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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

This time, it was Taiwan Fest where Akemi and I enjoyed grilled spicy squid, even spicier lamb skewers, and more inclement weather!

This time, we came prepared.

This time, we came prepared.

More or less.

More or less.

We arrived early to beat the line-ups.

We arrived early to beat the line-ups.

There were about a half dozen different stands offering about a half dozen different food items.

There were about a half dozen different stands offering about a half dozen different food items.

The giant steamed barbecued pork buns weren't bad...but you had to go through A LOT of dough to get to that pork.

The giant steamed barbecued pork buns weren’t bad…but you had to go through A LOT of dough to get to that pork.

Want a bite?

Want a bite?

Hot dogs and chicken nuggets - just like your Taiwanese mother used to make 'em!

Hot dogs and chicken nuggets – just like your Taiwanese mother used to make ‘em!

Akemi can't wait to get her hands on those chicken nuggets.

Akemi can’t wait to get her hands on those chicken nuggets.

Festival revellers!

Festival revellers!

The game plan: 1. Order 2. Retreat across the street to seek shelter under the store awnings and await our orders. 3. Pick up orders. 4. Retreats back across the street to eat.

The game plan: 1. Order 2. Retreat across the street to seek shelter under the store awnings and await our orders. 3. Pick up orders. 4. Retreats back across the street to eat.

Manning the squid grill.

Manning the squid grill.

Akemi keeping her spirits up…

What's in the mystery box?

What’s in the mystery box?

Right on the first guess!  Goopy oyster omelet!

Right on the first guess! Goopy oyster omelet!

Delicious Taiwanese sausages: sweet, savory, and fatty.

Delicious Taiwanese sausages: sweet, savory, and fatty.

Master Chef!

Master Chef!

The lamb skewers were practically dipped in the cumin and chill.  Not for the weak of heart.  Or stomach.

The lamb skewers were practically dipped in the cumin and chill. Not for the weak of heart. Or stomach.

No food festivals tomorrow.  It’s Draft Day!  Time to set aside my script and start some intensive fantasy football research!

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Akemi and I were in Vancouver’s Gastown area today and happened to come across a BBQ Festival featuring pit and grill offerings from about a dozen local eateries.  Also coleslaw.  And rain.  Lots of rain…

Hey, what this?  BBQ!  The damp calm before the storm.

Hey, what this? BBQ! The damp calm before the storm.

An alright rib with some too creamy coleslaw.  Not pictured (because the photo came out fuzzy) is the accompanying pork jowl chill.  Tasty!

An alright rib with some too creamy coleslaw. Not pictured (because the photo came out fuzzy) is the accompanying pork jowl chill. Tasty!

Deacon's Corner serves up damn fine wings.  But some underdone potato salad.

Deacon’s Corner serves up damn fine wings. But some underdone potato salad.

Railtown Cafe's melt-in-your-mouth brisket, delicious jalapeño corn bread and cole slaw were my highlight of the day.

Railtown Cafe’s melt-in-your-mouth brisket, delicious jalapeño corn bread and cole slaw were my highlight of the day.

Have to check this place out.

Have to check this place out.

Akemi's favorite - by far the most tender ribs of the day = The Blarneystone's maple glazed ribs.

Akemi’s favorite – by far the most tender ribs of the day = The Blarneystone’s maple glazed ribs.

Wings from the Hastings Warehouse.

Souther Comfort Jerk Wings from the Hastings Warehouse.

Bubba awaits his cut.

Bubba awaits his cut.

Served with a cool cucumber yogurt!

Served with a cool cucumber yogurt!

Bubba and Six Eyes try to stay out of the rain.

Bubba and Six Eyes try to stay out of the rain.

But not doing a very good job of it.

But not doing a very good job of it.

BTW – Vancouver does a TERRIBLE job of getting the word out about these types of events.  I can only assume their thinking is: “More for us!”

P.S. Head on over here (https://www.facebook.com/groups/332854913534175/) to participate in an online auction in support of a service dog for blog regular Bethany Draves.  Among the items up for grabs is a copy of Ripple Effect, signed and lovingly annotated by yours truly.

