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Similkameen BBQ King Competition

Chris and Kyla from the Grist Mill in Keremeos

Chris and Kyla were taken aback by my presence. They weren’t the first, they won’t be the last.

Today is Flashback Thursday: flashing back to July (gawd, has it been that long?) and the special event was the Similkameen BBQ King competition. For non-Canadians, the Similkameen Valley is a gorgeous part of Southern BC. The river is perfect. The mountains are perfect. The grassy plains are perfect. And, as you can see from the above picture, they are all over the Hipster fashion trend.

I was once on a Greyhound going through the valley; also on the bus was a French Canadian fruit picker and his girlfriend. The girlfriend was from BC and had talked him into coming with her to Keremeos, “the” town in the valley, to pick fruit in the summertime. He was deeply skeptical about this decision, but deeply in love, so he had said yes and there he was on the bus, the scent of Montreal still wafting off of him (it smells like cigarettes and beer), trundling through the Similkameen valley as the sun rose. The mountain caught the light, the huge K (the legacy of a landslide) glowed pink, the valley glimmered green and silver with mist, and the bus stopped, let them off, and he fell to his knees and kissed her hand for inviting him to a place as beautiful as that valley.

So that’s the Similkameen.

Similkameen

Similkameen River

Forgive my crappy iPhone pictures, but I did what I could without my trusty photographer Cathy Browne.

The setting? The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos, an historic grist mill, ie where the farmers brought their wheat to be ground into flour. It’s in the hands of my old friend Chris Mathieson, the only person I know with both a degree in Philosophy and skills as a blacksmith, so he’s perfect for this gig. That’s him, along with his wife Kyla, in the top picture. His first words when he saw me there, hundreds of miles from my normal dank cavern in Vancouver? “What are YOU doing here?” A warm welcome indeed, if not heated.

The challenge itself was Chopped-style: in other words, the competitors were given a set basket of ingredients from particular suppliers, and told to do what they could with them on the barbeque.

Similkameen BBQ King Ingredients

Similkameen BBQ King Ingredients

The ingredients were all local; the valley, along with the nearby Okanagan valley, is famous for its produce, and is now beginning to wrap its head around the very un-Canadian action of tooting its own horn. This event was an exercise in horn-tooting, and featured local wines along side the BBQ creations. Full disclosure: I got a media pass for the event, but only after contacting the organizers and asking if I could pay by Paypal, because I would have come up just for the day, all five hours each way on the 80-seat limousine. And lemme tell ya, it would have been worth it.

 

Similkameen BBQ King plates

Similkameen BBQ King plates

There were some very professional plates and some outstanding tastes. I’d come primed for ribs (BBQ, right?) but the chicken as a black box ingredient meant that chefs had to think outside that very box, and some of the solutions were very creative indeed. Chicken sliders, sure, but chicken sliders with a skewer of chicken bacon to garnish? That’s a different level, a level not generally found down gravel roads.

I don’t even like risotto, but the risotto was so good I went back for thirds. People were whispering, “Have you had the risotto? Have the risotto! They may run out. Psst, have you had the risotto?…”. And the basil ice cream was velvety, perfectly sweetened, and paired perfectly with the pound cake. Some of the wine pairings were more successful than others, but the main discovery for me was Forbidden Fruit Winery, whose fruit wines are sophisticated, layered, and miles away from Boone’s Farm.

Entrants:

And the winner was Karl Schorb from the Branding Iron. From the remarkable number of “Congratulations, Karl” blog and Facebook posts from his competitors, it’s clear that he’s a key figure in the tight-knit  Okanagan and Similkameen gourmet community. Here’s the winning plate:

Delicious winning plate from the Branding Iron

Delicious winning plate from the Branding Iron

My notes (after perhaps six tasting-size pours of local wine) “Truly yummy.” Yes, I am a master of subtlety when it comes to reviews. Now take a look at the competition (and forgive my iPhone shots through the window of the shuttle bus from Penticton, because what choice do you have, really?).


Created with flickr slideshow.

Great Canadian Cookery with Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet

Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet

Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet


It’s time for a little Hamiltonian Halloween spice for the season.

