Not Food: Processed Meat Recall Edition

Listeria outbreak! How do you know if what you're eating might be processed foodstuffs? Do the words on the packaging even remotely sound like food? Among the many gems on the extensive recall list are:

- Maple Leaf Ezee Sub Dagwood Yeah...not food.

- Foodservice Meat Institution-grade no-frills protein.

- Shopsys Old Vienna All Beef Salami This sounds like the creepy old octagenarian next door who's always staring at you through your window.

- Boston Pizza Slow Cooked Shaved Roast Beef Just pause and say those words slowly in your head. How do any of these words go together?

- Generic Compliments Cooked Ham The ham? It was ok. Give my generic regards to the chef.

- Burns Burns Regular Summer MP 3's I can haz mixtape now now?

- Mr. Sub Corned Beef 'Cuz when I want corned beef, I think of Mr. Sub.

- Coorsh Smoked Meat Issh schmoked schmeeesh, of coorsh.

- Equality Cooked Ham Gender parity meat means either sex has equal opportunity to contract listeria poisoning.

- Sub Delicious Meat Pita Sandwich Twist Is it a pita? A sandwich? A twist?

- Sub Delicious Belly Buster Club Sub This sounds painful and less-than-yummy.

- Needs Clubhouse Sandwich on Ciabatta I got needs. Ciabatta-related needs.

- Burns Bung Bologna I kid you not.



How can I say no to mussels? A few weeks back, me and my sister got together to make a meal. The mussels weren't as large as the ones I picked up at Granville Island on Canada Day, but they still hit the spot. Sauteed onions, garlic, shallots, mushrooms and leeks with butter and white wine. Sprinkle of dill. My sister made veggie sides with some produce she picked up at a farm market. The real revelation were the English peas she hand-shelled. They were amazing! I've never known what real peas tasted like, having eaten only frozen or canned peas all my life, and they're merely a bland imitator of the real thing.


Hots vs. Nots: Part I

My list of Hots and Nots in the sidebar probably bear some explanation. You probably have your own or think I'm nuts, so feel free to argue your case or share your thoughts in the comments.

1. Butter vs. Margarine - Come on. They're both evil (margarine = hydrogenated vegetable and/or soybean oil = trans fat), so why would you want to skimp on the taste? The only reasonably non-vomitous facsimile that I've found is Earth Balance. Expeller-pressed, non-GMO, 100% vegan--it must be the least evil condiment in existence. They probably even donate a percentage of their profits to help save baby seals from being clubbed to death or something.

2. Kleen Kanteen vs. Nalgene - You know this one already. I'm actually not too concerned with the plastic stuff as long as you're not storing months-old liquid in it to feed your newborn, but that Nalgene crap is ugly and heavy anyways. Aluminum bottles are much lighter, particularly when you're lugging around a litre or two of water. I prefer Kleen Kanteen over those Sigg bottles simply because they don't have that narrow neck which forces you to buy their over-priced cleaning brush just to keep that jug of yours germ-free.

3. Epicurean Cutting Boards vs. Magnetic Knife Racks - Ok, it's not really a good comparison, but Epicurean cutting boards rock my world. Made from sustainable pressed wood, they're light, they're NSF-approved (resists bacteria), won't dull your knives, heat-resistant and dishwasher safe. Magnetic knife racks...ok, I know many of my friends have them and my last place had one too. And it was a pain in the ass. I didn't find it a very secure way to store my knives, the look of a wall full of exposed blades never sat right with me, and it was a little awkward to use, the way I'd have to maneuver the knife off the wall. I prefer storing knives in a drawer--I think it feels more natural bringing the knife out of a sliding drawer already in position to use on the cutting board.

4. Chopsticks vs. Sporks - Another easy one. Having been raised in an Asian family, I firmly believe that chopsticks are the ultimate utensil. Those will real skill can eat nearly any meal without needing any other tool. Sporks are just retarded. They neither spoon nor fork well. Actually, chopsticks probably trump both table knives and forks too.

5. Prep bowls vs. Pinch bowls - I've never found those teeny tiny bowls to be good for anything other than to look cute in a Martha Stewart magazine. Then again, I never cook by measuring out every ingredient beforehand, so whatever. If a spice calls for a "pinch" or "dash", I just "pinch" and "dash" it in when the time comes.

6. Garburators vs. Magnetic Spice Jars - Well, garburators just rock. I miss having one. Magnetic spice jars look nifty, but they're a bit of a pain to use (you need to make sure the lids are really secure, since they're stored vertically). People also tend to stick them near or on their stove tops to save space, and I always think that the heat from your elements will shorten your spices' shelf life.

7. Matcha Tea vs. Mate Tea - Simple: one tastes awesome, the other tastes gross. I like drinking a sweetened, cold matcha with milk drink in the summer, and hot matcha with some red bean sweets in the winter. Mate tea is just nasty.

Stay tuned for Part II!


Easy Pasta

What to do with that remaining capicollo I had in the fridge...I decided to throw together a pasta for dinner and the leftovers went to today's lunch. A roasted red pepper, portobello mushroom, garlic, onions and cream on linguine. That's it.


