Saturday Brunch Fever

My brother was making eggs benny at mum & dad’s this morning, and I thought “I could do that”. So I did.

The hollandaise sauce was a little bit harder than I originally anticipated (the best French foods always are – macarons immediately come to mind). I ended up making it twice, the first batch separated while I was whisking in the lemon juice over the double boiler. I didn’t have enough real butter left to make the second batch, so I used mostly block margarine. It seemed to work perfectly, I kept the heat down a lot lower and removed it from the heat entirely until it was ready to serve but it gelled and separated as it was sitting on the eggs. Hmmm.

I had some fresh basil and organic baby tomatoes from Pete’s Frootique that needed to be eaten up and Caprese salad might just be one of tastiest treats I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating so that was the inspiration behind today’s brunch.

I used a No Name english muffin from Superstore (the perfect texture and weight for a stay-crispy base), layered four strips of slow-fried bacon and two slices of firm mozzarella underneath two  soft poached eggs (four minutes), poured over the hollandaise and placed two basil leaves and a sliced baby tomato on top.  Despite the separation of butter and egg yolk, the hollandaise surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant with its creamy, salty smooth flavor and a hint of lemon.

Happy Saturday!

Get the recipe I used for hollandaise here from Katherine Martinelli’s blog.

Domaine de Grand Pré

We finished our anniversary celebration at Domaine de Grand Pré, the oldest winery in Nova Scotia and by far my favorite! We did the five o’clock tour, it was still hot, sunny, and there were gorgeous dark clouds over the vines. The tour was brief – we visited each type of grape Domaine de Grand Pré uses in their wines and discussed growing conditions, seasons, and the family who started the winery. After the tour, we went inside to the bar for a tasting of four whites, three reds, a sparkling wine and an ice wine. We bought our two favorite whites, Ortega and a 2009 L’Acadie for our next anniversary.

For supper we stayed on site and went to the award winning Le Caveau Restaurant. We sat inside to savor the air conditioning and munched on a basket of bread & butter and smoked salmon pate. To start we split a bowl of scallop & lobster chowder with spanish almond broth, spring onions and smoked paprika. Nate choose the buttered Morrocan chicken sauteed with peppers, garlic, dates and cashews on couscous with house-made chutney and I had an amazing entree of scallops & lobster on shredded zucchini rosti with seasonal vegetables smothered in a creamy savory sauce and washed down with a glass of Vidal Blanc.

Firsts

To celebrate our first anniversary we ate a tasty breakfast at Two If By Sea the day before, then ventured south down to Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Home to Acadia University and the heart of Nova Scotia wine country we visited Foxhill Farm cheese factory before going to tastings at Luckett Vineyards which opened last year and Muir Murray estate winery. There was no production at Foxhill but we got to sample all of their cheeses and three flavors of quark (they make an amazing Parmesan and a peppercorn Gouda!) We bought herb and garlic quark and paired it with Tim Hortons everything bagels for a quick lunch. Quark is similar to cream cheese, with a very light and whipped texture and half the fat. Completely delicious!

Our first winery we visited was Luckett Vineyards, founded in 2010 by famous Pete’s Froutique owner Pete Luckett. I am all about well designed elements and their bottle labels complete with a telephone booth in the middle of the field had me hooked. We sampled seven varieties of red and whites and one ice wine and came home with our favorite white – L’Acadie Blanc.

The second Muir Murray was not very impressive, the doors were open and there were flies everywhere. Most importantly the three whites we tried did not make the cut and the atmosphere made us anxious to leave.

We finished the evening off with a tour of Domaine de Grand Pré and dinner at the fantastic on site restaurant, Le Caveau. Pics to follow!

Ottawa Day IV

 

Gorgeous Liz - effortlessly beautiful!

 

Day four in Ottawa: touring the center block of Parliament, meeting Liz a fellow NSCAD’er and an amazing blogger for a delish lunch at Milestones on Sussex (she introduced me to amazing iced tea infused with mint – self developed recipe to follow), a brisk stroll through the Byward Market, changing hotels for the weekend, fantastic wood oven pizza (basil, radicchio, Italian sausage, portebello’s and truffle oil on white with cream sauce and Beth’s proscuitto & mozza with traditional sauce on wheat) at The Grand on George, and exploring Sparks street and it’s un-obtainable Boutique goodies and drooling over Prada at Holt Renfew.

 

Summer (Is Here)

Kiwi-lime ice pops, local Foxhill Farm non-homogenized milk in reusable glass bottles, ripe sweet valley strawberries in season and deep deep red to the core, re-discovering chocolate chip Clif bars,  eight new glass jars for pastas, flour, sugars, soy protein powder, oatmeal, and the always tasty ‘Craisins’, family picnics at Point Pleasant Park, days on the beach with Nate watching him surf at Lawrencetown, chowder made with fresh cream, Foxhill milk and the best haddock, lobster, scallops, shrimp, bacon, and garlic the province has to offer. This is what summer is made of!

Saturday’s

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This was a Saturday summer Saturday’s are made of! It is my first day off with plenty of sunshine! It began with family diner breakfast of eggs Benedict with ham and spicy hash browns at the Ardmore Tearoom. From there we went to the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market and I picked up some fresh (picked at 5:00 am!) strawberries and eight perfect peonies, my favorite flower currently in season and good sized bulbs for a huge crystal vase we received as a wedding present that I love but rarely get to use. I also tried some delicious breakfast pizza Beth bought from Bramoso and am sure I will need to get a slice next weekend…or try my hand at making a delicious thin crust. The Topshop dress Nate gave me as a surprise cheering up present a few months ago went well with the sunshine and walk along the boardwalk, where we stopped to hug Kraft peanut butter bears to donate a jar of peanut butter to the food bank and got some Fujiroids to remember it by. When Nate got off work, we went to the Public Gardens for a perfect evening walk with a venti vanilla bean frapp. Supper called for string green beans with raspberry balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds and butter fried shrimp with fresh pressed garlic and parsley. How perfectly splendid are Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck? Enough to watch Roman Holiday and the sunset simultaneously 🙂

A Very Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas! This year was mine & Nate’s first together, and I didn’t want to miss out on a thing. We spent Christmas Eve & Christmas morning with Nate’s family in quaint seaside Nova Scotia. After a huge & delicious turkey dinner, we packed the car (to the roof) and drove to my parents place two hours away for a second & equally tasty turkey smorgasbord. Twelve hours of present opening later, we slept right through until twenty minutes before church started on boxing day. Boxing day lunch was a feast of leftovers – seafood nacho dip, chowder infused phylo cups, home rolls, escargot, turkey, cream cheese potatoes, & a variety of spreads and cheeses. I don’t think we will be able to eat for a week! We beat a nor’easter back to Halifax, and barely unpacked the car before the snow was falling heavily outside. A good first Christmas? Indeed.

Merry Christmas Eve

We got in the Christmas spirit by baking Martha Stewart’s “Ideal Sugar Cookies” and a double chocolate cookie mix Nate got from a Yankee gift swap. By “we” I mean “I” baked while Nate played Call of Duty 😉 Didn’t quite turn out like Martha’s (when do they ever)…I didn’t have a rolling pin and had to leave for work before they could chill for the entire hour, but they were delicious! Want to try? Use Martha’s recipe here. Settling in for an O’Brien Christmas in Seaforth for all of the festivities! The tree is almost buried, and all of the presents aren’t even placed yet! Tomorrow night we get to do it all over again at my parents in Amherst. Merry Christmas!