Saturday, July 31, 2010

Miso butterfish at Sansei, a Japanese restaurant in Hawaii

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There is so much local seafood in Hawaii, I really wanted to find a wonderful Japanese restaurant, as no one does fish like they do! After much searching in my guidebook, I found one called Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, and we enjoyed it so much that we ate there twice in one week. Both times we got a table on the balcony, which overlooked the ocean, and ordered the Matsuhisa-style miso butterfish, a very tender fish marinated and seared in sake and sweet miso. It was my favourite dish at the restaurant and I would love to try to recreate it. It's the signature dish of Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity chef who is in business with Robert De Niro, although the chef and owner of Sansei is D.K. Kodama, who owns several restaurants in Hawaii.

We also ordered the Japanese calamari salad (below), a crispy wonton basket filled with fried calamari that is served over a bed of greens from Nalo, a local lettuce and salad-greens farm in Oahu. And we also tried something else, something very special that rivaled the tastiness of the butterfish and as such, deserves its own blog post, coming soon ...

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Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort and Spa
2552 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Baby bananas in Hawaii

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S and I recently returned from a dreamy vacation in Hawaii. We rented an apartment with a kitchenette so we could save money by cooking at home once in a while. We found a grocery store called the Food Pantry and I have to tell you about the bananas I found there. They gave me a bit of a cute attack because they are so stubby and fat compared to the garden variety I'm used to buying in Canada. In Hawaii, these little ones are called apple bananas, elsewhere they are known as bananitos. An adorable name for an adorable fruit, and the perfect amount of banana to top my cereal every morning :)

Food Pantry
2370 Kuhio Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii (in Waikiki area)

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Manuel Latruwe, a bakery in Calgary

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When we were in Calgary, S, his dad and I bought a delicious baguette for crab melts and also treated ourselves to some mini pastry cakes at a bakery called Manuel Latruwe. I love its French name. S speaks it very well and always sounds like he has a mouthful of ripe plums when he says the Lattruooe part :) It is indeed a very desirable place to visit. Our favourite, pictured above, is called Temptation. I’m not sure what was in it, but it was light and moussey and delicious.

Exotic, a mango-flavoured pastry cake at Manuel Latruwe.

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Manuel Latruwe
1333 - First Street SE
Calgary, Alta.
403. 261.1092

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Orzo with fennel and pancetta

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I was recently introduced to orzo, a wee member of the pasta family. Anything delicious wins me over, but anything delicious and cute has a definite monopoly. This is a nice lunch to take to work :)

Orzo with fennel and pancetta
Serves two

1 cup orzo
¼ cup cubed pancetta or bacon
2 finely minced shallots
½ cup thawed frozen peas
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1 cup chicken broth (or a combo of broth and water)
2 Tbsp white wine
favourite fresh herb for garnish, torn
salt and pepper

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the package. Reserve half a cup of pasta water in case you need to add some liquid to the final dish.

Cube the pancetta and fry it with minced shallots in olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat for five minutes or so. Then add the thawed peas and finely chopped fennel, stirring to coat them in the oil. Add chicken broth or water and then stir occasionally, uncovered, until the liquid had reduced by half. Add the wine to deglaze the bottom bits, and cooked it for a minute. Finally, add the precooked orzo and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with your favourite chopped fresh herb.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

William J. Walter Saucissier in Gatineau

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Squeaky, S and I were so excited when this beautiful sight above greeted us through the door of William J. Walter. If you love sausages as we do, it's like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

There were at least 100 different kinds of sausage to choose from. I found the usual favourites like chorizo, Oktoberfest and Italian, but they also had some really creative flavour combinations. We bought duck and herbes de Provence sausages that were perfect in my favourite pasta dish, rotini with sausage and wild mushrooms. We also bought some mango and goat's cheese sausages that I am contemplating serving in a bun with a little homemade mango chutney. There are many more delicious varieties on my list for our next visit: white wine and shallot, broccoli cheddar and cheese and mushroom, yum.

They have a list of all their sausages if you ask for it. And many are allergy friendly, such as gluten-free, lactose-free, without pork or without garlic. This is also where we got that lovely duck rillette from my last post.

William J. Walter Saucissier
129, rue St-Joseph
Gatineau (Hull area), Que.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Duck rillette with foie gras

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I had the day off today and made a charcuterie lunch for S and myself. We ate a duck rillette with foie gras that we bought on the weekend from a great little sausage shop in Hull-Gatineau.

It was delicious on baguette. It was made by Aux trois p'tits cochons verts, a charcuterie-maker just north of Montreal.

I think I like rillettes better than pâtés. They have a coarser texture and you can see that the meat has been finely shredded as opposed to pureed into a paste. Rillette meats are slow-cooked until tender, shredded with two forks in the manner of pulled pork, and then mixed with warm fats until spreadable. They are meant to be served at room temperature with breads.

Foie gras was added to this one, which made it sinfully rich. To assuage my feelings of guilt about having a full-out fat fest, I also laid out some cherries, cherry tomatoes and hummus on the table. But who's kidding who, the rillette stole the show ;)

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yamakake soba

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Yamakake soba literally translates to Japanese-mountain-potato-covered soba. I had this for the first time in Calgary last month with S and his Dad, who says it's a very authentic Japanese dish. He made it for lunch one day and we helped him.

It was quite an experience eating this. Japanese food is so often an adventure in textures. The white sauce you see in the photo is mostly grated nagaimo, also known as Japanese mountain yam, a white root vegetable. It looks like a giant parsnip or daikon, but when you grate it, it gets all gluey and slimy. You eat it raw, seasoned with a little marinade, but that's it. It's an acquired taste and I had a bit of trouble finishing my bowl. There's also a hot version that I will ask S's dad to make me the next time we are in Calgary.

Here's to Japanese food adventures!

Yamakake soba (Japanese-mountain-yam-covered soba)

one whole nagaimo or Japanese mountain yam (about nine inches long)
green onions, finely sliced for garnish
nori, one large sheet finely torn for garnish
dash of soy sauce
dash of ponzu
1 egg yolk
2 portions soba or buckwheat noodle

Wash the nagaimo and peel it with a vegetable peeler until all of the brown spots underneath the skin have completely disappeared.

Grate the nagaimo on your finest grater over a mixing bowl. We used a ginger grater like this one. Be prepared to be hands deep in slime!

To the grated nagaimo, add the egg yolk, soy sauce and ponzu, but not too much. You still want the mixture to stay predominantly white. Garnish with the green onion and nori and serve.

If you decide to try and eat this with chopsticks as I did, be prepared for a long lunch as the noodles keep sliding all over the place. This was a fun lunch :)

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