Sunday, July 29, 2007

Alberta Beef at Pigeon Lake

I just got back from a mini-visit to see my side of the family out west. I hadn't seen some of them for nine years! They rented a cottage at Pigeon Lake and I went to visit them for a night. Here's a photo of our dinner table. We had barbecued prime Alberta steak, medium rare as you can see, plus potatoes, salad and veggies. It was delicious!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tokyo Garden in Calgary

Tokyo Garden's sushi bar in Calgary on Flickr by beFOODled.

S and I are on holiday in Calgary right now. We are visiting his parents, who also live for good food. On Thursday night they took us to Tokyo Garden where they are VIP customers according to Ali, the head waiter. We sat at the sushi bar and I tried some varieties for the first time, like uni (sea urchin eggs) and squid and caviar. They were nice, but I still prefer my old favourites - mackerel, unagi (BBQ eel), hamachi (yellowtail), tuna and salmon. The sushi here is excellent, way better than any place S and I have tried in Ottawa. For one thing, each sushi is huge - more than a mouthful, and it tastes so fresh. S's parents have been coming here long enough to know when they get the fish in (it comes on Wednesday), so if you ever go to Tokyo Garden for sushi, come on a Wednesday or Thursday night!

Tokyo Garden
100-10201 Southport Road SW
Calgary, AB T2W 4X9

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Katsudon by beFOODled.

Earlier this week I made katsudon, a Japanese meal that is a rice bowl topped with a breaded pork cutlet (tonkatsu) and a soy sauce, egg and spring onion omelette-like topping. I used this recipe for the tonkatsu, and Chubby Hubby's recipe for the onion and egg topping.

Weekend in Kingston

Last weekend, S and I went to Kingston with Squeaky and Calimocho. From the top, the pictures start with a barbeque at Dad's house, followed by a sampler plate at Mango, a Thai restaurant on Princess Street where we had lunch. The third photo is of raspberries from the Kingston farmers market and last photo shows the chocolate fountain at the Taste of Kingston, a yearly event where local restaurants set up tasting booths at Confederation Basin.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mussels in Montreal

When we were in Montreal, S and I also went to Bières et Compagnie, a place that serves 30 different kinds of mussels, accompanied by frites and a spicy mayonnaise. The restaurant also offers over 100 kinds of beer. These Provençale mussels were really good. The restaurant even topped them up for free. We were lucky to visit on one of the days when they were all you can eat.

Bières et Compagnie

4350 St. Denis
Montreal, QC

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ramen in Montreal

Ramen in Montreal at Sakura Gardens on Flickr by beFOODled.

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is a kind of noodle soup called ramen. This is the ramen I had at Sakura Gardens, a Japanese restaurant in Montreal. Besides noodles and broth, it comes with spring onions, wakame (a kind of seaweed) and pork. The pink-rimmed discs are little fish cakes. Where we live, there's only one restaurant that serves ramen and only for lunch, so I rarely get to have it. Sakura's ramen was so good, I ate the whole thing!

Sakura Gardens
2114 Rue de la Montagne
Montreal, QC

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Best Continental Breakfast in Montreal

I will never stay in a hotel again! Last weekend S and I went to Montreal to take in the Jazz fest. We decided to stay in a B&B instead of a hotel, and it was great. We stayed at Chez Fanny, which is in a beautiful historical house in the Plateau, and we made friends with another young German couple also staying there. This picture is of the delicious continental breakfast that Fanny served us. We had freshly squeezed juice, fresh figs (so decadent), and yogurt and maple syrup, and we had cheese dusted with pistachio nuts, and lots of breads, including that little loaf in the background. It came from the Marché Richelieu across the street, and was filled with white chocolate and cranberries. Fanny says they make an even better one with orange and chocolate. I think I will have to return soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Thai Night with the BeFOODies

Last Monday, we hosted the second monthly meeting of the Church of Gastronology. All beFOODies were in attendance. The collage above shows all the food that we cooked and ate. I had been looking forward to this all weekend! PB and J brought over a delicious sesame salad, chicken satays and peanut sauce, and two large Nalgenes full of Thai tea, which was a perfect foil to all the super-hot curries we consumed. It's made with black tea and spices, chilled and then served topped up with lots of condensed milk. Squeaky and Calimocho brought over a wonderful shrimp curry, mango and chicken curry, and Singha (Thai beer). S and served a hot and sour shrimp soup and a cucumber and peanut salad. Here are the recipes for those last two dishes.

