Wednesday, February 13, 2013


One year and twenty three days since my last post... Dear god (Lower Case), I've been terrified of this thing, this blog thing, this bear your soul and cringe at the very sight of your own words thing... Forget hindsight, take a good look in the rear view mirror and I'm pretty sure you won't like everything you see.

Several lessons learned from BLOG 1.0:

Being personal, is personal, too personal... A voice inside my head suggest that nobody should ever read what I write, and that when I do write I should say nothing personal about myself. Recipes bear your foods soul, dining experiences similarly express your culinary palate and yet time leaves time for experience, growth, reflection and those moments when you look back and say "I could have done that better... I cook, dine, judge those things differently now; through a new set of more "mature" eyes.

I don't mind being heard but I almost wish it was forgotten or upgraded in short succession rather than being hung out on the internet to dry.

Thought for food...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trash your Microwave

Here's a challenge to all of you foodies out there, trash your microwaves!

Really, what do you use it for on a daily basis? If you enjoy cooking, kitchen gadgets, slicing, chopping up vegetables, and fresh local ingredients where would the microwave play into your daily cooking routine.

I decided about a month ago to relegate my microwave to the basement, I needed it's valuable real estate for my very heavy stand mixer. The front of the microwave was starting to discolour and it really was eye sore in the kitchen. We'd only really used the microwave a handful of times over the past few months and all of those times were to re-heat a leftover meal, which we could have done in a pan or in the oven very easily.

Why ditch the microwave? There are a handful of reasons that you could / should ditch your microwave. For starters, if you are like me it's one of the largest and least used appliances in the kitchen. Secondly, it eliminates the desire and ability to eat microwave dinners which are some of the most nutritionally void food items on the planet. It certainly removes the ability to microwave foods in plastic or BPA lined packages / containers which are not doing your health any favours. Lastly, there is a great deal of speculation about the effect of microwaves on your food; as with most grey area health studies the findings are not conclusive enough to make any drastic changes. Essentially it's surmised that a very large portion of the nutritional value of the food that you cook / reheat in a microwave is destroyed in the microwaving process rendering it nutrition-less, kind of a drag if you're thinking of reheating that beet and spinach quiche you made yesterday.

Anyway, food for thought... If you don't use it why cling to it?


Ps. Major producers to ditch BPA from packaging


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fatter UP!

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on this debacle...

Did you know that effective tomorrow Tim Horton's is upping its cup sizing system, in other words if you order a large double double tomorrow (Monday January 23rd) then you'll receive a extra large instead...

Outstanding, the American food chain philosophy of upping portion sizes with waist lines actually applies here too.

If you didn't already know, what you drink can have a dramatic effect on your health just like what you eat, it's not a free ride just because it's a liquid. Be warned chocolate milk lovers; just because it's milk doesn't mean it's health for you either, look here.

Try this on for size, Tim Horton's freely gives out its nutritional information so there really isn't any work for me to do.

A XL (new L) double double contains: 280 Calories, 14 g of fat and 34 g of sugar. OMFG!

Anyway, now you know! I feel fatter just thinking about this, btw there are no calories in black coffee...

A tale of two cities...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…"

Okay so maybe there wasn't any despair but it certainly was winter and really really cold when this thought crossed my mind. This past weekend we went out in the town of Guelph; had a little dinner a few drinks, and responsibly called a cab to head off to Guelph Ontario's interesting downtown bar scene.

I guess as a side note / preamble to this story, I should tell you that I'm a Kitchener / Waterloo Ontario native, I've spent most of my life in this area and have called the city home for nearly a decade now. In KW we're used to a couple of truths. For starters if you park on the street overnight, especially in the winter, you'll be ticketed which is never fun about thirty dollars of not fun. On top of that cabs are pretty cheap and plentiful, other than New Years Eve you can expect to get a cab to show up to your location within minutes of the call, pretty much without exception.

Now, the first sign of trouble should have taken root in our minds when we called a Guelph cab at midnight and couldn't get through to the dispatcher. As in every cab dispatch in Guelph was overladen with calls as early as midnight even though bars don't shut down until 2:00 am. Insert big red flag here, when we finally got through to a cab company they dispatched a cab to us, probably took 20 minutes, wasn't really paying attention at that point.

