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Right under food, stories are my favourite thing. I love plays, books, television and of course… movies.

My favourite movies don’t have much to do with food (though I have seen quite a few good ones that do), but they normally do have at least one scene that takes place while eating, making or serving something delicious.

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Of course there are the iconic moments that pop into everyone’s head:

- The Katz’s Deli scene from when Harry Met Sally
- The opening diner scene from Reservoir Dogs
- Gremlins eating after midnight
- And anything Slimer was munching on during Ghostbusters
- When Clark Griswold cuts into that dry as dust Turkey in Christmas Vacation

ratatouille

Then there are the more obscure ones,  but still really stand out moments in wonderful movies:

- The dinner scene in Pan’s Labyrinth
- The moment when the food critic tries Remy’s Ratatouille
- The dancing in the grocery store in The Fantastic Mr. Fox
- When Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond have a picnic on the beach in Sabrina (one of my favourite girlie movies)

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And of course this gem from Pulp Fiction:

What’s your favourite food / movie moment??

 

 

Though I have, within the last year or two, started a love affair with olives and other salty items – I have a definite sweet tooth. Like most North Americans, I’d say. I love all things sweet – maple, honey, chocolate. Hell, I’ve been known to eat sugar cubes. Like a horse.

But my favourite is molasses. The thick, dark and sweet by product of refining sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets.

It is that added amazingness that makes a ginger cookie the best cookie ever!
It is the flavour that makes brown sugar so damn good.
Molasses I heart you.

But did you know that molasses can also be deadly?? Oh yes.

758px-BostonMolassesDisaster

From the Globe Newspaper Co.

94 years ago today marks the Boston Molasses Disaster when a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets. They estimate it was flowing at almost 35 mph (56 km/h). In the end it killed 21 and injured 150.

To this day, some residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses.

When it’s your time, it’s your time – but this would be a pretty sweet way to go. Sorry, a pun that amazing just had to be used!!

From other posts I’ve done you know I love books and movies about food. Think Wheat Belly, Supersize Me, Waste, Tomato Land, Out of the Box, Food Inc, Knives over Forks, Blood into Wine, Sharkwater… the list goes on. And on. And on. And on.

The problem is that every time I read or watch something I become so impassioned by it. I think “YES!! THIS is how I will live from now on!! No more ______ (insert item here)”

Vegucated_(film)

I’m convinced it is bad for the planet, myself and everyone else.

Then I start thinking. One tells you to eat organic and local, another tells you that organic doesn’t mean as much as you hope it does and you should really be eating a vegan diet - full of meat replacements. The next thing you read/watch tells you those meat replacements are made of Monsanto soy so you might as well be buying straight from the devil.

Eat lots of fruit - but not Dole bananas because the pesticides used are killing all those who work the farms. Eat veggies, not meat – but not Florida tomatoes because of the modern day slavery used in their harvest.

Give up wheat – it’s making you fat and killing you… but feel free to eat as much cheese and meat as you like.

It’s easy to get confused and frustrated and feel like there really isn’t anything you can eat anymore.

Then I take a breath and remember the wise and wonderful words of Michael Pollan. Words, that for the most part encompass all of these points of view.

Eat food.
Not too much.
Mostly plants.

If you could add in – buy it locally and don’t waste it. I think that covers most of it.

Now I can exhale and go back to trying my best to eat responsibly. Until I discover the next big documentary / book and get all frazzled again. Someone please bookmark this to send to me when you need to talk me off the ledge.

There are only a few days left of this year and let’s face it – the bucket list isn’t getting done. I don’t want to make excuses… but I cross my heart and promise that I will not get another divorce in 2013* (*any current ones started in 2012 do not count) – so that should free me up to get some stuff done!

So – that said. I felt like I made some headway through the bucket list and it’s a great jumping off for my next year’s list. But before moving forward – let’s do a year in review thingy.

I said I wanted to eat at 15 new restaurants from ‘The List’ - well I got 12:

- Courtyard Restaurant
- Zen Kitchen
- Pressed
- Absinthe Cafe
- The Table
- Ceylonta
- Moji
- Palais Imperial
- Brothers Beer Bistro
- Union 613
- Vittoria Trattoria
- The Urban Pear (still needs a review written!)

