In the last few months, I’ve shot photos for meals and food adventures here and there that haven’t made it in to any posts. Julie and I were joking that we should just do posts of these leftovers with no real preamble, just letting the photos speak for themselves.

So, yup, that’s what this is.


Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara. (Recipe over here)

Pasta with tomatoes, peppers and wilted spinach

Penne with cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers and wilted spinach in a cream sauce.

Japa Dog

Oroshi dog, topped with freshly grated daikon from Japa Dog in Vancouver. My favourite part was chatting with the staff in Japanese.

Shio Ramen

Shio ramen from Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. Check out Andree’s review for more.


Charcuterie from Cassis.

Steak and potatoes

Steak and potatoes from Cassis.

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry tart from Cassis.

Shrimp Po' Boy

Shrimp po’ boy from Big & Little’s in Chicago.

Lights at the Publican

Lights at Publican in Chicago.

Cinnamon Bun

Pecan sticky bun from Publican in Chicago.

Digging in

Digging in to the Pecan sticky bun at Publican in Chicago.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice for brunch at the Publican in Chicago.

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Summer Travels

Kids, this has been a busy summer. And I mean that in the best possible way.

First there was Chicago in June, then NYC for a week in July, followed by two back-to-back wedding weekends in Panorama, B.C. and Ottawa.

Consequently, there has been very little cooking or baking in the Patent and the Pantry kitchen. Luckily, there has been some amazing eating in all these great cities. And I thought I would share some of the highlights.

I’m going to be honest here, there aren’t photos of every meal because I kind of just enjoyed having a few meals with no camera in tow, savouring bites without worrying about natural light and flash and angles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that I do love to photograph food, but, occasionally, I just want to be in the moment of a fine meal.


This was never a city high on my list of places to go, but when a friend moved there I was happy to have a chance to travel to a new town. And then I fell in love with the Windy City, owing, I’m sure, in no small part to the oh-so-good eating I had there during my first trip in February. When the chance came to head there again in June, I jumped at it.

I was eager to have another dinner at Avec. And I was equally eager to try out a few new places. Luckily, my friend Suzi always has good suggestions, including a trip to Franks n’ Dawgs, a neat little joint that takes the humble hot dog to a brand new level. Think bratwurst with sauteed morels, a beef and curry sausage with orange marmalade and raisin slaw, and andouille with gumbo sauce. And, people, they do truffle waffle fries. Seriously. *Drool*

We had the Lamb Keema, a “Middle Eastern lamb sausage with English peas, cucumber salad, caramelized pearl onions and Socca strips.”

Lamb Keema hot dog

It was fantastic; my favourite of the hot dog trio we sampled.

Still, the others were pretty good too.

This was the Turdoggen: a turkey and date sausage with crispy duck confit, herb garlic aioli, house pickled onion relish and pickled carrots.

Frank n' Dawgs hot dog

and this was a Kobe beef Italian sausage topped with the restaurant’s marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, caramelized portabella mushrooms and basil.

Pizza dog

But, did I mention the truffle waffle fries? Yeah. Seriously.

On another sunny afternoon, we headed to The Purple Pig, another small plates establishment, this one on the Magnificent Mile. They basically had me when I saw we could have pork fried almonds with rosemary and garlic. With a glass of rose (which I drank pretty much exclusively while in Chicago; such a perfect wine for hot summer afternoons!), I also chowed down on salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese and a pistachio vinaigrette, a dish of asparagus and snap peas, as well as a cheese plate.

For dinner one night we had pizza from Great Lake, a very odd little restaurant with almost no seating and a somewhat perplexing service system. When we went to order from the limited list of ingredients (owing to them using only local and fresh ingredients, which I can’t really criticize), each ingredient we asked for was “sold out.” That said, the pizza was fantastic. We ate it sitting at a park bench outside in the dark with some cans of pop purchased from the corner store. I don’t think we spoke for a full 10 minutes except to exchange “mmmmmms.”

Ok, it wasn’t all eating. We did take an architectural boat tour one hot afternoon, taking in the stunning buildings along Chicago’s river. The architecture in this city is stunning and well worth a boat tour if anyone is heading there in the summer months.

Chicago skyline

Chicago architecture

On the last day, just a few hours before flying out, we went to the Art Insititute of Chicago to wander around in the modern art wing. But first, a little more eating. This time at the Terzo Piano, the institute’s restaurant also in the modern wing. It’s a lovely, bright, airy room with a fairly impressive menu. But, well, I just couldn’t stay away from the idea of the burger trio: one shrimp, one beef, one lamb. They weren’t fabulous, but they weren’t terrible.

On the other hand, the bread that came before lunch was fantastic. And I loved the presentation of serving it with unsalted butter, flaked salt and parmesan crisps. That, with another glass of rose, was my favourite part.

