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Foodie walking tour of Rome

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When I was looking for things to do in Rome, besides seeing the famous sites (which were almost all shrouded for restoration), I convinced @WineGuyTO that we should do a food tour. We had looked at them before for Montréal, but ended up making our own (Montréal Beer Tour).  After a lot of searching, we choose the Eating Italy tour of Trastevere, as it was close to where we were staying.  This is one of 3 tours that the company offers in Rome (the same tour at night with different locales, and a tour of Testaccio), as well as cooking classes.  The company is young, but has already set up tours in Rome, London, Amsterdam and Prague.  The tour runs for around 4 hours, but they went by very quickly!  We visited 10 local shops where we interacted with the owners, sampled what they were known for and learned both the history of the area and what we were eating.

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Our first stop, a bakery.

 

 

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Our sample.

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Supplì, similar to arancini  but typical of Rome. This is a food that people grab as a mid-morning snack.

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Ours had tomato and cheese inside, mixed with rice.

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Next up a butchery. Slicing our porchetta up.

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The porchetta. Thin, moist and flavourful.

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A farmer’s market in the square. Lots of fresh veg and fruit. Multiple generations represented too.

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At the back of the square and the farmer’s market is the cheese shop.

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Melon, prosciutto and fig sampled in the market. All so fresh.

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The artisanale gelateria. Some of the strangest flavours I have seen, but so good!

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My cup, the pensiero and mint chocolate.

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The gelateria.

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Al forno. At the front, ready made ‘pizza’ on focaccia bread. In the back we watched them taking the breads out of the oven to cool.

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Some of the pizzas we could sample.

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Lunch! We sat down for this meal in a restaurant. Gnocchi, risotto and ravioli.

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Last stop was an enoteca in the original Jewish Quarter. This cellar is one of the oldest in Rome. Some artefacts found here are in the Vatican Museum.

 

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Pinterest inspired Easter Treats

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Originally published April 2012

I don’t think I am alone in the craze that is pinning on Pinterest.  Most of what I have pinned/liked have been recipes.  I was inspired by two pins this Easter, mainly because I am addicted to Cadbury Mini Eggs and needed to use up the kilogram bag I had.  Also being a 4 day weekend for me, I actually had some time to bake.

First up was the easy recipe from The Happy Baker: Mini Egg Shortbread cookies.  I only had one problem with the recipe, it did not give  an idea of how much one batch would make, so I doubled the recipe.  75 cookies later…..

Everyone at work loved them, and because it is shortbread, I can easily freeze them to eat throughout the year. They were the right texture and the chocolate was a nice crunch without  overwhelming the cookie.

Next up was a picture I saw, and after some digging, found out it was from the Peeps website; a cake made to look like a sunflower.  I did a chocolate fudge double layer cake with chocolate buttercream (real butter!) and raspberries in the middle.  This did not turn out quite how I hoped as I thought that having the Peeps upside down would look better.  Unfortunately, I could not secure them and turned them right-side up (which is actually how they were supposed to be once I looked back at the website again). This made the end result messy, and being just a little bit of a perfectionist at times, did not make me feel that I had done a good job.

That being said,  there was just enough left at the end of the workday so that @WineGuyTO could have a slice 🙂

Making dumplings for Chinese New Year

I enjoy challenging myself and frequently will make something based off an idea or a recipe I have seen having never made it before.  This week is Chinese New Year and I thought, why not try making dumplings?  Our friends @munchkinkaty and @scotchguyto also joined in the fun, taking us into Chinatown T&T to get our ingredients (the bad driving due to snow derailed our plans somewhat).

We made four different dumplings: shrimp and scallion, pork, sweet potato and blackberry, and duck and cherry.  All dumplings were adapted from recipes found online (and listed at the end).  The great thing about dumplings is that we could freeze them to eat when we want.

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It took a while for Katy and I to (kind of) master the folding technique, it became more or less whatever we felt like in the end.  We did manage to fold each type of dumpling differently, which made them easier to identify later when cooking.

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Top L-R: Pork, sweet potato with blackberry Bottom L-R: Duck with cherry, shrimp and scallion

 

We opened a bottle of Rosewood Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 to complement the flavours, and I think they went well together.  A favourite wine and winery of ours, the Pinot nose teases you with cherries and strawberries that are then evident on the palate.  After an hour being open, additional berries became evident, such as raspberries and black currants.  The colour shows signs of a little bit of age, as the edge is not as red as the centre.  The overall colour is more brick red than the usual pigeon blood red.

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Recipes:

Duck – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1900634/duck-dumplings –> the green onion to duck ratio was large.  ‘Small’ bunch of green onions really should be 2-3 onions.

