Rose City Kitchen: Correcting Gertrude Stein While Humming Bret Michaels

“A rose is a rose is a rose”.

-Gertrude Stein

This famous line is said to refer to the fact that things are as they are.  The rose is also a symbol of love (just think of the inflated prices circa February 14th) and even victory.  The Kentucky Derby (aka Run for Roses), for example, drapes a garland of the red flowers over the winning horse. Rose City Kitchen is the newest addition to the bouquet of eateries which  Rose and Sons, Rosewater and the Rosedale diner. These restaurants are not related in any other way but the origin of their names are more obvious than this one. Rose City is a small town in Michigan (pop. 653)  Given the middle eastern influence of RCK and the fact that Rose City, MI is 97% Caucasian, I quickly eliminated that connection.  Portland, Oregon is nicknamed the Rose City. I figured there might have been a connection given the snacky, trendy nature of the place, but I quickly figured that was a stretch.  A little more digging (well, I just read their about page) led me to the Jordanian town of Petra, a historical city known for the rose-coloured stone in which it is carved (this would likely explain other middle-eastern bakeries in Ontario with the same name).

The concept of Rose City Kitchen is brilliant.  It takes the bold flavours of the middle east and serves them street style in handheld pitas that resemble tacos in both size and price.  Representation includes Egyptian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Greek and the RCK original.  The promise is that each is stuffed with ingredients (eg. couscous, dates, apricots, almonds and haloumi cheese) respective of their homeland.

After a period of indecisiveness I ordered the original with a chicken and a kale salad to go.  I watched as a pita was warmed in the oven in front of me and  I anticipated the bold flavors that would fill the awaiting pocket.  I received the sandwiches and took a few bites.  I waited for a climax that never came.  The promised flavours were absolutely void.  Minuscule, overcooked pieces of chicken were hidden among a garden of lettuce and carrot.  The home fries were few and far between.  The promised flavour from the humus and garlic oil were underwhelming and the harissa dressing seemed  an afterthought which added sub par heat and flavour to the sandwich.

 

RCK Original with chicken $4
RCK Original with chicken $4

The kale salad with falafel ($7)  offered a little redemption. Three pucks of falafel were hidden among the jungle of  crisp and fresh greens.  The addition of the tomato and onion broke the monotony a bit and the tangy dressing was a nice blast of flavour.

 

Kale Salad with Falafel $7
Kale Salad with Falafel $7

My Take

Rose City Kitchen has emerged in a crowded street food market offering something unique; a  snack sized pita stuffed with bold Mediterranean flavours and priced under 5 bucks.  I try to give the benefit of the doubt and look at new restaurants through rose-coloured glasses except the above claim is as deceitful as Pete Rose himself. The flavours fell well short of expectations. I’d much rather grab a messy taco for the same price or a  sloppy shawarma for a buck more. The kale salad was fresh and well dressed but the three average tasting falafel disks were barely more than garnish.

The concept of RCK sounds as melodic as  Joni Mitchell’s “For the Roses”.

The kale salad reminds me of  Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”.

In the end, I’m left humming Poison’s “Every Rose has It’s Thorn”…..with the thorn being execution.

I guess Gertrude was wrong.

 

Rose City Kitchen on Urbanspoon

A Peachy Day

I was notified by a colleague that a friend of hers recently lost her foot to cancer and that a campaign to support her and create was awareness was on.  I was inspired by the website and decided to join the cause. Her name is Beth and her nickname is “Peachy”,  so my daughter and I hit the streets and kitchen with our “Team Peachy” sign.

Stop 1 was Merla Mae in North London.  Among  numerous creations, this iconic ice cream shop has a great peach sundae which we both ordered.

Stop 2 was at Moxie’s to have a famous peach bellini. I know why I don’t drink these normally.  I was a sickly mix of syrup and booze. My daughter laughed hysterically as I tried to down this rather large drink.

   Once we got home, I proceeded to make a meal with a focus on peaches.  The first was to create a peach salsa for cod fish tacos. Here’s the recipe:

Peach Salsa

4 peaches, peeled and chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup of chopped onion (sweet or vidalia is best)

1/2-1 jalapeno pepper (depending on preferred level of heat)

2 tbsp of chopped mint (or cilantro if you prefer)

Juice of one lime

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour.

With the salsa made, I prepared a grilled cod taco. The fish was marinated in oil, some chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  It was grilled on the BBQ  and served with Avacado and the peach salsa.

Dessert was a twist on a peach melba which I aptly named “Peach Beth”. I added fresh mango and mango ice cream instead of vanilla.

Peach Beth

4 peaches, preferably free stone

Water

1/2 cup of sugar

1.5 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 tbsp of mint (optional)

2 tbsp of sugar or maple syrup

1 fresh mango

Mango or Vanilla ice cream

mint sprigs and fresh rapberries for garnish

waffle bowls (optional)

Procedure

1.  Place peaches in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, bring to a boil and simmer for 8 min. Cool quickly, peel and cut into quarters. Peel and slice the fresh mango.

2.  In another saucepan, add raspberries and sugar or maple syrup and mint (optional).  Bring to a boil and simmer until mixture is uniform.

 3. In a waffle bowl or ice cream bowl, place a scoop of ice cream.  Surround with 3 or 4 peach quarters and 3 slides of mango.  Top with 2 tbsp of sauce and garnish with mint and fresh raspberries.

I wish Beth the best in the future.  I believe food is healing and can send an incredible message to the world.  I’m grateful that I  have a palate, beautiful ingredients available and the ability to prepare/enjoy food on a daily basis.