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Shafted Canucks

Shaun Smith of Quill and Quire is challenging the selection process behind Phaidon's new book, 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World’s Greatest Chefs. I've seen a couple of news articles and blogs about the subject over the past week like this one from the National Post, which criticize the selection process' regional biases. Smith thinks it's strange that five Australians would make the list, but no worthy Canadians? Apparently there have been 99 selections made thus far so Smith is hoping for a Canuck in that last spot.

It's been curated by Ferran Adrià (Spanish), Mario Batali (Italian-American), Shannon Bennet (Australian), Alain Ducasse (French), Fergus Henderson (English), Yoshihiro Murata (Japanese), Gordon Ramsay (English), René Redzepi (Danish), Alice Waters (American), and Jacky Yu (Chinese) so these culinary masters may have favoured their respective spheres over others.

I hope all you Ontarians enjoy a lovely long weekend. I'll be estranged from the blogosphere as I am camping for the weekend. Let's hope the weather holds out!

Une boisson optimiste


I just saw a "Chef at Home" episode where Michael Smith demonstrates an awesome recipe for iced tea.

Method:
Compile ingredients you put in iced tea in a jar. Fill jar with tap or filtered water. Place jar in the sun.

I love that kind of cooking where it just loosens up and changes and you are able to finally take risks. There's a general methodology that remains the same, but there is an opportunity for a variety of different flavours.


You could use:
lemons
chai tea
fresh mint

But you could also use:
Mango slices
rooibois loose leaf (in a ball infuser)
ginger slices

Or:
cucumber slices
watermelon slices
mint tea

And finally:
handful of blackberries
Jasmine (green) tea
honey

The opportunities for iced tea are basically endlessly delicious. The only thing that is essential to make this tea is a nice, warm afternoon sun. I'm just saying.

In a lovely turn of events, I've decided to end this post with a positive and optimistic contribution instead of berating the lack of sunlight.

Style.com has a neat video of Norah Ephron with that food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. He's the white-haired guy that's always on Iron Chef America. Anyway, he's interviewing her while they make dinner and she talks about her love of food.



Pigs Fly

I'm not joking.

Cold Stone Creamery, makers of lethal weapons that target innocent gourmandes, have recently announced a newer and more sophisticated weapon: no-melt ice cream. Slashfood reports more on it here and you can answer a poll question about whether or not this kind of violent weaponry is a good thing.

Girl Vegans


This post is controversial because it's not fair. It's certainly not based in fact and I find it questions my own tenants of feminism, but it's what I feel in my gut.

I should say that I eat a lot of vegan dishes. Maybe even most of my meals. But not all.

I've developed a theory lately about veganism. Perhaps I should start with some anecdotal evidence. My brother recently went vegan (again) and has incorporated a raw regimen into his diet. I met a great pal at this year's MeSH Conference, Mark from Ottawa, who was also a raw vegan. Both these guys wear it well: the gauntness that is inevitable when one eliminates excess dairy, wheat and meat from the diet.

I remember being in health class in high school and learning about the proper essential fat ranges for men and women. Essential fat is the amount of fat that is necessary to stay alive and reproduce.

The range was greater for women (10-13%) than for men (2-5%). I was told this was because childbirth called for that extra cushion in women.

Having now written about boy vegans and differences in necessary body fat, I must now do the inevitable and write about what I came here to: girl vegans.

I used to do an energy exchange at Moksha Yoga Uptown where I would volunteer at the studio a few hours each week in exchange for unlimited use of the studio. I think it's fair to say that there are a lot more vegans in a yoga class than there are in most rooms.

I sometimes noticed this dull, lifeless complexion on some of the women in those classes. I used to look and them and think their bodies looked deprived. Gaunt and grey. Their hair lacked lustre.

I don't know what it is exactly that girl vegans lack in the way of nutrients. Iron traditionally is the mineral that everyone worries about so they probably eat spinach, raisins and a lot of molasses. Or take supplements.

I feel like it's a glossy mineral that they're missing: an Omega 3 or maybe a cousin 6 or 9. It might be the soul, the joy is gone from the food experience. No chocolate, no cheese, very little fat. I prefer more of a French diet.

Anyway, what do I have to say about girl vegans?

I remember being in health class in high school and learning about the proper essential fat ranges for men and women. Essential fat is the amount of fat that is necessary to stay alive and reproduce.

