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Catherine Iino

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Everything posted by Catherine Iino

  1. It's my last night in Canada, and I'd like to report back, in case someone else is making their way up to Tofino. First of all, it is stunningly beautiful here, all calories aside. Clark was so generous with his recommendations, only some of which we were able to follow in our all-too-short trip. We did eat at Norwoods this evening, and it was easily the best meal of our trip to Vancouver Island, which included several good meals in Victoria. At Norwoods, my husband and I shared the excellent mussels as a starter. You don't get mussels that big on the East Coast, and they were impeccably clean, in a delicious, slightly spicy, light, tomatoey sauce. Served with half glasses of a very good riesling. My husband had a roasted game hen for his main course, perfectly cooked, very flavorful, with a wild rice risotto. No room for mistakes there, and it was just right. I had what is listed as an appetizer course: a seafood trio consisting of Dungeness crab chowder, prawns tempura, and grilled octopus on truffled mashed potatoes. So good. Everything balanced and complementary. The truffle flavor, for example, was subtle and beautifully matched with the remarkably tender octopus. (That's not easy: recently, a professionally trained friend served a pasta that was so overwhelmed with truffle flavoring that it was unpleasant.) Because Norwoods offers wine by the half glass and full glass as well as the bottle, the dinner was not so expensive, and as my husband said, we didn't feel stuffed and drunk when we left. I have to say, Norwoods put Sobo to shame. We ate their last evening, and while the items were not badly cooked, none of the flavors seemed to come together. Use local ingredients at the end of winter, the salad included sprouted peas and beans, grated beets and jicama (maybe?) as well as lettuce, but the textures and tastes were just a hodgepodge. Similarly, I had some roast shrimp in a citrus butter sauce over gnocchi--so far, so good--but the dish included a roasted carrot, a floret of broccoli, and a piece of cauliflower, all nicely cooked but really out of place, I thought. It didn't help that the service was quite poor: every time the young woman who was waiting on us put something down on our table, or even asked how we were doing, she was looking at the next table over. We had only two nights in Tofino/Ucluelet--which I can now pronounce!--and I would gladly have eaten at Norwoods twice, had I known. I would love to taste their duck ravioli, the clam sauce, their lamb, actually, everything on the menu. Oh, well! Thanks again to Clark for all the help. I highly recommend this far corner of the world (far from Connecticut, in any case) to anyone who can get here.
  2. Thank you so much, Clark! What a great culinary picture of the area--makes me wish we were staying longer. You are very generous to give such a comprehensive answer.
  3. Chris-- For years I've commented that the onions sold in RI supermarkets were much worse than those sold in Connecticut. I've always attributed it to the high humidity levels near the ocean, but I'm not sure how much sense the explanation makes, given large, air-conditioned stores. That said, a year or two ago, the price of onions suddenly doubled or tripled overnight, and I think the quality did go down. A crop failure? Or are onions just being stored longer and more poorly before they get to us?
  4. Very big bump. I will be in Tofino in a couple of weeks and would be grateful for any up-to-date recommendations for anything having to do with food!
  5. Well, here's another approach altogether: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Maple-Pudding-Cake-233996 Sounds delicious to me
  6. Has anyone come up with a recipe approximating the Beard Papa shells? I have to make dessert for an Asian-themed meal that my cooking club is doing, and I'm not a big fan of really Asian sweets. I am a big fan of cream puffs.
  7. Quite a few years ago, when my daughters were young, we acquired a book called Papa's Secret Chocolate Dessert at some used book sale. (Chris--I see that it's still in the RI library system.) It is about a boy whose family runs a small restaurant critic is expected, papa gets a terrible toothache. Most of the preparations for the meal have been done, and the meal is a big success until--oh, no, the dessert is not right. Then the boy recalls that his father always poured a cup of coffee over the batter before it went into the oven, but because of the toothache, he had not been drinking coffee that morning and had left out that step. Voila! The boy saves the day. The secret dessert was clearly a pudding cake. There's a brownie pudding cake on Epicurious that uses the same technique--pouring liquid over the batter. Amusing to find what I think of as a homey American dessert presented as a French specialty. I'm really looking forward to trying the rhubarb version.
  8. This raises a question that has bugged me for a long time. TV "chefs" don't seem to wash their produce. For example, I once saw Mario Batali* break a stalk of celery off a bunch and just start chopping it up. I, on the other hand, was all my produce quite carefully, cut off any little brown spots, and so on. I've wondered whether this was just home-cook foolishness, and how carefully--if at all--produce might be washed in restaurants. On exactness in measuring: it recently dawned on me that it doesn't make sense to be too fastidious about measuring spices according to a recipe (formula), since they vary in flavor so much. * I think Batali was dropped by the Food Network for being too, well, smart.
