Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Spring is in the air, and that means salad season is here! I want lots of big, beautiful, fresh salads full of awesome, yummy ingredients. With Easter around the corner, we’re all on the lookout for delicious dishes to make for a big group dinner, so I’ve decided to share this Big Italian Salad with you just for the occasion.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

My boyfriend is half Italian so over the years my consumption of olives, cured meat and artichokes has increased, and you could say, they have added more flavour to my life (though, he might have a little something to do with that too!). We try our very best to eat salads regularly, but find it challenging to keep ‘em interesting. There’s only so much tomato and cucumber you can consume before you hit a salad slump. And let’s face it, when all is said and done, I’m a meat and carbs kind of gal.

Yum. Meat.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

But the great thing about my Big Italian Salad is, it has meat! And cheese! The parmesan and salami add just the right amount of salty creaminess. Fresh romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet bursts of cherry tomatoes, crunchy licorice-infused fennel and velvety artichokes. Finally, the bright pop of the olives brings the whole salad to life.

This, my friends, is not your average, boring salad.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

A light, lemony vinaigrette that incorporates some of the artichoke marinade ties the whole dish together. Before you can say “you can’t make friends with salad” you’ll be happily chowing down on a big mouthful of all things Italian.

Big Italian Salad
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Big Italian Salad

This Big Italian Salad is full of awesome, fresh ingredients. Romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy fennel, creamy artichokes and salty salami, olives and parmesan.
Course Healthy, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 small head of Romaine lettuce roughly chopped
  • 1 small radicchio finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 half fennel thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup green and kalamata olives pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 ounces salami or your fave cured meat finely diced
  • 227 grams marinated artichokes finely sliced, marinade reserved
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggianocheese grated

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons marinade from the artichokes
  • 1 half lemon juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the cheese in a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor or medium bowl combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Slowly add oil while whisking or mixing on low.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and sprinkle cheese over top. Toss and serve immediately.

I could seriously eat this entire bowl in one sitting. The salad is so fresh and lightly dressed that all the other flavours are allowed stand out, and it’s addictive. But, one must learn to share, so here you go my friends, some salad to go with your roasted ham.

What are you making for your big Easter dinner?  Let me know if you liked my Big Italian Salad and what type of cured meat is your favourite!

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Yurting In Prince Edward County

Yurt Camping in Prince Edward County

Is it too early to say, spring is here!  The weather has been particularly nutty this year, and Mother Nature could very well send another storm, but until then, yay SPRING!  I can’t really complain though, because we barely had any snow this year.  I went skiing twice and didn’t even touch my skates!  We tried to go snow shoeing in Prince Edward County, but as you will see, we were hard pressed to find snow.  Sand shoeing anyone?  Luckily, the County is a relaxing and fun little getaway no matter what the season and yurt camping in Prince Edward County made it even more of an adventure!

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Redley’s Retreat

So here I am in front of our Mongolian yurt.  How did we find said yurt?  Why Air BnB of course, haha!  I’ve gone winter camping before at McGregor Provincial Park, but provincial parks have limited availability and I missed the booking window this year.  We found Redley’s Retreat on Air BnB, a farm located in Milford, right smack in the middle of the County.  The retreat is run by a super nice, passionate fellow named Tom who is quite proud of his two Mongolian yurts. He even installed the concrete base himself!  

Our yurt had just enough space for two double beds, a small table, a few lounge chairs and a utilities drawer.  There were lots of blankets and a space heater to keep us warm and cozy, I loved it!  We shared a Port-O-Potty and an outdoor kitchen with the other yurt, which had all the basic utensils and a BBQ. Tom was awesome and brought us fresh coffee every morning, and on the first day we were treated to a huge breakfast, fit for a king!  He also dropped off some homemade wine, gave us some local tips and made sure we were well taken care of.  The showers were in his farmhouse, and I was very thankful for the clean, indoor shower.  Despite the warm weather an outdoor shower would have been chilly!

