I was in the Bayview LCBO a couple of weeks ago and made it a point to look at the “Cellared in Canada” section – it was two rows of fancy displays (pictures courtesy of Larry Paterson’s website) and wine made from grapes grown somewhere else. Nothing wrong with grapes grown in other countries, but why is the LCBO trying to fool people who would like to support their local wine industry?

Jancis Robinson has written yet again about this embarrassment. She will also be a guest on “The Current” on CBC radio tomorrow morning to speak about this problem.

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homemade chocolate

September 21, 2009

I experimented with making chocolate from scratch before researching about chocolate production. It was very tasty, with a very long finish, but it’s texture was not what I had intended.

I roasted raw cacao beans, removed the husks, ground them in a mortar with a pestle, and mixed the ground beans with maple syrup and grated orange peel. It is beautiful to smell and luxurious to taste. To actually make chocolate takes much more time, machinery and energy. Whatever you want to call my concoction, the house smelled heavenly and everyone seemed a little happier – but it could just be the theobromine talking.

umami

September 20, 2009

I have always wondered about the fifth taste umami (deliciousness) which is flittingly indescribable – mouthfeel, savoury, mmm-ness. I recently came across a couple of good sources of information. Rowan Jacobsen’s post on Oysters has a great description of umami (not to mention Oysters).

Harold McGee breaks it down into amino acids (especially glutamic acid) and the actual taste receptors for umami. In his highly recommended book “On Food and Cooking”, McGee tells us that the word umami was coined in 1908 by Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda who noticed that naturally forming MSG (monosodium glutamate) on Kombu seaweed had characteristics of taste that were different from the usual four – sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

Umami is naturally intensified from protein breakdown by aging or curing – foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, soy sauce and miso are very high in umami. Some foods like kombu, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes (especially the seeds and surrounding jelly) are born with it. I also remember reading somewhere that umami may directly affect the limbic system which seems to agree with my personal experiences with foods that are high in it.

eid mubarak

September 20, 2009

Enjoy the day and feast in the sun! I think I hear drumming! Mohamed Diaby is conducting a controlled (aka non-chaotic) drum jam at Teranga Restaurant (159 Augusta Av., Toronto) at 6 pm today. to celebrate Eid.

fall mushrooms

September 19, 2009

Our fall has featured some beautiful mushrooms. We got a pile of Chanterelles that were picked in Canada’s eastern provinces – we cleaned them and preserved them for the year, but not before sampling a few to make sure they were good. They were absolutely beautiful and tasted wonderful with slow scrambled eggs.

We also got lucky at a farmer’s market and picked up a couple of pine mushrooms (matsutake) collected in James Bay. They were unbelievably sweet just fried in some olive oil. It was as if I had added sugar to the pan – it was quite striking. We also tried them raw to remember a dish at Avalon where they were shaved over beef carpaccio.

aroma of baking bread

September 19, 2009

I am intoxicated with the smell of baking bread, experimental sour-dough with wild yeast from the bloom of stolen grapes from our neighbour’s garden. I am merely a bystander; the baker (and robber) is not me.

update: the bread is ready – the crust is incredible, butter melting…gotta go

apology

September 14, 2009

Serena Williams issued an apology for her unsportslike conduct. Even if it was late (or possibly contrived) it takes courage to apologize when you have done something unacceptable. I would argue that the longer you take to apologize, the harder it becomes – after your ego has hardened all your senses. I think that Serena should be suspended for a short time due to her actions and then welcomed back to the sport that she loves.