Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rib Cook Off

Great weekend!
If you read my previous post you know that we were involved in a friendly rib cook off up at a friend's cottage this weekend.  It was hot and sunny and full of wonderful people.

Unofficially, we won from the chatter throughout the night. 
There are no "official" winners, we only go by who gets the most people going back for seconds and thirds.  We go by "everyone is a winner" attitude!!

But boys and their testosterone....
They turn into whiny little boys really.

I heard a few "that's not fairs" and "man, he won last year" and "we really should have ballots and trophys"
But it was all in good fun!

This year we had less people at the party, less people cooking ribs but the deck was still covered with bbqs and lots of full bellies.

To the newbie it is rather a funny site to see.
6 barbecues lining the deck and a few crock pots.  20 men brushing, grilling, shooting the breeze while throwing little jabs in about how their ribs are the best, not to mention the pre sampling.

I went along and snapped photos of each of the contest entries but strangely enough when I asked "so, what is your secret" I received little information.  Tight lipped men!

No one wanted to give up their recipes!?
Maybe because I suggested I was going to blog it - they didn't want someone stealing their ideas for next year.

I am not allowed to post Mr. BM's secret recipe either but I will tell you that he doesn't smoke them, which a few people did do.
I just couldn't tell what type of wood chips used.  They were whisked away quickly as I approached HAHA.

It's ok boys, I don't need your recipes, we have the winning one anyway ;)

Thanks to the host and hostess for opening up their home and property for the great time and amazing food as always.
Thanks to the men and women who partook in preparing wonderful pieces of deliciousness for all of us to try.
Thanks to my running shoes who now need to be laced up to get rid of the weight I just gained because of one night!!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Outta Commission for a Few Days

or should I say LATER!

We are off this weekend to the cottage.
I am not sure our plans of returning home yet but there's no internet access so I won't be around to see all your comments on how much you miss me and the tunes I share.  I just know there will be many upon my return ;)

This weekend happens to be a long weekend for us Ontarians, one my extended family embraces to the fullest.

For the last 8 years (could be more) we've engaged in a big ole party by the lake.
It started off small, just close friends and some family.

It grew, quickly. 
People around the area started hearing about it (and the free food) and started flocking like seagulls.
It has been known as "The Jimmy Buffet Party".
Of course we serve "cheeseburgers in paradise", margaritas galore and everyone must wear Hawaiian shirts!!
We've had a live band play a few years as well - and when on break the Buffet is blasting on the ipods.

Then we moved.
The cottages that were rented for seasons past were a thing of just that - the past.
A few couples bought near the area and so the party moved.
It also changed slightly.

We still have burgers, we still have a bunch of people (back to friends and friends of friends and of course family), we still call it Buffet weekend but the newest tradition is the rib cookoff!

Each year it grows too.  Some years we have only had a few entries, this year we are hoping for at least 10!
Some are low and slow, some are baked, some are pork and some are beef.  But everyone who wants to sample gets some.

Of course Mr. BM is entering (I don't cook ribs - unless its crock pot because he's the master).
He doesn't disclose the ingredients either - ever.
But we won the last year entered!
I say we because I bought the ribs ;)

So, my next post after the weekend will be all things Jimmy Buffet party.
I'm hoping to get a few recipes to take home, some great pictures and to share our family tradition with you.

Whatever you do this weekend, be safe and have fun!
Peas Out

I'm Listening to: Cheeseburger in Paradise - Jimmy Buffet
Heaven on earth with an onion slice!
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ode To Green Beans Continues

I picked up more beans at the market on Friday.
Que'll surprise.
I'm obsessed.

Wanting to change things up a bit I went southern style.


Got your attention?
Maybe this will.

We don't deep fry much (anymore), we don't even pan fry that often either, so this was more of a treat.
A delicious, crispy, side treat.
We paired this with chicken fingers which was first marinated in HeluvaGood dip and milk - uh YUM.

I'm Listening To: Hella Good - No Doubt  Thanks for the recommendation Learn, Laugh, Cook!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Scream, You Scream....

We all scream for ICE CREAM!!

Guess what I got?!
Go on...