Drinking, dancing, and a few hours later the bar shuts down and we join the throng of people outside in the downtown core of Guelph seeking out food, warmth, and oh yeah a ride home because we're all too drunk to drive. Unfortunately there are no rides home, people walk away from the downtown to snag cabs coming in or any cab that comes into the downtown area is already there to pick up somebody by name which doesn't bode well for the rest of us. Did I mention it's now even harder than before to call the cab dispatch, didn't get through once, not that it would matter because odds are someone is going to snag that cab on the way to us.

It's 2:30, around -14 degrees Celsius and my comrades are not dressed for an arctic adventure. We wonder around, ask for assistance or any tips on how to get a cab to pick us up and the best we get is wait in front of the cab company office for an indeterminate amount of time or catch the city bus that goes out near where we've got to get back to. The bus line is easily 45 minutes long and standing around isn't an option we want to entertain.

Here's where my wheels start turning; there are few ways out of Guelph's downtown after hours but there is something that they have plenty of... COPS, there are literally dozens of officers and cruisers in and around the downtown waiting for something to go down. Ps, cops won't drive you home, I asked several and they could care less what you feel about getting home; super depressing when a guy who is getting paid at the moment to do nothing says he can't help you out of a cold bind.

The big question/statement?! Do the fights in the downtown break out because there is no good way for people to get home? Compared to the city I live in where cabs line up in front of the bar, a safe ride home is a rare commodity in Guelph and should be a pretty embarrassing issue. Perhaps if you get the drunks out of the downtown in a timely manner maybe you'll have fewer issues after the bar; won't need to pay for the overtime for so many officers. I'm not looking to present a theory or a solution but I am trying to express how pathetic a problem this is. Perhaps the city of Guelph could start it's own safe ride home cab company that would operate during bar hours to take the strain off of it's obviously overtaxed cab companies and overworked police officers.

Anyway, I digress, just a thought... From this man's perspective I think they're going about dealing with this situation in entirely the wrong direction. If your downtown is full of drunk pissed off kids after the bar, figure out why those kids don't want to go home and sleep / drink / do whatever kids do after the bar. Fix that issue don't just put officer band-aid on the job and call it better. 

Oddly I can't find anything related on this online, I doubt I'm the first or only person that finds this annoying.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Boston Pizza Pie in the eye, Part 1

If you head on down to your local Boston Pizza at lunch, grab a seat in their comfortable restaurant, and open a menu you might say to yourself... "Hmm, I feel like a pizza, I may just eat one, I am at Boston Freakin' Pizza after all!" When you say this the last thing that may come to mind is that that pizza could cost you more than you expect...
I don't mean that the pizza has some strange disease or comes with teen pregnancy, that would be awkward and illegal I think... No, it can literally cost you well more than you would expect a pizza of that size to cost. Here's my dilemma... Check out the Menu. If you get one of their "Gourmet" pizzas(which means dry and lacking character) it's $16.79 and it's only 10" inches. Sure they serve it on a real plate at a real wood table with an actual waitperson taking your order but come on, you gotta tip the waitperson anyway. To do a comparison check out the other guys. Pizza Pizza, Domino's, Papa John's, there's a trend developing here. Pizza pizza sells a medium for $8.49 and has a $5.00 lunch special on that same pizza, and their medium is 12" not 10". Basically you can pay nearly three times the industry average for that medium just to eat lunch at Boston Pizza! At least they charge me $2.79 for a fountain drink, I wonder if refills are free? That doesn't make sense, so... 
I sent my research to the people with the answers to do a little cost analysis, maybe they use a fancy flour milled by hand by artisans who work with alabaster in their spare time or perhaps their pepperoni isn't rough ground pork and beef it's wild impala meat farmed in a totally humane and respectful way. Whatever the case, the customer service e-mail at BP will certain give me the right answers. Oddly however, my query is not among the FAQ's on their web site, how strange...

FAQ: Why the hell are your pizza's so expensive? 


Here's what I wrote: 


I visited your Waterloo location with a few colleagues of mine for lunch earlier this summer and we all shared a concern over a glaring pricing issue on your menu. One of my colleagues is a little obsessed with pizza and oddly had never eaten pizza at a BP location. We all ordered our own medium size original pizza and had a hard time stomaching the bill for dessert. With a non-alcoholic drink before tax or tip it came to $19.58 each... That makes for an expensive lunch considering at say Pizza Pizza, you can enjoy a larger medium pizza starting at $5.00 with a $1.00 drink. I do like to compare apples to apples and I can see that there are some inequalities in the comparison I'm making but your apples are easily three times more expensive after a tip than your competitions. Why are your pizza's so very expensive? Even the least expensive version of the medium is more than double the price of your competition and smaller than the standard 12" medium available nearly everywhere else. Please lower your prices to save face and customer base. 

