Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Daisy, Akemi, and sis having a grand ole time.

Daisy, Akemi, and sis having a grand ole time.

My sis and Daisy are in town for the week and, of course, whenever we get together, it’s all about the food.


Like this kouign-amman they brought me from Montreal’s Patisserie au Kouign Amann.


Or mom’s Russian teacakes (aka Mexican wedding cookies).


Or mom’s home made biscotti, perfect for Akemi who is a huge fan of dry crumbly stuff.


And, while out and about today, sis and Daisy brought back some donuts from Cartem’s Donuterie.  From left to right: London Fog, Lemon Meringue, and Coconut Cream Pie!

Tonight, we’re off for hand-cut noodles and beef rolls at Peaceful Restaurant!

Oh, and this –


I will NOT be sleeping tonight!

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Throughout my life, I’ve been fairly consistent in listing the three things I don’t eat.  They are, in no particular order: popcorn, candied fruit, and Shepherd’s Pie.

In the case of Shepherd’s Pie, it’s a bit bewildering as I do enjoy its ingredients separately – ground beef, mashed potatoes, corn – but there’s something about the sum of its parts that trigger my gag reflex whenever.  Popcorn is just bland – annoyingly so – with those little bits that always get stuck in your teeth.  And then there’s candied fruit.  Do I even need to explain why that’s on the list?

Anyway, these three have made my culinary don’t-go-to list for as long as I’ve been compiling lists and then, last week, the very foundation of my reality was rocked by this –

“I know you don’t eat popcorn,”said Robert Cooper, “but this stuff is great.  I can’t stop eating it.”

I was, of course, dubious.  Chicago Mix?  A caramel corn and cheddar cheese combination?  Urgh.  It sounded terrible but, just for a lark, I decided to try a couple, popping one of each kernel into my mouth.  My initial reaction: “Weird, but not bad.”  And then: “Actually, kind of interesting.”  And then: “Help me!  I can’t stop!”  Five minutes later, I was shoving fistfuls into my mouth while pleading with Ivon Bartok to hide the bag.

Chicago Mix popcorn is the Devil’s snack!

Joining this list of Foods-I’ll-Just-Keep-Eating-Until-They’re-Finished-Or-Taken-Away:


An avowed chocolate snob, I love my Amedei Chuaos and Porclenas,  Pralus Papouasies, and Patrick Roger’s pralinés – but nutella always takes me back to my youth.  I can eat it straight out of the jar or, preferably, on a bowl of Haagen-Dazs french vanilla.


I discovered Hattendo Cream Buns in the Akihabara subway station in Tokyo a couple of years back.  The ultra-soft buns are served chilled and stuffed with a variety of creams – from matcha to chocolate.  I can’t eat just one!  Any doubt to the relative guilt-inducing prospects of this delicious dessert should be dispelled by the following photo of me eating one:


I bet you couldn’t envision a more guilty-looking eater.


The last time my sister visited Vancouver, she brought me a tin of kouign-amman from Patisserie au Kouign Amann on Mont Royal East.  I could barely pronounce the name but one bite of the butter and sugar-infused layered puff pastry with its crunchy caramelized crust and top, and I was hooked.  I’ve had other versions but none come close to these.  Thank goodness they’re located on the other side of the country.


If you’re ever out to dinner with me and see a chocolate chip skillet cookie a la mode on the menu, you can be damn sure I’ll be ordering it – with an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream because the ice cream to cookie ratio is always off.  There was a burger place in Toronto that used to serve them and I used to love the place, suffering through the mediocre burgers just to get to the dessert.

And you?  What’s your culinary Kryptonite?  Your Devil’s snack?

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Well, this marks the first year in over a decade that I won’t be visiting Japan.  :(

Here are some of the new or limited-time-only culinary marvels I’ll be missing…


The Aka Samurai Burger!  You have a choice of fried chicken or a beef patty served with lettuce, tomato and “red” cheese served in a “red” bun – the red hue courtesy of tomato powder.  It’s served with a red hot sauce.


Ben & Jerry’s Strawbearry!  Strawberry ice cream with white chocolate polar bears and marshmallow sauce.

The insanity of Taco Bell Japan!


Lotteria’s potato chip burgers!  You have choice between the Zeppin Cheese Potato Chip Burger and the Salad Chicken Potato Chip Burger.  Top with you favorite shaker flavors: Wasabi Beef, Consommé with Punch, Rich Salt, or Dark Nori Seaweed Salt.

via rocketnews24

via rocketnews24

Ramen ice cream topped with freeze-dried beef!

via JapanToday

via JapanToday

Ice cream cigares!  These pricey ice cream-stuffed cookies come in a box of twenty and will set you back about $50!


Unagi (grilled eel) soda!


