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


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I keep going over and over your photos/details/comments Jamie about that glorious and well documented meal at Mission Hill, and what strikes me so much is that I CAN UNDERSTAND IT! And, if I may be a bit immodest, I think I could make it, as well. It's just really great dishes made with quality ingredients prepared by hardworking, talented people who let the food speak for itself. That's why I keep coming back to your account of this meal. Smoked salmon, spinach, oysters, really "kicked up" cheese puffs, :biggrin: creamy soup with one luscious scallop with leeks and jerusalem artichokes, boar (which I've never had) pretty much a very flavorful wild pig, right, with root vegetables, chestnut souffle, creme anglaise, quince (something else I've never had, but intend to). And your description of the wine made this very novice student of wine not feel condescended to.

I really appreciate that.

Wishing you all the best in your travels and dining.

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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I am loving this blog!! :raz: Granted I am from Vancouver and am familiar with the Okanagan and the other areas that Jamie is going to visit but so far it has been a spectacular ride. And am I the only one who feels that I could fall in love with Jamie just from reading his prose??!! :cool:

Carla
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Wow, cedar jelly. That label gave me a "gotta get this right now!" feeling. How did it work into the menu? Is it as good as it sounds? Where can it be obtained? That sounds like a lovely dinner.

A cool thing about your job, as opposed to, say, my job, is that you get to have people cook for you, instead of the other way 'round. How often do you feel like cooking yourself, as in, just wanting some of your own cooking?

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Jamie,

You are a rock star.. I love reading your blog and hearing about your adventures. Your humor(Santa, an aging milk and cookies gourmand :laugh: ) Your photos, your knowledge and of course throwing in beautiful women has certainly captured my attention..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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gallery_12924_2177_13887.jpg

My god that kitchen is spotless

*drools *

How often do these guys get to use it ?

Yhey use the kitchen every day, throughout the year. The Terrace (where Chef Cuff is positioned during the season) has its own kitchen, but most of the prep goes though here - Mission Hill caters for up to 600 on-site.

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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Of Tension and Release: Tofino

Great cooking—like sex, fishing and Beethoven—is about tension and release. Today, we’re hoping to find all of these vital, life-sustaining components, and to celebrate them, some in front of you.

On the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, the remote town of Tofino hangs on for dear life through bombastic storms that roll in - all the way from Japan and Russia - clear across the Paciifc. Tofino is about a 50-minute flight from Vancouver in a twin-engine aircraft, or a two-hour ferry ride and several hour drive over the mountainous rainforest of the island. We take a wheeled aircraft; the chances of landing (as much as I adore the Beaver) are better on the inland runway (built as part of the RCAF Coastal Command in WWII) than in the oft-foggy harbour.

Although its terrible beauty is most obvious in the scud of clouds and moody sky, look down. Little miracles of survival astound at each step; this is a place of necessary resilience and adaptability. The fierce onshore winds sculpts the vegetation. The German word for this phenomenon is krumholtz—bent wood—bent to the will of an unstoppable, roaring ambition.

Up until a decade or so ago, Tofino was a coastal town in transition. Logging and the commercial fisheries, especially salmon, had begun to move on. It re-invented itself, almost by chance, as an eco-tourism resort, with whale watching, surfing, idling, hiking and the salmon sports fishery taking hold. But it’s also very much about the real estate; values have increased dramatically and the expansion of the hospitality industry in Tofino and its neighbouring town of Uculet has been hefty.

Marketing Tofino’s stormy, five month-long winter season was originally a challenge. But someone, in a flash of native brilliance (some credit Mayor Whitey Bernard), actually branded ‘The Storm Season’, especially in Germany, and now tourists come by the wide-body load throughout the winter to walk the beaches, admire the crashing surf and eat and drink, from the coastal larder, very well.

Well, I know it brings out my inner Nietzsche. For that matter, on a good day—when the rain blows horizontal—you can throw in a garnish of Schopenhauer. What better thing to do than take a chilled Dungeness crab back to one’s hot tub at The Wickaninnish Inn (aka ‘The Wick’), open a bottle of the local pinot gris and turn out the lights? The hotel trains spotlights on the crash and moan of the surf; on a good night the waves sound like a whole stadium of applause. Or when the wind begins to shriek in the arbutus and firs, an express freight about to derail.

But we’re not going to Tofino just to find our outer Lena Horne. Eva and I have been putting off a visit for too long. And frankly, having travelled so much in the past year, I would just love to hold her next to me. She played the Chopin étude last night with that Danish precision of hers. And then her right hand—in the scant 90 seconds the piece allows—found 1848 before returning home.

