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


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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.

Pete is alive and well and still fishing. Avidly in fact. With his children grown and gone, he's finding more opportunities to slip up the coast in pursuit of big salmon.

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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This afternoon (about 4pm PST), I look forward to sharing my review of the controversial new Chez Jim (it opened quietly in Kits this past weekend) with you. I'll forewarn you though: it's necessarily a very tough review.

And this evening, I'll be posting the Tofino images and copy--including a lovely lunch at Sobo (fish tacos and pulled pork featured mightily) and last night's dinner at The Pointe Restaurant at the Wick, chef Andrew Springett presiding.

Both of those went much better than the fiasco at Chez Jim.

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'm really enjoying this blog, Jamie. To the point that it's interferring with my work...

These little teasers you keep throwing up about the coming posts are a little like chinese water torture :smile: What am I going to do until you post that Chez Jim review?

Oh yeah...I'm at work...I'm supposed to be training these people...sigh.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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This afternoon (about 4pm PST), I look forward to sharing my review of the controversial new Chez Jim

Both of those went much better than the fiasco at Chez Jim.

Could this be the under-the-radar fly-by-night Chez Jim that was closed down by a consortium of VPD Vice Squad, Narcotics Squad, and HazMat Team over the weekend?

My Kits informants (sorry Jamie, I've sworn never to reveal my sauces) tell me that there was a raid in the early hours of Sunday morning. Several party-goers were forcibly removed from the premises, and left cooling their heels on the sidewalk, while a very animated host, possibly a certain M Chatters, discussed procedings with several of Vancouver's finest.

"I tell you" exclaimed Chatters, "that I'm cooking crap. That's crap, not crack, officer". "Not according to reports we've gathered, sir. There have been several reports of a steady stream of undesirables frequenting these premises" the officer was overheard to say, pointing at the motley crew being processed in the cold rain. Eye-witnesses inform that several members of the Chatters clan were assembled, included Morris's brothers, Arfamo', Gizamo', and sister Waitamo'. Also present was Chinese mob boss Gang Hay, rumoured to be the new owner of Kung Pow Phat Soy, and his consort Gang Ho. As they were packed into the paddy wagon, an officer was heard to order "Hay, Ho, off we go".

Quite a crowd gathered to watch proceedings, including some late night restaurant staff, who seemed to be encouraging the police to use maximum force, and who wanted Mr Chatters to review their middle fingers, whatever that means. After the premises was cleared for entry, Hazmat team members removed several items of interest, including a still smouldering piece of unidentified meat, several cameras and a laptop computer.

Yellow police tape and curbside garbage, left by the patrons of the nearby Hammy hotdog cart, (Hanger Banger is their dog du jour ) is now all that remains of the episode.

Kits residents can sleep safely again, knowing that another unlicensed chop-shop has been taken down.

Edited by jtcookie (log)

"Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos"

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After the premises was cleared for entry, Hazmat team members removed several items of interest, including a still smouldering piece of unidentified meat, several cameras and a laptop computer.

Yellow police tape and curbside garbage, left by the patrons of the nearby Hammy hotdog cart, (Hanger Banger is their dog du jour ) is now all that remains of the episode.

According to an eyewitness account from Chef Sven Chen Lenson, Executive Chef of the Kung Pow Phat Soy Ristorante who was an invited guest at the Grand Opening of Chez Jim, this smouldering piece of protein was contraband in the form of Supersized Elk Balls containing illegally obtained penguin meat.

Trusty server Bjorn Thorsenblorgenstadtlanderen tried valiantly to extinguish the flames, but local authorities suspect that it was a case of arson started by none other than rival Chef Huggy Bear. Rumour has it that the flash point was a dish of flaming GBP catapulted over from the Hammy hotdog cart. Stunned witnesses refuse to comment.

Film at 4:00 p.m. PST.

FOOTNOTE: If you think we're all certifiable, this is the source of our lunacy. We now return you to our regularly scheduled Foodblog.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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City Diner

One Evening at Chez Jim

Review by: E. Thurston Slake

The years have not been kind to Jamie Maw. His celebrity chef status has been on hold while the receivers attempt to resolve the mile-long line-up of unpaid suppliers from his last fiasco, Kung Pow Phat Soy. Now, just months later, Maw has already re-entered the restaurant scene, seemingly with new backers if not new energy.