Bread, butter, salt

Rose in the afternoon

New York City

Owing to some very good luck, I was able to head to NYC for a week to stay with my friend Julie in a Soho apartment. It was hotter than all get-out and the humidity meant I had to finally give up on wearing my bangs down, but it was an excellent trip. Due, in no small part, to the fact that Julie was willing to try out a lot of the restaurants I had on my list.

Like Shake Shack.

What? Please, everyone who reads this blog by now knows I have an undying love of burgers. As if I was going to go to New York and not go to this famous burger joint. Pshaw.

I spent the morning in Central Park, checking out Bethesda Fountain, the Ramble and then lying in the grass at the edge of the great lawn to read under a blue sky. And then it was off to meet up at Shake Shack for a cheeseburger, krinkle-cut fries and a lemonade, all eaten sitting on a bench across the street.
Shake Shack burger

We went to Momofuku twice, though only the Noodle Bar owing to the fact that I really wanted to try a few dishes and, hey, when is the next time I’m going to have a chance to go there? The first night we had the scallion-ginger noodles, sauteed corn with potatoes and the dreamiest, mouth watering-est pork buns. Slabs of rich pork belly stuffed into a pillowy soft steamed bun with scallions and hoisin sauce. If I wasn’t so full at the end of that meal, I would have ordered more of those. They were definitely the best part of that dinner, though the noodles were a close second.

The next time I had the ramen, which was also delicious. Though I have to say that I had some fantastic ramen when I lived in Japan. This time we tried the chicken buns and they weren’t bad but the pork buns remain my favourite. In fact, my mouth is watering a little bit right now just remember them.

New York was a lot about the desserts too.

We had Magnolia cupcakes.

My cupcake

And made a trip to the Momofuku milk bar where Julie agreed that we needed to buy the Franken Pie. That’s two pieces of each of their four types of pie, clockwise from the top: cinnamon bun pie with a cheesecake filling; grasshopper pie with mint cheesecake and brownie filling; Momofuku’s signature Crack Pie ®, kind of like butter tart but none of those pesky raisins; and the candy bar pie that has a chocolate crust, caramel, peanut butter nougat and a pretzel.
Momofuku Franken Pie

Crack Pie

I know Crack Pie is what Momofuku is known for, but I was completely won over by the candy bar pie, which was the perfect combination of salty and sweet and oh-so rich.

To cap off the week, we had a decadent afternoon tea at the Plaza. This was absolutely luxurious. The setting was stunning, the service lovely and the food delicious.


Ceiling in Knife I

Cucumber Sandwich I


Of course, it wasn’t all eating… there were shoes that needed to be bought!

So, I’ll share two pairs that are my faves from the trip.

Some Betsey Johnson satin, leopard-print platform peeps:


And these beauties from Kate Spade that were
a) red platform peeps
b) 50 per cent off
and, perhaps most importantly, c) their style name was Gwen.
That, my friends, is what I call shoe fate.

Kate Spade shoes

Anyone interested in checking out more photos from either of the trips can feel free to check out my flickr.

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Taste of Chicago

We have arrived for burgers — the kind that people talk about on the Internet long after having wiped the final crumbs from their lips. But we are distracted from the mouth-watering scent of smoke and beef by the hostess, standing with clipboard in hand and pen poised, telling us the wait will be about two hours.

Kuma’s Corner is a popular place. Glimpses at the burgers coming from the coffee-table-sized kitchen are enough to make me pause and then put my name down on the list.

After all, what’s waiting at one more restaurant?

Kuma's Corner - the burger

We’ve already lined up around the block for a hotdog, sipped drinks to pass time while hoping for space at the counter of a trendy hotspot, and waited on a ramp overlooking the dining area of another restaurant, mouths watering as another platter of chicken and waffles was carried by.

Chicagoans, it appears, know what is good, what they like and are willing to wait.

And so will we.

It begins at Hot Doug’s, a hotdog joint well outside of the downtown core, where the faithful begin to line up before the place opens at 10:30 a.m. When my friend, Suzi, and I arrive around 11, the queue snakes out the front door, around the corner of the building and along its brick facade. Inside, every seat is filled.

Hot Doug's

Hot Doug's - waiting

But the delay is productive. The man in front of us, a regular, gives us the low down on what dogs are worth the wait.

For him, the Linguica — a Portuguese pork sausage — will always be the first pick. It’s one of the myriad specials proprietor Doug Sohn has dreamed up for the restaurant featured on TV shows and numerous newspaper and magazine articles, including Bon Appetit and Saveur.

The Linguica is on the menu, along with a curry lamb sausage, a chicken one with cranberry and walnuts and the item I already knew we’d have to try: the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel.

This is no ordinary hotdog place.

Hot Doug's - menu I
Hot Doug's - menu II

A side of fries cooked in duck fat — Friday and Saturday only — to go alongside and we were ready to go.

The thick squiggle of saffron aioli and cubed chunks of Iberico cheese played against the spicy sausage flecked with red chili. It was the hands-down winner between the two, although the duck dog with the rich mousse was worth the excursion.