If I had a Panini Press

This capicollo and fried eggplant sandwich would've been grilled perfection.

Not Food: Olympics Edition

Nastia Liukin may be the decorated favorite, but she hasn't got a butter statue of her like Shawn Johnson does.

We've all heard about superfreak Michael Phelps' 12,000 calorie per day diet. Pizza, French toast, chocolate-chip pancakes, omelets, oh my! A brave soul tries it out. If Phelps wants to add to his list of endorsements he could also plug McD's cheeseburgers. McD's--it's the Disneyland meal for Olympic winners!


August Fruit

I feel like I've been eating nectarines and blueberries by the ton these past two weeks, and I can't stop. I keep meaning to dress up the nectarines with some yogurt or honey, but they're so fresh and delicious just on their own.

My first visit to Richmond Country Farm Market yielded some great big glorious green figs. By the time I got there, they were mostly picked over and I could see the remaining ones were so ripe they had to be eaten immediately. They were like no other fig I'd ever seen--bright medium green, heavy with flesh, and the size of large eggs. They were so ripe that some were oozing juice. By the time I got them home, one of them had already burst open.

I love figs. I love their honeyed sweetness and their meaty texture. They also look rather gruesome closeup, with their alien red pulp and many tiny seeds. The sign at the market simply said "Local Green Figs", but I believe they may be San Pietro figs, what with their tapered necks and a full cavity of jammy red flesh. The sweetness of these figs were amazingly fragrant and there was almost a floral tone to it. If only I'd gotten to the market early that morning! I would've scooped up a dozen more!


Tale of Two Izakayas

I went to two izakayas in Richmond over the weekend and came away with two very different experiences. First night I paid my first and last visit to Manzo Itamae (located on Capstan way, not to be confused with the Manzo on Alexandra Road), which has taken over the now defunct Dozo restaurant.

We ordered five dishes, starting with the flying fish sashimi. We originally tried to order the bluefin, but were told that they were all out (which was strange since it was on the day's specials and we had arrived early, being the second set of customers in the place). The flying fish was well-presented, but we found a small bone in a piece and a fish scale on another. The sashimi also wasn't very fresh; a distinct "fishy" odor prevented us from even finishing the 7 or 8 pieces that were there. The sashimi was $19.

We also ordered a standard izakaya dish--grilled squid. A sizeable dish, the squid came with some nicely crispy tentacles, and was served plain with a slice of lemon. I also had to try their chopped scallop roll and of everything we had that night, I think this was the best thing that evening.

Next came the grilled ox tongue and a pan-fried udon dish. The ox tongue turned out to be six thinly-cut pieces (which we suspected were cut wrong--against the grain of the meat) which were rubbery. The udon noodles, pan-fried with scallions, mushrooms and beef, were remarkably bland. The beef was dried and overcooked.

For the five dishes, our bill came to $56.


Disappointed with the previous night's meal, we decided to pay a visit to one of our favorite izakayas, Nan Chuu. The last few visits we noticed quite a few changes to their menu and now they have finally come out with newly updated menu. We ordered seven dishes.

First to start was the new Ika Tan Tan, which was an appetizer of raw squid and kelp marinated in a spicy sauce and served with strips of dried nori. Heaven! I worried that the squid would be too rubbery and fishy, but I was happily wrong. The squid was slightly chewy, just enough for a good mouthfeel, and was deliciously buttery. The sauce was spicier than I expected, but the heat was well paired with the taste of the nori.

Next, we had one of the chef's daily sashimi selections - 2 pieces of ebi, 3 of tuna, 3 of the hamachi, and 3 of the tako. The tako was more crunchy and soft than rubbery, the hamachi was generously sized and light-tasting, the tuna was perfectly oh-so-slightly seared and melty, and the ebi was amazingly sweet and succulent. The ebi were also larger than I expected. This dish was $24.

Grilled ox tongue is one of my favorites, and their thick cut chunks of perfectly grilled tongue were up to Nan Chuu's usual standards. The meat was flavorful with a slightly smoky beef taste, and it was served with mustard on the side. We also ordered the Gyu Tataki - thin slices of lightly seared beef served with raw scallions and a light soy-based dipping sauce. It was so thin and tender that it almost melts in your mouth. Another favorite of mine is their wagyu beef robata, which were eight cubes of tender marbled Japanese wagyu beef on two skewers. The meat was juicy and tender and perfectly cooked - slightly bleeding rare in the center.

Agedashi tofu is not usually one of my favorites, but I decided to try their take on it. What I expected was a small dish of 3 or 4 cubes of fried tofu with a light vegetable gravy sauce. What came to our table was a bowl of 6 or 7 large cubes of crispy, fried sweet and silky yellow tofu in their "special mushroom sauce" which consisted of shiitake and enoki mushrooms. Delicious!

For dessert, we ordered 3 kinds of ice cream - green tea, mango, and black sesame. The three small scoops came with a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a patter of red bean for the green tea ice cream. The mango was standard, and the real standout was the black sesame ice cream. I could've done without the whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and instead asked for more red bean to pair with the black sesame.

For seven dishes at Nan Chuu, our bill came to $58.