Sometimes people ask me how I turned out this way. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein is a large part of the answer. This deranged Goth fantasy was what passed for educational children’s programming in Canada back in the 70′s, and it was unspeakably brilliant. All of my mental warpage I owe to it. You haven’t seen camp until you’ve seen Billy Van dressed as a hag who thinks she’s Goldie Hawn, hosting a cooking show.

You will see that now.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the very definition of CANNOT BE UNSEEN. And is it just me, or do the mannerisms recall an otherworldly Rachael Ray? To say nothing of the recipes.

Stop the Presses: NIGELLA IS FREE!!!1!

Nigella wins her freedom AND Breast Supporting Dress

Nigella wins her freedom AND Breast Supporting Dress

Gentlemen, start your saucepans: Nigella Lawson and her complete enema of a billionaire are getting a Dee-Vorse! Here’s his whole snively, double-talking, non-apology statement. Nigella is too busy fielding calls from Prince Hot Ginge and George Clooney to be bothered issuing a statement.

Charles Saatchi statement

The next time this guy goes in for a heart transplant, let’s try to make sure he gets one, okay?

And I’m giving this the Food Porn tag because a) I know some degenerate out there is going to fap to it and b) well, two more reasons, scroll up.

Mason Jars, Holidays, and Safety

Mason Jar Microwave Cakes

Mason Jar Microwave Cakes

I know putting things in mason jars is the very latest in foodie fads (if it’s 2010) but there are practical considerations to deal with. Here is one of them from Victoria-based private chef and recovering economist Janice Mansfield.

I know those little pies and cakes in mason jars are all over Pinterest, and they look as cute as buttons, but PLEASE do NOT bake your desserts in them!

Mason jars are made to be heatproof, but are not made to withstand dry heat (aka baking). Perfectly ok to use as serving dishes for things already cooked or made up. All it takes is one glass splinter to ruin your long-weekend barbeque!

Snack safely!!! and have a good one!

Happy Canada day to my friends in Canuckistan and Happy Independence Day to the Yanks!

Foodie Follies: Geography Fail


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So here I am, watching the Food Network Chopped All Stars and I find myself (not alone) irritated by Chef Penny, the self-described Persian Princess. But I’m not irritated with her because she’s a bitch (that would be hypocritical of me). I’m irritated with her because she’s either stupid or ignorant of the most basic geographic facts; these would be annoying enough, but she is also ostentatiously pretentious about mistakes these failings lead her to make.

No, Penny. You may not “bring Middle Eastern flavours” to the table with your Moroccan spice mix. You were born and raised in California; had you actually lived in the Middle East, you would perhaps be aware that it is about two thousand miles east of Morocco.

Now go tell half the menu writers in the world.

140-character Restaurant Reviews

This one thanks to Celebrity Chef and Gourmet Ginger Bobby Flay.

Had an amazing dinner last night at Girl and the Goat in ChiTown.Gorgeous place, amazing food. Pork shank was off the chain.
@bflay
Bobby Flay

He’s a New Yorker, in case you couldn’t tell.

20th Century review: “Piquant, with lingering notes of…”

21st Century review: “Off the chain.”

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Sometimes I do, too, but I can’t make it like Jiro can. Living National Treasure Jiro Ono is the world’s greatest sushi chef, and also the subject of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the next movie that I absolutely must view! Just watch this trailer to see for yourself just why. WAIT: get yourself a snack first, or you just may leave gnaw marks on your monitor.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – Official Trailer – Magnolia Pictures from Sundial Pictures on Vimeo.

In the basement of a Tokyo office building, 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono works tirelessly in his world renowned restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. As his son Yoshikazu faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant, Jiro – san relentlessly pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi.

It’s available from Amazon, too,for those who can never get enough visual stimulation.

Thanks to Brett Blair on Twitter for the tip!


