Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding on a seafood platter is the bomb.
I’ve seen so many group dinners go wrong that it’s a pleasant surprise when a restaurant pulls it off as well as they did recently at The Fish Exchange in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Twelve of us sat in a private room and the staff did an excellent job. Food and drinks all arrived promptly and were served with good cheer.
We shared some cod tongues to mixed reviews. I loved them but they were maybe a little out of peoples comfort zone. Salt cod fritters were better received.
I had the Captain’s Seafood Feast, a beautiful platter of shrimp, scallops, salmon, halibut, lobster and sale cod fishcake. I was delighted to find some delicious pease pudding on my plate. They only serve it with the seafood feast so I was the only one that had it. Since everyone else wasn’t from Newfoundland and had never had pease pudding I asked if we could have a side order to share. No problem, and they delivered a small dish for everyone to try. The response, as expected was mixed. I could have eaten every bit but I didn’t know everyone well enough.
I would recommend The Fish Exchange for groups for sure.
As much as I loved Raymonds I preferred the more casual fun atmosphere at little sister restaurant The Merchant Tavern. We sat at the large bar that fills the middle of the room and was full of happy people sharing food having fun.
All of the staff were wearing Tshirts with a diagram of a cod fish cuts. Cod is God in Newfoundland and we like to eat all parts. They Cod Napes as a feature appetizer. Napes is attached to the fin and is a delicious sweet and tasty treat.
We shared grilled scallops with a parsnip puree and they were without doubt the best scallops I have ever had.
We both ordered pasta dishes. I had Fennel Tagliatelle and I wouldn’t recommend it. The pasta was too soft and the whole dish a bit too soupy. Perhaps I wasn’t hungry enough.
David had the Monterosso Linquini with bay scallops, mussels, capelin, brocolli and chili flakes and I wasn’t too hungry to give him a little help with that. The pasta was cooked and seasoned perfectly.
They have a great wine and beer list and we had a very good time.
I highly recommend The Merchant Tavern. 4 Yums Up!
We planned our restaurants in St. John’s as soon as we booked our tickets to Newfoundland and were lucky that Raymonds had moved to summer hours and was open on a Monday night.
Go hungry and don’t hold back, do all 7 courses if you can. We jumped right in including wine pairings when they easily adjusted to our pescatarian preference. The famous lamb was tempting though, they have them raised on a small island off the coast and we’d seen them the day before and the setting was idyllic.
Each course was as delicious as you’d expect but there were a few stand outs.
David thought the scallops with fennel, including a fennel powder was the #1 dish and it was as impressive as it looks. The fennel powder was a delightful surprise.
My favourite dish was the pasta with snow crab. The little blackish pasta rolls were made with onion ash and had the perfect bite you want in handmade pasta. The snow crab was so sweet and the texture so perfect, it is etched in my memory forever and i can just about taste it as I write this.
One of the meat courses was replaced with squid and herbs.
The squid was I’ve ever had.
Crispy Skinned Cod
The crispy skin cod with onion puree, a mussel in an onion petal and crispy cod tongue was another winner.
I’m not sure what was the most exciting, each plate delivery or the wine pour and description that competed for our attention. The sommelier realized how keen I was and for a couple of courses poured 2 wines to see which pairing we preferred. And that leads me to the service. It simply could not be better. Everyone working there was fully engaged and keen so share everything they knew.
Good to know, they have 3 seats at their beautiful bar that they don’t reserve and they serve a full menu there. Also I would book in a table in the bar in future, it’s a smaller more intimate room.
I love landing in St. John’s, trying to spot my house or school from the air or checking to see the icebergs outside the harbour. This time I had my eye on Quidi Vidi, the lovely fishing village just over the hill from St. John’s harbour. We were staying at The Inn at Mallard Cottage and had reservations for dinner in the award-winning restaurant. We settled into our wonderful room and headed to the bar for a drink before dinner.
Two musicians with a guitar and an accordion were playing and it was clear we were in for a lovely evening.
We chose the Family menu to try as much as possible. Starting with Blue Mussels with Onion and Tomato, that David declared the best he’d ever had and I couldn’t disagree. The focaccia with carmelized onion butter was so delicious we somehow managed to eat a second order. There must be a separate stomach for bread and butter. The bartender had recommended the Salt Cod Tartare and it was a unique dish. Cod is god in Newfoundland and it must have been one beautiful fish because these little morsels were absolutely perfect with shallot, buttermilk and house made potato chips. Culinary genius.
