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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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Yesterday, Akemi and I continued our Goodbye Tour by hitting Lamesa Filipino Kitchen with two of our favorite fun new Toronto friends, Ellen and Adam.  Besides being super cute herself, Ellen shares Akemi’s affinity for super cute things so the two of them really hit it off.  As for Adam, he’s incredibly easy-going and down-to-earth. Akemi liked him the instant she met him which, honestly, is a rarity.  It usually takes her a while to arm up to someone but in Adam’s case, she was happily chatting away like they were old friends.

A super lovely couple.

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Akemi and I prepare to feast.

Some of the culinary highlights…

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Lechon Kawali: crispy pork belly, pickled papaya, sawsawan.

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Arroz caldo verde: spinach congee, garlic, grana padano, oyster mushroom.

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Duck Lumpia with sweet potato, cabbage, mustard, and banana ketchup.

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Chicken Adobo: seared chicken thigh, soy vinegar jus, black garlic, chimichurri.

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Yube Leche Flan: purple yam custard, puffed rice, figs.

In case you missed it over on the @DarkMatter_Show twitter feed, I uploaded a bunch of BTS pics from last season’s action:

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I work reception at White Dwarf Technologies.

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The Marauder in pieces.  We remove the front of the cockpit to allow our cameras an easy, unobstructed view of our crew.

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Andy Mikita directs, in the greenhouse and in the White Dwarf lab.

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Wil Wheaton (Alexander Rook) and Melissa O’Neil (TWO) rehearse.

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“Hey, Joe!”said Ivon.  “Pretend you’re sleeping.”

“Oh, no,”I said.  “I couldn’t.”

“Come on!”he said.

So I shut my eyes and pretended I was sleeping.

“No,”he said.  “Rock your head back and open your mouth like you’re in mid-snore.”

“Okay,”I said, rocking my head back and opening my mouth like I was in mid-snore.

“Goofier-looking,”he said.

I complied.

All this to say, this explains that photo (ex) Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok is circulating of me seemingly asleep on the van ride back from today’s tech survey.

On a totally unrelated note, there’s something about riding in the back of a car, bus, train, or van driving back from a tech survey that puts me right out.  I can only imagine my mom did a lot of traveling while pregnant with me.

On a related note, I went on a tech survey today for Episode 204.  For those not in the know, tech surveys – not to be confused with location scouts – are field trips on which we scout locations for upcoming episodes.  With my writing partner Paul on set on Episode 202 with director Steve DiMarco, I was fully expecting to spend the day writing…until I was reminded about our little outing.

All in all, I was glad I went.  It’s always a treat to tour parts of Ontario I’d probably miss out on if I wasn’t seeking out suitable seedy bars and dilapidated warehouses for my t.v. show.  And there was the added bonus-presence of stunt coordinator John Stead (who’ll be taking the director’s reins for 204).  But the highlight of the day had to be lunch…

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The initial plan was to eat at a place that essentially turned out to be a drugstore cafeteria.  We elected to double back and check out THIS place we passed on the way.

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Over a dozen varieties of schnitzels to choose from.  Ivon was quick to snap a pic of the menu and send it to our old Stargate (and schnitzel) buddy Carl Binder.

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To quote an Austrian: “Schnitzel as big as a toilet seat!”

And for dessert…

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Today was the calm in the eye of the hurricane, that brief respite before the inevitable storm that will be tomorrow’s BIG extended action sequence.  When I said that this was our most ambitious episode to date, I was, for the most part, referring to THIS particular scene.  Can’t wait to see stunt coordinator John Stead’s masterpiece come together.

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As I mentioned the other day, I’d like to offer fans a chance to get to know the talented people behind the scenes by bringing back the guest Q&A’s.  And I’d like to kick things off by announcing our first Dark Matter crew member Q&A with our key make-up artist, the lovely Linda McCormack.  When she’s not back at her trailer creating nasty-looking wounds like this one –

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Or getting in at 5 a.m. to cover tattoos for that day’s shirtless scene, she’s usually on set discussing Italian dishes with yours truly.  Having worked on a scores of movies, mini-series, and shows (Dark Matter and Lost Girl among them), I’m sure she has plenty of interesting stories to tell.  Let’s find out!

Post your questions for Linda in the comments section.  I’ll gather them over the next few days and then send them her way at week’s end!

Some set pics you may have missed…

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Why so bummed, THREE?  c/o Caitlin Brown.

