Sheppard’s Pie

Psyche here

There are as many schools of thought about Sheppard’s Pie as there are the people making it.

I am a lover of all things gravy, so when I make mine, I simmer the meat in gravy as the bottom layer, add a layer of corn, and then top it with mash that’s been lovingly seasoned with summer savory.  The very top gets a healthy dose of butter because, well, butter is love, isn’t it?

I find that comfort foods like these are one of the things that connect me with my mom and Nanny.  When I eat it, I’m a step closer to them and it makes me feel better when I’m down.

What do you put in yours?  Is it a comfort food for you?


Home Cookin’

Nyx Here:

I don’t want everyone to think we only eat fast food.  That actually couldn’t be further from the truth.  We cook a LOT, we love to cook, it’s art and passion.  In fact, we’ve both worked in kitchens in the past.  But, we work a taxing job and every now and then we need someone else to do the cooking for us, hence all the pizza reviews.

There are two places in particular that we buy our fresh food from.  Pete’s Frootique and Gateway Meat Market.

There are plenty of reasons we have chosen these grocers to feed our little family.  For Pete’s, it’s about quality and variety, and there’s a whole lotta both.  Pete’s, for me, is like a candy shop and a toy shop all rolled into one.  It actually excites me to go there.  They stock a LOT of locally sourced products, and their Organic section is growing (and surprisingly, the organics aren’t actually that much more expensive).  If you’re looking for something exotic, Pete’s is usually good for it.  And the cheeses, oh my god, the cheeses….

With Gateway, it’s about living on a budget, which is not to say the quality isn’t there, because it is, but it comes down to being able to get a month’s worth of meat (mostly chicken breast) for under $200.00.  The fact that the fresh meat is also almost all local (*Canadian) and of very high quality is an added bonus that we truly appreciate.  I’ve seen some snobby folks give them nasty reviews, but I honestly think those people are so accustomed to imported, water logged tripe, they don’t remember what real food tastes like.  When I unwrap a package of chicken breasts and I see a few bits of feather still attached, that speaks to me of real farming, not this mechanically processed junk that comes in on a truck.  I don’t eat beef very often, but let me tell you, they carry a mean slab of prime rib.  And when I do eat steak, I eat it rare.  Like, blue rare, not “pink”.  I want it to moo when I stick my fork in it.  When you eat your steak like I do, and you can thoroughly enjoy it and not have it come back to haunt you a few hours later, you know it’s a good cut of beef.

Gateway also carries a wide variety of produce and other grocery items, and sometimes the sales will make your eyes bug out.  We buy the bulk of our months groceries at gateway, and restock and grab those specialty items at Pete’s the rest of the month.  It’s a beautiful thing, it really is.  We eat very well with a minimal budget, and we still have money to eat at the previously-blogged-about fast food joints when we’re feeling especially lazy.

These two little chunks of paradise mean we only have to give the big chain places a tiny portion of our grocery budget, for things like cat litter, shampoo, and well, you know, the personal stuff.

For me, these shops both rate:

♥♥♥♥♥/5


Snappy Tomato – Barrington Street

Psyche says:

We recently discovered Snappy Tomato.  Kind of impressed.  They have some good noms there, and the prices are decent.

I’ve quite fallen for the chicken quesadillas.  I’ve always been a fan of food you eat with your fingers ( It tastes ever so much nicer, doesn’t it?)  Having said that, I’m also a fan of anything with sour cream and salsa attached, so that may be coloring my opinion somewhat.

We’ve tried several things from the menu.  The pizza is pretty good, nice sauce, though a bit sweet for my top five list.  The fries were great – crisp, which is strange for delivery .   The gravy is the powdered stuff – sad because it’s not hard to make gravy in a restaurant – I know because I used to do it myself.  It tastes better and the customer appreciates that sort of homey touch.

All in all, though, unless you are looking for “gourmet”, this is a good place to start.

My rating:

♥♥♥♥/5

Nyx says:

Snappy Tomato is definitely my new favorite place of the pizza persuasion.

I just love the fries they have now, they’re crispy coated instead of the plain old boring soggy strips of wet pizza box most places are serving.  Definitely the best delivery fries out there.

I always get the donair egg rolls, they’re one of my sins.  Even with delivery, they always seem fresh from the fryer.  I appreciate a bit of grease dripping down my chin.  The onion rings are also a favorite of mine, they seem to be the only place that cooks them properly, crispy but not overcooked.

The felafel is also pretty impressive, nice and crispy on the outside without being dry.

My last order from them was the 1/2 chicken rotisserie dinner.  A bit dry for my tastes, but I get that’s how most people like it and they’re probably paranoid about poisoning people with undercooked chicken.  Fair enough.  It was still damned tasty and that’s what barbecue sauce is for anyway.

I won’t say every order has been perfect, but they have definitely served us the most consistently pleasant meals of all the pizza places we’ve tried.

