Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tripadvisor travellers 2013 travellers choice for restaurants across Canada


Happy Thursday great Foodie friends,
Just a quick posting to give you all a heads up…..

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Tripadvisor released its 2013 Travellers Choice list for restaurants across Canada.

Noted were 5 restaurants in the top 10 –
*L’Abattoir Restaurant – Vancouver, BC
*Rim Rock Cafe & Oyster bar – Whistler, BC
*Norwoods Restaurant- Ucluet, BC
*Locals Restaurant at the Old House, Courtenay, BC
* Bouchons Restaurant, Kelowna, BC

Congrats to our BC Culinary scene taking 5 out of 10 spots across Canada.

click this Link for the full list and posting from Tripadvisor

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Blog from the Bog- Cranberry Bog that is.


As Fall days fast approach I was excited to get an invite to the “Bog”
at 3rd generation Hopcott Farms.
Hoppcot’s is a 3rd generation farm becoming well known for its local meats raised on its own land touting antibiotic and hormone free local offerings.
The Hopcott family started as a dairy farm in approx 1934 and in 1957 the dairy herd was sold to help Fred Hopcott realize his dream of raising beef cattle. Over the years the farm has changed with the times and as all good farmers with vision are pushed to evolve to survive.
Overtime Bob Hopcott saw the writing on the wall as he saw many local packers disappear he realized that he would have to continue to diversify. In 1996 Bob Hopcott heard that Ocean Spray Cranberries was looking for acres to plant Bob singed up and converted approx 70 acres of corn fields into cranberry bogs.

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We were lucky enough to meet Bob along with Geraldine Austin from BC Cranberries and some of the great team from Hopcott Farms responsible for this magic little berry.

Cranberry facts

*Approx eighty growers located in the fertile lower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island produce over 750,000 barrels (1 barrel = 100 lbs) of cranberries annually, accounting for up to approx. 12% of cranberry production in North America.

*It takes approx 3-5 years for a cranberry Dwarf shrub or vine to start bearing fruit.

*There are basically two ways to harvest a cranberry – Wet-picked or dry picked.

*A natural predator to the cranberry- a tip worm which can destroy a harvest

Known health facts related to Cranberries

The majority of physicians and other health professionals believe there is a clear association between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a low risk of chronic disease. Phytonutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly antioxidants, are increasingly being shown to help optimize human health.

Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) that can prevent the adhesion of certain of bacteria, including E. coli, associated with urinary tract infections to the urinary tract wall. The anti-adhesion properties of cranberry may also inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease and stomach ulcers.

Recent scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
this is a great link to WH Foods that keys in on further health benefits to this magic little berry

A small group of us were lucky enough to dawn the “waders” and go into the bog to gain a better understanding of the wet-picked harvest. The wet-picked or harvested cranberry is generally destined to head to the Ocean spray juice or Craisins plants for processing after the “washing/cleaning” process is completed locally.

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The cranberries are wet-picked or harvested by first flooding the field (which was a bit of a challenge to farmers this year due to our great weather) and then once the berry has floated to the surface (they are basically a hollow berry, so easily want to rise to the top) they are collected with these large booms and brought to one end of the field where they can be pulled out by a conveyor that brings the berry out of the field and into trucks.

From what I gathered the largest % of cranberries are wet-picked and a small % are dry picked and can usually be found at your markets and veggie stands for a limited time generally for you to use in baking or homemade cranberry sauces. The greater % of cranberries are destined for Ocean spray to convert into delicious cranberry juices or the ever popular Craisin.
This crop has to be a labor of love as though the cranberry is a fairly hearty fruit, it is subject to a few natural predators that can destroy a crop if not tended to.

The best part of my experience was getting to meet the farmer, the face, personality and passion behind our foods. This experience helps educate us about where our foods come from, as well as learning what the passion is behind what we so conveniently just find in the grocery store.

Eat local, buy local, support local is easier today than ever if you take the time to embrace it. It is a healthier way to eat and it is a more economical way for us to support local producers.
Let’s be honest, we don’t have access to everything locally as some of our favourite fresh foods and fruits just aren’t grown locally or are seasonal. Does this mean that we can’t do everything we can to eat fresh, eat better, eat locally? I don’t think so.

