Monday, October 4, 2021

#MicroblogMondays: The best meals I've ever eaten

Mel recently asked us  "What are the best things you’ve ever eaten?"  Here are a few random memories (the list could change as I remember more!).  

  • Mrs. G's perogies and holubtsi (cabbage rolls). She used to cater events in the small Manitoba town where my dad's family is from, which is where my parents first encountered her and her cooking. My aunties make excellent perogies and cabbage rolls too, but my mother did not want to pester them every time our family wanted some. (We tried making perogies ourselves once when I was a kid, from my best friend's mom's recipe... they weren't too bad tasting, but they are time consuming and very finicky to make.)  So, back in the mid-1980s, my parents started ordering from Mrs. G -- like 20 dozen each at one time -- driving more than an hour & a half one way to pick them up (and then an hour & a half home again -- my dad calls it "making a perogy run,"  lol), and then freezing them, to be doled out as treats when we kids come to visit and on special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Mrs. G is now in her 90s (!) and her catering days are long behind her, but she will still do a large order for my dad once or twice a year (although her daughter does most of the work these days). Dad is now 82 himself (!) but says it's worth the drive to get what he wants. My sister has searched for alternatives in the city (which is full of Poles & Ukrainians, so you'd think it wouldn't be hard to find...), but nothing she's come up with has quite equalled Mrs. G's, according to the taste buds of our family. ;) 
    • (My dad prefers things simple:  her perogies are filled with a mashed potato/cheddar cheese blend, boiled and then served with melted butter and sour cream. Sometimes a bit of fried onion (although dad is not fond of onion) &/or bacon bits.  Her Ukrainian-style cabbage rolls are small and filled with rice, dill and a bit of bacon for flavouring. No meat, aside from the bacon bits. Dad cooks them in the oven with tomato sauce/juice & oil, or even just plain, with some oil & water and a lot of dill. Divine!)  
  • My mom's turkey, gravy & stuffing (my grandmother's recipe, which includes bread cubes/croutons, raisins, celery, onions, apples and seasonings). Nothing compares. These days, my sister cleans & preps the turkey while I chop & prep the stuffing, under Mom's supervision. 
    • Speaking of turkey dinners, I have fond memories, growing up in small Prairie towns, of the fall suppers (sometimes referred to as fowl suppers) organized by various church and community groups as fundraisers at this time of year at church and community halls. For a ridiculously low price, you could line up at the hall, grab a plate and help yourself to a buffet that would include turkey and mashed potatos with gravy & stuffing, vegetables, several kinds of salads, buns/dinner rolls, a bottle of water or can of pop and/or coffee/tea, and then a luscious spread of pies (apple, pumpkin and others) and other desserts, all while visiting with your neighbours while seated at long trestle tables covered in paper tablecloths. I haven't been to one in years myself, but my parents still go. Some now offer takeout, and I believe that's how most operated last year during COVID-19.  
  • The cafeteria at my workplace in downtown Toronto offered subsidized and surprisingly tasty breakfasts, lunches and snacks at very reasonable prices, dine in or takeout. It first opened when the building was new, in the late 1940s/early 1950s, when there were far fewer affordable dining choices in the area available to employees. It was specifically for employees of my company and their guests, but people working for other companies in the building and neighbourhood knew about it and often got their lunches there too. I don't think anyone ever stopped them. There were usually two or three hot entrees offered daily (meat, starch & veggies for $5-7);  a short-order grill where you could get a hamburger, hot dog or grilled cheese, etc.;  a salad bar; a soup bar with four different kinds of freshly made soups daily (I particularly liked the navy bean, the cauliflower cheese and the broccoli cheddar); a made-to-order sandwich bar, with your choice of bread, meats and condiments, served with sides of potato chips and/or carrot & celery sticks;  and a daily grilled panini. Just before Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter, there would be a turkey dinner including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatos & gravy, veggies, a small salad, a bun, a can of pop or bottle of water, a small cup of nuts, and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie (or a piece of fresh fruit). I don't think the price ever went above $10 for all that while I worked there.
    • There were some great places to eat in the food court of our building (and the other nearby office buildings) as well (along with the usual fast-food chains). There was an Italian restaurant (now long gone) that had a takeout counter, where I got excellent pizza slices and wonderful risotto for years. A Chinese restaurant (also long gone) with a takeout counter that offered wonderful spring rolls and lemon chicken. And many others. 
  • The linguini with clams & white wine sauce at a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant near our first apartment in midtown Toronto. I particularly remember going there with dh, BIL & SIL on Valentine's Day in the mid/late 1980s, pre-nephews. The place was decorated with confetti on the tables and helium balloons that clustered on the ceiling, with curled ribbons dangling down (very festive). The friendly staff (who knew us by then) greeted us warmly (even though we didn't have reservations! -- we went early, before the expected crowds, so they were happy to accommodate us) and were attentive but not obtrusive. The restaurant, sadly, is long gone, but the fond memories remain. 
  • Breakfasts at the Charles Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, described here
  • The maple salmon at Salty's on the waterfront in Halifax. I had lunch there by myself while in Halifax on business in mid-November 1997, after a lovely Sunday morning exploring the waterfront and visiting the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (which has a marvelous Titanic exhibit -- this was just before the movie came out). It was a grey day, not too cold, with snowflakes softly falling. The restaurant was not too busy, and I had a table with a view of the boats on the harbour and the twin city of Dartmouth across the water. Dh & I returned there in September 2010 on our belated 25th wedding anniversary trip to Nova Scotia, and it was every bit as good as I had remembered. I look forward to returning someday!  
  • The thin-crust, wood oven pizzas we get from a local Italian restaurant (including a "white" pizza with thinly sliced potatos, pancetta, caramelized onions and rosemary for me). Besides pizza, they're also known for their gelato and they do a booming business at the takeout counter, especially in the summertime. :)  
    • Also:  the thin-crust, wood oven pizza we had at Fiazza in Byward Market in Ottawa a couple of years ago, recommended by a friend who lives there (described here). Yum! 
  • Burgers and fries from Hero Burgers, a local chain. (Haven't been there since the pandemic began, sadly.) 
  • A nice, well-seasoned steak (medium well, please) with a baked potato and veggies. I've had great steaks in several places, both at restaurants & people's houses (dh's cousin barbecued some amazing, tender steaks for us on our recent cottage weekend)... I don't have it often these days, but it's something I love to eat now & then. 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  


