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Gill Review of the Week


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Yes, you did miss something. Her review made comments about the critics that are involved in the Van Mag awards. I was thinking and reading over the people that were involved in the awards and James Barber's name was there and I have never seen or heard of him coming to eat at any place that I've worked. Hope that justifies my earlier post Daddy-A. Just a side note and have seen or have known all the other judges to frequent the restaurants involved. My post was just a general curious question. Daddy-A I will make sure that I send you a copy of every post I plan on posting for you prior approval if it makes you feel better.

Edited by D. Peckham (log)
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Yes, you did miss something.  Her review made comments about the critics that are involved in the Van Mag awards.  I was thinking and reading over the people that were involved in the awards and James Barber's name was there and I have never seen or heard of him coming to eat at any place that I've worked.  Hope that justifies my earlier post Daddy-A. Just a side note and have seen or have known all the other judges to frequent the restaurants involved.      My post was just a general curious question.  Daddy-A I will make sure that I send you a copy of every post I plan on posting for you prior approval if it makes you feel better.

Once I watched James Barber scream when a squirrel bit his toe. I am sure that James used a Van Mag to beat the animal down...It was a sad day, the rodent scampered off.

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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Yes, you did miss something.  Her review made comments about the critics that are involved in the Van Mag awards.  I was thinking and reading over the people that were involved in the awards and James Barber's name was there and I have never seen or heard of him coming to eat at any place that I've worked.  Hope that justifies my earlier post Daddy-A. Just a side note and have seen or have known all the other judges to frequent the restaurants involved.      My post was just a general curious question.  Daddy-A I will make sure that I send you a copy of every post I plan on posting for you prior approval if it makes you feel better.

Once I watched James Barber scream when a squirrel bit his toe. I am sure that James used a Van Mag to beat the animal down...It was a sad day, the rodent scampered off.

Watch out Chef Fowke, I don't believe that post has anything to do with the topic.

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I was just wondering.  Of the restaurant people that involved in this topic.  How many times have you had James Barber into you dining room? Not even for this year but for the last couple of years?

Yeah we`ve had him in. Not lately but the name rings a bell.

tt
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Yes, you did miss something.  Her review made comments about the critics that are involved in the Van Mag awards.  I was thinking and reading over the people that were involved in the awards and James Barber's name was there and I have never seen or heard of him coming to eat at any place that I've worked.  Hope that justifies my earlier post Daddy-A. Just a side note and have seen or have known all the other judges to frequent the restaurants involved.       My post was just a general curious question.  Daddy-A I will make sure that I send you a copy of every post I plan on posting for you prior approval if it makes you feel better.

Once I watched James Barber scream when a squirrel bit his toe. I am sure that James used a Van Mag to beat the animal down...It was a sad day, the rodent scampered off.

Watch out Chef Fowke, I don't believe that post has anything to do with the topic.

Oh jeez ... quit being paranoid Peckham. I just asked a question and you anwered. Thanks ever so ....

I'm assuming then your comments had to do with the quote she gave from Don Genova?

"Don't worry, judges are reassured, if you don't get out that much, there's a convenient list you can choose from in each category to spur your memory, even if you haven't eaten there in the past year, or ever."

Honestly, I'm just trying to make sense of what you said about Barber as I didn't see his name mentioned in the article (thus my asking if I missed something).

A.

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Now, as an example of "yellow journalism", you may have a case. :rolleyes:

[Wikipedia]

yellow journalism is a pejorative reference given to various practices or tendencies of news media organizations which, by the standards of journalistic professionalism, are considered to be unprofessional and detrimental to the principles of journalistic integrity as a whole.

[/wikipedia]

Yes. This is a much more accurate description. :biggrin:

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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If I might add my quip......James Barber was the first guy to be cooking anything eloquent in BC - as simple as his techniques may seem he was essentially the first "foodie" in Vancouver and may I say that the man deserves serious, as I think the lingo goes, "props".

