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eG Foodblog: jamiemaw - In the Belly of the Feast: Eating BC


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Thank you Jamie for answering my question about the Tobacco.

Do you ever make it to the Mediterranean Market on Gordon or Valoroso Foods?

I used to live 2 blocks away from the market before I moved back to Vancouver.

Besides Milan at Stoney Paradise... where are your favourite places to shop for food in Kelowna?

We always make sure to do a stop at the fruit packers on our way out of town....

Used to love shopping at the stands near/on Benvoulin Rd.

Do you think that the large forest fire (in 2003?) affected more than just forest land and the KVR trestles?  (food wise, or wine wise that is..)  I know that we had a bumper crop of morels in 2004, just like the bumper crop after the Salmon Arm fire a few years back.

O.K....I'll stop asking questions now.

:wink:

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Lower morels are a good thing. I also find them at the Med Market, one of my favourites too. I also like to shop at Illichman's and I'll post some references to them this afternoon.

Thanks IG,

J.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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This is 'P' and I lover her so.

She looks just like a long-haired version of my sweetie! (See avatar at left.) She even has that same haughty look, which is not haughtiness at all, but merely contentment with her station in life as master of many humans.

Was the bread served immediately? A pet peeve: bread served only after the food order is taken.

Is there a particular reason why bread being served after the food order is taken is a pet peeve?

I have the opposite pet peeve. I don't believe bread should be served before a food order is taken. I don't believe is should be served at all, unless it complements what you are eating in some way. I won't turn it away if it's a good loaf/slice of bread, but I'd rather not have it unless I need it to put my chopped liver on, or to sop up some delicious sauce.

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I was really excited to see how an expert reviews. Then you saddened me when I read the tiny little blurp that goes into reviewing dessert. Far less attention then a salad..........or a soup.

major bummer

How do we get more serious attention placed on dessert?

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I can't believe my good fortune. I have recently been tapped to review area restaurants for a local on-line daily. Your guidelines are most helpful regardless of the lightyears apart my league is to yours. One thing I can certainly share is my sudden popularity among my friends... :rolleyes:

Gorgeous photos, Jamie, and your wit makes this blog surely one of the best.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Thank you for sharing with such rich details the Life of a Restaurant Critic. I'm enjoying your entire blog and look forward to more. The history, the 'how to be a critic' lessons, the Canadian education (at least for me, as I live south of the border...)

A question: is it possible for a restaurant anywhere anytime to get a "20"? I'm not a frequent restaurant client nor have I ever worked in one so it may be a somewhat ignorant question... although I do get to see restaurant kitchens with some frequency!

cg

We evaluate each restaurant that we review using a set template. We use a 20-point system to rate the food; service; and décor/ambience/cleanliness. We weight the marks 80 percent food and 20 percent for the latter two. But we leave upward leeway for pure magic, and we’ll mark down severely for attitude, pretension and anything short of clean premises. Using this system, we would rate top Canadian restaurants such as Lumière, Susur, and West at 17 to 18 out of 20. A restaurant such as Jean-Georges in NYC would merit 18 to 19; L’Arnsbourg ( afavourite because of its relaxed approach to three-star Michelin dining) in Alsace 19. Some big names that fell short in the last few years: Spago Beverly Hills at 13; Chaya (Los Angeles) 11; Café Boulud 14.5.

And the food, let it be said again, is foremost. Many times we’ve rated inexpensive, plainly decorated dining rooms very highly. Why?—because the food sings, the owners are friendly and informative, and everyone has a great night. Examples: Phnom Penh (14.5) and Hapa (14), both in Vancouver, and The Swan Oyster Depot (14) in San Francisco.

In using this methodology we make an honest attempt to view the owner’s restaurant as a business. One thing that I find desperately unfair is certain reviewers’ propensity to evaluate solely based on a single, shotgun, two-hour visit on the cusp of the Friday slam. A financial reporter would be held accountable for such disregard for due diligence, but many so-called restaurant critics (some in alarmingly high places with vast audiences) seem to get away with it. I’m sure you have seen this too.

We use a template for each and every restaurant—it allows us to judge every place we visit on an even basis, and allows us to refer back objectively. I can’t share that, because its proprietary and has taken a while to develop, but here is the essence—now all we have to do is make it entertaining.

