Thursday, 5 May 2011

Update and Apologies

Hello Everyone,

I am just writing to give you a quick update on my current situation and why my posts have become extremely limited. I have recently become employed at a very good restaurant here in Ottawa, and I will eventually tell I am just going to save that for a later post.

This is what I will say right now. I have moved to a restaurant where the Chef has recently left and the old Sous has taken over. I started on the menu change day and let me say one thing... Where has this kid been hiding?

His mentor is arguably one of the best chefs in Ottawa, however I now think this kid has got some real talent. Simply watching him and conversing with him on his formalization on dishes and rationals leads me to believe that this guy will come out strong in the Ottawa culinary community.

This one dish he has is a chicken breast which has been vacuum sealed in a red wine marinade is served w/ a chicken leg root vegetable terrine, red wine reduction, and goat cheese sauce garnished w/ crispy onions and pressed bacon. This dish is aboslute brilliance the tenderness and flavour of the chicken is to die for, and the terrine is something entirely unique.

The other dish which is entire unique to ottawa is slow braised beef (sometimes being cheeks or chuck) w/ a housemade bbq sauce served w/ a fired polenta cake and our own pickled veg (Cabbage as the base).

So... seriously first one to name the place and you'll win something cool.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Music and Food

I thought I would do a post between the relationship between cooks and music. Often times you see chefs/cooks with unique and eclectic tastes in music, in which I find usually represents a correlation in the quality of food. I have had this thought in my mind for months after reading in numerous chef memoirs and interviews about their connection with food. I truly believe you can distinguish a chef's food or personality towards food in their music. Bourdain loves rock, Ripert loves techno, and many others have specific tastes in music. However, most great chefs will never cite top 40 as their passion. I am currently on a reggae trip and loving all aspects of the music. I can see correlation between my mentality on food and industry in music. I kinda like the harmonious yet hard-hitting rhythms of the Caribbean, and can relate that to my harmonious but bold flavoured food. I can also make the argument that chefs ( well the greats anyways ) are simply eclectic people whether they have the quiet temperament of Keller or craziness and focus of David Chang. We are simply not normally people and I can see that reflected in our choices in music. I am not trying to compare myself with these greats but rather our comparison in our just general offness.

Here are some beats I love.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Munch Rattlesnake..... err Eat Cobra

So it's been a while since I've done this deed as life has been busy with work and other stuff. So finally....

I was luckily enough to be invited to join the the secret dinner experience that is Cobra Ottawa. Essentially as most of you probably know it is a very hard dinner to get into as they only choose five guests every month or so and it is out of a pool of hundreds. So when I got my mysterious email I was well to say.. excited. I won't go over the whole process because it will be more exciting if you do get picked and finding it out for yourself. I will however comment on the meal. Let's do it in in courses.

1. Course 1: Yak's Heart Tartare (Oz)
 Ok so it was a tartare of yak served with shrimp chips. The chips were actually one of my favourite parts of the dish. It was light yet extremely flavourful and tasted almost of a shrimp broth. The tartar was very solid although I felt the dish was a bit too light. It consisted of the yak's heart which had the texture of almost beef heart and in it was thai basil, parsley, and one other flat leaf herb.  I was longing for something to keep up to the texture of the heart maybe a a bit heartier spice or potentially a spice oil of sorts. Maybe even a cracked egg would have helped add some richness to the dish. However, what I believe he was trying to do was create and light and refreshing first course and I believe he did so excellently.

2. Fermented Soy beans with an Asian Ensemble (Black Cat)
So this dish was extremely interesting. Patricia from Black Cat decided to use fermented soy beans which if you have ever seen them are like a big gooey mess of beans with a very tangy but musky smell. So the idea with this dish was to use the accompaniments with the beans. So there were some sauces and condiments. The two I choose were the ginger paste and the dark soy. I combined all my ingredients and ate with chopsticks. Each bite was a new experience of flavours and a surprise to my palate. Also, the dark soy totally brought the whole dish together. I can honestly say that good soy is unbelievable and recommend that everyone invest in one good bottle. This is what I will say about the fermented soy beans: not my thang. However, this dish conceptually was absolutely brilliant. I can this without a shadow of a doubt say that Patricia Larkin has a nuanced culinary mind and I do feel that she will be recognized for her genius at GMP 2011.

3. Tripe w/ fried polenta and salad (Domus)
Sorry about the picture I totally forgot to take a picture of the dish before I got into it. So this was tripe slowly cooked in a tomato sauce w/ fried polenta cubes and fennel and blood orange salad.  Adam took inspiration from I believe it was a Florentine street food, in which you get the polenta and tripe in the newspaper cone and eat it from there. I was extremely happy with this dish. The sauce had a beautiful brunoise of carrots, celery, and onion which lent it those traditional Italian flavours. The blood orange and fennel paired well together with what seemed like a subtle vinaigrette possibly white wine vinegar. Which you dipped the polenta cubes into the sauce they become little flavourful pillows with the tang of the sauce The flavours were all there and everything was extremely well cooked.

