Category Archives: EVENTS

The Happening Too – Bridging the Gap


A Happening Too - Bridging the Gap(2)




“A Happening ” 2014 photo from Bacchus Sommelier ServicesSometimes a great notion deserves a reprise.  Last year, for instance, Go Cooking and Chef Ken Lefebour of the Dundas catering company Nellie James Gourmet   to Go, teamed up to throw a fabulous party in the       Spectator auditorium.  Called “A Happening”, the event was in support of Hamilton’s Interval House and the Spectator’s Summer Camp Fund.  The festivities included live music, visual artists and performing artists, along with hors d’oeuvres especially created by the Chef and wine chosen by Peter Kline’s Bacchus Sommelier Services.  It turned out to be such a groovy evening that we decided to have another go this year.

The 2015 version has been dubbed “A Happening Too – Bridging the Gap” and will take place on Saturday, June the 6th, from 7 – 10 p.m., once again in the Spectator auditorium.  Chef Ken is designing some toothsome and tasty tid-bits for our guests to devour throughout the evening along with their wine from Bacchus Sommelier Services.  Tickets are $80 per person, 2 for $150 and groups of ten for $730, and will soon be available at The Hamilton Spectator – Customer Service Desk open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  or from Nellie James Gourmet Food to Go, 144 King St West, Dundas – 905-627-3252.

This year the entertainment is centred upon “bridging the gap” between generations, so you can expect to enjoy a hearty dose of nostalgia.  Here is a quick peek at just a few of the featured artists:

happ2mimiMimi Shaw, according to CBC news,(!/artists/Mimi-Shaw)”is an “alt-country” artist with a voice that bends the lines of roots, country and Americana …  Deeply influenced by vintage country and roots artists, Mimi’s evocative music hints at past greats like The Carter Sisters, Hank Williams, Hank Snow and Patsy Cline.  Modern influences, the likes of Emmy-Lou Harris, Margo Timmins and Lucinda Williams, can be felt as well.”  Shaw has been  nominated for the 2015 Hamilton Music Awards Best Female Artist of the Year.

Laura Cole (“ is originally from Ancaster and is also a Hamilton Music happ2lauracAwards nominee.  “Her musical journey has led her from LA, to Toronto and to Nashville, where she began in earnest writing her own songs  — a blend of old jazz and blues with a new age twist.”  Chef Ken characterizes her style as a sort of bluesy, soul music.

Burnin Ethyl ( ) is a three person group, a 50’s rock and roll band featuring Trevor Rogers, Craig Koshul and drummer Steve Sinnick. They have been playing since the 1970’s and bring a ’50’s feel to blues, country and rockabilly.

Hut Museum includes Curtis Lefebour, Chef Ken’s brother.  Chef Ken describes it as a band that was popular 25 years ago in Hamilton and they will be playing music that recalls the ’80’s.


“Sacred Arboreal Image” Dave Hind

Visual artists will also “doing their thing” on site.  You can expect to find “thing-maker” Dave Hind. (As you may recall he did the poster for last year’s “Happening.”)  Hind works with metal and reclaimed materials — aluminum and reclaimed steel, for instance — making objects that are both functional and formally elegant.  Often the sculptural objects play on the juxtaposition of the natural with the industrial.


“City Wave” Sanjay B. Patel

Painter Sanjay B. Patel paints abstract artworks in acrylic, creating commissioned works for specific spaces. The artworks are notable for their energetic, gestural brushwork and a palette that is based in nature.

And, as a special treat, there will be a fashion component to the evening.  Blackbird Studios on James St North is an irresistible stop on the Friday night Art Crawl.  The women’s clothing shop bills itself as a Canadian designer label and fashion house “with years of experience catering to the demands of rock stars, roller girls, burlesque artists, fashion misfits and fashionistas.” (  The specialties of the  designers (Buckshot and Kiki), include vintage reproductions and you can watch for models clothed in ’50’s fashions strolling around during the evening, adding glamour to the “Rock around the Clock” ambiance.


So — combine all of this live and lively entertainment with great food and wine and you are looking at an experience that far transcends dinner and a movie.  Hope to see you there.

And here’s a recipe for the dessert at Chef Ken’s sold out, up-coming Go Cooking session:

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

from Chef Ken Lefebour, Nellie James Gourmet to Go

Bread Pudding Ingredients:happ2chocchips

1/4 cup water

12 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 litre 35% cream

2 cups sugar

vanilla to taste

1 loaf Italian bread cut into 2″ pieces

approximately 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


1)  Whisk eggs for one minute.

