My honing steel and favourite chef's knife
Evidently, I’m pretty hooked on this whole idea of writing about food thing. Pictures help a lot but some food and cooking concepts are really difficult to describe. I still remember an “ah ha!” moment more than five years ago when Alton Brown demonstrated how to swirl crepe batter in a pan (this clip starting around minute ten) to get it to the optimal thinness. I realised that was a technique that would have been much more difficult to understand without the visual aid. There are many others but I’d like to deal with one today: knife honing.
First to deal with a confusing point: a knife is sharpened when its edge is ground on a stone (powered or otherwise) so that metal is actually removed from both sides of the edge. Between sharpenings and through normal use parts of the edge will get pushed out of line and compromise the knife’s effectiveness. By drawing a knife’s edge across a steel (or honing it) the edge is pushed back into line.
Trusty tasting glass and his morning-after friend the coffee mug
Starting in 2005 a friend of mine has graciously hosted an annual Beaujolais Nouveau party. This year he took it up a notch and augmented the usual cheese and crackers by inviting us over and cooking dinner.
The idea of BN is that these wines are made quickly from grapes picked in early September and are released on the market on the third Thursday of November. The mythology is that this was an opportunity for winemakers and vineyard workers to relax after a hectic harvest season but has now grown into the chance for wine collectors to evaluate the quality of a vintage; an excuse for wine novices to have winetasting parties; and a giant marketing campaign that is one of the few things keeping the French wine industry in business. TasteTO has a good article with more detail on the back story of Beaujolais Nouveau.
I have been using Twitter for several months to track what’s happening in the food world and to promote my blog posts. Overall I’m still divided on the utility of Twitter. It seems like there is a huge ratio of noise to information. The interface–depending whether you use the default web or a third-party interface–is an odd mixture of old school commands and flashier bells and whistles. I think there are a few particularly useful ways that people are using Twitter and today’s post is devoted to pointing out the ones that have to do with food, especially in Toronto.
A lot of tweets (the messages sent on Twitter) are along the lines of “I just ate…” or “I am at…” and those, in my opinion, have a pretty limited utility but some have refined this to an art and use Twitter to post timely and extremely succinct reviews of Toronto’s restaurants. The two who do this best are spotlightcity and TOFoodie. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to cut my reviews down to 140 characters or less but I appreciate reading what others have to say in this format–particularly when pictures are included.
Brawn on toast with mustard and cornichons
I try to be polite so when I was invited to an open house recently I asked what I could bring. The hostess responded to my email by writing: “Sure we would love if you brought something yummy… anything surprise us!” Anything? Really? Sounded like a challenge to me.
To pacify the less adventurous eaters at the party I made a batch of the Julia chicken liver mousse. Just as it was at Hallowe’en this pate was very popular. An aside: Party guests seemed oddly polite about not moving (or eating) the sage leaf garnish in one corner of the bowl. They went as far as to excavate mousse from underneath the sage. Chicken liver mousse is great but I’ve done that before and it’s not much of a challenge beater. I knew of only one dish that would perfectly fit the bill, a terrine made from the parts of an entire pig’s head: brawn.
The outside of The Local Company at night.
Last Friday five of us headed to the Danforth to see what the widely mentioned The Local Co. had to offer. First of all, the name invites confusion. I understand that the locavore movement has a bunch of cachet rife for the cashing-in-on but most people will drop the “company” part of the name from their google search and read about The Local on Roncesvalles which is either “a rundown hang out for wannabe hipsters and aging bar waifs…” or “easily the funkiest pub on the Roncesvalles strip.” To clarify: I’m writing about The Local Company at 511 Danforth Avenue.
The service while decent, needs some work. We were greeted warmly, our coats were taken, and we were promptly seated. I know this is one of those that’s-just-the-it-is things but personally I think that restaurants should do more to clarify that when patrons (perhaps distracted from the competition by the act of sitting down and greeting each other) opt for “still water” they really want the five dollar bottle and not perfectly safe tap water. Not our server’s fault because I’m sure it is a matter of restaurant policy but this city is full of restaurants at the same or higher price level (Harbord Room and The Black Hoof come to mind) where tap water arrives without diners having to jump this hurdle.