News and events

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I haven’t been posting as frequently as I had hoped. I am also behind in reading other blogs, so please bear with me!

What I did on my long weekend, part 1

I had a busy, busy Saturday. My adventure started with a short volunteering stint as a “food sample girl” over at the downtown City Market. Saturday was Canada Food Day and to celebrate, the City Market held a number of food demos from chefs. Once the food was made, I helped to distribute the goodies out to the hungry crowd (at least, for the first demo).

setting up

setting up

The first demos were from Chef Brad Smoliak, whose first recipe was Ukrainian Eggs Benedict. Chef Smoliak started off by doing some prep work, including putting the Irvings Farm Fresh pork chops (or, as the Chef called them, bacon chops) in a pan to begin frying.

bacon chops

bacon chops

He made an effort to point out places in the City Market where he had grabbed the ingredients – from eggs to herbs. (Unfortunately I didn’t jot down where everything came from.)

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

He cooked Mo-Na mushrooms, fried eggs, flipped the chops… the smell was torturing everyone in the audience.

almost time to eat!

almost time to eat!

The final product looked like a giant open-faced sandwich. And it probably could feed at least two people.

the assembled benny

the assembled benny

My duties were over, but I stuck around to catch the second demo where the Chef presented a summer salad.

adding finishing touches to the salad

adding finishing touches to the salad

the salad, complete with edible flowers

the salad, complete with edible flowers

One of the Chef’s last tips was that if you were doing a buffet style party then you might want to pick up some candle votives and utilize them to serve the salad. I’m not sure if I would use votives though, unless you were sure that the vessel was safe to use with food. I’ve seen this technique used in Las Vegas, although they used cups that were smaller, like shot glasses.

salad in a votive

salad in a votive

Also hanging around the market was fellow volunteer Eating is the Hard Part, and Only Here for the Food who was helping to man the Slow Food Edmonton booth.

So what did I do for the rest of the day? Well, if you have been following my tweets then you’ll know. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for my next post to find out what happened next.

S&M Café, London

It’s not everyday that you get to eat at a place called S&M. And then you have to explain to people that it’s not as kinky as it sounds, as it actually stands for sausage and mash. S&M Café is a local chain in London that specializes in “great British grub,” and we were there specifically for one of their breakfasts. More specifically, a Full English Breakfast.

S&M Café

S&M Café

I’m told that you can usually get the full English breakfast experience at most pubs, but this restaurant was recommended to us by a friend and their Spitalfields location was near where we were staying, so it made a great spot for us to grab some food before heading off for sightseeing for the day. Customer service was fast and extremely friendly – our waiter joked around with us every time he came around to our table.

We were there in the morning so we only saw the breakfast menu, but a quick glance at their regular menu posted on their website shows that they have a number of other traditional British fare available, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The menu

The menu

Of course, the first thing that we ordered was the Great British All Day Breakfast for those in the group who were new to the experience. Toast, bacon, sausage, bubble and squeak, egg, baked beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes filled the plate to bursting.

Great British All Day Breakfast

Great British All Day Breakfast

Now, I have eaten full English breakfasts before (although then it was called full Scottish breakfast because it was in Edinburgh, and those ones had the option of adding haggis, vegetarian haggis, and/or black pudding), and I knew how greasy those plates can get, so I was more than happy to try something different. I opted for the Vegetarian All Day Breakfast, which included all the same items except that it replaced the bacon and sausage with Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages. (I think it was the cheese that convinced me that it was the right way to go.)

Vegetarian All Day Breakfast

Vegetarian All Day Breakfast

I have to say that although the regular sausages and the bacon were good, my Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages were spectacular. Crunchy on the outside, they had the texture of cornbread on the inside and great mix of leek and quite mild cheese flavours.

Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages

Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages

The bubble and squeak was a mixture of mashed potatoes and vegetables, including squash blossoms.

bubble and squeak

bubble and squeak

We stuffed ourselves silly, and rolled out of the restaurant while complaining that we were too full to walk.

condiments - mustards, ketchup and HP sauce

condiments - mustards, ketchup and HP sauce

S&M Café
various locations in London, England
www.sandmcafe.co.uk

S & M Café on Urbanspoon

Asparagus and mushrooms recipe

A trip to the City Market last Saturday netted me a few goodies including two bunches of fresh Edgar Farms asparagus (where I bumped into Sharon from Only Here for the Food when we both raced there to grab some before they sold out), and a 1 lb. basket of mixed wild and domestic mushrooms from Mo-Na Food. I also picked up a small container of morels to experiment with, but more on that on another post. I did think about some fiddleheads as well, but I’ve bought them a couple of weeks in a row and I needed a bit of a break from them.

My farmers’ market bounty inspired to cook up a simple vegetarian dinner.

I snapped the bottom ends of the asparagus and gave them a quick rinse, then popped them into some boiling water for a very quick parboil. I then popped them into cold water in order to shock them and stop the cooking process.

While the asparagus cooled, I cleaned and roughly chopped up my mixed mushrooms, diced a couple of garlic cloves, and chopped up another six portobello mushrooms that I had bought at Costco and added that also to the mix. I stir fried the whole lot with about three tablespoons of margarine and reduced the heat to a medium high temperature.

stir-fried mushrooms

stir-fried mushrooms

Once they cooked through, I splashed in about a tablespoon and a half of shao hsing Chinese cooking wine and added salt and pepper to taste (very little salt, as the cooking wine has salt in it already).

I then started plating. First, some drained asparagus. Then, spoonfuls of mushrooms. And to top it all off, scoops of the sauce over the whole thing.

asparagus and mushrooms

asparagus and mushrooms

Simple, fresh, nutritious and delicious. Great with a side of brown rice, or maybe some roasted potatoes. Myself, I toasted some whole grain bread and dipped it into the sauce until it soaked everything up.

Alternatives to the Chinese cooking wine include soy sauce, cooking sherry, or oyster sauce.

A warning – the amount of mushrooms that I cooked were enough to make at least 6-8 servings. I had plenty of leftovers.

Borough Market, London

More images from Borough Market, with a bit of commentary for you!

Gotta love their version of a “you are here” map.

Borough Market map

Borough Market map

Indoor shot of the permanent part of the market. Saturdays, as you can tell, are pretty busy. And this was at about 3 p.m., so who knows how many there were earlier that day!

Borough Market architecture

Borough Market architecture

Outdoor sections of the market.

Borough Market - outdoors

Borough Market - outdoors

You can get cheese at more places in Borough Market than just Neal’s Yard Dairy! Mmm gouda.

cheese wheels

cheese wheels

The variety available at this market is just outstanding. Look at all the sausages!

sausages

sausages

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BLT Burger, Las Vegas

Later in the week we made a last minute decision to pick up some lunch at another “fancy” chef-owned burger place, BLT Burger located in the Mirage. This decision wasn’t fueled by a burger craving, but more as a way to erase (or at least make me feel better) about my not-so-hot experience over at the Burger Bar.

The “BLT” in the name stands for “Bistro Laurent Tourondel.” The atmosphere is modern and yet retro at the same time; each table had an old fashioned diner-style, and the servers were dressed in a casual uniform of BLT branded t-shirts with sayings on the back like “Tip waiters not cows.” Instead of hiding the cook-top, they treated the overhead vent as a display piece and have the cook-top surrounded by bar-style seating. (I didn’t take a photo but you can see the decor over here.)

We were seated right away because the restaurant, while busy, was quite large. They play their music very loud (probably to drown out the casino noises!), and our server was cheery and helpful.

BLT Burger placemat

BLT Burger placemat

This time, I was absolutely determined to have meat.

BLT’s burgers are a mix of Black Angus sirloin, short rib, chuck and brisket.They have a number of add-on toppings like portobello mushrooms, fried eggs, and homemade chili, as well as a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic milkshakes.

I decided on the “Shaft’s Blue,” which was a grilled 7 oz patty served with Shaft’s Blue Vein Cheese, balsamic caramelized onion and mushrooms, with a big pickle on the side. And I ordered it cooked medium – which is something you can’t get at restaurants here.

Sweet potato fries and Shafts Blue burger

Sweet potato fried and Shaft's Blue burger

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