Awesome One very cool blog

OK it’s true confession time here –  Nutmeg just wants you read her blog so typically would not promote the competition….

So today is different this blog is called 1,000 Awesome Things.  The blog has won awards and Neil Pasricha has just published a book called “The Book of Awesome”.  He posts a new awesome thing every week day.  Check out some of the posts:  The first scoop of peanut butter, Rain Hair, Snow days….

Enjoy all things Awesome it is one very cool blog.  BUT not too much – keep reading Ginger and Nutmeg.  🙂 !!

Bonterra Is it patio weather in Calgary yet?

Nutmeg has a beef with Calgary’s weather, in a nutshell it sucks.  For many years now she has heard all the noise about “Chinooks”….” shorts weather in February”… “it never lasts”… “you can golf in all four seasons”!!  Bottom line the weather is unpredictable and only “died in the wool” Calgarians like Ginger really embrace the constantly changing environment.  The great thing about Calgary, is when the weather does cooperate and that rare, yet fantastic Summer night appears – a restaurant patio is a must!  There are patios everywhere to try and take advancement of the rare moments.  One of the Calgary gems is the well protected and well heated (over-head heaters and out-door fireplaces) patio at Bonterra Trattoria.

Earlier this week lucky Nutmeg was treated to dinner by CardaMOM and Montreal Steak Spice at Bonterra Trattoria.  It was way too cold for the patio, at barely 8 degrees Celsius, so we huddled in the very warm and cosy wine room.  The restaurant had valiantly set the tables on the patio and it looked lovely, however it was too cold so there were no takers.

Both Nutmeg and CardaMOM tried the mixed greens with poached pear, it was a nice fresh mix, although heavily laced with garlic.  Then we followed with the daily special of roasted Halibut on green beans with almonds and romesco sauce.  It was delicious and beautifully presented.  Montreal Steak Spice had 6 of the tiniest oysters followed by the Caesar salad with chorizo sausage, the presentation was a bit “rustic”.

Bonterra Trattoria continues to deliver on fresh creative food.  Although the main focus is Italian there are obviously influences from Spain with the romesco sauce and chorizo.  So Nutmeg’s word of advise on that one rare perfect Summer evening, rush over to Bonterra Trattoria, take advantage of the great patio and indulge in the fresh creations.  You can also read about it in Fast Forward this week.

Is it patio weather in Calgary yet?

Nutmeg says NO and has retreated to Palm Desert to try and wait it out :-).  Chances are good thought that she will be on the Bonterra Patio for the one night of Summer.

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UNESCO Sites and Fancy Dining in Helsinki

Hot Sauce a Chili were recently in Estonia (Officially the Republic of Estonia).  Estonia is divided into 15 counties and operates as a democratic parliamentary republic, if you are interested to find out more check out the Wikipedia related information.  With a population of only 1.34 million, Estonia is one of the least-populous members of the European Union.  The country is blessed with a temperate season climate.  Estonia’s language is very close to Finnish. The capital and largest city is Tallinn, with a beautifully preserved old city.  One of UNESCOs World Heritage Sites, is Bergen’s Old Quay.  From Hot Sauce directly, “I have never seen so many church spires!”

Nutmeg was curious, what exactly is UNESCO and how many sites are there?  UNESCO is the acronym for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  This is a web site that you could spend days reviewing.  There are currently 890 Properties world wide (689 Cultural, 176 Natural and 25 mixed).  Canada boasts an impressive 15 sites and Alberta has 5 of those.  The process to have a site nominated is not surprisingly very lengthy, there are 10 base criteria and 53 page document describing the process for submission of nominations.  Clearly this is the purview of career diplomats.  There is a very cool interactive map (for big and little kids) that can be found on the UNESCO web site.   Try it out, you can “travel” around the globe and learn all about the very interesting sites.

