Another delicious birthday feast

The start of March, the start of a new year for me.

After sparking wine and ceviche over at Sandy’s (darn, I knew I forgot to take some pictures) we headed off in a taxi… I was kept in the dark until we pulled up to Rock Lobster on Ossington, just north of Queen. I clap my hands with glee – I’ve wanted to eat here for a while, but it’s <whine>such a long streetcar ride from home</whine>. Never mind that: we’re here now.

We open the door – the place is rocking! quite full, they’ve got a table in the back we can have (which is great, because the music volume was a little lower there). I like the tunes they were playing all night: mix of 60s-70s-80s pop and rock.

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Chocolate truffles

There are a few pieces I still have on my list of things that I want on my portfolio page. Chocolate truffles is one of those things. I researched pictures online, and wanted to do something that felt more like what I want to do – something that captures the sense of celebration that goes with having a really good truffle, even if it isn’t a special occasion.

The set had a number of elements in it that were only there for reflections and shadows.

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Two lights in softboxes (just the modelling lights for my Sky Eagle flashes), three small cosmetic mirrors poking light in dark spots, gold foil wrapping paper, artificial tin ceiling tile, bottles filled with some lapsang souchong tea (nice amber tones) plus a bottle and some glasses from a Venetian set. Just for a few reflections. I ended up not using the silver lid in front, and switched to a red cardboard box. The two little name-card holders are stand-ins for the chocolates.

I tried two different lenses: a 70-200mm zoom, and my food workhorse, my 50mm macro. I ended up choosing a picture I took with the macro lens, because I didn’t like the compression and angle I used with the zoom.

Here is my picture.

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I did some post work in Photoshop to clean up smudges, creases, fingerprints, crumbs and air bubbles on the chocolates.

Now I want to paint my walls a neutral gray instead of the deep avocado colour they are.

New Year’s dinner

We ate a couple of lamb chops and a bunch of veggies and potatoes.

First thing into the oven was the potatoes: they need about an hour, even if they are fingerlings. I cooked them in a little bit of chicken fat (aren’t you envious?).

The veggies were from a Longo’s veggie tray — it was about 10 days old. A few celery sticks (I ate those while working on the rest), some ‘mini carrots’, broccoli, and cauliflower.  I trimmed the oxidized bits, and put everything in a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, and threw a sprinkle of Tony’s favourite mix — Spike — over top.

Then the lamb chops — half a pound each — which had been marinating in olive oil, crushed garlic, and herbes de Provence for a couple of hours, hit the searing hot cast iron pan. Sizzle, sizzle.

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Start with the fat side, move to the two large flat sides. Then into the oven for a bit.

The chops also came out of the oven first, so they could rest. The veggies stayed in the oven and caramelized a bit more.

Oh yes, we had some wine:Casillero del Diablo, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Hope you had a good New Year’s dinner!

 

Fish fillet with potato scales

I’ve tried doing this dish a few times before, and just didn’t get there. First time, the potatoes were simply too big and the slices too thick. Second time, with smaller potatoes — slices still too thick, and the potatoes didn’t cook in the time it took the fish to cook.

Led me to the realizations:

  • Use fingerling potatoes. They’re a more appropriate size to represent fish scales.
  • Use the mandoline on a setting that looks ridiculously thin.
  • Cook the potatoes half-way. If potatoes take 20 minutes to cook, and fish takes 10, well… duh.

So today I went to the St Lawrence Market and bought a bunch of fingerling potatoes from Phil’s and a fillet of sockeye salmon from Mike’s.

To start, I scaled the fillet and scored the skin after tossing it into a hot frying pan for 30 seconds (because I realized I hadn’t scored it! — amazingly, it scores much easier after a little heat has been applied to the skin).

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OMFG. We hit a new level with the birthday dinners.

Last night Sandy, Betty and I hit Bar Isabel.

Lest you think that we’re just jumping on the bandwagon, we booked the dinner on October 9th — before the En Route list of the top new restaurants came out, and waaaay before the Globe and Mail list of top restaurants was published on Friday..

And damn, this was one fine birthday dinner for Betty. First thing? I booked in October, and they called me to reconfirm the booking on Saturday morning. That made me really happy, because I get really sad when I call to reconfirm a booking and discover it has been lost. This was the first Brownie point in their favour.

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I’m waaaay behind in what I need to post!

Interesting things I’ve done lately that I want to post about:

  • Dinner that was all done using a Thermomix
  • Taste of Ontario
  • The Delicious Food Show
  • Matt Kantor’s dinner, sponsored by Ford Lincoln.

and coming up:

  • The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
  • Italian wine tasting
  • Knife skillz
  • Making chainmaille!

Just thought I’d post this list so I could feel very very guilty about not having written these items yet.

 

Looking forward to the Delicious Food Show 2013

It’s next weekend at the Better Living Centre, 25-27th of October. (more info)

Three things interest me when I’m at a food show: photogenic food, a great story, and things that taste awesome (not necessarily in that order).

Two of my favourite Canadian chefs, Michael Smith and Lynn Crawford, will be at the Food Network Celebrity Kitchen on Saturday. They champion creating real food, and use local food extensively (if not exclusively). Chef Michael’s just before the lunch hour, and Chef Lynn is just after it.

Some of the exhibitors on the floor I want to talk with include Barque Smokehouse, who are based in Roncesvalles village. I’m also looking forward to the booths of:

  • Berbician Foods, who look like they have a delicious range of salamis and sausages.
  • C is for Clean looks to have some promising natural-ingredient cleaners.
  • Kobe Classic Beef — I’ve never tasted beef from Wagyu cattle. Maybe this will finally be my opportunity!

Hmm, looks like I’m really looking forward to some meat! Hope to see you there next weekend.