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Everything posted by jamiemaw

  1. Stollen Moments Coffee, stollen, chocolates For a skinny guy, he takes up a lot of room. Thomas Haas is a fourth generation pastry chef; he grew up in his family's pastry shop in the Black forest village of Alchalden. A German Santa from the Brothers Grimm. Or Billy Bob Thornton. Chocolates shells ready to take their liquid centres. His great-grandfather opened the Café Conditerei Haas in 1918, shortly after the end of the 'unpleasantries'. Tommy, can you see me? Thomas trained there, then moved on to work in several Michelin three-star restaurants before moving to become executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. During that time he participated in the North American Pastry Chef competition in New York City, finishing among the top three finalists in 1997 and 1998. Mystery solved: Centres filled. In December 1998, Thomas moved to New York to help open Daniel. While in New York, Thomas was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Choclatier and Pastry Art and Design Magazine. In 2001, he so completely dominated the Valrhona National (North America) Pastry Team Championships in Los Angeles, Competition (winning all four major categories), that several of his competitors stomped off the stage in disgust. Or more accurately, clogs. Waiting for their final dip of chocolate and decoration. He came back in to Vancouver in 2000; since then Thomas has been executive pastry chef at The Metropolitan Hotel and Senses Bakery. He and his wife Lisa established Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates and Patisserie, a retail operation that also supplies some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Canada and the US. Haas is mischievous, funny, enormously hard-working, charming and the first to help out with charitable and industry events. He's also respected by his peers; he's a director of the Chefs' Table Society of BC. Another mystery solved. It's all done by hand. And as for lunch at the counter, a correctly-engineered brioche pannini, with Black Forest ham. The stollen production line. Haas's are moist and light. Throughout the half hour that we spent with Thomas today, his order counter was lined two, then three deep. Christmas orders were placed and paid for, coffees poured, pastries boxed, chocolates selected, humour dispensed. This visit to another chef completes the cycle I set out to speak to this week: hands-on craftsmen and -women who labour early and late, source fine ingredients near and far, and only then get to do the books. From Michael Alleiemer's gougeres and wild boar cheeks last week in Kelowna, to Andrwew Springett's and Lisa Ahier's fine coastal cooking in Tofino, to John van der Liek's immaculate charcuterie, and Thomas's elegant chocolates and pastries today, each found a way - a unique insistence for excellence - a way through. And to think, this dialogue with chefs barely licked the surface of this place. That not unpleasant task, my friends, will be up to you. Before I sign off, many thanks for your kind attention and feedback this week. My only disappoinment was that I couldn't show you a reason to give up wedding ring calamari forever - the baby pepper squid at one of my favourite restaurants here, Phnom Penh. You see, I didn't want you to think that I eat truffles every day. We send our very best wishes for a warm and loving holiday season to you and all who sail in you. Come and see us soon, please Jamie and Eva.
  2. The Twelve Days of Christmas A Christmas Wish List 1. I would like to have my friends back: Joel Thibault, Jean-Claude Ramond, Werner Forster. All died this past year. I and many others miss them. 2. More Time at Home . . . . . . With a healthy supply of apricots outside the kitchen door. . . . And walking here each day 3. Quieter Restaurants 4. More Naked Food 5. Much more bratwurst Nurnberger . . . and some themes and variations A complement of leading German toothpastes 6. The Occasional Indulgence of sweet, briny Dungeness And Easter Lamb at Joe and Georgia's 7. Cleansing ales in abundance and profusion for all 8. The Love of a Good Woman 9. The Love of My Daughters - (Pictured here, 'A-1', named for the famous steak sauce.) 10. The Love of My Friends 11. The Love of My Life 12. And Peace on Earth
  3. Cayenne, No website, but here's Oyama's Christmas list . . . CHRISTMAS 2005 *Terrine of Duck Foie Gras *Smoked Goose Legs *Terrine of Goose Foie Gras *Smoked Duck Legs *Duck Foie Gras Mousse *Boudin Blanc w/ Truffles *Goose Foie Gras Mousse *Silesian White Sausage *Veal & Pistachio Terrine *Saucisson Sec de Leningrad w/ *Fourme d”Ambert Terrine Mandarin Confit *Wild Boar Terrine w/ Brandied Apricots *Saucisson Sec de Campagne w/ Sea *Duck Terrine w/ Roast Apple Salt & hand selected White Pepper *Confit au Armagnac *Saucisson Sec de Haute Savoie *Creamy Goose Terrine w/ Forest *Saucisson Sec de Sanglier Mushrooms *Saucisse Seche au Sel de Guerande *Terrine of Beef Tenderloin w/ Winter *Salametti w/ White Truffle Oil Vegetables *Venison Fuet w/ Red Wine *Terrine of Turkey Breast in a Squash *Venison Salsiz & Chicken Farce w/ Cranberry Jelly *100% Elk Salami *Duck Mousse w/ Oregon White Truffles *100% Cariboo Salami *Flemish Ham in a Gelee of Honey w/ *100% Venison Salami Raisins *Summer Sausage w/ Green Pepper *Boeuf a la Flamande in a Gelee of *Coarse Cervelat w/ Sea Salt Rodenbach Grand Cru Beer w/ Prunes *Double Smoked Mettwurst *Suffolk Gammon- an English ham cured w/ *Mennonite Summer Sausage treacle & stout & smoked over oak *Russian Salami after a recipe from *Corned Elk Brisket w/ Red Wine & Juniper 1898 *Our famous Swedish Hams- a raw, cured *Wild Boar Chorizo ham, delicious & mild, w/ cooking *14 month aged, wine cured Wild instructions - 3-6 kg Boar Ham *Saucisson Bernoise in Butter Pastry *12 month aged Holstein Schinken you bake, w/ instructions *Pork Loin cured w/ Sea Salt & *Pork Pies Lemon Juice *Porchetta *Venison Rillettes GREAT GIFTS FOR TRAVELLING: Goose or Duck Foie Gras in Jars ...&, of course, all our usual favourites: Parfait de Foie Gras, Strasbourg Terrine, Duck Pate w/ Apricot, Duck Pate w/ Grand Marnier & Peppercorn, Pate de Campagne, Pate des Ardennes, Venison Pate w/ Cranberries, Creamy Porcini Pate, Rabbit Pate w/ Dijon Mustard, Goose Pate w/ Truffles, My Grandfather’s Favourite Pate, Terrine Landaise, Cognac Pate, Peppercorn Pate ALSO: Sage Bangers, Nurnberger, Chipolatas, Suffolk Breakfast Sausages, Toulouse and much much more!!! LIMITED AMOUNTS. WE MAKE EVERYTHING FROM SCRATCH. PLEASE PREORDER!!
