Some good advice for those of us who are fish-belly white and should flee the sun like a vampire:
Bobby’s Place Olde World Tavern
63 High Street
Moose Jaw, SK
Butter?! Pffffffffffftttt! That stuff’s for health wimps! At least that’s what my Polish Uncle, pickled with years of dedicated vodka indulgence would say. Okay… maybe he’s my imaginary Polish Uncle, but it’s a fair archetype! Back in the old country we would indulge in Smalec, basically a seasoned pork lard. My fellow Culinary Slut had his first taste while we traveled through Poland, and upon seeing the horror on is face did I really appreciate what I was eating. Sometimes you lose context when you’re too close to something. This artery clogging goodness is seasoned with garlic, pepper and whatever other spice mix the kitchen has decided to concoct, then spread liberally on dense sourdough bread. I suppose in our past we burned those calories off working fields and pounding back some vodka. Today we still do the vodka… and we get fat. Ahhh, the old country.
No one knows more about blooming spices than Indian culture. An Indian Chef once told me, “One cannot be a master Chef of our cuisine until he has become fearless with spices.” Not only do they know how to combine spices, they know how to intensify the flavour, so that it blossoms on your taste buds.
- Don’t use a wooden spoon which can absorb flavours and odours. Plastic or metal.
- Get a mortar and pestal. Cracking and grinding spices releases their flavour. The same is actually true for coffee beans – a conical burr grinder which crushes the beans instead of cutting them with a sharp blade, releases the oils from inside the bean, making it more aromatic and more flavourful.
-Apply heat: Either toast the spices or heat up with oil.
A great article by: Floyd Cardoz
How to bloom whole spices: Oil the bottom of a pan and place over medium heat. You want the oil to be hot, bt you don’t want to see any smoke. Throw in the whole spices and cook until very fragrant and little bubbles form around the spices. Don’t let them brown.
How to bloom ground spices: First, you need to mix them with a little of the liquid from your recipe—vinegar, water, stock, wine, whatever—to make a thick paste. The moisture in the spice paste helps keep the ground spices from burning when you put the paste in the hot oil. Then you cook the paste until all the liquid evaporates. You can tell it’s time to stop cooking when the oil starts to separate from the spices.
The article offers much more, so check it out!
In another article food geek points out:
The first thing to note about spices is most of the flavor is carried by essential oils. Because the flavor compounds are tied to the oils, it means that they will not easily dissolve in water or water-based solutions. Although there are ways around this, dumping a bunch of spices into a stew and hoping everything distributes evenly and well is not a guaranteed method of success.
The Maillard reactions are the complex browning reactions that happen to food at temperatures below that of caramelization. Sugar caramelizes at a temperature above the smoke point of most cooking oils, and most food burns if kept at that temperature for too long. Still, the food does turn brown, and it is tasty, and the culprits in these instances are the Maillard reactions.
What blooming does is take advantage of the oil nature of the spice and the potential for flavor-changing maillard reactions without destroying too much of the flavor. The idea is to put the spices into an oil, heat to somewhere just below the smoke point of the oil, and cook for just a little while. Spices will brown, and more importantly, the essential oils will emerge from the spices and infuse the rest of the oil.
What can you do with this spicy oil? You can use it as a last-minute flavor addition, especially for long-cooking dishes such as a stew or anything in a slow-cooker. Any sauce that has an oil component could be modified with this oil. This goes from a reduction sauce or barbeque sauce to, say, mayonnaise.
We call this the Paris Salad because it’s a dish we had enjoyed at a Bistro in Paris, France. After a late night we had rolled out of bed quite late, and we wanted something light but delicious. We were only just beginning to explore the world of salads, trying to convince ourselves that it was not a barren wasteland of flavourless greens. There are so many places that do salads badly, but they can actually be a delicious experience for those that like decadence and flavour. This quickly became one of our favourite salads to make at home!