He had the best tv food show called the "Urban Peasant" which started in the mid 80's and I watched him all the time - he's who taught me how to cook - and also how to woo the ladies as we all know a way to a womans heart is through her stomach!

Of course, he was the ladies man of ladies men outside of the stockbrokers in the 80's - now chilling in the Cowichan Valley - being a great guy supporting a bevy of causes - he's got a cooking class / dinner with a freind of his I think this weekend in which they're attempting cassoulet and a few other courses over a wine filled evening.

Let me take a bit of Barber's introduction to his 1989 cookbook that I just found in my mother's books:

"Good food doesn't have to be complicated, or expensive. Most of all, it doesn't have to be perfect - food is to eat, not to be photographed....This book is not a gourmet manual - it's a book mainly of pleasure, a collection of things I've eaten, cooked an enjoyed in half the countries of the world. Most of it is simple, peasant food, using simple ingredients. It's a book of grandma food, complete with all the long rambling stories that go so well with comfortable relaxed cooking."

As a kid I watched his show after school religiously - if anyone has watched Michael Smith's "Cooking WIthout a Recipe" you've got to know that James started that - he made it seem not too serious - a little of this, a bunch of that - for me his deal was to just get in the kitchen and cook - just get in there with your favorite people and with a smidge of technique it's going to be all starry eyed.

My mom helped me, but Barber taught me how to cook - he was always so nonchalant - the uncle that you always hoped would be yours.

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A few years ago I was stuck in Hanoi on business. Three weeks in a Korean-owned luxury hotel on the northern fringes of the place. A frightening prospect.

One morning, seriously handicapped from the bad sake consumed the night before, I was channel surfing - and there was The Urban Peasant preparing a Salmon Omlette - with Vietnamese subtitles.

It was a bit of home. A bit of nostalgia. And for a moment I was a little bit proud.

For the next couple of weeks this show became a bright beacon of sorts in the cold, dreary and dark landscape of Hanoi in February. I laughed and cried with the man. I wiped the mustard off his beard. I made excuses not to meet clients when he was on the air.

In short I bonded with the man.

Full respect old son!

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At the risk of turning this into a JB love-in, I have to chime in.

There is a very real and easy mistake to make in our business to love the craft beyond the people in it. I've caught myself in this many times, and have found myself a willing student of Barber's mantras.

When we forget to pay attention to the true reason we 'break bread', we get lost in the details and minutae of it. We begin to start celebrating the garnish and lose the point of the meal itself.

Food and drink (wait for it) are only a foil for socializing.

We gather at restaurants and friends tables and eating is the excuse. Look up from your plates and love the company your in. Be it a date, a wife, a cook, a lover (copyright?), they are the main course, and the food is a conversation piece, a memory shared, a connection to the past or the present in some surreal, tantalizing way that only shared experiences can define.

Good food, really good food is truly best at its simplist, most honest state. Mr. James Barber reminds us all what this is all about. Awards, tv shows, press releases, all the bullshit we entertain ourselves gossiping about doesn't compare to a great meal, simply prepared, with fantastic people.

I heard a great story about how he learned to cook in the army, now that's a line I wouldn't want to work.

Hey Arne, maybe a new thread, sorry, but as I grew up and searched this city for a mentor, there were few who could represent an unpretentious, unfussy and unapologetic approach to cooking as he does. If he hasn't been seen lately, perhaps he should be seen more. I'd love to have a bistro with him cooking in my neighbourhood.

Owner

Winebar @ Fiction

Lucy Mae Brown

Century - modern latin -

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I always kinda thought he was astute enough to rip off The Frugal Gourmets shitck, right down to the creepy uncle vibe and wrap it in some shitty CBC production values. Why all the love? He stirred carrots in a non stick pan with a butter knife.

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<host>

This thread is for discussing A. Gill's reviews, so let's get back to that please.

I also think that Mr. Barber is worthy of some discussions ... perhaps in his own thread.