Promising a novel concept quite separate from the Sino-Swedish fusion diner that was Kung Pow (itself a twist on the menu at the late, lamentable Beige Ling), Maw has launched yet again in the trendy Lower Kits neighbourhood of ForMiCa—Fourth Avenue between Milestone’s and Capers.

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The décor at Maw's new 'Chez Jim' reveals itself

with an almost Trumpian vulgarity.

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Maw's new restaurant is littered with shelves of cookbooks

and the arcana of culinary anthropology. What a shame

he hasn't read any of them.

But credit him one thing—cajones the size of Bratislava - some of those suppliers were mighty sore, and much poorer for the experience.

“It’s a highly innovative concept,” Maw allowed in a recent interview, “food with humour.”

“The suppliers from your recent string of disasters didn’t think them very amusing,” I said.

“Humour is where you find it,” Maw replied. “And I’m sorry, truly sorry. But even though those restaurants failed, one thing stood out,” he said.

“And what would that be?” I asked.

“The funny food sold well, even in times of adversity, like when I was paying C.O.D. at the back door.”

“Such as?” I asked.

“Dishes like ‘Blackened Group,’ he said. “And ‘Regional Haggis.’ Sold out every night.”

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Could this bottle of Laughing Stock Vineyards

spell the future for Chez Jim?

My first visit to Chez Jim was in early December, just as office Christmas parties were in full swing in major restaurants across the town. But this restaurant, which is difficult to find, was nearly deserted save for several servers in Maw’s trademark décolletage-revealing tops and Lycra trousers.

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Maw's 'man' - Mr. King - guards the restaurant

entrances against livid suppliers.

The menu is a model of brevity, perhaps reflecting Maw’s painful relationship with ranchers, fish-brokers and farmers clear across the province. In fact there were only a few items on offer:

The caviar was served with Burrowing Owl (aka ‘The Dirty Bird’) pinot gris ’04, and Chateau Jacquesson NV Champagne. It was the last one ounce pail of caviar in the house, though. Maw plans to replace it with a more sustainable product in the new year—salted herring roe. “They probably won’t even notice,” he commented under his breath.

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Get an eyeful: Maw's food photography -- in this case

a pot of Russian caviar, his last -- is as unfocused as his cooking.

Aunty’s Pasti Platter (an ugly twist on bridge club finger food)

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The antipasto platter at Chez Jim leaves little to

chance, and at $95 it shouldn't. In fairness, the

smoked trout mousse was better than average.

Greens with bosc pear and pear vinaigrette (amusingly retro, I suppose)

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Greens and pear salad with pear vinaigrette was served in a surplus war canoe.

Seven Hour Sacrificial Lamb

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The 'Seven Hour Sacrificial Lamb'. As we were to find out later, dinner service would take almost as long.

Cheesier Than Mariah Carey Scalloped Potatoes

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Roasted Adolescents

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Brandi’s Tart

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Sommelier-Pianist Eva also wheeled out

the dessert trolley, but the tart was clearly

store-bought.

The lamb, potatoes and “roasted adolescents” (actually roasted young carrots) were accompanied by that Barossa triple threat, Spinefex ’03. Although the sauce accompanying the lamb, which was trumped with crème fraiche, redeemed the wizened boneless leg, the effects of its lengthy, low temperature braise were all too clear. The potatoes were indeed a fitting tribute to Ms. Carey: cheesy to a fault, especially with the half-inch layer of emmenthal—the culinary equivalent of a very serious wardrobe malfunction or simple lack of judgement.

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We could hardly blame the excellent servers for the

extended kitchen lags. Having arrived at Chez Jim on

the dot of seven, we wouldn't see our entrees until

well past nine. One explanation: The chef took frequent

'time-outs' for self-described 'Dutch Cleansers.'

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Miss Dena, one of the expert service staff, partially rescued

the Home Ec 10-quality cooking.

