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Livable Income

November 20 (International Children’s Day-UN) PEI Working Group for a Livable Income in partnershi [ ... ]

Ostomy Peer Support Group

Charlottetown Ostomy Peer Support Group Charlottetown Ostomy Peer Support Group meets last Tues [ ... ]

Good Eats 2016

Some of my favourite Island food discoveries of the year

by Ann Thurlow

It is the time of year when our thoughts are supposed to turn to old friends who are dear to us etc. In my case, though, it is the time of year when my thoughts turn to great things I’ve eaten over the past twelve months. And, of course, food is always better if shared. So here goes.

Duck prosciutto—Prosciutto is an Italian style of curing meat and duck is, well, the best food ever. And if you go to Butcher and Butcher, the great little meat shop on St. Peter’s Road, you can find this luxurious treat. It’s not cheap—but it doesn’t take much to make you swoon.

Crepes—The Kettle Black in Charlottetown has started serving crepes and they are delicious. You can pick your own ingredients, sweet or savoury—though I suppose no one will stop you from having strawberry and mushroom if you want. Try to sit next to the crepe station—the smell of the batter hitting the warm grill is a pleasure all on its own.

Open Eats—This great spot on Water Street in Summerside floored me the first time I went. Wonderful space, friendly service and really good food. The challenges of creating that food are enormous—no real kitchen, for a start. But that has made them resourceful and inventive and the results are well worth a visit.

Grapes—I have bought and eaten PEI grapes before. But I’ve never seen them so prolific as this year. And sweet and delicious? Yes ma’am. I bought some (what I took to be) Concord grapes from the lovely Arlington Orchard store and had to rush right back for seconds. And thirds, if I’m honest. Tuck this away for next fall—something to look forward to.

Receiver Coffee Pop-up—Every once in a while, the people at Receiver hang up their plaid shirts and turn their hands to fine dining. I know that I am late to this particular party; I believe they started last year. The theme this November was “fall harvest” and the chefs took the very humblest of ingredients—kale, potatoes and pumpkins—and turned them into something lush. Five courses included mussels in potato cream, pumpkin gnocci and potato donuts. (Note to Receiver: sell these all the time). A remarkable meal in a cozy setting.

Cheese curds—Curds are the solid part of curdled milk, which does not sound delicious at all. But it is! So delicious, in fact that they’re hard to share. I don’t know when The Cheese House in Mont Carmel started making their Squeakies (so called because they squeak on your teeth) but I found them this fall at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market and having been eating them ever since.

Pain au Chocolat—a really good bread roll with a tiny piece of dark chocolate inside. Get ‘em warm from John Dale’s great Breadworks or take them home and warm them up just a little in your own oven.

Nostalgia

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

Its nostalgia time—especially when I drive by Shirley’s Place Takeout, all alone now and shuttered. The great little spot is closed forever; no more perfect burgers, no more hot, salty boxes of fries, no more post-beach ice creams. Kids came for sacks of hamburgs to take to the drive-in; I imagined the potent smell in the car as the foil wrappers came off.

And I remember my salt-encrusted hair and the dampness of my swimsuit and how you had to eat that ice cream real fast to keep it from melting in the warm summer air.

 

TNT Food Experience

There is no excuse for not eating healthy

Chow
by Ann Thurlow

Terrence Taylor in the TNT Food Experience Kitchen (photo: Ann Thurlow)We North Americans have gotten very hard on ourselves. There is the relentless quest to succeed, to be our very best selves, to keep up with the Joneses, to get the kids to soccer.

And, on top of that, we are reminded (quite rightly) to have healthy meals that we can sit down and peacefully enjoy.

It’s a tall order—one that is often met with a call to the pizza place.

Recently, a number of companies have sprouted up around PEI to respond to that demand—a healthy meal at home at (or near) the end of a chaotic day. You order, they deliver.

Terrence Taylor decided to start a healthy food delivery service after a personal experience. As an active university basketball player, he could pretty much eat what he wanted. But after his basketball days were over, he was shocked to find himself gaining weight. The problem was that he had no idea what to do about it. So he began to educate himself and the TNT Food Experience was born.