  4. Thanks, Andy. Great to hear from you; I hope that you can add Tofino and Whistler during your next sojourn here. And yes, we are very much looking to the Sustainability Dinner in London on February 6th and the attendant events surrounding it. Rob and his staff, Eva and I, Michele, and a number of other proponents of this delicious message look forward to seeing you in person then. Cheers, Jamie
  5. Thank you . . . it’s been a pleasure . . and it's not (quite) over yet . . . I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has looked in on this modest blog over the past week. Although we’ll continue to post throughout the day, and leave you with a Christmas story this evening, it’s important to me that you know how much I’ve appreciated your questions and comments. Today we’re making a few last visits around the town, including one of my very favourite meals, and later I’ll be posting a Christmas wish list. Next week sees a string of family dinners. As reported we’ll serve one of John’s fine English Black hams (that took the English patient cure) to Eva’s family on Sunday, along with a few Danish dishes. I believe herring and pickling will be involved. And because you won’t be looking, due to popular demand I believe that scalloped potatoes will be on the dinner card. On Thursday, we'll have my family's annual bun toss of a Christmas luncheon at the festive Bacchus, laughing all the way. In reviewing my introduction, I wanted to explain one item that I skated by. In it, I mentioned that in addition to posting our restaurant review methodology we would be reviewing a restaurant in Kelowna. We did visit the restaurant again, our third time there in the past eight months or so. But this visit was inconsistent with the past couple. So in fairness, we’ll make a fourth, just to see if the kitchen was having a slightly off-night, or if the restaurant is under-performing our last set of notes. So now you know why I didn't kick E. Thurston Slake out of Chez Jim last Saturday night. I hope that you have enjoyed the tour of this big place. I look forward to the rest of the day, and, of course, to the next blog, which will show yet other sides and contours of this remarkable province, where the mountains, if I might remind you, tumble unapologetically into the sea. Thanks again for joining in this merry refrain, Jamie
  6. Those are beautiful animals! The bacon, to purchase at their shop on G.I., what exactly should I ask for? And the garlic, it looks awesome, do they sell that there too (smoked)? I really appreciate the van der Lieks' message in the press notice, I heartily agree with their statement. Great to read that something good is being done in this respect locally. Where are the “Pata Negras” located? Do the van der Lieks' have a website, last time I tried to access what was supposed to be Oyama's awhile ago, no luck was to be had, somehow it seemed it wasn't under their control. TIA ← Oyama has several bacons on offer. Ask for the 'English Black'. I'm not sure if they will be offering the smoked garlic - ask. Oyama does not have a website, but you know where they live! Here's a bit more backround on John and Oyama. Some of the animals are located in Lac la Hache. Cheers, Jamie
  7. There is an abundant awareness of Australian and South African wines in Vancouver. In fact Aussie wines are particularly prolific and popular; Wolf Blass visited with us this past summer, as I reported on this thread in the Okanagan/Mission Hill section last week. In the case of South Africa, it was the theme last year at the Vancouver Plahouse International Wine Festival in 2005. It is one of the largest and oldest wine festivals in the world. Certainly South Africa's spotlight role last year boosted its international appeal for visitors, and here locally. We attended several wine luncheons during the festival and were very impressed. Currently, our provincial Liquor Distribution Branch carries about 100 South African wines, albeit at lower price thresholds. There is also a chapter of the South African Wine Society in Vancouver. South African cuisine is limited, although there are a few shops with biltong et al. And I'm an enormous fan of Mrs. H.S. Ball's chutney, in the handy 1.25 litre size. It sells for about $10.99 here. Although there is a fairly strong component of South African ex-pats here, there was only a very briefly-lived SA restaurant several years ago. Its name, Razzmataz, may not have helped. Vancouver shares a great deal culinarily with Syndney and Melbourne, especially in the style of dining (relaxed) and in the pervasive Asian influences found interspersed even on avowed Western menus.