I've been promised a response within 2 business day! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be funny and get to the point... Don't point, it's rude...

Good morning early readers, I have no idea why I'm not hung over right now; sure it's a Wednesday and you probably shouldn't be hung over on a Wednesday but sometimes life creeps up on you and says "hey, time to have some fun on a weekday!"

Anyway, I wanted to get these thoughts on paper... screen... before they float away on the torrid sea of my mind.

We had a get together, four people, drinks laughs and a plan to head out to one of Waterloo's finest places to eat Bhimas Warung. A real hole in the wall but world class quality, they have amazing everything and although pricey it's well worth a visit. Anyway, they were closed when we finally arrived so we had to make the game time decision. Bauer Kitchen or Rude Native, we knew the Bauer was going to be dead, so Native it was. The place had live music and the band was drawing people in, so it didn't seem bad. How wrong we were, the staff was busy serving drinks and drinkers and it was about 10:30 at this time so we're much more hungry than thirsty. Our first waiter had no time for us and the second waitress had many more tables than ours to worry about. In English, service was slow... Hard to blame them but really that's poor planning on management's part and a simple acknowledgement from the waitress that our service was sucking would have been nice... Didn't get it... Just sass... More on that later.
The appetizer menu is the only menu at night like many restaurants, every app has a deliciously alluring description and they're all $11. We order 5 things and assume they'll be plenty for four people to eat.
Problem 1) the food takes forever to show up, we were starving when we arrived so by the time the food came we're nearly eating the table dressing.
Problem 2) We get 4 of things we wanted and samosas, we didn't order samosas we ordered steamed clams, I can understand the mix up they may sound the same in a loud environment.
Problem 3) the overworked waitress is sassy and sass is a pain in the ass when I'm the one tipping you not the other way around. "We didn't order samosas" "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure, we ordered steamed clams" "Well it's for your table" "Understandable but we didn't order them"... Let's pause here, people in the service industry ATTENTION PLEASE, if you fuck up an order the best way to impress the customer into granting  you a good tip is to give them more than they wanted. In other words, leave me the samosas and get the clams too and I'll tip you...
Problem 4) Instead of that, this happened, she grabs the samosas and says "we won't charge you for these" sweet, because I didn't order them and you're taking them away from us so if I were a mathematician, nothing plus nothing equals more frustration points for this service.
Problem 5) the portions are small, 6 apps wouldn't have even come close to filling us up and for $11 each that's a big deal.
Problem 6) the food sucks, as in we only finished the burnt breaded shrimp out of all of the items, I could go on about this point but I'd rather say I'm plainly disappointed. I've been to the Rude Native before for great meals but that was several years ago. Out of the 5 appetizers we had not one was up to the calibre of food I'd expect from an Applebee's let alone a restaurant with prime real estate in Uptown Waterloo masquerading as a fine dining establishment.
Problem 7) we ordered the bill as soon as the food arrived because we wanted the hell out pretty early on, the waitress chose the end of the meal to tell us that our crappy-apps were only $4 each, which makes me think, why are regularly $11 apps $4... Is this the food that's going bad or the C team in the kitchen? If the shoe fits...

Counting back from 10 I give this service a whopping 3 tin stars... Craptacular!

We left, hungry, went to McMullan's which always has great pizza and many great beers on tap, get a wheel and finish it off just in time to catch a cab back home to go to sleep because it's late and we're tired. Two great revelations at McMullan's... In the washroom, where I do a lot of thinking...

A) The urinal pads they use are shaped like the Cobra Insignia (that's right, the G.I.JOE Cobra insignia)

B) Some vandal scrawled "Relax... Just Pee..." on the wall in front of the Urinal. It worked and the light bulb in my head flickered to life. These in-your-face-while-you're-peeing advertising companies should capitalize on this concept. Blank white page, black text "Relax... Just Pee..." some sort of logo for the product that you're plugging in the bottom right. Ingenious, or so I'd like to think. Motivational Pee-vertizing! TM, MD, PHD ESQ


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Researching good blog title advice is frustrating...

