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eG Foodblog: Gabriel Lewis - From Nihon to Sichuan to ... Sorbet?


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Hello everyone and welcome to Montreal. It's a beautiful day here, looks to be a beautiful week, and I couldn't be happier to have this oppurtunity to share some of my life with all the lovely people on eGullet. I am a student here in montreal, but as you will come to see my life revolves more around my obession with food than my studies, although they are beginning to leak into each other (we'll get into that). My apologies for the late start. I had forgotten I had lost my compression software in a recent crash, and it took a while to get that up and running.

Firstly, I should explain my somewhat enigmatic title and teaser photos. I have something of a unique philosophy/approach to learning about the different foods that I am interested in. My interests are pretty much all over the board, so what I do to manage this is select a particular style of cooking, and concentrate on that for an extended period of time. I begin by gathering my resources for a specific style of cooking. This means getting atleast one super solid cookbook, bookmarking blogs, recipes, and other websites of interest pertaining to the topic. Reading a little bit about the evolution and history of the cooking of interest, learning the regions; I think you get the picture.

This might make some sense to those of you who follow the Thai thread, as I have posted a number of pictures of my Thai food in there. Thai cuisine was my last focus; I did it for 8 months, and loved every minute of it. But the time for a change had come, and although I hadn't initially planned to do Sichuan or Japanese cooking, it just sort of turned out that way. I purchased a few cookbooks recently, and among them were these two:

gallery_28661_5213_41176.jpg

Both of which I found out about through egullet. Browsing through both of them after they arrived I was taken aback at how different Sichuanese and Japanese cooking were from the foods I had cooked before. For a while I struggled with deciding on which one to do first, until I realized why not do both? I already had many of the staple sichuanese seasonings, and the overlap in terms of grocery shopping was enough to make it feasible. So that what's I decided to do.

That's where the teaser photos come in. The first was intended to be a contrast between the two styles of cooking, with 3 staple of seasonings of each cuisine on the top/bottom. For Japanese it was shoyu (soy sauce), bonito flakes (for dashi), and mirin (I didn't haven't any sake at the time). For sichuan: sichuan peppercorns, "facing heaven" chiles, and sichuan chili bean paste. The second photo is of all the ingredients I picked up a few days ago at one of montreal's better asian grocers. I carried that all in a giant backpack about 10km on my bike, as that particular grocer is pretty far from home. I've had heavier trips before, but none quite so long. The bagels are seperate of course, from the infamous St-Viateur bagel shop. I was hoping they might be identifiable enough for someone to guess montreal, but I guess that wasn't very fair of me.

Welcome to the madness.

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So to breakfast:

St-Viateur toasted sesame bagel with butter and jam:

gallery_28661_5213_10344.jpg

A favorite of mine for breakfast. I live only a block from the bagel shop, and this for me, is a combination that's pretty hard to beat.

Apple Juice and crispy fried eggs with maple, soy, and hot sauce:

gallery_28661_5213_48580.jpg

This is how I've taken to cook my eggs lately. I let some butter brown slightly in a frying pan before adding a sprinkle of sea salt. I then crack in four eggs, fry till the whites are crispy but the yokes runny. When almost done I add a touch

of soy and maple and shake until lightly caramelized, plate, and drench with hot sauce. Did I mention I like strong flavors?

That's it for now, I'm off to class and then the market before heading home in the late afternoon. The sorbet you ask? We'll get to that.

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Hi

Welcome to your blog.

I actually thought those bagels looked familar( because the last time I was in Montreal, I schlepped 2 dozen of those back to Ontario), but all the asian ingredients threw me off.

Oh, what I wouldnt do for one of those bagels right now( especially freshly made)

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I'm looking forward to your blog this week Gabriel. I am really impressed with your dedication to learning new cuisines. My interests are all over the board too, and I think I should take a cue from your method of honing your skills!

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mmm, montreal bagels

my little brother just started at McGill and I'm pretty sure one of the (unofficial) selling points of McGill for him was ready access to fresh St Viateur bagels and Schwartz's

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I'm not prone to sweeping statements, but montreal bagels are definitely the best, bar none.

Swung by the market on my way home and picked up these supplies:

gallery_28661_5213_29196.jpg

The meat, long beans, and daikon radish are for tonights dinner. The limes and eggs for ice cream and sorbet. The pomegranites because they were on sale, and I have always wanted to experiment with them but have found the price prohibitive, and the rest is general purpose.