A year's supply of ice cream - nope, guess again!

Only the bestest gift a gal could ask for.
The KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment for my machine!!!
Hip Hip Hooray

I came down on Saturday morning and there it was.
A big ol box of squealing joy.

I had wanted one for a while
However I am frugal, I couldn't justify spending that kind of dough on a machine that can make me need to pay for a gym membership too.
But all's fair in love and gifting.
My honey knows me so well - and he was the first to tell me what I had to make with it too.

I'm hooked. This is going to be my nemesis I can feel it.
Anyone wanna pay for my gym membership?
How bout some new running shoes?
No?  Ok, well then you better join me in indulgence

I'm Listening To: Soundtrack to my Life - Kid Cudi

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Humble Attempt at THE FLAN

My absolute favorite dessert is the fruit flan.
The custard/pastry cream.
The fruit.
So many different combinations, smooth and creamy.
Good Golly Miss Molly!

Funny story:
Mr BM knows this is my fav.
For my birthday last year he knew what to do.

Birthday Morning: the boys wake me up, singing, with what nearly looked like a flan in my hazy state.(with a higher graham crust)
I wipe my eyes, blow out the candles, look loving into the plump glistening strawberries cascading over top.

Birthday Dinner:  Mr. BM promises that he searched high and low for it.
Again, singing, candles, blueberries this time!  This MUST be a winner!
Sponge with whipped cream filling.

CMON, now I have 2 decadent desserts to eat between 3 people that aren't anything of what I had hoped for.
Bless him for trying!

Day 2 of Quest:  Mr. BM comes home after work with a small pastry box.  Lovingly says "next year I will pre-order the flan, all I could find you was a tart"

At that moment I knew he was a keeper!  I heart him bunches!

This year, I decided I would make my own fruit flan, to avoid the kerfuffles (because I know he didn't pre-order anything)
We had picked up these fantastic field blackberries (the tiny sweet ones mmmmm) and some blueberries from the market. 
Those would be the inspiration!

I wish I could tell you this turned out better than any other dessert I have ever made.
It didn't.
The flan pans I inherited do not have removable sides.  You can only imagine the mess.
The sponge I made was a teensy bit too flat, not posting the recipe because it was a fail. 
BUT the pastry cream was perfect.  So we put it together anyway, ate it and enjoyed it even though it was a blunder in the kitchen.

Blueberry/Blackberry Flan

1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh field blackberries
flan crust / sponge (use your favorite)
pastry cream

Pasty Cream Recipe:
1 1/4 c. milk (I used 1%)
1/2 vanilla bean split
3 egg yolks
1/4 c. vanilla sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

In a pot heat the milk on medium high heat with the split bean, just until foamy and starting to boil.
While the milk is heating up, in a bowl mix the sugar and egg yolks together.  Sift the flour and cornstarch in and mix until you get a smooth paste.

Once the milk is ready slowly pour into the egg mixture, keeping the bean aside. Tempering.
A few drops at first to heat up the mixture and then a slow steady stream.  You don't want scrambled egg bits.  If you aren't sure, pour through a sieve.
Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture.

Pour back into the pot and heat slowly while whisking constantly.  You want it to just come to a boil, remove from the heat and keep stirring.
Pour into a bowl put plastic wrap right on the surface and cool completely (in the fridge)

I`m Listening To: Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard
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Monday, July 25, 2011

MashUp Monday Returns! Loaded Baked Potato Salad

We were headed to a backyard bbq to commemorate two wonderful people getting married.
They are a great pair that Anna and Matt.  Two crazy love birds!

I got wrangled into bringing something about a week out.
I didn't mind (anything for you Jenny!)

She asked me to make my Omi's potato salad.  Its simple, easy, has pickles, feeds a crowd - of course!

Potato salad to me symbolizes bbq, picnics, and summer.
Strangely enough, we don't generally eat it in the winter.  I guess that's like saying I don't eat a full turkey dinner in the summer. (except this year when the freezer conked out and we had to)
Its not like potatoes are seasonal vegetables?!
Might have to change my mindset on this one.

