Adventures in Restaurants: The dinner that wasn’t.

RestaurantLogoI enjoy going out to dinner with my husband. Even after twenty-four years we still find things to talk about. His day, my day, our son, what the hell we’re going to do with the house; light conversations and antidotes. Relaxing in a nice restaurant with a good meal is something we’ve just started doing, so my birthday outing (which started all this in the first place) was going to be an anniversary of sorts for us.

Too bad it didn’t work out that way.

Now, like I said, I enjoy a good conversation with dinner and when we go out it’s expected that other patrons feel the same way, but the restaurant we had reservations at this time out was so loud with talking, neither of us could hear what the server was saying, even though she was RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Literally! Bent over, no less than a foot from my face and I still could barely understand what she was saying. Disappointed was not the emotion that reared up either. It was a small, intimate dining room, but the McDonald’s play room would have been quieter.

So we left. I apologized to the server, explained that it was too loud and we high-tailed it out of there. Husband didn’t even get a sip of water from his glass. We went to a few other places close by, but as we suspected (because it was the weekend) they were full. It was also a really nice night too. That always brings out the customers.

I think our first mistake was going on the weekend. Looking back, our other restaurant adventures were during the week. Weekends are always busy, but Husband had a reservation, and as it was someplace we’d never been to, and we had no idea what to expect. Atmosphere is everything to a restaurant and as I’ve worked in a few, I know that it only takes one or two tables to ruin it. Trust me, I could tell you stories . . .

I’m debating whether or not to try this place again, but not on the weekend. All the reviews said the food was excellent and it is one of the places on our list. I’m just afraid of it being the same again. We ended up at our old stand-by; Red Lobster. At that point, after walking around downtown for half an hour I was so hungry if that place had been busy I would have settled for McDonald’s.

Second time a charm or not?

Adventures in Restaurants: Opa! It’s all Greek to me!

It’s been awhile since Husband and I had a night out together, so when he called and asked if I’d go out to dinner with him, how could I resist?

Finally the heat wave broke and downtown was nice. Not too hot, not too windy and the sun was just setting over the buildings so it wasn’t glaring down on us. Part of Princess Street is still hacked up (The Big Dig; Part Deux), and I was surprised we found a parking spot for Big Red.

We strolled up Princess Street looking for someplace new. Husband saw Greco’s and we headed in. Now I used to work for a Greek man, so I’ve seen my fair share of Greek food, but not until tonight did I get the chance to sit down and enjoy.

Oh and we enjoyed.

First, the waiter brought us over some bread with a sample of either Taramosalata (zesty fish dip blended with oil & lemon), or Skordalia (whipped potato with fresh garlic lemon & olive oil). Might have been a bit of both.


I had to start off with an appetizer. I’m not very brave, especially when I see that escargot are on the menu. Not as nice as Le Chien Noir, but it was tasty, and of course, I dropped a small piece of cheese on the girls (I don’t care, they’re my boobs).


For entrees it was Souvlaki for me. It came with rice, a salad (Greek for me) and the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted. Even Husband said they were ‘wicked’, and he doesn’t use that word often.


Husband had the Mixed Grill; a porkchop, lamb chop and chicken breast. He’s wanted to try lamb for some time, but wanted it done right so he could compare it if he has it again. It’s a different flavour to it. Like a burnt grease taste. He thought it was really good, but I didn’t care for it. It did taste oddly familiar too.


We had no desert tonight. There was too much food and no room.  Excellent meal. We will definitely be going back.

Adventures in Restaurants: Ich bin ein Berliner

I’m not sure if it’s accurate or not, but it seemed fitting for this post. Ocktober Fest is the closest I ever get to German food. I’ve made German potato salad (yum!), but with a lot of authentic foods, unless you’re shown how to do it by someone from that country, you really don’t know what it tastes like.

We went to Amadeus after work one night. It’s another of those small, cozy places nestled in between stores on the main street in the city. It’s another one of those places we kept meaning to visit, but never got around to until now, and this time we sat as far away from the window as possible.

Husband likes to sample draft beer from foreign countries. I don’t normally take a picture of that, but the glass has a hole in the base.


