Monday, December 30, 2013

A Burger at The Works

As my Maritime holiday continues, so does my quest for new beautiful sandwich and travel experiences!  

After a brief stop (delay) in Montreal, the holidays were spent visiting family in Fredericton and catching up with some old friends in Halifax. 

I have never traveled to this part of Canada before and a few things need to be stated right off the top:
  1. I have never seen more beautiful and picturesque winter landscapes than those of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 
  2. The people– especially our dear family and old friends, plus the new ones we’ve met – are such kind, funny and wonderful people.
  3. The food is absolutely incredible.
Today’s adventure brought all these statements together in the fun atmosphere, great company and absolutely amazing burgers at The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia.

What?! Burgers?! Isn’t this a sandwich blog?!

This menu is incredible!
Absolutely.   I declare the burger to be a full-blooded member of the sandwich family. If you ever visit The Works, you will understand. 

Our friend took us there for lunch and it did not disappoint. They serve their beverages in measuring cups and their menu consists of over forty different burger and topping combinations with witty names like Born to Brie Wild (mushrooms, brie and bacon) and Son of a Beech (avocado, beechhouse sauce, sundried tomato and feta).  (The blogger in me definitely loved the burger names and when I told our server that I write a food blog, she gave me one of the brown paper menus as a souvenir!)  You even get to pick what your patty is made of: 100% Canadian beef, chicken breast, ground turkey, Portobello mushroom cap, or Gourmet Veggie.  You can even get Elk.  

Elk!  So Canadian!!

The Tower-O-Rings, with my Root Beer in
a measuring glass
Needless to say, it took a while for us to narrow down what to order.  While we agonized over the menu, we enjoyed the Tower-O-Rings, the best, most crispy and golden onion rings I’ve ever had.  I finally decided on the Nacho Libre Burger, which consisted of red, gold and blue tortilla chips, 5 kinds of cheese (!), sour cream, salsa and onions, with a side of fries, naturally.

It was the most beautiful burger I’ve ever seen with the colourful tortilla chips, huge dollop of sour cream and did I mention it had 5 different kinds of cheese??  Amazing!  I actually had to roll up my sweater sleeves to eat it.  The whole wheat bun was soft and fresh for each bite of burger patty, chips, salsa and 5 different kinds of cheese.  It was drippy and slightly messy but you just have to know that attempting to eat a burger that full isn’t going to be neat and tidy.  The fries also deserve credit for being the right combination of warm and crispy and topped with some malt vinegar, just the right side for that most delicious burger.

The Nacho Libre: a beautiful burger and definitely not a Jack Black movie.
My two dining partners were also thrilled with their respective choices: the Cracker Jack (peppercorn crust, banana peppers, jack cheese and ‘hotter than hell sauce’) and the Pony Express (horseradish, cream cheese, hot sauce, cheddar and tomato), both served with the Spicy Die-Cut Chips (I stole a few and they were great!).  We devoured our burgers in our comfortable booth, while the classic rock songs of Tom Cochrane and Rush played in the background and shared the great conversations that occur when old friends catch up in a beautiful old city, over a delicious meal.  Simply being with them, my husband and my dear old friend from university, in that fun and friendly place, (with excellent service, I might add) laughing and stuffing our faces, was more than just a meal.  It was an experience. 

And did I finish my Nacho Libre Burger?  Nope! 

But this time, I blame the onion rings.

Planning a trip to Eastern Canada? Make sure to check out The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

When in Montreal...gorge yourself on a Jumbo Smoked Meat Sandwich!

Bonjour and greetings from Montreal!  What can you do while waiting for your (delayed flight) in this snowy winter city?

Why, seek out the famous Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich, of course!!

They did not feed us on our flight from Edmonton, so it was with an extreme combination of gratitude and anticipation that we settled ourselves down at Moe's Deli and Bar for a late dinner.  I immediately scanned the bilingual menu for the sandwich section and there it was: Viande Fumee Jumbo! 

And then - voila! - there it was in front of me:  at least three inches thick of juicy, gleaming meat barely contained by the two slices of rye bread, with a giant pickle and a pile of fries on the side!  As a Smoked Meat Rookie, I knew I was in for a challenge...

