Tag Archives: chorizo

RT6 – To Portland ME

Woke up early this morning to the sun and sparkling waters of Lake Champlain. We headed down to the harbour to check it out before heading to The Spot for breakfast. This little local dive, open to the outside from within, serves a tasty breakfast in a surf shack that is someplace between California and Polynesia. Surf company stickers, thatched awnings, palm trees, surf boards, leis, tiki carvings and a tropical fish tank, lend a bright, light-hearted, casual vibe. Chairs are comfy and there is a large patio.

I order the Ole burrito with chorizo, eggs, cheddar, red onion, black beans. A small bottle of no-name, mild hot sauce, fresh guacamole and sour cream come on the side. Rob ordered a “make-your-own” omelette, given the array of great looking ingredients. He asked for chorizo, banana peppers, avocado and cheddar, with a side of cafe potatoes and rye toast.

Coffee and orange juice arrives first. The coffee is, well, horrible. Undrinkable really.  OJ is from a carton. The Spot really could upgrade their drinks. Our breakfasts arrive next. The Ole is a beauty to behold. Eggy filling is divided between two nicely charred flour tortillas. The chorizo is abundant and flavourful, and the eggs are well scrambled and delicious. A very good breakfast “taco”. I found the serving size is really a bit too large. One taco was sufficient.

Rob’s omelette was tangy with spice and the avocado and cheese tempered the heat with creamier coolness. A perfect combo. Accompanying small red potatoes  were cooked on the flat top and seasoned with a spice mix, and the rye toast was cut thick. A great breakfast all in all.

Happily sated, we hit I-89, Portland, Maine bound.

The green mountain state of Vermont is picturesque, dotted with small farms and homesteads in the valleys. The mountain roads are cut through walls of shiny black shale, veined with copper coloured rock. I-89 is not cluttered with box stores and billboards.

At some point we cross unknowingly into New Hampshire. There is no sign to welcome us and we are denied a photo of a huge  “Live Free Or Die”. We will have to be satisfied with the mega liquor store that is planted at all access points to the state. We get off the highway in Manchester…major miscalculation. We thought we could grab a quick bite, but the entire town was under construction. After fooling Stella, our GPS into taking a detour to avoid the mess she was trying to lead us back into – we are back on the road. Soon we have the option of getting off the interstate and on to Route 1, a pleasant meandering drive through coastal Maine.

We hit gold right away. Rob spies a seafood shack roadside. 3 Buoys Seafood Shanty and Grille. So glad we waited out New Hampshire. We exit the car and stretch. 3 Buoys, a perfect dive shack, done up in nouveau fishing boat chic delivers exactly what we are looking for.

A homemade seaside business serving up fresh seafood. With the Olympics on the flatie, or should I say, the all-American games and some other teams of little or no interest, we order Blue Moons, clam strips and lobster rolls.

The clam strips are lightly seasoned and well fried. Not greasy. I pass on the tartar sauce. I was raised to eat them with ketchup like a good maritime Canadian.

The lobster rolls come with home made fries. The fries are hand cut but the oil wasn’t hot enough. They are just ok. The lobster rolls. The lobster rolls. Wow. Hot dog bun, split, buttered and made toasty good on the flat top, stuffed, really stuffed –  with lobster lightly dressed with mayo. Washed down with Blue Moon beer, it was exactly what the moment called for. The perfect storm. I cannot get it out of my mind. I will have another somewhere on our journey tomorrow. There is no shortage of shacks along the way.

Route 1 to Portland takes us past classic New England towns, bustling with tourists and residents this Monday. We passed small resorts, old school motels with turquoise cement pools, cafes, patios, clapboard houses with colourful shutters and antique stores. Nice to see the occasional Canadian and pride flags amongst the American. Past the little towns of Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunkport and Arundel, on to campgrounds and cottage country and finally into Portland, Maine. We settle in for a bit and decide on J’s Oyster for a late dinner. Portland has so many places of interest for dining but we have only one night here. J’s comes to us from Roadfood.com.

The oysterhouse is a three minute walk from our hotel so we set out on foot and explore a bit. J’s is right on the commercial wharf, which means seedy – but fresh. They do not take reservations and even though it is late on a Monday evening, we face a 30 to 40 minute wait. We take a seat on the windy dockside. There is patio seating but the night is quite cool, so we wait it out.

Eventually we are called and seated. J’s is dimly lit. The entire center of the room is occupied by the bar. There is seating around much of it. This is authentic wharf dive bar classic. Paper placemats with important lobster facts printed on them appear in front of us along with cheap cutlery. There is no water on the table and if you want rolls, you ask for them. Our waitress drops by with menus and we order Rolling Rocks to start. For apps we decide to share the garlic bread and crab and bacon stuffed mushroom caps. The caps are garlicky and have both a lot of crab and bacon.

I however seem to have developed an aversion to any meat paired with bacon. I love bacon. I love crab. I did not like the flavour combination. I believe though that the fault lies with me. The garlic bread was however, amazing. BEST EVER. A white hot dog bun split, spread with garlic butter and chives, then toasted on the flat top. Chewy, steamy, garlicky. Cheese on garlic bread only complicates things.