Our dinners came with either soup or salad, so we had the cabbage soup. It was not what I thought it would be. I envisioned a thin, watery soup with strips of cabbage and bland tasting. This was anything but bland. Creamy, with onion and either caraway or rye seeds. We couldn’t figure it out, but it was so good.


For entrees, Husband had Zigeuner Schnitzel; pork loin schnitzel topped with green and red peppers, mushrooms and onion in a homemade paprika sauce.


I had Rouladen; beef rolls stu­ed with onion, mustard, bacon and dill pickle. Yes, there was a slice of dill pickle rolled up in my dinner. Both came with something called spätzle. As far as we could tell, it’s just twisted up pieces of pasta dough that’s been boiled, and mine came with warm red cabbage.


I’m seriously starting to like cabbage.

We didn’t have desert. The meal was too filling as it was. Definitely going back.

Adventures in Restaurants: The French Connection

We did something for my birthday we haven’t done in years; went out to dinner. Our place out in the country was always such a long drive, that it was rare for us to get out anywhere fancy, but this year we decided to throw caution to the wind and go someplace really nice.

There’s a little French bistro in the city called Le Chien Noir that Husband and I have wanted to visit for a while. We thought about taking Sithboy, but after looking over the menu outside, realized there wasn’t anything he’d like on it. Ah well…

The restaurant itself was small and cozy, and we sat by the window. It was nice to see people walk by, but then I realized they’d see us too, while we eat, and that kinda put me off on window seats.

Anyway, appetizers were Escargot Grautin and P.E.I mussels.


I *love* escargot and get them whenever I can. These were incredible. Done in garlic and wine sauce with cheese melted over top, I had to restrain myself from eating them too fast. Husband had mussels roasted in red wine-tomato broth.


Entrees were roasted duck with white beans and sausage for Husband and roasted chicken for me. I could have made a meal out of the mushroom dressing for the chicken. The sauces for both meals were rich, probably made with cream. I don’t care. They were incredible.

For desert Husband had grapefruit mousse with toffee candy crumbs. Sorry, I forgot to get pictures. It was so nice; not too sweet or bitter. I had a specialty coffee with a couple shots of liquor and whipped cream in it. Enough so that I caught a buzz after drinking only half of it.

Over all, it was a great night. So glad we went out.

Foodie Alert! Watch those temps!

meatI’ve noticed a strange and somewhat disturbing thing happening on a couple of recipe sites I frequent. Incorrect cooking times. Now you might not think this means much, but these temperatures are for meat; something you should always check and recheck. For example, I did a pork roast in the over a while back and used the temperature the recipe gave me. The cut of meat I used was the same as what was called for, and being the trusting person, I didn’t think anything more about it. After all, the person who posted the recipe has tried it and would know if there was something wrong, yet when I took it out of the oven and checked it, it still needed another thirty minutes. Not a problem; I always leave the oven on after I take meat out, just in case something like that happens. Afterward, I chalked it up to me reading the temperature number wrong on the website. When it happened a second time, this time for beef, I went back and looked over the webpage carefully. Turns out I didn’t see wrong at all. There was only one temperature given, and from the way the recipe was worded, it was for all sizes of beef.

I have a meat thermometer and I did use it (I really need to use it more), but what bothered me was there was no disclaimer. How did they know this temperature was right for the size of roast I was using? From the instructions given one could easily assume that the temp was for all sizes, when we all know you gauge the cooking time by the weight of the meat. This is constantly drilled into my brain by my husband (who hovers when I get into the kitchen), but what about new cooks who don’t think about things like this? I can see you shaking your head and saying

“But Darke, everyone KNOWS to use a meat thermometer or gauge the time by weight!”

Not always, and that’s why this bothered me so much.

Please, please, please, as the Holidays are quickly approaching, if you have a recipe for meat and it gives you only one time, check to make sure it’s the RIGHT time for the size of meat you’re using. It takes just a few minutes to go online and look up the right times.

Here, are a couple web pages that can help.


Happy Cooking!

Food Thursday: Double-Stuffed Baked Potato

Double Stuffed PotatoesHusband made this a few weeks back and it’s incredible and not as hard as you would think!


Russet Potatoes (one per person)



Philadelphia Cooking Cream (your favourite flavour)

Cheddar Cheese




Pre-heat oven to 350. Wash and poke Russet potatoes. We use Russet because they’re the best for recipes like this. Place potatoes on oven rack and cook for one hour.

