Updates from May, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • MB 7:51 pm on May 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Oil Be Damned: Tom Mueller on Olive Oil Fraud 


    “Great olive oil is sustainable in the truest sense of the word,” Tom Mueller says. I’ve asked him about sustainable food systems, and olives—a truly sustainable food—are his passion.

    “Properly cared-for trees can live for 2000 years and more,” he continues. “And in many parts of the world form part of the landscape as well as part of the farmscape. Olive trees require a minimum of irrigation and chemical inputs, and the pure juice of the olive fruit—olives are drupes or stone fruit, like cherries and plums—is a model of sustainable agriculture.”

    Mueller is bringing his passion for olives to Halifax this weekend. He is making his way to Halifax along with chefs, restaurateurs, culinary tourism workers and other foodservice and agricultural types as the Canadian Culinary Federation’s annual convention hits town. The CCFCC is the national organization for chefs and cooks. They talk about the industry, trends, issues and education in the sector. This year they are focusing on sustainable food systems.

    I had the opportunity to talk to a few of the participants and visitors that are involved both directly and indirectly with the forum on sustainability that is a part of the conference agenda for an article in this week’s issue of The Coast. Tom Mueller, the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, was one of those people.

  • simonathibault 12:23 pm on May 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Read Up On It – For May 25th, 2012 

    This weeks’ edition of Read Up On It is all over the map: literally. Italian cheeses, Montreal chefs, Vietnamese coffee and more.

    • I generally don’t post a lot of blogs here, but on occasion, one pops up that excites me. Jun Blog is a collection of essays, recipes and definitions about one of my favorite cuisines: filipino food. Calamansi sorbet anyone? I’ll pass on the bagoong.
    • Love Montréal’s Joe Beef? Eater recently published a great two part interview with its owners, Frederic Morin and David McMillan. These guys are an interviewers dream, with quotable bits and well thought-out answers. Read it. Now.
    • The Atlantic posted a neat story about how design in food packaging could keep us from overeating. Now, about that old thing called willpower…I think mine is hiding in the basement.
    • On the local tip, the Ecology Action Centre’s Food Project seems to be doing a lot of good. Open File has the story.
    • And last but not least, I love how this has gone somewhat viral. I’ve always loved the idea of Vietnamese coffee, now I feel I have to go and buy one of those little attachments/thingamajiggies to make it.
  • MB 6:30 pm on May 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Are You Gonna Finnish That? 


    The moment that the rise of Scandinavian food really crystallized as “a thing” can be pretty easily pinpointed to the day—just a hair over two years ago—when Noma, the Nordic brainchild of René Redzepi and Claus Meyer, unseated El Bulli as the number one pick on Restaurant magazine’s annual “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.”

    Swedish Chefs

    That same year Marcus Samuelsson, who was already an incredible culinary success, also happened to redefine what a Swedish Chef was to the wide demographic of casual and fervent food fans that watch the Food Nework, when he won the first season of Top Chef Masters. The coolly handsome Ethiopian-born Swede is a far cry from the bork-bork-borking meatball-maker that most North Americans probably associate with Scandinavian cooking.

    With the Scandinavian Peninsula and Danish islands now clearly and popularly in the public consciousness here in North America, it only makes sense that food media is paying regular attention. The New York Times was on top of it late last year, this month’s Bon Appetit features a piece on Smørrebrød, and—obviously—I just went to Finland and am now officially in love with their food culture.

    (More …)

  • simonathibault 7:01 am on May 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Read Up On It – For May 18th, 2012 

    It’s been a great week at Passable. First we launched a series of Passable Podcasts and then on Thursday, we won Best Local Food Blog in The Coast’s Best of Food Awards. So we can’t let them down by not keeping up with our Read Up On It posts, which they found to “pull together food stories from a variety of media outlets into easily (ahem) digestible bullets and hyperlinks.

    You know it’s spring when you start dipping rhubarb in sugar and daffodils are in bloom.

    • Ladies (and a few gentlemen like myself), you know how hard it is when you have to deal with whiskey dick. But now, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Enter Whiskey Dick Lube.
  • simonathibault 9:31 am on May 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Passable: A Passably Good Food Blog 

    It’s always nice to be recognised, to be nominated. But dangnabbit, it feels awesome to win!

    Passable was recently voted as Best Local Food Blog by readers of The Coast.

    An excerpt from The Coast:

    Sleek and simple, the blog is based on the premise that passable, as a word to describe Halifax and its food, is far from an insult. Rather, its bloggers believe that in being “unassuming” and “underrated” Halifax has great potential to surprise its gastronomic adventurers by making the everyday extraordinary. The blog’s occasional diary-style posts concentrate on these sorts of personal discoveries, while the weekly Read Up On It pulls together food stories from a variety of media outlets into easily (ahem) digestible bullets and hyperlinks.

    Thank you so much to our readers, The Coast and their readers and to everyone who makes this blog possible. We promise to keep up the good work!

  • simonathibault 1:56 pm on May 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Getaway, ,   

    Passable Podcasts: Getaway Meat Mongers 

    Passable presents the first in a series of Passable Podcasts. The series will feature interviews, discussions and rants from all sorts of people who are passionate and engaged by and with food. They will be farmers, cooks, chefs and more. They may even be your neighbour.