I applied a small layer of mustard under one of the rye slices and took my first bite. Sharp...slippery...smokey...pungent...but all in a good way!  Move over Ketchup, this was Mustard's show!  The thin layer of mustard disappeared rapidly after the first few bites, so I resorted to squeezing a sizable portion onto my plate for dipping.  So good!  Then somehow, the first half was gone!  More or less inhaled in only a few bites; I guess was more hungry than I thought...

I dug into the second half but as Joey from Friends once said: "Here come the meat sweats..."

They were mild ones, thank goodness, and I wish I could say I was able to rally and devour the second half as nimbly and quickly as the first, but alas, the Jumbo Smoked Meat of Montreal proved too much for me.  But I have no regrets about getting only 3/4 way through a ginormous pile of pure meat - I was bested by a worthy foe and it was a noble defeat.

So next time you find yourself waiting for a plane in Montreal, go on a Smoked Meat Quest of your own.  You won't regret it and maybe you'll be able to finish what you start.  And don't forget the mustard.

Joyeux Noel!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Guacamole Turkey Club

I love guac!

It’s perfect on the classics like nachos and quesadillas (the more cheese, the better!), alongside its close amigos hot/spicy salsa and sour cream.  It’s also very lovely on a turkey club.  I admit, I was once put off by guacamole’s unique green colour and chunky texture, but it adds such a fresh, delicious flavour to the above mentioned dishes that I quickly got over how weird it looked and I now enjoy making my own.  It’s quick, easy, healthy and the true star of this sandwich’s fiesta!

To prepare the guacamole, mix the following together:

4 small ripe avocados, pitted and mashed (To check for ripeness, gently press on the outsides of the avocado for a slight give; no give means it’s not ripe and too much means over-ripe)
1 medium tomato, diced
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. minced garlic (or more, depending on how garlicky you want it!)
1-2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)

All red and green and festive like!  As guacamole has a rather short shelf-life, make sure to use any leftover guac with some tortilla chips or as a unique spread on toast.

For the Turkey Club, you will need:

Sourdough bread, toasted
Bacon (I use 2 strips of bacon per sandwich)
Turkey slices; I love Lilydale’s seasoned and roasted turkey breast slices (I recommend using the low sodium kind since you'll get your fill of salt with the bacon.)

Assembly Tips:

  1. Fry the bacon and drain off some of the grease with paper towel. (Make sure you don't pour the grease down the drain; it's bad for your plumbing!)
  2. Spread one slice of the toasted bread with mayo and the other with the guacamole.
  3. Pile on the turkey and bacon
  4. Slice and enjoy with a festive Christmas Orange!

The guacamole makes this sandwich quite filling and for aesthetics, it's quite colourful: the green and reds of the guacamole, the pinks and rusts of the turkey and bacon. 
Lovely and muy delicioso!

Feliz Navidad!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Two Tasty Tunas and Some Grilled Pear Topped with Brie!

Tuna is the kind of sandwich ingredient that you can really play and experiment with to suit your taste at any given moment.  It’s like the black cardigan of sandwiches: it pairs well with other elements and is very hard to mess up.  I had a hard time deciding what kind of tuna sandwich to share, so I picked my two top favorites and threw in a desert/appetizer/side sandwich as a bonus, grilled pear and brie.  I also couldn’t help but have a lot of fun coming up with this post’s title, a funny play on the 12 Days of Christmas Song.  Enjoy!

Tasty Tuna #1: The Veggie Tuna

This sandwich is packed full of fresh, crunchy veggies piled thickly on some artisan bread.  I also went light on the mayo since I don’t like my tuna drowning in excessive sauce and I wanted to be able to taste each vegetable in the mix.

You will need:

-Sandwich Bread; I used Black Pepper and Swiss Cheese Bread from the Save-On-Foods bakery for all three sandwiches and it worked beautifully!
-One 170 g can of Clover Leaf Solid White Tuna, drained and flaked (one can makes 2-3 sandwiches, depending on how thick you make each one)
-Grated Carrot
-Chopped Red Pepper (one half to a whole pepper, depending on its size)
-Chopped pickles or ½ tbsp of sweet relish
-One heaping tablespoon of Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
-Cheese; I tried Saputo’s Monterey Jack for something a little different
-Dill sprinkled on top

Assembly tips:
1-Mix the carrot, chopped pepper, pickles/relish, mayo and tuna together.
2-Spread on bread.
3-Add cheese.
4-Serve with leftover red pepper strips or carrot sticks.