  8. Now, just how cold was it in Vancouver this afternoon? Tell us about the crispy-looking thing to the right of the chestnut pocket. Was it just a sugar crisp or a cookie, or was it some kind of fruit chip? (The first thing I thought of, actually, was crystallized ginger, but I felt sure that in that case, you would have mentioned it.) ← Not as cold as New York. And sorry that our Swedes (Canucks) whipped your Czechs (Rangers) last night. That's a Canadian affectation, by the way - apologizing for winning. Eegads, Pan, you sharp-eyed sleuth. That's exactly what it was. Dreadfully sorry - I was concentrating on the chestnut cream that oozed like a dull wound, and the maple syrup ice cream, like Canadians themselves a most excellent idea in small quantities.
  9. A Bowl of Soup Caesare and the maestro, Pino Posteraro. My friend Caesare, who is Italian and who knows a great deal more about the gastronomy of that country than I could ever hope to, took me out for a Christmas lunch today. The restaurant that he chose was Cioppino's, a large and splendid room in Vancouver's Yaletown district. The weather was cool and bright and Caesare (Chez-a-ray), as always, was warm and pleased to be visiting the city. He had a trick or two up his sleeve. We had a glass of Champagne. The barman was busy for the lunch hour, the room full; in keeping with the season, customers stayed a while. His trick - a Christmas gift really - was a shower of Alba truffles. This was quite the most wonderful bowl of soup I'd eaten in ages. It defied terms like plush or luxe; despite this stolid photograph, it shone with an inner light. And paradoxically, the puree of Jeruslaem artichokes elevated the truffles, rather than the reverse. We enjoyed it so much that he insisted on a second bowl, which we split. For a moment I wondered if Cioppino's had a policy of bottomless bowls of this soup, like coffee in a diner. What impressed me more was the properly sparing use of the truffle, like a perfume rather than confetti at a Vegas wedding. A second bowl, shared between old friends, is a concept in keeping with the season. Chef Posteraro doesn't wash the truffles until he's ready to use them. "They're still feeding," he said. The tubers of his affection, unwashed. I had the roasted chicken. It comes off the Rotisol rottiserie crisped and moist, skidded into a snowbank of pureed potatoes. Someone had cleverly placed a leg of duck under the chicken, just in case. The Rotisol rottiserie, which I covet. The final course of this seemingly simple luncheon was a small chestnut pocket. Its liquid centre oozed into the maple syrup ice cream.
  10. Beyond Siberian peach pie in January? I suppose the easy way out would be to say that "I don't know." Or won't know until I get there. But when Eva and I shirk our day-to-days, I'd surely like to spend more time in the Antipodes. We share a lot in common with our Commonwealth brethren: with apologies to Freddy Mercury, we're children of a common Queen. I particularly enjoy Vietnamese and Cambodian food, and the wine districts of South Africa call out. And I want to explore Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria, the latter two not so much for their cuisine as for their still quite untrammelled countryside. But I suppose the best answer I could give is . . . that My Dad likes to drive into the countryside and, quite purposefully, get lost. He might knock on a strange door or look in on an restaurant or inn that looks promising. As a passenger on these expeditions, I think they offer exciting possibilities. He maintains it's the tourist who looks without seeing, but the traveller who must become lost in order to become found. I can buy into that if the bed is soft. It reminds of something else I'm rather fond of: Doing absolutely nothing at all, but doing it exquisitely well. Properly executed, there's absolutely nothing at all you can do about it.
  11. The Charcuterists "What the world needs is shorter speeches and longer sausages." So said John van der Liek, the German-Canadian owner of Oyama Sausage Company, just before he sat back down. Van der Liek and his wife Christine had just been awarded the Best Supplier - Producer award at our annual Restaurant Awards by a vote of members of the Chefs' Table Society of BC. It was a popular choice. From their repertoire of more than 1,000 recipes, the van der Lieks' charcuterie is showcased in restaurants throughout the province. And from their retail outlet at The Granville Island Market, they sell more than 300 products at any one time. That's almost astonishing, because the Oyama kitchens and smokehouse occupy a scant 2,100 square feet in a warehouse (a best smeller) on Vancouver's Marine Drive commercial corridor. It's not much bigger than the van der Lieks' old operation in Oyama, a small village in the Okanagan, which they operated for years until the market opportunity of the Lower Mainland beckoned. John van der Liek has spent a good deal of time researching first-hand Italian and Spanish sausage and curing recipes. Those are to add to his lengthy apprenticeship in Germany, and a lot of trial and error. "Charcuterie belongs to the navy," van der Liek told me today. "It was food for the navy, the best way to preserve meat," he said. "And when refrigeration began on ships, the craft [of curing and smoking] declined." On Sunday night, for a pre-Christmas family dinner, we'll be serving Oyama's English-cured ham. Cured with treacle, black sugar and black ale for up to five weeks, it then enters the smoking cabinet for up to four more. Van der Liek handed me a piece this afternoon. Transcendent and with bottomless flavour, I could taste it for half an hour. English blacks from Tarra Norris of TKO Rare Breeds The van der Lieks are partnering their operation with rare breed pig farmers. Recently they sent out a press notice that said: “Two years ago, we – the van der Liecks -- decided that it is time to stop supporting the ongoing commercialization of meat and food ingredients by which nature is increasingly being taken out of the equation. “By constantly narrowing the gene pool of our livestock and invariably controlling all aspects of the animal habitat (ie. animals confined to forced air commercial barn applications), we have created unhappy, unhealthy animals which, surprise!surprise!, are flavourless and less nutritious, but become very cheap chops and wings. As a meat lobbyist said on CBC Radio, the consumer wants his/her meat to be cheap and always available. We disagree!!! “With a number of farmers, we have begun to raise free range herds of hogs. One herd, our “Pata Negras”, consists of pure bred large English Blacks – a race that is listed as critically close to extinction by Rarebreeds Canada. A second herd in Lac La Hache consists of hogs that exercise their freedom so vigourously that the bacon is almost too lean to fry. That is why we have decided to put the “cream on the strawberries” by feeding our hogs 1000 lbs of B.C. grown hazelnuts from the Fraser Valley. “We here in B.C. have yet to fully appreciate what the French might call our “terroir”. We cannot be as good as we can until we truly realize the incredible opportunities of our vast, mostly pristine and extremely diverse farmlands. The “gout du terroir” is the “best we can do where we are.” “If you would like to come and have a taste, please feel free to contact John or Christine via email at dooda@telus.net. In a 2,100 square foot kitchen, John van der Lieck, with 2 ½ helpers, produces in excess of 300 traditional European charcuterie products. All ingredients are carefully sourced, many imported directly. We take any opportunity to buy locally, if the quality is right.” The truth is told in the pan. Van der Liek's bacon doesn't - leak the water that commercial brands do, that is. In the lockers at Oyama, the saucissons grow, row on row. And the salumi dry and settle in their nets until they creak in their skins like misers. The master charcuterist, John van der Liek, presents slow-smoked Keremeos elephant garlic. The Christmas ornament of choice in discerning homes this year.