I'm off to prep dinner, I'll be back later with some more pictures, and a more detailed explanation of my "one cuisine at a time" approach.

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Welcome to the world of blogging, Gabriel!

I'll be interested to see what you do, in general, and what you do in particular with the pomegranates. I love pomegranates, and now that I know the easy way to open them I'm doing more with them. There's a great treatment from Mario Batali with pomegranates, marsala and chicken. I'll be looking forward to seeing how you use them in your Asian (or other) cuisines.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I'm not prone to sweeping statements, but montreal bagels are definitely the best, bar none.

This. Also, how did you transport that flat of eggs on a bike? Or were you not :wacko:

I have a big backpack, and they come packed between two flaps tightly bound with twine, no problem :raz: .

Here's the mise en place for tonight's dinner:

gallery_28661_5213_22502.jpg

And now that my girlfriend is finally here, I can start cooking it. I'll be back later with photos and details.

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Why are Montreal bagels so much better than any others?

Texture, taste, aroma, satisfaction. Bagels made at either St-Viateur or Fairmount (the two top bagel places) are all handmade, and baked in a woodfired oven after being boiled. At almost any given time of day you can walk in to see one guy cutting and rolling the bagels, one guy inserting them into the woodfired oven on a long wooden board, and one guy manning the register. They have a great texture you can really sink your teeth into, and they're good enough to eat by themselves. It's like the taste of really good bread with a hint of smoke. I'm not exactly doing them justice, but when you've had them you know.

So dinner tonight was Sichuan food, as you may have guessed from the mise en place photo.

The main meal:

gallery_28661_5213_21005.jpg

Gong Bao chicken with Jiang Zhi Jiang Dou (Longs beans in a ginger sauce), with rice. Otherwise known as the infamous "Kung Pao" chicken, this classic sichuan dish is a wonderful combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and numbing. I get the impression that Dunlop's version is much closer to the classic Sichuan version than the innumerable bastardizations to found in chinese restaurants around the world. I had tried this before with Pork and it didn't turn out quite as I would've liked, but tonight it was perfect. Tender chunks of chicken in tangy, hot, and numbing sauce with crunchy morsels of roasted peanuts.

And as per the Sichuan custom, we finished the meal with soup:

gallery_28661_5213_34352.jpg

My apologies for the steamy picture. What we have here is Lian Guo Tang (pork and white radish soup). A simple unassuming broth made with the water the pork is cooked in, scallions and ginger. You take slices of white radish and pork out with your chopsticks, and dip them in a pungent relish of sichuan pepper, dried red chiles, and soy. It makes for a very interesting contrast between the explosive flavor of the relish, and the soothing simplicty of the soup. I loved the tast it left lingering in my mouth.

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I am very excited to see some Montreal this week, thanks in advance! I lived there for a few years back in the day - I look forward to seeing it through your "food eyes". Its a unique place and will always be important to me - many relatives in the Mount Royal Cemetery (and a few in Estonia).

I still cannot get over your plate of eggs - how often do you have it? It seems like a breakfast for someone who is at least seven feet tall and very angry. This is a good sign.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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gallery_28661_5213_34352.jpg

My apologies for the steamy picture.

You shouldn't apologize for a picture like that. Most of us would call that "mood" and applaud you for it. :laugh: Truly, it evokes fine aromas, steaming their way seductively from the bowl to one's palate. Mmmm.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Maple syrup and hot sauce -- an excellent combination! Sweet heat is always interesting. May I inquire:

--what kind of hot sauce you put on your eggs?

--how many hot sauces you have in your collection?

--when we can expect the fridge shot?

--what your opinion is of Pocky?

--what of Montréal itself we might see in this blog?

This is a city on my must-visit list -- besides, I need to add it to my subway collection -- so tips and advice on how to make the most of a visit there are also welcome. Including, of course, places to eat.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Montreal, would live there in a flash.....spent happy times there some summers ago while kids in an 'ecocamp' nr Mt Tremblant to improve their French (and give us child-free time :smile: )

ps. remember husb. getting very irritated with me as I kept trying to hail police cars instead of taxis :raz:

look forward to yr services as a guide Gabriel (and yr cooking of course :smile:

pps. have you heard of the baseloup??? prob. wrong spelling

edited to add, I love the Fuschia Dunlop books, use both frequently

Edited by insomniac (log)
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Why are Montreal bagels so much better than any others?