So here is the concern,  Nutmeg thinks that Hot Sauce and Chili are traveling a bit blind.  They are fully equipped with GPS, iPhones, laptops and iPads, yet they seem never to have heard of Zagat or Michelin food rating guides.  One afternoon in Helsinki, they stumble across a restaurant called Ravintola Nokka, here is the story from Chili:

“We park and walk there to find one of those places that Saffron surely has in her book, and if she does not, she will the next time she visits Helsinki.  First, even though there is but one other patron in the place, the maitre’d is only too delighted to provide us with a table and, shortly, a chef and two sous-chefs appear in the ultra modern kitchen which is glass enclosed from the seating area.  We are provided with menus and starched napkins the size of small blankets.  It turns out that we have arrived at The Place that specializes in the best of Finn cuisine.  Only deals with farmers that live up to it’s norm of organic and ecologic standards, which Nutmeg would think of highly, and gives them a royal stamp of approval.  Anyway, in for a penny in for a pound, we decide to order the five course special menu de degustation.  Hot Sauce has nettle soup, I have something strange that I thought was going to be prawns but looked like a tiny bit of mush with a tiny bit of arugula on top.  Lamb for the main course was fine, but Hot Sauce, having asked for hers to be cooked medium well, resulted in both dishes being pretty much dry.  Then, this was followed by a cheese course and a dessert combination.  The good thing was that I ordered some Chardonnay and a glass of Torres’s ‘Celeste’, both quite outstanding.  The whole thing cost more than our stay at the hotel but, as they say, it was an experience and we laughed a lot.”

So the morale of the story no matter where your travels take you, make sure to check the following:

  1. Are there UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby?
  2. Are there restaurants that are listed on Zagat or Michelin?
  3. Buyer beware…

Happy travels!

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Quinoa Salad Facts

Quinoa pronounced “keen-wha” is a really old grain.  It is classified as a pseudocereal, which means it is not a cereal or a grain.  Quinoa is a chenopod, so it is the same family as beets and spinach.  It was a sacred grain for the Inca’s, who called it chissaya mama “mother of all grains”.  It has been cultivated for over 6000 years in the Andes.  It does not grow like a rice; quinoa has a long growing season, likes well drained soil and easily grows at high altitudes up to 4000 meters.  The Spanish conquistadors (really bad guys) who called it “food for Indians” forbade the production and strongly encouraged the farming of corn (maize).  Quinoa is also really good for you, it is gluten-free, high in phosphorus, magnesium, iron and it is high in protein.  Best of all it cooks in 15 minutes or less.

Ginger hates quinoa but he is away…. so Nutmeg (who loves it) got a great recipe from Hot Chili to try.  The recipe is great but even better the next day when the flavors soak in.

Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
You can play with the ingredients to your taste. Red Inca Quinoa adds more fibre and color.

  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1-2 Whole Ripe Mangoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Whole Red Pepper, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Seedless Cucumber, chopped
  • 2-3 Green Onions, chopped
  • 2 Cups Spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained
  • 1 Handful (optional) Cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Olive or Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons White Balsamic or regular vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Mango Chutney
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cumin, ground
  1. Rinse quinoa well under cold water, then drain through fine sieve
  2. Combine the quinoa and the water, bring to a boil and then cover, cook for 15 minutes or less
  3. Drain and rinse
  4. Combine ingredients for dressing (starting at the Olive Oil) with a whisk or in jar and shake
  5. Place quinoa, chopped vegetables, and beans in large bowl, drizzle with dressing and toss until well coated

So quinoa is really old and really good for you – Nutmeg will be eating it until Ginger gets back!


Crunchy Granola Sweet

Are you a Neil Diamond fan?  Nutmeg is for certain.  She is also a big granola fan and has been for many years.

Hot Sauce used to make homemade granola on a regular basis. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh batch in your house and eating it hot out of the oven.  The basic ingredients usually include: oats, nuts, wheat germ, dried fruit, sugar (or honey or molasses or maple syrup), oil. You can also add spices like cinnamon or ginger depending on your tastes.  Nutmeg loves granola served with berries and yogurt, Chili likes the same in different proportions (more granola and less fruit).  There are likely as many recipes for granola as there are for combinations of how to eat it.