Yes, he’ll deliver meals to you—healthy dishes like sweet potato shepherd’s pie or a Mexican quinoa chicken bowl. But, more than that, he’ll help you learn to cook for yourself, to plan menus that are easy and nutritious and that you might actually be tempted to make. At the core of his business is the belief that many people don’t eat well simply because they don’t know how or because they think it’s too difficult. Sure, he’s happy to cook for you—but he’s be even happier to teach you how to do it for yourself. Be prepared for deliciousness; Taylor learned to cook from his southern grandmother and developed his love of food at the sumptuous buffets in Las Vegas, where he grew up. But don’t expect over-indulgence, either. This food is good for you.

Here’s how it works. If you want him to cook for you, he’ll sit down with you and develop a food profile, which includes likes and dislikes, nutritional requirements and food sensitivities. Then you’ll develop a meal plan and he’ll cook and deliver. But, if you want, he’ll come right to your house and teach you to cook in your own kitchen. He’ll also go to the grocery store with you and help you to find the foods you need. His motto: no excuses.

“A lot of it is common sense,” Taylor says. “But many people just haven’t had the chance to learn it. What I offer is like a personal trainer, but for food. And once you discover how much better you feel if you eat right, you’re going to be hooked.”

Thetntfoodexperience.com

There are a number of other companies offering meal delivery. They include (but are not limited to) Comfort Food by Janet (www.comfortfoodbyjanet.com/) and You Meal, which features food by chef Emily Wells (youmeal.ca).

Or ask around. It really is a trend and you’ll be surprised how many people are doing it.

The Little Kitchen

Review by Ann Thurlow

The second time I went to The Little Kitchen, after I had ordered, I saw owner Danny Shum writing something in Chinese on a white board. I asked him what it was and he told me it was a menu item for his Chinese customers—North Americans wouldn’t like it. I persisted and he finally told me it was pork belly.

“Danny, my friend,” I said, “we’ve got to talk.” And I told him about the late, lamented Lot 30 and their much beloved pork belly dish. Then be brought me a bowl of The Little Kitchen’s pork belly with mushrooms and rice and I fell immediately and unconditionally in love. It was delicious and I think about it all the time.

The Little Kitchen is, as promised, little. There are about 10 seats and a small menu. It opened late in the winter after extensive and beautiful renovations; the little place is just nice to be in. They make their own noodles so noodles in homemade beef broth is a great choice as are noodles with scallions. There are a few delicious rice dishes, one with chicken and one with spicy pork and a few snacks like dumplings and spring rolls and one stunningly good custard dessert—sort of along the lines of crème caramel.

Danny and his wife Zsu Zsu had a long a difficult road to get here and, once you’ve eaten, you should get him to tell you the story. It will make you appreciate the fact that you probably got here just by being born. Danny is from Hong Kong, Zsu Zsu is from mainland China. Danny was an engineer but his job was highly stressful. They wanted a place that was more peaceful and where they had more time for their son. Hence, PEI and a restaurant that’s open only for lunch.

Zsu Zsu does the cooking, making or adapting the dishes from her region of China. They call their food “fusion Asian”—they are conscious of pleasing all their customers.

You can get a decent cup of coffee or a cup of milk tea and, even if you don’t want lunch, one of those and a custard is a nice way to pass some time. And here’s an insider’s tip: on Saturday afternoon you can get fresh custard tarts. They are made to order so you have to wait twenty minutes or so. They are not sweet but they aren’t exactly savoury either. They would be perfect with a cup of tea, but mine never lasts that long.

This is another terrific addition to PEI’s growing Asian restaurant scene. It’s the second new Chinese place on the block and I’m pleased as punch to be able to say that.

The Little Kitchen 219 University Avenue at the corner of Chestnut. Open 10–2 Mon–Sat.

Inexplicably lovely

One Great Thing
by Ann Thurlow

A person would be a hard-hearted sort not to find the beauty in a sunset or a flower.

