Saturday, January 30, 2010

I am back!

Sorry everyone, it has been a little while since I have been on here.  Day/night job has been very busy and fun however it is time to return to NOURISH and give it a bit more love and care.

I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching cooking classes at DiVino Wine Studio and The Urban Element.  All classes will be completely different in  terms of food however all come back to the same theory and philosophy of eating a little bit of everything including chocolate, butter, oil and a few sips of wine.  At UE I will also be teaching some teen gourmet cooking classes which I am really looking forward to.

Website is also underway.  I am working with a web designer to launch something you can see with this blog I am not exactly HTML and design savvy...Cooking is my art form, not computers.

So welcome to NOURISH, the goal of this blog will be to bring you healthy meal ideas that don't lack in flavour and bring the European philosophy of eating back to the table.  Given my nutrition background but also my love of gourmet food and eating out I will post some restaurant reviews and travel stories.

Please check back often, I am glad to be back!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Small world....

So I was at the Italian Food and Wine Show and I met a great couple who runs a wine business/coaching/education business named TWC Wine Imports.  We start talking about Italian wines, I mentioned how I was just in Italy and so do they, we talk about what wineries we visited and I mention a small boutique winery in Castellina in Chianti named Poggio Amorelli.  Turns out they had just been there the week before so we spend 10 minutes talking about Marco, the family, the dog, the horse...The point is you have to visit this small family run winery to understand how special it is.  I have been to several wineries but this one, I don't know why was just special, it's like there was magic in the air.  Marco comes out to greet us and even though he is well over 40 I am so drawn to him, something about him is just so attractive...maybe the fact that he makes wine for a living but that is besides the point.  He is so captivating and most importantly passionate about what he does.  We go for a little tour and sit down at long wooden tables and benches for the tasting.  One sip and I am hooked, Jael and I look at eachother and we are hooked.  We order a case to be shipped back to Canada. 

Poggio Amorelli

Poggio Amorelli Chianti Classico, DOCG (my personal favourite)

So next time you are in Castellina in Chianti check out this place, it's worth the trip.  You will sample 5 of their wines, olive oil, grappa with amazing homemade salami and fresh pecorino cheese.  As I said, I don't know what they put in their wine but there is something about this place that is just special...see for yourselves.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Italian Food and Wine Show

Since I miss Italy so much, well especially Tuscany, it was refreshing to attend the Italian Food and Wine Show in Ottawa's Little Italy.  Drank so many wines, tasted some great foods but best of all tasted some fabulous olive oils from Italy, Greece and Morrocco. 

We settled on two:

Extra-Virgin from Olearia San Giorgio (Calabria)

Extra-Virgin from Le Tre Colonne (Bari)

I strongly suggest you treat yourself to some premium oils and most importantly USE THEM, don't let them sit around for years because you want to save them.  People, these are not Barolos, it's olive oil, it oxidizes hence that awful taste you can get at the back of your throat sometimes when you eat it if it has sat on the shelf for too long.  One thing though, don't cook with it, eat it raw as is, on salads, on pasta, bread, antipasto, or drizzled last minute on pizza.

Now my two-cents on nutrition:  Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, these are the healthy fats we should be eating more of.  These are heart healthy and have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease and reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL is bad, HDL is good...think H, Happy=Good).  If it were up to me I would take every corn, soy, vegetable oil out of everyone's pantry, that stuff is truly awful for our bodies, it is so refined and has very little nutritional value.  You may be spending more on olive oil, but it's worth the splurge for both taste and nutritional value.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This is the first time in my life that I have had no idea what I will be doing next week, in a month, two months....and although it's liberating it's getting me nervous.  What if nothing works out?  There are zillions of people out there who love to cook, honestly, what makes me any different.

Even if nothing works out I will always be the #1 cook for the family.  Last night we hosted a celebration for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary.  My favourite part is planning the menu so here it is:

Tuscan Antipasto: Bresaola, Proscuitto, various Pecorino cheeses, olives, bread
 Cristal Champagne, 1993

Primi Piatti
Spaghetti, pancetta, garlic, tomato, basil, Grano Padano
Chianti Castello Poppiano, 2004

Braised veal, white wine, capers, onions, pimentos, sage
Red potatoes, rosemary, black pepper
Zuchinni, basil
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2000

Peach clafouti crostata/shortbread crust
Vanilla bean ice cream

It was great, I never use a recipe so it wouldn't be fair to post one up, have you try it and then complain...maybe I should try writing stuff down...what a concept.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Back ....