The service was the highlight of the evening, equally as stunning as the meal was exorable. Seemingly a collection of retired La Perla lingerie models, each server was fastidiously knowledgeable about the wine and food pairings and several recognized me. One said, “You can call me scrumptious or yummy in your little review, Mr. Slake, but don’t dare say that about chef Maw’s food. He doesn’t like those words.”

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Scullery maid Michele pearl dives after

service. If she's looking for pearls of wisdom

in the cooking though, she's looking in

the wrong place.

Fear not Michele and Dena. The food was neither scrumptious nor yummy. And good God, I swear that lemon tart was store-bought, from Pattiserie LeBeau if my antennae were on the money, and paired with limoncello?

Why, I don’t find that funny at all.

Chez Jim

ForMiCa, Kitsilano

Rating (out of 20)

Service: 18.5

Décor: 11.5

Wine: 14

Food: 10

Overall: 11.5

Multiple-award winning culinary journalist E. Thurston Slake is the Senior Editor of Food and Modern Living for City Diner magazine. He can also be seen on City Diner Cooks! Saturday mornings on BZTV.

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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Well Jamie I don't care what mean old E. Thurston Howell Whoever says, everything looks wonderful to me. Having said that, I'd still like to see a photo of the finished Seven Hour Sacrificial Lamb................... uh, unless that photo is the finished product. :blink:

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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Well Jamie I don't care what mean old E. Thurston Howell Whoever says, everything looks wonderful to me.  Having said that, I'd still like to see a photo of the finished Seven Hour Sacrificial Lamb...................  uh, unless that photo is the finished product.  :blink:

Lamb sushi for you! Unfortunately (well, perhaps not), no photographic images exist of the finished lamb. Mr. King made sure of that, even patting down the servers as they left the restaurant just before breakfast on Sunday morning.

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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Well Jamie I don't care what mean old E. Thurston Howell Whoever says, everything looks wonderful to me.  Having said that, I'd still like to see a photo of the finished Seven Hour Sacrificial Lamb...................  uh, unless that photo is the finished product.  :blink:

Lamb sushi for you! Unfortunately (well, perhaps not), no photographic images exist of the lamb. Mr. King made sure of that, even patting down the servers as they left the restaurant just before breakfast on Sunday morning.

Jamie

Damn, too bad Jamie. Once again "the silence of the lamb." :rolleyes:

(Note to self: begin drinking much later in the day.)

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

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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Tofino

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On Nature's Edge: Three Chefs, One Purpose

For a small town, heavily dependent on seasonal tourist traffic, the quality of the cooking in Tofino is high and often intense. Thank the nearby larder, where food fairly leaps from the sea.

First Nations' peoples found it too: the extraordinary art of the coastal indigenous tribes speaks to the wealth of the ocean and forests, and their extraordinary Potlatch rituals. Potlatch was a celebration that focussed on the gifting of objects and food, the latter in quantities so generous that some guests would become ill from over-eating. Near Tofino, the Nootka Nation feasted frequently.

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'The Wick' features First Nations' carvings in its public areas.

The restaurant market in Tofino is necessarily focussed on several different sectors: the high-end culinary tourist interested in local foods (and wines) well-prepared; the eco-tourist who might take a more exploratory and active interest in whale-watching, ocean kayaking or hiking; and the local, who wants to eat dinner. All budget levels are important to the survival of the culinary community, and there's lots of cross-over.

There are the usual challenges associated with a resort community, especially the training and long-term retention of qualified staff. Second, ingredients not grown locally are expensive to ship north from the major hubs of Vancouver or the provincial capital, Victoria. Finally, there's a certain irony, (as Wickaninnish proprietor Charles McDiarmid took pains to point out) in the supply chain: a number of prime, local ingredients must suffer inspection or processing some distance away, only to be returned several days later, not always as appealing.

But intrepid chefs, such as those I'll introduce you to in a minute, can define their locality and their provenance, at each budget level. The picture at the top of this page speaks to exactly that: this morning at Trilogy Seafoods in Tofino, chef Andrew Springett and I brought these bruisers (Dungeness crabs) back from the dock for a swift trip into his kitchen.