  1. I am hungry now!
    My husband is a 1st generation Pole so we are always on the lookout for a good pierogi. There is a huge Polish section in Chicago and even here in Pittsburgh where we live. Toronto is so big and multicultural.....there must be an Eastern European neighborhood up there you can check out!

    1. There is! although we don't get there very often. Roncesvalles Avenue in the west end of Toronto is where the Polish community is (or was) clustered, and there are a lot of Ukrainians in the area as well. Also a lot of Ukrainians & Poles in Oshawa, east of the city.

      There's a fast-food restaurant near the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto called the Loaded Pierogi that I always wanted to visit... just Googled them and apparently they're now a national chain!! with locations in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Ottawa & even PEI, as well as Toronto! Something to investigate once COVID subsides & I can get downtown again...! ;)

  2. I shouldn't have read this just before lunch! I loved the pierogi I had in Poland. Question: Is pierogi plural or is it pierogis? I must google it. lol

    Had a delicious steak recently at our local. Mmmm. Don't order steak often, but sometimes it's exactly what I want, too.

    I love that I can picture the view from Salty's! I wish I'd eaten there when we visited (in 2006, I think).

    Finally, great minds think alike. On A Separate Life, I copied Mel's idea too.

    1. I actually got my inspiration for a post from you, Mali! -- should have credited you in the post (sorry!). Not sure if the plural is the same as the singular? -- good question!

  3. You're made me so hungry! My grandma used to make German cabbage rolls. I love pierogi and found some great gluten free ones, but they aren't as authentic as yours. Mmmmm maple salmon...

  4. You had me at pierogis. Especially the kind your dad likes. Yum!

    The maple salmon sounds excellent, too!

    Suddenly my mouth is watering like a garden hose.