islamic terrorists?

May 28, 2009

I keep hearing this term on new reports and it’s now starting to enter normal conversation. Yesterday I was listening to Jazz-FM in Toronto and the story was about a bombing in Islamabad in Pakistan. Obviously, the majority of people in Pakistan are Muslim, so it is an irrelevant point that the bombers are Muslim. The majority of people in Italy are Catholic – so if a violent act happened in Italy by a few people who happened to be Catholic, should we call the perpetrators “Catholic Terrorists”?

I think it’s important to use words appropriately especially when they have the potential to marginalize a group of people – who, like any group, contain good and bad examples of people. As terms like “Islamic Terrorists” become more prevalent and are used carelessly, the subconscious tendency is to equate the two words into one meaning.

avesta in montréal

May 26, 2009

In Montréal recently, walking on rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest (coming back from the Marché Atwater), we saw a woman in a window making paper-thin lavash. Hovering over the huge concave metal griddle she was rapidly turning the bread. In between turns, she found time to roll out the next one – paper thin and perfectly round. Intrigued and starving, we wandered in and had a delicious dinner.

We started with an mezze plate of grilled eggplant and peppers, smoky eggplant all chopped up and muhammara – all served with wonderful hot lavash. Followed by spicy spinach gözleme. Ended with Turkish tea in glasses that I’m now hunting down as wine tumblers. There is a rumour that Avesta meant ‘praise’ at one time – it’s fitting today as well.

Avesta is at 2077 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest in Montréal (514) 937-0156‎. You can also read this review in the Montréal Mirror.

empty bowls 2009

May 21, 2009

Beautiful, crowed and delicious as usual. This annual fund-raiser (vintage 17), held at the Gardiner Museum, is a collaboration between Toronto potters and Toronto chefs. Potters donate bowls, chefs donate soup, everyone is twice-happy and all proceeds benefit Anishnawbe Health Toronto.

I go for the soups, others focus on the bowls. This year’s highlights (in the mind of a pescatarian):

I heard raves (but didn’t taste) Chilled Alphonso Mango by Simon Kattar and Rhubarb and Strawberry soup from favourite Yasser Qahawish from Artisanale (ex-Law Society).

We had lunch a few days ago at August restaurant in Beamsville, Ontario. It bills itself as “Ontario Inspired Cuisine” – local, home-grown and proud of it. The idea is good but the execution needs work.

To start, the Focaccia brought to the table was a nice thought and I really wish it had remained that way. Instead we were left with raw (kneadable) bread. I learned that there is such a thing as par-baked bread. That started a comedic lunch that is not representative of Ontario’s wine country.

When I pointed out the bread that I had (rudely) kneaded, proofed and scored, the waiter left it at the table without as much as a word. Next I had lentil soup and seafood gratin. Tasty enough but hard to tell the soup from the gratin. Someone at the table had very fishy, salt-free crab quiche. Wine was brought to the table already opened – in wine country!

Here’s where I think they could really improve.

  • train the waiters to respond appropriately to feedback
  • train them in wine service (may be an important thing in Niagara)
  • train them to know the menu
  • keep it simple and cook what you know
  • find your identity – not everyone can pull off local, organic, <insert trend here>

August may have been having a bad day and the waiter definitely didn’t mean anything badly but I probably won’t take another chance eating there.