Hot Dogs at Hot Doug's

Sauternes - cross-section

Linguica - cross-section

We would have thanked our lineup buddy for the recommendation, but he vanished after gobbling down his two dogs and disappeared into the sunny afternoon.

Total wait time: 45 minutes

In the daze that often follows a decadent lunch, Suzi and I headed back downtown to wander Millennium Park and admire Cloud Gate — a.k.a. the Bean — the stainless steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor that reflects Chicago’s stellar architecture, sunny skies and tourists like a classy funhouse mirror.

The Bean II

The Bean III

The wait for Avec is estimated at an hour, but we’re allowed to give a phone number and we head next door to Meiji, a Japanese influenced restaurant, for a sushi roll appetizer and glass of wine.

Just as we finish up the phone rings and we wander back the 25 steps or so to squeeze into two seats at the counter that runs almost the length of the narrow restaurant.

Avec, a wine bar part of a series of successful restaurants in Paul Kahan’s stable, boasts a menu of homemade charcuterie, flatbreads cooked in the fire-burning oven, tender salads and other items all easily shared.

The decisions are tough, but we settle on the flatbread stuffed with tallegio cheese, a salad comprised mostly of prosciutto and apple, the signature dish of chorizo stuffed dates in a tomato sauce, and another dish or two.

From the counter, we watch the chefs bustle at the two wood-burning ovens and chat with the server who offers up a few nightlife recommendations, while pouring a glass of rose.

The prosciutto salad that mixes the salt of cured ham and sweet apples is a clear winner, but it is the crisp flatbread with its oozing cheese centre that I can’t stop eating.

Total wait time: 60 minutes

At Jam, we wait only 10 minutes for a free table for brunch. We have to chalk it up to good timing because after we sit down, the queue starts to stretch along the half-wall from cash register to front door.


The grey walls and concrete tables could feel industrial, but instead the air is cosy. From our table we have a clear view into the open concept kitchen — a tiny space that somehow fits at least three people co-ordinating plates and getting them out to patrons quickly and with style.

Amuse Bouche

The eggs benny with crisped pork belly and beet hollandaise is almost art with the black-salt-topped eggs and bright pink smear of sauce. The braised pork cheeks are not quite as attractive, but meaty and tender.

Eggs Benny at Jam

Steaming coffee

Total wait time: 10 minutes

The next morning, the waiting is a little more tedious as we join an almost two-hour line at Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. It is a Sunday, after church, and the view of gorgeous hats sprinkled among patrons at the tables is beautiful but not enough to take our minds off the time we have to kill.

Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles

Trays of hot waffles and crisp-skinned chicken passing almost under our noses seemed to only prolong the wait.

The first bite made it almost seem worthwhile. Apart, the fried chicken and waffles drizzled with maple syrup were good. Together they were a revelation. The hot, crisp chicken and the sweet tender waffles combined to become something better. Salt and sweet and crisp and soft. If I could have polished off the plate, I would have.

Chicken and Waffles

Total wait time: Two hours

We work it off by wandering the Art Institute of Chicago where I gaze, just as they did in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, at Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. I’m hypnotized by the pointillism, though that could be a soporific side-effect of breakfast.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

But by the last day, my patience for waiting has waned.

There is one final stop before the flight home: a burger joint that has received rave reviews online.

Kuma's Corner - Exterior

It’s a takes-no-guff place that has posted rules on its website, including no reservations, no music requests and “We will not ‘put on the game, bro.’ ”

When the hostess tells us the wait could be up to 2 ½ hours, we are prepared. And we’re learning. We put down our names and then head back out to hail a cab to take us to a nearby neighbourhood where we can window shop.

About 90 minutes later we’re back at the restaurant, hungrier than ever and only 20 minutes away from being seated at a tiny table near the equally tiny kitchen where staff are pumping out burgers like a machine.

Kuma's Corner Interior

Next to us, two young men are tackling the macaroni and cheese platter — a behemoth portion of pasta that can be topped with just about anything: prosciutto, caramelized onions, peas, sweet corn.

I, however, have eyes only for the burger and the two-hour wait has sharpened that craving, so I’m quick to decide on the “famous Kuma burger,” adorned with bacon, cheese and fried egg.

The patty alone is almost a softball of meat, slightly flattened. With the egg, cheese and bacon atop, this burger is a force to be reckoned with. When I attempt to cut it, the steak knife is buried to the hilt in the centre of the burger.

Kuma's Corner II

That first bite makes the wait dissolve into a distant memory.

The crisp waffle fries push it even further away.

Leftovers in hand — which will serve well as an inflight meal — we push out into the sunny afternoon.

There is nothing left to wait for, except the next trip back.

This article first appeared in the Calgary Herald’s Travel section. For more articles, visit CalgaryHerald.com/travel/index.html.

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