• 3-5 shrimp
• sesame oil
• 1 clove garlic sliced
• Spring Green Mix
• Imitation Crab Sticks OR Real cooked crab meat
• 1/2 Avocado – sliced
• Celery – finely chopped
• Cucumber – chopped
• Cherry Tomato – halved
• Red Onion or Sweet Yellow Onion 0-thinly sliced
• Boccocini – halved, I like using baby boccocini which is even smaller
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon soy
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 garlic clove minced
• .5 tsp salt
• 1/8 cayenne
• .5 tablespoon dried parsley
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Tahini: Tahini is a sesame paste that is very common in middle eastern cooking. Many large grocery chains carry it in the shelves of their ethnic food sections. If you have a middle eastern market in reach, you may find it freshly made and refrigerated. You can also make Tahini yourself: 2 1/2 cups of raw sesame seeds on a baking sheets and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted brown. Watch them carefully, they can go from toasted to burned quickly. Let them cool completely. Place sesame in a food processor with 3/4 cup olive oil. Process for about 2 min, you want it thick but it should still pour into a container.
Avocado Slicing: Here’s a video of how to do it: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/knife-skills-how-to-cut-an-avocado.html. I personally like using an Avocado slicer: http://www.amazon.com/Amco-Avocado-Slicer-and-Pitter/dp/B001OQVOO0/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1370906920&sr=1-2&keywords=avocado+slicer
Boccocini: This is a type of mozzarella cheese, these are smaller balls some as big as an egg and others are smaller. Most good grocery stores carry this, you can also find them in Italian Markets, Cheese Mongers and Gourmet Grocery Stores. You’ll find it amongst other cheeses, kept in a container with liquid.
1. Place lettuce in bowl and fill with cold water, then add ice. Let stand so that the leaves crisp up.
2.Place skillet on stove over a medium-low heat. Sesame oil burns easily so you don’t want to make the oil too hot. Add in the sliced garlic and let lightly simmer for 2 minutes, giving it a light stir to mix the garlic flavour into the oil. Add the shrimp and simmer on both sides until cooked through. Set aside.
3. Prepare Salad Dressing: Blend the tahini, water, lemon juice, soy, honey, red wine vinegar, garlic, and cayenne together in a blender until smooth.
4. Drain the lettuce. Use a salad spinner to help dry off the leaves. I prefer to serve salads on plates instead of bowls and layer out the ingredients so one is not overwhelmed with too much lettuce or things not mixing right in a bowl. Cover the bottom of the plate in salad mix, just enough so that you can’t see the plate through the leaves. Over top sprinkle desired amount of: Celery, Cucumber, Cherry Tomato, Sliced Onion, Boccocini over top. Slice 1 half avocado on top of salad. Place shrimp on top. If you are serving imitation crab meat cut it into chunks and sprinkle it on top. If you are using real crab, pull apart meat into desired sized peaces and place on top.
5. Drizzle with Tahini Salad Dressing and Garnish with Sesame Seeds.
Lamesa is situated in the popular Queen St. W neighbourhood, and we passed by it often on our way to our favourite Japanese grocery store, Sanko. One of us had never tried Filipino cuisine and was tormented by the prospect of something new, the other had enjoyed it before and was eager to see what Lamesa had to offer. It took some time before we had a chance to go, busy city lives keeping this gem just out of our reach, always teasing and getting our tummies rumbling as we passed by.
Finally we forced everything in our life to the side long enough to set foot inside. Our first meal was a four course dinner at the bar. The place was packed – almost exclusively with Filipino families – and our scrumptious food and attentive, friendly service made us determined to come back as soon as possible.
Our hosts clearly enjoyed talking about Filipino cuisine and their restaurant’s interpretation of the many varied dishes. As we learned Filipino cuisine is traditionally defined by region, and being made up of 5,000 inhabited islands there’s a great deal of variation. Even individual families’ interpretations of the same dishes adds to the delightful variations. Lamesa’s goal is to take these traditional meals to a whole new, gourmet level. That, and the prospect of the 11 course chef’s tasting dinner drew us back.
