Tag Archives: restaurants

Curds and Eh: Is it cheating to make cheese with pre-pasteurized milk?

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

CHEESE FOR THOUGHT–ANOTHER POST FROM KELSIE.  PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS!

One of my favourite blogs that I follow is Much To Do About Cheese. It’s written by Ian Treuer a home-cheesemaker from Edmonton, Alberta who maintains an honest and uncommon look into the world of a DIY cheesemaker. Recently he posed a question on his Facebook  page.  He asked, “Can a Cheese Maker be considered an Artisan Cheese Maker if they use pre-pasteurised milk? Why or Why Not?”

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Purchasing pre-pasteurized milk is a cost saving option for many small producers as High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurizers cost a ton of money and even vat pasteurizers can be time consuming. Heating milk to 162F and holding it there for 16 seconds (or 145F for 30min) isn’t where the art of cheesemaking comes into play.

There are three small-scale professional cheesemakers that I know of in Canada that use pre-pasteurized milk. The cheesemaker at each factory produces every cheese by hand, adjusts the recipe according to the weather, the feel of the curds, and the taste and smell of the milk. Their cheeses are all unique. Not only do I consider them all to be artisans but they are also some of this country’s best.

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

Surrounded by vineyards in Penticton’s wine region are two cheese companies – Poplar Grove Cheese and Upper Bench Creamery. Both purchase jugs of pre-pasteurized milk and also cream from D Dutchmen Dairy, which is located 190km north in Sicamous on Shuswap Lake.  This isn’t a secret – Upper Bench proudly states the source of their milk on their website. D Dutchmen Dairy is known for their high-quality milk, flavoured cheeses, and their ice cream, which causes lineups that extend to the parking lot on a hot day. Their milk comes from their own herd of cows.

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Five Brothers Artisan Cheese is the only artisan cheese company in Newfoundland. Cheesemaker Adam Blanchard actually purchases cartons of milk from his local Sobeys grocery store and then transforms it into cheese in stock pots on the stove-top. He started by making cheese in a friend’s kitchen but then decided to make a living doing it. He rented a commercial kitchen and the rest is history. There’s no way he could have afforded a pasteurizer when he started. Why give up on a dream if you can’t afford a $12,000 piece of equipment?

Perhaps several decades ago we could have asked whether cheese makers that use commercially available cultures instead of a mother culture could be artisanal. The industry has changed so much and now using mass produced culture is the norm. The basic ingredients have changed over the years too but as long as the figurative ‘hand of the cheesemaker’ is present in the cheese then I believe they deserve the title of artisan.

I’m not fond of debating the semantics of a term but I feel that labelling a producer as an artisan or not also suggests level of respect for producing a handmade product. Cheesemakers that use pre-pasteurized milk work incredibly hard, just like those that pasteurize on-site. I believe both deserve respect for labouring for long hours and transforming milk into my favourite food.

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For some reason I feel many people also associate a certain level of quality with the term artisan. That’s one aspect that is usually not debated when it comes to defining the term but it is just as possible for ‘artisan’ cheese makers to produce poor quality products as much as it’s possible for them to create extraordinary ones. What really matters, is not the label ‘artisan’ but the story of the cheese company (is it something that excites the customer and the owner is proud of?) and the quality of the products.

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Abandoned House or Trendy New Toronto Resto?

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The Edison bulb….

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Aaah yes, our menu–it’s hand scrawled on our blackboard far, far across the room.

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No, we don’t take reservations, but we can seat 2-6 people.

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Minimalist pine tree to remind our guests we’re green…. (you can eat it for dessert)

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Everything is local.

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And please don’t forget your foraged leg braces after you’ve had one too many of our hand crafted cocktails.

My husband photographs abandoned houses as a hobby and they are fascinating.  Things are just left as if people had walked out minutes before.  I became fascinated with the list of items in the kitchen cupboard in this house (Campbellford, Ontario) and it just got silly from there….click on any picture to enlarge.  Thanks to Tad Seaborn for sharing his photos.  

