Another One Pot Wonder

Tonight I got home later than usual, the kids were wild with hunger and there was nothing healthy to eat in the fridge. So, time for my one pot wonder quick meal.    
This was so easy! 

I cut up two small onions and dropped them into my Dutch oven pot and let them get that shiny, translucent look. 

Then I crushed a cube of vegetable stock-stuff into a mug, added about two cups of water and mixed that up pretty vigorously before dumping it in the pot with the onions. 

Next I dumped in a 24 ounce can of spaghetti sauce and then added about 3/4s of a 375 gram box of spaghetti – I figure it was about 10 ounces of spaghetti. 

Within a minute or two the spaghetti softened up so that I could fold it into the sauce. 

I let the spaghetti and sauce cook for about 12 minutes and then added about two cups of frozen peas. Why peas? Because that was what was in the freezer! 

I also cut up a frozen veggie patty and let that that warm up by sitting on top of the spaghetti. 

By the time I had my kids seated at  the table the veggie patty was warm right through. 

This was a real one pot wonder success!!

Rodney’s Oyster House Yaletown 

A wonderful dinner at Rodney’s Oyster House with Shane, my host  for dinner. 

I will add more notes on my observations shortly. Let me just say for now that this was a wonderful dinner experience. 

   
   
   
    
    
   

Fresh Raw Oysters Returning to BC Restaurants

Fresh raw B.C. oysters will be on restaurant menus in 2016 as the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control are co-hosting a workshop for oyster growers to develop management practices and strategies to reduce the likelihood of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in oysters.

The two-day workshop in Courtney in early December will feature representatives from shellfish growers, the seafood and restaurant industries, and different government agencies, working together so B.C. raw oysters can be enjoyed in restaurants in 2016.

Growers will be working with the BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health to develop a plan in response to last year’s experience, when warmer than average sea temperatures resulted in higher than normal levels of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in B.C. oysters. There was a corresponding increase in illness associated with consumption of raw oysters that led to restrictions of their sales at Vancouver Coastal Health-area restaurants to be served cooked. Discussions at the workshop will include testing, monitoring procedures, temperature tracking, traceability, data collection and sharing.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a naturally occurring bacterium in sea water. Its numbers increase when water temperature rises during the summer months. The bacteria may grow in molluscs and shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels when seawater temperatures are warmer. When those shellfish are eaten raw or undercooked, a foodborne illness may occur.

My Blogging Philosophy

I recently received an email from one of my readers asking me why the majority, if not all of my blog posts, are positive in nature and often recommendations for the places that I go to.

Creme Caramel - Random Picture
Creme Caramel – Random Picture

They went on to ask if I am paid to write blog posts for the restaurants or foodie places that I write about.

The fact is, I do not get paid by businesses and I do not expect to get paid by businesses. Nor do restaurants give me product to influence what I say about them in my blog posts. In fact, many restaurant or foodie shop owners do not even know that I am a food blogger when they meet me.

My philosophy has always been to write about the places and the foods that I enjoy and would like to go back to with my friends.

If a place is marginal or not worth visiting again, I don’t bother writing a blog post about it. There are too many great food experiences in our city and region to enjoy; why bother dwelling on the losers?

Of course that is unless a place is so bad that I believe it is a danger to society, then I might write a little thing about it to let people know how bad it really is. Fortunately I have never run across a place like that. Yet.

So whether I post my little disclosure notice at the bottom of a blog post or not (I often just forget) typically, if I am going on about a place that I’ve eaten at or a food that I’ve eaten (like the crickets I ate) then it is because I really enjoyed it and I would like my friends, that includes you, to benefit from the experience as well.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery Grand Opening Event

I have written a couple blog posts now about the Meat Craft Urban Butchery located in Port Moody. And, although they have been open for business for a couple of weeks now, they are going to have a grand opening celebration on Sunday November 22nd between noon and 4 PM.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery
Meat Craft Urban Butchery

At their grand opening event Meat Craft will have a pig roast. Yes, they will be roasting an entire pig!! Once the pig is roasted they will be breaking it down and making sandwiches for all who stop by to visit them. The cost for a sandwich? A donation to the Share Food Bank in Port Moody.

However, this is more than an opportunity to have a roast pork sandwich, it is also an opportunity to meet the farmers from Shaw Farms and Gelderman Farms and discuss their products and farm philosophy.