For our mains, I get the lobster pernod and Rob opts for the lobster scampi. My dinner arrives. Large chunks of lobster meat are lightly sauteed with mushrooms and cream with a dash of pernod, and served over linguine pasta. The lobster is wonderful and there is lots of it. I appreciate the light hand with the pernod but if I were to make this dish at home I would bump it up a bit because I love anise.

 

Rob’s lobster scampi was rich with butter, garlic, bell peppers and lobster. The luxurious and garlicky butter sauce was used as bread dip for both of us.

Both of our meals came with well made but completely unnecessary coleslaw. All in all, dinner at J’s was excellent, a great end to a long day of travel. We walked back along the harbourfront to our hotel, ready to make plans for tomorrow.

Spanish Tapas Night!

Rob and I are unfamiliar with Spanish wines in general. Oh sure we can pick out a decent Rioja but beyond that we are a little lost. We decided to cozy up an Ottawa winter evening by inviting a group of friends that enjoy red wine, food and travel. We sent out an invite to bring a tapas dish or a bottle of a favorite Spanish wine one might like to share. Our group of eight guests was more than up to the task and we had a fun evening trying new wines, comparing wines and enjoying the fruits of our friend’s kitchens. This is a great excuse to get together, weather be damned and learn about wine. Little or no coordination was done and so it was a true potluck with the tapas. Here’s a rundown for most of the food. As recipes show up, we’ll add them to the list.

The Menu:

Mediterranean Spiced Olives
Shrimp and Chorizo with Smoked Tomato Dip
Manchego Cheese
Spanish Roasted Potatoes in Tomato Sauce (Patatas Bravas) – Simply Recipes
Tooma Cheese with Guava Paste
Mussels in Spicy Coconut Milk
Grilled Mushrooms
Homemade Gooseberry Compote
Quinoa Salad
Olives with Roasted Peppers
Whipped Potato, Fish and Olive Spread with Garlic Crostini
Tart with Gorgonzola, Fig, Watercress and Serrano Ham

Abby and Nico’s Quinoa Salad (Abigail Lixfeld and Nico Pham-Dinh )
– toast the quinoa lightly, then cook in duck stock until done
– chop snow pea leaves and then blanche in hot water for one minute, then shock in cold water
– coarsely chop and then saute vegetables in duck fat (e.g. carrots, leeks, bell peppers)
– mix quinoa, snow pea leaves and vegetables, dress and season to taste

Dressing:
– grapeseed oil, reduced sodium tamari, garlic, cracked pepper, agave

Abby and Nico’s Grilled Mushrooms (Abigail Lixfeld and Nico Pham-Dinh )
– thinly slice king oyster mushrooms
– toss in a dressing of grapeseed oil, soy, agave, dijon mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper
– bbq, pan fry or grill until cooked through but still firm

Served with Nico’s Mom’s Ground Cherry Compote

Rob’s Shrimp and Chorizo
– Peel, clean and de-vein gulf-caught fresh shrimp
– Toss cleaned shrimp in spice mix (paprika, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper)
– Slice Spanish-style dry chorizo into 1cm-thick coins
– Saute chorizo to render some of the fat. Remove from head when tender.
– Saute shrimp in same pan with chorizo-oil (augment with olive oil as needed) until just cooked.
– Take toothpicks and secure chorizo coins inside the curve of the shrimp
– Serve with your favourite dip, in this case, a smoky tomato jam. Sauces made with melted citrus marmalades are excellent as well.

Rob and Maureen’s Tart with Gorgonzola, Fig, Watercress and Serrano Ham
preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Brush flatbread with olive oil
Distribute sliced fresh figs, gorgonzola and watercress sprigs on flatbread
Bake in oven until crispy and golden, and topics are cooked and melted.
Top with slices of Serrano ham while hot (it will “melt” into the hot flatbread)
Cut into easy-to-eat squares.

Spicy Mussels (Courtesy of Jan and Patti adapted from 222 Lyon Street Tapas Bar)
Serves 2 (main course)

 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
¼ cup chopped Spanish onion
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
2-2½ cups chicken stock (use less/more depending on how much liquid you want)
¾ cup dry white wine (less if you want it less “winey”)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Sprinkling of crushed red chillies (to taste)
2 lbs (one mesh bag) fresh live mussels, washed and scrubbed if necessary
1-1½ cups heavy (35%) cream (use less/more depending on how much liquid you want)

In a large pot, heat the oil until hot. Add the chopped garlic, chopped onion and parsley. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken stock, wine, crushed red chillies and Dijon mustard. When heated, add the mussels. Cover the pot and cook until the mussels have opened, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and stir well. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Serve immediately in a large bowl.

