Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer well wishes and words of support for my gal Jelly.  She seems to be back to her old sleepy/hungry/cantankerous self. Sadly, however, this rebound will be short-lived.  According to her latest rest results, she’s suffering from an antibiotic resistant infection that has spread through her intestines and kidneys.  The doctors suggest we consider end of life before she develops septic shock.

Very disappointing news.

Capping this blog with some of the highlights from this past long weekend…


Dinner with actor Roger Cross.


Rum cake and ice cream from Don’t Call Me Cupcake!


The gang working on their tans.


Lulu, all laughs.


A visit from cousin Clover.


Thai fried chicken.

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Jodelle steals my Thai iced tea.


A selection of SOMA Chocolates.


Akemi out and about.


Vancouver swag compliments of my foodie friend Nicole.


Nicole gives Buca Restaurant the thumbs up.

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Preserved tomato, truffled burrata cheese, basil, fresh scorzone truffle pizza.


Braised pork, 34 year old red wine vinegar, rosemary pizza.


Gelato trio.



Jelly shares Akemi’s ice cream.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to some of the blog readars who need some positive thoughts sent their way: paloosa, tinamarlin, phil, Tam Dixon, and Das!

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Let me save you the trouble…

6. Montecito

Not bad, but not particularly good either.

5. Wahlburgers

Three different visits yielded three thoroughly underwhelming, overpriced burgers.

4. Momofuku

Uninspired Asian inspired fare.  Why would you serve fried chicken with caviar?  And “because you can” isn’t a good answer.

3. Ruby Watchco

With the exception of a very good chicken liver parfait, fairly unexceptional.

2. Sushi Kaji

Calling it “the best sushi in Toronto” is the equivalent to declaring someone “the best bullfighter in Moscow”.  Congratulations.  I guess.  But no.  Toronto (and I’d argue Canada’s best sushi) can be found on Harbord Street.  See below.

1. Luckee

The dim sum items are actually quite good, but everything else ranges from mediocre to downright terrible.

On the other hand…

5. Barque

Barbecue aint as simple as it looks.  But this place does it right.  Get the brisket.

4. Burger’s Priest

All hail, The Priest.

3. Buca

Topping the city’s list in the recent Canada’s Top Restaurants list.  And with good reason.

2. Splendido

Also making the top five in the same list.  The tasting menu is a culinary adventure.

1. Yasu

Canada’s best sushi.

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If yesterday’s late night insomnia gave me the taste of the vampire life, today’s sleep-deprived shambling no doubt approximated the daily travails of your average zombie.


It started promisingly enough with dinner at Wilbur’s Mexicana where I was joined by my long-time nemesis and occasional writing partner, Tara Yelland.  The Wilbur in Wilbur’s Mexciana is Wilbur Scoville, the American pharmacist who devised the Scoville scale for testing the relative heat index of peppers…


You know how most places have salad bars?  Well, this place had a hot pepper bar offering some six dozen assorted bottles of hot sauces ranging from “mild” to “you’re screwed”.  Given my high tolerance for the stuff, I elected to go with a couple of hot – but not insanely so choices: scotch bonnet and orange habanero which both clock in at 150k – 325k scovilles.  Compare to the wimpy jalapeño that comes in at somewhere between 2500 to 8000 scovilles.

They were spicy – but not inordinately so.  In hindsight though, that after-dinner ice cream craving was telling.  But, instead of ice cream, we headed to Buca Bar where we split a dessert platter that included samples of every sweet creation on the menu.  With the exception of the pistachio zeppole that I ordered anyway.

In a misguided effort to avoid any late night stomach upset, I decided to forego alcohol in favor on a double espresso with cream and coffee sugar.


By the time we left, it had stopped raining and I was feeling like a million bucks!

By the time I got home ten minutes later, it was more like a buck and change and the remnants from the sandwich bag of dog kibble I try to pass off as “treats”.

Wired by the caffeine (I’m not a coffee drinker), I felt awake enough to watch Director Ron Murphy’s terrific cut of episode #109.  I turned in at a somewhat late but still respectable 12:30, setting my alarm for 7:00 a.m. so I could head into the office early and write up my notes for the editor.

Right about 1:00 a.m., I headed downstairs and popped an antacid, figuring I’d curtail my burgeoning indigestion and still manage to get in about five and a half hours sleep.

When I headed down for a second antacid at 1:30 a.m., I wasn’t feeling any better – but I was nevertheless optimistic about a good five hour sleep.

Around 2:00 a.m., as I lay wide awake in bed, a thousand thoughts blazing through my head, my stomach simply blazing, I began to grow concerned about my possible four and a half hours of shuteye.

By 3:00 a.m., I was well past concerned and headed downstairs for a home remedy of apple cider vinegar and carbonated water – which actually helped the indigestion.  But didn’t help my sleeplessness.

When 3:30 a.m. rolled around, I decided “Screw it!”, got up, took my laptop into the next room, and worked.  By the time I was done and had copied Paul and Ivon on my edit notes, it was some time after 5:00 a.m.