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Every state in the U.S. has an iconic dish to call its own.  Georgia has its peach pie, Louisiana its gumbo, and Pennsylvania its scrapple.  But not all plates are created equal.  I imagine that some came late to the party and, after finding out that ribs and brisket were taken, just threw up their hands and simply went with vinegar fries.  Anyway, here is my list of the Top 5 Best and Top 5 Worst State Dishes.

THE BEST…

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5. The Lobster Roll (Maine)

I discovered a newfound appreciation for the lobster roll two years ago when my buddy, Martin Gero, hired a lobster food truck to cater his birthday party.  Akemi was so enamored that she has taken to perfecting her own version.

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4. Mud Pie (Mississippi)

I love my desserts decadent and chocolatey, and this one offers the very best of both worlds.

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3. Philly Cheesesteak (Pennsylvania)

In terms of sandwiches, it doesn’t get any better than this: beef, green peppers, and cheese!

Pork Rib

2. Ribs (Kansas)

Tender, juicy ribs smothered in the state’s classic sweet and tangy tomato and molasses-based sauce.

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1. Ribs (Tennessee)

But as much as I love sauced rubs, there’s nothing quite like the delicious dry rub variety.

AND THE WORST…

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5. The Buffet (Vegas)

Mediocre jack of all culinary trades, master of run.

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4. Funeral Potatoes (Utah)

Where the following ingredients go to die: hash browns, onions, cheese, potato chips, corn flakes, and cream soup.

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3. Hot Dish (Minnesota)

“Hoddish” is a hot mess of ground beef, pasta, tomato, and cheese.  Variations include versions with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and sauerkraut.

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2. Vinegar Fries (Delaware)

Why would you do that to a french fry?

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1. Deep Dish Pizza (Illinois)

The picture alone triggers my gag reflex.

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Vegetarian Week was a resounding success – insofar as I went seven full days (plus one for good luck!) without eating either meat or seafood.  And, surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard.  I didn’t miss it my old eating habits nor was I tempted to fall off the wagon at any point.  So, after a week+ of vegetarianism, what’s the upshot? Do I feel any better?  Did I lose any weight?

Nope.  I feel exactly the same.  Absolutely no different.

While I’m pleased with my herculean achievement, I’m not so sure I could have lasted much longer.  As I said, I was never jonesing for a hit of ribeye or looking score a kilo of pork, but I attribute much of that to the fact that I kept my meals varied and interesting.    But there’s not doubt that, sooner or later, I would have exhausted my bag of culinary tricks.

Still, it was a nice run.  Some of the highlights…

1Akemi’s cream of mushroom soup topped with roasted oyster mushrooms and truffle oil.

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Garlic-roasted oyster mushrooms.

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Crispy oven-roasted artichokes.

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Akemi’s button mushroom risotto.

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And Akemi’s curry cauliflower risotto.

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Carrots tossed in olive oil and thyme, roasted and honey-glazed.

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Roasted (notice a theme here?) blow-your-lungs-out hot peppers tossed in olive oil and minced garlic.

1Fried garlic scapes.

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Crispy ceci (chickpeas).  I served them with conchiglie (shell pasta).

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Akemi’s vegetarian Thai-inspired soup with tofu.

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Mom’s savory navy bean and garlic recipe.  I served this with piccolini (mini wheel pasta).

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Eggplant parm sandwich.

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Garlic-fried eggplant.

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Lentils with carrots, onions, garlic, and bay leaf.

***

And then, today for lunch, I ate about a half pound of deli beef tongue.

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This list requires some explanation…

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#10. Candied Fruit

Okay, not really a fruit per se, but I include it at number 10 to round out the list – and because my grandmother would always serve us these when we were kids and I always hated them.  Tooth-achingly cloying with a weirdly textured “rind” possessed of an almost inorganic quality.

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#9 Cantaloupe

I actually like the taste, but I it makes the list because I always experience a weird reaction whenever I eat one.  It always feels as tough a thousand tiny scalpels have been taken to the roof of my mouth.  Guess I’m mildly allergic.  Not that big a deal as it’s not a flavor I crave.  At least it’s better than being (in the words of many of today’s youth) “lack toast intolerant”.