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Macho posturing with photos of 25-kilo New York strips and Kim's chocolate-coated behind is all very well, but I hear rumours of this year's hockey strike causing the Canadian male to explore his more feminine side. So is it true - do Canucks bake?

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I was really excited to see how an expert reviews. Then you saddened me when I read the tiny little blurp that goes into reviewing dessert. Far less attention then a salad..........or a soup.

major bummer

How do we get more serious attention placed on dessert?

Mark me confused, Wendy. While on the one hand you refer to Kim's backside as a "tiny little blurp," in the very next breath you call it a "major bummer." Now that I think about it though, I guess I'd like to have it both ways too. :biggrin:

More seriously, we'll be paying your section of the menu a good deal more attention shortly, beginning tonight with a chestnut souffle with gingered quince and vanilla bean creme anglais.

And then next week, we'll be journeying to visit Thomas Haas. And in between, so that you realize that we don't give the final course short shrift, I promise even more dessert satisfaction.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Meet tonight's dinner on the hoof:

Wild Boar from North Okanagan Game Farms

Chef Michael Allemeier is genuinely interested in what he does and what he can do for you.

His resumé is thick with benchmark kitchens: lengthy executive chef stints at Bishop’s (an early champion of all things local, organic and sustainable in Vancouver), The Fairmont Chateau Whistler (where he collaborated closely with growers from the Pemberton Valley), Calgary’s elegant Teatro and now as executive chef at the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.

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Mission Hill was developed from a fledgling winery 20 years ago by proprietor Anthony von Mandl, who six years ago began its redevelopment. Today, some $40 million later, Mission Hill is a destination all on its own. Below, there's some additional backround on the winery and its founder in an article called "Mission Accomplished."

It’s the dead of winter and as you’ve seen the days are bright but cold. As the summer ticked over we ate Michael’s fruit-promoted dishes, especially his wonderful desserts and preserves.

But the drop in temperature drops his procurements sights – not in quality – but quite literally: the soft fruits such as apricot, peaches, plums and prunes in early summer turned to pears and apples by October. By late November however, valley chefs have gone to ground, using squashes, and then underground, for the root vegetables that we will be eating tonight. They'll include red carrots from Green Crofts Farms and torpedo onions from Stoney Paradise.

But the main event will be seared, then braised boar cheeks (from North Okanagan Game Farms) and a wonderful seasonal dessert – take a peek at the menu below. Earlier today we watched chef Allemeier and executive sous chef Tim Cuff prep the meal. We thought you would be interested in seeing some of the wonderful equipment they have in their reach including the remarkable La Grande Cuisine induction hob. Note the hand next to the boiling water.

Tonight’s menu will encompass what the season has dealt Allemeier, with a nod backward to a few nods backward to summer . . .

Spinach Cakes with Smoked Salmon

Oysters on the Half Shell (Malpeques & Gigamotos) - Beet Mignonette

Lior Gougeres

Loimer Reisling 2003

2004 Five Vineyards Pinot Blanc

Sunchoke and Leek Soup with Weathervane Scallop

Sweet Garlic

2002 Reserve Shiraz

Slow Braised Wild Boar Cheeks with Truffled Cauliflower Purée

1997 Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer Ice Wine

Chestnut Soufflé with Gingered Quince

Vanilla Bean Crème Anglais

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The dinner promises to be great fun. It will be hosted by Ingo Grady, the director of international marketing for Mission Hill. His fiancée Patti Tetrau runs a winery tour service that keeps our roads safer and visitors properly informed of local peccadilloes. Grant Stanley is the head winemaker from the adjacent Quail’s Gate winery and long ago used to run the floor at London’s Bibendum. Peggy Athans is the executive director of the BC Wine Institute.

Later we’ll post some shots of chefs Allemeier and Cuff preparing tonight’s meal, and of course later, some of the meal itself. I expect the wine will be rather good as well.