Lobster Thermidor with mustard cream was delightful and Skin on Cod with confit potatoes equally so.
A gorgeous piece of Halibut was creatively matched up with Garam Masala Chick Peas. Absolutely fabulous.
The family meal didn’t come with the Corn Crusted Cod Cheeks and we couldn’t possibly have eaten them anyway but made it back another night to try them. We’re glad we did because so many people we talked to said they were a personal favourite.
Mallard Cottage and The Inn both exceeded my expectations. I don’t want to stay anywhere else in St. John’s.
It’s always exciting to see what’s new to eat in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Affectionately referred to by locals as “The County” the foodie scene there is continuously improving to keep pace with the wines. My favourite this time was La Condesa in Wellington. The Perch Tacos on hand pressed nixtamal tortillas are the best I’ve ever had. The cocktails are 1st rate too.
This winter David ate at the Bloomfield Public House and raved about the shellfish chowder so I was keen to go there and we had another good meal. The highlight was the butter; browned and fermented we couldn’t get enough of it with the delicious bread. That same bread is used in the really excellent shrimp toast. Although I didn’t love my pasta I’ll definitely go back, I think they’ve got a good thing going. 3 Yums Up!
We had brunch at The Vic Café. The loaded tots and cauliflower crunch bites are both good but the cappuccino is surely the best coffee in the area. 2 Yums Up!
We didn’t visit a single winery this time but did stop by Gillingham Brewery in Hillier and loved the JM Porter, a big chocolate bomb of deliciousness. 3 Yums Up!
The Japanese quest for harmony and perfection is a hard gig for them but makes for a great experience for visitors. Everyone will tell you how clean and safe it is and the reality of that is simply great.
There are lots of little things to watch out for but no one will ever make you feel uncomfortable about them.
I have very few food pictures. Having your camera out taking pictures of the food is frowned upon. I’m sure they don’t want anyone touching their phones during a meal. Remember the cleanliness thing.
When you sit down you are given a warm wet towel and after cleaning your hands, you should fold it neatly and place it beside your plate in case you need to wipe your fingers.
Restaurants have baskets for you to put beside or under your chair for your bags or purse, so you don’t have to leave anything on the floor.
Our love of Japanese food was a big motivator to visit Japan but the 1st day or so can be a bit overwhelming. We stayed at the Hyatt Shinjuku so we had our 1st sushi meal there at Miyako. With just 14 seats at the sushi counter we had a chef who was exclusively focused on making us happy. His knife skills were something to see. For the finale he used little bits of this and that and made us the most delicious roll. I dared one picture.
The next day we took a walk around the old fish market. I took one picture of a beautifully displayed octopus. The vendors do not want tourists taking pictures and getting in the way of their business. Being exceeding polite people, they may not say anything but they definitely don’t like it.
The department stores are amazing places and the whole top floor is often full of restaurants. We tried the tempura restaurant in the Keio Department store. That’s where I noticed how much the Japanese enjoy their food. We sat at the bar again and were able to see the reactions of the people around us as they ate and expressed their great pleasure. I didn’t know that eating tempura was complicated but they have us a guide to enjoying tempura. I really liked all the different salts. A giant tempered clam was absolutely amazing and I’m sure I’ll never have anything quite like it again.
In Takamatsu we did an udon making class, then enjoyed the udon with a bento box lunch. It was super fun and tasty.
By the time we got to Osaka we were pretty comfortable and had a great visit to the Kuromon Ichiba Market.
You don’t eat on the streets and there are no garbage bins anywhere, so in the market when you buy something, you should stand at the stall you buy from and eat so they can take care of your disposables. They may have a couple of tables in the back and will invite you to use them. We tried takoyaki, little balls of batter stuffed with octopus, cooked in a special molded pan and covered in yummy sauce.
We loved okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with optional fillings. Okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “cooked”, so it can have almost anything in it. I have a recipe and am looking forward to making one.