I’m pleased to report that I did eventually fall asleep at 5:30.  And, since I’d already completed those notes, was able to sleep in until a lazy 7:30.

Despite my sleep-addled stupor, I was able to get you the following pics.  So, as my father used to say: “Don’t complain I don’t get you anything!”


Akemi bakes up pies for the cast and crew: pecan, and sour cream apple accompanied by sweet and unsweetened whipped cream.  Both were gone by the end of lunch, the pecan in less than ten minutes!


Akemi helps me deliver the pies to the car.


Director Martin Wood takes time off from shooting episode #111 to check out the Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageant happening across the lot.


While, upstairs, Director Andy Mikita spent much of the afternoon trying to explain the True Detective finale to VFX Supervising Producer Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.

And that’s it!  It’s an early night for me.  Tomorrow = the press junket!

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This weekend, we celebrated Akemi’s birthday in the traditional way with a couples massage, sushi, and the annual purchasing of the sunglasses to replace the lost sunglasses I purchased the previous year.

It's customary to consume an entire bowl of banana chips prior to the massage.

It’s customary to consume an entire bowl of banana chips prior to the massage.

She's like that character from Ringu.  What was her name?  Sudoku?

She’s like that character from Ringu. What was her name? Sudoku?

Pork bun lunch at Momofuku

Pork bun lunch at Momofuku

The ole' fried chicken and caviar combo at Momofuku.  Just like they make down south.

The ole’ fried chicken and caviar combo at Momofuku. Just like they prepare it down south.

The cereal soft serve gave me a plethora of new ideas for some summer ice cream flavors.

The cereal soft serve gave me a plethora of new ideas for some summer ice cream flavors.

Sashimi at Sushi Kaji

Sashimi at Sushi Kaji

The lilybulb root and sea urchin cake at Sushi Kaji.  Just like mom used to make!

The lilybulb root and sea urchin cake at Sushi Kaji. Just like mom used to make!

Trout nigiri and roe at Sushi Kaji.

Trout nigiri and roe at Sushi Kaji.

Chu-toro nigiri at Sushi Kaji.

Chu-toro nigiri at Sushi Kaji.

We return home to a little something awaiting Akemi at the front desk.

We return home to a little something awaiting Akemi at the front desk.

Nadege macarons c/o Dark Matter VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft Wilson.

Nadege macarons c/o Dark Matter VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft Wilson.

Taking in the Toronto sun and wind.

Taking in the Toronto sun and wind.

Akemi's excellent chicken ramen at Kinto Ramen.

Akemi’s excellent chicken ramen at Kinton Ramen.

My pork ramen at Kinton Ramen.

My pork ramen at Kinton Ramen.

Back at it tomorrow as production continues on Dark Matter’s first season.  Our final day of episode #110 with our stunt coordinator John Stead at the helm, directing our crew and a most colorful collection of guest stars including…






Oh, hey, while we’re on the subject, I’m also on twitter – although I rarely do any actual tweeting.  This blog keeps me busy enough…


Also on Facebook – although I rare do any actual updating outside of madly sharing lost dog/cat/parrot and “animal in need” posts:


And, on Akemi’s insistence, I now have an instagram page – which she promises to keep updated:


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Whenever I visit a foreign country, I always like to check out the local fast food eateries for a taste of the strange yet familiar.  For instance, last time I was in Japan, I went to McDonalds and had a hamburger – but not your run-of-the-mill hamburger.  I had a Kuro Burger: a beef patty served between two black buns, topped with black cheese, bamboo charcoal, and squid ink ketchup.  Overall, it was a resounding 5/10 on the burger scale.  But the experience?  Well, that was a 10/10!

Japanese McDonalds can always be counted upon to deliver some mighty unique menu items.  I’m never disappointed.  That being said, I AM disappointed in some of the menu items available at familiar fast food joints around the world – only insofar as I can’t get my hands on them.

Here are my Top 15 Strange But Familiar Fast Food Menu Items I’d Like To Try!


15. Burger King Chili Cheese Nuggets: Deep-fried cheese with fiery hot japalenos. (available: Austria)


14. McItaly Adagio Burger: Beef patty topped with eggplant mousse, ricotta salata, and tomatoes served in an almond topped bun (available: Italy)


13. Mcdonalds Le Poulet-Curry: Breaded chicken, potato pancakes, lettuce, and curry served on a mini baguette (available: France)


12. McRice Burger: Beef or chicken patties topped with lettuce, mayo, and Asian barbecue sauce served on crispy rice buns (available: Singapore)


11. McDonalds Ebi Filet: Fried shrimp patty with special sauce and lettuce (available: Japan)


10. McAloo Tikki Burger: Potato and chickpea patty with tomatoes, onions, and tomato mayonnaise (available: India)


9. Burger King Pumpkin Burger: Beef patty topped with fried kabocha squash, bacon, lettuce, and a creamy nut sauce (available: Japan)