    The first Passable Podcast is an interview with Chris deWaal and Ben Andrews from Getaway Meat Mongers. Andrews is a butcher by trade. He studied the practice in New Zealand, where he grew up. Unfortunately, when Ben moved to Nova Scotia, he found out that butchery was not a recognised trade. Luckily, he was able to find work in his trade, and now works at Getaway, slicing, dicing, mincing and a lot of de-boning. A lot.

    Chris deWaal is the owner and operator of Getaway Meat Mongers. His family run Getaway Farms, a small grass-fed beef operation in the Annapolis Valley. After selling their products for a while at a stall the Halifax Farmers’ Market, deWaal moved shop to the Seaport Market and opened up Getaway Meat Mongers. Chris hired Ben a few months later and is now one of the few retail spaces in Halifax that has their own butcher.

    I had the opportunity to talk with Chris and Ben as they were doing what they do best: taking apart large cuts of meat.

    *The dish I get excited about – and mention – at the 13:20 Tripe à la mode de Caen, a french tripe dish. You can read about it here.

  • simonathibault 8:31 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – The May 11th edition 

    In this week’s edition of Read Up On It, we visit Newfoundland via Halifax, we get snobbish about chef snobbery and talk about tuna scrapings, the new “pink slime”.

    Image via Haligonia.ca

    • Here’s one I have thought of when I taste things with a wooden spoon. Does the material of the object (spoon/fork/spork) affect the taste of things? Apparently so, according to FT.
    • Things just ain’t the way they used to be. Take buttermilk for example. It used to be a tangy drink. Now it’s just nasty, and only good enough for making baked goods. Slate.com seems to think so.
    • Remember that whole “pink slime” debacle? At least that stuff was somewhat food safe. Try tuna scrapings. Served raw. Marion Nestle breaks it down over at The Atlantic.
    • And on a local tip, Local Source just put out a neat little promo-esque video.
  • simonathibault 12:12 pm on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Read Up On It – The Cheezie edition. 

    This week’s edition of Read Up On It is dedicated to that most wonderful of cheese snacks, the Cheezie.

    Image via Wikipedia

    It was recently announced that James E. Marker, the man who invented Cheezies, had passed away. I have a great love for those little snacks. I remember buying them as a kid at my elementary school concession stand. But for some unknown reason, at one point, my school stopped selling them. I had vague memories of them as an adult, always dissapointed by other “cheese” snack items. But a few years ago, I saw them at my neighbourhood grocery store. I bought a bag and dug in. They tasted as good as I remembered. For once, the nostalgia effect didn’t ruin the reality of the item. It was as good as I remembered. Sure, it tasted like junk food, but junk food I would want to eat. Once I open a bag, I can’t stop eating them. At Hallowe’en this year, my better half bought individual serving bags to give out to trick or treaters. Twenty-two of them. We had two trick-or-treaters come to the door, and each were given two bags. That left eighteen bags in the house. They didn’t last long.

    • – Slate posted a great piece this week about caramelised onions. The verdict: your recipe books are lying to you when they say “cook for 5-10 minutes until caramelised”. Try 45-50 minutes.
    • Ever wonder how scientists established those “basic nutrition guidelines” that you see on packaged foods? By starving prisoners, or so says Marion Nestle over at The Atlantic.
  • simonathibault 10:44 am on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Zen and the art of chopping. 

    It starts when the blade hits the board.

    You look up from the cutting board, and realise that it’s already started: that sense of calm, the quiet place you find inside yourself.

    You grip the handle of the blade and continue. This is your zen garden, your mandala, your mantra, composed of the sound of metal hitting wood, metal hitting wood, metal scraping wood. The hand moves the onion, knowing where it needs to go. Hold it firm, cut it in half. Hold it firm, slice the top. Hold it firm, take off the papery skin. Push it aside. Hold it firm, slice halfway through.

    You remember this trick that a friend taught you: slice the onion halfway through its widest point. This is an extra step to get smaller pieces, less chopping, less cyring, less work. More focus on what you’re doing.

    The onions are done. For the carrots, you pull out a piece of old newspaper to catch the peelings.

    As you’re peeling, you remember something that they did, or said. You smile as you think of this. Your hands knows what they’re doing, turning and peeling, occasionally pushing the peelings onto the page. You don’t want to drop anything and make a mess.

    You turn on the oven and as you do this, you remember the first time you made this dish for them. You had just learned to make it, practicing alone. The nice Korean lady at the store told you how to make it, scribbling notes on the back of your receipt. No instructions, just ingredients and a few measurements. But you’ve learned that more of this and less of that make for a better dish. More suited to what you want and what they like.

    You don’t remember every meal you’ve made for them, but you remember how they always say, “Thank you” before they sit down to eat. You remember that they always joke, “I knew there was a reason I kept you around.” They like to eat with the shades closed, but you like the sunlight. They feel like the neighbourhood is watching you eat, but you don’t care. You like the idea of others watching people in love eating together.

    Dinner is almost ready. The windows are a little steamy now. The room smells of garlic and toasted sesame seeds. “Is it ready,” they ask. “Close,” you answer.

    “Can I do anything?”

    “The dishes.”

    They wink.

    You wish it was always this easy. All you have to do is chop.

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