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Posts posted by dillybravo

  1. I'm having a real chuckle at some of the comments here.  I find we as a group have a tendency to over-analyze food.  Comparison is great for conversation, but do churros need to taste the same as in Spain (or mainly on the plain) as they do over here (in the rain)?

    I spoke to the woman who said she developed the recipe and it seems like most of the team running the place are from South America - could that account for some of the differences?

    Yes, of course, they don't need to taste the same. And yes, Latin American churros seem to usually be somewhat different, notably thinner and crunchier (and, IMO, not as good). The filled churro, for instance, is AFAIK a Latin American thing.

    But, these [Churrolicious churros] are not even close to as good as the Chilean-style churros available at Churros King (note: in Edmonton, not Spain), and those themselves are a pale comparison to the Spanish norm. In fact, Daddy-A, even those Disneyland ones are much better than the Churrolicious version, ne c'est pas? At least they were years ago. At least they could match the other versions on this [North American] continent, and I might avoid suggestions of euro-centric snobbishness.

    These are far, far too crispy. Also churros shouldn't be chewy (unless they've been sitting for a looong while, which these ones aren't). [Yes, food can be chewy and cripsy at once. Maybe tough is a better word.] Secondly there is a big flavour lack. These taste like fried dough: fine. But churros also tend to have a unique flavour, sort of sweet, sort of nutty, which is unfortunately lacking here.

    While I'm all good with being open-minded and enjoying what you've got...let's have at least some standards people! Would you eat a chewy, supremely well-done steak and say "well, that's the way they like it in Germany; this is wonderful?" Of course not! Not to pick on Germans, but all my relatives won't eat their meat unless it's well past well-done. And I think they're nuts. It tastes better when done in a wide variety of other, more suitable fashions. This may be mostly a matter of taste, but surely we foodies can agree on some rough standards of excellence.

    So yes. They do need to taste the same. Or at least close. [Or different but as good.] These ones [aren't any of that.] I'll go back and give it another go in a few months, but compared to the [delicately] cooked, tender and flavourful, the well-done critter just doesn't satisfy. Would you praise dry, chewy pastry [(not so dry it can't be chewy, of course)]? Or a woefully overdone donut? Clearly these people have put a lot of effort into their new business, and I for one was overjoyed to see churros in Vancouver. I hope they can make them as good as I am sure they can be. Anything else would be a shame.

    Edited to add:

    1) The churros on the coupon (website) photo are perfect. Compare with the ones in store. The ridges in store are not smooth; they are rough, incomplete, a sign of overfrying/overtemperature. So they know, they know! Or else they stole someone's picture.

    2) Now that I actually read what people said about the Disney-churros, my memory must be mistaken. I had some at Disneyworld about 15 years ago though and thought they were pretty good. But maybe they weren't...

    Edited again to fix some of the contradictions just in case anyone else becomes confused or indignant.

  2. Another pale bastardized version of a european treat?

    we will see...

    Cheers my fellow curmudgeon, you're right. And for once almost everyone else seems to agree, too! Churros must truly be a magical food.

    Not these ones though. Even though they imported the fryer and all from Spain, the magic seems to have been left behind. Far too crunchy, also lacking in that unique churro flavour: I think they need to tweak their recipe for North American flour. Or find a source of finer flour with less gluten. That, and the frying temperature is perhaps too high. Also, I might suggest they need to use a slightly larger die, to improve the gooey end of the delicate gooey/crunchy churro balance. The ones in the flyer picture look perfect, so perhaps with time...

    For you other-Western-province eGulleteers, the best outside-of-Spain churros I've had are at Churros King in Edmonton (a well-regarded Chilean place that also has good sausages, etc.). They are far superior to these. I go there anytime I find myself in Edmonton, right after I load up on the Charles Smart donairs. That's been a long while, so perhaps things have changed in the interim; if anyone checks it out...let me know!

    On the franchise question, if you look at the table cards they mention two other churro franchises, one out of Toronto and one somewhere in the US (?). I think they are perhaps attempting to become churro franchise #3, hence the website.

    Finally, regarding filled churros, they can be made to order/fresh if you're willing to hollow them out and fill each with cream. You can also buy churros carts with a cream filling attachment so I don't think it is too difficult if you have the right equipment.