And I went to a few new additions to the Ottawa food scene that weren’t on the list. So… not too shabby.

I went to high tea, hosted a foodie get together and ate more than one very memorable dinners in this awesome city. I preserved tomato sauce, made things I was buying, used new ingredients and found a white wine I enjoy.

I even found Ottawa’s best beer! Though I think in the name of science I should probably taste test them all again.

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And yeah… I got to do this. Not a bad year!

With that brings 2012 to a close. One of the worst – but somehow also the best – years of my life. The lows were low, but worth the lessons and discovery of an inner strength I didn’t know I had. They also set the stage for me to fully appreciate the amazing things and people when they come along.

But please 2013… give a girl a break.

In addition to being a foodie, I’m a pretty big geek. Ask anyone who has talked to me for 30 seconds or has witnessed the joy on my face when the bill comes at the Moonroom in a Star Trek paper back book (they would even hear a small squeal if it was a Mr. Spock-centric story).

This time of year there are many lists about foodie gifts to give, but here is a list for that awesome combination of foodie-geek.

1. Freeze dried Astronaut Ice Cream… because who doesn’t want to be a space man? astronaut_icecream

2. Magic in every bite… Warning – I don’t think I would actually eat this. But I always wondered what spam was made of. e5a7_canned_unicorn_meat

3. Now you can look like the coolest serial killer on the block while protecting yourself from ‘splatter’!  ea5a_dexter_apron 4. I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.

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5. My Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock cookies just found their Spock component!!ed0a_star_trek_cookie_cutters

6. For those of us who have been told it is inappropriate to wear a cape – now your lunch box can do it for you!

f0b3_batman_lunchbag_with_cape

7. Now that’s a chaser.  f098_pacman_shot_glass_4pack

8. I’ve wanted them to make a chocolate bar of Han in Carbonite since the ice cube tray with the same feature was introduced last year!

ea87_star_wars_han_solo_in_carbonite_chocolate_bar

9. Coasters you’ll actually want to use… even if only so kids will ask you what the hell these things are.

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10. And last but not least… an inflatable tentacle arm. This has nothing to do with anything but it makes me laugh when I think of the tens of minutes of fun I could have with this.

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All available through Think Geek! What fun…

I’m sure there are loads of people like me out there who love to cook (and love eating even more), but when it comes to making something just for yourself it can be a real challenge. Which I know seems ridiculous, but I start out with great intentions to cook something fabulous, but by the time I actually get around to it, dinner becomes a hand full of nuts and some cheese. If I’m lucky some vegetables make it in there too.

So I had to look at my meal decision thought process, and scary enough, this is what I came up with:

Cheese and nuts

A little while ago I got in “Wheat Belly” from the library. It’s the next in a line of books much like Food Rules and Forks over Knives – but this one is focusing on wheat… obviously.

It makes a few good points about what happened when they genetically modified wheat (much of it modified before there were any real safe guards or research in place – not that we really have those now… but I digress), about how much of it we are eating in our diets today and a lot of information about trials the author (a doctor) has done by having patient remove wheat from their diets.

I haven’t been feeling great about myself for the past little bit. A trip home to visit my parents (two of the very small amount of people I know who actually have scales) confirmed that I could stand to lose a pound or 25. Eventually I’d like to get back into the dating game and this just feels like something I should take care of first.

So… I decided to cut out wheat. And exercise more. By which I mean actually doing it on a regular basis.

wheat-belly-book-weight-loss

It’s been three weeks.

I do feel better. I have no scale to actually say if anything has gotten better but my endurance and energy levels are up for sure.

I’m sleeping better. About a month ago I couldn’t sleep an entire night without the help of a little something.

If I slip up and decide to eat a bowl of cereal (actually it was half a mug of Cheerios because they are delicious and all my bowls were dirty), I feel like crap. Bloated and crampy. All in all a pretty good reason not to slip up – though Art-is-in’s potato dill bread still haunts my dreams with its deliciousness.

I don’t miss bread and wheat as much as I thought I would. I replaced my regular noodles with buckwheat noodles (which I’m told is alright) – so I still get my pasta fix. The only problem is that 99% of all convenience food is wheat based. So much for grabbing a little something to go. Thank goodness for take out sushi, cheese and nuts.