The Wickaninnish Inn (for authentic Canadian pronunciation, slur the last syllable as if you were slightly drunk) is one of the town’s resorts that got Tofino rolling again. It sits on the northern point of Chesterman Beach. We'll show you around when we land.

But the brilliance of yesterday is wrapped in a shawl of fog this morning; a clairvoyant couldn’t tell you what day it is. On most Sundays I take the morning off. Good newspapers make a warm duvet and strong coffee cleaves the mind, much as the little aircraft that we are just about to board will surely cut through this mist-damped air.

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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gallery_12924_2177_13887.jpg

My god that kitchen is spotless

*drools *

How often do these guys get to use it ?

Yhey use the kitchen every day, throughout the year. The Terrace (where Chef Cuff is positioned during the season) has its own kitchen, but most of the prep goes though here - Mission Hill caters for up to 600 on-site.

Fair play .

* Plots to abduct their kitchen porters *

beautiful floor to boot ! a phrase seldom used to discribe working environments.

tt
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OK, I bite: What are Roasted Adolescents?  Artichokes? Andouille? Two week old Brussel Sprouts?

(Thanks for reminding folks that an early diet of Stephen Leacock, Wayne and Shuster, hockey and Red River cereal fuels a nation of very funny people, of whom you're a shining example.)

Maggie,

I was able to convince the Roasted Adolescents to sign a release; photos this afernoon.

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 keep going over and over your photos/details/comments Jamie about that glorious and well documented meal at Mission Hill, and what strikes me so much is that I CAN UNDERSTAND IT!  And, if I may be a bit immodest, I think I could make it, as well.  It's just really great dishes made with quality ingredients prepared by hardworking, talented people who let the food speak for itself.  That's why I keep coming back to your account of this meal.  Smoked salmon, spinach, oysters, really "kicked up" cheese puffs, :biggrin: creamy soup with one luscious scallop with leeks and jerusalem artichokes, boar (which I've never had) pretty much a very flavorful wild pig, right, with  root vegetables, chestnut souffle, creme anglaise, quince (something else I've never had, but intend to).  And your description of the wine made this very novice student of wine not feel condescended to.

I really appreciate that.

Wishing you all the best in your travels and dining.

Thank you for your kind remarks, DLV. And please stay tuned!

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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While we're flying over to Tofino, here's a little something to set the mood . . .

Big Pete’s Salmon

When we were young, my brothers and me, we passed our summers on Pasley Island in Howe Sound, about an hour northwest of Vancouver. We thought about fish a great deal. In the mornings we harvested Dungeness crabs and sold them to our neighbours for 25 cents, five for a dollar. In those days, the 1960s, we’d strain to haul the traps over the gunwale of our Davidson dinghy—most days big males would even cling to the outside of the trap for their brief excursion to the pot.

We were humanitarian crabbers. Once back to the dock we would rip off the crab shells, back to front, then split the bodies in half just before boiling—the “no screams” method. Actually, it was an economic decision; ice was at a premium, reserved for our parents’ gin and tonics, and whole crabs claimed too much space in our coolers. We recycled the crab shells over the side of the float, the shiners and pile perch that lived there fattened up on crab guts, just in time to volunteer for bait duty.

In the afternoons we would head back out—my big brother Pete and me, this time with our fishing rods and Lucky Louie lures—completely confident that we’d come back with dinner. Mum might even give us a specification: “The Wallaces are coming and they eat like horses. How about a spring or coho around ten pounds? I’ll make egg sauce.” This was more a matter-of-fact statement than a question. “We’re going fishing, Mum, not grocery shopping,” Pete would say. The only thing left unasked was whether we could possibly catch a dozen eggs for the sauce too.

* * *

Pete and I would take a run down the long side of Whorlcombe Island, on the lee side if the westerly was up, our lines down just inside the tidal rip, then a slow troll back up against the flooding tide. It was the best part of the day, lazy, with the flashers down 30 pulls we would cut the engine back and just take it in, Shasta sodas in hand. The gulls and eagles would be riding off the heat of the islands, wings motionless, searching the tidelines too, watching us watching them.

We were the thin, tanned boys of summer, and if you didn’t count swimming in the ocean every day, we didn’t have a proper bath in two months. We messed about in boats constantly: sailing, fixing engines, considering the angle of the sea to the hull, clearing fouled props, exploring. If we had drowned in a storm those summers, heaven would have seemed a letdown.

I can’t remember an evening when we let Mum down, at least until the spectre of girls raised its lovely head. In an absolute pinch, if the wind was blowing, we could always cast for ling cod off the point. They are the least mentioned of coastal fish and delicious eating; we loved the alchemy of watching a ling’s flesh turn from transparent green to opalescent white over the embers.