@ it’s a great movie….do go to Tojo’s before, or you will be drooling throughout the film! if not, be sure to go right after!!
@brett_blair
Brett Blair

Faking Foodieism

Lady Gaga just threw something together

Lady Gaga just threw something together

When I saw an article called 20 Ways to Fake Being a Foodie, I poured myself a cup of something strong (I think it was Irish Breakfast) and settled down to enjoy some 100% organic, free-range snark. Imagine my disappointment when the article itself turned out to be a poorly-scrambled hash of How To Fake It and How To Buy More Expensive Stuff; indeed, the article seemed designed to earnestly foster the breeding and nurture of exactly the kind of pretentious know-nothing that has given foodieism a bad name.

Leaving, of course, a gaping hole in the Snark-O-Sphere. This is like waving a red flag made of alfalfa hay and cow hormones in front of a bull, so you know what I did next: THIS!

Douchebag

Douchebag

Twenty Ways to Fake Being a Foodie: by raincoaster

  1. Take pictures of everything that you eat, no exceptions. That means everything from your morning coffee, which you will refer to as “petit café” right through to the last shot of rotgut you take before passing out in front of the tv. Bonus points for doing it with an SLR rather than an iPhone. Double bonus points if you change lenses first while your food gets cold.
  2. Instagram that shit so nobody can tell what it really looks like anyway.
  3. NEVER refer to a food, even English food, by English words. And don’t use Italian words when you can use French or Japanese. It’s not zucchini; it’s courgettes. Bookmark Babelfish for the purpose: SO handy for translating “Cream of Wheat” into Icelandic and tweeting out the result.
  4. Cross-post all these pictures to every social media platform under the sun. Do not add anything new to any of the cross-posts. If someone wants to follow you on Twitter and be friends on Facebook, it must be because they want to see these things repeatedly, amirite? Have a blog; that should go without saying.
  5. Claim to have originated the recipe for things which need no recipes, and put those recipes into blog posts which are then shared to all platforms in number 4. A good example would be a post that starts with, “I’m often asked by my [imaginary] friends for my killer recipe for ‘Sandwich à beurre d’arachide avec la confiture,’ so after much prodding I’ve decided to share the secret…”
  6. When dining with others, physically interpose yourself between them and their food until you’ve composed and photographed it to your satisfaction. They will feel special.
  7. Namedrop chefs who’ve appeared in Vogue, but not those who’ve been nominated for James Beard Awards.
  8. Describe your groceries as “hyperlocal” because you buy them at the Safeway down the street.
  9. Describe your groceries as “organic” because, hello, they’re not made of noble gas compounds, are they?
  10. Describe your dinner party hors d’oeuvres of white toast and Cheez Whiz as “brushetta.”
  11. Spell it like that.
  12. Ostentatiously disdain and abuse one restaurant that you will never be able to afford. In advance. That way you don’t have to come up with excuses when you get invited there with friends.
  13. Buy one bottle of super-premium olive oil. When it runs out, refill it with cheap olive oil bought because it was a similar colour.
  14. Serve cheap wine in expensive glasses. Be sure the napkin around the label doesn’t slip. When someone questions the wine, say it hasn’t breathed enough, but you wanted to share “something really special” with your friends.
  15. Don’t forget that time is precious when preparing for a dinner party. Pick up the stuffed loin at Costco and pretend you slaughtered the beast yourself “on Papa’s ranch.” That Papa’s ranch is the Rancho Vista Senior’s Center need not concern your guests.
  16. Introduce yourself to the staff whenever you go out. Follow them into the kitchen and introduce yourself to everyone there. It’s so endearing, and they will never forget you.
  17. Tip 10%. It keeps people on their toes.
  18. Refer to the time you spent bagging groceries in high school as “my early culinary training.” Better yet, upgrade it to “doing a stage with Famous Chef.” He need never know. He probably wouldn’t remember your name if you had.
  19. If you really, truly, cannot make any palatable food whatsoever, but people are coming over expecting to be bowled over by your cuisine (because you’ve been following tips 1 through 18) buy a metric shit-ton(ne) of fruits and green, leafy vegetables, bung the lot into a blender, and serve in milkshake cups, explaining you’re “over the macrobiotic thing, and really into Living Foods juicing now.”
  20. If you have accidentally invited any actual raw vegans, fold immediately, you have met your match in pretention. How can you tell a raw vegan? Oh they’ll tell you!
Gwyn wins

Gwyn wins

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