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  • simonathibault 2:37 pm on October 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Read Up On It For October 26th, 2012 

    This week’s Read Up On It features tips on everything from how to hang your pheasant to how to freeze whipping cream, as well stories about dumplings and japanese noodles.

    Hanging Pheasants by Alexander Pope.

     

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  • MB 9:33 am on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bicycle thief, , , dranks, , , untitled eats   

    Cocktail Dinner @ Untitled Eats 

    What exactly is a dash of Dartmouth? Is it the dusky hint of smoke in a peaty scotch, that echos the stacks in Tufts Cove? Is it a sprinkle of sea salt like the brackish spray that hits the air as the ferry pulls into Alderney Landing?

    For Jeff Van Horne it’s the glimpse he gives into his life on his blog.

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  • simonathibault 5:07 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Downtown Halifax, ,   

    A Big Day 

    For the third year in a row, Passable was invited to participate in the Big Day Downtown, a marketing and promotion strategy put on by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.  They invite various bloggers in the HRM to visit and shop in the downtown core, armed with $100 gift cards to use as they see fit, and then write about their experience.

    This year, the DHBC decided to send the writers out in teams picked at random. I was paired with Nicole Trask from Halifax Magazine’s Blog. Nicole and I decided to take each other to some of our favourite haunts and introduce each other to shopping experiences they the other may not know about.

    We decided to meet up at that morning at the Seaport Market at eleven. Now, this would be a rare experience for me, since I am usually out of the market before the clock strikes eight, as I like to get there early.  And Nicole does shop at the market, so it wouldn’t be a completely new experience, but she wanted to see where I shopped. We were in the market for something meaty, and so we headed to Getaway Farm Butcher Shop.

    I was worried that the shop may have already sold out of what I wanted, so I made the decision to call the Chris deWaal, the owner, the night before. I’ve interviewed Chris before, so I wanted to introduce him to Nicole. You see, as we were standing in line, Nicole told me that she doesn’t eat meat very often, mostly for ethical reasons vis-a-vis its production.  She doesn’t completely eschew it, but she is wary of buying it. I knew that if she talked to Chris, he may assuage any of her concerns.  We walked out of there with a couple of sausages for her, as well as a flank and hanger steak for me.

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  • simonathibault 3:16 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Read Up On It For October 19th, 2012 

    This week’s edition of Read Up On It brings together such disparate items as Micheal Pollan, Reddit, Burmese street food and why truffle oil is so beyond over that it’s ovah!

    • First, a video.

    I recently had the chance to interview cookbook author Naomi Duguid for Passable. Duguid is currently promoting her book, “Burma: Rivers Of Flavour”. She also was recently featured in the New York Times. In the above video, she instructs a gentlemen from Roads & Kingdoms on how to eat street food in Burma.

    • Speaking of videos, former NYT food critic Sam Sifton recently hosted a video for Bon Appetit where he shows us how to deep fry a turkey.  Apparently shoes are very important.  And industrial-grade children’s coat hangers.
    • Think you love beer, that oft-hoppy beast? The Wall Street Journal introduces its long lost and hopless cousin, gruit.
     
  • simonathibault 5:01 pm on October 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Burmese food, , ,   

    Passable Interview: Naomi Duguid 

    One of the last things I said to Naomi Duguid was, “Thank you.”

    And then I told her this story:

    In 2001, I had my first bowl of pho at a Vietnamese restaurant. I had been a vegetarian for about a year or so, but my friend at the time convinced me to try the savoury Vietnamese beef noodle soup. My knowledge of Vietnamese food was cursory at best. I knew about the use of lemongrass, the eating of spring and salad rolls and that was about it.

    This was unlike anything I had ever eaten. It was simple, yet sophisticated.

    For about six months, I frequented that restaurant almost every weekend. It was winter and it had been cold in the city and a big bowl of warmth was the perfect way to forget the snow outside. But then I couldn’t afford to go out every week or so for pho. And then the restaurant burned down. I needed my fix. I would make the soup myself.

    That is how I ended up buying my first copy of “Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet”, by Duguid and her former partner, Jeffrey Alford. The book was, like that bowl of soup, a revelation. I didn’t know that cookbooks could be like this: an exploration, both personal and anthropological of food and the people who make it. I learned not only about Vietnamese food, but Thai, Cambodian, Lao, as well as all the various peoples who make up Southeast Asia.

    One of the countries that Duguid touched on lightly in that book was Burma, also known as Myanmar. For many people, Burma is a place that is veiled in mystery, both gastronomically and politically. It was almost like a forgotten part of Southeast Asia. But Burma came into the news in 2010 with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and slowly but surely, things came to change in Burma’s social and political climate. They still are.

    You could almost argue that Duguid’s most recent book, “Burma: Rivers Of Flavour”, is riding a tide of perfect timing, both in its creation and publication. A few years ago, Duguid and her writing partner, Jeffrey Alford, split up. “It was evident that Jeffrey wanted out of the relationship and didn’t want to be doing more cookbooks and all of that,” she said over the phone in Toronto. “So, I wanted to do something manageable in terms of scale.” Manageable for Duguid meant writing a book about a place she wanted to discover more of: Burma. “It seemed like it made sense now that this partnership had come apart, so I said I would do it. I wanted a project for me.” Duguid joked that the offer from her publishing company had been a bit low, but that the money didn’t matter. “I think they expected me to turn it down, but I said, ‘No I need this project.’ so I said I would do it,” she recalled.