  3. Alright, some questions answered by Sitram USA (paraphrased):

    Sitram Magnum Pro (not Plus, oops!) is in most regards the same as the Catering line. The handles are lower quality: machine made and riveted; the Catering has welded, hand-forged handles. The Magnum Pro usually includes a cover; the Catering does not. Both have the same diameter of 2.0mm copper in the base, extending almost to the edge; there is not 2.5mm of copper in the Catering line (at least not anymore). The Magnum Pro has a magnetic steel outer layer which makes it induction-compatible: the Catering is not.

    Profiserie and Professional are two names for the same line. Any price differences are determined by the distributor or retailer, not Sitram. No word on the covers.

  4. Hey, been doing some research today on Sitram cookware (mostly) and thought I'd both add some findings and post some questions.

    First, someone had asked if the Sitram Profiserie and Sitram Professional lines were the same. According to a review I found on Amazon (for 4.9 qt. professional saute) the disk diameter and width appear to be the same, and the pans appear otherwise identical except for a different cover. Note that as of today the Professional is 66.99 with cover, the Profiserie 49.99 w/o cover on Amazon.com. For most other pieces however (stockpots, etc.) the professional line is less expensive.

    Some complaints that in both of these cases, the aluminum disk does not extend far enough to the edges of the pan (esp. the saute). Anyone else have this experience?

    Secondly, I have some findings and questions about the copper disk models which have expanded to include the Magnum Plus line. The Magnum Plus has a 2.0 mm copper disk, and is induction compatible. I have been having difficulty, however, determining the thickness of the disk on the Catering line. Although it says elsewhere in this thread that these are 2.5mm, I have found 2.0mm quoted more often, even for the larger pans. While Bridge Kitchenware, for instance, says that the line has "2.0 - 2.5mm" disks, Dvorson's claims all are 2.0 mm except for some 1mm small saucepans. A few other sites have different figures. No one gives a definitive answer for any specific model. So which is true? Where did the 2.5mm figure come from in the first place? I ask because the Magnum Plus and Catering are the same price on Amazon (though the latter is out of stock and I suspect will stay that way): but one comes with cover, the other without. Is there otherwise a difference between the two pans? Who knows?

    Anyway, thanks again for the excellent info and best of luck to future readers!

  5. McRib was "sponsored" by some pork association.  It is still available at some locations, particularly in the south where you would think better pork with BBQ sauce can be had.  McD of Canada, always more innovative, still serves pizza (and Poutine too in Quebec and the east).

    The first McRib I ever ate was in Europe, at least 1994 if not earlier. They still have it today and I don't think it's ever left the menu, at least in Germany. Not sure about the rest of the continent. Much tastier than any NA version I've had, too.

    As for the Canadian pizza...they do seem more innovative here (the veggie/healthful menu ran for a year or so before the US, I think), but I haven't seen pizza in Alberta or BC in years. I kind of liked it; better than most pizza chains. :shock: Where was the last sighting?

  6. There you go you restaurant reviewers, publish and perish, hehe.

    I have been to En two or three times now and although I've always found it acceptable I've never seen the appeal. Some of the dishes are indeed inventive (and tasty), but all are quite expensive, and I find the nigiri pretty average. Anything specific anyone would recommend in case I make it there again? For this type of thing, I think I prefer Wabi Sabi, although I haven't gone to either enough to really say.

    Plus as far as Peter's request goes, I think En is perhaps the least interactive joint in town? Maybe I've gone on odd days.

    I also mention dan, which has seen some coverage here. Not a huge selection of nigiri (although some days bring two or more nigiri specials, usually toro, saba, etc.), but what is there is excellent and the rest of the menu is beautifully presented and of impeccable quality. I always stick to the special board myself, though, which is usually a good ten items or so, items I haven't seen anywhere else in Vancouver.

    The chef and server are also very friendly (but busy!) and if you sit at the sushi bar you can chat a bit at least. So if you're not strictly looking for sushi, this may be the place. Probably the most like Tojo's, although definitely a rung or two down on the fancy scale, and more solidly rooted in tradition.

    Edit: I can't decide if you'll like dan or not; maybe you should just go to both (or, for the cost of Tojo's, both, twice!)?

  7. I really like Ajisai in Kerrisdale, esp. for lunch on a Tuesday or Wednesday. There're usually 3 - 6 daily features, I've had many fish I haven't seen elsewhere and some excellent toro, o-toro and chu-toro from time to time. Also great uni this past year.