2)  Add sugar and whisk until pale, about 3 – 4 minutes.

3) Add cream, water and vanilla and combine.

4)  Place bread in a large pan and pour mixture over bread.

5)  Toss bread in mixture and press.

6)  Let rest for 10 minutes.

7)  Grease a second large pan well.

8)  Remove bread from first pan and evenly distribute bread in second pan.

9)  Pour remaining liquid over the bread and press firmly.

10)  Sprinkle chocolate chips over mixture.

11)  Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

12)  Remove foil after 20 minutes.

13)  Serve with butterscotch sauce.

Butterscotch Ingredients:

1/3 lb unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 1/4 cups of sugar

2 cups of 35% cream

1/4 cup water


1)  Over medium high heat, melt sugar to golden, swirl in pan.

2)  Add butter, cream and water and reduce heat to medium.

3)  Whisk gently to combine, approximately 10 minutes.

4)  Remove from heat, cool and continue to whisk occasionally.



Feasting for Philanthropy


Fine dining and hospitals may seem to be in categories that are widely divergent. Nevertheless, an event which combines the two is taking place this month (until March 19th).  Called “The Feast for St. Joseph’s”,  the “Feast” allows Hamilton restaurant patrons a chance to enjoy a delectable dinner at one of several local restaurants knowing that 10% of their bill will be going to benefit our very own St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

This is the second year running for this singular Hamilton promotion which has been very well received. The idea was the brainchild of the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation’s Director of Special Events who had noticed the popularity of events such as “A Taste of Burlington”.  It seems that in Hamilton, as in Burlington, this period of frigid weather is a slow time of year and several restaurants responded with alacrity to an idea that would encourage some brisk business.  And our local foodies were thrilled at the chance to “eat well” and, at the same time, “do good.”   The dozen restaurants involved are from all across the city — from Ancaster’s Old Mill, to downtown’s Lo Presti’s at Maxwell’s, to Stoney Creek’s Vicar’s Vice — well — a whole list of the participating restaurants can be found at the website at

Helping to support healthcare is a no-brainer because we know that sooner or later either we ourselves, our friends or someone in our family will need these services.  Carrie Trembinski, Director of Marketing and Communications for the St. Joseph’s Foundation says that equipment and research are the priorities for any monies raised and just a glance at the website’s list of needed equipment and the cost of these items is a chastening experience.  A few examples —

Blanket Warmers — cost $5000 each — to warm up blankets for newborn babies, a sick child or for someone recovering from treatment or surgery;

Ultra Sound Machine — cost $250,000 each — for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions;

IV Pumps – cost $7901 each — to ensure that patients receive correct fluids, medications or nutrients at all times.

And not only do we want all of this costly equipment available close to our own homes, but we also require on-going research so that cutting edge treatment remains a viable option. There are three areas of priority right now at St. Joe’s, in terms of research:

1)  Mental Health and Addiction Services:  St Joseph’s is currently the regional leader in psychiatric care and research. Phase 1 of the newly constructed West 5th campus opened in February, 2014, helping to support individuals and families coping with mental illness and addiction.  Phase 2 is in the works.

2)  Lung and Airway Diseases: St. Joseph’s provides treatment for rare and complex thoracic conditions including thoracic surgery, lung cancer, emphysema, COPD (chronic pulmonary disease, a long term incurable lung disease)) and CHF (congestive heart failure).

3)  Kidney and Urinary Tract Diseases:  St. Joseph’s is a centre of innovation in kidney care.  For instance, surgeons at St. Joseph’s Hospital have a long history of advances in the treatment and diagnosis of kidney stones.  In 1990, St. Joseph’s became the second hospital in Ontario to offer lithotripsy, a non-invasive way to break up stones in the kidney, ureter or bladder.  The service was the busiest in the world and today treats more than 1200 patients a year.  In 1993, St. Joseph’s urologists were the first to treat a human for kidney stones using a homium laser, a treatment now used around the world.  Currently, fund raising has begun for a new dialysis centre.

I offer these few examples because I know that sometimes there is a “disconnect” between philanthropy and its benefits.  But these services(and equipment) are not only close to our home, but close to the bone and to our hearts.  And here’s a way of helping by offering a small gift that’s not too expensive and having a great evening out, at the same time.

And since you probably don’t want to cook up an item from the hospital’s menu (we’ll save that discussion for a later date), here’s a recipe from one of the participating restaurants which just happens to be one of our Go Cooking favorites as well.

