Tag Archives: beer

The G20 Series: Saudi Arabia

17 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Look, I’m going to be straight up with you. I don’t know a lot about Saudi Arabian cooking.

It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that it hasn’t really made it onto our restaurant scene here in Toronto, unless you count hummus, which is carried at mainstream grocery stores, and falafels, which is one of our city’s latest trends in fast food.

Getting  qahwa – Arabic coffee (from the Bedouins), sometimes called “The Wine of Islam” – though, may prove a bit more of a challenge.  I don’t know of one place that carries it.  As you’ll see, it’s  a little more complicated than your regular pot of joe, but a very important part of the culture.

And talking about drinks, there are no bars in Saudi Arabia because The Qu’uran states that alcohol is strictly forbidden.  You can get alcoholic-free beer and cocktails at hotels, where “bars” are located, but we both know that not being able to have a glass of wine or beer, or at least the option, will change how you think about dinner.

Being a Muslim country and the only one in the world to adhere its laws to based on The Qu’uran, pork too, is not allowed.

I am going in search of Saudi Arabian food here in the city.  In the meantime, you can read about the fascinating dishes they serve in Lyn Maby’s Food from Saudi Arabia.

Advertisements

The G20 Series: Mexico

13 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Funny, I was just thinking along the same lines as Chris – how the hell do you sum up an entire country’s food in a mere 3-4 paragraphs?!

You can’t.  I can’t, anyway, so I thought long and hard about what sets Mexican food apart for me from the rest of the crowd (I had to fight getting up in the middle of the night to make tacos).

Here’s what I came up with:

Mexican food is perhaps one of the most fun, messy foods to eat.

Tacos and tacitos drip hot sauce and juices from pork and chicken,  enchilada sauce bursts forth from your entree, and ceviches blot your napkin with lemon or lime juice.

Salsas are perhaps one of the messiest condiments, with the water from the tomato or tomatillo and citrus juices making it sometimes difficult to get on your tortilla chip or breadstick.  And when your  fajitas, quesadillas and tacos have salsa on them, just  know that it might take a few tries to get the hang of it and not have it end up on your shirt front.

The good thing about salsa is it is simple to make an outstanding one as long as you have fresh ingredients on hand, and because you don’t have to cook it, it can be made quickly.  The base ingredients include tomatoes or tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, citrus juice and hot peppers.  Some pros say salt and pepper too, but I’ve never done that.  (Hmm, I’m going to try that next time….) I like to chop and mix it all by hand, but many people use their food processor.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the making it fresh always trumps a store-bought one. And this way, you can make it as hot or mild as you like.  The best way to add heat to your salsa is to remember that:

1.  the smaller the chili, the hotter it is

2. add a little at a time and taste as you go

The other thing I’ve learned is, salsas vary in Mexico, depending on the region.   Northern Mexico is known for its hearty grilled beef dishes, so you want something vibrant to stand up against the heaviness.

In The Cuisine of Puebla by Karen Hursh Graber, Northern Mexican “Drunken” Salsa is the perfect accompaniment.  And she says if you don’t have tequila, an extra 1/4 cup of beer will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mulato chile, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 pasilla chiles, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roasted on a comal or griddle, then peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 3 tomatoes, roasted on a comal or griddle
  • ½ cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or piloncillo
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Grind the chiles, garlic, onion and tomato in a molcajete or blender. Add the beer, tequila, pineapple juice and sugar and blend to combine ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Made a few hours ahead of serving, this salsa develops a deeper flavor. Makes 2 cups

If you want to make something from the South, use a smoked jalapeño called Chipotle.  The Aztecs who lived in central and southern Mexico from the 14th to 16th Centuries, came up with the idea.

The only other thing I would suggest is a lot of napkins.

You’re going to need ’em.

Friday 5 – A Brief Random Blogroll

26 Sep

By Chris Garbutt

1. Can slow roasted tomatoes take you to heaven? Try it yourself.

3. Who has the best beer in the Canada? Check out the results of the Canadian Beer Awards.

4. Have you had edamame at home? You must. Here are some tips.

5. James Chatto of Toronto Life fame considers the future of cuisine in Toronto.

Friday 5 – Squash

19 Sep

By Chris Garbutt

Stephanie and I liked the Fall Foods 5 post so much, I thought I’d offer some more, with a focus on squash. It’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore!

1. Butternut squash soup is so passé. Try Acorn Squash Soup with Cumin and Curry Leaf.

2. Slice up that butternut squash instead and make a pastry.

3. It’s a recipe for Sausage and Rapini Stew, but the squash pulls it all together.

4. Save the seeds and roast them. Or keep them for planting.

5. Pumpkin is a squash, and now it’s a flavour for a beer.

Photo by Flickr user x-eyedblonde, used under a Creative Commons licence.

Monday Review: Fine Waters

11 Aug

Fine Waters: A Conoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Waters by Michael Mascha

By Stephanie Dickison

Okay, before you go and get all upset about a book about fine waters, just remember that there’s already a ton on beer, wine, coffee, and the like.  Why not a book about water?

I mean, if you’re going to drink water, why not something a little more special than the brands you find at the grocery store next to the microwave popcorn like Cape Grim, Bernina or Llanllyr Source?

This book tells you the brief history of bottled water, flavours, and even on bottled water etiquette – what foods go with still and what ones to pair with effervescent.

And the bang of the book comes with the 100 Bottled Waters, complete with photos of the bottles (some are pretty swank!).  There are tasting notes, much like you’d find in a wine bible, the region it’s from and its contents.

You might think it’s a silly book at first, but I expect that upon a closer look, you’ll be swept away and looking at bottled waters a little differently.

Friday 5 – Summer Drinks Edition

8 Aug

By Chris Garbutt

1. Just for the heck of it, there’s Tahitian wine.

2. Cool, refreshing, and, uh, savoury: Cucumber-Rosemary gin & tonic.

3. Cold beer. Seems everyone’s celebrating beer this week. My favourites in the summer: Mill Street Organic Lager, Amsterdam Natural Blonde, and Steam Whistle Pilsner. For more on beer in Toronto, check out A Good Beer Blog.

4. I’m not usually one for liqueurs, but two make my list as summer favourites. Cointreau on ice is one. Or you could make this, which I haven’t tried. I love the orange flavour in Cointreau, much subtler than Grand Marnier, which can be a bit cloying. The other is a straight-up shot of the Czech Republic’s Becherovka, served supercold. Apparently it’s made with over 100 different herbs, but to me the strongest flavour is clove.

5. Seaking of liqueurs, here’s a limoncello gelato for dessert.