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Canadian Food | Manolo's Food Blog - Part 3
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Sunday Food Porn: And now, for some Canadian Content



It’s a little-known (and less-cared-about) fact that Canadian television and radio licensees are required by law to broadcast a certain percentage of “Canadian Content” each hour, and that there are very strict definitions thereof. We are glad to see that Timmy’s is extending the national-identity-reinforcement to their tasty confections as well, with these Canucks Long Johns. Just a shame those poor boys in Afghanistan can’t get their regulation issue battle gloves on these babies.

Maybe just as well. They look like Leafs fans.

Coffee a la Canuck

Today’s NSFW video comes to us from the dusty plains of Afghanistan. Watch in amazement as these stalwart Canadian soldiers demonstrate proper coffee-making techniques in a battle situation. Revel in wonderment at the fact that people never get tired of arguing about Starbucks. Get your machine gun good and cool before beginning the procedure.

“Step One, check for insurgents. Nuthin’ fucks up good coffee like fuckin’ insurgents.” Amen to that, my brother.

To Market, to Market with Jean-Georges

Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Heather Watson

Chef-Owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Blogger Heather Watson

Actually, as you can see there were no hogs involved in the Winedown event at Market, the Vancouver outpost of the Jean-Georges empire (unless you count the people who tried to scarf more than their share of the truffle pizza). It’s a strange fact but a fact nonetheless that now that I’ve got a blog with “food” right there in the name (scroll up and confirm for me that I’m not just hallucinating this, okay?) I get dozens of invitations to cocktail events and none at all to foodie events.

Fortunately for my liver, Market changed my luck with their invitation to the Winedown event, at which actual food was served. It still counts, even if the invitation came through the bartender, right?

There were cocktails served, too, and very tasty they were although I have to say the Palaciosour was something I’d order again whereas the Basablanca comes across as just a too-tart, much more labour-intense Tom Collins.If the lemons in yours were sharper than the lemons in the test batch as mine were, you were hooped unless you wanted to go back and ask them to splash in some simple syrup or something, which is a bit like sending your food back to get some ketchup on it. I know it’s heresy, but sometimes making drinks in a pitcher and sampling the pitcher before pouring is more likely to result in consistent quality. At a posh event, people want them made individually; the problem is, there’s no time to test them this way. One must strike a balance between practicality and pizazz.

The Palaciosour was a nice sour (and not too) but the float of rich, hemoglobinesque red wine completely made the drink. The interplay between the bitters, the citrus, the refined whisky and the wine added an almost electric dimensionality to the experience that made it something special. It also looks pretty wicked, as the Rioja remains floating instead of mixing in with the rest of the drink.

UPDATE: added the decimals into the recipes. Darn proofreading!


.75 oz Telmo Rodriguez !Basa” Rueda.

.5 oz Victoria Gin.

.5 oz St.Germain.

.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice.

2 dashes Fee Brothers West indian Orange Bitters

combine ingredients and shake with ice

double strain into a coupe

*garnish with zested lemon peel


.5 oz Alvaro Palacios !La Vendimia” Rioja.

1.5 oz Centennial Rye Whisky

.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice.

.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice.

.75 oz Sugar Syrup.

2 dashes Fee Brother Plum Bitters

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

combine Rye, citrus juice, sugar and bitters and shake with ice

double strain into an old fashioned glass

top with ice

float wine on drink surface

*garnish with brandied cherry on rim

And, didn’t I say something about food? The food was (as should be the case at one of Jean-Georges’ places) marvelous. Truffles don’t really float my boat, and thank GOD I finally found something expensive that I don’t actually adore, but the first item out of the kitchen was truffle pizza, and it had me reconsidering my truffle position. The truffle gave the cheese pizza an edge, a savory interest that wasn’t as overwhelming as truffles can be.

I remain, however, deeply skeptical of their celebrated truffle burger. I am a devoutly orthodox burgerologist.

For the second item, let me put this as simply as I can: the scallop sashimi with warm crispy rice and chipotle emulsion may just be the nicest thing I’ve ever had in my mouth, including my ex.

The Steelhead salmon sashimi with green chili, crushed pistachios, and mint (whatever happened to giving foods names instead of entire recipes?) was equally marvelous. It’s not easy to do foods that retain their individual component flavours while working together perfectly, and while this sounds strong, it was in fact subtle and perfectly-balanced.