Braised Jack Daniels Back Ribs

from Chef Tim Doan, Lo Presti’s at Maxwell’s mar19backribs


rack of ribs

2 tbsp salt

bay leaves

1 tsp peppercorns

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup Jack Daniels

Granny Smith apples peeled and coredMar19jackdan

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

2 cups ketchup

1/3 cup cider vinegar

3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly paked

3/4 cup molasses

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup tomato paste


1)  Place the ribs into a pot and completely submerge in water.

2)  Add 2 tbsp salt, bay leaves, peppercorns and white vinegar.

3)  bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.

4)  Cook for about 45 minutes or until tender.

5)  Remove the ribs from the pot and place into a braising pan.

6)  Remove 2 cups of the rib stock and set aside.

7)  Sauté onions, garlic and apples on medium heat until cooked.

8)  Add all remaining ingredients, bring to boil.

9)  Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

10) Add more Jack Daniels if desired.

11) Add the rib stock to the sauce and mix.

12) Pour the sauce over the ribs, cover and braise in a 375 degree F oven for about another 1, to 1 and 1/2 hours, or until the meat is about to fall off the bone.

My Notes:

And don’t forget the up-coming road race after all of that fine restaurant food.


Stocking up


It may surprise you to know that there is an on-going debate on the Internet as to whether one should drink or eat one’s soup.  Well, I say, it matters naught whether you use a spoon and a bowl or two hands holding a cup, when you have the urge to ingest this divine, semi-liquid food — just go for it.

I’m thinking about soup because of the weather (Don’t you just crave a bowl of hot tasty food during these bone-chilling, icy-blue and white, February days?) but also because February is the month for Hamilton’s SoupFest!  one of our jolliest annual celebrations.  This year it’s “Soupfest!-13-“, taking place on Tuesday, February 24th from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hamilton Convention Centre on Summers Lane.

At Soupfest you will be able to try four bowls of soup for $12 (advance ticket, $15 at door) which may sound inadequate, but I have attended this event a couple of times, and believe me, this will fill you up.  The soups are being made by 21 local restaurants — places such as Baci Ristorante, West Plains Bistro, My-Thai Restaurant, Cascata Bistro — for the complete list, check out the poster on the Living Rock website

— and there will be entertainment throughout the day.

One of the high points of the event is the contest.  Participants can vote on their favorite soups and the results are tallied under a great cloak of secrecy and announced the next day.  Last year’s winners were:

Best Display – Collins’ Brewhouse

Best Locally Grown — Detour Cafe

Most Creative – Baci Ristorante

Best Soup – 4th Course Bistro at Copetown Woods

Chef’s Choice — The Harbour Diner

Soupfest is sponsored by First Ontario Credit Union as a benefit for Living Rock Ministries.  Living Rock supports youth ages 13 – 25 who are at risk of falling through the cracks in our community from factors such as poverty, mental illness, addiction or disenfranchisement.  The organization provides everything from meal programs to a food bank, from safe and relevant social and recreational programming, to pre-employment and employment programs.  So you can feel good enjoying your soup and, at the same time, feel good about yourself for helping out your community.

I believe that every ethnic group has some favored type of soup and I am avid to try all of them from creamy to chunky, from chowder to bouillon.  And I love the process of making soup; you get to be as creative as you like using up leftovers in the refrigerator with abandon, or you can follow the recipe and just leave the results simmering on the stove for a few hours.  Making soup provides the perfect cooking situation for writers — drop a few things into the broth, go back to the computer for a few minutes, chop a few things, add them to the soup, taste for salt, and back to the keyboard.  All done to the accompaniment of that spicy humid vapour that is curling a finger to beckon you back into the kitchen.

Anyway, I like to challenge myself occasionally and this year decided that I was going to learn how to make proper consommé with crystal clear, transparent, sparkling stock.  I checked out Julia’s recipe (Julia Child) and decided that I needed a bit more simplicity so turned to the Internet where I found Daniel Boulud‘s method. (Boulud is that world famous chef from Lyon with award winning restaurants all over the world.)  Here is a video from Saveur of how Boulud makes chicken consommé and clarifies the stock:é


You may want to eat the delicious stock simply poured over a few julienned vegetables or cooked rice or fine noodles.  Or, if you are feeling more ambitious, here is a recipe that uses the stock for a soup that is light, yet has a real intensity of flavour.