Gutting a fish quickly and quietly with a freshly whetted knife is a rite of passage for a boy, like docking a boat smoothly, or hatcheting cedar rounds into even splits of kindling, or predicting the weather accurately. Cooking a fish quickly and quietly over an open fire gave us pleasure too: we had caught it, cleaned it and made it taste good. And few enjoy fish as much as those who have been on the sea all day, messing about in boats.

So smaller salmon would naturally find their way outside to the fire. Pete and I would split the fish to the backbone, oil the skin, slather Best Foods’ mayonnaise—cut with the juice of a lemon—on the flesh, and crack some pepper over it. Because we weren’t going to turn it, salmon grilled this way wants a slow fire and a lid of foil so that the cooking is equal parts grilling and roasting. The mayonnaise sealed the flesh and caught the wood smoke.

Bigger springs would be filleted, marinated and grilled (see the recipe below), but the trophy fish, anything over ten pounds or so, and some as much as thirty, found their way into Mum’s wood-burning oven to be baked. The method never varied: a slather of mayonnaise in the cavity, a tip-to-tail course of sliced lemons and wild dill or fennel tops, then all neatly sealed in foil. An hour later she would take it to the platter just warm, place it on a bed of salal and surround it with new potatoes and fresh carrots and peas from the garden. The vegetables would be plated first.

Then time seemed to slow as the salmon was brought to table, its skin peeled back and requests fired in from around the table, “gill, middle, tail!” And like all of life’s profound mysteries, working with an oven that was always either too hot or not enough, Mum’s spring salmon—just cooked through—would be as moist as the sea.

But here is the raison d’être for all big fish, that they should aspire to this glorious end. Mum would bring the tureen over from the sideboard, stir it with the ladle, and tease us: “Would anyone care for egg sauce?” she would ask.

And so we marked the time of summers, until in late August the setting sun, moving farther south each night, would finally set between the two Popham islands—it might light a boil of late-run herring through the narrow passage—and the cooling nights reminded us of that school was near. None of us dared mention it because certain miseries are best left unsaid. And because boys who mess about in boats all day should know no time, no time at all: Just the smell of the ocean, the cut of the wind, the angle of their hull as it takes the sea, and that the only thing that can hurt them here is themselves.

* * *

Big Pete’s Salmon

12-14 portions

Astound your friends and family with amazing pyrotechnics in the privacy of your own home.

I like the delicacy of baked or poached salmon (ballontine), but at summer cottages and on boats, sometimes the grill just screams out for action. You might find the collision of ingredients here looks more like a train wreck than delicious—you'll just have to trust us, and the thousands served.

1. Secure whole-fish fillets from a fresh, firm-fleshed wild six- to seven-pound spring or sockeye salmon from a reliable fishmonger. Have the fillets cut in front of you and have them wrapped flesh to flesh with waxed paper in between. Do not allow the fillets to be folded while they’re being wrapped.

2. Place the fillets on a flat surface. Run your fingers from tail to gill to make the pin bones surface and with your wife’s best eyebrow tweezers pluck the wee blighters carefully so as not to disturb the flesh.

3. With a very sharp knife trim the fillets removing the bottom half inch of belly meat and any fin joints.

4. Cut the fillets into serving portions on the bias in line with the angle of the gill. You’ll get about six to seven portions per side.

5. Prepare a marinade by placing the following ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until the mixture is thoroughly emulsified:

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

1/3 cup good soy sauce

2 oz. rye or Scotch whiskey

3 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp demerara sugar

2 scallions

In a non-aluminum pan, shallow pan, douse the salmon pieces in ¾ of the marinade, letting them rest flesh side down. Reserve the balance of the marinade. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two to three hours.

6. A half hour before firing the grill, remove salmon from fridge to a cool place.

7. Grill salmon skin side down over a medium hot fire for four to five minutes. Using a sharp steel spatula and chef’s tongs, turn for two minutes. The skin will remove easily and can be cooked further, then diced for a crcckly topping later. Splash a little of the reserved marinade over the finished fish.

8. Feign modesty as guests heap praise. But remember cardinal rule: Practice on family before friends, friends before clients.

9. Reserve at least two prime pieces for sandwiches the next day. You will need only salmon, pepper, mayonnaise and crusty bread.

10. Keep a friend by rinsing your mate’s eyebrow tweezers thoroughly.

11. Serve with buttered new potatoes, roasted young carrots, corn and a crisp salad.

This marinade works well for snapper, halibut etc. with the addition of ginger and more scallions.