Granola actually has a history prior to Neil Diamond’s “Crunchy Granola Suite” and prior to the hippie “granola” movement in the 1960’s.  The names Granula (invented in 1894 by Dr James Caleb Jackson) and Granola (name change by Kellogg to avoid legal conflict) were trademarked terms in the late nineteenth century United States for foods consisting of whole grain products crumbled and then baked until crispy; in contrast with the contemporary invention, muesli, which is traditionally not baked or sweetened.

Nutmeg has a friend who makes one fantastic version of granola (in fact she has a few variations).  She is currently in the process of setting up her company and will be distributing later this year.  So you should be on the look out for a new Western Canadian company to rival that barely dressed version (Bear Naked) out of the US.  Nutmeg cannot say more at this time on the name of the company and of course the recipes are closely guarded.  The great news is we will soon have locally produced product close to home.  For now enjoy a little Neil Diamond and maybe even experiment with your own recipe and combinations.

Crunchy Granola – Sweet!!

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to CardaMOM, Dilly-Gilly, Hot Sauce, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Cilantro, Mint, Curry Murray, Sage, Bearnaise and many more of you out there.

This day was NOT invented by Hallmark or the card industry, in fact it has a long history.  It is celebrated in many countries during May, although in some places the festivities occur in March and April.   Here is some of the history:

The day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece, which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of Greek gods. This festival was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (March15-18). The ancient Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, that was dedicated to the god Juno.  Mothers were usually given small gifts on this day.

In Europe there were several long-standing traditions where a specific Sunday was set aside to honor motherhood and mothers such as Mothering Sunday. Mothering Sunday celebrations are part of the liturgical calendar in several Christian denominations, including Anglicans, and in the Catholic calendar is marked as Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent to honour the Virgin Mary and your “mother” church (the main church of the area). Historians think that children who served in houses were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families.

International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in 28 February 1909, in the US, by which time Anna Jarvis had already begun her national campaign in the US. It is now celebrated in many countries on March 8.

Everyday, should be a day to celebrate our fabulous mothers.  So gentlemen, if you have not already done so buff-up a relaxing day and a nice dinner for the mothers in your life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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What is a Smorgasbord

As you know Hot Sauce and Chili are cruising around Scandinavia in their new car.  This week on a ferry they were able to sail and eat from the on-board smörgåsbord. Hot Sauce is still sorting out how to text from her phone so let me just say that her reporting was a bit lacking.  So, Nutmeg thought it would be good to do a bit of research, as it sure sounds better than “buffet”.

Have you every wondered what is a smörgåsbord?  It is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. In Norway it is called koldtbord and in Denmark it is called kolde bord. Smörgåsbord became internationally known as smörgåsbord at the 1939 New York World’s Fair when it was offered at the Swedish Pavilion Restaurant.  Members of the Swedish merchant and upper class in fourteenth-century Sweden and Finland served schnapps table (brännvinsbord), a small buffet presented on a side table offering a variety of hors d’oeuvres served prior to a meal before sitting at the dinner table.  Eventually,  in the mid-seventeenth century, the food moved from the side table to the main table and service began containing both warm and cold dishes. Smörgåsbord was also served as an appetizer in hotels and later at railway stations, before the dining cars time for the guests.

So there you have it a bit of triva for today.

Maybe when Hot Sauce can sort out how to type and eat, we will get some details on their experience.

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Grilled Fish Tacos on Cinco de Mayo

Need a dinner idea? Wondering what to serve for dinner on Cinco de Mayo in snowy Calgary?  Yes, for those of you who live in places that have normal weather – it is SNOWING!  So it calls for drastic measures; pull out the tequila and the Mexican beer.  Here is a Fish Taco recipe (care of Saffron):

Grilled Fish Tacos
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This recipe is very easy, you can play with the fish, the level of spice and the toppings.