I decided that I wanted to incorporate a new version I just read in Rachel Ray's latest magazine.
As soon as I saw it I knew it was my newest MashUp.
It's perfect for outdoor dinners - no mayo to go bad in the crazy heat we've been having lately and all the great things you would throw onto a baked potato! Can you say BACON!

That Rachel Ray, she's genius.  I want her to be my friend.

This is a must try at least once!

I'm Listening To: You Know Diamonds are Forever - Amy Winehouse/Kanye

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Balsamic Reduction

Ever make a balsamic reduction and stick your nose over the pot to smell it?
Don't recommend it.
Unless you have a cold, sinus trouble or just want your nostrils to burn a little and your eyes to water.

Its like Vick's in a pot.
Smells tremendously better though.
My eyes are still watering.

I wanted something a little different to go with our pork.
It can be so ordinary.

I try not to make it humdrum.
The glaze

This awakens the taste buds, party in your mouth!

Its nearly effortless.
You won't be disappointed, except if you let it reduce to burnt (not that I did that my first time ever)

Here's what you need to get this thing going:
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, halved
a few sprigs of rosemary
1 pat of butter

In a pot bring vinegar, garlic and rosemary to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer until it starts to thicken - try drawing a line in the pot

Remove the garlic and rosemary (they were to infuse flavor, not to bite down on chunks)
Stir in the butter.
Serve immediately over your preferred meat/veg

I'm Listening To: Last Night - The Strokes
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Roasted Herbed Mini Potatoes

Farmers market finds are the best!
How can you go wrong?  Walking around, colours, smells, flowers, friendly people?

Don't you find that the markets have the most courteous people ever! 
I mean people all standing in awkward lines that run horizontal and a few people deep and you always get "oh, sorry, were you here first?" and even if you were you find yourself saying "oh, go ahead" and really meaning it!
I am anxiously awaiting Friday because it starts again and I already have my shopping list started.

One of my favorite things to pick up while I am there are mini potatoes.
I said one but I have so many really....alas, as the lover of all things carbs, potatoes are right up there.

By the way, I have growing some in a pot in the yard this year for the first time - EEEP so excited for them to be ready. 
I wonder if they will yield enough for me for one meal?

Oven roasting or bbq packeting are two ways to create a great roasted potato.
But what really makes them is the seasoning.

I have quite a few pots of various herbs in the garden as well, two of them being parsley and basil.

I like to use fresh herbs when I can and this recipe is no exception.

I'm listening to: Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs  One of my favorite tunes, check it out!

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Summery Tomato Cucumber Salad w Basil Balsamic Dressing

Disclaimer: I don't eat fresh, raw tomatoes so this was not consumed by me personally.  All opinions expressed are based on actual individuals, Mr. BM.  His true and accurate account is a valid interpretation of the dish, or at least his accounts are what he told me, to my face ;) and to be believed.

My wonderful neighbour swung by while I was trying desperately to revived my brown sun bleached grass this weekend with some home grown luscious red beauties.  I explained I wouldn't use them as Little Ugh and myself do not eat them (unless in ketchup, or cooked).
She didn't care.
I ended up with 6.

I heart my neighbours, they are wonderfully neighbourly.
They watch my house when I am away, they take in my mail, they feed my cat, and they force veggies down my throat even if I protest (lovingly of course).

Alright, I won't let them go to waste.
I could have made a pasta sauce,  I suppose I still could.
Maybe the balance I will try my hand at homemade ketchup!  That might be fun.
But today I decided that the cucumber in my fridge needed a partner in crime.

Fresh basil from the garden plus balsamic vinegar and olive oil seemed to be the smart way to dress it.
I hear it went well.
Or so "he" says (to my face)
I did make a bit too much for 1 serving so the concoction would be more for 3 or 4 servings which I will remember for the future. So as I post the recipe I am adding in extra tomato and cucumber to compensate for you.

I'm Listening To: Tiny Dancer - Elton John (because I am trying to get tickets for September!!)

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Homemade French Style Dressing

I got a little tired of bottled dressings a while ago when I discovered how easy Caesar dressing really can be.
Sure, you can run into any store, pick up a bottle and toss it with some lettuce or spinach and call it salad.