Our host that first evening explained that two days notice was required for the tasting. This enabled the chefs to select the market fresh ingredients that would determine what the tasting would consist of that evening. One thing we had come to expect after our first meal was entirely new flavour experiences, a rare treat for two people whose travels mean we dine out often; we are always trying to indulge our love of exotic foods.
When we made the reservation, it was clear they were excited that people had ordered the Chef’s Tasting. As soon as we arrived we knew the experience would be special. We were greeted by the same person who had hosted us at the bar our first visit and he clearly remembered us. That’s rare these days and made us feel very welcome.
When we were seated, the feeling of being at home intensified. Several of the staff came by to greet us and say that they were excited at the prospect of serving us that evening. It was also clear that they themselves did not know which creations the chefs had in store for us. However, they promised that each course would arrive with an explanation of the ingredients and thinking behind the dish. With that, we ordered our bottle of wine, sat back, and waited for the fun to begin.
Our first course was a light tasting of shrimp bisque pinakbet. This is traditionally a stew that comes from the northern regions, with mixed vegetables and a fish or shrimp sauce. This delicious thick soup consisted of shellfish stock, squash, eggplant, beans, and was finished with Ontario radish. It had a complex layered flavour that began with the sweet taste of the squash and finished with the velvety lingering flavour of the shellfish stock. It was simply delicious. (You’re going to hear that a lot in this post!)
Lamesa’s take on Pancit Bihon, a very traditional Filipino dish, was beautifully executed. Pancit is the word for noodle in their native language and the Bihon usually refers to a rice noodle. This was a delicious combination of mung bean noodle, scallions, pea shoots, cabbage, shrimp, carrots, and Calamansi (Calamansi is a delicious fruit common in Filipino cuisine, the calamansi was described as being akin to a lime version of a Meyer Lemon. Another description was much more playful: “It’s like nature’s version of 5 Alive.”). It was a light dish while still being packed with flavour.
Without question this dish was one of the highlights of the meal. Longanisa is a Filipino pork sausage, most often associated with breakfast or brunch, and its origins are actually Spanish. However, when combined with Chayote, a squash with a flavour that is a cross between an apple and a pear, and served on a warm toasted ensaymada (Filipino Brioche), this already delicious sausage just explodes with sweet vinegary goodness in your mouth. The tomato that accompanied the sausage was nice but was, ummm, incidental :)
Another delightful highlight was the shrimp rebosado. According to Wikipedia it is known as the shrimp tempura of the Philippines. This slightly garlicky, crunchy shrimp treat was cooked to perfection. Even the tails were lightly crunchy and made for excellent eating. The crispy coating was salty (but not too salty), slightly peppery, and complemented perfectly by the soy, vinegar and garlic dipping sauce. Eaten with our fingers, this was a fun interlude.
It was at this point in the meal that the chefs got really serious. This beef tataki was a revelation. To be clear, we order beef tataki often at Japanese restaurants. It is one of our favourite dishes. However, this version incorporated flavour combinations we’ve never encountered, and they worked on every level. Served with a sublime onion jam, and thin sliced shallots fried so perfectly they were crisp all the way through without being dry, flavourless or burned. They were perfect little shallot chips. The calamansi also provided a lovely citric twist that added a distinct flavour to the entire dish.
At this point we felt daunted by the concept of eating much more, eleven courses sounded like too much. However, the kitchen proved they knew exactly what they were doing. The next course was a light serving of New Brunswick Oysters, one per person with some chopped mango for an extra flavour kick. This gave us a chance to digest a little before the next serving arrived.
Every now and then foodies find themselves chewing on a forkful of food and suddenly universes collide in a big bang of revelation. This was one such dish. Scallops, served with squash and gently fried greens on a bed of coconut milk – then off in the corner a pretty smudge of beet coulis, like a passing, almost unnoticed stranger in the background. Those of you who don’t like to mix the different foods that chefs put on your plate miss out on a lot. As we chatted away, not thinking too much, we mixed the coconut milk and the beet coulis… WHAT?! Conversation stopped. We both paused and did it again. It was though a new flavour universe was born. Never had we conceived of mixing coconut milk and beet, but there it was: there is a Dutch phrase “Als een engel plassen op je tong”, which translates as “Like an angel peeing on your tongue”. This was that. Oh, by the way, the scallops were delicious too.
