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  1. Here's a good article discussing water hardness vis-a-vis dough: http://www.gftc.ca/articles/2001/baker08.cfm. Note that water that is too hard isn't ideal either, it tightens the dough too much. I agree the water quality is a key factor, but feel the need to note that there are other important steps in dough preparation. For instance, cooler, slower, multiple risings; wetter dough; starting the night before with a sponge/poolish; or autolysing the flour/water mixture for an hour or two---all of these will likely improve your dough more than changing the water you use. For instance, you might experiment with some easy modifications: try an autolyse, mixing the flour with about 90% of the water, letting it sit for 20 minutes, then adding the remaining water and other ingredients. Or, do essentially what you do now, but mix a wet poolish w/ a portion of the flour and about half of the yeast the day before, and add it to the bread machine w/ the rest when you start. Or do both. Follow with a slower rise in a cool rather than warm spot. Any of these techniques will greatly improve the end result. You might also be interested in considering certain dough improvers. Ascorbic acid can be useful in small amounts. Another good dough improver is fava bean flour. _The Village Baker_ by Joe Ortiz has a good discussion of the use of dough improvers in artisinal breads.
  2. Ack! I guess I'll have to pull a Steingarten and clear out 1/2 the fridge for a couple months. Unless anyone else has a line on extra-dry-aged beef? Maybe some of the organic producers... Good thing I didn't buy that BBQ last week (no patio, so it was gonna be a special cook-out in the park just for those steaks!). yunez, while you're down there, can you ask them if their steaks are wet-aged or dry-aged and let us know?
  3. In contrast to some of the old reco's above I must say that I find the Jackson's on Granville to be not the best; maybe good for steaks but I always see plenty of too-old meat in their cooler, particularly sausages. I like their Irish Cured Ham but it's been pretty funky a few times I've bought the vacuum packed ham steaks and even sliced ham, so I try to stay away now. The most intriguing recommendation that I haven't followed up on yet (no car, no BBQ, no time!), which you may miss mention of, is Traditional Fayre and Meats, said to be near Hastings and MacDonald about two blocks from Cioffi's. Pretty far from Richmond, but I've confirmed with a couple of people that he dry-ages his steaks well past the 28-day mark on occasion and that to me is the best of all possible worlds, even if the marbling isn't perfect (which I suspect it likely is). It is hard to find well-marbled steaks because the consumer prefers steaks with "less fat" and the "fatty" ones don't get sold. You should definitely ask particularly, wherever you go, if they have anything well-aged and well-marbled in the back, or if they can get something in, because they probably can. Any good butcher will appreciate that you have such good taste and knowledge about your beef and find you something special. Finally, if you like reading about meat as much as eating it, you should check out Steingarten's adventures in search of well-dry-aged beef (and the pursuant attempts to do it himself when none could be found), in the essay "High Steaks" found in It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Edit: Hmm, wasn't going to mention Armando's at Granville Island because I'm not sure about the marbling, but I just found this suggestion from VanEats where 30-day aging (but is it dry-aged? I suspect wet-aged, which is not the same) is claimed; also, the people at Oyama, whose prepared meats are the finest in the land, recommend them as well.
  4. I'll put in a word for the UBC Farm too. I haven't been to the actual market but they do occasionally sell produce elsewhere; last year they were at the Apple Festival or whatever it's called at the Botanical Gardens. Lots of squash, mostly, and good varieties. They had those super-sweet small pumpkins and about 3 or 4 odd species. I forget what the other produce was but it all looked very, very good and the prices were reasonable. I would suggest checking the market at the farm out for sure (at least, if you have a car to get there!) especially since if Martha Piper and her development cronies gets their way the farm may soon be no more. So if you like the farm, support the market, and write the board a letter!
  5. Well, thanks canucklehead and nondual1 for giving us a new great place to eat; Golden Szechuan was under our noses this whole time, only about 4 blocks away! I am so sad we haven't been eating here for the last few years. The boiled beef was great, nice and spicy, good slow burn as you've both mentioned, and so delicious that I've been wanting more all week. Also a tremendous deal, I think you could feed four with that bowl alone. The twice-cooked pork was also pretty tasty, although compared to the boiled beef... Next time peppercorn chicken and cucumber with garlic and chili! Totally delicious, my new favorite restaurant (until Dan reopens that is). Anyway, I wouldn't pull this back to the top again, but I, too, would like to know the identity of the 3 Hunan restaurants, if you could oblige rm_blizzard and I.
  6. Yeah, the timing of the truck market does suck for those with the 9-5. Although some vendors might be there earlier/later. From my experience they are usually grateful and surprised to have knowledgable customers; I'm sure you can get them to save you something of whatever's good if you partake regularly, thus get to know them. And canucklehead...so far this year the ratio seems 100% in favour of flowers and tomato plants. One stand with honey and beeswax. So you might want to wait a few more weeks. If I get down there this Thursday I'll report back!