  12. I'm tempted to cry foul here, Jamie. I was enjoying your classy, witty, informed BC Boulevardier blog, and then you made me cry, dammit. ← Just trying to warm you up, not spill you over. J.
  13. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Ellen. In answer to your question . . . Certainly at my mother Gloria's (she of the soda bread and salmon) apron strings. Mum always had a way of arriving at our summer cottage, muttering a few well-rehearsed words if the grocery freighter was late, looking in the cupboard to find but one can of tomatoes from the preceding summer, pulling some raggy herbs from the garden and a few things (a sack of spuds?) from her luggage, pouring herself a drink, calmly delegating a few step 'n fetch it instructions to her flock (us), and rather magically in hindsight, two hours later putting out dinner for her large brood and the neighbours. Tomorrow night, I'm going to post a story called 'Christmas Present' that speaks to her alchemy in the kitchen. I believe her nicknames, variously Glory and Glorious, came for a reason. That taught me that food is love. A summer in France playing rugby badly, but being billeted on a farm with a family that either grew or traded for virtually every foodstuff required to feed a large family and crew - very well and constantly - taught me a lot about a natural interplay: From taking the hay down off the fields, feeding the animals and following the elegantly brutal rule of nature all the way to dinner. That taught me respect. As a grill-boy (I was underage) in a restaurant of sorry reputation with a cruel chef as my boss, I learned to work under feudal law and arcane pressure. That taught me what not to do. Of the many wonderful meals that I've been fortunate enough to eat, by far the most memorable are those with people I care for. My daughters, my love, my family and friends. I tend to remember those stolen moments - the laughter and the tears, the pull of somene not there - more than what I ate. And that, I suppose, has taught me what to do, and that in addition to many other things, love is food. Jamie
  14. Indeed I did ... and I'm completely surprised Jim let you take his picture!! Or at least didn't charge you for the privilege! Without reservation this is my go-to place for Seafood. On that subject ... do you find that Vancouver (or coastal BC for that matter) has a surprisingly low amount of locally-sourced seafood suppliers and/or restaurants? Case in point, when my son & I were camping up the Sunshine Coast last summer, we were completely unable to find a store that carried a) a decent selection of seafood, b) much in the way of local seafood, and c) anything that wasn't frozen! All we wanted were a few oysters and in the coastal community of Gibsons we struck out. A. ← Arne, Very topical question that drives coastal chefs and proprietors crazy. The problems lie in the inspection and processing process. In Tofino, Charles McDiarmid of The Wick expressed his frustration in watching a good part of the local catch swoop by him for inspection elsewhere, only to be returned a few days later with the toe-tags 'correctly' in place. It seems shellfish - perhaps for good reason - are especially vulnerable to the CSI Fisheries team. It's an issue that seems to be about moving the mountain to Mohammed (i.e. have mobile inspection units) but one that I am largely ignorant about and would like to explore more fully and perhaps respond editorially. It seems to me that the downsizing and consolidation of coastal processing plants is likely intertwined, but I'm speculating.