4. Lamb from LUXE

I don't have a picture for the next two courses unfortunately because I was so immersed in the meal. So for this dish from LUXE it was lamb done five different ways. So there was rack of lamb, sweetbreads, bacon, smoked tongue, and ....... can't remember. There were also many garnishes on the plate to compliment the numerous different forms of lamb which were all great. However, the two true standouts of the dish were the sweetbreads and the bacon. The sweetbreads were impeccably cooked and seasoned and just had that wonderful texture with the flavour strength of lamb. The bacon was awesome it tasted not much like other bacon I have had in the past, and was extremely cool to see. Overall the dish was a success.

5. Dessert
I don't like cake, and it was cake. The dark chocolate passionate fruit was good. However, I really don't like cake so I feel bad.

The dinner was a resounding success it was a great combination of good friends (although new!) and great food. It was extremely interesting watching those not in the industry taste the food and make comments and interact with the chefs. I knew a couple of the chefs there so it was a bit different for me, so it was truly interesting watching the general public swoon which they rightfully should have. I enjoyed the night whole heartedly and recommend that everyone do it. These kinda of events are extremely important for the culinary development of Ottawa. We need these events to stimulate the chef as not just a restaurant but also as a personality as well. IT is important that we start viewing ourselves as a community rather than a hogsmash of different restaurants.

p.s look out GMP 2011 and sorry for the rushed feel of the post I did it before work. Shoot me some questions about the meal and I'll be happy to answer.

Some Videos:

Sunday, 13 March 2011

GMP 2011

Looks like they have already announced the Gold Medal Plates contestants for 2011.

Matthew Carmichael, Restaurant E18hteen, Social, and SIDEDOOR;
Simon and Ross Fraser, Fraser Café;
Michael Hay, The Courtyard Restaurant;
Caroline Ishii, ZenKitchen;
Patricia Larkin, Black Cat Bistro;
Marc Lepine, Atelier;
Charles Part, Les Fougères, Chelsea, Que;
Michael Radford, Savana Café;
Lili Sullivan, East and Main Bistro, Wellington, Ont. (Prince Edward County);
Steve Wall, Town Gastropub.

For me it seems like it may be a little too early to announce the Ottawa culinary superstars for 2011. It seems as though these guys may be operating on an Oscar like nomination system. One of the main complaints for most people is that you consistently see the same people year after year.  We do indeed have a few returners this year but it seems as thought there are some great chefs going to be competing this year. I am especially exited to see Patricia Larkin, Steve Wall, and Michael Hay competing this year. I have heard extremely great things about these chefs and have had the honour to have met Michael Hay and he seems as though he is an extremely devoted gastronomer. I staged at Sidedoor and the guys over there do indeed have it going on and Carmichael has earned his place.
Many food writers in Ottawa have indeed criticized GMP year after year for some reason or another so hopefully this year they can sort out the details and really highlight Ottawa's potential. Also, it has been noted that the lineup could change from now to November which lets be realistic it will probably happen with the emergence of new restaurants and staff changes.

Hell... should be fun none the less.

Stay tuned for a recipe for beef heart stew.

Cheers, and keep on eating (Cobra *hint*)

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Ribs, Ribs, Ribs.

So Barbecue actually happens to be one of my favourite styles of cooking and my other high fine french. Quite a contrast yes, but in fact they do indeed have many similarities. Both can require focused and long cooking times, using sauces to enhance the protein, and they have been passed down over generations. Anyways lets talk ribs more specifically back ribs. Here is a quick recipe for when you don't have a smoker and want that cooked all day texture.

I am not going to post specefic mesasurements cause hell its barbeque and you can adjust according your tastes. Now there is two main ways I liked to do my ribs up either give em a run and finish em in an hour for a while or the simmer method. The simmer method is prefered for those trying to get the same desired finish each time.So here are the steps.

1. Take your ribs out and flip em onto their backside. Removed the thin layer of membrane which you can with a fork it should peel right off. This technique removes the tough gristle.

2. Fill a large sauce pan with pork stock or water and add a mixture of spices whatever you prefer. I tend to use cayenne, garlic salt, touch of cumin, and celery salt. Bring it to a boil and try to dissolve the spices as much as possible. Drop it to a simmer.

3. Drop your ribs in in 1/2 to 1/4 sections depending on the size of your pan. Let cook for 1 - 2 hours whatever you have time for.

4. Heat your oven to 375F. Take out ribs after desired time and place on a flat baking sheet.Let cool and dry.

5. Apply your favourite homemade BBQ sauce and be sure to experiment with sauces. There are tons of different styles take the time and research N.C,S.C, Texas, and Kansas City style sauces.

6. Let them cook for 1 hour and apply sauce every 15 mins. Alternative you could finish on a grill but thats not my style.

Notes: This by no means gives you an authentic style BBQ of the south which are long smoked and never touch a grill, but for home cooks its not a half bad recipe. I am going to potentially do a recipie for traditional southern ribs but I need to get my smoker fired up before I do that.

Serve with some potato salad or slaw and its a rockin good time.