Mission Accomplished

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From an article in The Globe and Mail that I wrote about the visit of Wolf Blass to the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery this past summer

As a kid obsessed with food, I soon sniffed out that there was no Betty Crocker. This was much worse than finding out that an aging milk-and-cookies gourmand called Santa Claus was a fraud. Turns out Aunt Jemima was a figment of Madison Avenue’s cynical eye as well. I began scowling at my pancakes, not knowing whom to trust, or whose apron to hide behind.

A child’s innocence lost, I became a brand sceptic—for life.

But wait, there’s less. Wine marketing agencies have gotten truly carried away as well. How about a glass of Marilyn Merlot, Scraping the Barrel, Cardinal Zin, K Syrah, or even Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush?

Recently, each of these unpleasant memories of gimcrack Hollywood food and wine names was dredged up yet again. I was waiting at the airport to meet Wolf Blass. I was hoping that I would meet the man and not the brand. I did.

For there, alighting from a heavy German automobile—without a handler in sight—was a nimble, 71-year old German leavened with forty years in Oz. His accent was just one tip to his provenance: Slow Australian vowels surfing over tight German consonants like foie gras hitting a hot steel pan. Another was his energy: for a little guy, Blass takes up a lot of room. Like most charismatic people he forsakes carbon dioxide completely and breathes oxygen back into rooms.

Not so long ago, it was Wolf Blass who rocked the wine world and breathed that same oxygen back into a moribund industry. He put paid to the French by creating colourful (his yellow label series are international bestsellers), mnemonic wine labels on bottles that were ready to drink today.

Voila! The complications of French labelling, where appellations, negotiants and other unnecessaries ruled an unwieldy web of wine fiefdoms, were upended forever. Blass didn’t outflank them, he ran over them and France’s global market share has never recovered. Today Blass brands sell some $50 million of wines around the world, about twice the entire VQA output of the Okanagan Valley.

Blass sold his interest to Foster’s ten years ago, but now roams the world as an ambassador for the brand. He is a restless, kinetic man with the tightly wound inner tension of a golf ball, waiting to be released.

Our ostensible mission: To Mission Hill, where Blass was to brief proprietor Anthony von Mandl. In November, Blass will turn over the presidency of the International Wine and Spirits Competition, convened in London each year. It’s one of the loftiest and most visible appointments in the wine world; their predecessors include Baroness Rothschild, Robert Mondavi, Miguel Torres and Piero Antinori.

While a real honour for von Mandl personally, it’s also an international imprimatur for the Okanagan. After all, it was the IWSC award, called The Avery Trophy—that Mission Hill won in 1994 for best Chardonnay in the World—that first put the valley on the global wine map. This latest accolade will raise its profile higher.

The visible investment at Mission Hill is imposing, but the real investment in the business is occurring now, and it’s indicative of a valley-wide theme. The business end of the winery—where the wines actually get made under winemaker John Simes—has undergone a dramatic change, with millions of dollars of stainless steel and oak tanks and other modern equipment being installed. In the vineyards, drip irrigation systems are replacing overhead sprinklers, dropping water consumption by as much as 75 per cent.

But then there is the unkindest cut of all. With Okanagan vineyard-quality land now virtually fully planted, the only way left is up. Up as in increased bottle prices, promoted by rising quality, especially in red wines. And that means “dropping fruit”—pruning back vines to drive intensity into the bottle. That might delight winemakers, for they see the result first, but it’s a leap of faith for proprietors.

Lunch taken at The Mission Hill Terrace is a short excursion into fine local ingredients; virtually everything except for citrus and coffee is sourced within a half hour radius. Terrace chefs Tim Cuff and Lee Cooper served us a menu that cooled a hot cadmium sun like a breeze, beginning with a terrine of sweet peas in a cucumber sauce. Morels were served with quail and mint, then an Enderby lamb chop, cooked on a panini press, was plated with nutty cauliflower purée. Dessert: apricot and mascarpone crumble, a pretty flourish to an afternoon idyll, suspended over the lake, listening to a German winemaker dispensing ‘g’days” and “bluudy oaths” to our party, which included Justin Trudeau and his lovely new wife Sophie.

Back to those Hollywood food—or in this case, wine—names. The Okanagan is full of new wineries and brands: Therapy, Joie, Dirty Laundry, Star Galaxy and Tantalus are all new launches, following on the success of outré labels such as Blasted Church.