Hey, I'm not knocking store bought dressings, I do have some favorites and I don't see the need to buy a bunch of ingredients to make them when I can just grab and go, but when you can come up with your own fresh tastes it can make not only your mouth happy but your heart.

I found a new quest:
French dressing.

I'm not a huge fan of it but for some reason I wanted to give it a go.
I found a recipe from Canadian Living's website which I frequent.
(by the way I was featured back in their May 2011 magazine issue! Oh, don't get all excited that I was published, it wasn't for food HA, I had a makeover done and they did a fantastic job! Thanks Julia and Katherine!)

I followed their recipe to a tee.

Nope, didn't like it - sorry CL.
I am sure it was "tested until perfect" but it wasn't perfect for my taste buds.  It was really tart.  The use of lemon juice AND sour cream just felt like it was missing something.  It needed to be more mellow.

So I improvised and added some things here and there.
I enjoyed mine more once I was done, no offence.

Dinner time rolls around and I am all excited about this new dressing, thinking I'm going to be  sophisticated like, make an iceberg lettuce wedge, drizzle the sauce over top and call it a salad.

That is, until Mr. BM comes home and starts to laugh as he grabs his iPhone.

That's right, he wanted to take a picture, post it to twitter and send to his friends saying "lazy man's salad, see what she made me today?"

Go on, ignore the best part, the French dressing I slaved over (not really).
Make fun, laugh it up chuckles.
But if you and your fancy pant clients went to a restaurant and received that on your plate I bet no one would bat an eyelash.
Who am I kidding, they would.

The star was the dressing not the wedge.

I'm listening to: It's Five O'clock Somewhere - Jimmy Buffet/Alan Jackson (for the in laws)

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garlic Parm Yellow Beans

Beans, beans the musical fruit...
I am pretty sure this only applies to those little brown beans from a can right?
Ah well, it is what it is!

I mentioned in the previous yellow bean post just how much I adore these little, skinny pieces of God's creation.
Not surprisingly, I purchased a boat load so we could enjoy this side dish also.
The boys and I enjoyed it and even asked for seconds!

It is simple and quick.
Blanch your beans a few minutes and drop into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Saute in butter about 3 cloves of garlic for a minute or so, throw your beans back in and top with freshly grated parm.
Side dish heaven!

I'm listening to: Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor - Arctic Monkeys
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yellow Bean Frittata

Green, yellow - I'm not picky give me farm fresh string beans and this gal could sit and eat and eat and eat them up!
I don't even need to cook them.
I prefer them raw actually.

Last weekend we picked up mounds of them so the next two posts are dedicated to the long, thin, delicious bean!

We didnt want anything too heavy for dinner.
Meatless Wednesday you don't come often enough in our abode.

Enter the frittata.

"Hey mom, that looks like a quiche."
Essentially it is, minus the crust - less carbs!

I picked up a little tip from Rachel Ray who suggests to whip the egg whites in a separate bowl and then fold them into the egg yolks.
Seemed to work well, made the eggs nice and fluffy!
Thanks RR.

I'm Listening to: Roxanne - The Police

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Crock Pot Cookin' - Korean Inspired Beef Short Ribs

First I'd like to say how wonderful summer is. Hot, humid, sunny!  I beg for these months!

My hair, now short seems to have soooo much volume in the humidity!  Awesome!
Oh wait, that's called FRIZZ.

My upper lip has beads of sweat each time I set foot outdoors - attractive thought I know.

Cooking and baking seemed to be a thing of the past since our central air had been wonky and not allowing the glorious cool air to flow freely the last little while. 
I really really really don't know how people live without it on a daily basis in the humidity - I bow to you!

So what do you do when the very thought of turning on your oven increases the internal home temperature 5 degrees?
BBQ of course.
But why not use your slow cooker?

It's not just for soups, stews and chili you know.

We had picked up some beef short ribs at St. Lawrence Market and were dying to eat them.

As I braved the heat wave to grab my mail in the morning I decided that standing outdoors "low and slowing it" was not something I was willing to do.
I quickly rounded up the crock pot and got ready to set it and forget it.