SoBo

But our story begins earlier, on Sunday afternoon. We wanted to revisit SoBo, a restaurant at the Botanical Gardens

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The restaurant, first served its fine fish tacos (halibut and salmon), pulled pork sandwiches and other casual food from a van.

Last year the owners, Artie and Lisa Ahier, moved the main kitchen inside, still dispensing summer lunches from the van, but also serving an indoor evening dining room with a delightful terrace facing the gardens.

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Hmm . . . and I was taught it was men over 40 . . .

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Marrying a wine list rich in Artie's selection of local bottles, Lisa delivers very good kitchen food to locals and long distance visitors.

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Including delicious soups. Here, smoked salmon and surf clam chowder with roasted garlic and dill; shrimp, Veracruzan-style; and butternut squash soup with toasted seeds.

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The pulled pork sandwiches, with onion rings coated in cayenne and three different kinds of corn meal for more impactful crunch. The fish tacos were also as advertised, a piscine contest of salmon, halibut, avocado and salsa.

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By 3:30 the sun was already low. We walked the beach, and then,

reluctantly, turned our backs on the rocks that looked like orcas

in the sand. We returned to the Wickaninnish, and watched the colours of grey and blue slowly collude.

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Time to light the fire in our room, draw the bath,

and watch the sky come black.

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The orca (killer whale) informs many oral histories and myths of the coastal First Nations peoples.

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As does the raven. The Wick features a lot of terrific wall art and rough garden sculptures; these massive doors bid warm welcome.

Getting to The Pointe

At The Pointe Restaurant (which does indeed sit on the north point of Chesterman Beach, just above the roar of surf), chef Andrew Springett has his line chefs prepped for a slower, off-season night. In the summer, he and his brigade will turn more than 120 seats indoors, 50 on the beach for a crab boil, and another 50 in the Salal private dining room. And then there's room service, decidedly popular for those seeking solace in the view, with their own crabs and a bottle. The dining tables sit under soaring, hand-adzed cedar beams, and huge Haida and Nootka sculptures.

Chef Springett's resume numbers positions at Vancouver's Four Seasons and Metropolitan hotels, and Toronto's North 44. He also led Canada's Bocuse d'Or team in Lyon and was a gold medallist at the World Culinary Olympics. Great, as they say, those accolades, together with about five dollars, will get you a pint of beer.

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There are other indigenous items on display as well. Here, from the Lighthouse Brewing Co., their excellent local brews: Beacon IPA and Race Rocks Ale (aka The Cat in the Hat). :smile:

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A few imported ingredients, such as this torchon of Quebec foie gras, foie gras discs (with caramelized Okanagan pear) augmented Springett's winter pantry.

We're here tonight not because he's one of the province's leading chefs, but because, at the age of 38, after two years here, Springett is also at the top of his local game. But I wanted to see something more. Could Springett pull off the grace-notes demanded by a Relais Chateaux property, while still doing justice to the rusticated beauty on the other side of the windows?

Like the best designers, and despite the clamour of ingredients arguing to get onto the plate, he maturely understands complexity without complication, smooth lines, a nascent simplicity of purpose. For three of us, he served smaller portions of his nightly a la carte items, each a tour de force of nature, the nature just outside his door.

Question answered. Tonight, he succeeded in understanding his ingredients and knowing just when to get out of their way.

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An amuse of smoky squid (not-pictured), was just kissed smoky by the grill and served with portabellas; this clove-spiced local duck breast (the pretty presentation already scuffed-up in my rush to taste it), accompanied by parsnip fondant, apricot-apple ginger compote and beans was autumn on the wing.

There were several more courses served; the fire, in a central copper box, burned on.

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A collection of five chocolate desserts was served with this flight of ports

- perhaps in celebration of the any old Port in a Storm Season.

And so we slept the sleep of the dead: rosy-cheeked from our beach walk, bath and fire, a fine meal, pints, wine and Port.