There are other, “special project” wines in the offing too. From Mission Hill, expect to see their limited release brands called Fork in the Road, and B-3, named for the mother bear and her cubs who roam the winery’s Osoyoos vineyards. Some of these labels are available in Okanagan and Lower Mainland restaurants now; others will release this fall. I’ve tasted enough of them (and live next door to one of them) to suspend my brand cynicism.

“You might almost call it divine madness,” Blass said after our tour of Mission Hill, that soaring place of near-monastic serenity and cleanly wrought lines. He was referring to the investment that von Mandl has made at the top of the hill. Blass shook his head, “Here you see art, history and legacy—the commercial enterprise is hidden away behind the curtains, architecturally and as a metaphor for what Anthony has accomplished.”

Justin Trudeau, who knows something about charisma, responded for the group. “There’s nothing we like more than when someone sits down and says something very nice about us,” he said.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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It's been a very hectic week from a business perspective and I'm looking forward to the chance to respond to more of your questions, including Andy's. He wondered if Canadian men took up baking (along with moisturizing) during the hockey strike.

And I'll lead you to the Kelowna restaurant thread.

And many thanks to you all for your warm words of encouragement - I very much appreciate them.

Please keep your questions coming.

Back in a while . . .

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Damn, Jamie, this is fantastic. I'm glad that I didn't have to follow you -- I've got no model friends and my ass doesn't look so good smeared with brown stuff.

Like johnnyd I really like the review of reviewing. As someone who dabbled a bit in reviewing back in the day, it's fascinating to see how thoughtfully codified your system is. How often do you see large differences in the scores for the three areas? For example, do you find places that hit the upper teens for food but are below ten for service and décor/ambience/cleanliness?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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prasantrin,Dec 9 2005, 04:49 AM  Is there a particular reason why bread being served after the food order is taken is a pet peeve?
I have the opposite pet peeve.  I don't believe bread should be served before a food order is taken.  I don't believe is should be served at all, unless it complements what you are eating in some way.  I won't turn it away if it's a good loaf/slice of bread, but I'd rather not have it unless I need it to put my chopped liver on, or to sop up some delicious sauce.

It makes me feel like I'm eating in a prison. Or a commisary. I want to say to the server, "Yes, I really am staying for dinner." I love bread and it's also an excellent telltale as to the chef's eye for important detail.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Macho posturing with photos of 25-kilo New York strips and Kim's chocolate-coated behind is all very well, but I hear rumours of this year's hockey strike causing  the Canadian male to explore his more feminine side. So is it true - do Canucks bake?

Like orgasms in a nunnery, Andy. You know they're goin' on, it's just hard to put your finger on it. But we're almost positive that some Canadian males bake - but just try to find them! Hell, there are probably Canucks who moisturize too. Equally elusive.

So I can only give you a strong maybe on this one. Here's the slightly longer answer:

[P.S. - That was a breakfast steak.]

Excerpted from Great Chefs Cook at Barbara-jo’s

by Jamie Maw

Friends of the shop: Jamie Maw, Murray McMillan, Glenys Morgan

Featured Book: The New Food Lover’s Companion (Barron’s)

Barbara-jo's Books to Cooks is the culinary crossroads of British Columbia. Visiting chefs, cookbook authors and food writers demo from their books frequently, and lesser plebs like me are sometimes invited along to . . .

Barbara-jo McIntosh: Every so often I like to use creative licence and throw a unique event to promote a book that I admire. When Sharon Tyler Herbst published a third edition of the highly popular Food Lover’s Companion, I decided my only option was to host an evening of Jeopardy! – and position myself as the Alex Trebek of food trivia – with a wee gaggly of well-known food personalities.

I asked Jamie Maw, food and travel writer, to write a few words about his recollections of the evening and, as you see, he has not left much for me to say:

“How about asking more boy questions,” I shouted politely at Barbara-jo McIntosh. I was turning crimson, by degrees Fahrenheit, then Celsius. Barbara-jo’s is not a place that I associate with the Inquisition. But that’s precisely what I was getting that night, in gallons, cups and pecks – and then their metric equivalents. And the only humour that I could mobilize to rescue my deepening humiliation was, necessarily, of the deeply self-deprecating kind.