Pork – http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chinese-pork-dumplings/ –> The recipe is not divided up well between the dipping sauce and the filling; this is where prepping ingredients is key.

Shrimp – http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/shrimp-and-chive-dumplings

Sweet Potato – http://brokeassgourmet.com/articles/sweet-potato-gyoza –> we doubled this and added a half pint of blackberries.  It made close to 85 dumplings.

Valentine’s means Sparkling for DDTC

This week we went out for dinner on Wine Wednesday, so our DDTC bottle had to be moved. And with Valentine’s Day this coming weekend, I thought why not drink some sparkling wine?  It was also pointed out by wordpress that my last post was my 100th! Another reason for champagne, thanks for the suggestion @munchinkinkaty!

Also with it being Valentine’s Day, I took the opportunity to bake for our work colleagues.  Pay Chen inspired me to make the cupcake below.  She demoed it on CityLine Monday and wrote it up on her blog  but I saw it on her instagram Sunday and immediately knew that was what I wanted to make.  For me, Valentine’s is equated with those hard cinnamon hearts, so I wanted to incorporate them somewhere.

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Lemon cupcakes with a raspberry middle and cream cheese icing, and cinnamon heart marshmallows with Paul Zinck Crément d’Alsace.

Tasting notes: The Crément has a wonderful sparkle and effervescent bubbles.  The palate is rewarded by the flavour of peaches and apples.  The grapes in this tasty glass of bubbles are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Cupcake recipe adapted from http://bakeitinacake.com/recipes/heartinacupcake with the addition of the zest of one lemon and 1 tbsp of lemon juice, for the heart about 8 raspberries were incorportated.

Finally a white! Week 5 of DDTC

After a month of red wine, it was time for a change.  Also with the cold weather (22 cms of snow in one 24 hour period), I find that riesling makes me think summer, and I really wanted to pretend it is warm out.

This week, @WineGuyTO and I were also trying out a new cookbook to keep us on our healthy eating goal, The Best of Clean Eating 2 (because book 1 was not at the Chapters I went to).  We decided to make the beef stir fry, something quick and that we both enjoy.  It was fun both of us prepping together to make dinner.  The only drawback was that we found that the stir fry lacked some heat/spices that we will add the next time, and that the riesling would have complemented, but we were overall happy with the dish.

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@WineGuyTO choose a Good Earth 2009 Medium Dry Riesling to pair.  His notes are: As we love the rieslings from Good Earth, this one did not disappoint.  The initial nose gives hints of what is to come, petrol and fruits.  The colour is a pale lime yellow and the flavour just keeps going.  The sweetness is nicely balanced with sharp acidity to truly reward your mouth.  The finish is quite long and brings memories of wine country in the spring.

Is there a wine type you want us to open? Let me know!

Wine Wednesday with our friends at Bodega Norton!

Next up in our “Drinking Down the Cellar” challenge (week 3) is a favourite of ours, Bodega Norton.  We opened the ’06 Reserva Malbec, of which we have plenty of thanks to @WineGuyTo thinking ahead, as we enjoy it so much.

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Notes: Initial impressions upon pouring a glass were the nice deep cherry colour.  The nose at first was muted due to the temperature and lack of aeration, even though it was poured through an aerator.  However, after an additional hour of opening up in the glass, he got notes of plums and dark berries. On the palate the wine is very dry with lots of tannin remaining, with flavours of dark chocolate, with the berries being almost jammy maybe due to the expression of the plum. At 14% ABV there is a lot of punch in it without being overly hot. The finish is long and is quite enjoyable.  We will definitely be cellaring the rest for a minimum of 3-5 more years to allow the wine to mature and have the tannins mellow, additional structure and complexity to become evident.

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We paired this tonight with striploin streak but it would equally good with any barbecued meats, spicy pastas or some dark chocolate.

Carnivore Club

Its close to Christmas and I was still looking for another Christmas present for @WineGuyTO when I stumbled across the Carnivore Club.  Perfect! He loves meat and it would be a gift that he would not be expecting.

So what is this club? A subscription based curated charcuterie box from around the world, each month being a different theme.  The Club has been around for about a year and is Canadian based, which I liked because there was no exchange rates or customs issues to go through.  Subscriptions are on a month-by-month basis or full year (the latter would be approximately $600).  Each box contains 4-6 items of meat and a fold-out that includes explanations of the products, a bio of the producer and a VQA recommendation.

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The day our box arrived was the same day the Club appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the result! This month the theme was Spanish and we received two sausages and two hams.

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Overall we are very pleased with our first box and are looking forward to our second.

Boxes can be purchased at www.carnivoreclub.ca

Also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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