In the Kitchen with Grace

EMC Heritage – Lifestyle

Atomica Pizza and Wine Bar located at 71 Brock Street, Downtown Kingston draws inspiration from the American Italian classics. For over ten years, this trendy pizzeria has charmed with delicious food, and for three of them Chef Grace has been at the oven. Awarded the 2014 Trip Advisor Excellence Award this is a not to be missed dining experience.

Chef Grace

Chef Grace

Atomica is one of four sister restaurants owned by Tim Pater, including: Le Chien Noir, Harper’s Burger Bar and Diane’s Fish Bar. Grace worked with Chef Derek McGregor, of Le Chien Noir for a year, before taking over as Chef of Atomica.

“I didn’t know much about local food, and it’s importance until I trained with Derek,” says Grace. “In fact, I learned more from cooking alongside Derek than I ever did at culinary school.”

Grace grew up in a large Lebanese family in Sydney, Cape Breton. She graduated Nova Scotia Culinary College in 2005, and began working at Pines Resort in Digby. After a short stint in Halifax, she moved west to Jasper, Alberta with a culinary school friend. During the four years, she met her husband, Terry and worked at the Sawridge Hotel as a pastry chef, line cook and acting sous chef.

Atomica is her first restaurant where she has had the chance to operate things on her own.

“In the beginning, I would stop and ask myself, ‘Would Derek do this?’ Derek and Tim were really great, and helpful with ideas, by the third menu, I got the hang of things.”

For under $25, the Spring/Summer menu features fresh seasonal food such as; salmon arancini cakes dappled with snap pea, mint, baby kale & fresh chile salad, tarragon-lime crema, the prosciutto and melon salad, or daily favorites from the variety of pizzas, fresh pastas, (gluten free options available upon request) and fried olives, finish up with homemade biscotti and fresh pressed Illy coffee.

Try the fried stuffed olives on your next visit. They are made onsite by hand, stuffed with fresh Hanover pork fennel sausages, mixed with cheese, and then literally hand stuffed. They’ve become a signature dish at Atomica.

Although, not even the fried olives or wood fire pizza, aptly named after Chef Grace would satisfy her these days, given her insatiable craving for her grandmother’s lebanese fatayer. You see Grace and her husband are expecting their first baby.

“As a child I remember, making “fatayer” with my grandmother and the other family members. It was one of my earliest experiences with food,” said Grace. “Everyone would be cooking together, it takes almost six hours to make – the grand children would pat down, and flatten the triangles, which would be stuffed with lamb, spinach or beef.”

Family gatherings meant food, dancing and rum drinking. “Often more than 120 people would gather over the weekend to eat,” says Grace. “When my grandmother passed away, the story goes, they found at least six bottles of rum in the cupboard.”

I am lucky, both my parents cook, Friday’s ‘fatayer’ night, which they cook together. I am looking forward to my parents visiting when the baby comes. I am excited to teach our child about cooking.

In Grace’s absence, Chef Andy Kirby whom has also trained with both Chef Grace and Chef Derek for the past three years will be taking over while she is on maternity leave.
“Atomica will not miss a beat,” reassures Chef Grace.

Inside Atomica Gourmet Pizza and Wine Bar

Inside Atomica Gourmet Pizza and Wine Bar

Atomica is the best place for all occasions, whether date night, girl’s night, a quick drink or a place for the whole family. For more information about Atomica visit atomica.ca, follow them on Facebook. Restaurant is open 11:30 a.m. daily, menu changes with each season. Now available Kingston Olive Oil Company products.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or foodie biz for me to check out, email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com or Facebook.

Ick…Liver and Onions

Dad loved his liver and onions. “It’s good for you,” he’d bargain, as the brown slimy meat would slide into the pan. “Ick,” I would reply as I held my nose, fleeing the kitchen.

Image

Photo Credit: Colin Campbell

Liver has a strong taste and smell. For many, it’s a familiar and delicious one. Once believed to have magical, curative factors, this super food has long been a delicacy in some parts of the world. As a child, my dad taught me the benefits of eating liver in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

It’s a controversial topic these days. Many have unfavorable reactions to the idea of consuming organs, and for different reasons. It can be the taste, smell or the idea that the liver filters toxins through your body and therefore must be a storage organ of toxins. This popular objection to eating liver is the biggest myth of all. While it’s true that the liver’s role is to neutralize toxins, it does not store them up. The liver in fact is a storage organ for many important nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, B-12, folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. LiveStrong.com claims there are negative effects of eating liver given the high levels of vitamin A. I could not find any medical research to support this claim. In fact, research indicated negative effects with synthetic vitamin A intake, rather than ingesting liver. Always talk to your doctor about introducing new things into your diet, given your individual medications and associated health risks. Personally, I believe in eating healthy animals, it then plays a role in our health and the health of its organs. Buy locally and make sure the animal product is pasteurized, grass fed and free of hormones and antibiotics.

Liver is a super food. Nutrition and liver are interrelated in many ways. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients that aren’t always found in high concentrations of meat, and should always be part of your diet. However, liver is by far the best source of a highly usable form of iron and other important nutrients.

Introducing liver to your family’s diet is a healthy choice. It can be difficult convincing a child the benefits of liver. Try hiding liver in dishes with a lot of spice and flavor.

The first rule is to purchase it from a local farmer. You benefit the local farmer, your community and the environment. Try partially freezing it before cutting it into cubes. You can then grind up beef and chicken livers and freeze them in ice cube trays. Then add them to dishes such as pate, tacos, chili, even spaghetti sauce. The family will never know the difference.

Dad enjoyed his liver served with a side of onions, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It was a weekly mainstay in our house. It was also what he liked to order when he was out for dinner.

My dad was someone who never gave up. His perseverance and tenacity were the most loveable and annoying qualities about him. It was this determination that convinced me to eat liver. He was proud that I would order the liver and onions right alongside him when eating out. Clearly, liver has super powers. Or at the very least, my Dad did.

Dad passed away peacefully Monday, May 12, 2014.

If you have a restaurant or foodie biz suggestion please email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow me on Facebook or my blog at LadydinesAlot.com.