8. McDonalds P’tit Beldi: Spiced halal meat, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo (available: Morocco)


7. McPollo Italiano: Fried chicken patty topped with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and guacamole (available: Chile)


6. McDonalds Bacon Roll: Bacon and ketchup on a hard roll (available: The U.K.)


5. McIberica: Beef patty topped with Iberico Ham, manchego cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and olive oil (available: Spain)


4. The McArabia: Grilled kofta patties, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and tahini served in flatbread (available: Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia)


3. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Jalapeno Bulgogi Hot Dog: Marinated beef slices with jalapeños, melted cheese, and barbecue sauce  (available: South Korea)


2. McSpicy Paneer: Fried paneer cheese patty topped with lettuce, red cabbage, and tandoori sauce (available: India)


1. Burger King X-Tra Long Chili Cheese Burger: Three beef patties, cheese and jalapenos (available: Austria, Germany, Netherlands)

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Yesterday, I released the script for episode #110.  When I told Paul, he called me cruel for doing so without putting out #111 as well.  The script went out at 8:00 p.m. last night and, between set-ups, the actors were huddled around their cell phones, reading.  By the time I got home an hour later, there were a bunch of text messages awaiting me:

“YOU GIVE US 10 TO LEAVE US HANGING?!?!” (Alex Mallari Jr.)

“JoE!!!!!!  What the hell!!!!!!” (Melissa)

“Aaaaaahhhhh” (Jodelle)

Wait ’til they read #111.  And #112!  Or – holy crap – 113!  My life may be in danger after #113!


Episode #104 prep meeting with Linda and Renee and Renee’s dogs.  Executive Producer’s Assistant, Alison Hepburn, keeps us all in line.

Today, I delivered another round of treats to set from Akemi:


I corrected her this morning, pointing out it’s “peanut butter” not “peanuts butter”.  She countered by referring to the ingredients on the jar’s label: “peanutS”.  “More than one peanut,”she helpfully explained.

Yeah, but…  Okay, round one goes to her.


The decorative white chocolate icing undermines their vegan-ness.

People are always asking: “Joe, how come we never see pictures of you on the blog?”  The answer to that is simple.  I’m way too busy.  Taking picture of everyone else.  As it so happened, yesterday, a couple of cast members managed to catch me in action…


I contemplate a script with actor Roger Cross (photo compliments of Zoie Palmer).


I contemplate an Art Department design with Production Designer Ian Brock (photo compliments of Alex Mallari Jr.).


I contemplate a bowl of chocolate covered almonds with story editor Trevor Finn (photo compliments of Emily Drake).


Today, our unit manager, Robbie David (the guy who introduced me to Burgers Priest) introduced me to Centre Street Deli smoked meat.  I had every intention of taking a photo – honestly – but through some strange, unexpected happenstance, ended up devouring it before I got the chance.  Anyway, this is more or less what it looked like:


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I made these for the Dark Matter cookie exchange and, since so many of you asked (there must’ve been upwards of two or three of you!), I’m sharing my version of this recipe.  I say “my version” because I used this recipe (http://buddingbaketress.blogspot.ca/2013/04/brown-butter-bourbon-chocolate-chip.html) as a template and refined to my liking.  To achieve the taste, texture and consistency I wanted, I modified the Bakergirl recipe by cutting out a 1/4 cup of cafe flour, eliminating the baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and, oh yeah, adding just a touch more bourbon.  Instead of the suggested two tablespoons, I went with cup of Makers Mark 46.  And, finally, instead of milk (or dark) chocolate, I went with white chocolate because I felt it best complimented the bourbon flavour without overshadowing it.

The Ingredients

2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs (I used duck eggs because they’re richer)
2 bars white chocolate
1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup light brown sugar + 1/2 cup dark brown sugar)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The Instructions

1. Brown your butter over medium-high heat until it attains a nutty brown appearance, then cover and refrigerate.

2. Combine your flour and set aside.

3. Once your butter has cooled, combine with brown and granulated sugar.  Once creamed, add the vanilla, the eggs and, finally, the bourbon.

4. Combine with the flour (I used my hands), then put it back in the refrigerator and allow it to chill overnight.

5. The following day, chop your white chocolate.

6. Depending on how bing you want your cookies, use 3-4 white chocolate chunks per cookies.  Roll them into balls, then flatten them.

7. Bake them at 350 fahrenheit for anywhere from 13-15 minutes.

8. Let them cool, then enjoy them with a glass of milk (with a shot of bourbon).


I just made a batch for Christmas.  Tomorrow, Akemi and I (and the dogs) will be making the 4-6 hour drive to Montreal.  We’ll head out early tomorrow morning and I’m sure it’ll be smooth sailing – despite the fact that the “change engine oil” light has been on all week and indicates I’m at 1% engine oil.  Normally, I’d be worried, but Tony at the office had the oil changed and assured me it’s just a matter of resetting the indicator – which has proven all but impossible despite my various attempts.

Anyway – ROAD TRIP!  Hopefully there will still be some cookies left by the time I arrive.

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