Texture, taste, aroma, satisfaction. Bagels made at either St-Viateur or Fairmount (the two top bagel places) are all handmade, and baked in a woodfired oven after being boiled. At almost any given time of day you can walk in to see one guy cutting and rolling the bagels, one guy inserting them into the woodfired oven on a long wooden board, and one guy manning the register. They have a great texture you can really sink your teeth into, and they're good enough to eat by themselves. It's like the taste of really good bread with a hint of smoke. I'm not exactly doing them justice, but when you've had them you know.

So dinner tonight was Sichuan food, as you may have guessed from the mise en place photo.

The main meal:

gallery_28661_5213_21005.jpg

Gong Bao chicken with Jiang Zhi Jiang Dou (Longs beans in a ginger sauce), with rice. Otherwise known as the infamous "Kung Pao" chicken, this classic sichuan dish is a wonderful combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and numbing. I get the impression that Dunlop's version is much closer to the classic Sichuan version than the innumerable bastardizations to found in chinese restaurants around the world. I had tried this before with Pork and it didn't turn out quite as I would've liked, but tonight it was perfect. Tender chunks of chicken in tangy, hot, and numbing sauce with crunchy morsels of roasted peanuts.

And as per the Sichuan custom, we finished the meal with soup:

gallery_28661_5213_34352.jpg

My apologies for the steamy picture. What we have here is Lian Guo Tang (pork and white radish soup). A simple unassuming broth made with the water the pork is cooked in, scallions and ginger. You take slices of white radish and pork out with your chopsticks, and dip them in a pungent relish of sichuan pepper, dried red chiles, and soy. It makes for a very interesting contrast between the explosive flavor of the relish, and the soothing simplicty of the soup. I loved the tast it left lingering in my mouth.

Wow everything looks quite delicious! Don't apologise for the steam it just makes my mouth water more! I can't wait to see more!

Your eggs look really delicious, but I think someone else beat me to the question about the hot sauce YUM!

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QUOTE(snowangel @ Oct 1 2007, 08:10 PM)

Why are Montreal bagels so much better than any others?

Texture, taste, aroma, satisfaction. Bagels made at either St-Viateur or Fairmount (the two top bagel places) are all handmade, and baked in a woodfired oven after being boiled. At almost any given time of day you can walk in to see one guy cutting and rolling the bagels, one guy inserting them into the woodfired oven on a long wooden board, and one guy manning the register. They have a great texture you can really sink your teeth into, and they're good enough to eat by themselves. It's like the taste of really good bread with a hint of smoke. I'm not exactly doing them justice, but when you've had them you know.

I'm curious Gabriel if you've ever had a NY bagel? While I really like Montreal style bagels, I LOVE NY bagels. Those are the bagels I grew up with and they say " bagel" to me. Like you said, Montreal bagels remind me of a really good piece of artisan bread.

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Ah, let the Bagel Wars begin!

For the chicken, how did you handle the marinade to soften them? Were you able to find the bean flour that they use in Chengdu? The trick to that for tenderizing was the papane in that's an additive, and we've been experimenting here with additives to more easily accessible corn flour.

And how are the peppercorns? Mouth deadeningly numbing, in which case you've got a great supplier, as many complain about the novocaine effect wearing off with storage time.

Will they let you take pictures in the stores?

Cheers,

Peter

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Good morning everyone, lots of questions to answer. I'll start by posting breakfast for this morning, but I don't have time to get to all the questions now. I have to head to class, and after that I have a full work day, so I won't be back until late. Rest assured though that when I get back I'll address all the questions in full, and there will be plenty of pictures of montreal. I was very tired yesterday, and needed a bit of time to recover.

gallery_28661_5213_16501.jpg

Breakfast this morning was a cheese (swiss) omelette with apple juice. I generally stick to simple breakfasts, and don't necessarily have japanese/sichuan breakfasts everyday, though I do from time to time. Omelettes are a favorite breakfast of mine as they are quick, easy, and delicious. And given all the super fresh eggs I had boughten yesterday, it just seemed to make sense. It took me a while to get the flipping and timing down, but thanks to the eCGI course I know consider myself a fairly proficient omelette maker

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