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Everything posted by Zee

  1. I have recently found out that amazon.com has increased their fees on shipping items to Canada. This obviously closes the gap on the costs of books between amazon.com and amazon.ca, but I personally find it discriminatory against Canadian customers. It has been a well-known fact that in the last couple of years, prior to this shipping rate increase, and even prior to the dollars being at par, it cost appreciably less to buy books through amazon.com than amazon.ca. Of all the options available to Amazon in saving their Canadian business, I personally think they have chosen the worst. For sure, they have successfully deterred me from purchasing from their US site, but I'm not going to their Canadian site as a result. I'll just take my business elsewhere. I'd very much like to hear what other Canadians think about this.
  2. I have to be honest, I wonder if starting my own food blog was the least original thing I've ever done. How does one go about and be comfortable with (shamelessly) promoting one's own blog? I'd appreciate your thoughts.
  3. Where does one find wild blueberries in the lower mainland area?
  4. This information probably comes a bit too late now, but in case someone's looking for an interesting place to eat along the Coast in the future, well, here it is. We just got back from the Coast ourselves yesterday. Like everyone, we were looking for great seafood and chowder shacks. It was my 30th birthday, and I had this vision of myself slurping massive bowls of clam chowder to celebrate. On the first night, our Google Map directions sent us the wrong way and had us arrive at our campsite at Nehalem Bay after sunset. The first priority was to set up our tent while we still could, then we set out to look for a place to eat, any place, really. We first arrived at the Seafood Shack in Wheeler and were kindly informed that the restaurant was closed. The hostess did point us to a place in Rockaway Beach that stays open until midnight. Burgers and pizzas, she said. Better than nothing, we thought. So we arrived at a place called the Foghorn Sports Bar and Grill in Rockaway Beach. It was a smoking lounge + bar with lottery machines, pool tables and illicit couples. Better than nothing, we thought. We were handed what was essentially a bar menu, with burgers and beers, and something called a Broaster Chicken with Jo Jos. Jo Jos, as I was reminded soon afterwards, were large wedges of potato, dredged in flour, seasoned and fried. I had them once in high school. Our friendly server enthusiastically recommended the Broaster Chicken, claiming they're the best she's ever eaten and the best on the coast. Thinking that she was boasting about their roasted chicken, my partner and placed an order of it, along with a cheeseburger and two pints of beer. What showed up was a massive plate of fried chicken from half a chicken and Jo Jos cut from two whole Idaho potatoes. The quantity was impressive, if nothing else. When in Rome, I thought. We split the dish, took a bite each, and were pleasantly surprised by the flavour and texture. Crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. Nicely seasoned, and a whole lotta fried goodness. Our cheeseburger came next, and again, it was skillfully executed. Nothing fancy, mind you, just a plain, soft bun with mayo, lettuce and tomato, but the hamburger patty was perfectly cooked. We looked at the menu again, and it read "1/3 pound freshly ground beef chuck". It tasted exactly like that. Juicy and meaty. We stumbled out of the place at midnight, smelling like tobacco and booze, very well served and well fed.
  5. Hi everyone, Haven't got a chance to thank you for recommendations until now. It was a busy week leading up to the trip, and now we are back. The trip was wonderful, except for the fact that we didn't get to any of the wineries. It's been a habit of ours to plan too many things over too short a journey, and after a few days of feeling like we've been doing nothing but driving, we decided to forgo the wine tasting. A bit sad, as I spent a lot of time narrowing down our choices based on your recommendations. The finalists were, in no particular order, Scott Paul, Domaine Drouhin, Sokol Blosser, Tori Morr and the Winemaker's Studio. I even created a custom Google map to guide our visits. On the plus side, I did manage to pick up two bottles of Oregon Pinot Noirs in Portland – one from Patricia Green, and one from Brooks (based on a recommendation by the people at Park's Kitchen). I'm sure they will be wonderful.
  6. Hello, I posted a topic in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska forum looking for recommendations on wineries to visit in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. The link to that topic is here. I'd very much appreciate it if you can offer some tips/advice as well. Thanks!
