food: mushroom tart


about 2 weeks ago, my wonderful husband made me a mushroom tart for dinner.  he also took photos for me.  whatta guy!

basically the idea was born from some beautiful local chanterelles that we found at the organic market.  they were so fresh and yummy looking that we bought up a bag of them without really considering how we were going to consume them.

after a little consideration, we agreed that they would be best used in a format where they could really shine.  so no heavy sauces ect… normally a simple saute in butter and garlic & served over pasta would have been the solution, but we’d eaten a lot of pasta that week already.  so… to the internet!

we found this recipe on epicurious and it sounded like just the thing.

of course there were some substitutions… the creme fraiche & heavy cream became ricotta & milk… some sherry got thrown in, since mushrooms & sherry are bff.  the tart shell became puff pastry… and some gryere, rosemary, basil & fresh tomatoes came to the party (as alton would say)

so here’s where we started…

everything fresh was local and organic… hooray for health!

and these mushrooms were kinda out of control… but then again, i’m a mushroom lover.

here’s the mostly assembled product… just waiting for those tomatoes

…and there they are!

when it came out of the oven, we had this!

it might not look like an absolute work of art, but goddam it was delicious.
we served it with a simple mixed greens that were dressed with a little olive oil, lemon juice & salt & pepper.  it was a very jamie oliver style meal.


my husband and i are back on a bit of a food mission… we’ve renewed our commitment to local and organic food but also WHOLE foods.  we’re trying to eliminate the processed stuff for sure, but also not buy things with like 20 ingredients in them.  we’re FULL TIME label readers now.
so if it’s a loaf of bread, it had better be flour, salt, water & yeast in there.  and nothing else (save for herbs or something).  no 50,000 letter long chemical compounds.  it’s a lot harder to find than you’d think.  which is scary.  and that should actually terrify & enrage you.

anyways, clearly we aren’t living this 100% yet… (pretty sure that tenderflake pastry doesn’t make the cut), but it’s something we’re actively working on.

also, as part of this, we’re no longer buying reduced fat products.
for the past 10 years (or more), i’ve been in the awful habit of buying anything low fat or fat free if it was an option.  thinking that i was making a wise decision for my health.  but no more.
we’re back to full fat sour cream for instance, which honestly, is a delight beyond words.  here’s what changed me… “In Defense of Food”.  those damn thinking books.   I’m too pressed for time right now to summarize it, but to borrow from a review of the book…

“you’ll read that processors don’t make low-fat dairy products just by removing the fat. To restore the texture — to make it “milky” — they must add stuff, usually powdered milk. Did you know powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, said to be worse for your arteries than plain old cholesterol? And that removing the fat makes it harder for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins that make milk a valuable food in the first place? ”

eye opening, ain’t it?  and that’s not really a fraction as eloquently or factual as they outline it in the book. basically when you strip down and break apart a food to remove something, you have to put it back together with a bunch of chemicals & stabilizers.  which is usually full of shit that ain’t good for you.

and yes, let’s remember that REAL FOOD TASTES BETTER.  really.
don’t believe me?
put your fat free sour cream up against an organic regular sour cream with 4 ingredients in it in a taste test.
you may weep tears of joy when you make the mental connection that you’ve not being doing yourself any favours by buying fat free… in fact, you’ve been harming yourself.

anyways, not to get on too much of a tangent, but i think any conversation that makes you read labels and THINK is a conversation worth having.


night vision

last week i took a night photography course with my friend and her parents in the effort to learn more about properly working my digital SLR camera.
i’ve had it for about 2 years now i think, and i use it, but it’s not my primary camera (sadly, that’s my iphone) due to its bulky weight & size. but the pictures are incomparably better with the SLR. (duh)

i lusted after this camera and pestered my hsuband for about a year before i got it… and then, like most children after christmas day, i all but abandoned it with complaints of size and delicacy (i can’t possibly bring it somewhere it may get harmed!)

also, i never *really* learned how to properly use it.

i mean, i know how to use an SLR camera… at least i did at one point in high school…
but i didn’t really know how to use the digital version. or didn’t know how to use it to the best of its capabilities.
and so, the vast majority of my pictures were happening on the automatic setting… with the occasional tweak when i had a result i really wasn’t happy with.

so, an actual photography class was long overdue.