I’m eating more meat. That’s just laziness more than anything. But it seems that most of my vegetarian meals replaced meat with wheat. Go figure. But on average I would say I was eating something wheat based at every meal and possibly for snacks too.

I don’t get as starving hungry as I once did. I used to get what I call ‘Hangry’. Like you are so hungry you are getting angry because you are not eating right this second. I haven’t felt that in weeks. It also takes less to fill me up.

I can’t say for sure that the benefits I’m feeling so far are all from cutting out wheat - but I know some of them are for sure. One of the lovely ladies I work with is doing the same (minus the additional exercise) and she hasn’t had heart burn (which was an almost daily occurence for her) in almost 2 weeks.

Is cutting out / back on wheat for everyone. Hell no. Wheat is delicious. And I still plan to have a bit from time to time. But like meat, now I’ll only indulge on the good stuff. Sorry Kraft Dinner… I really will miss your weird powdered cheese.

Some of the best meals of my life have been with my fellow food bloggers. Besides insanely good company they allow me a luxury that no one else can offer… they encourage me to slack off and goof around. In the best way of course! By that I mean to say – if you are looking for a detailed, informative and professional post about the first Knives out Ottawa event (which was held at Murray Street Kitchen Wine and Charcuterie on October 22nd) - then might I suggest Foodie Print’s coverage??

Also their photos are killer. I, on the other hand, am still struggling my way through the dimly lit maze that is using an SLR. Bah well… this post isn’t really about that.

No. It’s about how much fun this dinner was. The whole night you could tell the Chefs were having a great time – and so were the diners.

Some people keep a picture of their loved ones in a locket like this… Kelly from The Gouda Life keeps a tooth from a pigs head she ate here at Murray Street KWC

Each of the 7 chefs (plus an additional 8th course created by Murray Street’s Paul Dubeau) created a course based on the theme of the night: “Pig and Music”. Who were those Chefs?? What were their dishes? I’m not completely inept – here you are:

Paul Dubeau – Murray Street Kitchen, Wine and Charcuterie
Liver & Scraps Amuse Pork liver hotdog, steamed bun with, Paul’s spicy mustard
“Mule Skinner Blues” – Lonnie Donnegan

Patrick Garland – Absinthe
The Head Head cheese, porchetta di testa and jowl pogo
“Pigs on the Wing” – Pink Floyd

Jamie Stunt & Simon Bell Bones – Oz Kafe
Pork consommé, smoked carrot ‘steak’, caramelized onions, marrow & horseradish butter
“Hearts & Bones” – Paul Simon

Chris Deraiche  – Wellington Gastropub
Loin Grilled pea meal bacon, sunchoke, mustard hollandaise, pickled quail’s egg
“Guyute” – Phish

Steve Mitton – Murray Street Kitchen, Wine & Charcuterie
Blood & Offal Pig’s blood spaetzle, crispy confit pig’s tounge, smoked heart meatballs, trotter broth, pork rinds
“Filipino Box Spring Hog” – Tom Waits

Arup Jana – Allium
“Sacrilegious Goat Curry” Crispy pork shoulder curry, potato-peanut croquette, curried garlic puree, green chilies, mint yoghurt
“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath

Marc Lepine – Atelier
Sous vide pork leg, truffle, ramp, charred corn, chimichurri
“Pig” – Weezer

Marc Doiron – Town
Apple pork belly tart tatin, bourbon washed bacon ice cream, smoked crème fraiche
“Killer Parties” – Hold Steady

It was an amazing dinner, but I’ll say that I’m happy I had salad for lunch so that I could handle the pork-ness of the meal and have room for everything!