Thanks,

Pam

</host>

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<host>

This thread is for discussing A. Gill's reviews, so let's get back to that please.

I also think that Mr. Barber is worthy of some discussions ... perhaps in his own thread.

Thanks,

Pam

</host>

a.gill is like the kid in class that clowns for attention while the teacher gets all pinch-faced and says: "if you ignore her she'll behave".

so...

can somebody start a JB's thread so we can talk some real shit.

poor ol' fella

Drew Johnson

bread & coffee

i didn't write that book, but i did pass 8th grade without stress. and i'm a FCAT for sure.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ugh - I hate it when I agree with the Gillster (Gillerator? Gillarama? Her Gillness?) - but I have generally been underwhelmed by the food and overwhelmed by prices. Service is surly if they don't think you are going to be a high roller etc... I could sort of stomach this if Tojo's was offering you an experience a la Nobu. But they don't - the place is decorated in early grubby Miami Vice and the last thing I want to see while I am trying to eat are pictures of Gino Vanelli smiling down at me.

I understand that they are contemplating a move - I hope that a change in surroundings re-invigorates them. There are alot of top notch Japanese restaurants in Vancouver - Tojo's is not the only game in town.

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her tone is as boringly snide as ever.

I found it less snide than usual. Though her whiny complaint about the mushroom:

No one warns us that it's hot
is par for the course. Now I know the who's part of the demographic that needs the "caution, filling may be hot" warning on McDonald's apple pies. :rolleyes:
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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It's certainly fair to note the huge difference in treatment between being an a la carte diner at Tojo's and being a sushi bar diner doing a hefty omakase. I went with a couple of friends, well dressed, reservations, with someone who back in the old days used to be a regular, and known at the restaurant, but we were just ordering off the menu, had a seat the patio, and were virtually ignored. I had previously been for my birthday, and my female friend had treated me to dinner at the sushi bar, omakase. And the snobbery is really not hidden much there, even when you do spend the big bucks - my server, when doing omakase with reserved seats at the sushi bar, let us know that Tojo was in the house, but he doesn't meet customers on their first visit at Tojo's. That's saved for the SECOND visit. Her explanation had the tone of what the British monarchy entourage might have explaining the proper way to curtsy in the presence of the queen. We never saw a glimpse of him. But we were still absolutely wowed by the meal. This was a few years back, but it was really wonderful. Flavours were really remarkable. (this didn't happen a la carte. Those dishes were okay, I think, but it was overshadowed by the snobby service, so I can't even remember). If Alex Gill had wanted different dishes on her second visit, she could have let the restaurant know what she had on a first visit. And when experiencing "ethnic" restaurants, one can bear in mind that the service is very much influenced by the culture of the nation that the people and the food are from. In other words, don't expect a Japanese person in restaurant trying to be an authentic Japanese restaurant to warn someone that the food is going to be hot. Japanese people don't do that. It's better to have something served as piping hot at possible, and people can wait for the food to cool down to their preferred temperature in Japan. That's pretty normal, and that means that some people build crazy tolerances for super hot noodles in soup, and prefer them really, really hot. (by the way, I just had what would have been a perfectly good meal at Fortune Garden on Mother's Day absolutely ruined because they were trying to turn the tables quickly that day, and served all the dishes at once, rather than one at a time, like they should at a fancy Chinese restaurant, and everything got lukewarm. Made a huge difference. Quite annoying, and some dishes suffered so much, even though I could tell that they were probably really good when they were hot). Same with "not even offered water." You get tea. That's what people drink in Japan. You could ask for water if you need it. The little nuances of culture is part of why it's fun to dine out in different restaurants in the first place. Maybe explaining a dish is going to be very hot is kind of like when you're at a Chinese restaurant (doesn't happen too often in Vancouver, but other places), and the table is set with chopsticks, and then someone comes over and places a fork in front of the white guy. We take a bit of offense to that. (Hey! He's good at eating with chopsticks! He's not an ignorant hick!). They're pretty brazen at Tojo's when they tell someone not to use wasabi or soy on some sushi. Instead of a suggestion, it sometimes comes across as an order. I don't really mind that either. It would be fun to stop someone just before they soak their rice with soy sauce in a Chinese restaurant, and say "No soy! NO!", like a citizen's arrest. Heee hee.