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Sandbanks Provincial Park

We woke up bright and early the next day and headed out to Sandbanks Provincial Park, about a thirty minute drive from Milford.  The weather was absolutely perfect, clear blue skies, warm sunshine, it felt like spring!  We really wanted to go snow shoeing but there was barely any snow.  I was determined however, so I “sand shoed” along the trails.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County, Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County, Sandbanks Provincial Park

The dunes in Sandbanks are otherworldly and are great fun to explore.  We hung out for awhile, snapping photos and munching on snacks while overlooking the icy Lake Ontario.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Sandbanks Provincial Park

Sandbanks is one of the many things that I love about Prince Edward County.  Hiking along a peaceful trail and appreciating nature is so essential for my soul.  There’s nothing I love more than a day outdoors, taking photos and breathing in fresh air.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Sandbanks Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Sandbanks Provincial Park

After working up an appetite we headed out to Wellington and had lunch at the new Drake Devonshire restaurant.  I was curious to try this sister restaurant to the The Drake Hotel in Toronto and was immediately impressed by the space.  Located along the lake with white wooden panelled walls and large airy windows, I felt like we had stepped into a little sea side town.  I want to say it reminded me of the Hamptons, but I’ve never actually been so my observation is entirely based on Sex And The City.  Contemporary lighting and funky art added to the decor but the space was inviting and homey. 

Then, I ate the best reuben of my life.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - The Drake Devonshire Reuben

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – The Drake Devonshire – The Drake Reuben

A generous portion of smoked brisket packed between lightly toasted marble rye and oozing with sauerkraut, onions, Swiss cheese and local Cressy mustard, the Drake Reuben was outta-this-world.  The fries were fresh and crispy too.  But that reuben!  I must have you again!!

The service was also excellent and the view made for a lovely, relaxing lunch.  I noticed a patio and fire pit outside and thought how fun this place must be in the summer.  Two thumbs up!

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - The Drake Devonshire

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – The Drake Devonshire

After lunch it was time for some wine tasting!  We stayed close to Wellington and hit up Sandbanks, Norman Hardie and Hinterland.  I’ve been to Norman Hardie and Hinterland before, but our friends had never been and they are a must for a wine tour.  We would have gone to Rosehall Run as well but they closed at 5pm and we just missed them.  Sandbanks Winery was a new one for me and I have to say, was my favourite winery of the weekend.  I could have bought all the wines we tasted they were so good!  Their smooth-like-butter Chardonnay was a standout but we settled on a peppery Shiraz.  

While Norman Hardie is historically, an important winery to visit, I never end up buying anything from them.  Besides being quite pricey, all their wines have a very strong limestone taste that I just can’t get into.  Hinterland Wine Company on the other hand, is a small, unpretentious winery that specializes in delicious sparkling wines.  They also had a winter festival going on so we were treated to some oysters and beer tastings before picking up some tasty sparkling cider.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Redley’s Retreat

That evening, we headed back to the yurt and made a big steak dinner on the BBQ.  Tom built us a little fire and we roasted marshmellows under a clear starlit sky.  We passed out pretty early that night, not surprising after a long day of hiking and sipping wine!

The following day I had planned to hit up my favourite antique stores but all of them were closed for the season except for Dead People’s Stuff .  So, we just set out to do some more wine tasting.

We headed out east in the afternoon to Exultet Estates Winery that specializes in pinot noir, apple wine and apple port.  The apple port blew my mind – so unique!  We all ended up buying a bottle.  

I always need to get my cheese fix when I visit PEC, so we stopped by Black River Cheese which has THE BEST cheese, and an array of many years to choose from.  I picked up some 6 year old cheddar because apparently anything over 5 years is lactose-free, so my boyfriend can enjoy as well!

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Waupoos Winery

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Waupoos Winery

Waupoos Winery is also one of my favourites.  The cider tasting and restaurant were closed for the season, but there was still lots of delicious wine to taste and the beautiful property makes for a nice walk.  Should you visit in the summertime, be sure to make dinner reservations, the food is amazing and their cider is to die for.

We passed through the little town of Bloomfield which is much more lively in the summer.  Most of the cute shops were closed, including the popular ice cream parlour.  But we found a little cafe that was open for lunch, and we devoured some homemade soups and chilis at the Saylor House Cafe

We had just enough time to squeeze in some pinot noir wine tastings at Huff Estates Winery and some beer tastings at the newly opened Parsons Brewery Company.  My boyfriend picked up a bottle of their Devil’s Right Hand Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.  A rich, chocolatey brew that was balanced but also smooth and complex, I fully approved of his selection!

