Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catching some Silver Bass

If you live in Niagara s I do it’s there’s always something new to eat, something special to discover. This week I got a call from Rod Minor in Port Colborne.

Rod is fisherman and he fishes the waters of Lake Erie. There’s nothing better than the fresh, clean flavours of lake fish. I tend to prefer them to the oily, density of salt water fish. I find them easier to cook with because you can add some verjus and no matter what accompanies with lake fish, it all offers clean, fresh flavous.

This week Rod pulled some beautiful Silver Bass from Lake Erie. So I told Rod I’d take 3 whole ones – no filetting, just clean them and I’d cook them whole. I was feeling like a little dinner presentation was in order.

Wow, when I got to Minor Fish (176 West St) the 3 fish were so large I began wondering who I’d have to invite for dinner. One of the Silver Bass alone would feed both my husband and I.

On the way home I sorted out what I’d do with them so I made a quick detour to the grocery store for a few boxes of coarse salt.

I washed the fish inside and out, put a few herbs and bit of verjus in the cavity and laid them on a 2-inch bed of salt. Then I covered them with an inch of salt. I left the heads and tails exposed for presentation, then I roasted them for almost an hour.

When they were ready to serve, I chipped away at the salt crust, brushed away any remaining salt, peeled away the skin and began eating the flesh. Oh my gosh!! This fish was succulently juicy, the tender meat flaked beautifully and my husband and I devoured one in the blink of any eye. It was a big one though, so we were very full.

Tonight we’re taking the other 2 to my uncles house for dinner. I’m taking the pickerel cheeks also. I just couldn’t resist, when I was waiting for my Silver Bass to be packaged up, I saw these silver-dollar sized pickerel cheeks. I’m going to bread them and cook them up with some bacon and herbs – perhaps I’ll fry up some sage chips. Them I’ll make a spicy aioli to dip them in – they should be good.

If you live in Niagara I highly recommend a beautiful drive out to Port Colborne to Minor Fish. The 3 large Silver Bass only cost $6.75! A feast to last 3 days and at shockingly low prices – get out there before Rod reads this email and contemplates raising his prices.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Farmhouse Grill

On Saturday Jon and I found ourselves in Keene, Ontario with a few minutes on our hands. If you know Keene, you know there’s not a lot to do, so we looked for a place to have coffee and in the middle of a not-a-lot-happening place, we found the most amazing diner.

There it sat on the crosssroads of Keene’s main intersection – Farmhouse Grill. For 2 lovavores, this was the perfect place to sit and have our coffee. Jon turned off the road to park and out of the diner came a group of rather rough looking guys, they were a motley crew of hard core farmers for sure, almost made us city folk want to just drive by.

We parked the car next to a large tractor and more people came out of this little diner. We walked inside and it was packed. People were lined up at the counter ordering take-out coffee and more were seated, eating large platters of typical breakfasts of sausages, eggs and homefries.

We found a table and sat down. It was a busy little place, decor was exactly what I’d expected – I figured it would have to be casual and rustic to make its patrons comfortable and it was. The longer I sat and the longer I watched the activity, I found myself relaxing and warming to it. This place definitely had charm; at the very least it was completely organic.

Jessica, our waitress finally had a minute to come over. She brought menus and a cloth to clean the table. We decided we’d eat because the menu was absolutely irresistible! The Famished Farmer Special was the large meal we’d noticed when we arrived. Jessica tells us it’s popular, especially the homefries that are made from potatoes they peel themselves.

Jon was wavering between the Barn Raising Omelette and the Farmers’ Daughters Choice. I went for the Traditional Farmer’s Breakfast. All of the meat used in their restaurant is local. I’m not surprised, we were in Keene to meet a cattle farmer; this seems to be cattle territory.

I hear they’re famous for their Traditional Back Kitchen Burgers that Eva makes. Eva works the kitchen and often comes out to serve customers the meals she’s made them. Being totally unprepared for this place, I wrote my notes on a napkin.

If you’re looking for the real deal in country conviviality, then take a Saturday drive to Keene for lunch. Make sure your GPS takes you through the backroads and along the Trent River system for a great drive.

Farmehouse Grill
Located at the 4 corners in Keene