The first light cover of snow is on the ground and there are only four more Saturdays left before Christmas. If you aren’t in the mood yet, why not get yourself down to Ottawa Street on Friday evening where the BIA is hosting a pre-holiday celebration called “Sew This Is Christmas.” This is the second year for the special event (from 4 – 8 p.m.), and you will find Christmas trees for sale, free on-street parking, a food and toy drive and live music from the Hamilton Blues Jazz Band. The Delta High School choir will be singing Christmas music and selling hot chocolate and if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, you must be the world’s most determined grinch.
Patty Hayes, Executive Director of the Ottawa Street BIA, says that the idea for this special event came about because people in the east end had expressed disappointment that there was no midnight madness or local Christmas pageantry, now that the Centre Mall was no longer an indoor shopping space. Last year, Hayes, recalls, the first, worst blizzard of the winter marred the fun. But this year, the Weather Network claims that Friday will be just fine and Hamilton’s own “EastEnders”, as well as the rest of us, should have easy access to an evening of inspired festivity.
A bit of history, for those from out of town: Ottawa Street is known traditionally as Hamilton’s street for the textile trade. At one time, it was lined with fabric stores that sold all of the necessary accoutrements for sewing and dressmaking — I remember my frugal mother-in-law bringing me there to pick out material for curtains that she would sew for my very first married-lady nest. Homage has been paid to this heritage by branding the street with creative references to mannequins and spools of thread, buttons and thimbles. But while the street still has fabric shops, it is now known more for its antiques, art and consignment shops, places to find treasures and collectibles and, of course, a busy open air market which takes place every Saturday.
If you decide to come on Friday, you should definitely come hungry. In addition to several charming on-site restaurants, on Friday night, eleven food trucks will be on hand to whet your appetite. Here’s a sampling of the trucks:
Southern Smoke: featuring southern style brisket, pulled pork and chicken, smoked on all natural hardwood. The truck will be decorated for the season, there will be Christmas music and they will be serving their specialty hot chocolate with marshmallows.
The Hamilton Funnel Cake Truck: offering fresh cut fries, poutine, deep fried Mars Bars and, of course, funnel cake in all of its guises.
Tony’s Corner StrEATery: bringing gyros, souvlaki, awesome Greek salad and other Greek specialties to the streets. On Friday, a special treat, homemade baklava and spanakopita, a savory pastry.
Lifestream Nourishing Beverages: providing hot beverages, as well as fresh and wholesome, healthy smoothies, made to order, in a fabulous, vintage Airstream trailer.
Karma ChaMEALeon: serving vegan food and catering, with 100% plant-based food that promotes sustainable farming practices and the ethical treatment of animals; veggie burgers, vegan dogs and gluten-free specialties; alternatives to traditional street food served from their big green truck.
Dobro Jesti: making schnitzel, many ways; Portabello mushroom schnitzel for non-meat eaters, potato soup, risotto rice balls packed with goat cheese. Bring an unwrapped toy to the truck and receive free Mr. Schnitz’s Bits (garlic doughnuts with Parmesan sprinkle.) Watch for a surprise menu item.
Jonny Blonde: best known for succulent fire-grilled meats, bold sauces and homemade flatbread. The chef is formerly from Cumbraes in Dundas.
Dirty South: Bbq food that sets itself apart with a gourmet twist on Southern comfort food. All sauces and seasonings made from scratch, crispy fried chicken, hickory smoked pork and pulled pork.
For a complete list check out the website at
Hope to see you there.
And an update:
Hamilton’s Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com has returned to Canada after being chosen as one of the five international contestants to take part in the Visit Seoul Global Fusion Recipe Contest. While the grand prize went to a Malaysian couple from Britain for their chicken soup, Chris’s recipe for Caribbean-styled Korean Fried Chicken won a special mention. And along with memories of an incredible experience, Chris returned with offers to take part in televised cooking shows both in Seoul and Hong Kong.
We were just glad to have him back at Go Cooking session on Tuesday night where he made our guests very happy with Coconut Shrimp Bisque, Caribbean Stuffed Jerk Chicken and Guinness Stout Ice Cream (recipe follows).
Congratulations Chris and welcome back.
Guinness Stout Ice Cream
from Chef Chris De La Rosa, www.CaribbeanPot.com
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Guinness Extra Stout or regular Guinness (one 11 – 12 oz bottle)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1) Put sugar and salt in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Toss in the egg yolks and whisk them together until uniform Then add the heavy cream and whisk again until uniform
2) Set the pot on the stove over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly. (Do not stop or you will end up with scrambled eggs.)
3) Your mixture is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. This should take 3 or 4 minutes, depending on your stove.
4) Strain the mixture into a large bowl, add the Guinness (or any stout you like). Add the vanilla and whisk gently until uniform.
5) Give the mixture a taste. This is your finished flavour. If you want to add more vanilla, etc., do it now.
6) Chill the mixture until completely cold, about 4 -6 hours in the fridge. (Tip: Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture in the bowl to prevent any sort of skin forming on it as it cools.)
7) Once it’s chilled, process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
No — it doesn’t taste like beer!