Tag Archives: lobster

The G20 Series: Australia

9 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

When I was in the fourth grade, I did a project on Australia, with cut-out pictures glued onto Bristol board and everything. I had all kinds of information about natural resources, demographics, flora and fauna, agriculture and political structure. I’m pretty sure there was nothing about the food. (I do recall, however, a statistic that said there were something like six times as many sheep in the country as people, a figure that I believe still holds.)

I’ve never been to Australia, but I do feel an affinity, simply because, like us, many people from elsewhere think of the country in stereotypes. No Australian I ever met talked about a “shrimp on the barbie”, though I have no doubt they all have had their share of grilled seafood. And thanks to Men at Work, we all know about vegemite. And should we even talk about Foster’s – a okay beer that is actually kind of hard to get in Australia?

Trying to track down an Aussie restaurant in this city is not easy – I still haven’t had any luck. There is the Tranzac Club, which, while devoted to promoting Australian and New Zealand culture in Toronto, makes no mention of cuisine on its  website.

Like Canada, Australia has a large immigrant population, and the government highlights the availability of flavours from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. But what is unique to Australia? What is their version of the beaver tail, the maple syrup, the figgy duff? Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

Dim Sim: a fried or steamed meat dumpling, at least twice as big as a Dim Sum dumpling, usually sold in Fish and Chip shops.

Moreton Bay Bugs: a kind of lobster, without claws.

Four ‘n Twenty Meat Pie: it’s, well it’s a meat pie. Often with ketchup squirted on top or inside through a hole in the crust. FYI, it has a Facebook fan page.

Pavolva: a meringue dessert best served with fruit.

Twisties: a crunchy rice snack in cheese and chicken flavours.

Tim Tams: tasty looking chocolate-covered cookies. If you find some, try a Tim Tam Slam!

And don’t forget, Australia is the fourth largest wine producer in the world!

Now I haven’t talked about kangaroo, though I am led to believe it smells terrible when cooking, but tastes like really good beef.

If you’re looking to know how  to talk at your next Aussie dinner party, here’s a lowdown on the lingo. And this government site offers some history, including information on traditional Aboriginal foods.

Think it might be time for a glass of Shiraz – I know I don’t have to look too hard to find that!

Chew On This – If You Had $100, How Would You Spend It On Food?

4 Oct


Opinion # 1 By Stephanie Dickison

This depends on whether I was going to use it to splurge or not.  Would I treat myself and get more extravagant, expensive things that I’m used to or would I try and get the most for my money?

Let’s go with extravagant, just for fun.  Now the question is would I use it for a nice dinner out with my fella or for fantastic luxe grocery items to keep in the kitchen cupboard for little bursts of luxury?

I think I’d go with the dinner, because getting the stuff for at home is a wee bit more practical and this isn’t about being practical for once.

As for where we’d go and what we’d have, that’s a tough one as we’re both food hounds and other than reading, writing, walking and spending time together, going out to eat is one of very favourite things to do.  Also, I’m a restaurant critic so there are certain restaurants that make not make the list over others.

I’d venture to say that we would probably either go for Ethiopian, Brazilian or Portuguese – the thinking being that we can get Italian, Japanese or Vietnamese any ol’ time, but these places are fewer and farther between.

Scott loves Ethiopian a little more than I do because he can’t get enough injera – the airy bread that you pull away with your fingers and acts as a utensil to scoop out other items.  I find it too goopy, but I love the other dishes, so I do just fine with my fingers.

Brazilian is awfully sexy and I love the heartiness and spiciness of it all, but I’m in the mood for Portuguese these days, so that’s what I going with for this experiment.

There are three things that I think are superb standouts in Portuguese cooking – churassco chicken, piri piri sauce, and the way they prepare fish.

I love that somehow the food is infused with intense flavours, but never overpowers the meat, fish or vegetables.  How do they do that?

I would go to a place on College Street that I’ve been only once, but the memories and flavours have remained ever since.

I would start with the Lobster, Octopus & Shrimp in a citrus, tarragon aioli ($20) and then move on to Grilled and Gently roasted Filet of Salted Cod with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Garlic ($38), while I’m sure Scott would get the Nova Scotia Lobster on risotto of saffron ($45).

I know I went over budget there a little, but I’d be happy to kick in the extra.  When you have food this good, it’s worth it.

Of course, Scott and I don’t eat dinners like this often.  Let’s face it – 2 freelance writers in one household does not an expense account make.   On a regular weeknight, I’m making  chicken and pasta and lots of veg, just like you

But it is nice to dream like this every once in awhile.  Especially while I’m off to make soup and sandwiches for dinner.

Opinion # 2 By Chris Garbutt

Every time I go to the grocery store, I wonder where we get the idea that inflation is low. Food prices have been climbing for longer than I can remember now. A hundred bucks almost doesn’t cover a week’s groceries for the two of us.*

But I think I’ll take another approach here. If I had $100 for one meal for two, then I could have a little fun. And the truth is, what I write today could change tomorrow. So with that in mind, here’s what I would do with that money today.

Now that barbecue season has begun, I think I would get grilling. I’m thinking maybe I would get some large scallops from my local fish market – Avenue Seafood on Avenue Road north of Lawrence. Then I would pick up some produce from Organic Abundance on Yonge Street. Perhaps some asparagus, potatoes, onions. Something in season for a salad – spinach, radishes? I would then walk down the street to The Friendly Butcher to pick up some locally raised bacon.

I would keep it simple:

–    Fry up some bacon for crumbling
–    Make a potato pouch with garlic and onions, and put it on the grill
–    Put some salt, pepper and olive oil on the asparagus, and grill that, too
–    Make up the spinach salad, maybe make a dressing with orange juice, shallots and olive oil
–    Sprinkle salt and pepper on the scallops, drizzle some olive oil and grill them
–    Use some of the salad dressing to create an orange sauce for the scallops
–    Crumble the bacon over both the salad and the scallops
–    Put it all on a plate and serve it with my sweetie

Now, that’s how I feel right at this moment. Give me a few seconds and I’ll start again. I’m starting to think that a lobster on that grill might be nice…

I think I’ve come well under a hundred here, so with whatever’s left, I’d buy the best sauvignon blanc I can find. What would you do?

* Well, I eat a lot of organic.