From July 10, 2011

The mother behind me is telling her son off "Don't eat your snack yet, eat your dinner first. You finish your chicken nuggets before you eat your apples, you don't want to mess with your blood sugar buddy." I can tell I’m back in Chicago.
Well I'm on my way to Euphoric Eau Claire WI for a couple of day, just leaving O'hare right now. Other than super mom nothing has caught my attention on this trip yet. I had an AMAZING day yesterday; my wonderful girlfriend and I visited one of our favorite places to be, Niagara on the Lake to try out some new wineries and experience Hillebrand Jazz at the Winery. We had a quiet Friday night at the Falls and an early Saturday morning on our bikes (not motorcycles, the things with pedals, ding ding!) riding from winery to winery to buy some new wines to sample. We hadn’t really checked out a lot of the wineries on the west side of Niagara on the Lake so off we went. MAP


Sunnybrook Farm Estates: So freakin’ cool! They’re not a very large operation and their products seem to turn off most visitors as soon as they walk in and see no grape wines, but make no mistake they are great at what they do. Sunnybrook produces a cider which blows import ciders away; it’s not blindingly sweet which is a BIG plus. Their fruit wines are also unique, certainly not some sugar laden strawberry zinfandel swill, quality fruit wines! 3 thumbs up!

Konzelmann Winery: I’ve been here before and their wines are okay, I did buy 2 bottles this go round, but what I love most about this winery is how engaging their sommeliers are. Really passionate and knowledgeable people that like to talk wine, and not just their own. A consistent Gold Star performance!

Palatine Hills Estate Winery: Probably my favorite underdog; if your estate winery tasting pavilion in is a warehouse instead of some well groomed and magnificently manicured vineyard and wine castle then you’re the underdog losing the aesthetics battle. In any case, their reds are bold, bold, bold, and they have one great dry 2006 Cab that tantalizes my taste buds. Two more bottles…The glass isn’t half full here, it’s full to the brim with excellence!

Stone Church Vineyards: Passionate people and more great wines, what can I say, this winery is a must visit and I’m disappointed that I haven’t been there before. The sommelier that was working with us brought out the salami; no that's not a euphemism but it was a nice treat with the wines. Two more bottles… and 150 bonus points!

Pillitteri Estate Winery: A) it’s off the highway, which is pretty inconvenient B) two words, BUS TOUR, so we’re just another glass to fill, no fun C) We had little selection and the new kid pouring the wine, snore. In and Out, nothing nice to say about… them… sorry…Exceptionally flashy bottles and web site though.

The Jazz festival starts at three so we gotta go, lunch on the water… Oh yeah lunch.

Recipe time: Picnic Baskets…

Picnic baskets are outstanding, you can build up a simple collage of your favorite things and mix and match your flavours. I love cured meats, cheeses, olives, and crackers; try some of these next time your want something savory.

Raincoast Crisps – I haven’t found a flavour that I don’t like, they’re the best.
Almond, blue cheese, or jalapeno stuffed olives – all so good and a great way to accent a martini too!
Cured meats, salami, supressata, shinker mager, etc.
Applewood smoked cheddar – My favorite cheddar, I’m going to make some soon
La Sauvagine – eat your heart out brie cheese
Blue Haze – so blue so good
Fresh cherries – thanks fruitland!


…the Jazz Festival far exceeded my expectations and involved an act-of-too-nice-edness story. We were new, never been to one of these before but excited nonetheless. We got lawn seats, nobody told us that you would need to get there super early and sit inches from another listener sprawled out with lawn chairs and coolers of? So when we showed up late without chairs the abbreviated letters S.O.L. were the only thing that came to mind. I explained it as clearly as that to one person working there, then their boss, then her boss and then I was shown to my new seats, in the Trius Red lounge where we’d have our own chair, a waitress, and an umbrella, now we’re talkin’. They mentioned it would be on the house and I was touched. The jazz was amazing and wine complimented it well. FUN AND 1/2, highly recommended and I shall return!

Still waiting for some member of the flight crew to arrive so that we can fly to Minneapolis (ps. Travelling to Minneapolis really helped me type Minneapolis much more quickly, practice makes perfect.). Tangent over… time to fly!

Ever in Eau Claire??? Eat at the Green Mill, better yet stay at the Holiday Inn next door too because the food is soo good and soo cheap! Some of the better pizzas I’ve had.