  9. Chris-- Did you mean vertical plating? Or am I so out of date that I've missed a whole trend?
  10. Thank you both for those quick answers! eGullet is the best!
  11. Is there any way to soften almond paste once it's become dry and crusty? I know I should have wrapped it better to begin with, but I didn't. Also, I once bought a tube of almond paste at the supermarket that turned out to be literally rock hard.
  12. Big bump! I picked up half a pig yesterday, and I'm about to render the fat. Thanks to all who came before for showing me how to proceed. One question: is there any reason to keep the fat from the different parts of the pig separate? Does leaf lard, say, have different qualities from back lard? I'm just curious.
  13. Thanks, Chris. Since we make drip coffee, I guess I'll stick with our whirly-blade grinder until it dies (which may be soon). I'm tempted by the hand grinder, though. About how long does it take to grind enough beans for about 4 cups of brewed coffee?
  14. Amazon is advertising a Bodum burr coffee grinder for $80. Has anyone had experience with it? The glass parts sound good, and it's good looking. Thanks for any advice.
  15. I'm sorry, Andie. I didn't mean to make you sad. I always thought of that mushroom more as a pounder than a hand cleaner. In any case, we all have gadgets that we love that might not be reasonable. I suppose I should have remembered my Shakespeare: "O reason not the need!"
  16. I've posted this before, but for me it's the "stainless steel soap" for removing garlic odor from your hands. Can there be a kitchen around that has no stainless steel around at all--no knives, no sinks, no pots, no flatware--and has to purchase and then store a hunk of stainless steel?
  17. Williams-Sonoma just sent out an email advertising the magimix food processor, with a photo of a juicer smoothie accessory full of raspberries. It's hard to tell, but it looks like it might do the job. The Magimix is not cheap, but I'm considering it, since I'm sick of the pushers or covers or other parts of my Cuisinarts cracking after a year or so.
  18. Thanks to Baroness for the recommendation of Nuts Online. I placed a large order around noon one day and received it the next, in CT, paying for the least expensive postage. I was amazed. The quality of the pears (and the almond flour I also ordered) is good.
  19. It did form one mat; I think it should have formed more in the many months it was brewing. So I don't think loose bacteria is the problem. I did make salad dressing for ten people out of it, and I don't think anyone was the worse for it.
  20. I would say celery along with some anisey flavor source, maybe a bit of Pernod, for example.
  21. I love raspberry puree, and forcing it through a strainer is one of the tasks I hate the most. Rose Levy Beranbaum raves about the Cuisinart power strainer in The Cake Bible, but Cuisinart does not sell it any more. So if Mostlylana doesn't want yours, Kerry, I'll bid! (But why don't you like it?) I say we all petition Cuisinart to bring back the product.
  22. BUMP! I've been making vinegar for a few years now, following Abra's instructions and others. All was going swimmingly until about a year ago, when things just went sour. Alright, enough of that. But seriously, I was producing jar after jar of vinegar, and giving mothers away, until things just sort of stopped. No mother would form. I thought I might have starved it for oxygen, so I got a descendant of the original mother and started again. Now I have a crock of good smelling and tasting vinegar, but it is completely cloudy. I've tried running it through coffee filters, and they just clog up right away. So, I'm going to start again. My question is, is the sludgy vinegar safe to use? And does anyone know what might cause that? Thanks.
  23. Thank you all for your replies. Yes, I'll order them--since I agree with WC about all their special qualities--but still, it's weird the way things just disappear from the marketplace. Same thing has happened with peanut oil. All of a sudden, gone from supermarkets, even Asian food stores around here. The other day, I found one small bottle on the top shelf of a Shaw's, after a couple of years of looking. Now, Shaw's has pulled out of Connecticut altogether. Strange, I tell you.
  24. I love dried pears, to eat out of hand, to use in biscotti and muffins. I could buy them in bulk in my supermarket much of the time, or I could get them in my health food store (even though I like the sulfured kind). A year or two ago, they simply disappeared from my corner of the world--Connecticut and Rhode Island. Can't even get the expensive, prepackaged brand name kinds. There doesn't seem to be a fresh pear shortage. Does anybody know what happened?
  25. Save the wrappers from sticks of butter and use them to grease baking pans.
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