Pasticceria Conradi

This morning chef Springett and I went on ingredient patrol. But first, of course, we had to eat. In the town of Tofino, his former executive pastry chef, Matthias Conradi, has recently opened a multi-tasking (it has to) pattiserie - pizzeria - trattoria. On Saturday afternoons he cooks the food of his native Bavaria: ham hocks and dumplings.

But today he was making breakfasts and pastries, enough for all the village, it seemed.

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His pizzas, from this Woodstone oven, are market-directed: delicious and reasonably-priced.

Gone Fishing

A drive down to the town's working fishery harbour . . .

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On a sparkling morning.

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The day's call board at Trilogy Fish Co.

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These smoked albacore sides are easily one of my favourites - sliced with just a little crème fraiche and chive. In its unsmoked form, it's one of the plushest dominoes of sashimi extant, and unlike its bluefin cousin, sustainable.

Although those crabs upthread will be a feast as well. By the way, they cost $5 a pound; $3.75 went to the fisherman.

And so this little story of three chefs, and how they appeal to three disparate audiences draws to an end. All are thriving, if working - like most in the cooking trades - just a little too hard.

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Tomorrow comes early, and from all our friends in Tofino, and from Eva and me, we send you this Canadian Christmas angel - born of the rainforest and mighty North Pacific.

Good Night.

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, thanks for your patience. Here's a good resource for Cedar Jelly and other unique Canadian condiments and ingredients of interest.

Cedar Jelly has many applications: linament, slickin' the bobsled runners, limbering up a new pair of goalie pads, cooking salmon on a plank etc. And of course, when used for lovemaking in the Canadian style, the whole darn igloo smells like Christmas!

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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And of course, when used for lovemaking in the Canadian style, the whole darn igloo smells like Christmas!

Thanks, Jamie for the tip .. and actually, the whole thing! :shock: I will see if there is a schmaltz cedar jelly knockoff for Hanukkah ... :hmmm:

aha, a recipe ...

and, should I smell like my cedar closet, at least I will remain moth-free ...

Cedar jelly : There's no mistaking this jelly. Eating it is like chewing on a cedar branch. To accompany game, lamb and all dark meats. Adds aroma to many dishes.
source

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Let's hear it for critics who can make fun of themselves as well as you!

Thanks Pan. I can only assure you that making fun of myself (big target) requires little effort. And yes, I wish that Slake would make fun of himself. But at least my dangling modifier's more prominent.

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 useful Boy recipe (see story upthread) is straightforward and delicious, Russell. Once you've located the graham flour, the assembly takes all of five minutes. Then it's into the oven for about the time required for a restorative pre-tea Sunday nap. Just set the alarm.

As regards the additions, I grab whatever's handy. Dried cranberries work very well on their own--just throw in the whole package (170 grams or about 6 ounces) minimum. Currants and raisins (a generous handful of each) also promote the toast, especially when it's simply oozing with butter.

Thank you for posting the recipe. Where did you end up sourcing your graham flour, I don't recognize that brand? :smile:

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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What cheek !

The shyster proprietor of Chez Jim offers stolen ashtrays ( from fashonable London restaurants ) for his guests usage. And no doubt trying to attain design kudos in the same stroke !.

Or is it to gain an edge for when the Guide Michelin starts awarding stars in ForMiCa ?

It`s not cricket !

Edited by transfattyacid (log)
tt
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[This useful Boy recipe (see story upthread) is straightforward and delicious, Russell. Once you've located the graham flour, the assembly takes all of five minutes. Then it's into the oven for about the time required for a restorative pre-tea Sunday nap. Just set the alarm.

As regards the additions, I grab whatever's handy. Dried cranberries work very well on their own--just throw in the whole package (170 grams or about 6 ounces) minimum. Currants and raisins (a generous handful of each) also promote the toast, especially when it's simply oozing with butter.

Thank you for posting the recipe. Where did you end up sourcing your graham flour, I don't recognize that brand? :smile:

Hello cayenne,

After much searching, I found the graham flour at Capers on West Fourth Avenue, right under my nose. It was a good product and worked well in the recipe.

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_2192_29937.jpg

What cheek !

The shyster proprietor of  Chez Jim   offers stolen ashtrays ( from fashonable London restaurants ) for his guests usage. And no doubt trying to attain design kudos in the same stroke !.

