Tag Archives: family

Salted Brick: simple honest intentions that make complex flavours

30 Oct
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In September,  I had the chance to work in the beautiful Okanagan Valley for a couple of weeks.  The picturesque and almost desert-like interior of British Columbia proved to be a powerhouse for fruit orchards and of course, as everyone has heard, vineyards.  The best part was, almost all the top restaurants sourced locally and stressed (ha!) the slow food movement.  Yeah, I had trouble booking a flight home.

I confess, I had a prejudice prior to my arrival that I would be served mostly vegetarian health-conscious fare (as if you don’t think granola when I say West Coast).  Much to my surprise (and relief), I found the complete polar opposite of fresh kale salad – really great charcuterie!  And one of my favourite places to split a board of locally sourced cured meat  in Kelowna was at Chef Jason Leizert’s Salted Brick.

Located next to the old Paramount Theatre, Salted Brick is a stylish but unpretentious eatery that makes food an accessible event.  Seven days a week they serve up mind-blowing affordable sandwiches to the lunch crowd (get the smoked chicken!  No, wait, the brisket! Ugh, no, the smoked chicken!)  while Wednesdays to Sundays there is dinner service and on weekends only, brunch. Everything is priced extremely reasonably and prepared with such care. Also, with the small seating space close to the food prep and bar, you cannot help the intimacy forged between the diner and the plate creator and that is part of the experience of their locavore’s menu.

As soon as I walked in, I could smell the aroma of cured meats and cheeses.  It was prevalent enough to almost act as an amuse bouche but certainly not overpowering.  My dreamy-eyed look must have indicated I would get a kick out of their ‘meat closet’ because guess where I was seated?  Yup right next to it- I could stare to my heart’s content.  My friends, all of this locally-sourced, free range and hormone and antibiotic free charcuterie was created in house!

A lot of glare, but even more meat.

A lot of glare, but even more meat.

My dining partner and I decided to start off with oysters from Salt Spring Island.  They were creamy, briney, and matched perfectly with a mystery house-made hot sauce.

Oysters from Salt Spring Island

Oysters from Salt Spring Island

Next came two giant boards which we unabashedly demolished.  Local cheeses and in-house cured meats.  Paradise!

Cheese board

Cheese board

 

Meat board

Meat board

The cheese pairings ranged from traditional to whimsical.  The charcuterie board was out of this world good; with each bite we proclaimed we found our favourite until we tried the next one.  Our server felt like a pal who casually wandered by and made sure we were having a good time.  We were never rushed, and with the beers and wine flowing, food to share, and a great atmosphere, we were shocked to find 3 hours had passed!

Salted Brick emphasized my belief that dining is an intimate event to be enjoyed with friends and the creators of your meal.  It also bridged the gap between food source and my plate – I could read about the farmers they sourced the meat from and see, with my own eyes, the curing room at the back of the restaurant.

Simple honest intentions and complex flavours – thank you Salted Brick.

 

Edit: I mentioned this was accessible to most wallets and I forgot the prices we paid for the above but just to give you an idea, they do offer a Family Dinner priced at $25/person!  And this is the ridiculously delicious sample menu: 

Bouillabaisse

Squash Ravioli, Brown Butter, Parmesan

Pork Cheeks, Mushrooms, Buttered Kale, Apple Sauce

Goat Cheese

Apple Tart Tartin

Salted Brick on Urbanspoon

 

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A family of (health conscious) foodies

12 Jul

Yesterday I was running errands, doing final preparations for 3 weeks in Ecuador. My mom was also doing errands at the same mall (Bayview Village!) and asked me if I wanted to head home for lunch. I mentioned that I perfered to stay out and have a quick sandwich and then head downtown for further errands. Her response?

“YOUR SANDWICH WILL HAVE ONE THOUSAND CALORIES!”

… so I stayed behind and enjoyed my panini vegetable sandwich and tried my best not to think of the calories.
Later, I went to the gym and swam as hard as I could for over half an hour.

Are these two things related? Maybe.

I grew up in a very healthy household. No salt, no excessive fat, two cookies max for dessert – three if it was a speical day, rarely any chips (if we did have any they would be low salt Pringles!) and access to one pop a week. When on vacation, my mom would usually convince us to do some type of exercise before breakfast (usually tennis, sometimes swimming). Some of you might think this is a little hardcore of my mom. Some of you might wonder if my brother and I turned out to be super skinny elite athletes (sadly no, we remain average). Some of you might wonder why I was denied the wonders of butter and salt as a child. And, you might wonder if our meals are super bland and tasteless.

Food is actually a big deal in our house. My parents have specialty oils, salts (including truffle salt!) and spices. My dad is a pro-star BBQer. My mom is an excellent cook (but she always finds the healthy way to prepare foods!). Eating a sit down dinner as a family is a requirement when we are home. The table is laid out beautifully : candles, flowers, serving bowls… all that is missing is the carbs! (I’m not joking, carbs are a treat in my family!). I jokingly refer to our almost attendance mandatory family dinners in the dining room as “Mom’s Café”.

Elegant, flavourful and yet light on the calories… It’s my mom’s way of showing she loves us all – so much that she doesn’t want us to ever get fat!

I’m going to miss them when I am away. But I will be doing a lot of hiking and swimming, so I won’t come back in questionable shape!

Bias in food reviews (and thoughts on hospital food)

3 Jun

There is a common complaint that hospital food tastes like nothing. I’d argue that it *does* taste like something, it’s just that the ambience, and any of the drugs that the patient might be on, kills the taste.

The woman who taught me about the joy of food and the joy of cooking has been sitting in a hospital bed for the past three weeks. She’s notoriously picky and not one to shy away from criticizing everything about food, be it homemade, be it in a restaurant, this woman doesn’t care about your feelings, only about what she is eating. (maybe she is actually related to clementineyyz?!)

She once made me homemade chocolate fudge just because I asked if she knew how. When I was a kid growing up in Scarborough, a long drive from my parents’ native Montreal, she would show up with enough food to fill our freezer. Pies, tortières (when seasonally appropriate), split-pea soup, spaghetti sauce, cookies, nanaimo bars… and then she would go into the kitchen and loudly take over, or assist to the point of taking over. Cooking and baking came easily to her, it never seemed to make her nervous, it was just something that she did, and did well. This was in contrast to my mother, who was, and still is, a very good cook, but a nervous one. It was something that she’s obviously worked hard at. My grandmother exuded a calming confidence in the kitchen that I’ve rarely seen since.

But, one day soon after my grandfather died she announced that she had had enough and wasn’t going to cook anymore. And so, she hasn’t cooked for more than 15 years. She said she’d cooked enough for her life time and that she was done. I miss her cooking, but I have always loved her for much more that just her cooking. She’s 91 now.

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