Updates from February, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • simonathibault 6:49 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cake, ,   

    For The Love Of Cake 

    I don’t remember the first cake I ever tasted, although there is a photograph of it. I’m sitting in a high chair at my first birthday. The cake is square, with the face of a shaggy dog designed into it – the eyes, nose and tongue of the dog made out of edible bits, on a sheet white icing that is covered with a snow of shaved coconut. The smile on my face is huge, as if I knew what was about to happen.

    There is something about cake that makes us smile. People ogle it when it enters the room, they “ooh” and “ahh” over it if you made it, and they become quiet as they eat it if it’s really good. It’s like a giant Proustian madelaine that is shared among friends, flooding everyone with memories.

    I love making cakes, even though I am not what you would consider a professional at making them. I will screw it up when I cut the edges off or when I try to make two layers out of a single piece. My cakes are often a little lopsided. I sometimes won’t put enough flour in the pan and it will stick, leaving me with various crumbly pieces to forge back together hidden under a sheath of ganache or fudge. My better half used to say that if I didn’t fuck up at some point when I made the cake, it wouldn’t be any good. Thankfully, now, I don’t forget to properly flour the pan and my knife skills have improved. I’ve even earned an even hand when it comes to frosting. There are fewer stray crumbs, the symmetry is better, and even the floor is less of a mess.

    I always thought cakes were made for good memories. The ones where we remember the time we got the cake that was shaped into whatever toy or character was popular that year. Or the time someone made you a cake as a thank you. Or the first time you realised that you could make a cake that didn’t come in a box. The first time you made a cake for someone. The one they remind you about every time you see them.

    The first time I made a cake for my better half, David, I was enthused but confused. He told me how his mother would make a sheet cake, somewhat similar to an angel food cake, which she would slather with packaged lemon filling. I thought I would improve on that idea by making a lemon pound cake with a real lemon curd filling and lemon icing. We had only been dating for a few months at that point, and we decided to have a party at his apartment. When the guests had arrived and drinks were drunk, we came to the moment of truth: the cake. Slices were handed out, I bitched and moaned about how I had hard time getting the cake to look even and David ate his cake in silence. When I asked what he thought of it, he said, “It’s good. It’s really good.” But I could tell there was a “but” in there, bouncing inside his head, fearful of how to tell me what he wanted to tell me. “But it’s not the cake I told you about.” He smiled, disappointed at what he had said. “But I love the cake!” Good save. A month or so later he told me he loved me too. He’s still here, four years later.

    A few months ago, it was a friend’s birthday, and I had decided to bake him a simple chocolate cake. There were a couple of (expected) fuck ups – I had to make the icing twice – but all in all, a good cake. Chocolate layer cake with a chocolate hazelnut ganache separating every layer and slathered on the outside.

    My partner and I presented the cake to our friend, with a little “Happy Birthday” song, a couple of cheap candles on the top, as we placed the cake in front of him. He smiled and said “thank you” very quietly. And then we noticed he was crying. Not a full sob, but just a little cry. Worried that we had done something wrong, we asked him if everything was all right. He told us that no one had ever gone to this much trouble for his birthday. That he didn’t remember the last time someone made him a cake.

    There were hugs. There was even a little bit of handholding. And then when everything was done, there was cake. A lot of cake. There was eating of cake, cutting of cake and “I don’t need more and I am stuffed but I want another piece of it” cake. And then the cake went home with him, to be eaten by slowly over a few days, knowing that somebody wanted to make him a cake, and will make him a cake every year.

  • simonathibault 8:35 am on February 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – February 24th, 2012 

    This week’s edition of Read Up On It is about beautiful butters, sugar addicts and more.

    • First, a little bit of food porn. Daniel Klein, who has been featured on Passable, recently went on a trip to Vietnam. To say that this video makes me envious is understating it a bit.
    • The Globe also looks into something pastry chefs and foodies in Canada have been decrying for a long time: our butter sucks.
  • simonathibault 11:34 am on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    We’re a cheap bunch 

    You’ll find three Passable writers in this week’s edition of The Coast. It’s their annual “Cheap Eats” issue and Andy Murdoch, Melissa Buote and myself were tasked with finding all sorts of cheap and inexpensive goodies.

    Melissa goes out seeking (and finding!) delicious and cheap burgers around town.

    Andy stayed under his daily budget of seven dollars, digging into food courts and blink-and-you-miss-it joints.

    And I give suggestions for daily deals on tasty goodies, from $6 to $12.

  • simonathibault 6:31 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – Februrary 17th, 2012 

    Vegans go hunting, cookbooks and magazines become electronic entities and more, all on this week’s Read Up On It.

    • Sardines may be kosher, but what about the occasional nematode, a microscopic worm, that lies buried in it’s flesh? The Diners Journal says: “There was no evidence that the intestines and the flesh had been commingled.” Problem solved.
  • MB 12:59 pm on February 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Late Night Poutine Routine 

    This week I left my monocle at home since the subject of my review in The Coast was more of a late night adventure than a serious restaurant review. There was only one way to treat a place like Smokes Poutinerie, and that was to experience it in the dead of night, surrounded by drunks. So that’s what happened. Read it here!

  • simonathibault 7:46 pm on February 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The lists, The Recipe, and The Meal. 

    It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am home alone. And I am hungry.

    This is when the list comes into play.

    The first thing I do is go downstairs into the basement, where ignore the piling mess of things-I-will-get-to-eventually and remember that I have a bottle of wine in the wine rack that I keep on meaning to drink. I get to the deep freeze and peer inside to see what I need to use up.

    You see, I keep lists on what I have in my freezer. Things get lost at the bottom, or get freezer burned and then you have to toss them out. So a few months ago, I decided to keep a list of every single item in my deep freeze, so when I can’t decide what to eat, I look at the list and find inspiration there. At least, that’s what is supposed to happen, and it generally does. But of course, things get added to the freezer, someone else takes stuff out without telling me, and so the list needs to be updated. Like right now.
    (More …)

  • simonathibault 8:25 am on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – For February 10th, 2012 

    In this week’s roundup of food stories, we find North Americans trying to sell “Chinese” food in China, lovers of lard and Alice Waters gives backhanded compliments to Momofuku Milk Bar and Joe Beef. Read Up On It.

    • It looks like that stalwart of Montreal’s culinary scene, Schwartz’s has been sold. Both the G&M and the CBC look into this mecca of smoked meat.
  • simonathibault 12:30 pm on February 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Charcuterie, , ,   

    Ratinaud: land of salty fatty goodness 

    When he was a kid, his grandmother made him paté de campagne. Now, Frederic Tandy makes it for the rest of us in Halifax.

    Tandy is the owner of Ratinaud, a small charcuterie shop located on Gottingen Street. He grew up in Limosges and went to culinary school at 15. A few years ago he started working in Nova Scotia, first at The Celtic Lodge, but restaurants weren’t his thing. He wanted to make the food he loved. After selling his wares at local markets, today Frederic sells his patés and terrines, along with all sorts of salumerie in his own storefront.

    I recently had the occasion to write an article for an upcoming issue of East Coast Living all about charcuterie. Tandy was kind enough to sit and talk to me about his love of all things salty and fatty.

    (More …)

  • simonathibault 2:31 pm on February 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – For February 3rd, 2012 

    This week’s edition of Read Up On It talks about the future of the cookbook, eating out and most important of all: how to make an old fashioned cocktail.

    Raspberry sorbet, ready to go…

    • And last but not least, a video on how to make the perfect Old Fashioned. Kampai!
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