Monkey Monkey Monkey

(As in “The Wooden”)

You read that right.  We went there three times in our four day trip to Halifax, but it was just SO good.  Clearly we enjoyed this restaurant, having a safe and delicious place to go made our decision easy.  Chris and I needed a bite to eat before his third and my second viewing of “West Side Story” and the Wooden Monkey is just across the construction site from the theatre…

Hears a taste:

The Wooden Monkey.
Round 2

What I ate:
Sesame Crusted Haddock (picture)

What Chris ate:
Lentil Burger

In an effort to keep my blog honest, I should also mention that we ordered a piece of Chocolate Tofu Pie to go and the three of us split it after the show.  I may or may not have shot back the extra raspberry coolis and licked the container of maple whipped cream.
The Wooden Monkey.
Round 3

This time we returned to the Wooden Monkey for its proximity to my hotel and the airport shuttle. ;)

What I ate:
Side order of Sweet Apple Salad
Meat Lovers Pizza with an excellent GF crust (picture)
Chocolate Tofu Pie (picture)

What Chris ate:
Trio of Dips
Tomato Pizza

What Jonathan ate:
Tangy Fish Cakes
Pork Tenderloin
Chocolate Tofu Pie (he ain’t no fool)

Pizza

Chocolate Tofu Pie

Look how happy this pie makes people!

Jono with pie

Me and pie

Adventures in the East

I understand what it is like to be away from the person you love for an extended period of time. When you meet up again, all you want to do is curl up in a bubble with that person and forget about the world and that horrible ‘to do’ list.  This is why I left Jonathan and Chris the morning of our second day in Halifax to be together.  I had some work to do, so I went down to my hotel lobby for free wireless and people watching.  It was a cloudy and rainy day and I felt a little chilled, so I made my way into the lounge for some tea.  The waitress asked if I would want to eat anything, I told her I had already looked at the menu in my room and it looked too difficult to navigate with my allergies.  She said: “oh, just let me get the chef, we cook for allergies all the time”, before I could stop her the chef was standing in front of me asking what I had my heart set on.  I was a bit stuffed up from my travels and gray days make me feel like eating soup, but the special was chicken noodle.  “Do you like seafood chowder?”: says the chef.  Um, YES!

Hears a taste:

Eve at the Westin Nova Scotian.

Their Seafood Chowder does usually contain a rue, but if I could wait 20 minutes or so, he would be happy to whip up a gf seafood chowder.  Luckily, I had 20 minutes to spare, so I patiently waited for my personalized soup.  Oh, life is difficult.  I almost cried when the dish was set in front of me, it was beautiful.  A medley of salmon, shrimp, scallop and mussels, they looked like they had been removed directly from the ocean and tenderly mixed in with cream and potatoes.  I have love for this soup.  I would like to eat this soup everyday.  I am one lucky girl.

What I ate:
GF Seafood Chowder (picture)

Website:
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Seafood Chowder

I met up with the boys in the afternoon.  We wondered and shopped around downtown Halifax until it was time to eat again.  Jonathan had to be at the theatre at 7.15, so we had planned to eat nice and early, take our sweet time visiting and eating.  Jonathan had pointed out a restaurant he had wanted to try the day before, so we went there.

Hears a taste:

Chives.

This restaurant does not have a separate gf menu either, but gf dishes are clearly marked on the menu!  These Nova Scotians really know how to make a girl feel welcome.  The waiter also said there are some dishes they can adjust to be gf, so if something catches my eye, but is not marked I should ask.  Something else we discovered was that the head chef at this restaurant, Craig Flinn, had subliminally been leading us to Chives the whole day — we had come across his cook books in a few stores, but had not made the connection. :)
After the first bite into his biscuit, Jonathan was sure he would be bringing his mother back in a week.  Every dish called to my fork and knife and my mouth was overwhelmed by all the scrumptious offerings.  I’ve included some of the descriptions specifically to make your mouth water.

