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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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…

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

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

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

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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
1 CUP BOURBON!

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).

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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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My Fantasy Football team, The Snow Monkeys, are on life support following a career worst performance by Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  And subpar performances by Tre Mason, Steve Smith, and Adam Vinatieri didn’t help.  We’re down 96.82 to 71.2o heading into tomorrow’s Monday Night game.  Do you think my final player, running back Matt Forte, has 27 fantasy points in him?  He did it once before this season, in Atlanta.  Can he do it at home against the New Orleans Saints?  I’m staying positive!

Drunken Uncles!

Drunken Uncles!

In addition to bemoaning my Snow Monkeys inevitable defeat, I spent much of the weekend refining my recipe for Monday’s Dark Matter cookie exchange.

"A watched cookie never bakes" - old proverb

“A watched cookie never bakes” – old proverb

All told, I will make approximately 80 of my Bourbon Brown Butter Cookies with Roasted White Chocolate Chunks (a.k.a. “Drunken Uncles” – thanks to Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, a fellow Fantasy Football weekend loser, who came up with the name), six for each cookie exchange participant plus leftovers for the innocent bystanders.

A dejected Lawren heads home, depressed by his team's elimination from fantasy football playoff contention - and the fact that there's already a drink called a Drunken Uncle.

A dejected Lawren heads home, depressed by his team’s elimination from fantasy football playoff contention – and the fact that there’s already a drink called a Drunken Uncle.

And when she wasn’t helping me bake cookies, Akemi was making the dogs breakfast…

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This morning, for instance, it was banana pancakes.  Yes.  The dogs had a banana pancake breakfast.  They can file that one away in the “pro” column.

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And this one under “con”.

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Back before Stargate, before my years on teen sitcom Student Bodies, before my time story-editing for the CBS Saturday morning lineup, I was the Manager of Animation Development at an animation studio in Montreal.  It’s been a long while, but I still keep in touch with a few of my former co-workers and even get together with them on occasion.

Like yesterday, for instance, when Anne-Marie Perrotta flew in for super-secret business.  And dinner with us.  At Patria, a Spanish tapas restaurant on King Street that came highly recommended from Prodigy Picture’s resident foodie, Natalie Cooper.

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Also joining us on this night was another former face from my animation days, Natalie Dumoulin, now Vice President Creative Affairs at 9story Media Group.

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What we had -

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Piquillo peppers with oxtail and manchego.

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Octopus and potatoes

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And, of course, the paella.  With cornish hen and serrano ham.

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The dulce de leche churros

In addition to about a dozen other dishes including blistered pardon peppers, chorizo bombas, goat cheese with orange blossom honey and fig, patatas bravas, empanadas, roasted cauliflower, and chocolate pudding with olive oil and sea salt.

Patria: 478 King St. West

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Akemi gets acquainted with Natalie’s dog.  

After dinner, we headed over to Natalie’s place for drinks – although, to be fair, she’s the only one who did any actual drinking, opening up a bottle of red to celebrate our re-connecting after all these years.

Just like old times!

But with more tapas.

And less voice actors.

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File photo of Executive Producer Carl Binder eating something that turned out to be totally different from what he was expecting/I told him he was eating.

File photo of Executive Producer Carl Binder eating something that turned out to be totally different from what he was expecting/I told him he was eating.

Every morning, I  make myself a breakfast shake comprised of ten varied ingredients, usually: almond milk, keffir/yogurt, green tea, cinnamon, flaxseed oil, one banana, another piece of fruit, oatmeal/bran, a piece of manuka honey, and a tablespoon of peanut butter.  This day’s prep seemed no different than any other and, after blending together all the components and pouring them into an empty bottle for later, I licked the spoon clean as I usually do – only to discover that what I thought was the homemade peanut butter I picked up at last weekend’s farmer’s market was, in fact, Akemi’s white miso paste which, incidentally, tastes NOTHING like peanut butter.

As I tossed out the shake and got to work on a new one, I was reminded of my very first food miscue.  Way back, when I was in kindergarten, my class was once presented with a tableful of common pantry items, everything from butter to jams. Our teacher asked us to identify what we recognized from our our kitchens. “That’s sugar!”shouted one kid, pointing to a bowl and, before the teacher could respond, perhaps emboldened by my fellow classmate’s ebullience, I scooped it up and poured its contents into my mouth.  As it turned out, he was wrong.  It wasn’t sugar.  And, to this day, I rarely ever add salt to anything.

Two of my father’s most infamous childhood anecdotes involved his own eating blunders.  In both incidents, he snuck into the kitchen, after being sent to bed without supper, for a spoonful of what he assumed to be pudding.  The first time, it was chicken fat; the second, a hot mustard plaster his mother had prepared for his dad’s ailing back.

Akemi offered her own childhood story about her brother who, rushing home after a baseball game and on his way to piano practice, asked his mother for a glass of water.  He was apparently so thirsty that it was only once he’d polished off the glass that he realized his mother had mistakenly poured him an eight ounce shot of sake.

Akemi found the retelling of this story all sorts of hilarious – until I reminded her about the time she brushed her teeth with hand cream.

I’m sure everyone has their own equally horrific story to tell.

And I want to hear it!

Come on.  Fess up.  What was your most memorable food miscue?

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Welcome to cheese town!

Welcome to cheese town!

“This five dollar bill has blood on it,”said Caitlin from the back seat, examining the keepsake from a recent road trip to Buffalo.

“Maybe it’s Buffalo wing sauce,”suggested Alison seated beside her.

“Except we didn’t have any wings while we were there.”

An awkward silence finally broken by Natalie, our navigator, who advised me to hang a left.

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The four of us were on a mission, on our to The Cheese Boutique to pick up a few items for this afternoon’s Friday Wine & Cheese.  Before leaving, I’d given everyone their assignments – Natalie was the knives expert; Caitlin the explosive expert; Alison the muscle; and I was the driver.

“I need to be navigator,”Natalie pointed out, taking a not-too-subtle swipe at my poor sense of direction.

“Okay,”I said.  “You’re the navigator – AND the knife expert.”

“Can I be something less violent?”

“No.”  I mean, seriously.  Who goes on a mission without a knives expert?

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A fifteen minute drive later, and we’d arrived at cheese heaven.  In addition to the wide assortment of cheese, the enormous shop offered charcuterie, jams, jellies, olive oils, balsamics -

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And, oh yeah, chocolate!

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After purchasing an insane variety of cheese, crackers, jellies, and breads – we were ready to go!

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Meanwhile, Trevor, under the assumption I have met with a terrible mishap, has moved into my office.

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Back at the office, we decided to lay the cheese spread out on Trevor’s desk since he doesn’t make much of use of it anyway.

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Let the games begin!  While we were picking up cheeses, Elliot was getting the wine.

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Everyone had a terrific time – except for the AD’s whose offices we loitered around, laughing, drinking and snacking while they tried to work.  Or, rather, pretended to be working while re-watching the new Star Wars trailer for the hundredth time.

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A big thanks to Caitlin, Natalie, Elliot and Alison for making Operation Wine & Cheese a resounding success.  And special thanks to Trevor for handing out the baguette slices and allowing us the use of his napping station.

Next week: Operation Beer & Oysters!

Cheese Boutique (45 Ripley Avenue 416 762-6292)

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