Friday, December 19, 2008

A taste of Walt Disney World right at home

Navigating Walt Disney World is complicated.

Do you hit Toy Story first or Rocking Roller Coaster? Test Track or Soaring? Expedition Everest or the Safari? We recently returned from a family reunion of sorts where 25 people (!) ranging in ages from eight months to 69 years old rendezvoused at Walt Disney World.

Talk about complicated! Thankfully, the one place almost everyone was happy was dinner.

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge was one of our favourites. Boma is a buffet, but you won’t find any steam tables with languishing, dried-out food here. Everything is cooked fresh in small batches so it’s as if you ordered everything on the menu- the hard part is choosing where to dig in.

With it diverse food offerings and great setting, surrounded by a savanna with roaming giraffes, Boma should not be missed. It is African-themed, but the culinary delights are internationally influenced. Go if you like high quality food in a great atmosphere.

I loved the watermelon rind salad and the Mulligatawny soup. The soup was so wonderful that I asked the chef for the recipe. And guess what? He gave it to me!

If you can’t jet off to Disney, have a little taste of Boma at home.

Boma’s Mulligatawny Soup (slightly adapted)
Makes 8 servings

Mulligatawny is a mixture that originates with the Tamils of southern India (see what I mean about not African, but really international?) It is such a great soup at this time of year. It's spicy and slightly exotic, but based on chicken broth, garlic and onions and somehow these ordinary ingredients seem to sing in it. I think the apples are the secret ingredient that makes this soup extraordinary.

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup each: chopped celery, carrots and onion
1 tbsp curry powder & minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced chicken breast pieces
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
2 tbsp milk
1 cup each: chopped red and green pepper
2 tbsp each: honey and hot sauce
1 1/2 cups diced apple (cored and peeled- about 2 small)
2 tbsp chopped parsley

1. Melt butter and whisk in flour to make thickening roux.
2. Sauté celery, carrots and onion in oil in large pot over medium heat until tender but not coloured. Add curry, chicken stock and pieces.
3. Whisk in roux, cream and milk and bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer to thicken.
3. Add peppers, honey and hot sauce about 10 minutes prior to serving. Add apples and parsley at the last minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And the Gargoyles go to...

Can you forgive me for not thinking of a clever way to announce the names of the following lucky readers who have won their very own copy of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, just in time for Christmas?

I'm going to go ahead and assume that you can AND that you'll join me in congratulating:

The Reluctant Housewife

Thanks to everyone for reading and for entering. Winners should e-mail their mailing addresses to and I'll ask the folks at Random House to send out your book!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Believing in the extraordinary

A truly extraordinary book makes you believe things your logical mind knows are impossible.

A truly extraordinary book is a rare find. I used plow my way through dozens and dozens of books in search of one so magical that I would happily spend days lost in its thrall. But since Graham's birth and the resultant time crunch, I have discovered few.

And I have missed it.

I have missed the way in which an extraordinary book makes the world seem more exotic and full of possibility. I have missed being awestruck by the evocative power of a masterful wordsmith and the unfettered imagination of a gifted storyteller.

I have missed books like The Gargoyle.

The Gargoyle starts when the caustic protagonist, a morally bankrupt porn star, swerves to avoid a vision of fiery arrows and plunges his car into a ravine where it is consumed in flames. After awakening in a hospital abandoned by friends, financially bankrupt and essentially transformed into a human gargoyle by virtue of extensive and excruciating burns, he bides time and plots his suicide.

Until something extraordinary happens.

A beautiful, heavily-tattooed psychiatric patient and sculptress (of gargoyles, no less!) visits his bedside and claims to have been his lover some 700 years ago. Is she mad? At first the unnamed narrator thinks so . But eventually she draws him into her world and out of his despair with uncanny, historically- accurate accounts of their life together and mesmerizing tales of undying love from around the world and throughout the ages.

The Gargoyle is the debut novel by Andrew Davidson, a previously unknown Canadian who spent seven years crafting it full of illusions to myths and fables and great literature from the Bible to Dante's Inferno. It was the subject of a heavily-publicized bidding war for publishing rights and has received massive amounts of press since its release this past summer.

And for good reason.

It is impossible to characterize The Gargoyle. It could accurately be described as a mystery, a horror, a medical primer, a historical tome and a Gothic love story. Though at times overwrought, it is nonetheless one of the richest and most satisfying books I have ever discovered: truly extraordinary.


The Gargoyle is published by Random House Canada and would make a treasured Christmas gift for any book-lovers on your list. I also have three free copies to give away to Canadian readers only (sorry to my American friends). Leave a comment below to win. I'll close comments next Wednesday and publish the winners' names shortly after.