Recession Rolls

Have you ever sat down in a restaurant and thought wow, that much for some salad and croutons? Or, that tastes like cardboard, I can’t believe I’m going to pay for this? Or even, great that was delicious, how can I make this at home so that I don’t have to fork out the dough for it (no pun intended)?

I’ve been known to ponder those questions when I’m out dining. Sometimes out loud, sometimes in my head. They all bring me back to square one in my test kitchen, where I try to resolve them.

A while ago I came to the conclusion that I was going to try and cook as many of my meals at home as possible. Given the current economic wave we’re riding, I thought it would be doing my piggy bank a great service, and it would also get me into the habit of experimenting more in the kitchen.

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Airline Food

Imagine this. You are sitting on a plane. You are 2 hours into a 9 hour flight. Children are screaming, in flight screens are showing the latest movies, and the turbulence has you wondering every couple of seconds whether you’ll get to that favourite restaurant that you had wanted to eat at at your destination city.

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Now picture me. I’m alternating between hiding under the my blanket, and resurfacing occasionally for oxygen. I’m trying to position my body in a way that minimizes the number of body parts that I am hurting at one time, and I’ve also pulled out my snack of Snyder’s Buttermilk Ranch Pretzels for a little taste of home.

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Cue to 20 minutes later. A very distinct smell started to permeate through what I had thought to be a thick blanket. I peeped out from underneath, and before I knew it reflexively pulled out the menu card that was presented to me early in the flight. This smell. What was it? My stomach began to rumble.

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European Grocery Stores

One morning in Brussels I headed down to the hotel lobby to figure out where the closest boulangerie/patisserie was. The dude at the front desk told me to go to the grocery store next door. “For croissants and pastries?” I questioned. I was ever so slightly skeptical.

Literally 3 minutes from our hotel room was this unassuming sliding door that opened to a quaint space. At first glance it seemed ordinary at best. However, a double-take quickly helped cement the fact that this store was housing a lot of great treasures that were bound to wet my appetite.

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Snack of the Day- May Edition

When I was in grade 7, I had this fantastic teacher named Mrs. Malandrino (First name Lynne, for those of you who had other Malandrinos in your life). She was a really cool teacher that I had known since grade 3 who wore jumpsuits to school and had a laid back approach that every kid could relate to. So much so that she would let me eat during class and once offered me a pasta lunch. She was the first and last teacher that ever gave me that privilege.  I am pretty certain that this was done for one of two reasons:

1. She recognized the look in my eye that said don’t get between me and my snack when I am hungry. (By the way, that look still exists)

2. I had “foodie” plastered on my forehead and she was intrigued by the snacks I brought to class.

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Aux Armes de Bruxelles

When travelling I am more excited to visit landmark eateries than tourist landmarks. Sometimes I go online and research the restaurants I should eat at beforehand, so that I have a reference point in the city. This has worked for and against me in the past. When visiting Paris 8 months ago, I ate at the infamous Chartier and was very, very disappointed by the food (Choucroute that I could gag on) and the service (having to share a table with a couple).

Another great indication of whether a restaurant has promise is if you see a line of patrons flooding outside the doors. It’s a great sign that people are willing to wait in order to have a fantastic meal.

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On a recent trip to Belgium, I used one of my most favourite tactics…asking the locals. And when I say locals, I don’t mean the front desk at your hotel who sometimes make a commission if they refer you to a restaurant. In our case, it was during our ride from the airport to our hotel room in Brussels.  The drive was initially silent, but the tension was broken when my dad questioned our driver about the local weather. One thing lead to another, and soon we were on the topic of food.

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