  • 1½ pounds Mahi Mahi A few Limes
  • 1 Medium Red cabbage
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 8 Medium Tortillas
  • ½ Cup Plain Yogurt
  • ½ Cup Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  1. Marinate Mahi Mahi in fresh lime juice for an hour
  2. Finely slice the cabbage
  3. Chop cilantro
  4. Dice the red onion
  5. Cut the limes into wedges
  6. Season the fish with salt and pepper and cook in a frying pan for about 3 minutes a side
  7. Mix the yogurt and mayonnaise with some hot sauce, for topping
  8. Divide the fish between the tortillas and serve with the toppings


Serve with your favorite Mexican beverage and enjoy Cinco de Mayo!

Fish Tacos

What to serve for Cinqo de Mayo

Nutmeg had never heard of Cinco de Mayo before she moved to Calgary.  Think what you may, Nutmeg is no slouch!  She has consumed her fair share of tequila, upside down margaritas and cervezas (Spanish for beer) in particular Corona and Dos Equisover the years.  Despite years in liberal Quebec,  a well known eastern university and a good grounding in Toronto,  she had honestly never heard of Cinco de Mayo before her arrival in Calgary.  Ginger made sure she was properly educated in her first 60 days on the scene.  Nutmeg’s awakening led to 5-6 years of classic “house party” celebrations (no photos available.  These parties ranged from reasonable to the industrial size rental margarita machine to dancing with power-tools.  At that point, Nutmeg suggested the annual celebration may have run it’s course.

What is Cinqo de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo (“fifth of May”) is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico. It is interesting that Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico the date is observed in the United States and around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Cinco de Mayo is not (Ginger had told Nutmeg this was the case) Mexico’s Independence Day,which actually is September 16.

What to serve for Cinco de Mayo?

Aside from the obvious tequila, cervezas and margaritas….Fish Tacos!

There are as many Fish Taco recipes as there are “want-to-be” Mexicans on May 5th.  The following are key ingredients:

  • white fish like tilapia or cod – marinade or bread and fry
  • salsa – mango or pico de gallo are both great options
  • spicy coldslaw – try a chipote mayo
  • hard taco shells or soft tortillas

Experiment with a few options to find your favorite combination.

On May 5th, pull out the blender, raise a glass, eat a few tacos and patiently await Truffle’s next installation as he ponders what to serve for Cinqo de Mayo.

The Iceberg Wedge a Classic Salad

Chili Pepper (Nutmeg’s Dad) loves the “wedge” salad.  Essentially, a large wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing.  This salad can be found in every steak restaurant in North America,  if they do not have it on the menu you may want to check their credentials.  There are of course variations on the classic theme; add bacon bits (real or not so real) or add tomato pieces (mostly for color) or nuts (way too healthy).  In the end there is very little nutritional value, although who really cares as it will most likely be followed by a rare steak and fully garnished baked potato.  The wedge salad is truly a classic, there are historical references to the lettuce from the 1920s and to the salad mixture from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Iceberg Wedge a Classic Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
  • 1 Full Head Iceberg Lettuce
  • ¼ Cup Blue Cheese Dressing
  • ¼ Cup Tomato, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Bacon Bits, crumbled
  • ¼ Cup Green Onions, chopped
  1. Remove the outer leaves off of an Iceberg head of lettuce, do not core
  2. Cut in half and then in half again or as small a wedge as you like
  3. Dress with blue cheese dressing and garnish with toppings to your taste

The hard thing today is actually finding a head of iceberg lettuce at the grocery store, as the modern shelf space has been replaced with Arugula, Spinach, Mache and other mixed greens.  So Chili Pepper would like to recommend you toast the start of Spring and Summer by lighting the briquettes on your barbeque, cook your steak medium rare and serve with a classic iceberg wedge salad.

Enjoy (on behalf of Nutmeg…she is eating Mache)