For our last meal in the County we had dinner at the Soup Opera in Wellington, another new addition.  An unassuming, quiet restaurant that offers up a small market during the day, we were really impressed with the generous portions and the mix of comfort food and higher end dishes.  We split some “mundoo” – homemade Korean pork dumplings – for an appetizer.  The ponzu and house kimchi made for a tasty bite.  For our mains, I had the duck leg confit with greens and fries that made my belly full and happy.  My boyfriend ordered the lamb shank with polenta and ratatouille and it was HUGE!  I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed my boyfriend being unable to finish a meal, but this lamb shank defeated him.  Fall-off-the-bone and swimming in rich ratatouille and polenta, he had the winning dish, hands down!

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Redley’s Retreat

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Redley's Retreat

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Redley’s Retreat

The next morning we packed up and said goodbye to Tom.  Before heading home we stopped by Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

Located just north of Milford, the park is surrounded by a freshwater lake that is 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte.  The park is a nice stop over and the lookout makes for some picturesque panoramas.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

We hung out for a bit, goofing around on the ice and taking selfies.  A very pretty spot!  I’d love to come back in the summer with a picnic lunch.

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County - Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

Yurt Camping In Prince Edward County – Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park

Before hitting the road we had lunch in Picton at the County Canteen.  They brew their own beer so I wanted to check them out, bonus that they were open for brunch on a holiday!

As our wonderful weekend came to an end, I’m left once again dreaming of the day I can move to Prince Edward County, leave city life behind and own a little piece of this heaven.

Have you been to the County?  What are your favourite wineries and restaurants?  If you have any questions about yurt camping in Prince Edward County, let me know!

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The Girl With All The Gifts Review

The Girl With All The Gifts Review

The Girl With All The Gifts Review – photo property of Poison Chef, BFI Film Fund, Altitude Film Entertainment

With a hypnotic, pulsing soundtrack, The Girl With All The Gifts begins with gritty intrigue. Set in an army base prison, a bunch of kids are being held in cells and can only be let out if they’re strapped into wheel chairs – Hannibal Lecter-style. They attend class and seem like regular kids – but don’t get too close – or these kids will gnaw your face off. Apparently there is a fungus infection that is being transferred through bodily fluids, once infected you’ll turn into one of the “hungries”, scathing, rampant zombies.

The fun kicks in soon enough as an infection breaks out on the army base. Our small group of survivors is led by Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), two military guys (Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade), Helen (Gemma Arterton), a teacher at the base and newcomer Sennia Nanua as Melanie, the Girl With All The Gifts. Melanie is special because she is highly intelligent and self aware, allowing her to be semi-in control of her hunger. Once they abandon the base, they set forth on a journey to London but will need to wad through lots of hungries along the way.

With so many zombie movies being made, the challenge is how to keep them interesting. These “hungries” are a bit different as they aren’t always in full hunger mode. They fall into a deep zombie sleep once no longer stimulated and are triggered by motion and scent. This behavior has been used in previous zombie flicks, but in this film the creepy motionless un-dead are used to their full potential, and makes for some really tense scenes.

The overall maternal theme that runs throughout the film is an interesting one. Helen is a caring, and compassionate teacher who becomes very protective over Melanie, despite the danger she represents. She believes that the human side will win if Melanie is nurtured properly. Dr. Caldwell, played by a steely Glenn Close is the no-nonsense biologist, who will do anything in the name of science and is hell-bent on finding a cure. She only cares for Melanie because she needs her brain to make a vaccine and thus treats her like a lab rat.

It’s a purposeful gender switch from the stereotypical male mad scientist. When Glenn Close comes in contact with a zombie baby, her reaction is not one of maternal love (as seen in the remake of Dawn of the Dead) but one of horror. It’s shocking to see a woman behave like this, as society constantly pushes the warm and maternal stereotype onto women. As horror theory proves, what we repress comes back as the monster, and the film makes us question who the real monster is in this story.

Adapted from a novel by Mike Carey, this is a decent zombie movie with a bit of twist on the genre. The story starts off strong but loses its bite by the half way mark. The film meanders, never fully developing some characters or the underlying theme, resulting in an ending that feels abrupt and disjointed. The battle in The Girl With All The Gifts is not man vs. zombie but man vs. nature, or rather, woman vs. nature.   Who wins in the end feels ultimately unsatisfying, possibly because the character with the most emotional depth in this film is the Girl with all Gifts herself: a zombie. Yet, despite this, she is devoid of conflict and as a result, we are left feeling like the hollow hungries: unfulfilled and wanting more.

Directed by: Colm McCarthy
Cast: Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Sennia Nanua, Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade
Released: 2016

What is your favourite zombie movie?  What did you think about my The Girl With All The Gifts review?  I would love to know what you think about the ending!

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