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#8. Honey Dew Melon

Elicits the same physical reaction as cantaloupe, but minus the deliciousness.  A mainstay of every fruit platter ever served, it’s always just-not-quite-ripe.

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#7. Currants

They’re always adorning otherwise tasty desserts, like needy wingmen accompanying handsome friends.

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#6. Blackberries

Blackberries will find their way off this list and onto my Top 10 Favorites the day someone finds a way to produce a blackberry free of those annoying little seeds that get stuck between your teeth that you keep spitting out for hours after.

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#5. Passion Fruit

The inedible seed to edible fruit ratio is way off.

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#4. Pomegranate

It too suffers from a terrible inedible see to edible fruit ratio, with the added bonus of being difficult to eat.  It also stains your hands.

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#3. Durian

Sure, it could’ve been lower but for the fact that the initial flavor is actually quite nice: custardy sweet.  The aftertaste, on the other hand, is like a gas leak in your chest.

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#2. Cranberries

Apparently, they’re good for urinary tract infections.  And not much else.

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#1. Kiwi

People insist they’re sweet but every single one I’ve tasted has been tart.  Also, this one is like The Guardians of the Galaxy of fruit.  It’s okay, but nowhere near as fantastic as fanatics make it out to be.  And, for that reason, it gets the #1 slot.

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Guess what we had for lunch today?  Why, yes!  How’d you know?

Let's rock some dumplings!

Let’s rock some dumplings!

Today, Akemi and I headed down to Chinatown for Vancouver’s Golden Dumpling Cook Off, featuring signature dumplings from a variety of local chefs, all in support of The Chinese Elders Community Kitchen.  The purchase of a “golden dumpling passport” got you a dumpling at each of the 20 event participants.  Unfortunately, advance passports sold out weeks ago – BUT 1oo passports were to be made available on a “first come first buy” basis on the day so Akemi and I got there early, well ahead of the noon kick-off.

We joined about two dozen people in line at 11:00 a.m.  By the time the passports went on sale an hour later, there were well over a hundred people waiting.

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As we inched along, I kept doing the math in my head.  We were 20th and 21st in line.  If the people ahead of us each got a ticket, there’d be plenty left for us.  Hell, they could buy an average of five tickets each and we’d still be okay.  But more than five…

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Fortunately, there were still plenty of passports available by the time we reached the ticket table.  I, of course, purchased two because: a) I wasn’t sharing and, b) I was counting on Akemi being a light eater and passing on the foie gras and truffle dumplings which would mean more for me.

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Once we had our passport and chopsticks (which we were instructed not to lose as they were apparently in short supply), we waded into the crowd…

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Each stand had its own mini line-up.  After making your way to the front, someone would stamp your passport after which you’d be handed a dumpling.  After a while, to save time, we would simply eat our dumplings while waiting in line for more dumplings.

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There were quite a variety of dumplings on display, from obvious Asian influenced entries to Italian, Indian, and Mexican-inspired offerings.

The full line-up:

Ask For Luigi: Chicken Liver Capelletti in Brodo with Pancetta and Sage (Chef Letitia Wan)

Bearfoot Bistro: Duck and Shrimp Dumplings with Lemongrass and Fried Garlic (Chef Jimmy Stewart)

Bambudda: Fried Nest Dumpling, Spot Prawn Mayo, Seaweed Powder (Chef Scott Korzack)

Bestie: Smokey Bison Wonton with Chili Jam and Kohlrabi Slaw (Chef Colin Johnson)

Campagnolo: Ricotta and Kale Gnudi, Local Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata (Chefs Nathan Lowey and Joachim Hayward)

Cibo Trattoria: Braised Pork and Fig Agnoli with Taleggio and Crispy Sage (Chef Faizal Kassam)

Cinara: Pork and Swiss Chard Agnolotti (Chefs Lucas Syme and Gill Book)

Danso: Kimchee Mandoo Dumpling

Gyuu: Pork & Shrimp Dumpling wrapped with Dumpling Wrapper and Tofu Bag (Chef Yuki Ota)