My rating:

♥♥♥♥/5


Alexandra’s Pizza – Halifax, Queen Street

Psyche here

Yes, we eat pizza.   Everyone does.  We tend to have a split stance on toppings.  I prefer the standards of pepperoni, green pepper and mushroom, while Nyx and the wee one go for the more exotic stuff.

What can I say?  I’m a traditionalist.

We tend to have Alexandra’s as our stand by place.  The prices are okay, and the food is too.  I’ve not got any strong opinions either way but when you’re hungry, it’s a place to eat food.

I do, however, like the idea of not being limited to only pizza which I found is the case at a lot of places.  They have a pretty good menu for choices, if you want something well, NOT pizza, but still a bit on the “boy I could be eating healthier, but what the hell” scale.

My rating for them is:

♥♥♥1/2 /5

Nyx Here:

As far as pizza joints go, this one isn’t the worst.  The pizza itself is pretty good, but the other fare leaves a bit to be desired.  Seriously….stay away from the appetizers….

I’ve been disappointed as often as not, but I get that they’re busy and that lends a tendency to rush orders through.

If I’m in the mood for pizza, it’s a pretty good place to order from, but when I want something else, they won’t be my first choice.

I give them:

♥♥♥/5


Balance

Hi there, Nyx here.

I’d like to address where we stand on the issue of food and health.

There are a lot of diets out there these days.  The Paleo diet seems to be the big thing now, the idea that people should only eat “whole foods”, nothing processed, like paleolithic man.  I won’t pretend to understand all of it, but it seems to me that those who feel that’s the ultimate diet believe we stopped evolving in the paleolithic era.  Also, Paleo man ate a LOT of bugs.  If I wanted a handful of roaches on my pizza, I’d move into the building down the street.  The fact is, prehistoric man ate basically whatever he could find to survive.  I found Pete’s Frootique and the local pizza delivery directory, so yeah, I’m doing alright.

Eating healthy is great, it’s good for the body.  I’m all for healthy, sustainable, local, gmo free, 100% organic food.  But we believe in balance.  Eating a strict diet is not balance.  It addresses the body issue, everyone is obsessed with the body issue, but they forget about the soul.  The soul, like the body, needs nourishment, and a plate of grass just doesn’t always cut it.  I don’t know about  you, but my soul craves cheesecake, made with actual cream cheese.  It craves gooey filled chocolates and potatoes deep fried in what isn’t good for me.  Balance is key.  I don’t eat only cheesecake and fries, but I don’t only eat organic salad and grass fed organic beef and bugs either.

Maybe I’ll leave this earth a few years sooner because of the gooey yumminess, but dammit, I’m gonna enjoy the ride, and that’s worth something.

A bit from Psyche:

I agree 100% with Nyx on this.  The paleo man/woman/human/entity may have eaten some of this stuff, but these days, we have access to other foods that are still good for us and available without resorting to grubs and grass.  We have evolved our agricultural knowledge to enable us to have these foods readily available to us for most of the year – if you want to stay buying local, and all year if you’re okay with importing food. ( FTR, I prefer seasonal)

I strongly have my doubts that paleo peeps have access to this sort of thing, as the paleo peep ate where he or she could, however she could.  Things like this were just not a common part of the diet.  Explain to me how a northern hemisphere tribe would have access to cinnamon, please?

The word “diet”, that nasty, confidence killing four letter word.  Indeed.  The term diet actually is an old English word meaning ” a way of life”.   Modern society has bastardized redefined the word to mean ” eat nothing but the absolute minimum to survive and exercise the shit out of yourself until you collapse on your way to smell what bread smells like.”

That is not the meaning of the word.  It is not a verb.   To DIET is probably one of the most harmful words we have reclaimed.  Society tells us we have to be tiny little waifs in order to be accepted, and to do this we “diet”.   We kill ourselves to be thin – hence the spelling of the word.  You can’t have “diet” without “DIE”.

Moderation.  Such a lovely and melodic word.  Say it with me, my friends…♫moderation♪…see how it trips lightly off of your tongue and into the air?  Everything in…?  YES!  Good job!  MODERATION.

Eat the cookie.

Nom some bread.

Munch on a cheeseburger.

Do what makes your heart happy, but not to excess.  Someone out here loves you just as you are.  BUCK CONVENTION!

FUCK THE DIET MAN!  Let HIM grow old and feeble and miserable eating grubs and grass.  You can come over any time and we\ll nibble on some yummy chocolate cake while we write his eulogy together.


Chez Cora

Dresden Row Location


Psyche says:

“I love breakfast.  I mean, this girl loves her bacon like an old blanky on a stormy night.

One of the things that I think will be present in Heaven is an all you can eat breakfast bar, including perfectly cooked peameal bacon.

This is why I love Chez Cora so friggin much.  I’m not saying every meal is perfect, but you get seasonal fruit from local suppliers, really tasty home fries, and the service is always really great.  We know them by name, and when we walk in, they know us, too.