The raw tuna with wasabi cream cheese and pickled ginger pizza was fresh and, again, well-balanced, but it made me wonder why some foods were sashimis and some were just pedestrian old “raw.” I suspect the salmon and scallops slept with the chef. The dish was radical, but very successful.

Rice cracker crusted tuna with a citrus-sriracha emulsion was my second-favorite of the night, even though I am allergic to the word “emulsion” outside of physics class. I’m a big fan of contrasting, bold flavours, and so was pretty much in heaven all night.

It was a good reminder that there is more to wine cocktails than sangria (or that lame excuse for white sangria that’s really just cheap white zin watered down with some orange slices in it, and Yaletown, I AM LOOKING AT YOU) and that less-alcoholic cocktails pair better with food, particularly after the second round.

Put that in your pot still and smoke it!

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Let me tell you a little tale of Twitter. WAIT, WAIT, don’t click away; there’s booze in the story!

There, now that I have your attention we can proceed.

So, one day I was on Twitter, nattering about gin as I do not-infrequently, and someone from Victoria asked what I thought of “the home team,” Victoria Gin. And, as is my wont, I went off on a rant, as I am all Team Hendricks, as we know, and while Victoria is a very floral gin, which I like, it is also light-bodied and volatile enough to be practically gaseous, which I do not like. And I said that, or words to that effect. I believe what I said was, “if you take the top off the bottle, the paint starts peeling from the walls,” or suchlike, for lo, I am way diplomatic and shizz.

The next thing I know, the rep for Victoria Gin is hitting me up on Twitter, saying “Sorry you didn’t like it, but we’ve changed the way we distill it and I’d like to give you a bottle to try the next time you’re in town.”

Truly, there is no better way to get my attention than to say “please may I give you a free bottle of gin,” and so a beautiful friendship was born. Sadly, while the gin has noticeably improved, it’s still a very light-bodied liquid and not as smooth as I’d like to see, particularly at a premium price point. I’ve also tried the Oaken Gin, and while it’s an interesting addition to blended drinks, it’s more a novelty product than anyone’s main choice of tipple.


They have a new product, Hempen Vodka to wit, and let me just say that while I am so NOT all about the hemp products being perhaps the last person who ever worked for Greenpeace never to have touched pot (not even when I had cancer; the stuff just makes my toes curl with revulsion at that nauseating smell), and while I am so NOT all about the vodka, believing (along with all right-thinking people) that vodka is for people who want to get drunk but who don’t like, you know, drinking, I LOVE THIS HEMPEN VODKA.

The bumph from Victoria says:

On the nose there is a subtle organic sweetness. On tasting, a rich silky texture is elicited by the smooth oils of the hemp hearts. Notes of hazelnut and a hint of spice are also present. The finish is long, clean and refreshing.

Which is good as far as it goes, but I’d put it somewhat more pithily, and in fact am about to do so. I’d say:

Imagine you just had sex with the sexiest hippie you’ve ever seen. (If you can’t think of a sexy hippie, go watch Viggo in Walk on the Moon, or just some old Doors clips.) Okay, you’ve just had sex with that. Now, imagine putting your nose in the hollow of his throat and sniffing deeply. THAT is what Victoria Hempen Vodka tastes like.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

Happy Wok Like Shatner Day!

William Shatner would like you to ease up on the Scotch Bonnets

William Shatner would like you to ease up on the Scotch Bonnets

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure as a Canadian and sophisticated humanoid life form to announce that today is an historic day.

Today, my friends, is Talk … Like … William … Shatner … Day.

It’s also his 80th Birthday, so mazel tov, Bill!

In the spirit of Shatnerianism, we present this ad for William Shatner’s Frying Saucer, a product somewhat less commercially successful than the George Foreman grill, despite the great advantage of being entirely imaginary.

Since we’re on a Shatnerian, foodie roll (a Montreal smoked meat sandwich roll?) here is Henry Rollins’ two-part tribute to the World’s Greatest Canadian and, in particular, his amazing ability to inspire scallop fishermen to greater heights (depths?) of awesomenosity in the pursuit of a Shatner-worthy seafood platter.

“He’s not like us. He’s Canadian.”