  15. Quelle Catastrophe! - Plan B Sausages and charcuterie at Oyama Sausage Company, at the Granville Island Public Market It's a good thing I spent a few minutes shopping at Granville Island. Eva, who never gets sick, came down with a wicked sore throat yesterday. Very regretfully, we had to renege on our plans to go downtown for a couple of Christmas parties. We had been particularly looking forward to both of them. So it was a night in. That's alright, there was plenty of work to do around the house, and lots more on this keyboard. But what about dinner? "My throat feels like 50 miles of bad road," she croaked. "Soup?" I asked helpfully. "How about those shrimp?" So shrimp sandwiches it was. Crusty bread sliced thin, a lick of aioli, hand-peeled shrimp, a squeeze of lemon, some crunchy salt, pepper, a strew of chives. Eva tucked in early. The hand-peelers came from Dave and Jim Moorhead at Longliner Fish. I've been dealing with them forever, often taking a gift of fresh salmon overseas in one of their sturdy cooler boxes. I reckon the relationship you enjoy with your fishmonger is one of infinite trust and truly reflects one's investment in life. I trust them. Arne Salvesen, our local Forum Host, used to work here. The shrimp were $14.99 per pound and this morning worth every penny. No doubt tonight I'll dream of sausages, for tomorrow we're off to visit the Oyama smokehouse and charcuterie. Their retail stand at the market sells more than 300 products. On the weekends, the line-ups can be fierce. Very much in the Canadian style, we rarely bludgeon tourists to death with confitted legs of duck. They taste too good - for tourists. Before I say goodnight, I'll share just one more market story with you, the most successful one, at least if you judge it by longevity, sales per square foot and quality. Joanne and Georges Lefebvre once owned a restaurant in Kitsilano called Le Chef et sa Femme. Twenty years ago they began this retail operation, offering high quality sauces, soups, dressings, stocks and condiments. They were pioneers in Home Meal Replacement, neatly predicting the needs of the two-income family. They live well, but still work hard. Here, Georges manhandles a box of clams for today's lusty chowder. Le Chef et sa femme remain hands on, and despite countless approaches to franchise the concept, insist on keeping it to themselves, and doing it themselves. Back at Oyama Sausage Company (I'd forgotten to get some Praga ham), I note that my dreams tonight, and our visit together tomorrow, will be enriched by the happy fact that this is Blood Sausage Week. Until we meet again, which will be shortly, Jamie
  16. We'll immediately cut ice for another room, Abra. Please know that you have lots of Canadian chums up here. So join us for some 'product' please. Jamie
  17. This year I marked my tenth year as the food editor of Vancouver magazine. This was my retrospective, the first paragraph of which began this blog last week. Over My Shoulder Like the more conventional forms of oral sex, food writing is rife with both pleasure and latent danger. And after a decade, and thousands of restaurant reviews and dozens of longer essays that detail our culinary history and culture, I remain as randy for more as the day I began. I write about food because danger and pleasure fuel our human condition. They certainly fuel mine, such as it is. But I also write about food because what I ate for dinner allows a perfect porthole into the local culture and customs, soil and sea. The sourcing and preparation of our daily food speaks loudly to who we are and even whom we aspire to be. Besides, in Canada at least, it’s the last thing we’re still allowed to do three times a day. Show me a culture that uses mealtimes to merely fill a void, often from a drive-thru window, and I’ll show you an empty culture. But show me one where the preparation and enjoyment of a meal—no matter how simple—is the connective tissue for families, and I’ll show you a place where that connectivity binds entire societies. Vancouver, with three Alaska-bound cruisers at Canada Place in the middleground and 1000-acre Stanley Park in the backround. On a clear day, you can see . . . Nanaimo? THE NEWEST CUISINE ON EARTH Some of the customs that bind, as well as some of the innovations that have besieged North American dining over the past decade, have been fomented right here in Vancouver. Several of them illustrate just how enormously our dining culture has changed while also reflecting the change in our culture as a whole. Vancouver, unlike, say Toronto, enjoys a distinctive regional cuisine now; our city is a gastronomic laboratory born from many places. It’s the strands of this culinary DNA that bind us and, now increasingly merged, that define us. By the second generation, much of what we eat, while still referencing offshore beginnings, speaks Canadian without an accent. The first emergent trend of the past decade was the explosion of inexpensive Asian restaurants across Vancouver. As James Chatto, the food and restaurant columnist for Toronto Life magazine recently remarked in an article about Vancouver’s dining scene, “. . . that means a healthy customer base, especially when so many people have come here from Asia, bringing their traditions of dining out almost daily. Indeed the Asian presence is everywhere, from the multiplicity of ethnic restaurants to the flavours that find their way onto all but the most staunchly Western menus.” Look no further than your local supermarket to amplify Chatto’s observation. Over the past decade sushi has become a generic foodstuff, widely available as takeout in grocery store deli cases, but even at gas stations, subbing in for nasty egg salad on white. Other Asian foods such as won tons (every culture has a dumpling, much as every culture has an aim-and-shoot game to play after lunch) have chains of restaurants dedicated to their provision. But they too are available in most supermarkets (aka pot stickers), and dim sum has long since replaced eggs Benny as our civic brunch icon. THE COLLABORATIVE OF US A second benchmark illustrative of change in our culinary culture is the rapidly emerging collaboration between farmer, fisherman and chef. That collaboration importantly defines locality and is another bellwether for a maturing cuisine eager to demonstrate its terroir. While that trend has been North America-wide, it has been further defined in British Columbia by collectives of chefs who collaborate amongst themselves. On the balcony of Go Fish!, chef Gord Martin's simple but tasty fish and chip stand at Fisherman's Wharf, False Creek. As you can see, no release form was required for this shot. The Island Chefs’ Collaborative and The Chefs’ Table Society of BC (who published a cook book last year) number two hundred