But it isn’t just amazing food, drink and service that make a wonderful meal. It’s your company as well. If you have never had the chance to dine with myself and the good folks at Foodieprints and The Gouda Life (and I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine) – this is what it sounds like:

“Can we eat the shit of this yet?” – My eternal lack of patience ever present (no wonder my photos never look as nice…)

“That sounds kind of dirty no? Asian style steamed bun??? Anyone?”
“Comes with happy ending!” – Oh Don…

“I love these little fuckers” – an eloquent quote about Paul Dubeau’s Hot Dogs

“Yeah, but I don’t want it near my crotch”
“Honey, be married a while longer and you’ll be grateful” – words to live by

“Oh man up and do it until you like it!!”  – I have no idea what she was talking about… but really, it could apply to most anything

“What do I put in my mouth first?”
“Just put something in there and ask questions later.” - I needed a bit of instruction on where to start with Patrick Garland’s huge platter

“It takes more time than my boyfriend” – If you are reading this and think it might be about you… it probably is… Jared

“He IS a tit”
“I’m always surprised by his titiness” – This time not about you Jared

“Have you tried not giving a fuck?” – always great relationship advice from this crew

“Is it the tounge or the balls that has got you nervous?” – Discussing Chef Mitton’s crispy pigs tounge and smoked heart balls sounded so dirty

“He’s just sitting there with a big shit eating grin” – You know we love you Don…

 

These were actually a sample of the notes I wrote that night. Thank you guys for being real writers so the rest of us (meaning me) can dick around.

 

Farmer’s Markets hate single people. There. I said it. I’ve been doing quite well cooking for one, but shopping is a whole different story.

No. I do not need 6 zucchini. Nor do I need that many tomatoes. And what will I do with a bag of onions?

That, sir, is a shit ton of peppers.

I realize I could start shopping with a friend and splitting the bounty, but one of the great joys in my life is shopping for ingredients. Alone. Always has been.

I either need to start using more of the veg in creative ways, or shopping only at stores that let me buy only the amount of produce I need.

But I’m stubborn and love shopping in the market. So it looks like I’ll be freezing and pickling and canning in small batches just so my veg doesn’t go off. Or making food for my neighbours…

Last year I went for a special lunch at Atelier (as they do not normally open for lunch) and it blew my socks off… never to be seen again. Last night I went for dinner and was wise enough to leave the socks at home. If you have never had the extreme pleasure of dining at Atelier you are missing one of the most fantabulous, spectacular meals you will ever eat. Seriously, if you are even slightly adventurous with your food you need to eat here. It is playful and sophisticated, and left me with a perma-smile the entire evening.

The Codfather

When you go, and I know you will, be prepared for the following 5 moments during your 3.5 hour, almost 18 course dinner.

Moment 1

Around the 3rd or 4th course you will start getting really excited for what is coming next. By now you have had a small glimpse into how amazing this meal is going to be and hysteria tends to take over as you see your server coming towards your table with the next plate. This will happen time and time again, especially after they inform you that from this point on it will be dessertS. That is right. More than one.

Moment 2

Tears will well up in your eyes as you eat. Honest to God tears of joy. You will find it hard to believe you have ever been happier than in that moment. But you won’t cry. Ok. Maybe a single tear. Then you will take the next bite and it will happen all over again.

Moment 3

There will come a time when you start to believe that Chef Marc Lepine is some kind of culinary wizard. Or perhaps an alien sent to Earth to teach us about how amazing food can be. Either way, you tell yourself there is no way that an ordinary man is able to create such wonders and be so dashing at the same time. And you would be right. You then start wondering if there is any way you can kidnap him and have him cook for you all the time without anyone knowing. You give up this line of thinking when the next bite of food has you forgetting your own name, let alone what you were just thinking about.

Mini Mozza - technically course 3, actually course 6

Moment 4

Your dining companions are going to laugh at you. They can’t help it. You are making the most hilarious and explicit faces and you have no idea. You might have even hushed those around you so that you could enjoy the moment more fully. It happens. Usually after taking a sip of wine that has been perfectly paired with your latest course. Just make sure to laugh at them when they do it too.

Moment 5

You are going to wish that sweat pants were classy. This may have never ever been the case before, but after 18 courses you are going to want an elastic waistband more than you did when you were 3 and doing up the button on jeans by yourself was a simply impossible task. Don’t worry, a slow waddle around the block will have you feeling good as new. Almost.

I Say Random Things On Twitter…

Instagram Photo Oddness...

Much too cute. Sometimes I geek out when left alone at work. The Buzz is buzzing about you @cestbonchef !

Past Foodie Adventures…

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