This was a great experience and not my last. I do intend to start a series of postings (as time allows) focusing on local products from our local farms / orchards / wineries as well as their specific growing and processing practices.

Hopcott Farms gets a thumbs up from me on their promise to grow, produce and process in the most responsible practices within their ability.
Thank you to Bob Hopcott and Geraldine from Bc cranberry for your hospitality and the excellent education through this great experience.

Tried my hand at fresh Cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving using fresh cranberries from Hopcott’s farm! 

Recipe: 

1 pound of fresh or frozen cranberries

1/3 cup water

1 3/4 cup sugar (use raw or cane) 

The zest & juice from one orange

1/4 tsp of nutmeg

1/2 tsp of allspice 

1 cinnamon stick 

Method: 

Put the cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on med high to a boil & the reduce to a simmer, add in the spices and cinnamon stick and simmer for approx 5-7 mins more.  

Add in the orange juice and rind in the last min and stir in.

Pull out the cinnamon stick and then refrigerate 

Yields approx 2 cups of the most delicious Cranberry sauce! Happy Thanksgiving  and Merry Christmas! 

Buy Local/ Eat Local/ Support Local

You Gotta Try This!

click here for a link to Hopcott Farms

click here to access the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission

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Sriracha – quite possibly the fastest growing hot sauce company and the things you probably didn’t know- brought to you by QZ.com


Happy Sunday great foodie friends,
I came across this article that I just had to share.
Sriracha is one of those sauces that you may not own yet but will soon, as well you may very well think that you have never tried it before but likely have as it is the “go to” spicy sauce for most if not all sushi chefs for spicy tuna rolls.
If you are lucky enough to have tried it, then I am wrong. If you are a spicy sauce fan, then you surely have it as a staple in your kitchen!

Thank you QZ.com for such a great read!
click this link for the full article at QZ.com

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excerpt courtesy of QZ.com

If David Tran were a more conventional CEO, he would be a fixture at conferences, a darling of magazine profiles, and a subject of case studies in the Harvard Business Review. Sriracha hot sauce, made by Huy Fong Foods, which Tran founded 33 years ago in Los Angeles, is one of the coolest brands in town. There are entire cookbooks written to celebrate Sriracha’s versatility; memorabilia ranging from iPhone covers to t-shirts and all sorts of other swag; a documentary in the works to chronicle its rise; and innumerable imitators. Sriracha sales last year reached some 20 million bottles to the tune of $60 million dollars, percentage sales growth is in the double digits each year, and it does all this without spending a cent on advertising.

Yet Tran shuns publicity, professes not to care about profits, hardly knows where his sauces are sold, and probably leaves millions of dollars on the table every year. His dream, Tran tells Quartz, “was never to become a billionaire.” It is “to make enough fresh chili sauce so that everyone who wants Huy Fong can have it. Nothing more.”

Product before profit

Today hot sauce is an emerging global business. The industry, which is among the 10 fastest growing in the US, now rakes in over $1 billion a year in global sales. But when Tran arrived in Los Angeles back in 1980, he was both jobless and hot-sauce-less. Having recently arrived from Vietnam, Tran found it near impossible to find a spicy additive worthy of his palate. The Southeast Asian community in Los Angeles, he soon realized, was suffering from the same hot sauce withdrawal.

In a matter of months, he had arrived at his rendition of Sriracha, a version of the Thai sauce made with hybrid jalapeño peppers (red or sometimes orange in color), vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic, and was delivering it to local markets throughout the city. Soon thereafter, he was packaging it into its now unmistakable clear bottles with the rooster logo and green caps.

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But the only hope he ever harbored was to provide Vietnamese immigrants with a hot sauce worthy of their pho soup. Growing a bona fide business wasn’t an afterthought—it wasn’t a thought at all. “I started the business with my eyes closed. There were no expectations at all,” he said.