  7. Hi everyone, My partner and I will be touring the northern/central Oregon coast in a week, and we will be swinging by Portland for two days prior to heading home to Vancouver, Canada. Our route up north is from either Florence or Newport to Portland, through the Willamette Valley region, and with approximately 200 wineries and only one day, we're seeking recommendations on the best/most interesting wineries to visit. Oregon wines have a very limited exposure here in Canada, so we're only slightly familiar with (and thoroughly enjoy) their Pinot Noirs. Any suggestion/tip/advice is appreciated!
  8. I will be in Taipei in two weeks, and I am looking for information on where to find some unique/affordable tableware, dishware, pots/pans, utensils, etc. Is there a cluster of shops in some neighborhood that specializes in these thing? I appreciate all replies.
  9. A while back, I decided to make the Fig Cookies from Alfred Portale's "12 Seasons Cookbook" for Christmas. As it turns out, the cookies are really cuccidati; the two recipes are almost identical (although Portale's recipe could've used some testing). Like Portale, I decorated the cookies with chopped pistachios: I think they look great but taste a little dry. Next time, I'll be using Michael's recipe.
  10. hathor, I'd definitely PM you for the recipe if I have access to lungs and esophagus in Vancouver. But wait, there is always Chinatown... Even the 'clean' version of the dish was pretty heavy on the palate. The chef definitely wasn't skimping on the cheese and sauce. Thanks for everyone's feedback so far!
  11. Well, I did. This is one of the recipes I found online: 25g dried porcini 500g fresh lasagne sheets 150g unsalted butter 60g flour 1 litre milk 400g button mushrooms, sliced extra virgin olive oil 150g prosciutto slices, finely cut 200mls cream 3 tablespoons chopped parsley salt and freshly ground black pepper 150g freshly grated parmesan truffle oil Place the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave for an hour. Preheat oven to 210 C Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile heat the milk until almost boiling and add a little at a time to the sauce whisking as you add. Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the mushrooms until tender, add to the sauce along with the sliced prosciutto and the porcini with a little of their liquid. Add the cream and the parsley and bring to the boil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Butter a lasagne dish and cover the bottom with a layer of pasta. Spread over a layer of sauce, dot with butter and sprinkle with parmesan. Continue the process finishing with a layer of sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes. Splash with truffle oil and then serve. Serves 6 Seems close. I'll have my bottle of truffle oil ready.
  12. Last week my partner and I went to a new Italian trattoria in Vancouver and ordered a dish called Vincigrassi. Here's how it was described on the menu: Layered pasta baked with fresh porcini, Parma ham, fontina cheese The hidden ingredient? Dried porcini powder sprinkled atop every layer of the sauce, as the chef explained to us later. The dish was absolutely sublime. I wouldn't mind having it every night of the week. A quick google search today yielded many results but also many variations of the dish. I'd like to give Vincigrassi a try at home. Does anyone have a recipe that they can share?
  13. I made the "olives marinated in orange and thyme-infused olive oil" two days ago. I quadrupled the recipe, packed them in jars, and am letting them sit for a while before giving them away as Christmas gifts to family and friends. The problems I've encountered so far are: 1. There wasn't enough liquid to cover all the olives, garlic, orange peel, etc. So, I topped each jar off with some more olive oil. 2. The orange juice and vinegar separate from the olive oil. I've been giving each jar a light shake twice a day for the last two days. The colour, which was never clear from the start, is turning quite muddy already. 3. The garlic are turning a blue-ish green colour (what the heck!?). Not quite looking like mold (not fuzzy, yet), more like a tint. What's going on?
  14. I was at my local supermarket yesterday and saw some great deals on fresh whole pork shoulders and frozen goat meat. I wanted to pick some up but wasn't sure what to do with them. Any ideas?
  15. Rugelahs, fig cookies (fig newtons), shortbreads and mini pecan pies. I am in search of a solid spiced nuts recipe. Can anyone help?
  16. This year, our family has agreed to exchange only edible and/or consumable gifts for the sake of an easier, more manageable holiday for each one involved. For my partner and I, this means that many bottles of booze will be coming our way. No complaints here. The gift ideas that I have include marinated olives, spiced nuts, macerated fruit, etc. I am curious to hear about what other people are going to make/bake this season, to see some photos and exchange some ideas. The first thing that I am looking for is a good spiced nuts recipe. I've tried a few but have not found a solid one yet. I will be posting about my projects as they come along. Happy baking!
  17. Zee