Quail, with all its crunchy, moist, delicious goodness is another of our favourite foods. We are always very demanding of dishes that feature this delightful little bird – and Lamesa did not disappoint. A black garlic purée, adobo and chayote provided a symphony of flavour that complimented the moist, flavourful and perfectly cooked pan roasted quail perfectly. We were so excited to get at this dish, we found that we had torn the leg one of the quail before remembering to take a picture.
We think this dish is called Kelarta but we may have that wrong. This is a deconstructed beef stew consisting of a braised short rib served with pineapple and carrot purée (apparently like the chef’s Dad used to do), kale, red peppers, potatoes, tomato and Parmesan. This was a great dish, but thank goodness it was the last of the mains. We were stuffed.
Once again, the kitchen had its rhythm down to perfection. Instead of being served heavy sweet desserts the final two dishes delighted the palate while at the same time not challenging already full stomachs.
The picture speaks for itself. Our first dessert was a small, flavour packed shake made with a combination of avocado, condensed milk and evaporated milk. This very small portion of one of our favourite beverages proved a great lead up to the main dessert.
The last dish was also the only dish that arrived with the intent that we should share, a very thoughtful gesture by the kitchen. An eleven course meal is a demanding venture, and they made sure that we left satisfied but not overly full. Milo is a chocolate and malt powder sold in the Philippines, and the kitchen made a rich deconstructed cheese cake with it, the fluffed graham cracker piled up on the side.
I think you get the picture; we had a delightful, unrushed evening at Lamesa. We look forward to returning soon and experiencing new foods and flavour combinations.
669 Queen St W toronto
On Trip Advisor:
Daikon Radish Cake with Braised Pork Belly. A fascinating texture, soft and rich, with a beautiful touch of pork fat. A small bite bursting with lots of flavour.
860 The Queensway
<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/10/135678/restaurant/Etobicoke/Kaji-Toronto”><img alt=”Kaji on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/135678/minilink.gif” style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>
Welcome to our first review in the form of a photo essay. It’s been a long time since we enjoyed this meal, so we can’t go into too much detail about each dish. However, memories of the delicious tastes have visited our dreams, and we hope to go back to try many more of their tapas dishes. The restaurant itself was a charming bistro, located in a beautiful neighborhood, about a 20 minute walk from the main plaza in downtown Montreal, which was at the time hosting the Montreal Jazz festival. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and most eager to help us select dishes from their tapas menu that would suit our taste. To be honest, we simply put ourselves in their hands and asked for the waiter’s favourite dishes. We had no regrets, quite the opposite, and as the photos show the food is as beautiful as it is delicious. The two dishes that linger most distinctly in our memory: the Bison Rib and the Black Blood Pudding – Wow!
<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/722195/restaurant/Plateau-Mont-Royal/Pintxo-Montreal”><img alt=”Pintxo on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/722195/minilink.gif” style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>
Official Facebook page:
On Trip Advisor:
We loved this picture so much we had to post it! This photo was taken in Japan by FoodSpotter Misako Kobayashi (http://www.foodspotting.com/336106/reviews)
Tuna is a large fish, and as it’s being carved, each piece is separated by quality. I have been told there are many, many grades of Tuna in Japan, each priced accordingly.
Just looking at this picture makes us salivate. We indulge in these lovely treats at a Toronto bakery. It’s called Paris Bakery, which is misleading, as the items they sell are most definitely Portuguese. Their tarts are always the best things on offer. Grab one, sit back with a cappuccino and let the world around you disappear for a few bites.
654 Lansdowne Ave
Toronto, ON M6H 3Z5