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Between set-ups, we seal our cast in individual cells to ensure they don’t wander off.  c/o Jodelle Ferland.

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Dinner is served on Hyperion-8!  c/o Anthony Lemke.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 7.19.32 PMMe practicing my fake smile.  c/o Ivon Bartok.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 7.24.44 PMDouble trouble!  c/0 Alex Mallari Jr.

In addition to being a rest day, today was – after a week of early morning work-outs and clean eating – CHEAT DAY!  I still worked out.  And I still ate a healthy lunch and dinner.  But I DID snack on these…

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Astoundingly good eclairs from Nugateau, Toronto’s first eclair-only patisserie (717 Queen Street West).

https://www.instagram.com/nugateau/

The three varieties we sampled (dark chocolate, pistachio, and vanilla) were…well…unbelievably delicious.  The pistachio, in particular, was one of those bites the foodie in me will dream about for some time to come.

Or at least until next week’s Cheat Day!

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December 26, 2015: Dinner at H4C!

The last time she was in Toronto, radio personality Sarah Bartok (sister of far less popular Dark Matter Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok) threw me a few Montreal restaurant recommendations.  At the top of her list was a place called H4C.  I immediately texted my sister and requested it be placed on the reservation rotation for my Christmas visit.  The other night, we went.  The verdict?  Sarah easily maintains her popularity edge over her brother.  Akemi absolutely loved H4C and is already talking about our next visit.

As is customary whenever I go out with my sister, we simply ordered almost everything on the menu, starting with the amuse bouche and home made bread with country style butter before segueing to…

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Chicken liver mousse with sea buckthorn and and pickles.  Positively melted in our mouths, like sweet and savory ice cream.

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Beets with wild cranberries, ricotta, Chateau de Bourgogne, and za’atar cheeses.  Artfully composed (like all the dishes on this night) but delicious.  The yellow beets were like candy.

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Marinated mackerel with cucumber, buttermilk, avocado, and brioche.  The mackerel was not overpowering and nicely counterbalanced by the avocado.

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Ricotta gnudi with sautéed mushroom and broth, parmesan.  This one was a challenge insofar as the elusive gnudi proved practically unskewereable.

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Louis d’or cream tortellini with confit guinea fowl and corn.  Each dish is a culinary masterpiece and I imagine that the devil is in the delicious details.

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Trout with carrots, quinoa, bbq, pumpkin seeds, and squash.  One of the uber-highlights on a night of consistent highlights.

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Tandoori octopus with caramelized yogurt, red onions, basmati, cashews, and coconut.  Akemi declared it the most tender octopus she’s ever eaten.  The roasted onions filled with caramelized yogurt were a huge hit as well.

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Braised beef blade with Jerusalem artichokes, eggplant, black rice, and sunflower seeds.  The tender beef and crunchy black rice was a  terrific textural combo.

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Tomato tart with Brillat-Savarin, caramelized onions, chanterelles, and smoked walnuts.  Akemi’s favorite and one of the best vegetarian plates I’ve ever enjoyed.

http://leh4c.com/en/

Tonight, it’s tacos and more at Grumman 78!

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This time last year, Montreal was in the deep-freeze, festooned with flurries, its streets and sidewalks treacherous with ice and snow.

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This year, it’s more like this –

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Blues skies, green lawns, and oh so warm.

I’ll never complain about global warming again.

Well, last year mom declared it would be the last time she prepped and cooked a big feast for over a dozen people.  I was, of course, dubious because she’d made the same declaration the previous year.  This year, as she preps and cooks a big feast for fourteen, she has declared it the very last year she does this.

Sure sure.

While mom was prepping for tonight’s dinner, Akemi, sis, and I were out running errands.  One of our stops was Costco which, it turns out, is like visiting Disneyland for Akemi.  She could barely contain her excitement as we drove into the lot, then was positively bursting with joy as she scurried from the economy-size bun display to the artichoke hearts tasting booth.

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My sister offered to buy her a membership, but Akemi refused reasoning that, if she had easy access to Costco, then her visits would be less special.

“So sad it’s over,”she lamented as we pushed our cart back to the car.  Well, there’s always next year.

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Before returning home with all our purchases (including about a thousand olives), we stopped by St. Viateur bagels because I’m partial to eating them with mom’s spicy peppers.  These are, of course, Montreal-style bagels as opposed to their Toronto counterparts.  What’s the difference?