i have groupon to thank for this one… back in march they posted it and we bought it… and then we waited. and waited. until FINALLY we had a date for our class. in october. lol. kinda ridiculous, but honestly, worth the wait and VERY worth the $50 spent.

the first 30 minutes-ish was spent going over the basics. i had to buy a tripod for this class, which made more of a difference than i think i anticipated. i’d actually never shot from a tripod before… and i liked it. so i think it’s a purchase that i’ll use again in the future. so we learned how to muck with our settings to get the lower ISO and the long shutter speed we wanted and a few other points, like shooting in RAW instead of JPG and so on.

then we started shooting.
we practiced first on the iconic steam clock in gastown. good subject. here’s a few of my favourite shots that i took.

now, it terms of the technical… definitely not “correct”. but those are the shots i liked most from an artsy point of view. but technically that blinding white burn out is what i was supposed to be avoiding. and the shots without it are boring to me. so, big surprise, i didn’t want to do things the right way, lol.

then we moved on to those cool pictures where the cars turn into streaks of light.
i LOVE these photos. i’ve ALWAYS loved these photos. so i was pretty excited to learn how to make my own. and behold… SUCCESS!

so that was pretty exciting for me. like, actually i was REALLY excited to learn this.

we also did one other exercise which was where we tried to shoot cars driving and moving the camera with the car so that the car stays in focus and the background blurs. that shit was hard. didn’t go so well for me. but here’s my most successful shot…

so all in all, a great experience. definitely well worth the money to learn some new skills, and it was just FUN. we laughed and chatted and enjoyed the crisp fall air and the lights of gastown…

it’s definitely inspired me to take some photo excursions this fall. get some use out of that tripod… and now i’m also pondering the possibilities of snow shots… and sunsets in hawaii on time lapse… ah yes. my love of photography renewed for only $50. now *that’s* a good deal.


so, once again fate has intervened to totally screw me out of my vacation.
this time in the form of the hurricane.

so instead of jetting off to the beautiful mayan riveria tomorrow… i’m going to work.

so for those that know me, let’s do a recap.
in the past 2 years i…
– ended up in a cast in hawaii
– went to vegas & had an awesome flaw-free time
– couldn’t go on a free trip to jamaica because i threw my back out
– went to vegas & had an awesome flaw-free time
– got hurricane’d out for my trip to mexico

so basically the gods are telling me that i can only take trips to vegas.
and i know when to listen.  and a new trip to vegas for early january is in the works.

also in an awesome display of vacation conspiracy… my flight *to* hawaii for christmas was cancelled.
ya, that’s right.  westjet cancelled our flight.
thankfully we got ourselves on an air canada flight out the same day, but wow.  fun times.
i swear to the seven, if i don’t get to hawaii, i might kill a man.

vegas… the rest

alright, my last vegas wrap up post.  this one is for the “everything else” category.

starting with the hotel itself.  as i said before, it was our first stay at the mirage and i was overall happy.  the room was updated and so i was happy with the furnishings and look of the room.  the hotel itself i also quite liked.  easy to navigate, good restaurants and fabulous pool area.
verdict – i’d stay there again.

here’s a couple shots from around the hotel… we had a strip/volcano view room on the 12th floor and i really loved having the view.  we’re those people that actually *do* spend time in our room, so it’s worth it to us to have a good place with a view.

watching the volcano…

pool area…

entrance to the beatles love show…

now a few shots from places we enjoyed on the strip… like most people in vegas, we do a lot of wandering.  this time we actually didn’t make it further south than cosmopolitan.  nor did we go further north than the wynn.  but hey, there’s always next time.

the wynn… parasol up & parasol down.

big elvis at bill’s gambling hall.  one of my “must do” things for every vegas trip.  it’s free and super fun.  and i love it.

bellagio fountains…


we also stumbled across the flamingo setting the guiness world record for largest margarita.  pretty impressive.