He still runs it in much the same way: with his eyes closed. He says he has not once hiked the wholesale price at which he sells Sriracha—a number he won’t share with anyone—no matter that inflation has more than tripled food prices since 1980. He can’t tell you where Sriracha is being sold, because all he knows is that Huy Fong has ten distributors, to whom he has handed off his hot sauce for over 10 years now. “We don’t have a detailed record on where it’s being sold,” Tran admits. Griffin Hammond, who is making the documentary about Sriracha, tells Quartz that as far as he knows, Sriracha is available in the US, Canada and Europe. “But it’s probably sold elsewhere, too,” he conceded. “At the very least, I know that on the bottle there is English, Chinese, Vietnamese, French and Spanish.”

Tran also learned only recently that Sriracha has become a popular ingredient among sushi chefs, who have been using it to spice up spicy tuna rolls for years. “I didn’t know until one of my distributors told me,” Tran said. In fact, says Hammond, it’s “almost always the spicy ingredient in spicy tuna rolls these days. It probably makes up a pretty significant portion of their sales.”

Sushi chefs aren’t the only ones. Restaurant chain P.F. Chang, which has 204 branches in the US and worldwide, offers Sriracha-flavored dishes. Chef David Chang (no relation to P.F. Chang’s) has bottles of Sriracha on every countertop of his Momofuku Noodle Bar restaurant in New York. Bon Appétit magazine declared the sauce the ingredient of the year back in 2010, and Cook’s Illustrated called it the best-tasting hot sauce in 2012. Though it didn’t win, Sriracha was one of three new flavors chosen in Lays potato chips’ new flavor contest last year.

You Gotta Try This!

Gourmet Warehouse- 2nd Annual Chocolate Challenge


Happy Tuesday great foodie friends….
The Gourmet Warehouse continues to be a culinary Disneyland as well as keeping their finger on the pulse!

I know that the Captain of the good ship Culinary wonderland is Caren with her ever smiling helpful ways.

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But I also know that she has a fantastic team by her side constantly tweaking, identifying and organizing ways to make the store better everyday.
The term “it takes a village” comes to mind and though it is usually used in reference to raising our kids, I have come to see that it is true also in business.
The Gourmet Warehouse has a village and is happy to extend that same support to the great community surrounding them.

Oct 10th I was thrilled to have attended the 2nd annual Chocolate Challenge which is hosted by The Gourmet Warehouse and supported / co-hosted by Cacao Barry / Callebaut and many other suppliers.
The focus of this great event is to raise money for the Strathcona backpack program (helping feed youth in the area).
The event was a success this year raising just over 16,000.00 which will go a long way to helping feed countless kids that need it.

The Chocolate Challenge was a great opportunity for Culinary students and home cooks alike to show off their chocolate magic to some of the best judges a contest could hope for to showcase your talents.

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By the way, who knew that the quiet un-assuming talented Thomas Haas was such a comedian? !

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You could feel the anticipation and tension in the competitors as some of their mentors -Thomas Haas, Greg Hook and Rob Feenie were tasting their creations….

A good night was had by all!

Some of the treats:

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The store was decked out with tasting stations with some surprise hosts and guests:

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Richard Wolak – Vancouver Foodster
As well spotted in the crowd where many more of Carens supporters- Bill Good, @YVRBCbro- prominent Vancouver food writer/photographer and the Food Gays- also well known Vancouver food writers.

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Erin Ireland and her friendly baker! From To Die For Foods.

Pasta from New York’s Rao’s

Rockin Ronnie’s pulled pork!

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Chef Ann Kirsebom – showcasing a great new cooking product from Cacao Barry!

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Congratulations to The Gourmet Warehouse, Cacao Barry / Callebaut Chocolate and Strathcona Backpack program for a successful event!
Thank you to Sophie Lui for being the evenings MC and for all of Carens supporters for your undying support for great causes!

Finally I leave you with a shot of Chef Christophe’s Chocolate sculpture that he created while the chocolate Mayhem was in motion.

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Charcut Roast House- A must try


Happy Fall days great foodie friends.

I had the chance to finally try

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Address: 101, 899 Centre Street SW | T: 403.984.2180 | Mon – Tues: 11am – 11pm | Wed – Fri: 11am – 1am | Sat: 5pm – 1am | Sun: 5pm – 10pm

And all of my expectations were filled and much more.
Located in downtown Calgary you will find a wonderfully welcoming restaurant from the minute you enter you will know that you have come to an eatery that focuses on all of the senses.
Welcome to the world of Chef Connie DeSousa, Chef John Jackson, Carrie Jackson & Jean Francois Beeroo, a world of talent and experience.
click here for a full bio of the Charcut Dream team

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Our night started out with a sit up at the welcoming bar and browsing the “Speakeasy” / handcrafted artisan cocktails made the way drinks should be crafted.

