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Nicholas Ellan

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Everything posted by Nicholas Ellan

  1. Good question. My understanding is that truffles grow symbiotically in the root systems of mature deciduous trees. Current "farms" are having some success with chestnut, possibly oak? I don't quite remember. Belgium was, through the beginning of the 20th century, the world's largest producer of truffles - and then the war came. Groves were destroyed and people possessing the knowledge of truffle farming died. And yes, it takes decades to get one of these farms underway, so it's not at all surprising they have only started back up in the last decade.
  2. I don't disagree with your criticism. This movie is not food porn, it is highly technical.
  3. I should add there are a number of showings across the USA in the next month. http://elbulli.alivemindcinema.com/req.php?req=static.php&page=Playdates
  4. I was lucky enough to catch this movie at VIFF this week; I guess it's just come out and is trickling through the festival scene before a real release. (Searches turned up no posts... hope I didn't fail.) The movie itself is a beautiful experience, but definitely aimed towards the hardcore foodie, those who have some understanding of how a restaurant works and what Adrià is up to, before entering the theatre. It is a true documentary, not some Hollywood bio-pic: it is explicitly interested in the systematic process of producing the food of El Bulli, chronicling the grueling labour required by the research and experimentation necessary to achieve the fantastic. There is basically zero narrative intervention; the film stands on its own merits as a well edited and beautifully shot compilation of how a season of El Bulli is put together, start to finish. If you were lucky enough to dine there, or never did and want to see what all the fuss is about, it's not to be missed. The glimpse into the "laboratory" phase between seasons, as well as the incredible energy of the brainstorming sessions between Adrià and his head chefs, are worth the price of admission alone. These are masters at work, yet delightfully human. Ferran Adrià is also hilariously animated at times, provoking many explosions of laughter in the theatre with the raise of an eyebrow or an unexpected grimace.
  5. Went by both Verace and Farina, both doing great work. Verace is a little pricer but licensed, a big space including patio, with a wood burning oven and a D.O.C. margherita on offer(!!). Also calzones w/side salad in the 13-15 range for lunch, not bad at all. Farina is a little more casual and a couple bucks lighter (12 for a margherita), a little less traditional (not that I mind), gas(?) oven, pizzas slightly larger and sliced into wedges in a more New World style, doing a brisk to-go business. They also have cute take-home items like herbed oil, cans of anchovies, and jars of their tomato sauce, all reasonably priced. I'll probably go back to score one of their 900g tins of anchovies so I can declare September "Anchovy Month" and die of salt intake.
  6. Verace Pizzeria has opened at Stadium station, and Pizzeria Farina has opened at Main and Terminal, a short walk from the Science World station. Both are the real deal, and worth a visit. This year is officially Vancouver's Year of the Pizza.
  7. Ah-Beetz has sold their shop in Abbottsford and is moving into a location in East Vancouver at Victoria & Kitchener. It's under construction now and opening for the summer, hopefully. This is a game-changer for Vancouver pizza, as far as I am concerned. http://scoutmagazine.ca/2011/01/29/pizzeria-barbarella-to-table-hybrid-of-neapolitan-nyc-pizza-to-the-east-side/ http://www.pizzeriabarbarella.com/
  8. Hmm, slow times in the Western Canada section. Hopefully this jazzes things up: Hawksworth restaurant to open May 7
  9. This is definitely not right. If your oven was humid then everything you put in it would be braised. The amount of water evaporating off your meat surface is not nearly enough to steam up your entire oven to 100%. This is why covering meat changes the way it cooks - it traps the steam.
  10. Nicholas Ellan