Several months before, I had signed on to participate in a sort of culinary Olympiad. The format: Answer – and answer quickly – any and all questions based on our study of the Barron’s Food Lovers Companion, a seven-hundred-page brick thick with food, wine and culinary definitions. In fact any definition, from the more than four thousand in the book, was up for grabs.

And my competitors were hardly flyweights: Murray McMillan, the well-travelled (and well fed) food editor of The Vancouver Sun, and Glenys Morgan. Glenys owned a leading cookshop, cooked professionally for many years and then, most famously, trained hundreds of chefly aspirants at the Dubrulle School of Culinary Arts and Deep Tissue Massage. Even worse, all of this was in front of a paying crowd, many eager to see one or more of us self-flambé.

As a serial procrastinator, during a trip to Acapulco (on assignment, of course) that immediately preceded the competition, I had put any reflection on the now loathsome Barron’s off completely. Or almost. Like reading War and Peace, I was still stuck in the first chapter, or in this case, the “A’s” – trying to assimilate asafoetida [ah-sah-feh-the-dah], “a flavoring obtained from a giant fennel-like plant that grows mainly in Iran and India…,” and atemoya [a-teh-moh-ee-yah], “though it’s cultivated in Florida, this cross between CHERIMOYA and SWEETSOP is a native of South America and the West Indies. About the size of a large sweet BELL PEPPER, the atemoya has tough dusty green skin…”

In short, my modest brain, now addled into prune whip by Mexican heat and humidity, was not up to the job. I very nearly sent Barbara-jo an urgent missive, but no – I swore to myself – I’d get cracking on the flight home. And I did, making it clear into the “B’s” before breaking for a snooze somewhere over Manzanillo.

“Question one,” began out Inquisitor, Barbara-jo McIntosh, herself no slouch at this sort of thing, but tonight looking much more headmistress than bookshop proprietor. “What is asafoetida” I rang my bell instantly, barely beating out Glenys. “Though it’s cultivated in Florida, this cross between…” I began. “Wrong,” said Headmistress McIntosh. “Glenys, would you like to correct our tanned friend?”

And so it went. Murray and I split pretty evenly on male-friendly words like banger, hardtack, poutine, groundnut and yabbie. But Glenys grabbed everything else: corn salad, conchiglie, dragee, tzimmes and zuccotto. And many more. By the end of round one, Glenys had easily doubled Murray’s and my collective score.

Then it got much worse: We broke into a lengthy series of baking questions. Baking questions! My baking repertoire is limited to Irish soda bread. For my annual apple pie I follow the pastry recipe on the back of the shortening box. And that’s when I measure at all. “What is the acceptable substitution for one of cup of sifted, self-raising flour?” the headmistress barked. “One cup sifted all purpose flour plus 1½ teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt,” Glenys promptly answered.

“What is the volume of an 8” x 8” x 2” square pan?” Eight cups, as it turns out. Of course, Glenys knew that too. That’s when I rudely demanded that Headmistress McIntosh ask some more boy questions. But it was not to be. Instead, definitions and preparatory techniques for burdock, granadilla, kibbeh, ugli fruit (Murray and I worked that one to death, but were both wrong), varak (we had clearly moved beyond the B’s now), and wakame and lassi (“A leading brand of American dog food?” I volunteered), followed faster than the 101st Airborne going downtown.

Needless to say, Murray and I were largely blanked, only responding to male-sensitive questions such as infusion, offal and roux. “Proper noun or not?” I enquired about roux, hoping for a bonus point for naming the founders of Le Gavroche and The Water Side Inn. “Not,” replied the headmistress. One point only for the application of heat to butter and flour – a gimme. But by now, it was more rue than roux for Murray and me. Just to make sure, the headmistress consulted the chief scorekeeper (Adrienne O’Callaghan, who measures when she bakes) at unnecessarily short intervals. By now, Glenys’s score threatened to triple our aggregate.