Salmon-flavored soft candy!  With real salmon flakes!

via JapanToday

via JapanToday

Tom Yum Pizza!  Apparently, it tastes just like the Thai soup!

via Eater Japan

via Eater Japan

Burger King fondue burgers!  Choose between the chicken or beef.  Both come with a side of melted cheese.

via RocketNews24

via RocketNews24

Momotan Aged Meat-Flavored Snacks!  A manju cake that tastes like old meat!

via RocketNews24

via RocketNews24

Kimchi-flavored Ramune soda!  Apparently, it’s great!

via JapanTimes

via JapanTimes

Super Sour Lemon Potato Chips!

via Eater.com

via Eater.com

The Mos Burger/Mr. Donut collaborative French Cruller Burger with Chorizo!  The chorizo spiral sausage is topped with hot sauce!

via Eater.com

via Eater.com

Pizza Hut’s cheddar cheese crusted dessert pizza topped with mini marshmallows and milk caramel sauce!

via delish.com

via delish.com

Waffnuts & Chounuts!  The former is a waffle/donut hybrid that comes in three flavors: strawberry, chocolate-frosted almond, and cereal-coated Uji Matcha green tea.  The latter is a cream puff-donut hybrid comes stuffed in double caramel or lemon (cream) cheese.


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Akemi is in Osaka, visiting family, until Wednesday which has given me the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t normally do when she’s around.  Clubbing? Boozing?  Gambling?  More like watching four movies in a single day, reading five books simultaneously, and doing a 1-day juice cleanse.  Life on the edge, right?

And, yes, you read that correctly: a 1-day juice cleanse.  What, pray tell, would lead me to do this?  Well, chalk it up to curiosity, a desire to test the purported health benefits, and a masochistic streak that had me testing the limits of my endurance.  Others might climb a mountain or run a marathon.  I chose to go without solid food for a day.

I went to my local juicery (and there are A LOT of them in Vancouver) and picked up a handy 1-day cleanse: 6 bottles of liquid nutrients to be imbibed over the course of the day – in my case, starting at 10 a.m., progressing at two hour intervals, and concluding with an 8 p.m. night cap.  I was good to go!

10 a.m.: Bottle #1 was a “green juice” containing apple, cucumber, celery, parsley, ginger and lemon.  Oh, and black kale.  You could really taste the kale!  I was actually starting to get hungry just reading the ingredients – and imagining how wonderful they would be as accompaniments to actual dishes: apple pie a la mode, a nice chicken salad, a parsley-rich chimmichurri topping a grilled ribeye.

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 1.23.37 PMNotes: Still feeling pretty good – despite the taste in my mouth.

12 p.m..: Bottle #2 was a fruitier selection.  I was heartened by its bright orange coloring.  And disheartened by the inclusion of turmeric as an ingredient alongside orange, carrot, cantaloupe, and ginger.  I made sure to shake this one up good before opening.  After all, there’s nothing worse than knocking back a nice cold summer beverage only to discover all of the turmeric has settled on the bottom. Overall, however, this one was preferable to the initial green juice.  It was almost like being served an amateur mimosa – by a waiter who had inadvertently dipped his fingers into your drink after dropping off the next table’s aloo gobi.


Notes: While not hungry, I was beginning to feel a little peckish.  I could have eaten.  Specifically, I could have eaten a crispy pork belly sandwich.

2 p.m.: Bottle #3 and we doubled down on the black kale, this time serving it up with collards, watercress, cucumber, celery, cilantro, apple, dandelion green, lemon and ginger.  This one, not surprisingly, tasted like the first green juice.  But worse.


Notes: This one killed my appetite.  And not in a delightfully sated kind of way.  I was also starting to feel a little dizzy.  And tired.

4 p.m. Bottle #4 – carrot, apple, lemon, red and golden beets – was actually pretty good.  Normally, probably not, but that afternoon, in comparison to the others, not bad at all.  I think I preferred it because it came closest to reminding me of real honest-to-goodness food.  Such happy memories!


Notes: My hunger abated but I was downright exhausted.  Also, my stomach was feeling a tad…gurglesome.

6 p.m. Bottle #5 was dinner and comprised of brazil nuts, sea salt, vanilla beans, romaine, and spinach – a combination unseen since that time Popeye got food poisoning.  It actually wasn’t bad – relatively speaking – although the pudding-like lumps of coagulated nut milk were a bit of a turn-off.


Notes: I actually felt more energetic and mentally alert after finishing this one, perhaps because it was the only bottle to contain actual protein.  My stomach too was on high alert.

8 p.m. Bottle #6 was an acidic one-two punch of lemon, cayenne, ginger, alkaline water, and apple.  It was like sipping sweetened battery acid.


Notes: I was tired yet feeling satisfied, not with the juices but the sense of accomplishment that I’d survived the single day ordeal that had stripped me of all physical energy, my mental faculties, and all common sense.  Also, it turned out, some of the enamel on my teeth.  Apparently, some people even do 3-day juice cleanses – however I’ve heard these handy packs are usually reserved for cults looking to indoctrinate new recruits.

Overall: I’m not sure about the science behind these cleanses.  I’ve read about the health benefits, heard from friends who found the experience revitalizing.  I felt no difference.  No, scratch that.  I felt slightly worse.  My stomach was in knots.  Also, my teeth and gums were alarmingly sensitive when it came time to brush my teeth, the citric acid from those juices no doubt doing a number on them.

One day later, and I feel much better.  Is it the detoxifying effects of the cleanse? Or the pork belly on rice topped with a soft boiled egg, crispy kimchee rice squares, fried veggie salad, and dark chocolate I had for lunch?  Who knows?  My energy’s back, my teeth are slightly less sensitive, and my stomach has settled.   Although, after a day of nothing but liquid, I’m wondering if I may have overdone it with my first meal.

On a completely unrelated note:


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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.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 5.41.56 PM

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.

IMG_7635 (1)

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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