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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Wow, cedar jelly.  That label gave me a "gotta get this right now!" feeling.  How did it work into the menu?  Is it as good as it sounds?  Where can it be obtained?  That sounds like a lovely dinner.

A cool thing about your job, as opposed to, say, my job, is that you get to have people cook for you, instead of the other way 'round.  How often do you feel like cooking yourself, as in, just wanting some of your own cooking?

I cook quite a bit, including last night, Abra. Later today I'll post some photos about what we served.

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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While we're flying over to Tofino, here's a little something to set the mood . . .

Big Pete’s Salmon

Can't wait for spring and fit weather to fire up the BBQ and try this - it just sounds mouth-wateringly good! Thank you.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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We are at YVR waiting for the fog to lift so that we can fly to Tofino. In the meantime, here's an image of our destination.

gallery_12924_2185_447487.jpg

The Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach, Tofino, BC

Arrived safe and sound in a little Navaho twin-engine and flew right over the resort on our way in. Off to eat - lunch for a change!

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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Jamie, great short story about you and your brother, Pete. Passages reminded me of Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick. Because of the way you wrote it, I care about the characters and now I want to know what's become of Pete, if you'd feel OK about telling us.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Jamie:

Your writing is so evocative. I can almost see you and Pete sprayed with salt air and water with your hair all bleached in the sun. I see you both running down to the dock to go sailing and fishing every afternoon as much to pass the time and have some fun as to catch that evening's supper.

Thank you. That was a really lovely read.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Good morning Jamie,

This has been the most wonderful trip around our lovely province.

I know you've previously mentioned unveiled threats and menaces from disgruntled owners/chefs in response to less than flattering notice they may have received from reviews of their business, and the topic has been well covered in other threads, but do you conversely restrain your enthusiasm on occasion when you may have been blown away by a dining experience, knowing from your experience that the increase in trade your recommendation bestows would seriously compromise the culinary or staffing capabilities of that operation?

Kind of a double edged sword; getting glowing notice, but unable to satisfy the increase in business! Has this happened on your watch?

How was the lamb, and when are you sleeping?!!

Eagerly.......

John

"Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos"

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Coming back at you in a few hours with a trove of copy and images from Tofino, plus a review of Chez Jim, the controversial new restaurant in Vancouver's West Side neighbourhood of Kitsilano.

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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Good morning Jamie,

This has been the most wonderful trip around our lovely province.

I know you've previously mentioned unveiled threats and menaces from disgruntled owners/chefs in response to less than flattering notice they may have received from reviews of their business, and the topic has been well covered in other threads, but do you conversely restrain your enthusiasm on occasion when you may have been blown away by a dining experience, knowing from your experience that the increase in trade your recommendation bestows would seriously compromise the culinary or staffing capabilities of that operation?

Kind of a double edged sword; getting glowing notice, but unable to satisfy the increase in business! Has this happened on your watch?

How was the lamb, and when are you sleeping?!!

Eagerly.......

John

What an interesting question, John. The short answer to your question is that we strive to be honest and straightforward. Occasionally we're entertaining as well, I hope.

In my daylight career, which is in property investment and development, we operate under the precept of "Full, Plain and True Disclosure" i.e. that when we go to offer a partnership investment, that there is complete transparency in disclosing all of the analyses and findings of our own due diligence.

I see no reason why that shouldn't apply to what I do at night. I find it alarming how cavalier how some so-called 'critics' or 'reviewers' are in dissing restaurants and their proprietors--they are businesses after all. I know full well that the financial sections of the very same newspapers would not allow their reporters the same editorial latitude, i.e. a two hour (often single) visit before eviscerating a company.

Therefore I think it mandatory that all restaurants be evaluated on a template, within reasonable boundaries of equivalency and equality (i.e. on the 'grid' that I mentioned previously) but also in terms of present conditions, or, as we say, "what we know to be true today."

That being said, I wouldn't give any one critic or reviewer too much heft (me especially), whether the review be good, bad or downright ugly. Rather, I think it's the commonwealth of opinion that eventually speaks to trading potential.

Take Mistral, which recently opened to largely favourable reviews versus Watermark, which didn't. The former is booked to capacity almost every night, the latter is not. Although they are vastly different both in terms of scale and style, one speaks from the heart. Fortunately, I think, the critical mass of critical opinion recognized the differences early on, and directed readers accordingly.

Cheers,

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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I've read such good things about Wickanninish, I can't wait to read about your experiences there.

But what about the cedar jelly?  I'm seriously craving it already.

Abra,

I'm finding the supplier for you, as well as that for some other seriously Canadian products.

Jamie

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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