  7. Well, since no one's mentioned it yet, I have to pimp the Granville Island Truck Market a bit, which is Thursdays "all day" in theory; but many vendors pack up by as early as 10 AM when they sell out. I'd recommend going around 8:30 or 9. Not sure if any produce vendors have shown up yet this year; as of two weeks ago no. Contrary to what one might expect, this is my favorite market in the city and has some vendors that don't seem to appear at the other markets. I am usually not so down with the pricer-than-usual and also not-as-good-looking-as-usual produce at Granville Island, but this market is tops in quality and low in price. The artichoke, pattypan squash and kale lady from Nat Bailey makes dual appearances and she always has great products. She actually has a name for her stall but I forget what it is. Easily distinguished by the multiple varieties of artichokes. Also stellar is the dude (and dude-ette?) with ~10 varieties of potatoes; the potatoes are great, but more importantly, excellent and awesome cherry tomatoes once that time of year shows up. By far the best tomatoes I have found in the Lower Mainland. Also great patty pans and other produce. There is a scraggily old German (?) guy with good nuts, grapes and other misc. stuff that changes weekly, he sells from a converted truck. I suggest you keep an eye out as well for the basil man who always has a lineup for his extremely flavourful basil. Identifiable both by the line and by the huge bags full of basil. Also zucchini, broccoli rabe and a few other odds and ends that he takes a great deal of pride in (all very delicious, and at extremely low prices). Finally, there is the tall, lanky fruit purveyor who usually sells also-awesome apple chips inside from time to time. Not sure if the lady selling them inside right now is related, I haven't tasted them yet. Towards the end of the summer he'll have peaches, nectarines and plums, all of which are picked when ripe. Usually they end up a little bruised and even over-ripe for my taste, but these are the only truly ripe stonefruit I have ever found a seller willing to take the risk in transporting. This guy is my hero. The rest of the sellers I can mostly do without. Now to wait for them all to start showing up...maybe this Thursday!
  8. Totally. I'm all for it. But some of the remarks seem to suggest that people didn't actually read or understand what I wrote, that's all. Arguing to the side so to speak. Address me head on, rebut, confront, that's all I ask. Don't argue with me about something I didn't say. I too apprecate all the viewpoints and feedback, as I think I am pretty effusive in demonstrating? I've said I agree with almost eveything everyone's said! What's the prob? Sorry I offended you, I didn't mean to give the impression you got at all. Now I'm going to turn off the computer since I just...can't...help myself. Edit: Also not saying people are trying to shut me down, or talking about this thread on that count. Look at the churros thread again, partic. Sam and Daddy-A. That's what I mean. Or read the responses to Foodie Girl. Daddy, Jamie. Totally harshing on it. It happens all the time. Go through the threads here and read 'em. You can slag on me all you want, I can take it. That's all I meant.
  9. Hey Jamie, did you like it (if you've tried it)? As I said it sounds pretty damn tasty to me too, complaints aside...and I do like his foie. So now I am sorely tempted to head on down and drop some coin. Look at that, criticism -> sale! Who would've guessed? Someone stop me before I go, blow a gasket, report back and get banned or something. Anyone know when the Feenster'll be back in the kitchen again? Also Jamie I think you are maybe being a bit unfair. I too was a little suspect of the foie complaint, but I am willing to hazard that even if it was the first time, if it had been really good, that wouldn't have been an issue. Then again, the substance of the complaint seems to be that foie shouldn't be in soup... So Foodie-Girl...did it taste good anyway? Just the lack of crust that bugged you? Or was it crappy no matter how you slice it?
