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The Last Supper – Bread, Wine … Eels

2 Oct

And why not?

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They’re just a little more honest about it than we are…

24 Sep

From the Walrus: restaurants in Korea are much less squeamish than their North American counterparts about advertising what you’ll be eating.

Fear of Fat

18 Sep

By Chris Garbutt

The Globe and Mail offers an excerpt from Jennifer McLagan’s new book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient:

We need to rethink our relationship with fat. After decades of low-fat propaganda, most of what we think we know about fat just isn’t true:

All animal fats are saturated. Wrong.

Eating fat makes us fat. Wrong.

A low-fat diet is good for us. Wrong.

Since humans made their first fire, fat has been an important cooking medium. Fat is critical to the flavour of our food: without it, meat has no real taste. In addition, without marbling and external fat to baste and tenderize them, lean meats become tough and dry as you cook them. Many aromas and flavours are soluble only in fat, so unless you use fat in your cooking, they are not released.

Sign me up for a copy! I’ve long been suspicious of people who look for a demon ingredient to cut out of their diet. Fat remains the #1 devil, but it wasn’t that long ago (though it seems like the dark ages) that carbs were the trendy thing to avoid. I’m sure protein will get its turn…

Well, my mother’s advice of variety and moderation still holds true as far as I’m concerned (and you can add balance to that). And that’s true whether you’re just someone who wants to eat well, or if you’re an extreme athlete.

Calling All Men

19 Aug

The hippest blog in the manly universe – The Art of Manliness – poses the question: is cooking manly? Well, duh.

Check out this post to enter their contest and contribute to The Man Cookbook.

“Wait until they sample your delicious mock-tofu…”

15 Jul

Fourteen passive-aggressive appetizers, from The New Yorker.

Bastille Day Colours

14 Jul

Chocolate & Zucchini offers a culinary way to celebrate Bastille Day (today) with the appropriate colours: bleu, blanc, rouge.

CG

Eat local, save the environment a little

17 Jun

Farmer's Market photo by Chas Redmond

Photo by Chas Redmond

By Chris Garbutt

I’m a bit inconsistent on the whole locavore thing. As I mentioned before, I won’t eat strawberries unless they’re in season and from nearby. Same with asparagus. (All of which means I’m sorry I missed this event.) But, and this is just one example, I love bananas, and eat them pretty much everyday. So I’m not exactly a diehard locavore.

For those who are, you’ll be disappointed that the environmental benefits of eating local are not as great as you thought. A study out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has found that transporting food only accounts for 11 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions – most of comes from the actual growing of food.

What the study did find, to no one’s surprise, was that the impact of red meat is much higher than other foods. So the authors conclude that diet change will have a bigger impact on reducing greenhouse gases than eating local:

Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving.

Of course eating less red meat and more local food is going to pile up the environmental savings. What I can’t figure out, though, is whether the study took into account different farming practices. What’s the footprint of industrial vs organic farming? (See here for the federal government’s take on the subject of organic farming and the environment.)

My other question is this: when we live in a city the size of Toronto, is there really enough land to eat local? Can we possibly feed every single person in the region based on a 100-mile diet?

More takes on this study here and here.

Ch-ch-changes

1 Jun

By Stephanie Dickison

Lately I have noticed that food is constantly changing and not always for the better.

Chocolate bars are constantly evolving. Coffee Crisp, a perfectly good treat on its own because it is coffee flavoured, now comes in peanut butter, mocha, vanilla and caramel flavours, to name but a few. There are singles and snack packs and “family size” bars, though I doubt these monsters ever make it to more than one family member. If you want something with caramel, get a Mr. Big. If you want peanut butter, Reese Peanut Butter cups with satiate your peanut-y craving.

But there are some great new products. Like the President’s Choice Blue Menu line. I love their 100% whole wheat spaghetti, spicy flax tortilla chips and ginger-glazed salmon frozen entrée with a cooked rice and barley mixture (water, brown rice, black barley, daikon radish seeds). Mmm. So healthy and tasty. Eating well doesn’t mean wet tissue and cardboard tastes anymore, thanks to innovative and well-developed products such as these.

And I can talk about grocery products at length because I buy and use them everyday. But then there are new items that are really stretching the boundaries, especially when it comes to their colours.

Recently, I got to try Pinky Vodka, a new pink vodka that is making the rounds in Hollywood. It comes in a long, tall bottle that reminds me of a stretched Chanel No. 5 and has that Goth font that makes it seem both punk and post-modern all at once. The vodka is a blushing pink and a friend of mine trying it said it “smelled” pink and he’s right. According to the company, “Pinky owes its stunning “pink” taste to a bouquet of violets, rose petals, wild strawberries and other botanicals hand-blended into the vodka after distillation for maximum flavor.”

What I like about it is that when you think of vodka, you think of a clear liquid and here is a company that has changed that just by changing the colour.

I also got to try Hpnotiq, a new liquor that is a blend of premium vodka fine cognac and natural tropical fruit juices that is great on ice and to my mind, make it a great option for both summer and winter drinks. It is bright blue, which is a little disconcerting to some at first, but for me, it reminds me of the ocean, so it has only a calming effect.

And it is not just liquors that are changing it up. Even the chocolate world has seen a reframing of sorts in the last couple of years. Dark chocolate finally got its dues and the sugary sweet world of confectionary embraced new flavours, textures and even welcomes savory to the palate, building upon a whole new level for dessert and pastry chefs to play around in.

Kakayo truffles are not only handmade with organic, fair-trade cocao from Dominican Republic family farms, but come in such needed flavours such as Chai Masala and Hot Tamale, proving that chocolate does not have to have caramel in it to be hot. They also have naughty names like Raspberry Nipple and Trailer Park truffle, which I guarantee you will never see on a Cadbury bar.

I am all for new colours, flavours and textures. I think that this small sampling of products shows that we are a cosmopolitan world and we should act as such.

Speaking of which, wouldn’t a petal pink or sea blue cosmopolitan be fun? I’m on my way to find out…

Editor’s Letter

1 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

The Story of Food

There is a photograph of me in the kitchen of my childhood home in which I am stirring something in a pot with a rubber spatula. I can’t be more than 10 years old. I’m wearing a blue apron, the kind that has a loop for your neck and pockets around the waist. I’m quite sure that I’m making the first recipe I ever wrote down on a pad of paper and tucked into my apron pocket – chocolate fudge sauce, the kind that gets chewy when it hits the ice cream, the kind you have to reheat each time to make it soft again.

The apron was made by a close friend of the family, and it had a large C embroidered right at the heart. Someone saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t realize myself, but I took to cooking with gusto. I made cookies from a recipe by the Cookie Monster in a Sesame Street book. I treated my family to apple pancakes.

I tried to learn to make an apple pie, standing attentively by my grandmother’s side, taking notes. She wasn’t very helpful with details:

—Add some sugar…

—How much?

—Enough to make it sweet.

But that moment, I learned much much later, was the heart of great cooking. Yes, learn the basics, follow recipes. But make them your own.

I didn’t think of myself as much of a cook until in my 20s, I would watch a roommate cook night after night – it was nothing complicated, but I could see a level of comfort in his cooking. There was something magical in the simple way he poured olive oil. It was he that reminded me that the secret to good cooking is not so much talent as it is feeling comfortable with food and loving what you do. And cooking is one of the few things that I can do during which I will forget everything else and live in the moment.

Every recipe tells a story. Every dish, every meal, every feast, every ingredient has something to say. That is why we started this website. We love cooking, we love eating and we love to know what’s behind the food we love. With this site, we hope to explore the stories behind food and the people that make those stories.