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Served with our tasty sips was the must have Charcuterie board- (we had the 1/2 portion). It was served with house-made pig head mortadella – hand mixed pork studded with pistachios and truffle, shaved country style lamb ham with shaved parmigiana cheese, rabbit, brassica grainy mustard and crostini.

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Upon a great recommendation from a well known Alberta foodwriter/ blogger (Gabriel) we tried the house-made Lonzino which is a well known Italian style bar snack (a jerky style treat) strips of pork loin made with fennel pollen, orange and black pepper.

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We were shown to our table and now the real deal begins. Charcut service was second to none at this point as we were truly made to feel welcomed as if in someone’s home and being treated to all of the comforts afforded.

Dinner was ordered, Spragg Farm’s roasted pork belly served over aged cheddar grits, arugula pistou and green beans. – $27 I can’t even describe the perfect flavors and balance of textures in this perfect dish. The grits were a perfect ying to the pork belly yang. delectable

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For my friend, Spit roasted Spring Creek prime rib $4.5/oz (8oz)

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The stars of Charcut were absolutely matched by the “Tables Sides”:
If Poutine isn’t already decadent enough, try duck fat fried poutine, cheese curds and truffle gravy. (Poutine for my American foodie friends is a Canadian spoil Quebec originated that is French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds)
$8

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Next was Charcuts “Smashed” potatoes – popular Bluff potatoes with sour cream, rosemary & house smoked bacon.
9$

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Okay- before I name this next dish I have to tell you that I have never liked, in fact have always hated and vowed to never be near again vegetable. Any guess ?

Brussel sprouts

Now I can’t even begin to explain how I was so against ordering these but at the prompting of our great waitress, I conceded and happily to my delight I was overwhelmed with wow flavor and texture. If you hate Brussel sprouts and are to only try one more in your life, I have found the answer at Charcut!
Grilled Jungle Farms- Brussel sprouts – with house cured bacon ad shaved grana padano- friends the flavors coming from this dish were heartwarming beyond belief. I quite certain that they were either grilled or fried but whatever the preparation it was “outta bounds”

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The last table side we had was a refreshing dish that was just perfect to clean the palate – Watermelon & Cucumber salad with citrus marinated feta cheese and fresh mint.
Thank you Jean Francois for recommending this great flavor cleanser.

What is a perfect meal if not finished with a sweet treat?!

Dessert was served in mason jars just the perfect size for sharing.
We had a tasting butcher board of:
Strawberry vanilla beam cheesecake mouse layered with toasted graham crumbs.
Milk chocolate parfait- Sea salt caramel, ovaltine crunch and dark chocolate crumb
Raspberry rosemary gelato (I believe) and last but not least Carrot ginger gelato.

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A perfect end to a great meal.

I recommend that you try Charcut and be forewarned that it will not be your last visit.
We had a wonderful experience that was not by any mistake or great luck but defiantly a restaurant that has set standards and quality desires to drive everyone in one solid direction to succeed.
The more you learn about Charcut and their undying drive to connect to their community, their farmers and suppliers on all levels shows in everything that that do as a team.

You Gotta Try This

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

7 Superstar chefs and their failures – brought to us by The Daily Meal & Eater Las Vegas


Happy Tuesday great foodie friends….
I never like to wish ill will upon any eatery of any kind, but as we all know we work very hard for our dollar these days so shouldn’t we expect more?!

This article keys in on a statement that I truly believe, just because your a household name doesn’t automatically mean that your restaurant will be successful. Many times a restaurant opens with a splash and a photo-op that plays off of the success of the owner / celebrity chefs name and fame, only to end up as the restaurant that still needs to compete with the ever changing culinary trends and discerning clientele.

The Celebrity status will likely get initial diners in the door, now the Chefs culture and standards of outstanding food must prevail!

click here for the article and full list from Daily Meal

click here for the link to Eater Las Vegas

click here for the slide show

YouGotta Read This!