New and Improved: Chocolatier Constance Popp

Inside Chocolatier Constance Popp's St. Boniface shop. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Inside Chocolatier Constance Popp’s St. Boniface shop. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Chocolatier Constance Popp
180 Provencher Boulevard
204-897-0689
Neighbourhood: St. Boniface
Website: artisanchocolates.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/constance.popp
Twitter: twitter.com/poppchocolates

Constance Menzies never rests on her laurels, never mind just resting.

Winnipeg’s most buzz-worthy chocolatier is always on the hunt. She’s looking for the next challenge, the next business opportunity, and the next collaboration all in the hopes of bringing more chocolate to ‘the good people.’

In just seven years Menzies’ name has become synonymous with chocolate in Winnipeg. In 2013, she moved from her original St. James location to Provencher Boulevard, in the heart of St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French Quarter. She doubled her space, added a small coffee bar and seating area.

She has also added chocolate sculptor to her resume.

With the help of a local model maker, Menzies created a chocolate replica of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in time for the official opening in September 2014. More recently, she created a Salvador Dali inspired chocolate sculpture in celebration of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s latest exhibition.

Back in the shop, Menzies—with the help of award winning pastry chef Helmut Mathae—has also added pastries and custom-made cakes to her repertoire. He is a whiz with fondant, butter cream icing and sugar work. His special occasion cakes are masterpieces that taste as delicious as they look.

Everyday customers will find freshly baked crowd favourites like almond, chocolate and plain croissants. Puff-pastry cinnamon buns, that Menzies raves about, are also in the pastry case. Whole cakes are for sale or by the slice.

Her chocolate shop is not just about chocolates anymore, says Menzies.

“It’s all part of the master plan to expand our pastries.”

Pastry Chef helmut Mathae's masterful work.

Pastry Chef Helmut Mathae’s masterful work.

Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.

New & Noteable: The Tallest Poppy

The Tallest Poppy 2.0 (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

The Tallest Poppy 2.0 (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

The Tallest Poppy
685 Westminster Avenue, the Sherbrook Inn (Entrance on Sherbrook Street)
204-219-8777
Neighbourhood: Wolseley 
Website: none
Facebook: facebook.com/tallestpoppy
Twitter: twitter.com/thetallestpoppy

Any visit to the Tallest Poppy starts with leaving any pretensions at the door.

This homey, no-nonsense diner lives inside the main floor at The Sherbrook Inn, a decidedly no frills hotel in the heart of Wolseley. This location is the second iteration of the once popular Main Street spot owned by chef/cook Talia Syrie, a passionate Winnipegger.

Syrie closed shop last year after taking over the kitchen and catering at Neechi Common’s Tansi Café. The new Wolseley location is a partnership between Syrie and her friend Steve Ackerman.

The two joined forces to resurrect the much loved ‘Poppy.’

The Poppy delivers on its mantra: ‘high brow meets low brow family recipes.’

Burgers, soups, sandwiches and breakfast favourites make the menu. Lunch and dinner are served Tuesday to Sunday. A la carte breakfast (unlike the former family style breakfasts on Main Street) is served Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The restaurant is closed Mondays.

The new restaurant retains the kitschy charm of the former location. Nothing fancy tables, a circa 70s lunch counter, vinyl booths and multi-coloured ceiling tiles lend a down-home air.

On our visit, we tucked into a classic tuna melt, a pickerel cheek sammie and a slice of house made strawberry rhubarb pie.

Pillow-soft cheese and green onion bread was a wonder. The lightly spiced tuna melt was comfort between two slices. Deep fried pickerel cheeks delivered crispy morsels of the tender whitefish.

A generous slice of strawberry rhubarb pie transported us straight back to grandma’s kitchen.

And, in the end, nothing screams down home like a slice of homemade pie, just like grandma used to make.

Strawberry rhubarb pie at The Tallest Poppy.

Strawberry rhubarb pie at The Tallest Poppy.

Spicy tuna melt with chips at The Tallest Poppy.

Spicy tuna melt with chips at The Tallest Poppy.

Fried pickerel cheek sandwich and chips at The Tallest Poppy.