Another fun foodie thing to do in Osaka is to wander along the Dotonbori canal and the streets around it. Lined with restaurants and full of people eating and having fun, you could spend several nights there and never run out of great things to try or see. You won’t be bored.
When it’s time to leave Japan you can buy your souvenirs or treats to bring home at the airport and trust that the price will be the same as in the city.
Our latest meal at Osteria Savio Volpe was fantastic. I had my heart set on the Bagna Cauda and was happy to see it still on the menu. Bagna Cauda is a hot dip of anchovy, garlic and olive oil served with bread and veggies like fingerling potatoes, radishes, and endive. We mopped up every drop with some extra bread.
For wine we chose a Nebbiolo from Langhe and it was a perfect match. The aromas of wild berries and fruity flavour complimented the deep umami of the bagna cauda.
We couldn’t resist the Faro Salad again. Always different depending on what’s fresh, this time there was squash, chickpeas, pine nuts, dates and ricotta. Absolutely delicious.
The daily pasta was a mezzaluna with salt cod and a light white wine and saffron sauce. I simply can’t resist salt cod and the smooth sauce worked with the distinct taste of the cod.
From the fire we had Albacore Tuna with romanesco, capers, olives, lemon and a side of charred cabbage with tomato and olive vinaigrette. Wow! The tuna was perfect but I’d love a big bowl of the cabbage all to myself.
Finally we couldn’t resist the polenta cake with blood oranges and mascarpone.
A great meal made even greater with the super people working there, many who have been there since they opened 3 years ago. That says a lot.
My 1st wine tour was 25 years ago in Napa. I have a different appreciation for wine these days and tend to put a lot more planning into my wine touring. I recommend a visit to http://www.visitnapavalley.com to help with planning and for some really great Special Offers.
We stayed at the Silverado Resort again, but next time I’m staying downtown, where there’s lots of fun in walking distance. The Napa Valley Welcome Center on Main Street is a good place to start. Be sure to see if there are any good discount coupons. Oxbow Market is great for breakfast; try Ritual Coffee for seriously good coffee. I’d love to try it for lunch or dinner too.
Mumm Napa has a great patio tasting experience. We learned that a piccolo is a small wine flute and that a water cracker is an excellent way to cover a piccolo to keep out the elements. Also worth a visit for the Ansel Adams art collection.
My favourite tasting room was Beaulieu Vineyards. The Cabernet Collectors Tasting was $50, and well worth it. We tasted 5 Cabernet Sauvignons, 2 different clones in 2 different vintages and then a 2015 BV Private Reserve Georges de Latour that knocked our socks off. We splurged on a bottle since we had a half price coupon for the tasting fee thanks to http://www.visitnapavalley.com.
Solbar at the beautiful Solage Auberge Resort in Calistoga was my favourite meal of the trip. Great service, a fantastic wine list and raves around our table for the food. The Wilted Kale salad with pickled grapes, roasted romanesco and candied pistachios was so good I’ve already pickled some grapes and am working on my replica. Don’t miss the crab cakes, no filler here so you can really taste the sweet crab.
I had a small butter incident in The Dining Room at the Spritmuseum Stockholm. When they tried to clear the plate with a small smear of butter remaining, my hand shot out and my finger was in my mouth quick as a wink. Just writing this, I can feel and taste it on my tongue.
Take a ferry to Djurgarden to visit some of the Museums and include lunch or dinner at the Spritmuseum.
Lunch on a beautiful, late summer afternoon made for a perfect day combined with visits to The Vasa and Abba museums.
The restaurant focuses on local, organic ingredients with a focus on vegetables.
Starting with fresh warm brown bread and hand churned butter. Yes, thank you, we would like more.
A starter of salted pike and cucumber in elder-flower vinegar, tomato and fig leaf was a bright start.
Fermented corn soup with yeast and nasturtium was a pleasant surprise. There was a depth of flavor you wouldn’t expect from corn soup.
Grilled beets and chanterelles with onions in a parsley puree was another hit. The beets sweet contrasted wonderfully with the earthy chanterelles and the onions added a touch of sharpness.
We also got to try Himmelsraften a pressed hard, unpasteurized cow cheese named for a mountain in northern Sweden. Lovely with some honeycomb on the side.
Buckwheat pancakes (like not pancake I’ve ever seen) with blueberries and cream left us with a sweet ending.