One final chance for redemption. “What is Spam, and part two – where in the world is it most consumed?” the headmistress demanded. I rang my bell furiously. Finally. I know quite a lot about pork products and even have a Spam snow dome on my desk. “Spam is a prepared pork product manufactured by the Hormel Corporation that chiefly informs the diet of the state of Hawaii,” I fairly screamed. “It is occasionally used in sculpture competitions,” I added. Two points, too late. The event was over, the humiliation final and brutish. I could barely choke down my thoroughly chilled beverage. To this day I feel little affection for asafoetida.

I congratulated Glenys thoroughly on the new automobile she won, and she congratulated us for being such great sports. Our prizes were brand new copies of Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion. I’ll use mine to keep the back door open on breezy days. When I’m cooling down my annual apple pie. After escaping the amazingly sympathetic crowd, I asked Headmistress McIntosh how the questions could have been so transparently one-sided – so, well, girly. “Couldn’t you have balanced things by asking for stuff like spice rubs of leading steakhouses of the U.S. Midwest, pickled herring, vindaloo and the best places to eat barbecue in Kansas City?” I asked. “And you know I don’t measure,” I said.

“It’s never too late to start,” the headmistress said firmly, and with the absolute conviction of those who do.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Clustered near the southern tip of Okanagan Lake, near Okanagan Falls, Penticton and Naramata, the vines begin to turn to pinot noir and white varietals. Closer to Kelowna, northern varietals such as gewurtztraminer and reisling are more prevalent.

As the population has grown, and culinary and wine tourists seek it out, the valley has seen a tremendous growth in specialized farming. Just one example is our neighbour, Milan Djordjevich (aka The Tomato Man), who supplies 14 varieties of organic tomatoes and several of table grapes to the province’s restaurants and public markets.

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Types of tomatoes from left to right and where there are tomatoes below, top to bottom:

Early Cascade, Green Zebra, Sungold (cherry tomato), Druzba (big cracked red), Striped German, Black Krim (purple), Wonderlight (yellow lemon), Black Prince, Striped Cavern (orange), Black Plum, Czech Excellent Yellow, Pink Beauty.

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The tomatoes simply wouldn’t taste as good if Aunty Prim didn’t supervise our basket.

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Basket of Milan's tomatoes and ‘French Tickler’ cauliflower

Tomorrow we’ll be cooking with some of Milan’s late summer product, which has been canned for your viewing pleasure, and will be used in the braise of boar cheeks. 

And so to work. We're off to review a nearby restaurant.

Back in a while then . . .

Jamie

Thanks Jamie for the wonderful photos and commentary. It's because of people like you on eGullet that allow me to vicariously experience the people, food, and beauty of places I've never been just by making a few well placed clicks on my keyboard.

And special thanks for my new favorite vegetable: " "French Tickler’ cauliflower." And I don't give a damn what it tastes like. :rolleyes:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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This is going to be good.

I'm just discovering Canadian Ice wines. Is there a guide to them?

Which do you consider the best?

I've had Paradise Ranch and Cave Spring.

I believe there is a Lang Vineyard (my family name). It would be nice to get some of that.

Hey Jack,

This just in . . .

British Columbia Wine Institute

Media Release

December 9, 2005 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cold snap in Okanagan kicks off Icewine harvest

Okanagan winemakers and grapegrowers are short on sleep this week.

Cold temperatures throughout the region gave winemakers and grapegrowers the opportunity they needed to harvest their Icewine grapes. Because Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) standards require that those grapes are picked and crushed at -8 °C or lower, most Icewine grapes are picked in the middle of the night when the mercury dips to its lowest point.

The British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) administers the VQA standard, and wineries are required to call a special BCWI telephone line to report which vineyards were harvested, the temperature at harvest time, the grape varietal, and an estimate of how much was harvested. It’s typical for calls to be received at 4 a.m, which means sleepless nights and chilly fingers for pickers.

This week, fifteen wineries called in to report Icewine harvests in vineyards from Kelowna down to Oliver. Varietals harvested were ehrenfelser, riesling, pinot blanc, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet franc, traminer, muscat, verdelet, gewürztraminer, and kerner. An estimated total of 212.5 short tons were picked and crushed.

