Life in Cape Breton is so busy compared to my past year in Ireland! I’m feeling a bit like a single mom, even though I have lots of (appreciated) help from my parents and extended family. I miss how Pat used to let me sleep in on Saturdays while he got up with Maeve.
I miss Ireland, a bit, too. I didn’t think I would. Not that I don’t love living there, I just never thought it would live up to Cape Breton. It seems to, though, in a completely different way. The summers are better (and more fun; relaxing) here. My parents and aunties are here and I am perpetually missing them while in Ireland. But the winters in Ireland are better; the spring arrives sooner. I have big family of in-laws who I love dearly. I can travel across several different countries by air in Europe in the same amount of time as it would take to fly from one end of Canada to the other. Ireland has its perks; and it seems like home to me now.
Cape Breton will always be home, too. I hope my kids feel at home here. But this is probably the last time I come for months on end without my husband. It’s not as fun without him anyway.
BUT he arrives in five days! And even though we’ll both be working it will feel like a proper summer holiday. I am thrilled to be hanging out with some of the lovely folks from Tourism Cape Breton as I rediscover my island home and do lots of research for future articles. I am loving taking care of the baking at the Baddeck Lobster Suppers a few mornings a week, and of course I’m so excited to be able to spend the next few weekends at the beach with my whole family. That’s right, my brothers will be here with their families. We will host a party of epic proportions. With lots of delicious Nova Scotian beer.
Though I haven’t had much time to cook or bake outside of work, I did whip up this delicious romesco sauce the other day. Romesco sauce isn’t just a condiment, it is a lesson in classic Spanish technique and flavour. It’s practical, using up stale bread and blending bits of fresh, roasted veggies with almonds and sherry vinegar, but it’s also multi-purpose. The flavour profile will brighten up nearly any fish or meat (including my dad’s famous egg-battered haddock) and also works well tossed with pastas or cooked veggies.
A dollop added at the beginning of a paella (although most likely considered blasphemous in Spain) will add an extra bit of zest to the classic dish. And now that most of my meals end up being eaten by an almost-one-year-old, I can attest to the fact that it is absolutely delicious in grilled cheese sandwiches. Maeve agrees.
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut in half lengthwise
- 1 entire head of garlic with the top cut off (use a serrated knife)
- 4 medium sized vine tomatoes, cored
- 1/2 cup blanched, whole almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 red chili pepper, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1-2 heels of stale bread, ripped into chunks
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 heaping tsp paprika
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190 Celsius, no fan). Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- Prepare all of your vegetables – core the tomatoes, seed and slice the peppers and cut the head off the garlic (you can save the little bits of garlic in the head for the minced garlic needed later).
- Throw the garlic, peppers and tomatoes on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the veggies for about 1.5 hours. They will be really, really well roasted when done.
- Toast the almonds on the stove top (I just put them in a dry cast iron pan and tossed them occasionally until they were evenly toasted). Set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, add the olive oil, almonds, bread, minced garlic, vinegar, and paprika. Pulse a few times to start breaking things down.
- Add the roasted garlic, tomatoes and peppers. Pulse until smooth. The consistency should still have texture to it, though, like a pesto.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature with all kinds of meat, white fish, grilled veggies or even just some nice, crusty bread, warmed olives and manchego cheese.