January 20, 2012

Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant, Charlottetown


It’s so lovely looking at these sunny photos and remembering our wonderful vacation on P.E.I. last summer. What a great time we had.

Leonhard’s opened in downtown Charlottetown in the summer of 2008, right before we moved to Alberta. I know that if we still lived there, it’s a place we would visit frequently.


The cafe is owned by a very friendly German couple who previously had a stand at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market where they sold their delicious baked goods. I think everyone was happy when they decided to open their own place. It’s a beautiful, European-style cafe that serves specialty coffees and teas, lots of baked goods, and a full menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and hot foods. I’ve never eaten a meal there, but I’ve heard good reports, and it always looks tantalizing. I was very happy to see that all of their soups are gluten-free.

Leonhard’s also makes an effort to source their ingredients locally. They buy a lot of produce and meat from vendors at the farmers’ market. Their coffee comes from a coffee roaster in New Brunswick, and their tea from a Charlottetown tea company. Some of their pastries are made on-site and others are made by a local pastry company. It is great to see this kind of commitment to supporting the local food scene. You can visit their website to learn more.


I was very happy to discover they have a chocolate espresso torte that is gluten-free. I was expecting a dense flourless cake, a popular GF dessert in many restaurants. This was so much more. It’s silky and rich, but not too sweet, with a prominent espresso flavour. Paired with fresh, unsweetened whipped cream, it’s a heavenly dessert I would go back for time after time if I was closer.


J loved his seven-nut pie, similar to a pecan pie with a brown sugar filling.  He’s also a big fan of their florentine cookies.


I brought my friend Mackenzie to Leonhard’s when we spent an afternoon together. We each savoured iced coffees, hers a simple cafe-au-lait, mine an iced mocha. I didn’t realize it would come with more of that delicious whipped cream on top, but the whole thing hit the spot.


I love the feeling at Leonhard’s. It’s relaxed but elegant. And it’s always busy, filled with all different groups of people: girlfriends out for lunch, couples, and young families. It’s a cafe with character, and I’d love to see more places like it in Charlottetown. 

Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant
42 University Avenue
Charlottetown, PEI

January 16, 2012

More weekends like this


What a great weekend it was. It's rare that we have one with so few commitments and schedules to follow. As a result, there was lots of sleep and lots of relaxing.


We had lunch at one of our favourite casual restaurants ... 


… and supper at a newly discovered place right near our apartment - we'll definitely be back.


We took the streetcar across the High Level Bridge, and talked about how great it would be if that route ran year-round. It could whisk us right into Old Strathcona.


There was a birthday celebration.


With delicious almond-orange tuile cookies.


I made a huge whack of gluten-free pancakes, because I love eating them leftover. (I’ve been making these pancakes for a year now. They are so good. They always turn out. This time, J said he prefers them to glutinous pancakes. That’s a winner there, folks!)


And I took a very cold walk around the beautiful ice and snow sculptures on the Legislature Grounds.

I also finished a really good book and we watched this fascinating documentary on paper-folding. I even got some useful things done, like cleaning the bathroom and working on our new household budget. Wow! What a weekend.

Hopefully this winter there will be more weekends like this, as we get more and more used to the idea of a new family member coming our way soon.

January 13, 2012

Happy Weekend!



I must say I breathed a sigh of relief when I got off work this afternoon -- it's been a busy week.

These photos are from last weekend, which was very relaxing. I’m hoping the next few days are more of the same. I plan to visit the farmers' market for the first time in quite a while. I might take a ride on the High Level Bridge streetcar over to the Old Strathcona market. Now that the downtown market is year-round, it's been at least a year since I've made the trek over to the south side one. I've also never taken the streetcar across the bridge, which is running for free between the Ice on Whyte festival and the Alberta Heilongjiang Winter Festival on the leg grounds.

I'm also excited about a trip to La Shish Greek and Lebanese restaurant for a friend's birthday. She misses the Lebanese food in Charlottetown and wants to see how an Edmonton shawarma compares. Maybe eating so much of it back home is the reason why I've never been to a Lebanese restaurant here in Edmonton. There are so many other great ethnic foods to try that don't exist on PEI. I do love middle eastern food though, so I'm excited to try La Shish.

I hope you enjoy a relaxing, peaceful weekend!

January 10, 2012

Food Shopping in Charlottetown


It’s time to play a bit of catch-up. I have a couple of posts about our trip back to the East Coast last summer that have been waiting on the back burner for months. Here’s the first of at least two.

Everywhere we travel, there’s always a focus on food. A big part of our trip home was visiting all of our favourite restaurants.  PEI is also a great place to go shopping for food, especially in the summertime. Fresh seafood is a huge draw, and there’s also great produce, meats, cheeses and other foods. These are a few highlights from our trip.

