Thursday, August 5, 2010
I'm Baaaaaaaack ...!
Moncton, oh Moncton ... why did we leave? Seriously, as soon as I opened my email after a week spent in a state of total relaxation, I thought "Ya know .. we should have stayed in New Brunswick...FOREVER!" But I have to admit that I did miss Toronto, as smoggy and populated and sometimes unfriendly as it is, I did miss the bustling, cafe-saturated, public transit-accessible city that will always be my home.
BUT .. we LOVED Moncton. Not only did we explore the city and sample some local cafe coffee from Clementine Cafe, Cafe Cognito, Landromat Espresso Bar and Cafe Down East, but we got to see the little towns, secret trails and beautiful ruins that surrounded Moncton. We were so grateful to have been guided by a knowledgeable childhood friend of my partner who literally has a map inside his brain of every beautiful spot to see sunsets and every old, historical ruin (wharfs, piers, grave sites ...) that's not mentioned in the tour books.
Between playing with hermit crabs, and swimming in the warmth and light of the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen, how did we find time for food??
While most breakfasts consisted of microwaved eggs and yogurt in my motel room, and most lunches involved pretzels, peanut butter and sugary juice cocktails enjoyed in the back the car en route to a new secret destination (like an underground river inside a hidden cave that you have to climb down to using precariously tied-off ropes ...!), some meals definitely stood out in my mind, like ..
locally-made duck and veggie pates with lovely condiments like plum and ginger chutney and red pepper jelly ...
chicken wieners and marshmallows made special by a bonfire on a quiet beach (thanks to a tip from a friendly local) ...
the elusive McHomard or McLobster ...
and .. lobster and coleslaw (a great deal thanks again to same lovely local!) on the beach during our very last full day on vacation, eaten after a quick, cool dip in the salty Northumberland Strait under over cast skies ... (oh! I've got another lobster story for you ...stay tuned!)
But that was then and this is now, and while I desperately miss the zen-like state we were in that only comes when we're totally relaxed, AND coffee every single morning, AND smelling the ocean air even in the city, it's back to semi-reality. Translation? Routine, 3 more weeks until work starts up again, finishing my long range plans in time for September 1st, taking care of some looming business, and cooking. Truth be told, the first dinner I cooked when we got back into town was baked oatmeal with frozen berries. But the next day, I realized that one cannot always eat oatmeal, and plus, I wanted to make something that reminded me of my time spent in Moncton. No, I didn't make lobster (that's a different story for next week!) or any type of seafood. I made coleslaw. Why coleslaw? Because I realized that some of my favourite memories, some of the moments that I made me smile while in Moncton involved coleslaw: dinner with my partner's Mom and niece in a greasy take-out place and laughing when his niece dipped a fork-full of french fries into her coleslaw; sitting on the motel bed with my bestest friend on our last night in Moncton and eating leftover beach coleslaw while talking about our favourite moments during our vacation ...
Yup, coleslaw. I've never been a big coleslaw fan, but it got quite addictive after the first bite. It was something about the crunchy, sweet, tangy-ness that I just couldn't get enough of. It was also great because I already had everything I needed in my post-vacation fridge: red cabbage, carrots and apples. I wanted to capture the tangy-sweetness of the salad without the creaminess of a mayonnaise-laden dressing, so I looked to balsamic vinegar, lemon, maple syrup and a big spoonful of my previously-posted tart blueberry jam. After a couple hours in the fridge, it tasted like perfection, and just as I had hoped, my favourite memories came flooding back. I ate it just as it was, as a post-weight-lifting snack, but I think if you threw a handful of walnuts in the mix and ate it alongside a piece of fresh bread, you'd have a really nice summer lunch. And let me tell you, it felt good to eat some veggies after a week of refined sugar, salty snacks and sugary drinks. Thank-you, coleslaw. You welcomed me home and helped me to never forget some wonderful Moncton memories.
Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Balsamic Dressing
with help from these two recipes at Everybody Likes Sandwiches
half a head of red cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, grated
half an apple, julienned (I used an empire apple)
2 teaspoons of grainy mustard
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of blueberry jam
1.5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Make the dressing by first combining the mustard, maple syrup, jam, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly add in the olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
2. Toss the dressing with the veggies and let it sit, covered in the fridge for at least an hour.