  10. OK, last time I swear... Then I'm going to try to leave you all alone again, for a while at least, since I'm such a forum hog and all. editor@waiterblog I hear you. And I agree. But I still think that the marketing, the hype, the websites, the food media, the tourism publications, all pimp it like it's going out of style. They make it sound like it's the best. They themselves talk about the euro-trained chef, the incredible wine list, blah blah. And everyone charges like that's the truth. I enjoy my food plenty fine. I keep my expectations in check, I don't think it's fair to suggest I've set them too high, although I have probably made the impression quite fine on my own. I've been a little over-blown above but I don't feel like the critiques being lodged have actually understood and considered what I've said. Read it all again if you care to. This isn't about expectations; it's about value and facade and being at least a little critical and not just accepting it because it's good enough. For $300 you should be blown away, period. You should never have a downright bad dish. There are plenty of places here where you can go waste $300 on a meal that's not even worth $60. I think I do a pretty good job of adjusting for context, and things still aren't right. Yeah it's not fair to compare as I did, I'm sorry. But I'm not the one charging the same price and tooting the same horns. This is my point: expectations and all considered, it's just not as good. You're saying that yourself; but you think it's OK for some reason. Plus many others are content to insist that it is, and slag anyone who disagrees. Well, this is my last (and first) stand. I think it's bullshit. And Auberge de la Charme I think is a perfect comparison for West. Same price points, not too well known, young chefs on the way up. And honestly West comes close sometimes. But Auberge is better. And cheaper. It's also in Burgundy though, so...maybe that explains something. The right thing to do would be to admit the bad and the good, and to charge what you're worth instead of the most possible. And to allow people to critique and encourage it instead of insisting everything is a-ok-awesome. Maybe it's just the city and the cost of living in general, but I am mystified as to why a great chicken sandwich at Coco Rico in Mtl is $2.00 or something, and here I can get a cold, greasy, poorly sauced and surly-served beef brisket at Memphis Blues for $8.99 or 10.99 or 12.99 or whatever it is. And on and on and on and on at all levels. butter...you're a saint. And I don't think it makes a whit of differnce how well dined you are. You deserve to know that you can get better than you've been getting, and that you're paying much more for it than you should be. You deserve to know that if you save your pennies and stay away from Bin 942 and maybe don't go to Lumiere this year and instead fly off to Montreal you can go to the same kind of places and spend 1/2 or 2/3, and you will have an awesome time and be totally amazed like you wouldn't believe. But instead many people are suggesting no critique and lowered expectations. You should be pissed off.
  11. I agree Keith. It is very likely that Toronto sucks more. And costs more. So you can take some pride in that! It's better in the west! The Montreal thing really gets my cheese. You can go eat something awesome in Montreal for $3.99. Or less! Here you're lucky to get day-old rice and some funky beef and brocolli.
  12. Since apparently I've been branded a Lumiere-hater, I gotta say it.. I think Feenie is a great chef. I really enjoy a lot of his dishes. And I have had some of the best foie ever at his place, love that bar menu 4-way. Speaking of which Hawksworth foie parfait is awesome too. So there's one thing people manage to do top honours with. That doesn't mean, however, that he might be packing the tables too tight and or pushing the expensive water too hard, and maybe he's had a misstep of late, or just one bad night. But almost anything I've eaten at Lumiere has been great. I haven't been in a while though. As for Feenie's, that's another story...and because of it I now avoid Lumiere too. I'm gun-shy, what can I say? Is there anyone out there who hates Feenie's and still goes to Lumiere? If so let me know so I can go get me some good eatin'. And I still think the R&C lowered the bar a bit because they needed some Canada in their book. You can get better for less if you look in some of the other sections.
  13. Note that I said I was the hyper-critical asshole, not Feenie. Although I imagine he must be pretty damn devoted to excellence. Daddy-A, please let me know if my personal attacks on myself are out of line.. I figured a little self-criticism can't hurt. As for who claims they're the best... I think if you read the forums and, more importantly, the food media, there are consistent claims about how great Vancouver is, what a great food city it is, best in Canada, yada-yada, and it is that I have a bit of a problem with. Pluis everyone above keeps consistently saying "Vancouver is awesome, Vancouver is great, easily on par with any great food city." And I don't think that's fair. I am also happy with a lot of what I eat. But most of the time eating out here in Vancouver I am not. I pay too much for too little. Elsewhere I am usually quite happy. But here I am very infrequently wowed. Maybe it's just the weather?
  14. Being, admittedly, an unreasonable know-it-all, I just have to respond once more. When you charge the kind of money some places here do, and flout how great your food city is to all and sundry, you tend to attract people like us. Some of us might even decide to move here (proof you truly can't know it all). There are many restaurants in the world, likely run by these sorts of hyper-critical know-it-all assholes, which pride themselves on satisfying other hyper-critical people and do it. Consistently. At the same or lower price point as the restaurants here that don't, some of them in much more expensive locales with much higher staff and food costs. They deserve to be acclaimed and not be stuck in the same company as those who are still attempting whilst claiming success. Otherwise they'd probably give it up too. I admit that judgement by peer jury may be preferable...but unless consumers are educated and demanding, what do you care if a few chefs in the know have complaints? As I said, a few people making suggestions isn't going to raise the bar. Fine, a lot of you don't think things are all that bad here. But take a look at the churros thread. Fine, maybe I'm too critical. But to some of us, those aren't good churros! And many people are