turns that would take me somewhere I didn’t know, and in general following my nose. Exactly how I like to travel. My nose brought me to Red Fish, Blue Fish. A local and modern interpretation of the humble fish and chip shop, in a shipping container by the harbour. A few people had mentioned it on twitter, so I had a look. The menu was everything I have come to expect of one on the West Coast. Vibrant, …

Vancouver: Eat Your Cart Out (Street Food)

Greetings from Vancouver folks! I am here to explore the food, the wine, and all of the other bits in between. I started with the street food. Street food in Vancouver? If you visited before 2010 you might think I am referring to a different city, but following the success of the food trucks at the Olympics a limited number of licences were granted. At first by lottery, which unsurprisingly didn’t prove completely successful, the second and third rounds of licences were granted via a jury including some of Vancouver’s best chefs. Pitches were granted based on unique ideas, sourcing and sustainability. So far, so good. How did they taste? I went on an Eat Your Cart Out tour with Tour Guys. Led by Jess, a Vancouver local passionate about food (she is a member of the Vancouver Yelp Elite). We visited 5 of Vancouver’s best trucks and carts. Starting with a refreshing Israeli lemonade from Mangal Kiss, we had our first bite at Feastro. Feastro had a whole show on the Food Network dedicated …

Some Toronto Food Highlights: Part 2

My naming conventions for my Toronto posts are even confusing me now. But I wrote a Part 1 then – HAD TO, JUST HAD TO WRITE – that bacon post, which has screwed things up a little. I am back now with the second and final part of my Toronto food highlights round up. To re iterate, as it has been a little while, I was very impressed with the quality and variety of restaurants there and these are a few highlights. And their playlists! That’s a bit random I know but each one could have been playing from my iPod. There’s a strong indie buzz running through Tornto, both in fashion and music and I like it. Here you go! As soon as I get some time, I hope soon, I will publish a proper piece on my favourite places so that you can find them when you visit.

Tasting Toronto: Peameal Bacon at Carousel Bakery, St Lawrence Market

One of the many joys of travelling is discovering the hidden local food gems. Those foodstuffs that have developed there through local customs, locally grown or caught products or immigration. Everywhere has them, and Toronto has peameal bacon. The name alone is enough for me to want to take a bite – something I haven’t eaten yet – an unexplored food joy. I find I am constantly seeking new experiences and I always find that first bite a wonder. Almost always good, sometimes – and rarely – awful. Tuna Salami I am looking at you, please don’t darken my door again! It’s attributed to English influence – England at one point had a pork shortage and so imported bacon sides from Canada. I do wonder if we Irish had a hand in it though. Back bacon (which this is) is the favoured cut in Ireland, and it really reminds me of gammon. Toronto used to be called little Belfast too, and has a suburb which was once full of Cork people called Corktown. There is …

Some Toronto Food Highlights: Part 1

Toronto had a lot of great food to offer. Burrata frequented more menus than I have seen anywhere else, and there is doubtless many strong multicultural influences (Greek, Japanese, Korean to name but a few). I had several very good meals while I was there and tried as much local food and local Niagaran and Ontarian wine as I could. It was a wonderful few days. Here’s a few highlights before I board my flight back.

A Postcard from Toronto

Greetings from Toronto folks! It’s hot-hot-hot here, if you are looking for summer, we definitely have it. I’ve been having a brilliant week, firstly visiting the Niagara Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration – a huge tasting and celebration of chardonnays made at 45 latitude. Really interesting, lovely wines and lots of winemakers who are only delighted to introduce you to their wines. There was lots of great food – smoked barbecued pork chops with local peaches, ribs, pulled pork in buttermilk and corn bread, peach tarts (they’re in season!), blueberry french toast and so much more. And, those falls. Wow. Then to food in Toronto which I have been very impressed with so far. Brilliant ingredients and a simplicity and elegance in cooking and presentation has really stood out. Lots of attention is paid to seasonality and local produce. It’s all about flavour here, and they have it in spades. I have one more day here to cram lots in. So many places will have to wait until my next visit. Some photo highlights for you …

Video: Making Fiddlehead Soup & Pickling Fiddleheads (Canning) in New Brunswick, Canada

So, we picked the fiddleheads and washed them (as per the video in my last post). We then brought them back to O’Donnells Cottages and made a delicious fiddlehead soup for lunch. We preserved some of the rest and took a jar back home with us. I am saving mine for dirty fiddlehead martinis. Yes you did read right,and yes, isn’t that genius? I got the idea from a lovely lady in New Brunswick. Apologies for the camera flash in the middle of the pickling video, I didn’t spot it until I rendered it and am struck down with a chest infection so can’t face doing it again. Hope you like!