There will also be representatives from Johnston Pork, Hills Foods, Vancouver Pie Hole, House of Q, Moccia Urbani, and Sweet Thing at the Meat Craft Urban Butchery grand opening event to discuss their products and, most importantly,  offering samples.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery will be open for business at 9 am on Sunday November 22nd with the pig roast ready to go around noon and until they run out of roast pork.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery is located at 114 Moody Street in Port Moody, BC.

Disclosure: Meat Craft Urban Butchery provided no financial or other incentive for my writing of this blog post. And as always, editorial control remains with me.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery

Just in time for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, Port Moody’s Meat Craft Urban Butchery has opened for business!

Greg McFetridge and Kerry Martini
Greg McFetridge and Kerry Martini

Opening for today was no small feat; there were many late nights of construction and preparation in order to be ready. But after chatting withGreg McFetridge and Kerry Martini, the owners of Meat Craft they say it was all worth it when they saw the smiles of the customers who filled their shop on opening day.

Meat Craft Urban Butchery focuses on locally sourced, locally grown, and ethically raised meats with a focus on grass fed, free range beef and sausages made in-house, without fillers (I am going to be sampling one of Greg’s creations – a turducken SAUSAGE! tomorrow).

Sausages
Sausages

Although this means that they are not a discount butcher shop, it does mean that when you are purchasing meat from them, you know you have purchased from a butcher shop that has the intention of shaking the hand of the farmer who raised the animal you are eating.

And Greg and Kerry both believe that the feed the animal has eaten and the way that the animal was treated contributes to the quality of the meat that you will be purchasing and serving to your family .

Turkeys
Turkeys

I asked Greg McFetridge, the general manager of Meat Craft Urban Butchery what motivated him and his business partner Kerry Martini to open an artisan-oriented butcher shop.

Greg told me that he started in the meat business with Thrifty Foods many years ago when Thrifty Foods was run like a local business with a passion for local products and the local market. Of course once Sobey’s bought Thrifty Foods, as much as they say it hasn’t changed, the reality is, it did change and became a little more “corporate” and less focussed on the small-town local feel many people loved.

While Greg states very clearly that he very much enjoyed his time working as a butcher at Thrifty Foods, at some point he lost the spark to be a butcher. He worked at some other jobs until a friend told him about Windsor Meats in Vancouver.

Although working at Windsor Meats meant less income, it was there that his passion for working as a butcher was reignited.

After a chance conversation with his business partner Kerry and her husband, the idea of Meat Craft Urban Butchery was born.

Bacon - Because - Bacon!!
Bacon – Because – Bacon!!

Fast forward to today – Meat Craft Urban Butchery’s opening day and a busy little shop just off St John’s in Port Moody, and there I am in the butcher shop fulfilling one of my foodie dreams – ordering a turducken!

As you may or may not know turducken is a de-boned duck inside of a de-boned chicken inside of a de-boned turkey. From what I have heard, these are incredibly flavourful.

However, the typical turducken is quite expensive – in the neighbourhood of $150. Which is out of my budget.

So to meet my budget needs and my desire to try a turducken, Greg has agreed to make me a “mini” turducken – a turkey thigh with chicken and duck inside.

I will be picking up my little ball of meat-goodness tomorrow afternoon and yes, there will be a follow-up blog post to let you know how it turns out!!

Meat Craft Urban Butchery can be found at 114 Moody Street in Port Moody. It is on the north-east corner of St John’s and Moody Street. If you want to make a special request, call them at 604-461-0632.

You can also check out and “like” the Meat Craft Urban Butchery’s Facebook page.

Disclosure: Greg McFetridge and Kerry Martini provided no financial or other incentive for me to write this blog post and as always, editorial control of what I write remains with me. 

A New Fresh Sheet At 293 Wallace Street

 I heard that Chef Hiro “Yoshi” Takeda was launching a new fresh sheet on Friday and seeing as the weather was looking pretty positive for a motorcycle ride up the Fraser Canyon, I decided to go for a ride with a stop at Chef Takeda’s restaurant, 293 Wallace Street and sample a couple of items from their new fresh sheet.

When Chef Takeda welcomed me and was explaining his new fresh sheet he told me that his philosophy is to have a variety of styles of food to keep the menu accessible to the variety of diners who visit his restaurant. 

There are the “safe” menu choices, the more challenging items, and then the “out there” items for people like me who willingly eat ants, reindeer moss and Douglas Fir kombucha. 

    

With that in mind, I took Chef’s advice and started with the salmon chowder. 