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Fried Chicken for the Masses: It’s the Fried Chicken Battle Royale at the Drake

Fried Chicken Battle

Well, the above just about says it all.  But, Ivy Knight, organizer-Royale has more to say about this lip smacking event where I get to be a judge.  A judge of fried chicken… I picture myself with a drumstick gavel and greasy paperwork.  Can Monday night come fast enough?

Here is what Ivy has to say about how and why she pulled together this first (annual) fried fiasco.

I have been wanting to do a fried chicken battle ever since watching David Chang go head to head against Questlove on Jimmy Fallon. I just really wanted to fill a room with people eating lots and lots of free fried chicken. Unfortunately I don’t have a budget to buy a bunch of chickens so I got in touch with my old friend Peter Sanagan and asked if he’d be willing to donate the birds. I barely got my request out before he said of course. So then I talked to some of my chef friends, Matty at Parts & Labour, Fan at Happy Child, Teddy at the Drake, the girls who run SNACKS (famous for their food at the Junction Flea) and Brandon at Bar Isabel, we picked a date and I started thinking about judges.

I didn’t want to have  chefs come in to compete and be judged by their peers, I wanted the judges to come from outside of the peer group – so I often look to cookbook authors and media. The guys at Munchies were an obvious choice, they suggested Bad Day Magazine and since I know and love you I figured we’d bring you in to add a little class to the panel (Ivy knows how easily I fall for sweet talk–don’t worry, I’ll never bring a lot of class, perhaps just a cufflinks’ worth SR)And of course, Peter is a judge since he’s the reason we’re able to pull this off.

This is the first of what I hope will become a yearly tradition where I give away five hundred pieces of fried chicken to the masses.
So… friends, foes and people who accidentally got to this page and are thinking WHAT?  THANK GOD I FOUND IT, don’t wait til next year.  Come on down next week!
And no, I’m not sharing my chicken.  Get your own damn chicken.  8pm, Monday night.  It’s FREE y’all.

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Zuni Cafe, Hope and Anchor and boy is it hard to park in San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

We drove to the Zuni Cafe straight from the airport with loads of time to get there.  Or so we thought since we allowed not too much thought for finding parking (you’d think coming from Toronto…) but I suppose we were in vacation mode.

Anyway, 40 minutes later, many one way streets and devastating parking spot “sightings” that were not parking spots because the street cleaner has priority wed between 12-2pm we found a place.  And headed down to the Zuni Cafe

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The famous made-to-order Caesar salad and house cured anchovies.

Here’s a little excerpt of history from the website–read the whole thing it’s quite a great story….

“Billy West opened Zuni Café in 1979, with a huge heart and exactly ten thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, (where Billy had been a partner, until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners), he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a southwestern adobe-look. He chose the name Zuni, after the native American tribe, and decided to offer mostly simple and authentic Mexican food, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled on to the back sidewalk for each day’s service. Next came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer.”

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Tad’s lunch: roasted quail…

I started with a glass of white wine (my actual request was local and not excessively oaky) and ended up with a lovely glass of minerally Zuni Chardonnay which hails from a vinyard in Santa Cruz.  Felix has the best apple juice he’s ever sipped-organic, fresh pressed.  Tad had an Anchor Steam beer.  His main was the Wolfe Ranch quail with quail egg, pan-fried sweet potatoes, kale salad and harissa.

It looked a lot less phallic when it was on the table in front of me I promise you.

I really was torn about posting my lunch photo which was described as house-made  Llano Seco Ranch fennel sausage (so juicy and delicately flavoured it was heavenly) with escarole, roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, cracklings, watermelon radish and caper-shallot vinaigrette— but somehow my photo has turned it into something phallic.  Avert your eyes if you have to.

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So while Felix used the best manners at his disposal to finish his pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of fennel sausage) Tad and I decided we made the wrong decision by skipping the fresh oysters and remedied the situation.

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We shared a pair of Pacific Hog Island Oysters (bottom, from Tomales Bay just north of San Fran) and Marin Miyagi’s (top, also from Tomales Bay).  Here is a great blog piece about the Tomales Bay oysters and area.  We liked the Hog Island the best, lighter and a little sweeter but both were lovely–the ocean in your hand.

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And then dessert.  Meringue crisps, coffee and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds.  With a coffee.  And Felix only ate a bit–too full.  Spoils for me.