Tom Yam Kung (hot and sour shrimp soup)
adapted from The Essential Wok Cookbook

1 kg shrimp, frozen, peeled, with tails
Over 2 litres of water
2 Tbsp tom yam paste
1 stem lemon grass, white part only, sectioned into three pieces and bruised
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 long red chili, halved along the long side and deseeded
100 ml fish sauce
100 ml lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Thaw the shrimp in a colander under running water. Take off the tails and reserve. Put thawed shrimp in the fridge.
Heat oil in the bottom of a stock pot and fry the shrimp tails on medium heat for about 5 minutes. They will turn orange. Add the tom yum paste and 1/4 cup of water. Fry for a bit, and then add the 2.2 litres of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth into a bowl and throw away the solids. Return broth to the stock pot.
Add the lemon grass, lime leaves and chili halves and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, spring onion and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are pink (just a few minutes). Take out the red chili, lime leaves and lemon grass segments. Serve immediately.

Cucumber Salad with Peanuts and Chili

adapted from The Essential Asian Cookbook

4 Lebanese cucumbers
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 fresh coriander leaves
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
2 Tbsp crisp fried garlic*
1/2 tsp chopped red chili
1 Tbsp fish sauce

Peel the cucumbers and slice in half lengthways. Scoop out seeds with a teaspoon and slice the halves.
Add the sugar to the vinegar and stir until dissolved. In a large bowl, toss the cucumber, chili sauce, onion, and vinegar mixture. Marinate for 45 minutes.
Just before serving add the peanuts, crisp fried garlic, chili and fish sauce. Toss the salad and serve garnished with coriander.

*To make the crisp fried garlic, slice whole garlic cloves very thinly. Spread out to dry on a piece of paper towel for about an hour. Heat oil in a pan and deep-fry the garlic until it just turns light brown and is crisp. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt before you use them.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Thai Pantry

The Church of Gastronology (casually known as the BeFOODies) met for another international dinner party last weekend, and this time S and I hosted. The theme was Thai, and this little cutting board of goodies is my Thai pantry.

From left to right we have:

  • fresh mint in the baggie
  • peanuts
  • mushrooms
  • tamarind concentrate in the blue tub
  • Spicy Thai Oil
  • Tom Yam spice paste - this is made from Thai ingredients like lemongrass, a root called galangal from the ginger family, tamarind and chili. It's great for flavouring soups.
  • fish sauce - this stuff smells horrible but paradoxically makes salads taste very fresh and light.
  • fresh cilantro (a.k.a. coriander)
  • limes
  • white vinegar
  • lemongrass stalks - to use, remove and discard the tough outer leaves (about 2 to 4) until they no longer have purple undersides. Cut the tender inside part into three sections and bruise/bash them with a utensil to tenderize to maximize their flavour release before adding them to the dish. Remove and discard before eating.
  • green onions
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • hot chilies
  • kaffir lime leaves - use three or four while cooking and discard before eating.
Missing ingredients - galangal, coconut milk, palm sugar

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Food TV Favourites: Michael Smith

Food Channel, why do I love thee? Let me count the chefs...

Episode 1: Michael Smith from
Chef at Home
Of all the chefs on Food TV, I like Michael Smith the best. He's a trained chef, and I can tell he knows his stuff just by the way he explains things. He breaks down everything he does and why into very simple building blocks, and his reasoning makes so much sense that you won't have trouble committing it to memory. For example, take the way he explains braising, which means cooking in a little bit of liquid. He starts always his braises with chopped onions, carrots and celery as base flavourings for the meat, and then builds on that with liquids, aromatics and garnishes that go together naturally - like apple juice, cinnamon and raisins. Or orange juice and rosemary. He also takes time to segue into trips to the grocery store, where he gives tips on how to choose the best ingredients. He really surprised me when he said the most flavourful cuts of meat are the cheaper, less tender cuts. And he gives practical tips about equipment, too. I like the fact that even though he is knife happy and has a whole drawerful of blades, he admits you really only need three: a chef's knife, a paring knife and a bread knife. Very good advice for a frugal gourmet like me!

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