But let us look again at a parking lot, a snowbank and a streetlamp. Let us, as painter Norma Jean MacLean has done, strip those things to their own boxy architecture. Let us look at those things with innocent eyes so that their ordinariness becomes suddenly, inexplicably lovely. I pause before her painting. I can feel its cool, foggy air but cannot catch my own breath. 

Nothing else compares

One Great Bite
by Ann Thurlow

Carol Blum has been responsible for so many great meals at my house that I don’t think I can ever repay her. How long have I been going to the Farmers’ Market? Thirty years. How long has Carol been there? Even longer. I don’t believe there is a single Saturday that I didn’t buy something from her—one memorable week I bought everything I ate. Hers is the only broccoli I like—nothing else compares. Ditto the farm’s sweet corn. We always talked about our daughters. And now that she’s hanging up her trowel, I’m going to miss it all.  

Red Island Baked Potato

Submitted by Ann Thurlow

I’ve never understood why restaurants on PEI don’t have a stuffed potato of the day the way they have fancy mussels or a soup de jour. Then I discovered Red Island Baked Potato, where they don’t just have a potato du jour—the whole menu is baked potatoes and toppings—everything from pulled pork to vegetables to baked beans to bacon and cheese. After I had an Islander, which was bacon and chicken and cheese, I spotted the over-stuffed, twice baked potato and realized I’d have to go back. I love it when the humble is made desirable—what a good idea! Find them in Cornwall and Cavendish. 

Rawsome Juice

Chow
by Ann Thurlow

Suzanne Keough—owner of the Rawsome Juice Bar (photo: Ann Thurlow)Suzanne Keough is a walking advertisement for the benefits of her businesses. If you need to be convinced that yoga and raw juice are good for you, spend five minutes in the presence of her seemingly boundless energy, her bright laugh and her clear eyes. You’ll start thinking “hmmm” and begin to cast a covetous eye at the bright bottles of Rawsome juice.

The growth of the business mirrors Keough’s exploration of her own health. She embarked on a serious study of yoga and, through that, stumbled upon advocates of drinking raw juice. A self-described picky eater, she was intrigued by the idea of something that packed maximal nutrition into a fairly palatable package.

She began making juice at home. Then she began travelling a bit and discovered, out there in the world, that people were making and selling raw juice to eager customers. She thought that maybe it was time to hop on board.

She began to experiment, making combinations that would provide a lot of nutrition but would not taste like green sludge. When she thought she had some products that people would like, she set up shop in a gym on Pownal Street in Charlottetown and Rawsome Juice Bar was born.

Flavours? Many and evolving all the time. There’s the Wake-up, which is three citrus fruits and a little liquid cayenne, Quench (coconut water, romaine, spinach and lime) and Power-Aid (apple, beet, kale, celery and ginger)—just to name a few. The Garden, which has a huge list of ingredients (eight, including spinach, celery and apple) seems to be the most challenging, flavour-wise. But, amazingly, every flavour of every ingredient shines through (thank you lemon juice) and it really is like drinking a salad.

The gym she works with moved to Queen St. and Keough moved, too. She now has a street level spot (which she laughingly calls the drive-though) and well as a larger space downstairs where she makes smoothies and nut milks. You can get yourself a Breakfast smoothie (almond milk, rolled oats, banana and berries) or a Nutty (fruit, almond milk, peanut butter and honey) and many things in between. All the juices she uses are cold-pressed (ie not cooked in any way), which Keough maintains keeps them at their maximal flavour and nutrition.

All that juice requires a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and what remains when the juice is extracted is a lot of pulp. Keough is now beginning to work with the Culinary Institute to come up with a use for it all—right now she’s thinking maybe crackers or something to add to muffins and bread.

And a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables cost a lot of money. A bottle of The Garden is going to set you back $11. But, as Keough points out, that’s about the cost of a huge—a really huge—salad (bigger than you could eat) and that’s what you’re getting. Minus the salad dressing and plus the unmistakable sense that you’ve done something very good for yourself.

Rawsome Juice and Smoothie Bar is across from the Confederation Centre on Queen St. Juices are also available at other locations including Riverview Country Market and Beanz.

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Eptek Lunchtime Films

Thursdays
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