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  • Andy Murdoch 4:33 pm on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Soups   

    Samegyetang – Ginseng Chicken soup 

    My pal Bruce Bottomley, who spent more than 15 years working and raising a family in Japan, often feels like a transplanted Asian man in Halifax. To compensate for the pull of Japan, and his homesickness for Asia in general, he creates small tasks for himself to shorten the distance between himself and his spiritual homeland.

    Right now, he takes Korean language classes from Korean students and he works on perfecting classic Korean dishes. I (enviously) follow him @bruceley on twitter as he posts one delicious photo of dinner after another.

     [By the way, he’s a talented photographer, too. Here’s a flickr stream of his photography, some of which have gone viral in Japan, and another very active flickr stream he started to document his other passion: ramen noodles.] 

     Bruce’s wise guide to learning another another cuisine. If you’re smart, you’ll imitate him: 1) Invite native speakers to your home to speak with you. 2) Cook one of their native dishes for them. 3) Take notes as they discuss (argue over) your technique. Once you learn multiple perspectives over how a dish is cooked, you get to the heart of the dish itself.

    Recipe: Bottomley’s Samegyetang

    This was the third time Bruce cooked Samegyetang. Apparently it’s a summer dish in Korea. Funny, with it being January and cold season, it seems to me that by adding giant hunks of ginseng and garlic that will annihilate any traces of cold in your system, you are inviting me to eat this on a weekly basis throughout the winter.

    (More …)

    • Aimee @ Food, Je t'Aimee 5:14 pm on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Love Bruce’s wise guide, adore the superstition alert, and miss a good bowl of samgyetang in the winter! I have a Korean friend who has promised to help me learn more about making Korean food, so perhaps I’ll start by making him this. Thanks for sharing! A gem of a recipe and post.

  • Andy Murdoch 10:51 am on December 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Grandma’s Kitchen 

    Here’s a little something I wrote that appeared in today’s Coast. Ladies who lunch: inside Grandma’s Kitchen. Maha Amin, project coordinator with the YWCA, set up a program called Grandma’s Kitchen where immigrant women from all over the city get together to cook and practice English together. It’s a nice little story for the holidays about peace, love and foul moudamas.

  • Andy Murdoch 10:05 pm on December 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aquaculture, , , Oyster Bars, , Shellfish   

    Oysters for the holidays 

    Recently, I listened to my favourite food radio show Bien Dans Son Assiette (Plug: it’s worth learning French just for this program, Monday – Friday, 8pm AST) dedicate a whole hour of prime time to the oyster. What an idea!

    David McMillan, one of the owners of Montreal’s popular Joe Beef restaurant, talked oyster quality, name dropped many brands, and shucked oysters.

    The show got me thinking.

    We have quality oysters in Halifax, just not a wide variety of them. Most are local. Really local. Maybe too local. In this case, the 100 mile stance isn’t worth it. We sit on the doorstep of greatness – we have to include more New Bruswick and PEI oysters on our menus.

    Rowan Jacobsen wrote a must-read book (if you are into oysters) called Geography of Oysters. Aside from being nearly comprehensive, he lists a dozen oysters to acquaint yourself with. Three of them are close to Halifax: Beausoleil (NB), Colville Bay (PEI) and Glidden Point (Maine).

    Question: why don’t I often see many of those oyster brands here? Before I continue my complaint, let me tell you what we do have and where you can get them.

    (More …)

  • Andy Murdoch 1:58 am on December 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Ginger snaps 

    Okay, so I don’t like to make anything uniform in style. Every cookie is like a beautiful  snowflake, I tell my child. Not one looks the same. Murdochs like the wobbly ones and cracked ones in this world, I tell him. We bake not for sale, we bake to grab and munch and roughly hold in our fists as we run through the house chasing the dog.

    I found a phenomenal ginger snap recipe which I will now share with you.

    (More …)

  • Andy Murdoch 1:48 am on December 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Ye new Scottish shortbread 

    ye olde shortbreadsBaking shortbread to give to the daycare ladies as a Christmas gift. I tried a couple variations, a mix of an old Scottish cookbook recipe I have, and a Saveur recipe. I tried one batch with cake flour and cornstarch, and another batch with rice flour and all purpose unbleached flour. I like the cake and cornstarch. The sweetness of the sugar came through. The texture was crumbly, which I like in a shortbread. (More …)

  • Andy Murdoch 12:49 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Princely Passions 

    Maybe you want a little purple passion pre-Prince show tonight in Halifax? There’s the Purple Prince a mixture of vodka, triple sec, pomegranate juice and curacao, served at an industry listening party for his album 3121. Or maybe you’d prefer the Purple Rain, with gin and blue curacao. You could even steal another prince’s drink. My choice would be the classic Kir Royal. Of course, I don’t think Prince drinks, so if you are straight edge like the man himself, just enjoy some grape vitamin water.

  • Andy Murdoch 2:09 am on November 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Scoop: Young & Dublin will cook again 

    If you missed eating tacos in Natalie Chavarie’s backyard last summer as part of the Young&Dublin:open air eating supper club, you’ll get a second chance this winter.

    Young & Dublin will offer community dinners at Local Jo’s Cafe on Oxford, starting in January and running until March.

    “One of the main objectives of doing things at Local Jos is that a lot of the values that Local Jos has are really similar to the value of Young and Dublin,” says Chavarie. “The whole meat thing and where your food comes from was a big part of it. Same for Local Jo’s.”

    “Drip down your hand street food”

    The inspiration for Y&D came from travelling and eating street foods in Korea, Mexico and Cuba. She’d been jonesing for a food truck for a couple years, one that would use locally sourced foods and “serve drip down your hand korean-mexican fusion street food.”

    She is working on a business plan for the truck (don’t go stealing her idea, ok),  but in the meantime, last summer a supper club seemed like a good start to the open road.

    “We thought the time was really right to offer a space for that type of offering in Halifax,” she says. “We purchased really beautiful wood from this local mill owner in the valley. Then, with the help of a friend who used to run the Bus Stop Theatre, we built this pergola and wrapped it with an old tarp from a skating rink that a friend gave to me.”

    Suddenly they had steating for 22 people. They used twitter and social media to get the world out. People could make reservations on Twitter, Facebook or by text.

    Enter Virgil Muir: tacomaster

    You might remember Virgil Muir from a stint at The Good Food Emporium a couple years ago. He cooked asian fusion meals on weeknights. Quality, homey stuff. He cooks all the food.

    “Part of the creatvity that went into the food there transferred into Young&Dublin for sure. Virgil put a lot of creative thought into it. He did all the cooking and I was doing the hosting,” she says.

    Muir created a wide range of tacos: korean beef bulgogi taco with kim chee and green onions; a jerk pork taco; a spicy pork Korean taco with Korean toppings; a more traditional Mexican beef taco and a really good Mexican tofu taco. He did a korean split meung bean pancake that was vegan and wheat free.

    The kimchi and warm corn tortilla were all made in house and everything was served with sides of rice and beans.

    Y&D’s main suppliers are Holdanca farms, “a really beautiful naturally pastured meat farm in Tatamagouche,” Dinicola’s Farm and Ted Hutten.

    Lessons learned about supper clubs

    Running a supper club gave Chavarie some surprises, not the least of which was just how deeply mainstream society has fallen for this trend.

    “I was surprised by the demographic. There were lots of younger people that came, but the median was about 30-45. One other thing that surprised me was that there were lots of kids.”

    “I think the essence of open air eating is a hunger for experiential dining and dining that maybe offers more unexpected elements to traditional dining. I think there’s a really big appetite for that. It’s something that we are seeing all over the world.”

    She also didn’t expect that people would start organizing nights for themselves at Y&D, or that local restaurants would call up, asking to hold staff parties at her house.

    “They would organize a group of ten people and then say, ‘OK, we’re meeting at this time.’ It was kind of like these satellite dinner clubs where one person is like, ‘Hey, I want to get together with all my friends.’”

    She doesn’t consider the club illegal. She calls it, “an open air eating club whereby people were able to make reservations to a dinner club where we would serve. The payment was based on a cost recovery donation model and prices were itemized.”

    My editorializing

    As I said in my Coast article on this, the law depends on how hosts see diners – are they friends or customers? If you serve food in your home to friends, then ask for a donation, that’s fine.

    Given that Chavarie tends to use words like “community,” and “neighbourhood,” when talking aboutt her club, the whole ethic points to friendship over custom.

    The success of pop up dining shows it’s tapping into all sorts of  social desires. It’s about focusing a meal the social experience rather than simply another exercise in taste. Eating and socializing are inseparable in my mind, anyway. Really, the law is an ass in cases like these. Fuck ’em.

    This trend is 100% in keeping with the DIY esprit of this city. I hope this pop-up idea is here to stay, even if each one enjoys only the doomed lifespan of a teenaged hardcore band.

    Someone should write a samizdat how-to manual for setting these up. We should all be doing these for friends, neighbours and people we ought to be, and want to be, friends with. Get the social network off Facebook and into the dining room. The city and our lives, would be a much better place for it.

    I recently read a Catalan proverb in Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine, that makes my point: “Si vols tenir molts amics, fes molts convits.” If you want to have lots of friends, give lots of parties.

    Natalie and Virgil, I salute your work and look forward to a taco takedown in your company this Janaury.

  • Andy Murdoch 11:32 am on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Fantasy Picnics 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Picnicking is more than a titillating renaissance painting. It’s more than Edwardian haircuts, white linen and wicker baskets. It’s more than a Truffault movie with bicycles, love triangles, bottles of wine, bread and cheese. Of course, it is all that, and more, but a picnic is a state of mind. It’s event and escape, a mix of the senses. I see picnics as outdoor gesamtkunstwerk: total gastronomy pieces set in the outdoors. Sometimes you plan them, other times they are random performances that happen to you.

    If you can’t get behind that, you probably shouldn’t picnic. Or, you should leave the picnic to professionals. In the spirit of giving, I have planned three imaginary picnics you can try to do on your own. Each one is a set piece involving place, time, food, music and literature. (More …)

    • MB 5:00 pm on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Honest to god, Andy, this sounds like the best picnic ever. I would have been happy with just the cheese and onion tartlets. You win the gold medal in alfresco living. You also win the gold medal in not eating the cupcakes within the first five minutes of getting them.

      • Andy Murdoch 5:06 pm on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, MB! Hey – I forgot to mention the CKDU picnic we all love so much!

        CKDU’s Annual Picnic & Concert — Sunday, August 8th, 2010 — noon-6pm — Fort Needham Park. Featuring:
        *Kid-friendly games, build-yer-own-instrument, face painting, prizes — noon-2pm
        *FREE BBQ 1pm-4pm

  • Andy Murdoch 2:55 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Caribbean Twist threatened with closure 

    Caribbean Twist, the only Caribbean restaurant on the Halifax peninsula, if not the entire HRM now, is threatened with closure. Apparently, the space isn’t zoned for restaurants. The previous occupant, Toulany’s, went from being a corner store to cafe and according to the city councillor for the area, Jerry Blumenthal, they did not have the proper zoning permit, either. Blumenthal is working with Twist owner Lyndon Hibbert to get the zoning changed. This means getting ahold of the building owner, who must submit a zone change plan to the city. “It’s going to be hard, but not impossible,” to change the zoning, says Blumenthal. Caribbean Twist has an extension to stay open until the end of August.

    It’s an rookie mistake on the part of a new business owner, but I sure hope it can stay open. I was there for lunch with another Passable writer, Melissa Buote, and the place was crawling with journalists from Metro and the CBC. Please go to the restaurant (3081 Gottingen), have some killer jerk pork (read Passable writer Melissa Buote’s review in The Coast) and help Hibbert by signing the petition to save the restaurant.

    • MB 6:15 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      So much dramz. I hope it all works out. That food is too delicious to disappear.

    • carterflinn 11:59 pm on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry I missed the junket, but I will definitely go to eat again and sign the petition. Any restaurant with such a community and family vibe (that isn’t afraid to use heat) gets my signature.

  • Andy Murdoch 12:33 pm on July 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Take Back Your Lunch 

    I recently moved to a job that gave me time for lunch, or rather, a job where people took their lunch hour outside the office more often than they took lunch at their desk. It’s a liberating feeling, to leave the office. Unfortunately, I work in a restaurant dead zone, forcing me to make my lunch, which in any case has its own pleasures. Everyone should take this hour of the day away from their desk. Most work can wait. World productivity will not slow down. In fact, output probably increases, because you won’t substitute that lost lunch hour with multiple short trips to twitter, facebook, et al.


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