Fried pickerel cheek sandwich and chips at The Tallest Poppy.

Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.

CONTEST: Win a mini-getaway at Fairmont Winnipeg

Chef Eraj Jayawickreme at the Velvet Glove inside Fairmont Winnipeg. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Chef Eraj Jayawickreme at the Velvet Glove inside Fairmont Winnipeg. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Meet Chef E at The Velvet Glove

The Velvet Glove
Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel
2 Lombard Place
204-957-1350
Neighbourhood: Downtown
Website: velvetglovewinnipeg.com
Facebook: Fairmont Winnipeg
Twitter: twitter.com/VelvetGlovewpg/
Eraj Jayawickreme’s Website: erajjay.com

The moment chef Eraj Jayawickreme walks into the room, the energy shifts.

You find yourself smiling, laughing more and generally feeling pretty darn happy.

You can’t help it. Jayawickreme is a force for fun. He is also a passionate and dedicated cook who takes food very seriously.

Chef E, whose family hails from Sri Lanka, calls Toronto home. Winnipeg is just the first stop on a global food adventure that he and his wife are starting. They hope to make pitstops around the world with Chef E cooking along the way. For now, Winnipeg and The Velvet Glove are his focus and home.

“My legacy is to bring people back here (to The Velvet Glove) and also to have unpretentious food,” he says.

He’s off to a great start.

Since taking over the kitchen at the Fairmont in mid-August, Chef E (as staff call him) has completely revamped the restaurant and lounge menu.

“They brought me here for a reason. There’s no use lollygagging,” says Chef E.

His energy, whimsy, creativity and talent shines through. From his bison carpaccio with hay mayonnaise to his rabbit rillette to his maple-cured arctic char, Chef E has put his stamp on the dishes.

Pork three ways—a hearty plate of luscious pork tenderloin, cheek croquette and crispy pig ears—defies any and all expectations.

Sometimes Chef E is adding a new spoke to the wheel, other times, he sticks to classic menu items but with his own touch.

For example, a simple French Onion Soup with cheese gougeres is a standout.

“I love clean, simple plates that aren’t overly complicated. I don’t want my food to be intimidating.”

That said, a lot of thought, time and preparation goes into his plates. Rabbit rillette goes through umpteen cooking stages before the decadent slivers of tender rabbit end up on the plate.

House-made pickled vegetables, mustard, mayonnaise are now standard. Infusing, brining, braising and many other multi-step cooking methods are now also in place. Presentation is also well designed.

Escargot in garlic butter, garlic mousse and roasted green beans comes in its very own garden—a big, beautiful tangle of moss.

Whatever is on the plate, know that Chef E is behind the scenes making food fun inside The Velvet Glove.

Bison Carpaccio at The Velvet Glove

Bison Carpaccio

Rabbit Rillette with house made cranberry chutney, mustard and toast points.

Rabbit Rillette with house made cranberry chutney, mustard and toast points.

Dessert is served. Poached pear, deconstructed creme brûlée, rooibus and orange pot de creme and dolce de leche whipped cream and caramel popcorn with chocolate bacon.

Desserts are served. Poached pear with pistachio mascarpone, deconstructed creme brûlée, rooibus and orange pot de creme and dolce de leche whipped cream and caramel popcorn with chocolate bacon. Macarons, peanut butter ice cream with chocolate “dirt.”

Chef E and server Maria inside the kitchen at The Velvet Glove.

Chef E and server Maria inside the kitchen at The Velvet Glove.

CONTEST: From Dusk until Dawn

Peg City Grub and The Fairmont Winnipeg have hooked you up with one, sweet mini-break. Start your ‘vacation’ with dinner for two at The Velvet Glove by new executive chef Eraj Jayawickreme. After dessert, settle back into your room upstairs at the Fairmont Winnipeg for a luxurious overnight stay.

Here’s how to enter:
• Answer this question: What country is Chef E’s family originally from?
• Post answer in comments section below.
• A winner will be randomly chosen from all correct entries.

From Dusk until Dawn ends Tuesday October 28. Good luck.

 

Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.