Family Reunion – Mom’s 90th Birthday.

This Labour Day long weekend was family reunion time. The occasion being my mother’s 90th birthday. As I say in my about page, I’m the youngest of six boys. We’re spread all over western Canada, with one brother living in Houston, TX. This family reunion was our first in ten years. That time it was a much sadder occasion as we were all together for dad’s funeral. For many of us, it was our first chance to meet Inara, daughter of my niece Kyla. There’s about an 89.5 year gap between Inara and mom. I think Inara ended up being fussed over more than mom did.

Family Reunion photo
Mom and her six boys. Back: Me, Gordon, Robert Middle: William, Cameron, Ian Front: Mom Photo credit Irma McKenzie.

Saturday Tea:

Happy 87th Birthday Lola!
Happy 87th Birthday Lola!

We’d been talking for a while about getting together, but it was essentially all talk(we are all real good talkers). Finally, my niece Kyla, my oldest brother Ian’s daughter took matters in hand, and started actually organizing a weekend get together. She is definitely deserving of a great round of applause for her efforts.

The official birthday kick-off was a tea at the Salvation Army Southland Community Church. Thanks to Joanne Biggs-Bellamy and Commissioner John Nelson for their help in pulling this together. The tea was a smallish event, but it was good to connect with friends that we hadn’t seen for many years.

The tea was also the kick off weekend’s eating activities. You can’t have a real family reunion unless there is lots of eating going on. The nibblies are great for an event people were wandering around the room visiting with different groups of people.  Also, it’s a light option ahead of the dinner

Family Reunion Dinner at Clay Oven

Dinner was held at the Clay Oven, an Indian restaurant close to where mom lives. Mom was born and spent her school years in India, and Indian food is something that almost all of us in the family love. Clay Oven has a few locations in Winnipeg, and I’ve written about there one in the Hydro building.

brothers on their phones
Me and my brother William checking our phones, pre-supper. Photo Credit Kyla Graff

For the meal we got seated in a room that can cut off from the main body of the restaurant by sliding doors. We were seated around a u-shaped table. This gave us a nice private space for our dinner. This also means that the other customers in the restaurant didn’t have to hear our stories about our childhoods.

The meal started off with a plate of appetizers. The Shrimp were especially juicy and flavourful.

The appetizers came first with a plate with shrimp, chicken tikka, and vegetable pakora. The flavours were all very good and the shrimp were especially juicy.

Supper Menu

The main course of the meal contains a nice mixture of days. There is lamb curry, butter chicken, aloo ghobi masala, and basmati rice. Of course there is a basket of Naan to go along with the other dishes. This meal is a set meal. It’s also served family style, where we passed the dishes around to each other. They gave us five sets of dishes so, that it was easier to share between smaller groups of the family.

I am a big fan of lamb, so I really enjoyed that. The aloo ghobi masala, which is a cauliflower dish, was also very good. I liked the little bit of sweetness that it featured. All of the dishes were quite enjoyable. For dessert we had the gulab jamuns. Often this dish is served a little lukewarm. This one was served nice and hot, and the syrup was light and sweet.

Gulab Jamuns
Gulab Jamuns for dessert.

Perhaps the best part of the meal was the service. The Clay Oven staff were friendly, very efficient, and did a great job of coming around during the meal to make sure that all of us were getting anything we needed. The Clay Oven delivers top notch service, to go along with great food.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday morning we all met for brunch at the Park Cafe in Assiniboine Park. We got a little surprise when we arrived, as their policy is no reservations, and we were told that at least 12 of our 18 people had to arrive before they would seat us. Fortunately, enough of us showed up so that we had no trouble getting seated. The Park is a lovely room that has lots of windows that allows a good view over the duck pond. At one point during our brunch a few Canada Geese wandered up on the patio to check out whether there might be any stray food around.

breakfast plate
My breakfast for the morning.

I ordered a standard bacon and eggs breakfast. All the components were well prepared. I don’t have many pictures of what they ordered. However, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my mom’s choice. I never asked her why, but for some reason she chose poutine. She did enjoy the cheese curds. If she looks a little less than fully enthused, it’s because she’s not a big fan of being photographed.

mom and her poutine

My mom chose poutine for her birthday brunch meal.You can see a coffee carafe on the table in the picture. That’s a nice feature of the brunch service. With a big group, they bring carafes and allow you to refill your cups at your own speed. The cafe also made sure we had two servers. That makes it easy to get anything extra you may need during service.

Burgers for Supper

After brunch we all split up and went to various activities in the afternoon. Some made a visit to the zoo. Others went off for a rest. My brother William, his son Alex, and I all headed down to The Forks. We picked up a coffee from Fools and Horses, and then sat around chatting. From there we took a walk a long the river walk, and into Osborne Village, ending up at Confusion Corner Grill.

There we ordered a pitcher of their house lager. A nice, light, and refreshing drink following a good bit of walking. We made a quick trip back to the hotel they were staying at. From there it was time to head out to my brother Cameron’s for our final meal together.

A light and refreshing lager.

This last meal together was a simple meal of burgers and chips. Along with that we ate up some of the leftover cheese and fruit from the Saturday tea. This seems appropriate since leftovers were always a part of our growing up years. We also ate a poke cake for dessert. This cake was made by my niece Emma, my brother William’s daughter. I don’t have any pictures of the evening meal. However my brother Cameron did a fine job of grilling the burgers.

The evening was very relaxed. The Bomber-Roughrider Labour Day classic was on TV. Several family members of the family are Rider fans, so they enjoyed the result more than I did. That’s pretty much it for the family reunion. At the rate we do this, we should get together again for Mom’s 100th. It makes for a full weekend, but the stories(all absolutely true). and the meals make it all worthwhile.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.