Or is it to gain an edge for when the Guide Michelin starts awarding stars in ForMiCa ?

It`s not cricket !

Sharp eye, TFA! As much as hate to admit it, I actually purchased the Bibendum ashtray about a year ago during a lunchtime visit there with Mr. Andy Lynes. I have a collection of restaurant ephemera that's especially intense in Conran: Bluebird, Quaglino's, Le Pont de la Tour etc., about 10 quid a pop. In those cases, the souvenir was considerably more memorable than the meal.

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Here's a little more about my misbegotten adventures in London.

I also have a picture of Peter Langan passed out under a table at his London brasserie in the 80s and framed matchbooks from J. Sheeky et al. The trophy piece from London though is the framed key fob from my old room at The Connaught Hotel, circa late 80s.

Now that I think about it, the artfully contrived restaurant memorabilia here at Chez Jim is worth the price of admission alone. Perhaps during off-service hours (i.e. between noon and midnight, daily) we'll arrange for private tours, conducted (as that cold accretion known as Slake alluded) by our knowledgeable service staff.

Sincerely,

The Proprietor

Chez Jim

"Where Important People Come to Dine, and Then Leave"

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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Vancouver

Good morning,

What do chefs and food writers eat on their night off?

Aching for our bed last night, yet not wanting to let you down, back in Vancouver Eva and I plunged down the street to one of our favourite Japanese restaurants, The Octopus's Garden, located near the beach. It's a low pressure place with very good food and a sense of humour.

When it comes to Japanese food there are a great many choices in these precincts - about 400 at last count, from izakaya kitchen food to very high-end rooms such as Tojo's.

We had a very pleasant meal, seated at the counter, with the always amusing Sado San propositioning us with the day's catch. Seeing all that crab and albacore in Tofino made our choices straightforward though. I'll post the images and my usual diatribe in a few hours.

Because right now I'm up early to get some work done, and also to prepare to shoot a promotional vid for the kick-off for Dine Out Vancouver.

Dine Out has become a local phenomenon. Between January 20th and February 2nd, participating restaurants (a lot) offer special three course menus for $15, $25 and $35. By any standards it's very good value. It packs dining rooms - from casual boites to elegant restaurants such as West during the otherwise slower shoulder season between Christmas and Valentine's Day.

The promotion, which is organized and implemented by Tourism Vancouver, makes life difficult for food critics. If I'm to write about regular menus during the fortnight, I'll have to journey to non-participating restaurants.

The shoot is at Granville Island, Vancouver's central market, located in the middle of the city on False Creek. While there, I'll take a few shots of favourite shops, including The Stock Market, an interesting and well executed idea.

Tonight (t'is the season) we're off to two downtown hotels. At the first, I'll take a look at 'passed food' during a reception. And at the second, the annual Christmas dinner for Eva's book club, we'll look in on a catered meal in festive surroundings.

Back at you shortly,

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 began this thread last week by saying that Vancouver is an interesting culinary laboratory; the threads of its cuisine are still knitting themselves whole.

Now that we're back in the city, and to keep you amused until my next report, I thought that a little historical perspective might be in order. Here then, a look back at Vancouver's early dining history.

Living in the Garden of Eating (expurgated here), sheds a bit more light on the culinary collaboration between farmer, rancher, fisherman and chef.

And this piece defines our local culinary epochs . . .

ROCKET SCIENCE: THE ARUGULA PARADOX

Expurgated from Ministry of Food Public Advocacy Bulletin: MOF/04-B4U-I812 Province of British Columbia

The emerging science of food anthropology reveals more about us than we might care to know, writes F. Morris Chatters, recently appointed Associate Research Level II Assistant to the Associate Deputy Minister for Food.

During the culinary Dark Ages—that time now universally known as the Pre-Arugula Epoch to food anthropologists—certain sinister dilemmas faced early food adventurers, foragers and risk-takers.

Just one such dilemma: Whether it took more courage to eat the first oyster or the first dessert. Food anthropologists now pretty much agree that the oyster was the more daunting—it was typically harder to open and required specialized hardware such as a rock and a hard place.

