Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wonderful Waterloo Weekend!

Rose, Noreen and I went to visit Sheena for a wonderful Waterloo weekend. We had not been up there for a long time and it brought back memories of our good old uni days. Sheena and Scott have a lovely, spacious, beautifully decorated apartment. They were fabulous hosts and made sure we had an amazing time. We got very lucky with the weather and made sure we spent most of out time outside for one of the first hot days of the year.

I'm not sure how the guy in the red shirt managed to be in both of those pictures from each side of the picnic table. Haha!

To start off the beautiful day we went to St. Jacob's Farmer's Market for lunch. St. Jacobs is run by the Mennonite community. They are simple people who do not like to use technology (depending on how orthodox they are) and try not to be vain by flaunting weath or beauty.
There were many food stalls with homemade items to choose from. Sheena and I ended up getting the homemade pierogies filled with cheddar cheese and potato served with onions and sour cream. They were delicious!

The market was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods. Rose bought some maple syrup to give her relatives in Sweden when she goes to visit in the summer.
You can see the buggy in the background with is the main mode of transportation for many Mennonites.



Sheena and Scott are looking at some of the homemade baked goods on display. The pies look so good. I want to make a pie from scratch one day. Anyone have a good recipe? I'm a little confused as to why the bagel sign has the word fresh in quotation marks.










Here are some pictures of the beautiful produce available at the market. You can see the cute baby eggplant below.























I loved the gorgeous fresh flower selection as well! It was a great deal- 3 bunches for $10!






















After lunch we went to the village and walked around. It was full of quaint shops with lovely arts and crafts. There was a nice food store called the Farm Pantry- Gourmet Foods and Maple Products. I saw many products that are carried in Whole Foods there. They even carried the spice box, anjarapettai, that Kanchana blogged about! I wonder what the Mennonites use it for?






We stopped by the Bakery as well and saw the delicious baked goods on display.










Then we went to a lovely little chocolate shope! Sheena and Rose got some Turkish delight which was soo fresh and soft. I got some Maple fudge and took it to work where it was devoured!




















We went to a cute crafts store that had beautiful pottery and wood work for sale. I really wanted to see the corn dollies so the girls and I wandered through the whole building looking for them. We got a bit confused and thought the wheat things were called corn dollies but then we finally found them. I think they are so pretty and artistic. Hard to believe it is only made of corn husks!































































What a great day to spend walking around outside!

We made up a cheese plate with brie, havarti and an aged cheddar on a marble lazy susan for Sheena. It looked much prettier before we started eating. I love the pepper jelly from Whole Foods!







Sheena's boyfriend Scott made us an amazing vegetarian dinner. He is a trained chef and won us all over with his culinary prowess! We were such lucky girls!

To start off we had a Greek inspired salad with a beautiful large leaf of lettuce arranged artfully on the plate, tomatoes, feta, apples for bitterness and a perfect vinaigrette to balance out the taste. We were so impressed we ate it immediately and I forgot to take a picture. Trust me, it was really good.

Next we had handmade ravioli with wild mushrooms and a white wine cream sauce and shaved parmesan. It was soooooo good. I love mushrooms. Scott was a little disappointed he forgot to add some enoki mushrooms on top for garnish but it still looked awesome.










Dessert was certainly the piece de resistance! It was a gorgeous vanilla crème caramel with apricot and strawberry compote made with delicious spring berries purchased from the Farmer's Market that morning. The vanilla was from real vanilla bean pods. The aroma is so much sweeter and richer. I was so surprised! We were truly satisfied after that! I learned the difference between a compote and a coulis is that a compote has whole berries whereas a coulis is more like a puree.

I got the recipe for crème caramel to share with you all. I will upload it soon. Scott used his school text book for it but he also has this cool software called ChefTec with all of the recipes on it. You type in the number of people you are cooking for and it changes the quantity of ingredients for you!! So impressive!

Sheena and Scott, thank you so much for our amazing Waterloo trip! I had a wonderful time and can't wait to do it again:)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana

On Easter weekend I went to the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana. My folks and I drove there early Friday morning and got there around lunch and went to see the competition. The music competition this year was huge. When I was a kid it took a few hours and was in one room. This year, it took all day, there were over 300 participants and about 4 rooms in which the judging occurred. Amazing!

I think what made it even more memorable was the freak snowstorm! The poor visiting artists were not prepared for it. No one owned any boots or proper winter coats as you can see in the picture.
My sister organized a raffle and I helped sell tickets. The prizes were 2 violins autographed by all of the artists attending the festival. I was not a very good sales person and kept accidentally asking he artists to buy tickets....oops! The winners were chosen after the Harikatha performance and they both ended up being violinists!
Two very famous dance teachers, Rhadha and Savithri Jaganatha Rao were giving a workshop and I got to spend some time with them. Savithri Aunty was so cute and started calling me 'namesake'! It seemed even more appropriate once we found out we were related. Kanchana and I had a great time and I loved watching them teach their workshops. They gave a wonderful lecture demonstration on the second weekend of the festival.
They were also judges of the dance competition. This is the first year of the dance competition and it was so good. I was really amazed at how talented many of these young teens were! They had come in from all over the US to compete. It is supposed to be broadcast on Jaya TV. If you have that channel you should definitely check it out.
Shankar's cousin Nithya along with some of her family friends, Bala and Hari, had come from Australia. They tried to teach us how to speak with an 'ozzy' accent but it didn't really work out. I just ended up looking foolish when trying to imitate. I think one of my favourites was "t'boo" instead of taboo.
Despite serving freshly prepared South Indian food to all of the attendees we somehow ended up eating Rascal House pizza like every other day....it is a very popular Cleveland chain. Don't worry, we would follow it up with thairu sadam.
Don't you love the flower in Nithya's hair? Shankar said she looked like a Hawaiian dancer and then proceeded to attempt a Hawaiian dance....that was priceless! Here is Divya looking adorable. We are so proud of her for getting accepted to Harvard in the fall! Way to go Divy!Here is Kanchana with Chitra Visweswaran who was the feature dance performance on the first weekend.
Lavanya took me to this awesome outlet with a great GAP store and Bath and Body Works! I got some awesome deals:) She also treated me to a delicious Auntie Anne's Pretzel. We need to get that in Canada. Soo yummy. Both weekends in Cleveland were really fun. If you get a chance to attend, you should go.
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