perfectly fine with that, to the point that I get told to f* off about it. Asked why things have to be that good. Slighted for over-analyzing the food on a site that claims to want to discuss. Well, fine. Accept mediocrity then. Eat your shitty churros and have a good time; I honestly envy you, because I hardly enjoy anything anymore, and it sucks. But call it what it is and stop luring us people who really, really give a shit in, or you're gonna pay for it. I'm not blasting you Sean because you sound like you actually care, and I deserve your bile for the unsubstantiated things I said about your place on the Lumiere thread. For the record, we've been to Fiction once, and it was so slammed that before they seated us they told us we would wait forever for our orders. We waited even longer; even the waitstaff were a bit incredulous. And when it arrived it was perfectly fine, but not wow. Considering we could've gone to West for the same price and had something much better, I criticized and dissected. I was guilty of exactly what Sean mentions above, and Alex got pissed off because she just wanted to enjoy her meal. It's not Sean's fault, and I wasn't clear about that; in fact, I think they did an admirable job considering that they were, truly, super-slammed. BUT...while the food may be for the people, and not the other way around, for some of us the food is still important. If it's only OK and it's someone's birthday, that's no problem. The food isn't the star of the show. But when you dine out all the time for the pleasure of dining, the food becomes a big part of it, and if the quality is not there, your whole reason for dining out is gone. We don't need to dine out to eat perfectly decent food, we can cook it ourselves at home. So when we go out we do it in hopes of having our taste titillated, period. The whole package is important. But if that one piece is missing no amount of ass-kissing is going to make it up. Everytime I lay down 3 bills here I think about Auberge de la Charme or Mugaritz, or heck even sometimes West, fabulous fabulous restaurants where I have had perfect food and better wine and spent less! Or I think of small little hole in the walls picked at random in some cities in the middle of nowhere that are better than anywhere I've ever eaten here. For like $10. How do you explain that one? THOSE chefs are doing new and exciting things and innovating, or they care a whole bunch and pump out fab food at a huge bargain. And there is absolutely no comparison. So when I hear about the great restaurant or the secret find in Vancouver, that's what I go in (half-)expecting, and it's never been even close to the truth. Whether that's the chef, the climate, the ingredients purveyed, I don't know. It's probably all of that; I'm sure they have advantages you don't have here and hardships too. Admittedly there are two different classes of customers here, the frequent diners and the special occasion ones. You're on the money for the second group, and maybe they're more important to you. But if you want to tout it on the global stage and claim you can pull your weight with the best and charge more than they do...then you have to deal with people like me. Maybe things are getting better, maybe you deserve more coddling and cuddling in your delicate adolescence of fine cuisine (and I really think that's about where the region is) instead of critique. Who's going to want to open a restaurant or a farm or whatnot in a firestorm? Who's going to want to even give it a shot if they know they will fall short? Admittedly no one. But maybe you should keep it under wraps for another decade or so before you invite the world in and they piss on your parade.
  15. I agree with you all. Savagery is probably the wrong word. But a little bite can't hurt if, yes, it's constructive. And Kurtis...if there's nothing to lose, there's plenty of danger, I agree. But if there's nothing to lose, there's also the potential for radical truth that those who have something to lose (like shelora here) will clam up about. Brenda, I think I specifically said that I was not claiming Vancouver is full of only mediocre chefs. Yes, I think that is mostly the case. I agree with PaoPao's numbers. Less than 5%, probably less than 1% of meals have lived up to their hype. But there are exceptions to be found of course. Now that I know you are all not as totally averse to criticism as it appeared to me perhaps I will let the guns out once in a while. We've stopped eating out as much though so it may be few and far between, and of course I don't want to post two reviews of crappy restaurants a day? No one wants to read that! I say feedback will not help in this climate because the kind of feedback being suggested seems to be of the "soft" kind. And that isn't going to help any delusions, it's going ot lead to little improvements, and little improvements aren't going to result in the quality that is claimed. This was too cold, this not quite flavourful enough. That's not the issue, to me. Most of the technical stuff is fine, there's just no bang! No wow. Compare $300 spent here (or even $20 if you prefer, although on the low end I think things are not nearly as bad; I should've mentioned that) to $300 in Montreal. Or better yet $300 almost anywhere in Europe. I save my money now for those restaurants. Thus, I think the problems are more systemic. There needs to be not feedback but critique, strong critique. Some of the wind needs to come out of the sails before people are forced to take a good, hard look at themselves and really ask if they measure up (and, from my perspective, find that they don't and fix it). And not everyone is going to be the best artist, that's the sad truth. If the market will bear it, as it does now, things will stay the same. Finally, my method (bile) does of course has to be balanced with effusive and truthful praise and critique from people who love the establishments too. I don't mean to imply it all needs to be war, kindness can help too. But it needs to be kindness with much bigger teeth. Edit: Just to clarify on the $300 and the high-end...I'm not talking about Lumiere or West here. I've been wowed by both of these chefs and I think they have the skills. Maybe not to match up to some of the best anywhere, like some people would like to have it, but definitely very good. Some of their dishes are top echelon. But even at these places I have had some meals that were far worse than they should've been, and as you move on down the list of top restaurants here, the cliff gets pretty steep, and I've thrown a lot of money off of it.
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