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Moe proof we were in San Francisco–Felix watching the cable car being turned.

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Anchor and Hope on Minna Street

Our second day we went for lunch at the Anchor and Hope (thanks Janice!)  Here is their lunch menu-there was definitely a business lunch scene happening but the overall atmosphere is casual, open and funky space with huge nautical ropes strung around the ceiling beams.

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Kettle Chips and garlicky aioli arrive when seated.

And would have been nice had we all been there at the same time–again not knowing the parking secrets, it took Tad about 35 minutes to park and finally Felix and I had to order without him.  I had the Cubano, roasted pork, jamon de paris, swiss cheese, pickles, Dijon, taro chips and Tad had their extremely juicy burger.  Felix had their fries, aioli and ketchup. (yes, I just gave in to maintaining calm child while people negotiated business around us.)

The beer menu was impressive and long and a satisfying read in itself if you like beer.

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S’long San Francisco…..may we only ever take the amazing vintage style trolley next time we visit.

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I am flying 6 hours to get to lunch on Wednesday.

Zuni Cafe Lunch Menu

CLICK ON THE MENU TO SEE FULL SIZE AND BE JEALOUS

HMM, I guess the above menu could have used an outline or something.  Well, let’s just call it free form blogging.

So I am off to San Francisco tomorrow and still have to pack, wash hair, pay some bills, charge iPad, iPhone and laptop, remember to pack passports, panic that I forgot to pack passports, panic that my name does not match my passport on my ticket and figure out how to wake at 4-year-old gently at 4am knowing we have 15 minutes to be out of the house.

And snacks.  Must pack snacks.

But otherwise–check out the deliciousness that will greet me at 1pm California Time.  Will report back from the ZUNI Cafe.

And did I mention my reservation at Chez Panisse?    Oh boy oh boy.

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Curds and Eh: Breaking News-Fifth Town Cheese Back in Production

This scoop is by Kelsie Parsons.–SR
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Exciting news for all the curd nerds out there!
After closing their doors 8 months ago, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese has now been bought. Today is the first day back for a couple of the Fifth Town employees who are busy cleaning the plant and preparing for construction to start.
Fifth Town will start making cheese again in 8-12 months.
Cape Vessey (coutesy of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival)

Cape Vessey (courtesy of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival)

A year is a long time but it’s comforting to know that we’ll soon have access to they’re prized cheeses again. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll continue to make Cape Vessey, Lemon Fetish, Isabella, Operetta…and many others.
Update Jan 9: Confirmed that Fifth Town was sold to Patricia Bertozzi (of Bertozzi Importing) in Nov 2012. Her daughter Patricia Bertozzi is the new owner.
Background on the situation can be found at this post for cheeselover.ca , and here for the official closing news. SR

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Sauce on the Danforth: Craft Beer, 1920′s Cocktails and Music

I’ve been walking by the old location of Classy Nails wondering why they couldn’t stay classy (oh Ron Burgundy!) and what the little teeny sign above the liquor license application meant, “sauce” it said.

Now it is a a HUGE sign.  Which seems like good progress.  Something to be excited about.  I found the LinkedIn page for “MichelleB” who is supposedly opening the lounge and here is what it described our new east end bar as:

An East-End Toronto Lounge with a Victorian-Goth Bordello-Chic Design.
We offer:
– fresh hand made pasta with your choice of Sauce
– a vast selection of Craft Beer on Tap and in Bottle
– an array of 1920′s inspired cocktail offerings
– Top shelf Tequilas, Bourbons, Scotches & Vodkas
– music, music, music… you never know who you’ll hear

Conveniently located steps from Greenwood Station.

(which it is, it’s between Greenwood and Monarch Park, just east from Bomb Wellness and west of Gerry’s grocery).  For those not in the hood, it is between Greenwood and Coxwell subway.

This comment on Chowhound cracked me up:

“Ha, I think there’s a few places on the Danforth doing the Victorian-Goth-Bordello thing without knowing it! “

Still–craft beer, top-shelf tequila?  1920′s cocktails?  Bring on bordello-chic.  Opening in August.   www.sauceonthedanforth.com

Here are the latest photos!  http://www.sauceondanforth.com/pictures.htm

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