    I don't know about the sitting at the bar/talking to the chef aspect, I've never really noticed anyone talking to him too much. But I have always really enjoyed my sushi.

    Edit: Oh, it's small, so get there early (11:45 or something), and no magazine features on this one, please. ; )

  8. Just be careful to lift your knives off cleanly: edge-side first and without dragging them along the metal magnets. This is where they get the bad reputation from because they will take off the edge, just like grinding your knife along anything else unsavory would. Of course, all is resolved with a few licks of the steel.

  9. Oddly enough, I can just pop on and hop off. The 98 B-Line runs all the way down Granville to right beside Yaohan, hitting the airport on the way. It runs almost constantly and takes 20 minutes to get from Broadway to Yaohan.

    Kind of exactly what the RAV plan will accomplish, but no need to open a political debate here. : )

    I must say that I do feel the rapid transit here is pretty well run. The 99 B-Line runs up and down Broadway also almost constantly as well. The other trolleys are pretty regular and cover most of the city. It's no Paris, for sure. But, I only got rid of my car about 8 months ago, and it's been almost no pain, which is not what I expected at all. And we eat out all over the place.

    So perhaps we will take at least a couple trips and report back.

  10. Hey Keith, I have to congratulate you on your anti-boosterism, now I can save myself the bus ride all the way down there.

    I do have one question/comment though...it's my understanding that in many cultures fat and gristle are quite enjoyed. So perhaps the meat dishes are of a higher quality from another perspective? Although of course that lack of any muscle tissue whatsoever is still troubling.

  11. Can anyone out there tell me why beef comes in different colours?

    To start with, anyone with any interest should check out Steingarten's wonderful piece on dry-aged beef in _It Must've Been Something I Ate,_ "High Steaks," if they haven't already.

    Anyway, when the myoglobin in blood is exposed to oxygen, it turns bright red. In the absence of air, it is a dark, purple-ish colour. This is why the blood in your veins appears blue while that in your arteries red. You will likely never really see blue blood: as soon as you cut yourself and it is exposed it saturates with oxygen.

    Some purveyors of meat (Safeway) will wrap their product in permeable film because consumers seem to acquaint bright-red meat with freshness. This is somewhat true: old blood/meat doesn't go red as readily. Thus, after some time exposed to air in this manner, beef (esp. ground beef) will turn greyish-brown. This is a bad thing, esp. if everything below the surface doesn't regain it's flush in the open air.

    At the same time, a nice, aged piece of beef will also be somewhat brown, but a darked, mahogany colour, a burnished reddish-brown, more on the outside of a primal cut than in a single steak itself. So, just look out for the slimy, truly brown-grey ones. Those are probably rotten. : ) Also, if it smells bad, it is. You will know.

    Buy your meat from a reputable source and you will not have to worry about all this. You are never going to know by looking at a wrapped up cut how long it's been aged, the method of aging, freshness, the quality of the source product, etc., and that's what's important!

    Also, you could search on Google for "aged steak color" (sic.) which will deliver unto you a wide variety of pages saying somewhat what I said above.

    For what it's worth, buy no meat whatsoever at Safeway (incl. poultry and esp. not seafood!). They are known to repackage it when it gets old, and I am convinced sometimes it is aged not at all it is so tough and tasteless. Plus I have never seen a nicely marbled cut.

    If you're in Calgary, the best steak I've had in my life was from a place called Andy's in Avenida. I cooked it myself, and did a somewhat worse job than usual, and it was still better than any steak at any of the steak houses, which are usually absolutely wonderful at any rate. I have friends who like Co-Op as well, and their meat frequently has that appealing, kinda-dead-red look, instead of looking like it's been dyed, so that might be a good choice too (though, their customers also seem to like meat with no marbling!).

    You will pay more for good beef, but IMO anything less isn't worth eating, and the price difference isn't that great. Otherwise, tofu is tastier, tenderer, healthier, cheaper, and doesn't rape the earth/starve the hungry. The rest of you Albertans can boo all you want, it's a dirty industry as far as I'm concerned.

