Childhood Memories of Food (Maritime Edition)

Customers often ask if they can have the recipe for one of our Deli menu items. I’ve received emails from as far away as England and Australia for a recipe. People usually want comfort food dishes like our meatloaf sandwich. Our meatloaf sandwich simply stated is comfort food. It’s food you crave.

As I thought about comfort food I began to also think about some of my childhood comfort foods.

I remember leaving home as a young adult and returning for visits. My mother would ask me if there was anything I wanted.

Aurora Diced Tomatoes

I always said macaroni, which meant macaroni, ground beef and canned diced tomatoes. I’m not even sure if there is a ‘technical’ recipe name for this dish.

Do you recall how something just tastes better based on the atmosphere it is consumed in? My macaroni always tasted better at home.

My husband likes me to add a can of tomato soup but what I’ve come to learn is if you use a good canned tomato like Aurora diced tomatoes you don’t need the tomato soup. (Aurora tomatoes can be bought at Sister’s in our City Market…go see Di).

Another one of those childhood favourites was rice pudding. I remember eating rice pudding as if I was a contestant in a food eating contest because there were five kids at home and nothing lasted long.

A friend of ours, Kristin, remembers, “After church on Sundays we used to go the Riviera Restaurant in Saint John for a coke and rice pudding.” Sadly, the Riviera was lost in a gas explosion in April, 1986.

April 1986 - Saint John Gasoline Explosions

April 1986 – Saint John Gasoline Explosions

I’ve tried rice pudding brands from places like Costco but I don’t get those fleeting childhood memories. Not even close. So a couple of weeks ago I asked my mother for the recipe she used to make for us.

Carnation MilkIt came as no surprise that there was Carnation Evaporated Milk in the recipe because that alone is a childhood memory. Who in my old hood doesn’t remember giant bags of puffed wheats and Carnation Evaporated Milk in the cupboard?

(The powered milk sat beside the puffed wheats and on the label it read ‘from contented cows.’)

I am making the rice pudding recipe she gave me today and I will post on the results. It’s been over 35 years since eating this particular dish from my mother. I can’t wait!

More childhood foods that bring back memories

  • Salted fish, boiled and drained a couple of times, Carnation Evaporated Milk added to the final round of fish water, then spooned over mashed potatoes with yellow and/or green beans
  • Cream peas and/or tuna on toast – hahaha
  • Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose tea with the animal figurines in the box

  • White peppermints – My grandmother use to hide them in her top drawer. I was her favourite so she would take me in her bedroom and sneak me one on every visit and tell me not to tell my siblings 🙂 (She was Elizabeth, my namesake.)
  • Overcooked roasts (plus mushy peas from a can)
  • Fondues – They were a treat in the 70’s.
  • Puffed wheats
  • Milk in glass bottles delivered from the milkman (rare for us)
  • Eggs in the hole
  • Ben’s white bread
  • Potato pancakes (with apple sauce!)
  • Beans and wieners
  • Kraft Pizza Kit (in a box) – I bought one for nostalgic reasons and will make it soon. (Our friend Kristin recalls cut up wieners being put on the pizzas.)
  • Divinity Fudge
  • Pop Rocks
  • Stew – Omg….I use to drink a glass of water for every bite of the vegetables in the stew, especially turnips. Hated it. Now, vegetables are my favourite items on my plate.
  • Chicken fricot with dumplings (love, love, love dumplings)
  • Biscuits – I recall them being made in mere minutes using the Tupperware rolling pin that you filled with water and a big plastic sheet also, from Tupperware, for rolling them out on. It actually had the biscuit recipe on the sheet.
  • Birthday cakes with a quarter in them – Whoever got that piece was the old maid /man. Hilarious when you think about it in today’s world.

What are your childhood food memories?

Better still, if you have a dish that you want to challenge us to make, send us your recipe (or add it to the comments below) with the childhood memory it stirs. If you live in Saint John, we are more than happy to invite you over to test our take on your recipe.

We’ll give your recipe a try and share it with you on our Blog. And yes, of course we’ll give you the credit 🙂

(This post written by Liz.)


Cheese and water buffaloes

A water buffalo on a farm in Paestum, Campania (Wikipedia)When I lived out West I was introduced to cheese of many different kinds and I recall thinking, “Where have I been?” It was an eye-opener. With this post, I want to share my newest amore named Mozzarella di bufula.

I love Mozzarella di bufula for many reasons: it’s so darn good and it’s an essential part of Italian cuisine, to name just two. It has to be on our menu! But what is it?

It is Buffalo Mozzarella, meaning it uses milk from water buffaloes.

Although it is made in many countries around the world, using milk from their own herds of water buffaloes, some believe Italy and Bulgaria have the best dairy water buffaloes. Right now, we do know that the Italians are proven to be the masters of making Mozzarella di bufula!

Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (Wikipedia)Unlike the blocks of processed cheese we had when were kids, or the bags of shredded / grated Mozzarella which are readily available in our local grocery stores, ‘buffalo mozzarella’ is balls of white cheese that come in various sizes and, in our opinion, a superior mozzarella.