I'm a little surprised she wasn't wowed by the food, but then again, I haven't been in years, and I've been wowed by another big name restaurant in town with tasting menus several years ago, and then visited after a couple of years, and thought "meh."

If there's something to talk about in A. Gill's reviews, then she's done a big part of her job (even if they're complaints). At least it's interesting. That's more than can be said for the reviews in the Province?

Nancy

Edited to add: Oh my god, what have I done... I've just left myself open for the reviewer of the Province to write some article mocking eGullet, and portray me in some caricature fashion...eeek!

Edited by Dumpling Girl (log)
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If Gullet was mentioned in The Province, no one would know nor be able to tell, a more incomprehensible collection of english appearing words I've never seen. Maybe James Joyce was more adept at making things look english, yet have meaning so densly camoflauged that only a roomful of lit Phd candidates could tease out the meaning. Mark Laba is either a genuis or an idiot. And being that he works for the Province, I'm going with idiot. It's the Mac Perry school of journalism, write without meaning. Arrange common words and phrases into what appear to be paragraphs, but are really random collections of words without meaning.

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Geez, whoever copyedits/proofs the website needs to take a refresher course.

From both the print and online versions:

"He's also a perennial winner at the Vancouver Restaurant Awards -- and actually did attend the gala this year (The Dish, May 5), although I didn't seem him."

That explains why I didn't seem her at the Van Mag awards - she must have been attempting to seem him! :rolleyes:

Memo

Ríate y el mundo ríe contigo. Ronques y duermes solito.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.

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On the positive side of things, I guess she listened to the egullet gospel of visitng a restaurant twice before making a verdict. Gives her more credibility, whether you agree with her review or not.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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It's the Mac Perry school of journalism, write without meaning. Arrange common words and phrases into what appear to be paragraphs, but are really random collections  of words without meaning.

Did you graduate from there too, Keith? :wink:

Cheers!

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I don't know if I hate it when I agree with her. I figure there are reviewers that can mesh with my own personal tastes most of the time and there are reviewers who can also clash with my tastes most of the time. But the keyword is 'most'. In this case I agree with her hands down.

At the end of the night, I'm still hungry and seriously underwhelmed. Other than a couple of interesting sauces and a lovely sablefish (which is hard to ruin in the worst kitchen), nothing knocked my socks off. The bill comes to $250 and all we had to drink was a $35 bottle of sake. I've honestly had meals that were just as tasty, for a fraction of the price, at the Octopus's Garden, Yoshi's on Denman and Shiru-Bay Chopstick Café.

There was a thread on this fact before. I believe it was Lorna's friend who felt hungry afterwards and ate somewhere else to 'top off'. I felt the same way when I went but I DID enjoy the food. I was just s little surprised that for the price point I wasn't sated.

I will say that the service when I went, however, was absolutley first class. The waiter was attentive but not overbearing and he made us both laugh. Especially the face he made when insisting we not look at this sushi like any other sushi and how soy and wasabi are BIG no nos :biggrin:

I had no idea the bar required a minimum order though. That is surprising but I guess the demand for it is high enough that he can get away with that.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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"He's also a perennial winner at the Vancouver Restaurant Awards -- and actually did attend the gala this year (The Dish, May 5), although I didn't seem him."

Typos asside :laugh: , this is yet another example of her correcting herself in a later review ... possibly due to her reading the facts here. I'm pretty sure she wrote that Tojo wasn't at the awards, although I can't find the article right now. Then there was the "vegan wine" comment from a few months back.

She's gotta be up for a Pulitzer pretty soon, dontcha think?

A.

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