In 8 hours, not only was dinner ready but my house smelled amazing and it didn't add extra discomfort of the lack of cool air.

Fall off the bone goodness.

I'm listening to: The Lazy Song - Bruno Mars

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Whoop Whoop! Whoopie Pies

When we woke up this morning I asked Little Ugh if he wanted to bake today.
His immediate answer was "uhhhhh ya?"
When I asked what he wanted to make he wasn't married to anything except for peanut butter.  Probably because during the school year he cant have it in fear of killing someone who may or may not have an allergy.

Now, I am not sure about all 13 year olds but mine loves to bake, he just needs to be coaxed from his dreaded appendage - the xbox.
Don't tell him but I secretly want him to go to France and become a pastry chef and then come home and make me delectable treats and teach me things I know nothing of. 
A mother can dream cant she?

Ok, peanut better.
I immediately went to Martha Stewart's site because I knew there would be something kid friendly there.
I went through a bunch of recipes with him and we settled on the WHOOPIE PIE.
We have never had one.
Next to the cupcake its all the new craze aren't they?

We had a minor hiccup however in the baking and ended up with only 6 rather than 12.
Martha suggests placing the trays on alternating racks, top and bottom and then part way through rotating them.
Well, I only have one rack.
So my thought process was to bake them for the 10 minutes as directed on the top rack and then move the entire rack to the bottom for the additional 3-4 minutes.
Next batch worked out MUCH better.

I'm not listening to Martha anymore.
In fact, I lowered her suggested temperature from 375F to 350F and baked them for 12 minutes or so.
I also left them on the second to the top position the whole time.

Definitely will make these again!

I'm Listening to:Octopus's Garden - Beatles because its Ringo Starr's birthday!!

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Taking Stock n Making Stock

Once, a very long time ago I made a judgement call;
I am never going to like soup.

In fact, when I even think about eating drinking it, it disgusts me.  I'm sorry soup lovers.  That might have sounded harsh
It baffles me too, don't try to wrap your head around it, I've tried, it is what it is.

I think it's the broth with other things floating around in it that makes it so unappealing.
My meals should be hearty, not to be able to be consumed through a straw.
I do like stew though and I cook with soups (creamy ones mostly), go figure.
Analization gets me no where. (don't look up that word, it's not in there)

Here's where it gets interesting though.
I am compelled to make stock, broth if you will.

I'm not going to use it as a base for another soup like noodles and such, nope, won't do it.
I want it for my sauces, for boiling my rice or risotto, for veggie flavoring.
I know, weird right?

So I make this turkey the other night (for the first time ever btw) and wouldn't you believe but I decided I should really do something culinary like make stock.

Here I go, throwing in the carcass, some onions, garlic, carrots, celery, leftover asparagus ends (the woody parts) bay leaves, green and black peppercorns, fresh thyme and a touch of salt with enough water to cover the dead bird remains.

The smell in my house was miraculous!  WHY can I not enjoy soup when it smells so divine?!

Oh and help me find room in my freezer for the 6 containers plus 4 ice cube trays.
Stock anyone?

I'm Listening to: People Are Strange - the Doors
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Turkey in the Summer?

I am sure many people do make turkeys for large gatherings, Canada Day or Fourth of July Parties right?
Only I suspect a deep fryer or maybe a BBQ is used when they do it.
Not us.

So why did we cook a 20 pound bird for the three of us you may ask...because our basement fridge which housed this bird for my mother in law conked out.
What else could we do?

Oh, I might also mention that I have never actually cooked a turkey before.  All holiday turkeys are done by my mother in law or other family members.
I am usually in charge of dessert and gravy!
It can't be that difficult can it?
I do own a large roasting pan.
Not sure why, but today I am glad I hoard cooking and baking pans.
See Mr. BM, this is why I buy things when I see them on sale for those "just in case" moments.

Turkey can be bland, it can dry out. 
I wanted to ensure this didn't happen.
There's nothing less appetizing than waiting 4 hours for a turkey that has to be smothered in gravy to make it juicy and tasty and yes, I have forced down birds like that.