What I ate:
GF Biscuit with butter and molasses (picture)
Chives’ Fishcakes – Potato crusted and featuring coldwater Atlantic shrimp, sea trout, haddock, spinach cream, mustard pickles, lemon fennel salad (picture)
Bacon-wrapped & double Smoked NS Pork Tenderloin – P.E.I. cloth aged cheddar potato cake, braised red cabbage, cranberry applesauce, rainbow carrots
Blackforest Cake – Flourless chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, white chocolate ice cream, kirsch glazed bing cherries

What Jonathan ate:
Seafood Chowder (how could he not be craving this, after I’d been going on and on about seafood all day)
Braised Lamb “Milanese” – Bill Wood’s lamb du jour with saffron and parmesan risotto, sautéed sweet peas, roasted tomato chutney, natural lamb jus
Warm Caramel Banana Éclair

What Chris ate:
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad – Maple candied pecans, honeycrisp apple, local greenhouse greens, honey buttermilk dressing
Winter Vegetable Tandoor
Sugar Moon Maple Crème Brûlée

Website:
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Fisk Cake

München Teil Eins

Day 1
My fabulous friend Sarah (we met in high school) has been living in London for the past two years, but hadn’t made her way to Germany yet, so we decided to fix that.  After very little himming and haughing we picked Munich, known to the Deutsch as München, as our Easter destination.

What do you do when you’re in Germany?  Eat Italian and Mexican?  Sure, why not?  A few websites mentioned the first restaurant, so Sarah and I decided to try it out.  Their website also boasted a gf tiramisu.  Sounds promising to me!

Hears a taste:

Ristorante il Salento.

Il Salento is a cozy corner restaurant in the heart of Munich.  We walked into this mysterious Italian restaurant in the south of Germany and found about 10 tables, three of which were filled with a variety of local clientele; one family of three, a couple and 3 men with full steins of beer in front of them.  I was looking for some comfort food after 3 weeks of meat, cheese and salad.  Our waiter did not speak English, but after a little confusion and help from another table, Sarah and I were on our way to ordering our dinner.  Dinner was satisfying and hit the comfort food spot right on the money.

What we ate:
Tomatoes with fresh buffalo mozzarella

What I ate:
4 cheese gf pasta

What Sarah ate:
4 Seasons Pizza (not gf, but gf crust is available)

Website:
click me! (only auf Deutsch)

You may have noticed I did not try the gf tiramisu, but the four cheese pasta was so rich!  There was just no room left in my belly.  I’m sorry, that was a fail on my part.  Next time I’m in Munich…

Day 2
Sarah desperately wanted to go to a Beer garden and because we were in Germany, I couldn’t say no.  Our first find was built for tourism: the “Hofbräuhaus”– this Beer Palace has to fit at least 600 people.  After a short hunt for seats outside, Sarah ordered her first Litre of beer and I ordered my Weißweinschorle (white wine with mineral water), Sarah also got her hot little hands on a giant, fresh pretzel.  I’m not going to lie, it was hard to watch her eat this.  Bread has been jeering me the whole time I’ve been in Germany and watching Sarah eat this pretzel was the worst.  Sarah apologized the whole time she was eating it and I would never deny my friend her part of the German experience, but I was so envious.  Because of the size of this place, I thought it was safer not to eat.  Big kitchens make me nervous, your food passes through so many people and stations, chance of contamination is way too high.  (After seeing the barmaids and men walk around with steins of beer overflowing and spilling all over the place, I should have reconsidered even ordering a drink, luckily my Schorle was fine.)  Okay, enough about my missing gluten…Shortly after our Biergarten experience we went on the hunt for food for me and we found it.

Hears a taste:

Milagros.