Thai Fish Soup

from “The Soup Bible”, editor Deborah Mayhew 


12 oz large zipperback shrimpsoupfestthaifish

1 tbsp peanut oil

5 cups chicken (or fish) stock

1 lemon grass stalk, bruised and cut into 1 inch lengths

2 kaffir lime leaves torn into pieces

juice and finely grated rind of 1 lime

1/2 fresh green chili, seeded and finely sliced

4 scallops

24 mussels scrubbed

4 oz. firm white fish (monkfish?) cut into chunks

2 tsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

Garnish:  1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded, 1/2 red chili, finely sliced


1) Peel the shrimps reserving the shells.

2) Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the shells until pink.  Add the stock, lemon grass, lime leaves, lime rind and chili.  Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes, then strain through a sieve, reserving the liquid.

3)  Prepare the scallops by cutting them in half, leaving the corals attached to one half.

4)  Return the stock to a clean pan, add the shrimp, mussels, monkfish and scallops and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and nam pla.

5)  Serve garnished with the shredded lime leaf and finely chopped red chili.

My Notes:

You should be able to find the nam pla (Thai fish sauce) and the kaffir lime leaves in the Thai section of your grocery store.  If you can’t find the kaffir leaves, use coriander (cilantro).  The fish sauce doesn’t taste terribly “fishy”, but it’s quite salty, so no extra salt is required.  The soup ends up looking like all of the bounty of the sea suspended in the very clear stock.



Women and chocolate


A moment of irritating indecision.  A moment of regret.

I am in a coffee shop/patisserie in Berlin.  I have been walking and walking and walking and sightseeing and sightseeing and am ready to sit, rest and refresh.  There is a lineup at the counter and as I wait, I spot the most incredible pastry, drizzled with glossy ganache, filled with chocolate cream and some sort of rich looking custard.  I immediately covet it, but the shop is lined with mirrors and as I look up, a solitary lady of “a certain age”, in the corner catches my eye.  She is sitting at a tiny marble topped table, ignoring her cup of coffee and avidly eating this very pastry with chin-quivering, unrestrained gusto.  And she is very, very — chubby.  I DO NOT want to be that lady so much that I order my double espresso, pay for it, drink it quickly at the counter and continue on my way.

And I’m still annoyed when I think about that moment of self denial that was occasioned by irrationality and false impressions and years and years of conditioning.  It’s a small thing, an unremarkable, trivial incident, but it was a lesson in how not to think for yourself, how not to be yourself.  Surely not enjoying that chocolate-drenched pastry was just as foolish as scoffing down five them would have been.  And, yes, it is a feminist issue.


Almost everyone loves to eat chocolate, but for a long time, it was deemed a “sin” which was linked mainly to women.  It was a perceived link — “women plus chocolate equals sexual bliss” — that really has no basis in either history or science.  It is a link, in fact, that has been perpetrated by the market place, a way to sell chocolate to both men and women.

Chocolate was thought of as not only naughty, but fattening and unhealthy and eating chocolate was equated with self indulgence of the very worst kind; it was something that was done behind closed doors because of the dire consequences that awaited.  Fortunately that idea has changed over the last couple of years because of the discovery of “flavonoids”, those chemical compounds that are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Flavonoids (actually flavonols, in chocolate) are good for your cardiovascular system and chocolate, at least the dark kind, is full of them. (They’re also in apples, tea, onions, cranberries and — whoo hoo — red wine, apparently.)

Anyway, on February 5th, I am going to be making my way down to Liuna Station to upload my flavonol quota with absolutely no regrets.  The event that I am attending is called “Chocolate Fest” — “The 11th Annual Chocolate Fest and Silent Auction”, to be precise, and it is a benefit for SACHA, the Hamilton Sexual Assault Centre. 


The chocolate fest is described as “an elegant evening of chocolate treats from Hamilton and area premier chocolatiers, bakeries and restaurants” — places such as Weils of Westdale, Beanermunkey, Denningers, Hotti Biscotti — for a complete list of the over 20 local businesses, check out the website at

SACHA “supports survivors of sexual assaults while working to end violence in our community.” The organization bills itself as a feminist, non-profit, community based group of women, guided by anti racist and anti-oppressive values.  SACHA volunteers work to provide services to people who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their lives.  The organization provides education, advocacy and coalition building, community partnerships and activism and works toward the equitable inclusion of all women.  If you feel that you need help from SACHA, you should know that all inquiries are absolutely private and confidential.  For an overview of SACHA’s programs and resources check out their website

I think it’s very clever of SACHA to have taken a tongue-in-cheek look at the stereotyping of “women who lust for chocolate” and I hope you will join me in an evening of self indulgence and good cheer on February 5th.