members, each of whom brings to the table a strong interest in sourcing local ingredients--no matter what dialect of cooking they extol. “In Toronto, it’s dog-eat-dog,” James Chatto said. But as to Vancouver, “Chefs there liaise and hobnob and help each other out in a way that makes our Toronto toques seem positively anti-social.” The Chefs' Table Society of BC published Vancouver Cooks last year, raising $50,000 for scholarships and bursaries to suport emerging BC apprentice chefs. As to other contrasts between Vancouver and Toronto, in our April, 2000, edition we noted that Vancouverites “spent 50 per cent more in restaurants than our Toronto cousins. That’s about $2,400 to their $1,600, which explains a lot of things. We drink better, too: twice as much wine per capita as Americans, and 4.5 litres more per year than the Rest of Canada.” These figures have narrowed as Toronto’s economy has flourished, but interestingly they still have room to make up. If, much like our larger culture these collectives define both our diversity and our connectivity, they don’t speak to the healthy competition between restaurants and chefs, especially when the annual award season rolls around. When I became food editor in October, 2005, the awards were published but there was no public event. A decade later, with more than 800 industry folk in attendance, the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards are the largest of their type in North America. More importantly, they signal excellence and offer praise, and publicity, where it’s due. In the past decade, culinary publicity has become an industry of its own. In the mid 90s it was largely limited to hotels and individuals, such as Umberto Menghi, who were blessed with intuitive instinct. Now, press releases arrive electronically each day by the dozen, a sign not just of our growing restaurant economy, but also of the need to be heard above the fray. There are dozens of culinary and hospitality PR firms in the city now, each dedicated to creating events, menus and other hooks of interest, usually, to the media and the consumer. If the annual restaurant Awards define excellence, they also define the most important continuum for restaurant dining—consistency and consistent excellence—for many of the restaurants that won major awards for 1995 continue to do so today. In fact for our annual Awards edition for April, 1996, our 17 critics chose Bishop’s and Lola’s (now defunct) for restaurant of the year, Tojo’s for Japanese, Villa del Lupo for best Italian, and Chartwell and Le Crocodile for “Best French/Continental,” a category that is now called “Best French or French-Influenced” which also speaks—the word Continental being much loathed in the industry—to how our dining tastes have changed. But the sea change was in the number of categories: 17 then, more than 30 now. TOWARDS LOCALITY Another advent is the arrival of the local chef. Many of the best chefs in Vancouver were born and raised here, had the good sense to travel and learn their craft, but also to return. David Hawksworth of West is just one example. His food refracts his training in England through the prism of local ingredients: his uni or corn chowder soups, artichoke salad, ravioli of goat cheese with artichokes and basil sauce or sable fish with enoki broth are extraordinary exemplars of not just where we live but who we are. Ditto at Feenie’s or Jeff van Geest’s all-Canadian, all-the-time bistro called Aurora. SHARE ME But if I were to pick one apocalyptic phenomenon, one thing unique to Vancouver that both defines us and that began here, it would be the rise of small plates dining. In our October 1999 edition we saluted that rise in a cover feature called “Tapas Takes Over—Why the hottest new restaurants serve lots of little plates.” Saluting the advent of restaurants such as Bin 941/942, Tangerine, Tapastree and many others, our editors drilled down to uncover the cause. Or causes. Because our research demonstrated several stimuli at work: Asian dining is founded in “sharing” platters; Vancouver diners are notoriously spontaneous (read: last minute) and casual, and, perhaps definitively, a good deal of the invention and flavour impact was occurring on the appetizer side of the menu. Swift to do the math, Vancouver diners began ordering multiple appetixers and, voila, the small plates trend was birthed. In a sidebar, writer Liz Hodgson canvassed chefs and food writers in various North American culinary capitals to discover that tapas-styled dining was unheard of elsewhere—they were still mired in the “three and you’re out” modus. Memorably, when she interviewed Toronto columnist Stephen Davie, he reported that that city’s current frenzy was for “authenticity.” Martin was also a pioneer of the small plates craze that swept Vancouver in 1998. It was formed from several factors: the Asian tradition of sharing platters; appetizer grazing; and the casual, accessible way Vancouverites prefer to eat: more a sense of taste than one of occasion. This vertiginous signature of Digby scallop and prawn tournedos has been on the menu since Martin's Bin 941 opened its doors. The price has crept up a bit over the years; today it sells for $15. The result of the stimulus of small plates dining is that now we can and do eat very well and spontaneously without the fuss and bother of the hidebound, the imperious or the intimidating. It’s refreshing to know that the same holds true of other North American cities, finally, and even once-haughty French restaurants have changed their tune, with famous chefs going out of their way to drop a Michelin macaron or two and cook a freestyle, flavour-driven cuisine without pretense. Martin's oyster Po-Boy sandwich - BBQ Cortes Island oysters, shredded iceberg lettuce, chipotle crema, sweet onion & 'Gordo's Tartar Sauce' on a Portuguese- style bun. $8 at Go Fish. * HAUTE STOVE LEAGUE “You’ll have to get up a lot earlier to offend me, “ said Olivier LeBeau of Pattisierie LeBeau recently. In a recent column I had called him “the sandwich Nazi” for his propensity to run out of his acclaimed and garlicky chicken salad sandwiches en baguette by about 12:05 most afternoons. And yes, one must be careful to stand in line quietly. I’m positive that exact change counts too. It underscores a portion of my life that must be mentioned. And that’s the mean underbelly of a restaurateur scorned. Over the past decade of writing about food, but especially reviewing restaurants I’ve received a number of anonymous threats from men with sharp knives. I was even forced to place the Canadian equivalent of a restraining order on a Greek chef who proved to be only a slightly better cook than stalker. And I read—to some hilarity—a six page letter of venal complaint from an Italian restaurateur of reputation that began “And I thought we were friends . . .” Just as the landscape of what we eat for dinner has changed (also like sex, what was once vertical has now matured, and relaxed into horizontal presentation) so too has the way we evaluate our food. And that’s because everyone has an opinion, especially through the many culinary websites such as Chowhound and eGullet.org and also via personal blogs that chiefly hail from the “I came, I ate, Ieft” school of tautology sauced with cant with a garnish of rant: Everyone is a food critic now. We should remind ourselves that if you’re talking too much about the food, you’re eating with the wrong people. THE SUSTAINABLE YOU It’s no longer enough to cook well in a pleasantly decorated room with friendly and professional service. There are bigger issues afoot now, and they arrived with irony, given our chefs’ increasing proclivity, whenever possible, to source locally. The radical disappearance this summer of our native sockeye runs is but one example of how the future of our culinary provenance will be written. Sustainability issues, just a few years ago during the Chilean Sea Bass Epoch, seemed just an unpleasant if still-distant notion. Now they have arrived with a horrendous bang, and increasingly, with more than 60 per cent of seafood consumed in restaurants, it will be the responsibility of both chefs and consumers to refuse that which cannot be reasonably maintained. * When I began writing professionally about food, about fifteen years ago, the internet was still being developed by Al Gore and cell phones were the size of WWII walkie-talkies. My daughters were barely mobile, and I suppose that it’s in looking through their eyes, now that they’re both parked in expensive universities, that time and motion have truly revealed themselves to me. It’s not that they enjoin a false sophistication when it comes to eating, nor, hopefully, do they take good food for granted. I believe they see what’s on their plate with pleasure, and are willing to invest the time and a sense of discovery, especially when they cook, to create pleasure for themselves and others. This summer at our orchard cottage in the Okanagan, I watched as my elder daughter, Alexandra, unbidden and almost off-handedly, created at least one a capella dish for each meal: apricots were picked from the tree near the kitchen door like Christmas ornaments to become tomorrow morning’s fresh preserves, a neat sauce turned up for the halibut in the oven, a crush of avocadoes met cilantro, lime, garlic and good salt as a summer appetizer. That a love for food is also a love for people can be manifested three times a day. Even, it seems, in Canada. And, I suppose, that’s all I really wanted out of this: To see the honest enjoyment of two young women who approach the table looking forward and not just filling an incessant void. That they inherited their grandmother’s (she of the loaves and fishes school) flavoursome ways is all the pleasure that I need. At least until the prospect of my next meal rears up. With a desire that reinvents itself continuously, just like that other searing and relentless hunger - then I will sit down with you again.
  18. Thanks for linking to that great thread, which I'd forgotten about. But I'm a bit surprised to read that you consider San Francisco "the dominant dining city on the west coast" (which Vancouver may or may not have replaced). San Francisco is not that big a city compared to L.A. Did you mean to include everything within a 50- or 60-mile radius of the city by the bay? ← Yes, the Bay Area. Although at one time, San Franciso proper had a relative wealth of restaurants concentrated in a small area. Of course if you have a personal chopper (and I'm not talking about the Ron Popeil version here), Los Angeles can be an interesting dining destination too. But I'll revisit my original point and say that all three areas enjoy a diversity of dining opportunities on various budgets, and we should celebrate that, even if we're calling our new Made-in-BC wine movie 'Forward'.
  19. The secret about the wonderfulness of Vancover, and BC in general, was definitely out among my whole crowd when I lived in Seattle. Various of us would make pilgrimages on a regular basis, for food and other fun (i.e. several of my friends would make special trips to load up at Lush before they finally opened a store in the Seattle area; and myself, I developed a deep love of the BC Museum in Victoria). It's just one helluva lovely province. Anybody up there want to adopt me so I can become a Landed Immigrant? I'm lotsa fun, and I cook good (though I can't boast the girlish figure of your kitchen help, Mr. Maw). ← Sounds positively ducky. Done deal.
  20. Abra, Please don't shoot the messenger. I too adore arugula, but as a responsible journalist I felt that I had to report the story accurately and dispassionately. You see, it brings out the rocket in me. In this vein, have you applied 'the product' yet? J.
  21. Spot on! As for the Sommelier-Pianist Eva, I wouldn't be surprised if she can play Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, while at the same time perform the duties of a wine steward at the Aureole Restaurant in Las Vegas. Since you have definitely shown yourself as quite the traveller, please assess the restaurant dining scenes of the various major cities during your tenure. Yes, go ahead and mention the usual American suspects, if you wish, particularly the Los Angeles area where I reside. As for Vancouver, do you find that people from other cities look at you with dropped jaws and staring eyes when Vancouver is mentioned as a dining destination? ← First off, great question. Second, I've long thought it a zero-sum game to compare cities as dining destinations. They're all different, and we should delight in those differences. In the past generation, virtually all North American cities have seen vastly improved dining opportunities, especially those that have revisited the provenance of their farms, ranches and fisheries. In short, with a little due diligence, it's now possible to eat well, if not always sustainably, in most North American cities. So the only questions are for how long and with what diversity? Because I'm based in Vancouver, I start to get a little culinarily claustrophobic in certain European capitals now, where the imported cuisines are often second tier-faux and expensive. That being said, there are many undersung cities globally that are - for one reason or another - extraordinary dining centres. Of course they're not undersung locally, or in their own countries, but they often are in the American national culinary media, which is largely concentrated in in two centres . So you can't really blame the American tourist for a lack of knowledge about this place. So the "dropped jaws" of