 

 

Piggy Market

We start every Saturday morning’s weekly marketing excursion at Piggy Market. We have been doing this for over a year. When we first started visiting Piggy Market, they were a medium-sized space with little product. The product they did have kept us coming back. Initially, they offered artisanal pork products, Art-Is-In bread and Pascal’s homemade ice creams. Slowly they added local cheeses, milk, butter, organic produce, maple syrup, and homemade pickles. What keeps us coming back is never knowing what we will find in the main showcase and the quality, preservative-free offerings. It seems like the powers that be at Piggy cook whatever pleases them – what they want to eat: duck and lentil soup, Jamaican patties, to-die-for mac and cheese, chorizo, duck rilletes, brined turkeys at Christmas, bbq sauces, spit-roasted whole chickens, roasts of  beef and pork sliced on the spot for lunch meat, Berkshire pork ribs, spicy baked beans, homemade hamburger patties.

They have a small freezer section with meat pies, lasagna, sausages and frozen organic vegetables from Bryson Farms. They also carry some fresh organic produce from Bryson. You can usually score some heirloom beets or fingerlings until supplies run out and they always have a good supply of peashoots and microgreens. There is never tons of anything so you better get there early.

 

Great sausages from the basic to the exotic.
Monday's in-house bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrific Burgers - we're hooked!
Always a surprise in store for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dropped by this this week to talk to Dave Neil, one of Piggy’s owners and a familiar face every time we visit. Dave was kind enough to take some time out of his very hectic schedule to pose for some pics and answer a few questions. His business partner Warren came out to say hi and get in a pic or two as well. Piggy Market came to be in 2008 and has been at its current location since 2009 where they expect to be for at least the next three years. Being tucked away on a quiet side street off of busy Richmond Rd. in Westboro adds to the stumbled upon pleasure that is Piggy. The market started with a love of charcuterie and has developed into quality take home products and meals. Charcuterie is the foundation and mainstay of the business which Dave hopes will come to be known as the premiere artisanal delicatessen in the city.

 

Dave Neil and Warren Sutherland, co-founders.

Piggy Market has a staff of seven and all of its members contribute on a weekly basis with ideas about new offerings. This weekly rotation allows the offerings to be fresh and simplifies ordering. Always on hand are the items that sell well, but if you call ahead with a special order, they are very accommodating. The staff are constantly trying new things and this keeps their long hours fun and interesting.

The deli has a commitment to fresh, local, seasonal product. A common and much welcomed theme in new restaurants and markets. What makes Piggy’s approach different? Piggy is committed to the head to toe, or snout to tail approach when using an animal. No waste if possible. Pork is obviously a first love but they also prepare deer, lamb and wild boar, and apply the head to toe approach. Currently they do bring in beef for burgers, roasting and Jamaican patties but don’t have the space for a whole animal. Another feature Dave feels is unique to Piggy is that he knows where every ingredient they use comes from and who made it or grew it. Today he was showing me some beautiful Jamaican escallions, with their flower buds still intact. Similar to green onions and a basic in Jamaican cooking, they had a local grower, Jambican, procure seed and grow them for Piggy. They will find their way into Jamaican patties and burgers, and a few other things I am sure.

Showing us Jamaican escallions
Piggy Market's local farms and providers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What excites Dave most about Piggy Market? The seasons! Right now asparagus (excellent this year) and rhubarb have his attention. Rhubarb is going into sour cream cakes and bbq sauces and maybe muffins if he can find the time. The market also hopes to start bottling bbq sauce, make their own pickles and sauerkraut, offer more selection on their sandwich board, make their own mustards and mayo, and add to the small but well thought out collection of books for food lovers. Piggy is also taking on a more professional look with a new logo currently in development. Gone will be the realistic pig, but none of the authenticity of the food or the grassroots feel of the place. Dave doesn’t refer to the people who frequent his shop as customers. “I like to think of them as food enthusiasts and friends we haven’t met yet. We are all about community.” Look for Dave and the gang serving up burgers and sausage (they will be any thing but ordinary) at Dragonboatfest, Folkfest and Beau’s Beer Octoberfest this summer.

 

Pascale's Ice Cream - Unique and delicious.
Large variety of local cheeses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ever popular Art-Is-In bread is sold at the counter and used for sandwiches.  Art-Is-In does not bake on Mondays. The Piggy staff has added  bread baking to their repertoire because they do not sell day old bread. Today’s offerings were cornbread and an amazing looking yogurt sourdough among others. Where do they get the time? They also bake cookies, scones and excellent hamburger buns. Twelve hour days, seven days a week helps. Dave admits to taking Tuesdays off, but then admits that he spends a lot of his day off shopping for the business and working at whatever needs doing.

Recently they have added sandwiches to their offerings. Drop in for lunch and pick up some rare, oven-roasted beef for the week ahead,  a bottle of milk from a local dairy, a pint of Pascal’s salted caramel ice cream, some sausages for tonight’s dinner on the BBQ and hope, just maybe, dare to hope they have some mac and cheese left.

 

House-made prosciutto.
Warren's Burger using Art-Is-In Cheddar-jalapeno loaf as a bun, with heirloom tomato, purple onion and classic toppings, with spiced grilled corn. A wonderful dinner al fresco.