A rump group of contrarians, however, forcefully maintains that the mega-dessert known as “Death by Chocolate” (1978) was, by right of its very name alone probably equally frightening, especially if you’d just eaten a lot of oysters.

But now much larger issues confront leading food anthropologists. Debate rages in university food departments, although locally, both University of BC and Simon Fraser University food professors have recently lost their faculties, mainly due to government cutbacks or unfortunate local wine pairings.

That fierce debate is focused on the precise chronology of iconic food events, both Pre- and Post-Arugula, and even during the actual Arugula Epoch itself. The debate began at England’s University of Wessex (not incidentally, the British refer to arugula as “rocket”), fomented by the controversial food-denialist Dr. Ewan Auger in his seminal essay, A Brief History of Fennel. In a footnote to the essay, Auger categorically states that both rocket (that is, arugula) and restaurant patio heaters were invented in Great Britain. Not only did he get it badly wrong, but little did he know the trouble he would soon unleash the world over.

To set the record straight, the Pre-Arugula period (1971-1978) is characterized by certain iconic benchmarks in time, such as, “Hi, my name’s Brad, and I’ll be your waiter tonight” (1972), salad bar sneeze-shields (1973), Kressman’s screw top wine in the handy one-litre format (1974), and the advent of pepper mills the size of outdoor chess pieces (1971-present day). Culinary historians now largely agree upon these dates.

What remains more controversial, however, and what has yet to be settled by accurate carbon dating, was the introduction of uncomfortable hotel-banquet chairs and pink nylon napkins into high-end Chinese restaurants. Dr. Baugh Lam, dean of UBC’s Faculty of Food and Modern Living, says “We know now that the plastic grocery bags [that the pink napkins were recycled from] went into production in 1976. Unfortunately carbon dating has proven wildly inaccurate, though, likely because the bags themselves were recycled from leisure suits. And any hope for accurate DNA sampling appears a dead-end too – what little chop suey actually adhered to the napkins is either virtually untraceable or simply petrifying.”

When we confronted Dr. Lam with the clear evidence of pink nylon napkins in a 1975 brochure touting the Double Ecstasy Fulfillment Gardens Restaurant in Richmond, he replied, “Well there you go—this is never easy and it’s far from being an exact science.”

During the actual Arugula Epoch, which lasted a scant two decades beginning in late-1978, some issues have recently been clarified while others remain clouded by time. For instance, lengthy menu descriptions (1992-1998), noting the provenance of each ingredient, its organic growing methodology, its harvesting procedures and the maiden name of its mother arouse not a whit of controversy.

What does raise a bone of contention though, especially amongst steakhouse anthropologists, is the advent of sautéed spinach (as opposed to the undeniably Pre-Arugula creamed spinach) as a side dish. “The 2001 fire at the head offices of Hy’s Steakhouses on Davie Street wiped out any definitive proof,” says Dr. Sybil Kronick of Simon Fraser University’s Department of Culinary Anthropology and Food Styling. “Although we’re quite sure it was 1995, I said more or less the same thing about the baba au rhum/apple crumble changeover date, and just look at how out to lunch I was there,” Dr. Kronick continued in her usual self-effacing way. “But we’re missing the real point here, anyway, because the whole missing link controversy is of much greater importance.”

Dr. Kronick was, of course, referring to those dining items that positively link the epochs: Hy’s Seasoning Salt, supersized pepper mills, and bratwurst. “Hy’s Seasoning Salt clearly connects the dots,” Dr. Kronick said brazenly. “But if you want the real missing links, look to quality bratwurst, especially the ones that split when amateur grill-dads barbecue them. Because they definitely connect the epochs too,” she said.

Dr. Kronick makes a strong case, and even her most out-spoken critics seem at least in tacit agreement on these points. “Now, you could argue that vertical presentation in general, and the addition of high-rise rosemary spears to roasted garlic mashed potatoes in particular, were important Arugula-era icons,” says chef Todd Ling of Vancouver’s renowned fusion house Beige Ling. “Equally, you could make the valid point that short, cryptic menu descriptions like ‘Recent Veal’ and ‘Regional Haggis’ are definitively post-Arugula. On the other hand, ‘Blackened Group’ is clearly Cajun and therefore pre-Arugula. But clearly, quality bratwurst—especially venison with minced prune — crosses all the boundaries.”