…and lastly, the last thing i see every vegas trip… mandalay bay as seen from the departures gate.  *sigh*

until 2012 vegas… can’t wait to be back.

vegas in food & drink part 2



first stop on this food tour…
BB Kings in the mirage.  we went here because we had a coupon but also, we love our southern fare.

here’s my husband eating catfish bites.  they were amazing.  and it was his first time eatting catfish, so he was impressed.  it was flaky and buttery and the coating was very light, i believe cornmeal based.

we also had a mac & cheese.  damn fine.  would definitely go back AND they have live music every night.  which goes far for me.


these next series are from our “splurge” dinner at ONDA in the mirage.
my husband picked this place based solely on the menu.  and it was a fine choice.
the meal itself wasn’t ridiculously pricey, but we had a bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine, so about $150 in booze on the bill.  i think it was about $320 once we were done.

first up is our appies.  i had the aged prosciutto & parmigiano.   it was outstanding.  my only complaint is that my salad was over-dressed.  it was literally drowning in dressing which was very unnecessary.  everything else was perfection.

husband went with the classic caprese salad with house made mozzarella & heirloom tomatoes.

for mains, i was powerless to resist this pasta.  it was basically just fresh egg noodles, butter & olive oil, garlic and truffles.  shit loads of truffles.  and cheese.  for me, utter perfection.  this is exactly how i like my pasta, and it was my first time having fresh truffles.  decadent and wonderful.

husband went with the server’s suggestion of lasagna.  it was also excellent.  there’s nothing like a REALLY GOOD lasagna to make you realize how much mediocre lasagna you’ve had.

bottle of Chianti.  also on the server’s suggestion.

dessert.  tiramisu semifreddo.  really good but WAY too rich for me after my meal.  so i had a cappuccino and left it to my husband.


next up i’ve got a few pics from the wicked spoon at cosmopolitan.
wow, what a place.  this may be fighting the wynn for my new favourite buffet.
it was really excellent and well priced for the quality.  and i love buffets because i’m indecisive, but hate feeling like i’m eating out of a trough.  this solves that problem.  individual portions for everything.  wonderful.

below is the short rib eggs benny.

and a berry macaron.

vegas – a trip in food & drink pictures

it’s a real shame i didn’t carry my camera around for the first day.  because i missed out on some choice pictures.  these first two are from BLT Burger in the mirage.  now, this is a place i’ve eaten once before, so i knew it was magic, but i was not prepared for this burger pictured right below.


that was the “gameday” burger (football, i think) and was a delicious BLT Burger patty on a pretzel bun, topped with a bratwurst, bacon & cheddar cheese.  if that doesn’t sounds delicious to you, then you’re dead to me.


this next magical burger is my buffalo chicken burger.  nothing insane, but it was what i was craving and it did me right.







now, on to some beverages…
this little delight was the suggestion of the server at the magical place we know as RHUMBAR.  it’s the sensual berri.  and i drank 3 just to be sure i loved it.





our bar neighbours were super friendly and fun.  but you would be too after a 42oz scorpion bowl.



…and a mention for my husband’s 2 faves at RHUMBAR – the mai tai and the old cuban.





last but not least, i had a sparkling cosmo.  and it was yummy.

…to be continued.

pre-vegas report

the biggest problem with booking your vacations ridiculously far in advance, like i do, is the waiting.  tom petty wasn’t joking (har-de-har har)
for my 7th trip to fabulous las vegas, we booked back in June.  because we were going over a long weekend, you do have to plan ahead.  or pay through the nose.

we got a fair deal on a package with westjet vacations and locked it in.  then, this happened.


what?  one of my favourite bands playing at a cool venue in vegas on the day we arrive?  ya, i can do that.

so i’m pretty excited for that.  i love going to see concerts in other cities.  even if it’s just a small band i dig, it’s a real pleasure for me to check out venues in other cities.
i’ve seen a couple bands in vegas before, at the house of blues in mandalay bay.  fantastic venue!  and back in 2006 i saw my all time favourite band placebo perform there, and it pretty much exploded by brain with awesome.  last year we saw steel panther there and it was pretty rad too.

anyways, i’ve heard that the joint at the hard rock is a very cool place to see bands, so it’s been on my radar for a while.  tomorrow night i’ll get to see my 5th incubus show.  good stuff.

anyways… this will be our first stay at the mirage and we’re pretty excited.

in the past i’ve stayed at (in order) the monte carlo, the bellagio, the flamingo, mandalay bay, theHotel at mandalay bay, the wynn, mandalay bay and vdara.
yes, sometimes i do more than 1 hotel per stay.  because i really like hotels.

so, a huge deciding factor in the mirage is this place:

this magical place is called Rhumbar.  and it’s one of my favourite places to sit back and people watch and enjoy some fine beverages.  and i really mean fine beverages.

alright folks, that’s all for my pre-vegas ramblings… i’ll see you on the other side with torrid tales of my adventures.
well, some of them anyways… after all… what happens in vegas… well, you know.

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