Harvest Community Foods: Pork Ramen in a Dumpling (Chef Hokuto Yamanka)

Homer Street Cafe & Bar: Chicken and Leek Dumpling (Chef Tret Jordan)

La Mezcaleria: Braised Beef Chicharron and Guajillo Chili Sauce Dumpling (Chef Alejandro Cruz)

Maenam: Thai Seafood Dumpling in Southern Style Tumeric Curry (Chef Angus An)

Merchant’s Oyster Bar: Braised Duck and Smoked Plum, House Buttermilk and Shiso Sauce (Chef David Jackman)

Pidgin: Sweet Potato and Chocolate Dumplings (Chef Makoto Ono)

Railtown Cafe: No idea.  Went by twice and they were having trouble getting food out both times so I skipped it.

The Union: Red Curry Duck Lychee Potsticker (Chef Lisa Henderson)

Vij’s: Chicken Samos (Chef Vikram Vij)

Wildebeest: Foie Gras and Duck Dumpling (Chef Wesley Young)

Winner Winner: Coastal Dumplings – Local Crab and Shellfish Parcels with Preserved Duck Egg Yolks and Seasoned Vinegar (Chefs Alain Chow, Chen-Wei Lee, Stanley Yung)

Stuffing wrappers at the Homer St. Cafe stand

Stuffing wrappers at the Homer St. Cafe stand

Gyuu's tofu-wrapped dumpling.  Tied off with watermelon!

Gyuu’s tofu-wrapped dumpling. Tied off with watermelon!

I helped subdue this wild panda until animal control arrived on the scene.

I helped subdue this wild panda until animal control arrived on the scene.

The Union's red curry duck potsticker.

The Union’s red curry duck potsticker.

Wildebeest's foie gras and duck dumplings.

Wildebeest’s foie gras and duck dumplings.

The culinary team at the Vij's stand.

The culinary team at the Vij’s stand.

Campagnolo's gnudi

Campagnolo’s ricotta and kale gnudi

Bearfoot Bistro's duck and shrimp dumpling with lemongrass and fried garlic

Bearfoot Bistro’s duck and shrimp dumpling with lemongrass and fried garlic

A crazy amount of dumplings and I managed to sample them all – with the exception of Railtown Cafe that seemed to be having trouble with their steamer. The first time I went by, they had no dumplings on the table and, half an hour later when I went by again – same problem.  Some hits, some misses as well, but my favorite was the entry from Maenam’s Angus An – that ended up winning the event as the crowd favorite.  Second place went to Winner Winner.  La Mezcaleria took third.

A great time was had by all – but especially me since, as expected, I ended up polishing off most of Akemi’s dumplings as well.

May skip dinner tonight.

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Today, Akemi and I checked out the Japanese-Canadian Powell Street Festival with our friends Nicole and Lan.  The highlights (most of it food-related, natch)…

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The onstage entertainment.

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Guy mans the barbecued salmon grill.

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Akemi discovers how HOT the udon is.

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Nicole and Lan: Let the Eating Games Begin!

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The spam sushi – an Okinawan culinary tradition.

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Mogu – Akemi’s favorite food truck.

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Akemi and Nicole knock back some chicken karaage.

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My miso katsu (pork cutlet) sandwich.

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Akemi cools down with a strawberry shaved ice.

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I snap a photo for my blog of Nicole snapping a photo for her tumblr account.

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Cosplayers drum up interest in the forthcoming AnimeRevolution con (http://www.animerevolution.ca)

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I, of course, have my outfit all planned out.

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Assorted stands.

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I sample the matcha (green tea) ice-cream macaron sandwich.

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I think it glows in the dark!  Not a huge fan of the macaron portion, but the ice cream was great.

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My chocolate-covered matcha (green tea) ice cream pop.  “Looks like poopy,”remarked Akemi.

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A nice thin chocolate shell covers a surprisingly good green tea ice cream.  Poopylicious!

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After the festival, we swung by Nicole and Lan’s place to check out their thriving bee colony.  Sadly, no honey until next summer. :(

 Okay.  Back to that script!

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