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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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.

 

 

Autumn comes this week; cassoulet time again!

I’ve just put some white kidney beans on to soak. Betty and Donna are coming for dinner on Friday night. Cassoulet, although a one-pot meal when served, takes a while to put together, especially if you start with dry beans. As I’ve written about before, I’m not a fan of the taste of Navy beans, and I find white kidney beans are like the cannellini beans I found very tasty in Italy.

Hmm, there are some interesting ideas in this recipe that I may steal and adapt!

Initial thought: smoked turkey thigh instead of ham hock (less fat, still lots of flavour).

Some of my own grown tomatoes. Maybe add a little of my allotment garden kale to it an hour before serving? That will put some green in the dish.

More to follow later this week.

Photo shoot: Jonny Blonde food truck

Back in early May, I went to Burlington to photograph the food that Jonny Blonde was putting together for his food truck. Jonny delights in using local product whenever possible, and sources his meats in the rich farming lands around Hamilton and Burlington. I did not know that the area mills more dry mustard than anywhere else in the world!

He launched his food truck this past weekend, so I’m publicizing my pictures that I took of some of the food that he’ll provide at catered events or on his truck.

I took lots of lighting equipment with me to Burlington, but ended up mostly using natural light coming through the door, sometimes augmented with a bounced flash, mostly with reflectors and mirrors for fill lighting.

Chicken skewers

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This is what shrimp should taste like

I’ve grown tired and suspicious of the enormous shrimp we get from Asia. Not much flavour, environmentally destructive a lot of the time, and contaminated with who knows what some of the time.

Well yesterday Hooked posted that they’d be getting some Gaspé shrimp in today, and that thet would be sweet and wonderful. How could I resist?

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Terroir 2013

I had the good fortune of photographing Terroir 2013 a week ago Monday. I heard about the opportunity through a tweet from Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, who I interned with in the fall.

Smaller versions of my photos are online on Flickr.

So far, I’ve received  photo credits in the Buffalo News, The Montreal Gazette, and images will be showing up in a number of online blogs and newsletters.

Pat eats a Pawpaw

Pawpaw, paw-paw, so many ways to spell it!

I bought a couple from Forbes’ Wild Food at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

One’s in the fridge — the other I let continue to ripen.

Was told it should be yellow with brown spots, the way a banana should be when it’s ready to eat.

The smell of the fruit was pineapple-kiwi-banana, but the acid smell decreased as the fruit ripened.

 

Maybe I was precipitous, but here’s the state of it when I decided to cut it open:

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Was difficult to cut open — I couldn’t quite understand why, until I had fully pulled it apart: aha! It has great big seeds that don’t slice easily!

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Next step: scoop out the flesh, and separate the seeds from the flesh:

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Took a taste. It’s delightful! For people who like to start the morning with a smoothie, this is the perfect ingredient. More protein than most fruit, lots of fibre and minerals. Tasty, but not too strong for first-thing-of-the-day.

Felt like there was an ingredient in my fridge that would complement the flavour, so I added some coconut milk (no sulfites!):

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Was very delicious. I read up some more about it on wikipedia, and discovered that it’s not a fruit that can be put in a cool place to store: it doesn’t last long that way. But the flesh of it does freeze well!  Something else for the Smoothie Set to consider.

 I saved the seeds. I’ll take the other one out of the fridge to ripen, now. And I’ll save the seeds from it, too. They’re quite large — reminded me of ackee seeds, but they’re not of the same family.

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I don’t know if the climate along the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia will support pawpaws, but there’s only one way to find out… and that’s to give my Dad some seeds! It’s an understory tree, so could potentially grow in his forested area. The one caveat I heard from Lorraine Johnson is that you need three trees to ensure fertilization of the flowers.

Oh. The flowers don’t smell nice — kinda one of those carrion-fly fertilized plants.

We’ll see! Dad, are you in? I’ll give you the seeds at Christmas.

Paw-paws, a fruit of the Carolinian forest

I’d heard of paw-paws. The first place I heard of them was at Sears & Switzer’s acting workshop, where I had been assigned a scene from Crimes of the Heart. Couldn’t find much information about them at that time (this is pre-world.wide.web and yahoo and google).

Heard next about them when Lorraine Johnson was giving a talk at the Brick Works about local foods, native plants, things that we could be doing. Learned that Paw-paws were native to this area, but that you’ve got to have three of them to ensure germination (I thought that strange at the time, but have since learned that some apples have the same requirements). They’re an understory tree, which means they don’t grow to great heights, and they’ll do well in light shade.

The fruit didn’t travel well, and in days prior to refrigeration, tended to spoil quickly.  We’ve been able to overcome these problems, but it’s still not a well-known fruit.

I ran across it last week, as the banner image on the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance website. Aha! Finally, I know what it looks like! Greenish things. Oval. Bruise easily.

Today, at the Leslieville Farmers Market, I went over (as usual) to the Forbes table (I like to taunt them that they haven’t had spruce tips since the spring: I know this makes sense, but I just like to bug them about that). They had a whole bunch of — paw-paws! OK, have run across it enough times now that I must try it.

Bought two, have brought them home. Got them at different stages of ripeness — one getting yellow, some spots. The other is quite green. Apparently you want to eat them yellow with lots of dark spots — like with bananas, that indicates when the fruit is really ripe.

So I need to wait a bit. Maybe tomorrow the first one will be ripe: if so, I’ll photograph it. I’ve heard that the way to eat it is to cut it open and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.

It smells really good — and I’m not a fruit lover. It smells like a cross between a pineapple and a kiwi and a banana — got those acid things going on, and that deep banana thing, too.

Stay tuned!

Tomorrow begins a new page…

Tomorrow morning, I’ll begin a four month internship at the Ontario Culinary Tourism Association as their Communications Intern. I’m excited, because I love buying Ontario products, and the whole idea of Ontario being a culinary destination (kind of like Tuscany) delights me.

I’m looking forward to being a part of making their plans a reality, writing and photographing food in Ontario — on the hoof, in the field, at the market, and on the plate.

I’m also planning to use this opportunity to market my skills, develop relationships with food producers and restaurants and chefs, and get my food photography business moving ahead. That will also be helped by the Business of Photography course I’ll be taking at George Brown College this fall.

Wish me luck success.