lack of recognition change pretty quickly to dropped jaws of astonsihment, of discovery - hopefully you and others will pick up on some of the reasons why this week. But the same is true of first-time culinary visitors to Melbourne, Sydney, Montreal and many other centres with strong food, wine and dining cultures. One reason is the value in these cities, considerably less than New York, half the price of London. Other reasons include the strong sense of a regional cuisine, based on local ingredients; the factor of accessibility (reservations are hassle-free, the restaurant population is geographically tightly gouped, unlike say, in Los Angeles); and finally, the extraordinary diversity of cuisines. So, while I'm not sure that Vancouver has replaced San Francisco as the dominant dining city on the west coast, I've certainly noticed one thing. We used to visit San Francisco and environs once or twice a year to dine ferociously. But now our friends from the Bay Area want to meet us here: in the Okanagan, at Whistler, on Vancouver Island, but especially in Vancouver. Of course their enthusiasm may wane as the American dollar contiues to lose value. In general, the European culinary media are more aware of the culinary landscape here than American ones. As are the European media in general: The Economist recently rated Vancouver as the "No. 1 City to Live In" globally, and then a month later, rated it the "No. 1 city in which to do business." But leading up to the Winter Olympics in 2010, we fully anticipate that the American food glossies will "discover" (read: dogpile) Vancouver (in the same way that Barcelona and Sydney were discovered) and the other areas that we have visited this week. If I have performed any service for you at all this week, you can tell them that you were here first. Cheers, and great chatting with you, Jamie
  22. Hi Maggie, So sorry to hear you're chilly. I have a deep affinity with your wonderful city and hope you warm up soon. And many thanks for your kind words. This has, of course, managed to be an exceptionally heavy year-end business week as well, but we've had a lot of fun reporting in. Maw is in fact my real name. It was anglicized from the original French "de la Mare" after it was exported from Brittany to Cornwall in the fish trade long ago. St. Mawes-by-the-Sea is a well known place in Cornwall, but is the last known eveidence of any saints in our family. Perhaps the latter supports the former though. As you may have noticed elsewhere, I'm a food writer (Maw) vitally interested in sustainability issues (de la Mare). There - your theory must be correct. It is a very useful name in contemporary Vancouver, where 40% of our population is Asian. Like snagging a quality table at dim sum. But here's how I responded upthread to Abra . . . No, actually I'm Scottish-Canadian on my mother's side. My maternal great-grandfather, David Leckie, arrived here in Kelowna about a century ago. You'll be reading more about him in a minute. But the name Maw is English and not at all unsuitable for a food writer. Had I been blessed with a son I would have no doubt called him Gaping. Or Yawning. In Chinese it means "stomach" or "fish bladder" (depending on who I ask) and you see it all the time on Chinese menus: "Fish Maw - $7.95". So my Chinese buddies call me Jimmy the Gut. Helpfully, the $7.95 accurately describes my net worth. The homonymic Chinese spellings of my surname are typically Ma or Mah. Or as I say to my Dutch friend when leaving the pub - "Look Hans, no Maw."
  23. Excellent, thanks so much!!! I'm interested in your Cheesey as Maria potatoes, they looked quite yummy to me. Any special recipe you might share for them, and also the lamb? Thanks for the salmon one, I'm saving that one to try. And, may I say, your blog is a most beautiful and enjoyable collection of written work and visual delights, you could publish it. Just wonderful! ← cayenne, I don't really have a recipe, but I'll try to recreate how I do it. These are great "pan-a-see-yuhs" as my mother calls them, i.e. make a few pans for over the holidays to serve with ham, lamb, beef, or even at brunch with eggs. Cheesier Than Mariah Carey Scalloped Potatoes You'll need: 1. A large (preferably square as in the picture) casserole or lasagne pan with a minimum two inch side, lightly buttered 2. About 10 large russet potatoes 3. About 1.5 litres of half-and-half or whole milk 4. 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs of thyme, three cloves of garlic 5. 2 medium onions 6. A wide, flat sauce pan 7. 250 grams of blue cheese (your choice) and grated reggiano 8. 8 thick slices of emmenthal 9. A mandoline, food processor or sharp knife Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Peel the potatoes and place in cold water. Peel and chop the garlic finely. Peel the onions. Dry the potatoes. Slice the potatoes and onion about 1/8th inch. Place the potatoes in the sauce pan. Barely cover with cream or milk. Add garlic and herbs and bring to gentle simmer for about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, place a layer of potaoes in the bottom of the casserole Add a layer of onion Add the emmenthal Add a layer of potatoes Add the remaining onions and the blue cheese Add the remaining potatoes Add the reggiano Add remaining cream liquid to a level half-way (1") up the side of the casserole Bake covered for 25 minutes covered with aluminum foil; bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the top has browned evenly. Allow to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes before serving. Serves about 12 to 15 people - generously. The lamb recipe is available in chef Alain Raye's new cookbook, La Regalade. It's available at Barbara-jo's Books to Cooks. It would make a great Christmas gift, too. Happy cooking, Jamie
  24. Okanjo wo onegaishimasu! An evening with Sado San. A night with Sado is of a seamless sensuality, interrupted only by brief bouts of commerce, and laughs. He's a funny guy. But not in the draining ba-da-bing kind of way. It's more unscripted sit-com: Sushi Man. His food is calming too, like these little warming haikus of clam soup that arrive, unbidden . . . Or in the simple rolls, where the slippery sweet avocado begins the bite that the spiced fish completes . . . Gyoza packages arrive as uncontrived as the owner. Scant vinegar licks the rice on this caterpillar construction of fluffy rolls A pewter canoe of salmon and albacore, our local dominoes of pleasure A lobster roars its last Sado San presents the ingredients for his little charcoal grill (son of hibachi?) - Kobe beef, mushrooms and scallions. Daikon stands by in the dipping bowls. A closer view . . . They take the fire. The specials sheet. The meal is done. And so are we.
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