  
The salmon chowder was loaded with large chunks of salmon that I assume were caught in the nearby Fraser River. I enjoyed this chowder because the broth was so perfect. All too often kitchens will add too much flour or thickener to the broth to make it more “chowder-like”. The kitchen at 293 Wallace do not make that mistake. A perfect broth. 

  
After the salmon chowder I decided to skip past the pan seared scallops and go way out there on the menu. I went to the wild boar belly with pine mushrooms, locally grown sage, roasted potatoes and Chilliwack corn all in a pork broth. 

When the wild boar dish was placed in front of me the aroma that rose from the plate was incredibly pleasing. So many complex smells! The lightly grilled boar, the sage, the pine mushrooms and the broth created a “zone” of happiness. So much so that people from a nearby table came over to ask what I was having. 

Of course once I tasted the dish, the star was the wild boar belly. 

Unlike pork belly, the wild boar belly has a wonderful firmness to it. Even the fatty part of the wild boar has a pleasing texture with resistance to the bite. And the flavour of the wild boar, obviously, is much stronger than pork – all part of the appeal of this dish. 

It really was wonderful. 

Because I limited myself to a cup of soup and the wild boar belly from the starter menu I still had room for dessert. 

Once again I chose to go to the outer edge of the menu. No, there were no ants on my dessert but there was a butternut squash panna cotta with birch syrup, burnt hazelnut, Granny Smith apple purée and caramelized milk skin.   

Although strictly speaking panna cotta is a dessert made from sweetened cream thickened with gelatine, Chef Takeda’s butternut squash panna cotta was sweet and dessert-like, but with enough squash flavour that I was able to convince myself I was eating a healthy dish. 

The birch syrup is really quite astounding. Chef recommended that I just touch the back of my spoon into the syrup and place it on the tip of my tongue. Wow. The flavours were astounding. One drop of birch syrup just exploded into such a deep and complex sweetness. 

I really admire what Chef Takeda and his team at the 293 Wallace Street Restaurant are doing. Yes, some of the offerings are “out there” but they still manage to keep the menu accessible. 

  
 
I have no hesitation recommending 293 Wallace Street and I look forward to returning to sample more of their menu items. 

Chef Takeda’s restaurant is located at 293 Wallace Street in Hope, BC. If you are driving through Hope, stop in and try the food. I’m sure you’ll like it. 

Richmond Public Market

After a long day of watching our kids playing at the Terra Nova playground we needed a family feast, and fast. 

  
So we stopped into the Wonder Wok on the second floor of the Richmond Public Market. 

  
We went with the four dishes for $26 combo. 

Our kids loved the green beans and the rice. I particularly loved the chicken with potatoes in a curry sauce. 

  
The cubed tofu was one of my favourites. 

This is definitely a place that I will be returning to. 

“Cook Your Life” at the Gateway Theatre

Following last year’s ground-breaking inaugural year, Gateway Theatre is thrilled to bring back the Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival, showcasing in Richmond BC the best contemporary theatre Hong Kong has to offer.

One of the theatre events in the Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival that is of particular interest to me combines two of my passions: food and live theatre. It’s a show called Cook Your Life and it will be taking place from September 17 – 19, 2015 during the Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival.

May May Chan
May May Chan

In the Cook Your Life show, solo performer May Chan cooks live onstage while she draws funny and insightful parallels between food and relationships.  The show incorporates a 4-D theatre approach where the audience can see, hear, smell, and taste the experience!

The multi-sensory show revolves around a woman whose compromises in the kitchen (her partner’s love for spicy food is one she doesn’t share) extend to her relationships as well.

Cooking live on stage while interacting with the audience, MayMay makes funny and insightful analogies between food and love, inviting us to taste the emotion in her food while challenging us to experience the bitter along with the sweet.

This lighthearted (and mouth-watering) play is a thoughtful reflection on the complications modern women face when it comes to love and relationships.

Cook Your Life!
Cook Your Life!

Cook Your Life is a comedic solo show created, produced, directed and performed by MayMay Chan, who joined Bravo Theatre as Artistic Director in 2003.

May is also a seasoned cook herself, with her own cooking channel in Hong Kong.

Cook Your Life, produced by Bravo Theatre, and co-produced by Take It Easy Theatre can be seen September 17 – 19 at 8pm on the Gateway MainStage. Tickets to the Cook Your Life performance can be obtained by visiting the Gateway Theatre’s website.