The range was greater for women (10-13%) than for men (2-5%). I was told this was because childbirth called for that extra cushion in women.

Just me?

Am I the only one who's been seeing a lot more use of the term food porn lately?

Pretty things, feminine things

We recently held a client event at the Windsor Arms hotel. I took some pictures of the food.

Deconstructed filet mignon cobb salad at lunch. (This was a personal portion.)

The florals from Jackie O by Todd and Richard were luscious. I recommend their services to all.

Little tea sandwiches. So charming!

Little custom cupcakes and cakey, delicious lemon and cranberry scones.

Things to watch inside on a pleasant summer day


I have a screening pass to see Julie and Julia tonight.

The film stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams who are a dream team heaven power combo. I know this even though I haven't seen them in Doubt together. If two actors release one film together and then another shortly after, then they must have good chemistry.

The film is also based on a book by Nora Ephron. I read I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman and actually found it really empowering and not at all depressing to read. My greatest takeaway from that book was to wear a bikini now. Ephron wishes she had worn a bikini every day when she was thirty. In general, do it now or never, ladies.

Ephron herself is a fascinating woman. She came from two alcoholic parents and has been married three times, including to journalist Carl Bernstein who broke the Watergate story. Through clues Bernstein had left in their house, she figured out the identity of Deep Throat and was one of only a few people in the world to know who he was.

Ephron also interned at the White House during John F. Kennedy's presidency. She wrote When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, which I consider to be two examples of near-perfect Rom Coms. (I can like a Rom Com every once in a while.)

Yada yada, anyway, Julie and Julia is film is about a girl who decides to make Julia Child recipes every day for 365 days straight and blog about it. It's pretty much right up my alley.


As if to deliberately create a food entertainment dilemma, Food Network is airing an episode of Iron Chef where Canada's own PEI-residing Michael Smith is the challenger.

Wait, but actually as I am writing this I realize this airs on the American Food Network so this isn't a dilemma at all. I'll probably see that episode in a year or two from now. No worries.

I like Chef Michael Smith's relaxed and experimental cooking style. I'll be featuring him in an upcoming post.

We'll never have a Kogi BBQ truck in Toronto


Having been born and raised in Toronto, I feel pretty defensive about this city. People rag on Toronto a lot and I think that's the main problem: there are always naysayers for every attempt at innovation.

My friend's dad is a successful architect based here. I remember him talking about the excess of red tape with developers in Toronto compared to attitudes in Europe where people always said yes.

Why?

I went to high school next to the Bata Show Museum and I remember how everyone went ballistic about the neighborhood. The building was delayed; the construction took forever. The same thing happened when there was talk of extending streetcar tracks east on St. Clair East. The construction commenced, the neighborhood boycotted, and the project was canceled.

Again, it happened with addition to the ROM as if people are afraid of architectural innovation or something.

I bet even the Gehry addition at the AGO was met with resistance.


Everyone wants Toronto to be better, but no one seems to be willing to take accountability for how this can happen. Everyone complains and never want changes in their immediate neighborhood.

Traffic is another great example. This city ties with Washington, D.C. for the worst traffic in North America. Nonetheless or maybe because of it, neighborhoods are always bitching to their municipal constituents about traffic in their communities, even along designated arteries. What results is one-way streets are put up to divert traffic like in the southern Annex or speed bumps and rush hour diversions are created like in the Leaside/Davisville region.

That's all fine and well, but where is the traffic supposed to go?

It's the same thing with food. Charlie's Burgers is great example of an alterative experience with food aside from restaurants. So many people in Toronto can't see how pure and positive the idea is. I was just looking over the corresponding boards of Chowhound and I can't believe how cynical people are: just waiting to tear ideas down.

It hinders our growth as a society and handicaps the Toronto from flourishing culturally to its full potential. I wish people would say yes instead and allow a little room for creativity to flourish.


I recently read about the Kogi BBQ truck in LA. It's amazing. This fusion Korean/ Mexican truck is on Twitter and it goes to different clubs every night and tweets about where it will be. There are all these crazy line ups and this awesome food and this positive energy.

I just feel like something like that could never happen in Toronto, even without our strict street vendor policies.

Gremolata




Although it's traditionally used for Osso Bucco (braised lamb shank; recipe here), gremolata is a lovely combination of parsley, citrus zest, garlic and salt that you can also put on beef, chicken or steamed vegetables with a little olive oil. You can also toss it in soup or salad for more flavour and charming colour.