    Taiwan in December

    Nishla, Ding Tai Fung is a must. The best time to go is between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. You should expect a line-up still, but the wait isn't too long and definitely worthwhile. You must try the soup dumplings, noodles in chicken broth and vegetarian steamed buns. The Shi-lin night market is the biggest night market with the best and most food options. I'd suggest you try everything and anything that looks enticing to you. If you find yourself at the TongHua night market, then you must try the pork sandwiches and perhaps finish your evening off with a taro dumpling atop shaved ice with sugar syrup. I can give you the exact names of those stalls in Chinese if you want. If you make it to the 101 building (current tallest building in the world), then you are in the area of one of three Beard Papa outlets in Taipei. Again, I can give you more detailed information on this if you want. There is a hole-in-the-wall place in Taipei that base their entire menu on carps. You'd order a carp and specify the ways you'd like it to be prepared. I usually go for three ways, - in soup, with spicy tofu, and fried. And Sichuan food is typically very good there. Taipei is very foodie-friendly. There is no end of interesting food options wherever you go. You should also try to make it to a morning market if you can. One goes on at the TongHua market every morning.
  18. Zee

    Lunch! (2003-2012)

    It is his third cake. With the incorporation of strawberry puree and Jello, the whole kitchen smelled like strawberries.
  19. Zee

    Lunch! (2003-2012)

    The strawberry cake is based on Patrick's recipe from this thread. I made it once before and really liked its flavour and colour. For this most recent occasion, I baked it in an 11 x 17 sheet pan, halved it, stacked it and created an 8 x 11, letter-size cake. To frost the cake, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese whipped cream. I thought the cream cheese and strawberry flavours came together quite well. The cake was a hit, especially amongst the female guests.
  20. Zee

    Lunch! (2003-2012)

    I was invited to a birthday party and brought these along: Mushroom, roasted red pepper and feta tart Barbequed duck and shitake mushroom rolls Strawberry cake
  21. This past weekend, I received a madeleine pan for my birthday and decided to try it out. Now I'm hooked. Next up will be a matcha variation.
  22. So I made black forest cakes based on the double chocolate cake recipe (latest, revised version), an 11" x 17" rectangular and a 9" round. Compared to other chocolate cake recipes I've tried, the double chocolate really has the best structure. It looked great coming out of the oven - nicely risen and even. The texture was also interesting - a bit spongy and a bit fudge-like. As for the black forest treatment, with the cherry filling and whipped cream, I actually didn't take to it too much. A chocolate ganache would've provided a much better balance (sweetness and texture). It also didn't help that the temperature in Vancouver crept up to nearly 30C, threatening the stability of the whipped cream, and that the party was a 30-minute drive away from my house. Transporting a layer cake with a car during summertime? Not a good idea. Here are some photos:
  23. Thanks RodneyCk and CandianBakin' for your responses. I decided to purchased a new 11 x 17 sheet pan (my oven will only fit one at a time) and have a full day of baking to look ahead to. I'll probably do three batches (and not double or triple the recipe) for safe measure. Black forest is the general direction. Will report back, with pictures.
  24. I just spent my entire lunch break digesting this thread (as quickly as I can), and I'm so impressed by the talented people who have contributed to it so far. And what a mine of information! I will be making the double chocolate cake this weekend for my inlaw's 65th birthday. Does anyone know if I can double the recipe without comprosing its quality/taste? I want to use two 9" x 13" pans, so do I need to adjust the baking time and/or oven temperature? My apologies in advance if these questions were answered earlier (I definitely read this thread too quickly).
  25. I have a couple of ideas brewing in my mind now. I can see taking our guest from the appetizers to the pasta course with a syrup and soda concoction and then a citrus and lemon balm blend. Perhaps a simple soda water with lime for the main course. Katie and djsexyb: Unfortunately, Navarro is not available here in BC, Canada. I did find a Loxton Sparkling Brut, however. Could be interesting. Patricia: Couple months back when many Vancouver restaurants were offering 3 or 4 course deals (Dineout Vancouver), I spotted one menu with a short but thoughtful selection of virgin cocktails, priced a step up from hot water with lemon. I remember them being similar to those described in Rick Tramonto's book. (The book's been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for a while now). ludja: I believe elderberry syrup is available at the IKEA here. I'll definitely give it a try. Fat Guy: A nicely chilled herbal tea is a wonderful thing I'll be turning my attention to picking the wines for the rest of the guests now.
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