Urban Forager

Dig in to a nourishing meal kits such as this one from Front Street Brasserie

If you’re not feeling much of a cooking vibe these days, or you’ve fallen into a cooking rut, these tasty take-out offerings just might be the healing salve you need right now.

Nature’s Fare Markets’ Kitchen-Crafted Meal Kits offer an interactive experience making it more than just a meal. With eye-catching packaging, brown paper shopping bags announce each globally-inspired theme: from harissa-roasted halibut with warm couscous salad, Korean-style bbq chicken with kimchi rice, or Singapore-style noodles with tempeh and mixed vegetables. Each meal kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions and pre-portioned ingredients, guiding you from prep-to-plate in less than 45 minutes. It’s a great way to try a new dish and cooking technique. And all the ingredients are certified-organic, with ethically-raised meats and sustainable seafood, and lots of plant-based options. Bonus points go to their use of compostable and recyclable packaging.

Every Friday is ‘Date Night’ at Brodo Kitchen on Main Street. Chef Paul Cecconi launches a new take-out menu every Sunday on their Facebook and Instagram pages, to be ordered by Thursday for pick-up on Friday afternoon.

In true Brodo style, expect hearty multi-ingredient dishes such as dukkah-spiced bbq pork ribs with figs and olives, served over mint spaetzle with broccoli, creamed squash and carrots, or handmade lasagna with a rich red wine Bolognese with a truffle-parmesan cream and wilted kale topped with a brown butter-mozzarella crumble. All menu kits include a starter and they are equally as hearty and delish, and instructions for heating and serving are straightforward. You can add on a dessert, which could be anything from tiramisu with poached plums or walnut-dark chocolate coffee cake. And the 'date' is certainly not limited to lovers but can be for anyone who feels the need to share an impressive meal with a friend or family member without being tied to a stove.

Front Street Brasserie offers a taste of their restaurant wrapped into a single purchase with their twice-weekly take-out menus. Potential customers sign up for email notifications via Front Street’s website and it’s first-come-first-served on such fare as braised lamb shanks served with polenta and roasted cipollini onions, or Alsatian-inspired coq au riesling with smoked bacon and local leeks served with fresh baguette and roasted carrots with fennel. I finally succumbed to slow-roasted star anise-rubbed pork belly highlighted with a tart damson plum and ginger sauce, served with buttered local cabbage with scallions and sesame. The price for two includes tax and delivery, and you can add on options such as wine, appetizers and dessert. I added the appetizer of creamy butternut squash and carrot soup with garam masala crème fraiche. (Believe me it was welcome to see co-owner Lisa Baxter-Burke’s smiling face at my door during the freak snowstorm last Friday, armed with a big bag of goodness for dinner.)

Heating instructions are simple, so interaction with your stove is minimal, and there are even suggestions on how to plate. The soup was super creamy and nourishing, and the pork belly, tender and succulent with the plum-ginger sauce providing counterbalance. With candlelight and the good dishes, I further set the restaurant tone by listening to the Brasserie’s play list on Spotify. It runs the gamut from The Mamas and the Papas and Paul Simon, to Rat Pack classics by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It was almost like being there. Almost.

With fork and pen in hand, and a passion for culinary adventure, Shelora Sheldan, writer, cook and curious traveller, goes in search of the delectable. adventure, Shelora Sheldan, writer, cook and curious traveller, goes in search of the delectable. This column usually runs every second Tuesday in The Herald.