It’s hard to find a good breakfast in this city, I find.  Everyone caters to fast food, greasy food, cheap food…..there is no heart left anymore.   At Cora’s, I feel like I can walk in and roll out the door without paying a bloody fortune, and I recognize everything on the plate.

My personal favorite and standard is the Jo Construction.  I’m a big girl who loves her 3 over easy eggs, double order of bacon and whole wheat.  I like the comfort of the real food.  I like that they hand me a plate that I can’t often finish, but try mightily to.

Only ever small problems have ever occurred, and those were cleared up quickly and with a smile.

For me, Chez Cora gets:

♥♥♥♥/5″

Nyx Says:

Okay, I’ll get the negative out of the way first.  My one and ONLY complaint about Cora’s is the Hollandaise sauce, they don’t make it from scratch.  It’s pretty icky.  Okay, I would also complain about the other patrons, but that’s not really within the realm of control of the staff, so I’ll leave that alone…

I can honestly say I’ve never walked out of there dissatisfied or unsatisfied.  My cravings vary every time I’ve been, and I’ve tried a good portion of the menu, but my usual stand-by orders are the Raspberry 4 Lucie, and the 90’s Harvest.

Raspberry 4 Lucie is, well, orgasmic.  It’s raspberries, cream cheese, English cream, honey, and I’m pretty sure angel tears, all wrapped up in a crêpe and smothered in raspberry coulis.  It doesn’t get much better.

The 90’s Harvest consists of a cinnamon raisin brioche dipped in french toast batter, bacon and eggs served however I feel like that day, and a TON of whatever fresh fruit is in season.  It’s always way more than I can eat, but god it’s good.  The brioche is like the best cinnamon roll you ever had, but it’s disguised as breakfast!  Sneakyyyy…

We usually get a smoothie (or two) to share.  They’re really excellent.  We like the strawberry and the mango.

I think what stands out most to me though is the service.  The staff are always hopping, always ready with a coffee pot to refill, and they’re always perky regardless of the crowd of assholes sitting two tables down.  I always tip at LEAST 20%, sometimes more, and I always feel that it was well earned.  There’s a reason Cora’s has become and still remains our favorite date spot.

I give it:

♥♥♥♥♥/5


Bramoso’s Gourmet Pizza

Psyche says:

I’ve never been one for the gourmet moniker.  To me, good food is real food, and labels are things you find on jars.

Bramoso’s was not my first choice.  I tend to be turned off by what I think may be an elitist establishment, but after checking out their website we found that they supported NS growers, local farmers and were very “small business” oriented.  That is a quality I admire because I truly feel that if your suppliers are local, my money, in the long run, is helping to support the local economy.

For my meal tonight, I ordered pierogi and a spring salad, extra sour cream and a Snickers Brownie.  I know, it sounds so yummy.

Never say yummy till the nomnoms are sitting in front of you.  No sour cream at all – they sent ranch dressing instead.  RANCH DRESSING.  Yes.  Who eats ranch dressing with pierogies??  Why not slap a nun in the face while you’re at it?

The pierogies, 6 total, were small.  They were soggy.  Not much flavor.  I was really not impressed with them at all.  They looked like sad little lumps left out on the steam table too long.  The onions made them taste almost sweet, and the cook had melted what looked like velveeta over the top of them.

The spring salad, however was lovely.  It really was.   Microgreens, red onion, tomatoes, walnuts, and feta with my choice of greek dressing.  It was very light and flavorful, and the portion size was perfect – Nyx and I shared it, OH LA LA.

They never even added the brownie to the order.  Again…haul in the nun and slap her again.

I’m not sure that I would order from them again.  For the money we spent, yes the entire meal was filling….well, for everyone else it was.  I ate some chips afterwards because I had no brownie.  For my own plate, however,I was left wanting more than just a really great salad.

I give it:

♥♥/5

Nyx Says:

Well, I actually called in the order (Did we mention this was delivery service?  Yeah, we don’t get out much), and the person who answered sounded pretty depressed and not at all happy to help me.

For myself, I ordered the Veggie Supreme wrap “served with kettle style chips”, the Snickers brownie, and I shared Psyche’s spring salad (which was delicious).  The wrap was very tasty, I ordered it with chicken breast.  The pita gave me the impression of freshly made, though whether it was or not I couldn’t say.  It was very rich and filling, and the only criticism I have was that it was too heavy on the grilled onions, and it could have used a bit more “Veggie”.  It did not, however, come with the side of kettle style chips as promised.  That was more of a disappointment than perhaps it should have been, but there you go.  And again, the lack of brownie, well, that was just depressing.  You don’t fuck with a girls brownie.  Period.  Granted, we weren’t charged for the absent brownies, but still, if you’re going to run a successful business, you pay attention.

On the plus side, our little one seemed to appreciate her pizza.

Like Psyche, I had high hopes for Bramoso’s once I had discovered that they source and support local, but the service we received tonight leads me to believe that it’s a gimmick and they really don’t care.

I give it:

♥♥/5