My findings after being forced to prepare a 20LB turkey:
1. butter makes the bird juicy and the skin golden with a crispy texture
2. fresh herbs are a must
3. 20lbs is a little much for 3 people
4. 4 hours in a house whose A/C is on the fritz is not a good thing
5. I now have 108L of homemade stock and obviously no freezer room (anyone want any?)
And finally,
6. cooking turkeys are easy peasy and I will do it again!

Minimal steps for cooking the perfect bird:
Remove the neck and gizzards (my least favorite part of this process)
Lift the skin and rub butter underneath as well as on top
Season with salt, cracked pepper and fresh thyme (my herb of choice)
Truss and bake tented in a low oven of about 325F
If you don't have a rack like myself, place onions and carrots at the bottom of the roasting pan - this also helps to season your drippings for gravy!
Internal temperature of 170 is a safe temperature.


I'm Listening To: 4 fans whizzing hot air around.  But on top of that Hot in Herre - Nelly
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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Long Weekend Food Adventures

We decided to stay home this long weekend for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, my bff of over 20 years was moving into her very first home.  How could I miss that?! Our morning started around 9:30 and the truck was empty by 10:30am which of course would allow plenty of time for us to head up to the cottage but we decided sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for over an hour wasn't high on our priority list.

We had also wanted to kick back at home, do some gardening and cleaning (god does my house need an overhaul!) and hopefully take a trip down to historic St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Ontario which we did end up doing.

For those of you who have never been to Toronto or even to SLM it is a wonderful conglomeration of meat, cheese, produce, and baked goods vendors as well as antiques dealers and other unique vendors throughout the South Market, North Market and Market Gallery.  There are many places to buy organic items, cultural items not found in your traditional supermarkets, flowers, you name it you can likely find it here!

The market has been in existence since 1803 and thousands visit each weekend.

Since SLM is about 30-45 minutes from our house we generally visit a few times a year unless there are specific items we are in search of that we know we can find here.
Sometimes we buy things we normally wouldn't dream of just because we can - enter the Camel Burger (I`ll let you know the reviews on that in a later post).  We also picked up 2 kangaroo burgers!

My treat however were some awesome berries and goats milk cheese curds.  These berries honestly were ginormous!

I just love the freshness, quality and quantity of the goods you can get.  Just look at these colours! 

I wish I would have taken a picture of one of my favorite vendors - Aziz Hosseini from St. Lawrence Pizza and Ice Cream.  He stood there making fresh lasagna sheets while I chatted him up.  He is a character and is earnestly a lover a food, good fresh, food.
We all know Mr. BM is not a fan of pasta however they were doling out samples of freshly made ricotta raviolis with a tomato and pesto cream sauce and he loved it so much we bought a container of sauce.  Imagine my surprise!  I didn't even have to dig into  ``my treat`` stash to get some.

We left the market with 2 bags full of meats, fish, cheese, fruits and veggies and headed off to the next destination on our Food Adventure:
Food Truck and Jazz Festival at the Distillery District.

The Historic Distillery District is certainly a unique location boasting unique stores, shops, boutiques and caf├ęs.
The brick lined streets remind me of Old Montreal and some say it reminds them of small European cities.
As of the end of June, patrons are now able to walk the streets with open alcohol which makes festival goers even happier.
Parking is a little tricky as there are limited spaces along the streets and not many lots in the area.  The lines were crazy long for all of the food trucks although we did arrive around 11:30 - 12ish at the event itself began at 11am.
Mr. BM however walked right up to a beer cart and had himself a lovely beverage within seconds while Little Ugh and I were left fighting the crowds looking for a bottle of water.  We finally found a little cafe and grabbed the last 2 cold waters we found - then waited for over 15 minutes to pay for the now empty bottles.
I wish I could say that we were able to enjoy at least one of the delicious items I saw others munching on but alas it was hot, we had food in the trunk and we weren't willing to wait in the lineups.
We decided to grab a few items from Brick Street Bakery instead (mmm custard filled brioche!), take a few phots and be on our merry way.

What a great day downtown!
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