Cook up bacon. Shred cheese.

Remove potatoes after an hour (careful they’re hot!) and let cool for a few minutes. Cut a medium-size wedge from the top of each potato. Scoop out the pulp and place in a large bowl.

Mix the potato pulp with cheese, flavoured sour cream and bacon. Husband used Savoury Garlic for this recipe. Scoop the mixture carefully back into the potato shells and top with more cheese and bacon.

Here’s the best part about the recipe. You can do all this hours before dinner. When you’re almost ready to sit down to eat, place the potatoes on a baking sheet and pop back into the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350.

Russet potatoes are also large so you should plan the rest of your dinner accordingly.

Holiday Treat: Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate

h.chocNothing rings in the holidays like a nice cup of hot chocolate. I’ll take it over coffee or tea any day. There’s just something about the smooth, rich taste that makes you feel all snuggle warm. I don’t mind instant hot chocolate, but I’ve been experimenting with ingredients and I’ve come up with something special and I wanted to share it. You can use your favourite hot chocolate mix. As a matter of fact, I recommend it.


¾ cup milk

¾ cup chocolate milk

Instant hot chocolate

Pure mint/peppermint extract

Cinnamon (optional)

Marshmallows/Whipped Cream (optional)



Measure and pour milk into small saucepan. Preferably one with a spout for easy pouring. Heat for ten minutes on medium heat. Keep an eye on the milk. Heat only until you see steam from the pot. Scoop two tablespoons of instant hot chocolate into your cup. Add 1/8 teaspoon of mint extract. Carefully pour heated milk into cup. Use a whisk to mix instant mix and milk. Whisk until mixed well.

Add cinnamon to taste.

Add marshmallows/whipped cream.

Above recipe severs 1.

NOTE: Easy on the mint extract. It’s very strong.

A new year, a new food plan.

Well, not really new. More like healthier.

Husband and I are doing our best this year to eat healthier and exercise more. My biggest bugger is processed food. In particular, white bread, crackers, pasta, that sort of thing. I’ve eaten whole wheat pasta and I didn’t care for it. It wasn’t the taste as much as it felt, well, fuzzy. I don’t know, that’s the only way I can explain the texture. Very different from regular pasta.

We tried something different the other night. Brown rice. It’s supposed to have a better nutritional value than instant white rice, but when I compared the two, I really didn’t see that much of a difference. Maybe lower in the sodium content, but that was the only major difference.

Every time I hear the word ‘brown rice’, I picture my MIL and the disgusting face she’d make when she ate it. I will admit, like the whole wheat pasta, the texture is something you have to get used too. It was like lumpy, mushy oatmeal. Bleh. We had it with a stir-fry, and Husband made sure there was extra sauce to soak up. As long as there’s sauce, I’ll eat it. I think it’s like tofu, it absorbs the flavours of the food it’s cooked in/with.

It’s not too bad overall.

Autumn Dinner Celebration – Part 2; The Food Review

Dinner was good. Took me the better part of the afternoon to prepare and cook everything, except the stew. Stew is always better the day after you make it. The pumpkin soup wasn’t what I expected. For some reason I thought it wouldn’t be so bland, but it’s pumpkin. What did I expect? I guess pumpkin pie soup? 😛 Husband said it was better than the expensive gourmet soups you get in the store, so that made me feel really good! I guess the corn bread was good. I’ve never had it before, so I don’t have anything to compare it too. I was really careful with the batter. It’s just like banana bread and I messed that up the last time I made it. Again, Husband said it was really good. He said it was like having Dolly Parton cook him a meal. I have no idea where he got that from. I am neither blonde or THAT well-endowed, and you don’t want to hear me sing.

Sithboy didn’t like any of it. I did manage to get one spoonful of soup into him before he balked at the whole meal, but that was only because there were real bacon pieces on top. I didn’t make anything for dessert as we were going in to see in-laws, and my Mother-in-law always makes some. This time, she made chocolate cupcakes with real raspberries inside.

OMG. I scarfed down four.

Anyway, overall I think supper was a success. Don’t know if I would make the pumpkin soup again, unless Husband asked me. Cornbread-yes. I rather enjoyed that. Looking forward to doing a special dinner for Samhain now.

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