    chicken skin

    Last time I had this problem, we wrapped prawns in chicken skin and deep-fried them. Ridiculous, but tasty. Seconding rendering them - you end up with tasty chicken fat and tasty chicken cracklings. It's not duck, but it'll do.
  11. To make a stellar BLT, you need two things - great tomatoes, and knowledge of proper assembly. When you assemble your BLT, you need to do it exactly how I tell you to. Toast bread. Put bacon on one piece, tomatoes on the other. Place the mayonnaise directly onto the tomatoes, as well as some salt and pepper. This is the real trick, as putting mayo onto the lettuce or tomato and separating it from the bread prevents the bread from absorbing all your mayo... which creates a much moister sandwich without requiring massive quantities of the white stuff. The bread will still be moistened by tomato juice and bacon grease, so fear not unless you've severely overtoasted it. Stick the lettuce in the middle, slap it together, eat.
  12. I'm addicted to Chez Meme Baguette on Hastings and Gilmore. It's run by the genuinely-French former owners of Cafe de Bretagne downtown, and mainly serves soup, sandwiches & omelettes with some other classics. Prices are insanely reasonable ($7-11), service & quality consistently great. Try the soup of the day, it's always shockingly good (limiting my menu options significantly). Hours are 8-3 weekdays only, FYI.
  13. By now we should all be aware that we're in for the sockeye season of a lifetime, with the Fraser River run at its highest in a century. Now we need to get smart and not pay last-year prices... so where are you buying your sockeye, and for how much?
  14. Mackerel is easily my favourite fish (salt-grilled with lemon, hells yes) but it is nearly impossible to procure. The only place I buy it is HMart, which is a ways away, so it ends up being a once-a-year treat. You can also score whole fresh yellowtail and other exciting, mysteriously cheap things there on occasion. My big five fishes are non-sockeye salmon (coho, chinook, chum), steelhead trout, and albacore tuna. All of these are hilariously cheap compared to most fish (20 bucks a pound vs. 2) and exemplify the problem well, as they only make rare appearances at the supermarket because they don't have the name recognition that sockeye does. In Vancouver I find it totally bizarre that the restaurant market is utterly awash in sushi-grade albacore loins but good luck finding them at the supermarket. Instead the only three I am guaranteed to find anywhere is wild sockeye (which I refuse to buy), red snapper (which could be ANYTHING), and sole (the blandest fish in existence, which explains its popularity).
  15. Sauteed chicken livers over crusty slices of bread, with a brown butter, sage & lemon sauce is a fixture at my house. It's dirt cheap and we can never get enough. Duck livers or rabbit livers are also great.
  16. I just wanted to add Paula Wolfert's polenta recipe (from here), because it is a leave-attended-in-the-oven-for-80-minutes version, so fits your requirements perfectly. (You could have it going alongside a braise or roast.) It's the only way I cook it anymore because it's so damn easy and the results are great.
  17. Nicholas Ellan

    Light Butter:

    It's either whipped butter or some gelatin/water/butter combination. Either way, Edward is correct - don't try to cook with it if at all possible, it'll be a waste of money and give weird, unpredictable results. Once it melts it is just less butter.
  18. I'm just thrilled Toby Young is gone. Ripert has always been excellent on the show; we're all very lucky he's committed to a whole season. Like on Iron Chef, the time limits are the essential part of the challenge. The faster you can work, the more you can do, since everyone has the same time budget. You need the skills before you can afford to have an imagination.
  19. In a city with a huge tourist contingent, I've seen multiple businesses going the "suggested tip" route. This is both a convenience and a friendly reminder - you'll get a bill which has the tip amounts for 5/10/15/20% automatically calculated on the total. Saves you some arithmetic and broaches the topic in a not-totally-impolite manner. Automatic gratuity is only appropriate for large groups (6-8 is the usual starting point). And yes, it's almost always >15% these days.
  20. I could really go for some artichokes with butter right about now...
  21. The place you are thinking of is Fishworks, it's run by the former owner of Edge Bistro in Edgemont Village. That particular spot was cursed for a decade until the Edge went in, so they certainly know what they are doing. The Straight wrote it up recently.
  22. Today was the long-awaited opening of the Japadog restaurant. Swung by there today for a bite: most of the greatest hits were available (Terimayo, Oroshi, Okonomi) but several of the odder offerings at specific stands were not. My favourite, Ume, not there . New restaurant-only items included the "Tonkotsu" dog, which was a deep-fried pork cutlet smothered with sauce & mayo, red cabbage, served in a hot dog bun; as well as the "Love Meat" (really), a hot dog served with meat sauce and melted cheese - not sure if this was a beef or kurobuta sausage, but given the price point I would guess the former. They also offered combos which included McD's-like fries shaken with seasoning mix. Had the "butter shoyu" which was an odd flavour mix of french fries and popcorn. They also had some odd dessert offerings - chocolate-coated banana in a bun, and some sort of flavoured ice thing I didn't investigate further. All the combos came in under $10, and they had great takeout packaging available. They will probably do a killer evening takeout business.
  23. All you fast food aficionados might already know, but a Five Guys location snuck into Park Royal South in April. The internets frequently flare in east vs. west Five Guys vs. In-n-Out fights about who has the best burger, and I haven't personally had either, but it's probably worth checking out if you find yourself mall shopping.
  24. T&T always always has whole cryovac'd ribeye, striploin, and tenderloin on sale for peanuts, but the insanely low prices reflect low quality... not even AA. Whether that matters depends on what you're doing with it, I suppose.
  25. Agreed. 6 competitors with 2 advancing is too confused to interest the audience. It also annoys me because it emphasizes the inequality of the competition: some episodes people are randomly forced to pair, other episodes they compete individually, and I'm sure in future episodes they will get to pick teams. I'd suggest that if all of the preliminary episodes had the same challenges, it would make for more interesting tv. I'd rather see how 24 talented chefs approach the same problem, than how a couple winners randomly emerge from a pile of crap.
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