We didn’t have the chance to do much cooking, but we had one supper at J’s parents’ place, and I wanted to cook seafood. We tried to buy some at the farmers’ market, but it was a Wednesday and the seafood stall wasn’t there. So we headed to another amazing place to get fresh seafood: the Queen Street Meat Market.



I know, it doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Not only does the market sell more seafood than meat, it isn’t even located on Queen Street. (I assume it once was). It’s one block over, on University, in a not-very-nice strip of the avenue, across from the Dairy Queen. But it’s a great little shop that feels like it hasn’t changed much since the 1950s.



My Dad used to frequent this market a lot to pick up his meat and fish. They sell premium Island steak, all kinds of other meat, fish and seafood, cheese, and some local produce too. The wooden interior is painted white, and it’s a little cramped, with a long L-shaped glass display counter where you place your order, big freezers against the wall, tanks swimming with live lobsters, and food stacked on tables around the room. Taped to the walls are old calendars and charts detailing the different cuts of meat you can get from a cow.



There’s nothing fancy about this place. The pricing labels made from styofroam meat trays and scrawled with black marker can attest to that. But fresh products have nothing to do with extravagance. And what you get at this market is the best – the mussels we ate that night were fantastic. 

For a more touristy but nonetheless delicious food shopping experience, Anne of Green Gables Chocolates on Queen Street does the trick. They also have locations in Cavendish and Borden. Yes, many things in this town and across the Island are named after our beloved heroine, though as far as I know there is little to no mention of chocolate in the Anne books.

The chocolate shop is a large store selling everything from individual truffles to PEI “Oysters” (like chocolate turtles) to hard candies. They also carry Avonlea-brand preserves and cheddar cheese, and cheese from Cows Creamery (makers of the famous ice cream).


A very popular item is the chocolate-covered potato chips made from PEI potatoes. I saw these packages sticking out of many tourists’ bags as I walked around town, and there’s even a display set up in the store where you watch the staff making the treats. I didn’t sample them myself, but how could you go wrong? Sweet and salty is the best combination ever.


Just down the street from the chocolate shop is a brand-new food store unlike anything I’ve seen in Charlottetown before. Liquid Gold Tasting Bar sells high-quality olive oils and vinegars, and the shop is set up in a unique way. Each oil and vinegar they sell is held in a large silver vat with a tiny spout, and each is available to taste. You can make your way around the store sampling everything from jalepeno olive oil to cranberry pear balsamic vinegar, and tons of other interesting flavours.



The store is large, bright, and airy, and there’s lots of information about olive oil and vinegars up on the walls. There’s even a special section with truffle oil – that one, not surprisingly, is not available for everyone to taste.

I love the way the store makes shopping a really participatory experience. It’s definitely a great way to get people t0 buy your product. I was shopping with my friend Mackenzie, and she chose two bottles as gifts (a 200 ml bottle is $11 and 375 ml is $18). The friendly salesperson told us the original Liquid Gold store is in Halifax, in the Hydrostone Market. This made Mackenzie happy, since she just moved there.


It was busy during our visit, and I really hope Islanders support the store through the year so it doesn’t have to become one of the many businesses that open only during the summer for the tourist trade.

Since Charlottetown does a booming tourist trade, it only makes sense for food-inclined visitors to want to check out local products. If you’re there for a visit I hope you enjoy these three spots. The Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is also a great place to enjoy a local food experience. There’s also a newer downtown farmers’ market on Sundays, though I haven’t been there yet.

Queen Street Meat Market, 368 University Ave. www.queenstreetmeatmarket.com
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, 100 Queen St.
Liquid Gold Tasting Bar and All Things Olive, 72 Queen St.

January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!


I have a feeling 2012 will be our biggest year ever.

Becoming an adult is crazy, isn't it? Everything seems to change so fast. Real careers emerge, plans change, you end up living in a city you never expected. Now we're about to become a real family. I can hardly believe it. I still feel like my 20-year-old self, heck, like my 15-year-old self, looking at the world with big eyes and big dreams, wondering what life will hold. I like to think I've become a bit wiser, more pragmatic, more compassionate, and definitely happier than I was then. But there's so much more to become, to do, to live.

The other day we saw the first glimpse of our baby on the ultrasound screen. I couldn’t believe how exciting it was. This is really happening!





The pictures here are from the days around New Year’s. I made the banana bread, which was delicious. I’ll share the recipe here soon. Unfortunately I didn’t eat the dumplings or drink the slushy-whipped cream concoction. One had gluten, the other alcohol.

I did form a few dumplings myself though. The dough was soft and silky. My friend’s parents who are visiting Edmonton from China were whipping them out awfully fast and showed me how. They looked delicious – this filling is spinach and egg, and there was another one with pork and shrimp.

Here’s to a new year with lots of new experiences and wonderful food shared with family and friends. J and I are aiming to have people over more often for simple dinner parties. We did a lot less entertaining in the past six months than we’d like, and we want to change that. I look forward to sharing it all with you. Thanks for reading The Little Red Kitchen in 2011!