Some popular add-on's for veggies: celery (normally a tuna classic but individual stalks were short on hand at the store), green pepper, red onion, spicy banana peppers (could also be a very interesting addition; try it!)

Tasty Tuna #2: The Spicy Tuna 

I was really excited to try this spicy sandwich because of its unusual ingredient: horseradish!  I was inspired by a salmon spread of my Mom's because she always uses a generous helping of hot horseradish and I wondered how it would taste with tuna.  It was so good that this sandwich completely forgoes the mayo in favor of the horseradish for a full and spicy tuna mix that's sure to surprise and satisfy.

You will need:

-Sandwich bread (see above)
-One 170 g can of Clover Leaf Solid White Tuna, drained and flaked
-Two tablespoons of Woodman’s Extra Hot Creamed Horseradish
-Chopped Red Pepper
-A mellow cheese, like Swiss or the Monterey Jack I tried with Tasty Tuna #1
-Paprika, sprinkled to taste
-Fresh Ground Pepper

Assembly tip:
1-While you mix the tuna with the horseradish and red peppers, keep tasting a little bit until you've reached your desired spiciness, along with the paprika and ground pepper.  I think this sandwich would pair well with a mixed green salad or a tomato vegetable soup.

Desert/Appetizer/Side-Sandwich: Grilled Pear and Brie

This bite-sized sandwich of grilled pear and brie sizzled happily on my go-to tool for grilled sandwiches: George Foreman's Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine.  Just plug it in, let it heat up and grill away! The creamy, decadent brie oozes apologetically when heated, wrapping snuggly around the pear, still sweet and juicy.

You will need:

-Sandwich Bread (see above)
-One pear, cut into thin slices
-Belle-Creme, Triple Cream Brie, cut into thin slices

Assembly Tips:

1-Put a slice of pear between two slices of brie, like a sandwich within a sandwich. ;)  This ensures the sandwich will melt together.
2-Check for melted cheese on each side of the pear and remove when it starts to melt out to avoid burning.

It would make a lovely appetizer sandwich at a holiday party - any excuse to eat good brie! 

I feasted on a half of each of these lovely sandwiches tonight, as I hope you do whenever you make your favorite kind of tasty tuna sandwich.  


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekend Breakfast Sandwich

I am very bad at breakfast.

During the week, that is.  I have always been the kind of person who can’t eat a meal as soon as I get up in the morning and it used to drive my parents crazy when I was growing up.  I just couldn't do it though and we eventually figured out that if I ate something later in the morning, I would be just fine.

Now in my adult life, the breakfast battle continues.  I’m not proud to say that I’ve often skipped it entirely, but since working on an empty stomach is really not fun or healthy, I’m back to my practice of the morning snack.

But weekend breakfasts...I've never had a problem there.  I look forward to them!  I like to start my weekend off right by making a pot of coffee and cooking a nice, big breakfast.  This morning as my coffee brewed, I created my own version of a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich.


Toasted rye bread
Tomato, cut into thin slices and fried
Piller’s Turkey Kolbassa Sausage, sliced up and fried with the tomatoes
Scrambled eggs, divided into sandwich-sized portions (for two sandwiches, I used four eggs)
Dill and Cayenne Pepper seasoning on the eggs
Havarti and Cheddar cheese

Timing and Assembly Tips:
  1. To avoid that burning-egg residue on your skillet, fry the tomatoes and sausage first and keep them warm on a plate while you scramble the eggs.
  2. Use a medium heat setting for the eggs and constantly stir them as they cook to prevent both sticking and burning.
  3. Season each side of the egg portions to your desired spiciness and flip them to seal it in.
  4. Toast the bread during the eggs’ last few minutes to avoid drying it out.
  5. For easy assembly, pile the eggs and sausage on one bread slice, the cheese and tomato on the other, and combine the two.
  6. Serve with ketchup, hot sauce or salsa.

The result is warm and melty, with just enough crunch and spice to be unique!  This sandwich will definitely make another appearance on a chill weekend morning.

Or as my husband praised: “This would be really great for a hangover breakfast!”

Good to know; I’ll make sure the ingredients are stocked come New Year’s Day.