“The harvest seems to be over for this week because temperatures have risen slightly, but some wineries still have grapes on the vine, so more grapes will be picked if and when it gets cold enough again this winter,” said BCWI communications manager Jeff McDonald. “Winemakers and grapegrowers are very positive about the quality, and we’re looking forward to an excellent Icewine vintage for 2005.”

Wineries reporting included Andres Wines, Blossom Winery, Calona Wines, Fairview Cellars, Gehringer Brothers, Hainle Vineyards, Hawthorne Mountain, House of Rose, Jackson-Triggs Okanagan, Mission Hill, Nk’Mip Cellars, Paradise Ranch, Sumac Ridge, Tantalus Vineyards, and Tinhorn Creek.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Unique, interesting, and entertaining Foodblog!

Being an amateur interested in food photography, I am curious about the pictures you are using in this blog. They are very pretty, but look so colorful and brilliant that I'm thinking they have had a lot of processing after being taken. Some colors look almost artificial. Is it because these are the very photos that have been, or would be, printed in a magazine? They look like they are on the glossy pages of a magazine!

Thank you for the time you are putting into this enjoyable blog.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I will add my voice to those thanking you for giving us so much insight into your criteria for restaurant reviews. I wish we could get a checklist of this type from some other critics (no names included or necessary here), but I strongly suspect that unlike you, some of them really don't know how or why they come up with their ratings. :hmmm::raz:

[...]

Chinese: Noodle soups must have crystalline stocks. Greasy rolls. Indistinct dim sum. Unfettered, whole fish. Omami, that ebullient fifth taste. Crappy wine lists.

[...]

A crappy wine list obviously isn't good, but what about no wine list? I've eaten at plenty of good Chinese restaurants with no wine list at all, and I figure you have, too. So is your basic philosophy that a restaurant should either present a good wine list or none at all?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Thank you for sharing with such rich details the Life of a Restaurant Critic. I'm enjoying your entire blog and look forward to more. The history, the 'how to be a critic' lessons, the Canadian education (at least for me, as I live south of the border...)

A question: is it possible for a restaurant anywhere anytime to get a "20"? I'm not a frequent restaurant client nor have I ever worked in one so it may be a somewhat ignorant question... although I do get to see restaurant kitchens with some frequency!

cg

Not yet. I've had near perfect experiences though, sometimes when my expectations weren't that high going in. One was at Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, with Gunther Seeger of Atlanta guest-chefing alternate courses.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Gunter Seeger of Atlanta guest-cheffing alternate courses.

Will you talk about the Gunther Seeger experience? He is a local chef of great accomplishment and his press is uniformly high. His restaurant here is always among the Top Five ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Gunther Seeger of Atlanta guest-cheffing alternate courses.

Will you talk about the Gunther Seeger experience? He is a local chef of great accomplishment and his press is uniformly high. His restaurant here is always among the Top Five ...

Melissa,

A couple of summers ago I journeyed to Paris with a number of North American chefs for the convocation of the Relais Gourmands. Quite good field trip, actually. The North American chefs feted the Euros the first night, cooking an elevated form of American kitchen food (mac and cheese etc.) that caused some controversy. There were 170 Michelin stars in one room that night. I have many of their trading cards. Then the North Americans fanned out across the France, Spain and Italy to guest chef. We attended one such dinner with Mr. Seeger at Au Crocodile in Strasbourg.

The owner/chef, Emile Jung, who had just lost his third star and whose wife had become ill as a result, gave an impassioned speech; his central theme was that the preceding night's dinner was ample evidence that "American chefs have no fundamental grasp of their terroir, of traditions, and essentially, of flavour. It was only later that he discovered that--being good little Canadians--we spoke French. Gunter's meal redeemed the night however.

The next night, our Relais delegate from Vancouver, Rob Feenie, cooked with Chef Klein at L'Arnsbourg in rural Alsace. Stunning. The French media in attendance were a little disbelieving; perhaps they hailed from the same school of analysis as Jung. :huh:

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I will add my voice to those thanking you for giving us so much insight into your criteria for restaurant reviews. I wish we could get a checklist of this type from some other critics (no names included or necessary here), but I strongly suspect that unlike you, some of them really don't know how or why they come up with their ratings. :hmmm:  :raz:

[...]