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    • naomi duguid 2:32 pm on October 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Many thanks Simon. You are such a fine writer. I have tweeted this and also re-FB’d it. warm regards, n

  • MB 10:56 pm on October 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Made With Love, Drank With Enthusiasm 

    I just got home from Made With Love, a cocktail competition between some of Halifax’s best bartenders, which also included some showcases from visiting mixologists from across Canada. The venue, the Halifax Club, was sort of awkward. The food was mediocre. The music was terrible. But the drinks, you guys. The drinks. THE DRINKS! The drinks were amazing! I’ll write more about it later, when I have all my sheets firmly tied to the mast again, but for now: cheers to the talented tipplers here in Halifax.

    And congratulations to Jeff Van Horne from Dash of Dartmouth, The Bicycle Thief and the rad Untitled Eats cocktail night for winning the people’s choice and judges award at the Halifax Made With Love! Hooray!

     
  • simonathibault 5:34 pm on October 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Recipes, like rules, are meant to be broken. 

    Over the weekend, I read an article by Alex Halberstatd in the recent Food & Drinks Issue of the New York Times. It was all about Christopher Kimball, the driving force behind “Cook’s Illustrated.

    If you watch PBS on Saturday afternoons, or are a recipe hound, then you know Kimball and what he does. He and his team work diligently to make sure that the recipes that you read, consult and re-create are nearly idiot-proof. The preamble to each recipe is filled with copious notes of the mistakes, the ideas and the trial-and-errors that came to be so that you, the intrepid home cook, don’t have to repeat them. It’s an admirable endeavour.

    And that got me thinking about recipes.

    I love a good cookbook the way I love any book: as an access point to somewhere I want to be or something I want to know. I want to know why these cookies tend to spread (the butter wasn’t cold enough when I made the batter) or I want to know what temperature the hot milk should be so that I don’t curdle my eggs (and screw up my custard).

    My partner rarely cooks with a recipe. It’s kind of a joke in our house. He just puts things together. Some of the time it works, and sometimes it’s even a bizarre stroke of genius. He once made peanut butter cookies with a couple tablespoons of ketjap manis make for sweet and salty kick with a hint of molasses. They tasted amazing. But the texture was off because his ratio of fat to flour wasn’t right, or something like that. But because he didn’t use a recipe, he came up with a great idea. And I admired that.

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  • simonathibault 5:38 pm on October 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Read Up On It For October 12th, 2012 


    Image Source

    For a lot of food lovers in Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada, the publication of Maclean’s 50 Best Restaurants was a bit underwhelming. A few notices (props to Fid & Bicycle Thief). But the real story popped up on Thursday when the editor of said issue, Jacob Richler, was published in the Globe and Mail, where he called the Maritimes a “culinary sad sack”. Ouch. On Friday, October 12th, CBC Mainstreet interviewed Mr. Richler to explain why he said what he did, and then subsequently interviewed three local chefs – Jennie Dobbs from Morris East, Michael Howell from Tempest and Renée Lavallée, a.k.a. Feisty Chef – to respond. Well, the Feisty Chef had already responded online. You should read what she had to say. As of press time, I’m still waiting for Mainstreet to update their podcasts so that I can include a link to the interview(s).

    During the on-air discussion, host Stephanie Domet asked the three chefs what they would offer Mr. Richler to eat, so as to try and change his mind. Ms. Lavallée suggested crow. And therein lies the reason for this week’s image in our weekly Read Up On It.

    ***

    • I’m currently working on an interview with Naomi Duguid, the co-author of multiple cookbooks such as Hot Sour Salty Sweet. Duguid recently published her first solo endeavour, about the food of Burma. It will be posted here on Passable at the start of next week. In the meantime, check out a piece in the Globe and Mail about her.
    • The CBC reports about the current bumper crop of U.S. and Mexican tomatoes and how it is affecting prices and farmers in Canada.
    • Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a fan of the whole David Chang thing. Sure, I could be accused of bandwagonism, and you know what? I’ve never eaten at any Momofuku resto. I own his cookbook, and cook from it often. I also own the Milk bar cookbook, written by his dessert maven, Christina Tossi. I read Lucky Peach, the magazine he does with McSweeney’s. I’ve posted about him here, usually in Read Up On It. Is the guy perhaps a bit too media-saturated? It could be argued that yes, he is. But that’s not his fault. The thing is, this guy digs food, and most of his detractors take personal pot shots at him, rather than his ideas about food. And I like his ideas. So I will be watching the new show on PBS that starts soon. Check out the trailer.
     
  • simonathibault 6:36 am on October 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Read Up On It for October 5th, 2012 

    Read Up On It returns this week with all kinds of kooky stories for you to check out this week.  Everything from MSG to that “supposed” bacon shortage, alongside a map of what apples you should be eating/using/cooking. (Apologies for being unable to post a brand-new Read Up On It last week, but I have returned with a great list of links for you.). It’s time to Read Up On It!

    Image via The Atlantic

    • Still at the Globe, Chris Nuttal-Smith looks into a quebec organisation called La Société Orignal that sources and sells food that chefs are salivating over, such as sea urchin bottarga.
    • The New York Times looks into two very interesting and divisive topics: hunting and offals.
    • Speaking of offals, the Guardian talks about feet. Nom nom toes.
    • And last but not least, David Chang gives a talk about MSG and the stigma behind that tasty glutamate.
     
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