Video: Fiddlehead Foraging in New Brunswick, Canada

A fun little video for you from our fiddlehead forage in New Brunswick last weekend! Recipes and more soon. fid·dle·head [fid-l-hed] –noun 1. Nautical . a billethead having a form similar to the volute carved at the upper end of a violin. 2. the young, coiled frond of various species of ferns, eaten as a vegetable. for·age [fawr-ij, for-] 1. the act of searching for provisions of any kind. 2. to collect forage from; strip of supplies; plunder: to forage the countryside. 3. to supply with forage. 4. to obtain by foraging.

Farewell New Brunswick!

I am on my way back to London now and very sad to leave Canada behind. It was a wonderful trip, a perfect combination of catching up with old friends and doing fun things with them in Nova Scotia, to a terrific food trip around New Brunswick centred on the humble twisting fiddlehead. I need to adapt and already as I sit in the airport reality is starting to nip, deadlines are shouting at me, I am wondering about how I can do x, y & z. It’s just like Sunday night before school when you don’t want to do your homework. Hey-ho. I will miss a few things after my 2 week trip here. The people, well they are as nice as everyone says, they’re funny too! It has been lots of fun. The seafood is sensational, the lobster, mussels and scallops particularly so. I’ll miss those darn fiddleheads! I’ve taken to it here and have even started sticking an odd “eh” at the end of my sentences. I must really stop doing that …

A Postcard from New Brunswick

Greetings once again from Canada! This time from New Brunswick where I have been on a food trip. We started the weekend foraging for those fiddleheads that I love. We sped along the river to a little island where the ostrich ferns had just peeped their heads up. We snapped the heads off and bagged them for soup, dinner and jarring later. Violent, me? Only with fiddleheads. Other highlights are listed below with, as always, more details soon.

A Postcard from Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is suffering an unusual bout of grey weather and rain for this time of year so not many pictures of the landscape for you, but a small selection of some things that I liked as I made my way around. I think they capture the spirit. It’s still a superb place to visit. Like Ireland, they are used to the bad weather and so have a vibrant indoors culture. A bubbling local brewing culture and lots of vineyards pair beautifully with great local seafood. Live traditional music and jazz sits comfortably beside. Looking forward to getting back here in the summer sometime too. I would love to head up to Cape Breton and also over to Newfoundland. It has to be done, right?

Choo Choo! All Aboard the Bacon Jam Train! (Recipe)

Bacon Jam. Stop, take a moment, and say it out loud. Bacon. Jam. BACON JAM! Yes, that is what I am talking about! Feeling excited? So, bacon jam first came into my life some years about when I heard that they sold it in the US. I promptly spent a fortune and ordered some, paying the same in postage as for the jam itself. I fell in love. I had to have more so I came up with a recipe. It was earmarked for the book but I decided not to put it in (although I do think that was stupidity now) so I never blogged it. It’s my recipe so, as you can imagine, there is lots of spice and big flavours.It’s delicious, and almost as good as my chorizo jam, both recipes will find their way to you eventually! I am in Nova Scotia now, and when I got to the airport my eye was drawn to a visitors booklet called Taste of Nova Scotia. It has lists of places to try and …

Some Ghosts, Some Oysters, Some Shrimp: All in a Good Lunch

Requirements for a good lunch: fresh local produce cooked well good local wine, preferably sparkling a wine cellar in an old lift that used to be used to transport bodies a toilet haunted by the ghost of an angry man and a little girl All jokes aside, this describes where I lunched today in Halifax. The Five Fishermen is a popular restaurant in Halifax spread out over two floors. Originally a school that offered education to children from poor families in Halifax (it was the first free public school in Canada), it then became the Halifax Victorian School of Art before being bought by the Snow family and becoming the John Snow & Co. Funeral Home which sadly would be associated with two major disasters not long after. When the Titanic sank in 1912, the wealthier victims were brought here so that arrangements could be made. A few years later the Halifax explosion (the largest explosion in the world before Hiroshima) claimed over two thousand lives, and many of the bodies ended up here. Naturally, …

A Wave from Nova Scotia with Fiddleheads, Scallops & Wine

Greetings from Halifax, Nova Scotia folks! Swap some of the wooden houses for the occasional pink or yellow concrete house mixed among some grey, and some dilapidated thatched cottages, and truly you could be in Ireland. I can see why everyone has been saying that they are similar places to me now. I love it. I flew in yesterday and was mighty sleepy post flight, but that didn’t stop me going out and buying some fiddlehead ferns and local scallops to cook up for a quick lovely supper. Food is actually quite expensive in the shops here (surprisingly), yet scallops are very reasonable as they are plentiful in local waters (ours were from Digby), as are the local fiddleheads as they sprout up everywhere at this time of year. What’s a fiddlehead? It’s the gorgeous curled frond of a fern as it grows. Think green bean meets asparagus. As you cook it, it gently uncurls. It’s a perfect partner for scallops, we added some spiced sausage too which was like the tenor for the singing …