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  • MB 8:56 pm on October 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Kitchen Witch, , Tea Leaves   

    The Kitchen Witch 


    It used to be an annual tradition, getting our tea leaves read. My mother, my sister, and I would take a scenic drive through the country from my parents’ house in Rusticoville, past the kids gleefully throwing themselves off of Stanley Bridge, past the gleaming white and green historical kitsch of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace in New London, to Long River Road. To The Kitchen Witch.

    The cracked white paint job of the refurbished 19th-century schoolhouse turned into a homey restaurant and gift shop, has been a familiar sight for almost as long as I can remember at this point. I was always happy to scramble through the gravel parking lot, up the rickety steps and into the old fashioned dining room, eager to see what banalities my future would hold. Homemade soups and sandwiches, like the classic open-face ham and Swiss with a ring of sweet pineapple, set the scene for a whole lot of tea drinking. Orange Pekoe and Earl Grey were our standards back then; there weren’t as many exotic and floral options available to us in rural PEI. So we’d sip our steaming cups and then hope for the best.

    (More …)

  • MB 10:13 pm on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bicyclette Publishing, cookbook, , desserts, Kelsey McLaren, photos, Tara MacDonald, , TIBS Guide to Desserts,   

    The TIBS Guide to Desserts 


    You guys. I am really excited about this.

    On November 2, at Two if By Sea Cafe in Dartmouth, Bicyclette Publishing will be releasing The TIBS Guide to Desserts, a wonderful book filled with delicious recipes by the wonderful, talented Tara MacDonald. The book focuses on Tara’s homespun, warmhearted approach to baking—giving people who love eating handfuls of butter the opportunity to learn how to make things like her famous chocolate chip cookies and her delectable scones.

    I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with two singularly talented friends—Tara and Kelsey McLaren (publisher at Bicyclette Publishing)—on this book. Kelsey is basically a genius. A lawyer-by-day, publisher-by-night. Her devotion to this project has been bonkers, and the publishing world is lucky to have someone with her talent even spend a tenth of her time working in their industry. And, of course, Tara is a ridiculously talented, shockingly humble baker. Her creativity and naturalness in the kitchen has led her to make an indelible mark in Nova Scotia’s restaurant community. The TIBS croissant is a unique (and gargantuan) beast, a signature of style that I think basically makes Tara the Dominique Ansel of self-taught bakers. Is it a perfect croissant? No. Is it a perfect food? Yes. And that is what is at the heart of Tara’s encouraging, wonderful, simple approach to desserts. I took the photos for the book over a number of crazy days filled with baking fun.

    It was important to us that the book be authentic to Tara’s self-taught ethos. Tara is a workhorse, not a show pony: nothing is staged or faked, made to look illusory or otherworldly, or given artifice. The photos were all taken as Tara baked from scratch, and the end products were simply plated as they would be in any home, without any pretense. Mistakes were made, captured, and enjoyed. To me, it truly captures the spirit of a great home cook. It truly captures the spirit of Tara MacDonald.

    So go on down to TIBS on November 2—the 4th anniversary of the cafe!—and celebrate with Tara and Kelsey. They have put together a really fantastic book. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. I think you will.

    Check out Two if By Sea’s website or twitter for more info on the book release/anniversary party.

  • simonathibault 11:32 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    A Feast For The Eyes 

    With the recent announcement of the program for Devour! The Food Film Fest a couple weeks ago, I though I might take the time to share a few of my favourite selections for this year’s upcoming screenings. As I stated in my last post about the festival, I had the pleasure to be one of the programmers for this year’s crop, and although I am proud of the program, I do have to admit to a certain preference for these selections.

    The Fruit Hunters

    Directed by Yung Ching, this film opens the festival with a sweet note. The Fruit Hunters follows a group of people who spend their lives thinking, dreaming, working with, and eating fruit.  But this isn’t a tale of apples and oranges.  Rare, almost forgotten, and heirloom varieties of all manner of fruit are sought after and discussed, from the seemingly mundane (apples) to the questionably palatable (durian, anyone?).

    Gone Fishing

    This selection of shorts looks at the connections that we have with the bodies of water that feed and sustain us.   A must for seafood lovers, and those who care for all things marine. Pay close attention to a few maritime-based selections in the program.

    Step Up To The Plate

    The name Michel Bras is respected and revered amongst chefs and food lovers around the world.  It’s not just the Michelin stars that does this, but the absolute dedication that Bras brings to his oeuvre. In Step Up To The Plate, director Paul Lacoste speaks Bras and his son as well, who has not only followed in his father’s footsteps to become a renowned chef, but respects and echoes his father’s drive to create memorable food. This film also screens with a short about the famed scandinavian restaurant, Faviken.

    Devour The Shorts

    The great thing about film festivals is the chance to see films that you may never get to see in any other context.  Keep an eye out for “I Kill”, a graphic but telling interview with a man who’s job it is to end the lives animals who find their way to your plate. Thoughtful, difficult, and arguably essential viewing for anyone who wants to know where their food comes from.

  • simonathibault 10:09 am on October 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gold Medal Plates Halifax,   

    You’re not just good, you’re golden 

    It is said that competition brings out the best in us.

    But when that competition is a culinary one, it’s the spectators (or tasters) who benefit.

    Last Thursday, eleven chefs brought their A game to the Cunard Centre for the Nova Scotia 2013 Gold Medal Plates. The NS edition of the event had a dual “raison d’être” : to support programs for athletes and to decide who will represent Nova Scotia and compete in the national edition of Gold Medal Plates in Kelowna.

    ruizImage by Kelly Neil

    The chefs in this year’s competition included eleven chefs from around the province, but it was Martin Ruiz Salvador from Fleur De Sel in Lunenburg who won first place with a beautifully constructed and well-balanced dish that played on the idea of an east coast breakfast fry up: fish cakes were replaced with a salt cod and parsley root brandade, the fried hen’s egg subbed with a quail’s egg, cured pork jowl for bacon, a pig’s head mortadella for sausage (or arguably bologna), along with a few veg on the side, comprising honey and ginger poached edamame, pickled beets, beet green and napa cabbage kimchi. To sauce up the dish, a tomatillo confit, tomato and garlic reduction and a mustard seed and saffron mayo. Save for the saffron, all of the ingredients were reported to be Nova Scotian grown or reared.

    Although they did not win, I have to admit a love for two dishes that evening: Matthew Krizan from Mateus Bistro served prawns that were steamed into a shockingly beautiful and palate-pleasing experience, and Luis Clavel’s gave modernist cuisine twist to a foie gras-focused dish.

    The real glory of these events is the dedication, the pizazz and the excitement that the chefs get to bring to their plates at competitions. This is not to say that chefs don’t bring their all to the plates they dole out on a daily basis. But there is something special that happens at these events.  There is an opportunity for both chefs and diners to experience something new, something exciting. Everyone benefits.

    But maybe the spectators/tasters benefit just a little bit more.

  • simonathibault 9:47 am on October 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Read Up On It for October 18th, 2013 

    The latest edition of Read Up On It talks about the possible negative effects of bacon (say it ain’t so!), yogurt cocktails (really?), and why everyone is talking about canadian cheese this week.


    (image from The Globe and Mail/Tad Seaborn)

    • In a weird twist of ironic timing, it was recently announced that Canada is looking to make it easier to import european cheeses into Canada.  Cheesemakers are nervous about what this means for canadian products. (via Montreal Gazette)
    • And finally, the world’s most expensive bottle of wine. It is sold in Dubai, and the price includes an oak case, and a trip to the winery, all yours for only $195,000. Will that be cash or charge? (Via Eater)
  • simonathibault 1:55 pm on October 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Devour these films 

    If you’re a cinephile who gets excited by images of food up on the big screen, then you may want to stroll down to 2 Doors Down this Wednesday, October 9th, at 10 a.m. as Devour! The Food Film Fest, officially announces its program for this year’s selections to be screened at the Wolfville-based film festival.

    Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 1.42.58 PM

    Devour! is getting ready to dole out all sorts of tasty morsels with this year’s films, as well as special events, industry sessions, dinners, and much more.  In full disclosure, I was asked to be one of the programmers for this year’s film selections, so I can tell you this year will contain some stunningly beautiful, tasty, and thought-provoking films. So stay tuned for more details as they become available.

  • simonathibault 11:17 am on October 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Michael Ruhlman, ,   

    Read Up On It For October 4th, 2013 

    This week’s edition of Read Up On It contains roadkill, seeds, barbecue and Frito-pie.  Tasty? Read below and find out.

    Image via Gawker/CNN

    • It’s kind of too easy to be mean to Anthony Bourdain. I mean, the guy has been pretty mean to a lot of people, (Paula Deen, anyone?) and is not known for pulling punches.  However, I respect the guy’s work ethic, and a lot of the work he has put out.  His most recent series, Parts Unknown on CNN, is probably some of the best food television out there. Why? Because it’s not just about the food. Food is the framework for the people involved in the story. The show isn’t  just good television, it’s a pretty good journalism too.  But on the latest episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain goes down to Santa Fe to try that New Mexico fave, Frito Pie. Well, our intrepid author/traveller/host described the dish as “colostomy pie”.   He later recanted. Somewhat. (Via Gawker)
    • If you find yourself driving in Montana, and hit a deer, don’t leave it on the side of the road. Pick it up and take it home for supper! You can now do that, without any problems with the local law enforcement. (Via CBC)
    • Michael Ruhlman talks with a few people about seeds, and the possibilities found therein. An excerpt: “Dan Barber wrote in an email what he thought most important: “That heirloom and heritage breeds, while great, are the past—they represent a moment in time that we stopped and captured. Modern breeders can do a lot better—better nutrition, better yield, and better flavor. They simply need to be asked. Right now, no one is asking them.'”
    • Argyle Street BBQ purveyors, Q, have closed up shop. Expect Onyx, another RCR property, to take over the space. (Via the Chronicle Herald)
    • Intellectual Property.  Copyright. What is their place in the world of recipes, techniques and ideas? The Wall Street Journal asks why you can’t own a recipe.
    • Dark Rye encounters Camas Davis, the brains behind the Portland Meat Collective, and a proponent of whole animal butchery, as well as butchery as a dying art.

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