    As far as branding, I too have been disappointed in Angus and Sterling Silver. I've tried Galloway a few times, which is from Galloway cattle raised locally, and it's been usually flavourful but not so tender. Also pricey. You can purchase a number of organic/local options at Community Natural Foods I believe. Also Fleur de Sel on 4th Street offers a Galloway ribeye.

    I think if you want the best beef you have to avoid the typical retail channels, as was mentioned, and try to get something from local ranchers, or a local butcher who has done that for you. Try farmers' markets, too. This will be organic, tastily-fed, long hung, dry-aged beef, although I don't think anyone goes over about 28 days, which is disappointing.

  12. I had a huge and detailed response to this that was destroyed by a slip of some alt-shift-space-arrow-or-whatnot combination. So here it is in brief:

    1. Foodie hates HAACP. HAACP destroys traditional methods. Industrial food is a poor tasting and culturally-destructive practice that cannot (as stands) compete with our collective alimentary heritage. There is no room to be an artisan when you are monitoring 1000lb. of livermush for acidity and temperature.

    2. Food safety is crucial (human disease control, livestock disease control, species migration, at least), but needs to be approached sanely. We take acceptable risks in many endeavours. For a distended analogy: why not require all food to be commercially canned? We'd have almost no more disease! But in one or two generations we'd also (likely) have a dearth of quality due to the difficulty of maintaining it in these conditions. I worry the same things will happen in these less extreme cases as well.

    3. These sorts of restrictions are legitimate in the "giant, high speed facilities." Maybe they are not being followed there in France, and they should be. These facilities are where the problems are most of the time, and are where they spread so rapidly that preemptive action of this dire, regulatory sort is necessary. But I think the issue here is more that HAACP-style isn't being followed by artisans. And in that case, I think it's a vile and preposterous idea.

    a) Artisans have a much smaller market and an epidemic is easier to control.

    b) The people buying these products are more aware of the risks and accept them (same type of people who eat raw shellfish, raw egg sauces, etc.).

    c) The costs of HAACP are likely highest in these sectors. These are people who will simply stop producing if regulated. This is a huge cultural cost that, to my mind, almost no immediate physical cost can balance.

    I agree, Dick, the food system needs attention and inspection. But I do not agree that standardized and scientific methodologies for food production are the answer. The costs are too high on all other fronts.

    Indeed, there is a battle of exactly this sort being fought in BC: the provincial gov't wants more inspection. The smaller producers say it will destroy them (and a burgeoning food tourism industry), and it likely will.

    Meanwhile, the impetus for these demands comes from the huge and sickening amount of malpractice and disease in the large commercial slaughterhouses, who supposedly follow the best-of-breed versions of these practices already, with horrible results all around: disease, quality, morality, environment.

    Sorry, all, for the incoherent nature of this post. The version before took too much out of me.

  13. You Americans are behind the times, this is old news in Canada. We've had a ban on fresh French beef and poultry, excepting pork and foie gras for a while now. Foie gras can only be imported by registered processors. And I do believe they actually have to process it, somehow. Maybe a restaurant would qualify but I don't know if a distributor would. I doubt it. Otherwise pretty much only if fully cooked and canned.

    This is so old you'll have to get it from Google's cache:


    Also see the regulation:


    At least we can still eat our dangerous cheese.

    Also, in terms of exactly what the issue is, it says at the end of the article they won't confirm with HAACP. Requirement debatable, fine, but I think this has been an ongoing issue and is not just the fruits of one inspection. I don't know a lot about HAACP requirements but I think the smaller French producers are behind the times. The fact that Canada otherwise allows all sorts of imports (by individuals, even) of all sorts of things the US bans, from all sorts of countries: fruits and vegetables, fish products, cheeses, etc., makes me doubt that it could be completely disingenuous.

  14. Well, yes, but youth hostels tend to be pretty poor value, unless you're a solo traveller.

    * They cost at least 15E - 20E/pp anyway.

    * They don't usually have parking, and many are in cities, where parking must be paid for.

    * The staff tend to be rude, and the hostels dirty (a generalization, but a generally true one).

    * Some of them have curfews or require you to leave early and return late.

    * For your money you get only a bed in a dorm, sometimes use of a communal fridge, a poorly equipped kitchen, and showers, sometimes with hot water.

    * Sometimes you can't stay for more than 4 or so days.

    * Many won't accept reservations and get completely full anywhere near high season, which means hostel-related time-wasting silently eats up expensive vacation time.