So I have returned from France and Italy after an "extended" stay and suffering from post-vacation high. Mostly I am discouraged about the state of our food here. Sure we have tons of it, whatever you want, whenever you want...but that is just the point, it's all mediocre at best. I have never eaten so much white bread, cured meats, full fat cheeses, at one point I ate pure shmaltz flavoured with fennel, who was I? Drinking wine more than water, I wasn't running, or biking..wait, I did a one day bike tour of Chianti but that doesn't count. All this to say I did not gain a pound, never felt healthier, had better skin and was happier than ever.

I am back in Ottawa now exploring new opportunities with this new found love of Tuscan food. I want to embrace it, I am afraid of losing it, so hopefully this will encourage me to keep it alive and inspire me.

Check back for a look back at my trip...once I figure out how to add pictures.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Day back in a kitchen

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the kitchen of an upscale caterer/take home food shop. All I can say is it was HOT. I mean, I was dripping hot. I spent the afternoon slicing and dicing, 30 peppers, 2 kg of mushrooms, 20 onions, then grilling all those vegetables, making mass quantities of salad dressing. 3 pm rolls around and they pull out beers to celebrate a birthday....hmm, I could get used to this and I don't even like beer. The whole time I was thinking " What am I doing? What have I traded in my cushy, air conditioned life for?". But this is what I want, I want to live and breathe food and learn how this whole industry works. We'll see if I stay there or switch around, only time will tell.

The day finished off with a fabulous dinner at the Gastropub: tuna sashimi and then halibut...I love that place way too much, nowhere in Ottawa even comes close.

On another note, please excuse the temporary lack of pictures. 1) I am not super computer savvy so I have yet to figure out how to put a picture exactly where I want it. 2) Not a huge picture taker, I refuse to take pictures of the food in a restaurant. I will take pictures if it's a birthday, special event..but of the people, not just of the food. So I guess this makes this blog kind of boring but just be patient please.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New beginnings

I am not a writer.  I am not a photographer, nor am I a chef.  I am a cook, an entertainer, I enjoy making people think about food and what they are eating.  The world does not need another blog,  Twitter account or Facebook page, so I am not going to write on and on about my dinners, desserts.  This is to document an adventure since the ending to this is nowhere in sight.  I have no idea where this is going to take me; all I know is that it will involve food.
I recently moved back to Ottawa from Montreal, a city I loved so much for a job in healthcare, I have subsequently left that successful job in health research to pursue my passion and take a job that pays me a third of what I was making.  No condo in Westboro just yet...
I decided against medical school even though I knew I was fully capable of it and would make a great physician but I didn’t love it, my heart and soul were not in it.  Someone told me not too long ago “Do what you love Larissa and 1. You will never work a day in your life, 2. The world will love you for it”.  Although I had heard that before many times, it had never been so crystal clear, so I thank you.  What a revelation, do what you love...
So this is what I am doing, I am giving what I love an honest shot, I have no idea where it will take me but I am excited for the journey.  The purpose of this blog will be to write about the ups and downs of following my passion.   I will share some recipes and food stuff but it will not be literary in any way, trust me.  I write scientific papers, that is all I know how to write.  I am blunt, to the point and sarcastic.
My past week has involved meetings with Ottawa food people, which I am surprised to say, Ottawa has a great dining scene going on with great food, which is local, organic and well prepared.  Not bad.  I am finding out what is needed, what there is too much and how I can make some sort of difference. 
My background in nutrition will be my foundation, what I will build this around.  However, I am all about going all out, I love, wine, cheese and olive oil too much and do not eliminate anything from the diet.
I leave on Sunday for Europe for 12 days with Jael, one of my best girlfriends and hope to come back full of inspiration for next steps.   I will be enlisting the help of many close friends who have encouraged me from day one to do this so I will keep you posted.
Create it, make it, eat it, have a good glass of wine and life is good, the end.