We’ve learned that the richness and quality of Buffalo milk yields much better than a cow’s milk.

With our menu, we’re taking the approach of bringing you the most authentic experiences we can. It starts by sourcing the best products we can find and serving them to you, including Mozzarella di bufula.

Some of you experienced it for the first time when you tasted our Italian by Night “Inverno” (winter) menu. It blended nicely with our Antipasti platter, and also had great reviews when we served it with a drizzle of our house-made pesto and foccacia bread.

With the arrival of spring and our seasonal menu, we’d like to share Mozzarella di bufula with you as Crostini Primavera (Spring). This is where we build on a crostini (grilled bread), by adding chopped seasoned tomato salad, Mozzarella di bufula and aged proscuitto di parma. It’s all finished off in the oven and served to you with amore!

There are many ways to get up close and personal with your Mozzarella di bufala; it’s not a taste that will bite you on your tongue. In all honesty, it has no distinct flavour on its own. It’s what you do with it that makes people ask, “Mmm … what cheese is this?”

You can get creative too! For example, try something as simple as a caprese salad with two types of tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and cracked salt and pepper.

You can find out more about Mozzarella di bufula on Wikipedia. You can also have a look at the site, “Campana buffalo’s mozzarella cheese.”

Don’t send flowers on my birthday, send cheese!


Tuscan taste; urban flair — a hint of what’s to come

Our Valentine’s Day Italian evening is fully booked (sorry!) but we’ve posted the menu because it gives a hint of what is to follow next week when we introduce our Italian by Night starting Wednesday night. (And every Wednesday though Friday after that.)

You’ll find the menu here. Or you can download the PDF version.

We have a boatload of people to thank but we particularly want to tip our hats to Michelle Hooton (bitebymichelle) and our top man in the kitchen, chef Andrew. Continue reading


Sisters with a passion for food

Host of Off the Beaten Palate, Michael-Ann Rowe

Host of Off the Beaten Palate, Michael-Ann Rowe

If you’ve been in Urban Deli you may have noticed our owner Liz is often a whirlwind of activity. However, she is almost zen-like when compared with her sister, Michael-Ann (aka Mikey, aka MA), who lives in New York City when she’s not traveling the globe or coming back to New Brunswick.

Each sister has her own distinct characteristics but they also have many in common. Not the least of these is a passion for food. Where Liz opened her own restaurant, Urban Deli, Michael-Ann created her own television show, Off the Beaten Palate.

You’ve probably seen Mikey in the Deli as she brings her energy back home to New Brunswick every chance she gets. In fact, the first show of Off the Beaten Palate showcases our great province.

Now Michael-Ann’s show is nominated in the 2012 Taste Awards (aka the Tasty Awards). If you’re unfamiliar with them, here is how they describe themselves.

Off the Beaten Palate

Off the Beaten Palate

The Annual TASTE AWARDS (aka the TASTY Awards) is the premier broadcast awards show to celebrate the best in food, fashion, and home lifestyle programs on TV, in Film, Online, and on Radio. The goal is to recognize and acknowledge outstanding excellence in video and film content focused on food, drink, fashion, design, and home lifestyle.

The awards are a pretty big deal in the world of food. Other people up for awards in various categories are the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver with shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

MA’s show finds itself in the Best Food Travel Series: Web (there are five shows nominated in the category).

Mikey will go just about anywhere to explore culinary delicacies from their roots.

Mikey will go just about anywhere to explore culinary delicacies from their roots.

What is Off the Beaten Palate?

Host and narrator, Michael-Ann Rowe, is a food lover, restaurateur, and TV personality, who takes an unabashed and inquisitive approach, as she travels the globe disclosing culinary delicacies from their roots.

We’re all pretty excited about Mikey’s nomination given that the show has not yet launched. But keep with us at Urban Deli for news of a PBS airing date in March, 2012! Canadians everywhere will have a chance to see it.

She’ll be heading to Hollywood soon for the January 12 Tasty Awards show (and we’re pretty envious because it sounds like it will be a snazzy red carpet affair).

We’re wishing her all the best as her culinary adventure takes her to Tinsel Town to hobnob with celebrity foodies and others as they celebrate the best in food television.

If you’re curious about Off the Beaten Palate have a look at the the trailer. You can also read about the Tasty Awards and Michael-Ann in this Huffington Post article.

Off the Beaten Palate:

Michael-Ann Rowe, host of Off the Beaten Palate, takes a break while shooting an episode back home in New Brunswick.

Michael-Ann Rowe, host of Off the Beaten Palate, takes a break while shooting an episode back home in New Brunswick.


Bagels and bread at Urban Deli

We’re introducing something new at the Deli. We’re now selling 1/2 dozen Montreal style bagels for $2.99. These bagels are boiled in honey water before baking, so they have a particularly tasty quality to them.

We’re also selling Montreal Light Rye at $3.50 a loaf. Both the bagels and light rye bread are brought in fresh from Montreal.

The next time you’re in Urban Deli, you can pick up the bagels or a loaf of the light rye, or call us ahead at 652-3354 and we’ll have them ready for you for pick up.

Try the bagels or the light rye — or try them both. We think you’ll like them!