Be creative! Paella! Collards! Roasted peppers or tomatoes! It can go anywhere.

Gremolata

zest of 2 oranges or 3 lemons, finely chopped or grated
2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, minced or zested
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Who is?


The latest menu for Charlie's Burgers has been sent around. It looks like a spectacular exercise in molecular gastronomy. The email also revealed that Charlie is now on... Twitter of all places.

Follow @CharliesBurgers. I'm curious to see how such an a elusive chap can tweet.

Method over magic

A haiku

one secret of chefs
is not in how they cook food
but that they do cook


Greg's Ice Cream


I have many fond memories of the original home of Greg's Ice Cream: the dingy basement near the McDonald's at Bloor and Avenue Road. I would carelessly consume the delicious flavours without truly noticing the difference between Greg's and commercial ice cream.

Alas, now that I am older and wiser, I now realize how special and flavourful that ice cream was. I think the best indicator of good ice cream is probably the opinion of my DQ-addicted boyfriend, who selected the classic chocolate flavour and roasted marshmallow on our most recent visit.

He said the chocolate was probably the best he's ever had. I tried it and compared its flavour to cocoa and other ice creams' to milk chocolate, both less sweet and more flavourful.



Testing my adventurousness and using this blog as an excuse to be bold, I selected the cardamon and star anise flavours, thinking they went nicely together. They also had cinnamon, but I couldn't handle another scoop.

Star anise, cardamon and cinnamon would have been a perfectly Indian ice cream combination.



My beloved Auntie Pam always makes a Swedish cardamon bread for my brother every Christmas. I usually sneak-eat a good portion.

I never really thought about it before, but it's strange/neat that my Dad's sister of English-Irish descent makes a sweet bread that comes from the Baltic/Scandinavian background of my mother. Finns, Swedes and Estonians traditionally eat cardamon bread at Christmas.

I found a terrific-looking recipe here at Choosy Beggars.

What I like about the cardamon bread is that it has an addictive sweetness and a flavour that makes people ask, What's that flavour? It plays the low oboe tone in the background the way vanilla usually behaves in baked goods.

Not front and center.

When there's too much cardamon, nobody asks what the flavour is.

I guess in ice cream there isn't really anything to hide the flavour behind like there is in delicious yeastiness of my aunt's sweet bread.

¡Cardamon is shocking!

You battle with the flavour in your mouth as it challenges your taste buds. I kind of liked the ice cream to try, but I wouldn't want to eat it all the time. I don't crave it.

Sweet star anise, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise: warm and cozy like cinnamon. I would order that flavour again in a heartbeat and recommend it to all.


If I could request two new flavours for Greg's Ice Cream, they would be: lavender and saffron, if only for the beautiful yellow colour.

Greg's opens up a world of amazing and unexpected flavour possibilities. I can't wait to see what they do next.


Greg's Ice Cream
750 Spadina Ave. (enter from Bloor St. W.)
416-962-4734

Why are there more celiacs now?

In today's Globe and Mail, Paul Taylor wrote about Celiac disease being 4.5 times more common now than it was 50 years ago. (The findings came from the journal Gastroenterology.)

I feel like I know quite a few more celiacs than people from my parents' generation did: A., E.L. and my friend's mom.

Most people are aware that Celiac disease involves a body's aversion from gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. Say goodbye to beer and all bread and pasta unless it's made of rice. You can't eat a lot of prepared foods like soup, TVP, cookies or pastries- even some chocolates. Gluten can also be found in drugstore medicines, vitamins and lip balms.

Gluten is the trigger for the immune system to destroy villi, thereby damaging the small intestine and diminishing the body's ability to intake nutrients.


So what has changed? Why are there more celiacs today?

It's probably what you would think. Some doctors believe that our intake of processed food is having adverse effects on our bodies and the bodies we pass on to our children. Writing about this makes me want to heave back a handful of blueberries to antioxidize evil toxins.

This one goes out to all the celiacs in the house.



Avocado Dressing

flesh of 1 medium avocado
1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilk
1 tbsp mayonnaise or one egg yolk
1 squirt of anchovy paste (optional)
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp Italian parsley
2 tbsp chives
finely grated zest of 1 medium lime
squirt of lime juice
drizzle of olive oil
salt
pepper

Toss ingredients in a blender. Blend.

Eat tossed with watercress, arugula and white beans. Throw in raspberries if you wish. I wish.