PREPARATION

Montreal-style:  “A distinctive variety of handmade and wood-fired baked bagel. In contrast to the New York-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven. It contains malt, egg, and no salt and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked.” (source: Wikipedia).

Toronto-style: Basically bread baked in the shape of a bagel.

TASTE AND TEXTURE

Montreal-style: Slightly sweet, slightly nutty, soft interior with a delightful chewy exterior.

Toronto-style: Bread, slightly stale.

EATING AND STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS

Montreal-style: Fresh and warm out of the oven, they should be eaten immediately or that same day.  They can be popped in the oven or the microwave for a nice next-day snack.

Toronto-style: Eaten fresh or three weeks old, they taste the same – like stale bread.  Make sure to have some water handy because they’re a choking hazard.

SOURCING

Montreal-style: Available at many great bagel institutions throughout the city. Places like St. Viateur, Fairmount, R.E.A.L. Bagels come readily to mind.

Toronto-style: Whether you pick them up at a specialty shop or the remainder bin of your local convenience store, they all taste the same – like stale bread. Seriously.  Just go out and buy yourself a loaf of plastic-sealed three-day-old bread.  It’s basically the same thing.

Off to help mom prepare her last-ever-Christmas-feast-for-more-than-a-dozen-people.  And then work on my tan.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

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It’s a Christmas holiday tradition.  I let my sister know when I’m coming into town and she books a bunch of dinners at some of Montreal’s best restaurants.  Last night, we kicked things off with a tremendous meal at LeBremner in Old Montreal.  The place is owned by celebrity Executive Chef Chuck Hughes with Top Chef Canada competitor Danny Smiles overseeing the kitchen action as Chef de Cuisine, and it’s one of Akemi’s favorites.

We were four and, since we were sharing, I opted for a thorough approach, pretty much ordering one of everything on the menu…  1

Raw scallops on the half shell.   Sweet, clean, and delicious.  Given the choice, I’ll always pick them over oysters.

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Brown butter lamb heart, remoulade, bitter greens, and slaw.  Thinly sliced with a texture and flavor akin to gyu-tan (thinly sliced tongue grilled over charcoal).

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Butter-poached whelks with Jerusalem artichoke chips and puree.  Akemi’s favorite.  We’d have ordered a second plate if we didn’t have so much more coming.

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Chips, labneh, lobster rosamarina.  The only misfire.  A pretty plate but the sour labneh thoroughly overpowered that subtle lobster flavor.

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Pickled herring.  Surprisingly good.  As my sister put it: “The best pickled herring I’ve ever had.”

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Fish sticks with tartar sauce.  This was a revelatory experience for Akemi.

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Wild mushroom risotto.  Great.

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Rib-eye with new potatoes and sauce aux poivres.  Since having wagyu in Japan, North American steak has rarely impressed – but this was one of those rare occasions.  A nice seared crust with a perfectly pink medium-rare center.

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Hake, clams, and maple dashi.  My second time having this dish with its luxuriously rich broth.
1Lamb neck cavatelli.  My second time having this dish as well.  The texture of the cavatelli is what puts this dish over the top.

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Whole roasted sea bream with rapini and salsa verde.  My sister loved this one.

We ended the meal with four handmade Ferrer Rocher-like truffles stuffed with what tasted like warm Nutella!

Another day, another restaurant.  Looks like octopus is on the menu tonight!

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SCOOBY SNACKS

I know, they’re dog treats – but not just any old dog treats.  Given the way they set Scooby off every time he was offered one, they must have been super-tasty.  Also addictive.  Yeah, who are we kidding.  They were probably laced with some illicit substances as well.  But no doubt delicious illicit substances.

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MARY ANN’S COCONUT CREAM PIE

Sure, I’ve enjoyed plenty of coconut cream pies in my day, but I suspect none hold a candle to THE most spectacular cream pie of all – the one Mary Ann made on Gilligan’s Island.

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BRONTOSAURUS BURGER

The ultimate burger straight outta Bedrock.  And paleo friendly!

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WONKA BAR

Way back, before I discovered Amedei chuao or porcelana, there was this gold standard chocolate bar I desperately wanted to get my hands on when I was a kid.  The golden ticket would’ve been nice, but I would’ve been perfectly happy with a Wonka bar.

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THREE COURSE DINNER CHEWING GUM

Starts with tomato soup, segues into roast beef with baked potato, and ends with blueberry pie.

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GREEN EGGS AND HAM

I’d probably eat them anywhere, with anyone.

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