cherry clafouti

Late last week, Eric and I had a few neighbours over for dinner.  One of our guests is set to depart shortly for a year-long adventure.  We took this timely opportunity to chat, laugh, eat, drink and mostly enjoy each other’s company.  The evening began with the Friend of a Friend signature cocktail and finished with port-sized glasses of Southbrook’s award-winning Canadian Framboise dessert wine paired with a fresh baked cherry clafouti.  Stay tuned for details of the duck breast entrée and highlights of the soirée!  

Cherry clafoutiCherry clafouti

guest post – how to picnic when it rains

It’s a dreary, dreary day, which made our Downton Abbey-inspired picnic seem a little less inspired.  We wound up instead in my dining room over a game of Scrabble – a slightly reduced but stalwart group, eating tandoori chicken skewers with mango chutney, scones with clotted cream and raspberry preserves, and butter square. All of it homemade, of course. It was delightful, even if our letters weren’t… but we couldn’t help looking out the window and wistfully discussing summer cocktails.  Claude is the master of summer cocktails.  He has introduced us to Lillet and to all manner of interesting taste combinations.  My favourites involved grapefruit, ginger or fresh herbs like lavender, basil and mint.

But the real question is: Claude, when are you going to find your vodka-soaked cucumber cocktail recipe?

– Rachel L.


Claude’s response:

Always wanting to make sure my guests are happy, I invite you to check out my favourite recipes page for the Cucumber-Ginger Fizz

rubbing on the flavour

Nothing quite imparts the same intensity of spice flavour as a well mixed and applied spice rub.

We are participating in a ‘Downton Abbey’ inspired picnic tomorrow.  There are promises of clotted cream, scones, crustless cucumber and jam sandwiches, homemade ginger ale, and of course, Pimms No. 1.  As a nod to the British colonization of India, I have decided to contribute tandoori chicken skewers, homemade mango chutney and some decidedly British smoked salmon and dill rosettes.  The rub has a distinct Indian flair and creates an intense red ‘bark’ due to the paprika and crumbled saffron threads.  The smell transports me back to my staple Indian haunt, the East India Company.

Tandoori Spice Rub


6 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground coriander, ground cumin, coarse kosher salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper, sugar, ground ginger
1 tsp   ground cinnamon, crumbled saffron threads

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

Also, while I was mixing up the spices, I decided I would prepare the ‘best rib rub’ a friend passed along – the Bone Dust BBQ spice.  I received it last year but was pleased to be reminded of its smoky, yet balanced flavours.  It works well when liberally rubbed directly on ribs cooked over rinsed sauerkraut.  Prepare for Nirvana!

Bone Dust BBQ Spice

1/2 cup  paprika
1/4 cup  chili powder
3 tbsp    salt
2 tbsp    ground coriander, garlic powder, sugar, curry powder, hot mustard powder

1 tbsp    black pepper, dried basil, dried thyme, ground cumin, cayenne powder

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

guest post – to the market we go!

I’m on an early flight en route to Winnipeg as I type this out, it’s Canada Day and I can’t help but feel a little giddy because today is the last day before Claude’s audition for MasterChef Canada and I’m his self-appointed head cheerleader!

Friends and family are important to Claude, we have that in common.  He is the definition of Host with the Most in my mind.  As I reflect on the countless times I’ve sat at his table one time in particular sprung to mind.  We were visiting Rouge Mountain on the lovely island of St Martin.  Our housekeeper told us of the weekly fish market right on the shore and, always trying to embrace what the locals enjoy, Claude decided we’d be up at the crack of dawn to greet the boats as they came in with their catch of the day.

Since Claude is the planner that he is, we were early.  We found some locals getting coffee and a pastry I could only describe as a cross between a doughnut and a sweet bun and we happily tried one for ourselves.  Island time is a different sort of thing; the boats came in not en mass rather trickling in one by one.  We checked out the stalls as the attendants of each one tried to cajole us into buying from them.  Claude’s great to watch in a market.  He’s careful never to get to enthusiastic, and his laissez faire method usually nets us better pricing.  I on the other hand smile from ear to ear with such gusto that the market stall workers look at me as the answer to their prayers.  Suffice it to say I always let Claude carry the money and make the final decisions.Image

Phread and Eric believe that both Claude and I, when given the choice, choose the rarest ingredients (often searching a dozen stores to find it) or the recipe with the most ingredients.  Their assertion may be largely correct but I assure you Claude’s motives are simple; to make a pleasing dish.   On this particular morning he meet a man from a boat with a fish that we’d never seen before.  We made our purchases (after dickering on price en français) and headed back to the villa.

The fisherman told us he feed this fish to his kids lightly battered and it roughly translated to Old Lady.  It had one main piece of cartilage instead of many bones.  Unsure of what to do, Claude set to work cleaning and butchering it.  We floured it and lightly fried it in sort of a finger size format.  It was buttery, rich even and took a nice dusting of salt.  It was delicious but…weird.  Eating it was a little bit like eating ribs off a bone, not at all the fish experience one was expecting.  When our housekeeper saw what we made she laughed a little at us, which we took as a compliment.  Clearly we were the first visitors who braved a local dish like this.  That in itself is a win in Claude’s book.

I know the journey ahead for Claude will be filled with many first times and I know he’ll do well as he addresses all the challenges with reckless abandon.  And trust me, its going to taste great.

Sherri G.

wine and laughter

IMG_1275Tonight, we are very happy to host our friends David, Allan, and Rachel.

On the menu (despite it being 28° and 100% humidity) is spare ribs, baby potatoes, and coleslaw.  Tonight, we get to do one of our favourite things… sit around a table, break bread and spend time with friends.

There will be wine and there will be laughter.  Life is good.