Which reminds me of one of the great trivia stories of celebritydom. When young Bill told his stuffy Mount Royal parents about his plan to throw away his proper, preppy upbringing and become nothing more than a meat puppet, his father threw him out without a cent, in fine Dickensian tradition. So William Shatner spent a great portion of his early years subsisting on 25 cent servings of fruit salad at Kresge’s Department Store.

The Things I Do for You People!

Just a little video of me out and about doing my research. This past weekend I was tucked away at the cushy Serenata Guest House in Canada’s wine country (yes, we do have one, and stop laughing) teaching social media at EatDrinkTweet, a conference for wine pros and foodies, one of whom felt it his patriotic duty to buy me dinner, and who was I to argue? I like to encourage the spirit of hospitality as a matter of principle, as do all right-thinking people. Each evening, in fact, I encouraged it to the hilt, and was rewarded with some very painful mornings in consequence.

Thank god for the Cannery Brewing No Jail Pale Ale is all I can say; concocted in response to British Columbia’s draconian new laws, it’s a high-quality, low-alcohol craft option for people who like their beer hoppish rather than hoppy and medium-bodied. Some thoughtful elf had tucked a bottle into my swag bag, and god bless them for it. 3% alcohol makes a very satisfying hair of the dog pre-lunch. Sadly, the Powers That Be decided that this perfectly pleasant pale had to change its charming name, as “No jail” was “an implied warranty against arrest” or, like, whatever, so now it’s called No Justice Pale Ale.

No Jail Pale Ale

No Jail Pale Ale

A reminder, from the Beer Geek blog:

1.  Yellowtail wine is NOT actually made with any marsupials- specifically, not one Yellowtail kangaroo goes in to the vat.

2.  Baby Canadian champagne is not actually made by, nor does it contain any babies (Canadian or imported).  Actually, it’s not even champagne.

3.  Dr. Pepper is not a real doctor.

4.  Ranch dressing comes from a dressing factory, not a ranch.

Oh, NOW you tell me!

You say Pierogie and I say Perogy

Gluten Free? Why not, I guess

It must be said, and that by me (for my extensive blogging staff appears to have gotten into the sherry and is AWOL) that I am indeed making the very most that can be made of my missing gallbladder and subsequent license to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, regardless of how fatty it is. After months where bacon was an abstract concept and cheese a mere hypothetical, the luscious richness that fat brings to, say, Saint Andre Brie is a revelation.

Now, there are two ways to do this, to dive back into a diet that suddenly includes fat.

  1. The high-fashion route, ie lardons. As in Goop and other pretentious monstrosities such as the Pork Martini. Yes, the Pork Martini: The pork Martini serves many needs on many levels! In these pomo days, when old formulas are reborn with futile twists for our fickle, fin-de-siècle tastes, the meat cocktail stands out above wobbly, cranberry-tainted attempts at bar trendiness. When one abandons the olive garnish for that of a pork-rind wedge, the pork Martini merges the flavors of the working class with that of wealthier ones, bridging social strata. It has the humanitarian goal of bettering the nutrition of alcoholics, offering protein for those who prefer their lunches liquid: since meat digests longer, it will both inebriate and offer nutrients for longer periods! It will open new markets to pork consumption, adding American jobs to every level of the meat-industrial complex. And, finally, it looks really weird. To which one can only reply: Oh honey. Oh honey. Oh honey, shut up and get me another Bombay Sapphire 6:1 with a twist.
  2. The low-rent, diner route. This, my friends, is the route I have chosen (and does it surprise any of you?). The food and the company are both better, and my wallet still respects me in the morning. And in this marvelous, Bukowskian noshquest, I believe I may have found the ultimate food.

Winnipeg Style Perogies.

perogy cat knows when you're cheating on him with gnocchi

perogy cat knows when you're cheating on him with gnocchi

Although there hasn’t been a food invented that can’t be ruined by snobbery (yes, it’s been done with truffle oil; hasn’t everything?), the humble perogy is as pure a peasant food as the world contains, and if there’s one thing the peasants know, it’s that it doesn’t pay to be doctrinaire. When you have three things in the kitchen and you’re bored of them separately, you put them together and call it “Casserole” or whatever the local word is (there’s a restaurant in Portland whose best-seller is called “slop” but we do not recommend this for marketing purposes) and you just eat it.