Chinese: Noodle soups must have crystalline stocks. Greasy rolls. Indistinct dim sum. Unfettered, whole fish. Umami, that ebullient fifth taste. Crappy wine lists.

[...]

A crappy wine list obviously isn't good, but what about no wine list? I've eaten at plenty of good Chinese restaurants with no wine list at all, and I figure you have, too. So is your basic philosophy that a restaurant should either present a good wine list or none at all?

No, my philosophy is that restaurants should sell beverages that complement their food.

Thankfully, in the (considerable) universe of Vancouver's Chinese dining scene, there has been a considered evolution in wine pairing. Some restaurants have hired consultants to match dishes; others have put together more proforma agents' lists. But your point is well made; some Chinese restaurants have lethargic lists and occasionally, as you say, none at all.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Damn, Jamie, this is fantastic. I'm glad that I didn't have to follow you -- I've got no model friends and my ass doesn't look so good smeared with brown stuff.

Like johnnyd I really like the review of reviewing. As someone who dabbled a bit in reviewing back in the day, it's fascinating to see how thoughtfully codified your system is. How often do you see large differences in the scores for the three areas? For example, do you find places that hit the upper teens for food but are below ten for service and décor/ambience/cleanliness?

I don't spot wide discrepancies as much as I used to, Chris. Service levels are relatively high here because of the rigorous training provided entry-level service workers in the Casual Fine Dining sector.

What happens more often is that dreadful attitude that can overwhelm a night of joyful cooking. Fortunately, those servers typically go back to their careers in forensic accounting shortly thereafter. That's what happened at a memorable lunch at Le Cirque 2000; paved with parvenus it was surely one of the most pretentiously staffed rooms in Christendom.

And then there are the rooms that serve shockingly good food but whose food safety practices are, uhh, non-existent.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I will add my voice to those thanking you for giving us so much insight into your criteria for restaurant reviews. I wish we could get a checklist of this type from some other critics (no names included or necessary here), but I strongly suspect that unlike you, some of them really don't know how or why they come up with their ratings. :hmmm:  :raz:

[...]

Chinese: Noodle soups must have crystalline stocks. Greasy rolls. Indistinct dim sum. Unfettered, whole fish. Umami, that ebullient fifth taste. Crappy wine lists.

[...]

A crappy wine list obviously isn't good, but what about no wine list? I've eaten at plenty of good Chinese restaurants with no wine list at all, and I figure you have, too. So is your basic philosophy that a restaurant should either present a good wine list or none at all?

No, my philosophy is that restaurants should sell beverages that complement their food.

Thankfully, in the (considerable) universe of Vancouver's Chinese dining scene, there has been a considered evolution in wine pairing. Some restaurants have hired consultants to match dishes; others have put together more proforma agents' lists. But your point is well made; some Chinese restaurants have lethargic lists and occasionally, as you say, none at all.

No, my point is different. My point is that there are excellent Chinese restaurants with no wine list. I rarely drink anything but tea at Chinese restaurants worldwide and would hate to think that any Chinese restaurant serving wonderful food would get marked down simply because they don't serve wine. I rather doubt that there was a wine list at the great Chinese restaurants I ate at in Malaysia, for example. Beer they had, sure. Wine, I doubt it. Maybe at Xin. But would you drink wine with a dim sum lunch?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Chef Michael Allemeier is genuinely interested in what he does and what he can do for you.

Back in July 2004, I was fortunate enough to have a tour of Mission Hill with Michael Allemeier which ended with a tutored tasting of wines paired with some small plates led by the chef himself. I can't lay my hands on my notes so I can't give you a blow by blow of what we ate, but I do recall eating the most flavoursome oyster mushrooms I've ever had, grown locally of course. I do have my tasting notes and see that I was particulalry taken with the 2001 Chardonnay Estate, 2001 Syrah Estate and the 2001 Riesling Icewine Estate - it must have been a good year.

My respect for Michael increased immeasurably when he revealled that he has a sweet tooth and every Christmas he is given one of those huge Toblerone Bars you only ever seem to see at airports and that one year he ate the whole thing before lunch! Respect due not only for the act itself but for happily admitting that even as a top chef, his appetites extend beyond the finest ingredients to more mundane delights. Good man!

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