Take a peek at their website and you’ll get an idea of how charming this restaurant is.  At this point I expect you are wondering what two Canadian girls are doing in a Mexican restaurant in Germany?  We were a wee bit lost.  I was sure we needed to go right and Sarah was sure we had already turned right and I was sure hungry.  In all our hunger and confusion we happened upon this restaurant; this was a great place to be lost.  “De México. Con Amor.” is written across the bright purple awning, I love Mexican food and I am familiar with how it is cooked, such a good start.  The waiter was happy to go talk to the chef about gluten and came back to our table fully educated on what I could and could not eat.  He also spoke German, Spanish and English, this made my brain hurt, but it feels so good to be understood; my regular restaurant worries vanished.  The food was full of flavors: smokey, spicy, sweet; each sauce and salsa evoking a new taste.  The presentation of each dish was unique and delightful.  I’m still thinking about those pork tacos…

What I drank: (worth mentioning because it was yummy and I had 2)
Piña Colada

What I ate:
Sopa de Tortilla -this dish is one of my favorites, if its’ on the menu, I usually order it and luckily, it is traditionally gf.
Tacos- 1 Steak Arrachera and 2 Cochinita Pibil (pork deliciousness)

What Sarah ate:
Burritos -I have to ask her what kind

The philosophy:
Der Name unseres Restaurants bedeutet „Wunder“ – und genau das sollen unsere Gäste hier auch erleben: ein kulinarisches, mexikanisches Wunder.
The name of the restaurant means “miracles” – and that’s what we want our guests can also experience: a culinary, Mexican miracle.

Website:
click me!


A west side story in Halifax?

My wonderful friend and wicked cool business partner, Jonathan is in Halifax right now performing in West Side Story.  His boyfriend, Chris, travels better in pairs and I was happy to volunteer to play the part of “Traveller No. 2″.  There were 3 things that made my decision to come on this trip easy: I get to see Jonathan/watch him perform, I get to travel and catch up with Chris AND I would get to return to that “Monkey” restaurant I went to one year ago with my brother Bradley.  Ever since my very brief trip to Wolfville last May, I have been kicking myself for not visiting my brother while he was in school on this gorgeous side of the country.  I don’t know what stopped me from a visit, but he was on the East Coast for 5 years and it wasn’t until his last month in town that I managed to fly in.  Bad sister.

The “Monkey” place: Brad took me there for lunch before my quick tour of Halifax and ride to Wolfville.  He knew they had lots of organic and vegetarian options, so he assumed they would be at least gluten conscious.  Hoorah!  He was right!  We ordered way too much food, but it was so delicious.  I have an unusual love for nachos with lots of stuff on top and this restaurant had their layering technique down.  Having no idea how large the nachos would be and because of our proximity to the ocean, I also ordered fish.  Both dishes were delectable and for the past year anytime anyone has mentioned travel in the vicinity of Halifax I have brought up this restaurant.

Finally, one year later, I made my way back with two people who appreciate good food as much as I do.  I think I finally have the name of the restaurant down too.

Hears a taste:

The Wooden Monkey.
Round 1

This restaurant does not have a separate gf menu, but gf dishes are indicated on the menu with a star *.  There are plenty of options and they offer a gf pizza crust (which I still have to try).  Jonathan and Chris both enjoyed this place as much as I did and we immediately agreed we would be coming back (this was before dessert too!).  Since my return from Germany, I haven’t really had my fix of nachos, so they were on the brain.

What I ate:
1 of Jonathan’s Bacon wrapped Scallop (we traded, Jonathan does not share)
Nachos!
Chocolate Tofu Pie – OMGFG!  Yes this means: Oh My Gluten Free Gods!  So good, no one should have to live with not trying this pie, so try it.

What Chris ate:
Trio of Dips
Spicy Vegetarian Stirfry (So spicy)

What Jonathan ate:
Bacon wrapped Scallop (my mantra: if it’s wrapped in bacon, I would like to eat it)
Some of my Nachos (the other end of the trade)
Free-Range Steak
Fruit Crisp

Website:
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Chris and Jonathan