And, in the meantime, here’s a divinely decadent hot fudge sauce that you can keep in the refrigerator.  Just warm it up in the microwave before pouring it over ice cream or cake, or whatever (or whomever), pleases your fancy. Eat it happily all at once, or in occasional little spoonfuls whenever you feel the need to treat yourself.

Hot Fudge Sauce

from Gourmet magazine, February 2004.


2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 oz fine quality bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla


1)  Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1 – 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.

2) Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

3)  Add butter, vanilla and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth.  Cool sauce to warm before serving.

My Notes:

Can be kept in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.








Friday, November 14 Prix Fixe Dinner To Go

I was on the phone with Ken Lefebour when he had started the Confit…..this is definitely made with LOVE!! Enjoy!

Nellie James Gourmet Food To Go

Appetizer: Confit of Berkshire Pork Head with Wasabi Arugula and Apple Cider Vinegar.

Main Course: Truffled Mac and Cheese.

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse.

Cost is $36.00 for two people, plus taxes. Please call 905-627-3252 to order

View original post

Local Food Forum

Join us for a great conversation about local food!

Cropped (for E-newsletter)Join us for an evening of informative discussion as we learn about some of the complex issues regarding local food in Ontario. With the participation of some of our Mustard Seed suppliers, we’ll hear questions answered and stories shared in an honest and open discussion. Click “attending” and stay updated on the Local Food Forum on Facebook!

Forum Panelists


Marty Strub

Owner + Operator of Marty’s Pickles – Hamilton, Ontario

Marty has been making pickles his whole life, and brings the process back to the basics. Using only Ontario-grown produce and ingredients, his pickles are brined in small barrel batches and hand-packed. Marty says that his products will always be small-scale, handmade, and local. Come to the food forum to hear Marty share about the joys and challenges of basing your business around those values, and what that looks like in the context of small-scale distribution.

tim barry 2


View original post 385 more words

Wanderers of the Night: Part 2

Merry1 001

August is usually prime time for eating out of doors, and last night, at ManoRun Organic Farms, the weather didn’t let our merry band of diners down.  All day, I had wondered about rain and it was overcast as I drove towards Copetown.  But as soon as I parked the car near the big red barn, the sky cleared up and the late afternoon sun gilded the fields so that all looked as peaceful and pastoral as a Constable painting.

The event, of course, was the “The Oak Savannah — A Story Told in Five Courses”, the moveable feast put on by Chris Krucker and Denise Trigatti at ManoRun Farms, with food by Chef Ken LeFebour of Nellie James Gourmet to Go, wine by Flat Rock Cellars and accompanying artworks by Dave Hind.  I would guesstimate that there were about 75 happy and hungry guests who made the pilgrimage to the farm and I thought you might enjoy a picture story of the evening’s events:

Merry1 021

The sun came out!

Merry1 003


Merry1 026

the pond

Merry1 010

The sommelier discusses the wine.

The guests were organized into three groups — just for logistical reasons — but that also made it easy to chat and make new friends.  Dinners (three separate dinners — yes, we were very full by the end!) were served to us by the charming young interns on the farm and we ate at three different stations.  Throughout the evening, everyone trekked around the farm to have a look at where our food came from and to experience the artworks which surprised us at every turn.

Merry1 013

Dave Hind, artist and “thingmaker”

Merry1 015

Chef Ken LeFebour, Dave Hind and two guests from Dundas

Merry1 018

Merry1 023

The path to the mushroom farm – artworks by Dave Hind

Merry1 024

Where the mushrooms are grown

Apparently the mushroom spores are put into holes drilled in the oak logs and then sealed with bees wax.  There are no visible mushrooms because they had all been harvested for one of the courses of our dinner.

Merry1 027

The mushrooms ready to eat — with blue corn polenta

The different types of mushrooms were served with blue corn polenta.  Chris Krucker made the point that corn is symbolic of the very best, most authentic, traditional food that we can eat but also the most notorious genetically modified crop.

Merry1 007

As the sun went down, we began to wonder if we should have worn ski jackets (or long underwear).  The fair trade, organic coffee from Coffeecology definitely hit the spot.  And the dessert was exceptional:  a black walnut tart made by Chef Ken from real, very scarce, black walnuts.  What an interesting combination of flavours:  The pungent, earthy taste of the walnuts was a perfect foil for the tart bite of the crême fraiche and the sweetness of the ManoRun maple syrup.

A big thank you to all who worked so hard to create this magical evening.  And a reminder, that artist Dave Hind will be having a special event on September 20th at ManoRun.  Keep your eye on the website.

Merry1 028


%d bloggers like this: