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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The New York Times...I just can't help myself. I mean to check the food columns of the other on line papers, but never do.
1. Ribs Without Smoke. Who is rocking the barbecue in the Okanagan? I really am asking...anyone? There was a mobile barbecue situation in Oliver last summer; they were set up on the front lawn of a motel south of town on the west side of Highway 97. Anyone remember? Hopefully they will be back.
What I love most about barbecue is the comparatively low cost of equipment and the regional variety--North Carolina versus South Carolina versus Texas, etc... Has anyone definitively defined Okanagan Barbecue? What can the Okanagan do with a 50 gallon drum cut in half, a bunch of fruit wood and some Okanagan Beef or Lamb? (I wish I could say Okanagan Pork, but alas...) Or is Okanagan Barbecue about venison? There's plenty of them around. Or maybe it's salmon. What's your vision of Okanagan Barbecue?
2. Slaughterhouse Shortage Stunting Area's Eat Local Movement. Ooof! Should the Petaluma plant close, there will no longer be any truly local beef, veal, lamb or pork for the bay area. Sure, it will be grown there, but it will have to take at least 2 longer than usual car rides to get from farm to market. Meanwhile, gas isn't getting any cheaper, and yet essential agricultural utilities, namely abattoirs are fewer and fewer in number and are getting further and further away from population centres. Isn't that awkward.
3. Chef Julien Fouin, the Parisian Wizard of Offal. Speaking of abattoirs, for local food to work, (and by "food" I mean beef, pork, lamb, goat and fowl--animals that can be, and for the most part are raised in the Okanagan) there must be whole carcass utlilization. Eat your liver! I am digging this new trend to "eat those cuts that barely got us through the depression" as my mom likes to say. I'm happy to shake pom-poms any time someone comes out rocking the offal.
4. A Mafia Boss Breaks A Code Telling All: A Mafia boss and..."onetime restaurateur, catering consultant and coffee truck owner." Apparently walk-in refrigerators are a great place to go when you're trying to avoid electronic eavesdropping. Did you know?
Ok, so that's the Times. Who out there is scanning the Vancouver Sun? The LA Times? The UK Guardian? Many hands make...quick reading?
Friday, March 11, 2011
Somewhere Adam Smith is having a hard time finding a working toilet and he doesn't know why.
Could it be fryer grease from the restaurants in free market heaven is clogging the sewers?
If you can believe anything you read in the news, that seems to be the case in heavenly Richmond, BC. Here's the headline:
The City of Richmond has been handed a $480,000 repair bill — one of the biggest to be borne in Metro Vancouver — this week to fix a sewer main that ruptured after being clogged with grease.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Bet you didn't know Oliverdailynews.com and the New York Times had something in common. Don't worry, they don't have that much in common, but they both have been running stories about local farmers taking local shit kickings in their local region by the locals.
Let's start with the New York Times, shall we? The headline is
“Our boat is made of duct tape and we’ve almost sunk a few times, but we’re paddling along,” said Mr. Bell, 33.
MOO Milk’s journey is a cautionary tale: true grit, a laudable philosophy and a hot trend aren’t enough to create a viable business.
“There are folks who support what we do, but there’s not enough of them up here,” said David Bright, a former newspaper reporter and the organization’s treasurer. “So far, I haven’t been able to find 6,000 people who will buy a gallon of our milk each week.”
Now lets just pause for a moment and think about dairies. Yes, dairies produce milk, and in the case of MOO Milk, they provide the most exciting milk imaginable--the very frightening "whole milk" which despite having nourished people all over the globe for thousands of years and despite being the ingredient for serious cheese makers making serious cheese, we are blessed with a government (of the people, by the people for the people) gracious enough to step in and protect us from the dangers of this scary, scary product.
Dairies also produce something else. Can you guess what? Think chocolate milk...have you figured it out yet? YES! Manure! Thousands of metric tons of manure!
Now, imagine you live in an agricultural region with lots of land--land enough for several dairies. Imagine there are vineyards and orchards all around--plants that contribute substantially to the economy of this hypothetical agricultural region.
If it were up to you and you could choose one and only one, would you choose a dairy that makes manure to nourish all the plants (and the occasional bit of milk for those brave enough to drink it) or would you chose...a prison? (Don't get me wrong, prisons are hot right now--especially those fine fine Canadian built ones.)
Speaking of prisons, Oliverdailynews.com has also been writing about agriculture, particularly the joys of growing the beloved apple.
It's hard to say which article was more the rib tickler. Here are your choices:
1. Apple Prices
Prices are starting to come in for the 2010 apple crop and growers are appalled. For the third year in a row, prices have hit rock bottom. Growers say it is a crisis that could lead to the end of the Okanagan apple industry and could force growers to abandon their orchards altogether.
or is it
Vote for your favourite in the comments section!!!
“A year ago at this time, Okanagan orchardists were bleeding red ink because the cost of production outstripped the price of apples. Government was urged to help, but nothing of substance ever materialized.
Now, the situation is even more critical as the cost of growing apples is almost double what farmers pocket (22 cents compared to 12.6 cents a pound). With little capital readily at hand, it may be difficult for some growers to prepare this year’s crop. Some may just pull out their trees and walk away.
Makes me want to demand Okanagan apple pie and home made Okanagan apple cider vinegar every time I visit a restaurant in the Okanagan that builds their marketing identity around their "support of local growers" and "use of locally grown product."
Home made vinegar as value add from a local product that no one wants to buy? Crazy, I know...
Lastly, to make the voyage complete, we return to the New York Times with their coverage of "young" people getting into farming, be they underemployed "spikey haired" Japanese janitors, be they Uncle Sam's Misguided Children back from their peace keeping missions in other lands where the people can't manage to govern themselves to Western standards or Corporate Soldiers tired of slogging through the financial killing fields where the real wars are waged.
Farming. Who knew?
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING LOCAL AGRICULTURE
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
This is interesting...from the blog Honest Meat:
Likewise, another key issue in why restaurants aren't supporting their local meat producers more significantly is the disconnect between what they are looking for and what producers want. I can't sell a 50lb box of fresh pork tenderloin every week, but I can sell them a couple whole hogs each month. But restaurants often don't have the space to break down whole animals, the skills, or they don't know how to properly menu all the different cuts of the animal.How about the Okanagan? Well, here's a random list of some of the restaurants in the Okanagan. It is by no means a complete list, but it is a list--a starting point:
Black Iron Grill and Steakhouse
19 Steakhouse and Lounge
Sals Prime Steakhouse
Grapevines (Gray Monk)
The Vanilla Pod
Hanna's Lounge & Grill
Old Vines (Quails Gate)
Barrell Room Bistro (Hillside)
Sonora Room (Burrowing Owl)
One afternoon, I went to each restaurant's web site, opened their PDF menu and looked at which cuts of beef were on the menu. PDF 4th quarter 2010 beef menu items of the Okanagan in descending order:
And here are some cuts of beef that are not on any PDF menu in the Okanagan
Inside Top Round
Eye of Round
Someone has to buy and do with these if there is going to be local beef. C'mon...flank steak special...how hard is that? Tri Tips? What's wrong with those? Grind some burger with Outside Round and some fat of your choosing? Staff lunch?
Speaking of local beef, I had the occasion to go to a cattle sale in Kamloops today. If you've never gone to one, you really should--especially if you live in the Okanagan. There's one in OK Falls if you don't want to schlep all the way to Kamloops. I also prefer the hamburgers at the OK Falls sale over the Beef-On-A-Bun. But that's just me.
I didn't watch ever single second of the auction...just a few hours worth. Listening to the auctioneer's "chant" got psychedelic after a while. I was told that some calves in the 600-700 pound range were getting about $1.30 a pound. That's beween $780 and $910 a calf.
I don't remember a single bred heifer or steer that fetched over $1.00 a pound. Most of them hovered around $0.75 and $0.60. It also seemed like the heavier (and often the older) the animal, the less it was worth per pound. 1200lbs of cattle at $0.75 = $900.
So...buy a 700 pound calf at $1.30 a pound, feed it for two or three years and say you sell it at 1200 pounds at $0.75 a pound for $900. That's a whopping -$10.00 in profit (provided you don't count the cost of feed, or labor caring for the animal). Do I have that right?
Restaurants: How would you feel if a customer came in, stayed there for 3 years, gained 500 lbs and during that time, that three year period, went to the bathroom randomly throughout the restaurant (again, for three years) and left -$10.00 to cover the bill?
Farmers deserve better!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sure does quiet down in the winter here in the Okanagan...It's a real on-or-off proposition. I guess that's what "seasonal" means. Not that I'm complaining, because really, what better time than quiet time to go to Vancouver for some noise time?
Among the many reasons why Vancouver can be disorienting is the steady stream of "action" all year round. Just the other week I stood in the doorway and waited for a half hour for a table at Green Lettuce. (Could you imagine doing that in Penticton at this time of year?) It was worth the wait. Indian and Chinese cuisine is a fine fusion. I had read about it at the totally awesome chowtimes.com (not to be confused with Chowhound).
Chowtimes is also where I read about the very excellent Koon Bo. I had attempted and failed to eat there in an earlier trip. This time we made it.
The food was great...completely solid. If you like Chinese food, this is the place for you. But as great as the food was (and obviously I'm not doing the smoked black cod, salt and pepper spare ribs or the scallops with Chinese broccoli justice) the experience is what stands out.
The restaurant was completely filled. Every single table taken. Most the tables were parties of 10 or more. The smallest tables were tables of 4. I was at one of them, 4 other western people were at the other. This isn't judgement, but fact. It was also interesting to see that these tables of 12 to 16 people were multi generational, with an 80 year spread from youngest to oldest. 4 generations?
While I don't speak Chinese and couldn't tell what everyone was saying, it seemed to be a convivial atmosphere. Lots of talking. Relaxed, but very civilised. Friendly, but not meddlesome. And lots of food. The family next to us (a family of eleven) showed us their banquet menu (in Chinese) and explained his personal embellishments--like live fish to be presented before cooking and butchered in the kitchen.
I can't remember the last time I had that kind of experience at a restaurant.
The winter is also a good time to do some reading. Catch up on the food columns.
Sometimes the New York Times gets it horribly, horribly wrong. Sometimes, however, the New York Times gets it perfectly right.
So do click anywhere on this sentence to read this article about blood and blood sausage--and do so if only for the picture.
But if you're too lazy to do even that, here's a fun quote:
But in American kitchens, blood is the final frontier of the nose-to-tail movement. “It’s 7 percent of the animal down the drain,” said Brad Farmerie, who has taught blood sausage workshops to fellow chefs in New York.7 percent of the animal...can you dig it? What's 7% of 1200lb Angus? That's right, 84 lbs. Divide that by 2.315 pounds per litre and you get 36.285097192 litres of blood. Divide that by 3.78541178 litres per gallon and what do you get? 9.585508605 gallons of blood! (Did I get that right?)
Just about two 5 gallon buckets. That's a lot of kishka! Or a big meal for the Masai! Or the hot new thing in the Okanagan? Masai inspired cow blood served table side.
You heard it here first!
Monday, October 25, 2010
As with many of us who live in the South Okanagan, come October we all suffer the seasonal layoff. It comes with mixed feelings and emotions. On one hand, the long grind of the summer makes us beg for some serious time off in order to regroup. On the other hand, we must take jobs that we don't want, leave town to find other work or claim E.I. for a percentage of what we earned in the summer.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
For those of you who did not make it to Meat Fest II/Rose Round Up, this post is for you--that is, this post is intended to make you feel bad about being you and the bad choices you made and, hopefully, encourage you to re-think your bad choices as we turn our sights to Meat Fest III and which ever varietal we decide to compare and contrast in the wine portion of the festivity.
Before getting to the food, let's look at the Rose Round-up. Some of you might remember the Gewurztraminer Getdown of 2009, though it is likely that none of you remember (with any precision that is) the results of said event. Sure, the delightful and delicious Gehringer Brothers Schonburger Gewurztraminer stood steady at or near the top--but that's a no brainer. Of course Gehringer Brothers Schonburger Gewurztraminer stood steady at or near the top. But certainly there were other contenders, victors and disappointers. When isn't there a disappointer in the group?
In light of this statistical imprecision, this year, steps were taken to insure thorough and precise data collection for open distribution and equal utility for all:
As you can see from the above chart, testing was thorough and extensive. (Click on image to enlarge.)
To insure quality data collection, the wines were also carefully presented in a random fashion so as not to influence perceptions by "shelf location."
Here is the list of participants:
Gazela (product of Portugal)
See Ya Later Nelly 2009
Road 13 Honest John's 2009 rose
Dunham Frose rose 2009
Dirty Laundry Hush 2009
Quails Gate rose 2009
Silkscarf 2008 shiraz saignee
Tinhorn Creek oldfield series 2bench rose 2009
Marques de Caceres 2009 rioja (Spain)
Domaine Clair Dau Rose de Marsannay Louis Jadot 2008
Jackson Triggs unity white merlot
Chat-en-Oeuf 2009 (france)
The View Distraction 2009
Emeri pink Moscato (south eastern australia)
Quinta Ferreira rose 2009
Le Vieux Pin Vaila 2009
Pascual Toso Malbec rose 2009 (argentina)
Seven Stones Speaking Rock 2009 pinot rose
Strut Risque rose 2008 (half bottle remains)
Arrowleaf Red Reather rose 2008 (half bottle remains)
Jackson Triggs 2008 Proprietors Reserve rose
Gray Monk 2008 Rotberger
La Vieille Ferme Recolte 2009
A few things caught my attention.
1. Seven Stones won the gold, Tinhorn the silver and LVP Viala, Marques de Caceres, Road 13 and Dunham Froese tied for bronze.
2. There were four bottles of road 13's Rose and 3 bottles of Qunita Fererria, with people lunging for the '08
3. The Dunham and Froese had the most votes in the #2 colum "wouldn't pass it up" with seven votes, while the most anyone else got was two. A bronze in the "excellent" class, a gold in the "wouldn't pass up" class.
4. The wine that got the most "nice try" votes was a rose made from Malbec grapes.
The remaining wine from the evening was combined and inoculated with organic cider vinegar with the intent of making a red/rose wine vinegar from the event. Hopefully it can mother the wines of the next event!
Now on to Meat Fest:
The obvious place to start is with the pig as it is from the pig that so much radiated...
...Like bacon caramel
...and bacon popcorn peanut pop on a stick what nots
...don't forget blood thickened pasta with pig tails.
Of course there was beef. And while the beef was a little less conspicuous than the pork, it was staggeringly good. Like tripe in jelly.
UNBELIEVEABLE! Can someone remind me again why tripe-in-jelly isn't on at least one charcuterie plate here in the valley? Oh, and don't give me that ol' "people don't eat tripe and we won't be able to sell it and make money" line of nonsense--that's not a suitable answer for anything--least of all around here.
Then there was Okanagan's Finest Angus Beef heart sashimi marinated in the new, unreleased Note Bene (and a pair of white creepers no less!)
Said another way, local cows, fed local wine at a local feed lot, processed (somewhat less) locally, marinated in local wine, fed to people of that locality.
TERROIR ALERT TERROIR ALERT!!! That spooky raw beef heart? A DEFINATIVE CULINARY EXPRESSION OF OKANAGAN TERROIR.
There was also a bit of tallow--for a while anyway, until disaster struck and tallow clogged the gas jets ending the fun and, for all intents and purposes, ruining Meat Fest. (winking face emoticon here.)
The rig was up and running long enough to deep fry some cheeseburger spring rolls (delicious) and a pepper construction featuring cream cheese stuffing, bacon wrapping and all around breading (delicious as well.)
In the "other" category there was bear sausage (yum!)
and elk (made into tacos) and salmon (lox) which sadly did not their photo taken.
Lastly, and clearly most importantly was the very beautiful and thoughtfully made Meat Fest II cake--a cake for the ages that we hold dear to our hearts and will remember and cherish for all times by everyone.
There was also a wonderful pumpkin cheese cake that was hidden from the guests so it could be savoured in private.
I know I've left things out...that's what the comments section is for.
A smashing success all in all. A big thank you to everyone who came, brought and/or cooked.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Taken from Paul Arden's book It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be
Hey Okanagan food, how good do you want to be?
Pedal or coast? Mike Love or Brian Wilson?
Now that "the season" is ending, what's up for your down time?