    So, an extra 2 or 3E per person for a whole apartment (or heck, even just a private room!) with a real kitchen, your own fridge, and a bed, plus your own hours, in a beautiful rural setting with carpark, view, swimming pool, etc. is money well spent.

    Even those hostels with private double rooms are usually at least 38E/room/night, and usually closer to 45E.

    I also have a sneaking suspicions 300E/week is just the tip of the low-cost rental iceberg. I'm sure if I spoke any Italian and was able to phone those agriturismo that don't have websites or email addresses, 200E/week might be closer to the norm. And these mostly appear (by pictures, admittedly) nice places, easily the equivalent of many 2 and 3* hotels.

    So, for any other budget travellers, I recommend: skip the hostels! Heck, even skip the train and rent/lease a car from Peugeot or Renault if there're at least two of you, and you'll save a bundle. Counter-intuitive, but seemingly true, unless you only want to see big cities, where parking costs of 20E/day will easily unhand you.

    Edit: I should mention, there are many beautiful hostels, in beautiful settings, with justly deserved good reputations. Plus, if you want to meet other travellers, a hostel is the place to do it. But generally, I don't find hostels the best value option.

  15. Wow, thanks hathor. Beautiful and < 300E/week to boot. Looks even better than Pugano Alto, although I like the looks of their kitchens...

    For anyone looking in the future, here are some other low cost optoins:

    www.residencealbarosa.com in NE Umbria, ~300E/week.

    Agriturismo Collina S. Michele near Asti is 200E/week.

    www.agriturismosalella.it, near Salerno (~Naples) 25E/pp/night.

    There are lots of good low end options at www.agriturismo.com, www.agriturismo.it, and www.primitaly.it.

    I'll let you all know if I get what I pay for, heh.

  16. Hello,

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to post so much over the years, I have been reading for weeks planning for our upcoming (mid-May - June) trip to Italy.

    We are both students so are looking for very low cost accomodation (the lowest I've found so far is about 300E/wk for 2 people in some agriturismi apartments); must save for food! Thus I could use some help from you semi-natives, if possible:

    1) Most of the Umbria recommendations seem to be in the southern part; we have only (so far) found less expensive options in the north, near Umbertide, Chiusi, etc., esp. one option Agriturismo Pugano Alto @ www.agriturismopugnanoalto.it, and a few others in the vicinity.

    Is NW Umbria a pretty good choice too, or is there a reason for the lower cost in general?

    2) I have found a good option in Murialdo as well, this is near Calizzano and the border. Any opinions here?

    3) Is 300E/wk as low as it's going to get, or might more work (i.e., phoning places w/o websites) find some much lower cost options? We aren't picky on space, or sharing bathrooms, etc., although at the current minimum we've found whole apartments that seem quite spacious, with kitchen facilities, etc., and I have seen no inkling of anything lower!

    And on the other hand, might we pay more (or might we find somewhere at a low cost), and stay closer to some of the particular regions you've all recommended in Piemonte, Liguria, Umbria? I have had not much luck looking thus far, but perhaps searching just on the web isn't the way to go.

    Thanks for any help; might be a bit outside of your range of preference/experience, but if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.

  17. Good pizza/bagels. There are a few places that are pretty good, but nowhere incredible. Lombardo's is maybe the best so far, but I can do way better in my own oven. How about greek-style (crustly, kinda dense/med. thick crust) pizza? I have not found anything like that either. What's up with the breadstuffs in this city?

    The El Salvadoran place on Commercial (En Rincinito or something like that, about 2 blocks south of the Skytrain on the east side) has pretty good pupusas. I've only been once however.

    There are also a few Ethiopian places on Commercial and a few on Broadway near and east of Main. I've never been to any of them though.

    Another thing missing is a sweet-sauced donair. I have yet to have seen anywhere with one that isn't buying it's meat from that ubiquitous supplier of meat and donair signs that most places seem to have. I think even then, I've only seen 2 or 3.

  18. Thanks to everyone from myself as well, I am planning to (perhaps) visit Galicia this summer (June).

    Which brings me to my question; is June a poor time in the season for seafood?

    It is rather out of the way (we are otherwise only going to be near Madrid, Donostia and Barcelona), so if it is not worth going...perhaps the 4 days intended there could be better spent elsewhere. Comments appreciated!

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