A Shmenge's favorite food

A Shmenge's favorite food

Perogies are the perfect example of this: their infinitely adaptable, humble nature has spawned some amazing displays of loyalty, whether it’s John Candy diverting his flights to pick some up or inspiring spirited musicals.

A plateful of potato-stuffed dumplings served up with catchy tunes and a bit of humour is heating up into a favourite menu item for Ukrainian Catholics and other Catholic churches across the country.

The Perogy Supper Miracle, the hour-long musical comedy about a church fundraising supper written by Winnipeg musician and composer Danny Schur, is about to tantalize and entice audiences in Sudbury, Burlington, Ottawa, Calgary and Prince Albert in the next months…

Schur says he’s surprised and pleased that The Perogy Supper Miracle has attracted enquiries from churches all over North America since its Winnipeg premiere on Nov. 6…

“I’m pleased about The Perogy Supper Miracle because it’s a chance to do creative fundraising and creative ministry and it’s a good musical,’ says Gnutel, who portrays a priest named Father Mark experiencing a doubts and questions about his work while attempting to recruit enough volunteers to keep his parish’s perogy dinners operating.

Boston Pizza even, apparently, has a perogy pizza; that they serve this in Boston, well, colour me skeptical.

The lineup outside Baba's Perogy Hut could be extensive

The lineup outside Baba's Perogy Pizza Hut could be extensive

I grew up partly in Winnipeg, flying from Paris to Winterpeg at the age of 11 months (and I’m STILL not over the culture shock: Oscar Wilde got off the train and said, “SO this is Winnipeg. I can tell it’s not Paris” and every visitor since has said much the same) and fondly remember the one weekend every Fall when our Ukrainian friend Frida would come over and draft the population of the entire block, turning us into one huge perogy and cabbage roll factory, after which we would have enough to eat until the Communists came marching over the North Pole as they were surely going to do any day now. I remember eating them with everything, including ketchup, but distinctly do not remember eating them in the style known in Vancouver’s iconic Hamburger Mary’s diner as Winnipeg Style Perogies.

A lb of food! Cheese perogies topped with house made beef chili and broiled cheese with sour cream.

And here they are:

Winnipeg Style Perogies in all their cholesteriffic glory

Winnipeg Style Perogies by 604FoodPhotography,in all their cholesteriffic glory

Is this authentic? I SHOULD SAY NOT!

It should be “0.45359237 kilograms of food,” duh!

But what I can tell you is this: if you’re near starvation, after nearly three solid month of fat-free dining, it is about as close as the planet comes to the perfect restorative. Sure, the serving was the size of my head, and sure, there was too much cumin, even for me, but it was, nonetheless, a plate of ecstasy.

The kind you feel dirty about afterwards, which only makes it better.

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver

Vieux Carre cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

They call us Hollywood North, and soon they’ll be calling us New Orleans North, as Vancouver will host the first ever Tales of the Cocktail event outside of NOLA, from March 13-15th. I guess they picked it for the swamp-like conditions that prevail in March?

At the media launch yesterday they announced the winner of the contest for the Official Cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, and while I don’t currently have ANY of the ingredients, I’m looking forward to trying it ASAP: The winner was the Dalhousie Cocktail by Jonathan Smolensky from Brix and George (aka “that place with the Chihuly chandelier”) and it does sound delish:

Dalhousie Cocktail Recipe

Start by taking 6-8 Canada plums, which have been dehydrated in coarse sugar, and steep them in Gibson’s 18yr Canadian whisky for 4-5 days.

Then use these ingredients:

60 ml (2 oz.) Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s

15 ml (1/2 oz.) Domaine de Canton liqueur

10 ml (1/3 oz.) Zwack Unicum

1-2 dashes of high quality rendition of Boker’s bitters

Lemon peel

Chill a coupe glass and a mixing/Boston glass.

In a mixing glass, add the Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s, the Domaine de Canton, the Zwack Unicum, and Boker’s bitters. Stir until heavy and properly diluted.

Remove the pith of the lemon peel and rub the peel on the inside edge of the coupe glass, then toss the peel.

Double strain all mixed ingredients into the coupe glass and garnish with a small Canada plum fan.

Then, presumably, put on Barrett’s Privateers, don a festive toque (our Northern fez substitute) and enjoy. Yes, this is going to take some shopping. I think I’m all out of Zwack Unicum, and it takes time to give a unicorn a quality zwacking off.

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