And as for Hy’s Seasoning Salt, we asked? In response, Ling pulled a yellowed copy of the September, 1968 edition of Vancouver Life magazine from the cookbook shelf in his tiny office. He pointed to an advertisement for the legendary financial district hangout known as Hy’s Encore. Pictured in the ad is the restaurant’s founder, Hy Aisenstat, doctoring a fowl with Hy’s Seasoning Salt, a large peppermill and a lashing of cognac. The caption reads, “At Hy’s, no tern goes unstoned.” “Clearly Pre-Arugula,” Ling said, “but a technique still much in evidence today in finer steakhouses.”

* * *

“By-catch, sustainable, and fly-caught, zeez are the buzzwords for the Post-Arugula generation,” says devoutly heterosexual Kitsilano bistro proprietor Alphonse d’Aprés-Toi. For once he is referring to his ingredients and not his libido. “At Chez Alphonse we really concentrate on these things,” he says as he fondles the generous lobes of a nubile foie gras. “To be sure, bratwurst will always remain important,” he says, playing the French card, “but only ze way we make it here—browned off in ze quick sauté and zen napping in the sauce of low morels.”

Meanwhile, University of British Columbia’s Dr. Lam and his colleaugues aren't so sure. “Blindfold some restaurant critics and then ask them to tell the difference between a wild, line-caught, quick-bled winter-spring salmon versus the traditional farmed product and I guarantee you that nine times out of ten they’ll be 50-50 or so,” Lam claims.

Lam claims that he and his fellow academics are also seeing ample evidence of a new trend, called Retro Pre-Arugula, showing up on menus. “It’s sort of a guilty pleasure, but also a finger in the eye of your Arugula-obsessed parents,” Lam says. “Cut an iceberg lettuce—about the size of what Mayor Larry Campbell stuffs in his fedora—in half and slather a pint of Thousand Island dressing over it. Lighthouse brand is a superior product. Then my wife and I like to open a case of beer and turn out the lights.”

Interestingly, however, "the distinctions between the three periods are most clearly evidenced when examining restaurant service, not food,” Dr. Lam said in italics for emphasis. It’s soon clear that Lam is referring to the notorious “Quality Check” question that has seemingly adapted to changing times. “Pre-Arugula,” Lam says, “Brad, your waiter, would stop by to interrupt your carefully rehearsed entreaties of seduction by asking ‘Is everything all right?’ But these days, his name is Ethan and he’ll ask ‘Is everything meeting or exceeding your taste expectations?’ This is much worse, of course, because it can make your date think she's buying into something much more than dinner.”

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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Splendid blondes, er, blog, Jamie. I'll take the plunge and ask the question that's on the tip of everyone's tongue...who the heck are all those models you hang out with??? Ok, Eva we get, but the others? Are you like a total chick magnet, or what?

Thanks for the Forbes link - what a cool product list they have. I've written them asking for cedar and balsam jellies, and spruce tips. My husband will be delighted to hear about how they will soon be enhancing our igloo.

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Splendid blondes, er, blog, Jamie.  I'll take the plunge and ask the question that's on the tip of everyone's tongue...who the heck are all those models you hang out with???  Ok, Eva we get, but the others?  Are you like a total chick magnet, or what?

Thanks for the Forbes link - what a cool product list they have.  I've written them asking for cedar and balsam jellies, and spruce tips.  My husband will be delighted to hear about how they will soon be enhancing our igloo.

They're good friends and members of Eva's book club. Michele is a clinical psychologist who specializes in dysfunctional (toasted?) adolescents; Dena is a financial communications director who retired last year, married this summer, and is expecting her first child in the new year. Eva and Michele are also wonderful figure skaters, so to speak - they get the big air.

I'm delighted that you made the Cedar Jelly (et al) connection - great stuff!

Cheers,

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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