A sinfully simple panna cotta with almond and chocolate topping. Mmmmm mmmm.
This was as close as I could get to a heart-shaped Valentine’ pizza
Tasted good though!
Fish pakoras, with bok choy and rice. Pretty tasty!
The Everloving made the most spectacularly delicious apple pie today.
It won’t last long!
We read and hear a lot about the damage the corona virus pandemic and the associated restrictions are having on the hospitality industry including restaurants. For example, as the Commercial Drive BIA reported at the last GWAC meeting, revenue for local bars and restaurants is down 50-75% this year over last. However, random headlines would also suggest that fast food franchises are thriving.
Every once in a while I find myself perusing the news at Nation’s Restaurant News (mainly to look at fascinating new menu options) and just today I saw the following four stories being reported.
- Jack in the Box Restaurants increased sales by 12.2% and are planning on expanding;
- A franchise called Torchy’s Tacos just found $400 million in new financing;
- The restaurant arm of a California venture capital company just expanded their holdings to add 37 new Pizza Hut locations; and
- In-N-Out Burgers‘ new location in Colorado caused a 12-hour wait and miles of traffic jams.
And that was just a quick look today.
Clearly that sector — perhaps because of their long history of drive-through contactless pickups — is doing OK during the pandemic.
Apple turnovers. Pretty darned good — and as easy as pie.
First, let me heap praise on a cook book: Jane Lawson’s wonderful “Cooking Curries“. Every double-page consists of one or two recipes and a gorgeous colour photograph. She covers the widest range of curries from the obvious — India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, for example — to the more obscure — such as Goa, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bali, and Kenya. Under her steady guidance, I have learned to mix and make a dozen or more new curry pastes, and she has really taken my hand and led me to a new confidence in using coconut milk and different fruits in my cooking. I picked the book up by chance from Book Warehouse for $7.99 more than a decade ago and have derived hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of education and pleasure from her writing. This was probably the best buy I ever made in a cookbook.
Some time ago, I wanted to cook supper and had actually remembered to get some chicken breasts out of the freezer to thaw in the morning. I had also vaguely decided that I would make something from “Cooking Curries” and had picked up a stem of lemongrass and some fresh cilantro from Chinatown. Other than that, I had no real idea of what I was going to do. As I slowly sauteed the chicken pieces in an oil and crushed lemongrass mix, I scanned my way through the book until “thai red duck curry with pineapple” caught my eye. I chose it because I knew I had most (not all) of the stuff needed to make the red curry paste. The fact that I didn’t have either duck or pineapple was of no concern: I had sauteed chicken and — at the perfect suggestion of my wife — mandarin orange segments.
To cut a fun time of chopping and boiling and simmering and stirring short, we ended up with a pretty darned good meal. A chicken curry over rice, sweetened with coconut milk and orange segments (which, like good anchovies, had melted away leaving just their umami essence), seasoned with a hot red paste (made from homegrown Thai peppers, I am proud to say), and with strong Thai undertones from the lemongrass, lemon zest and fresh cilantro.
The late Vancouver chef James Barber taught that you make do with the ingredients you have; that you cannot not cook something just because you are missing an item from a list; that the spirit and love you put into cooking is almost as important as basic technique. Combining this ethos with Jane Lawson’s already inventive recipes allowed me that night to fully experience the joy of cooking.
We just got back from a wonderful dim sum at Western Lake. It was the first time we had been back since March 8 just days before the world closed down. They have made a lot of changes to meet covid-19 standards.
First, there are far fewer tables, and I didn’t see any parties larger than four persons. Formerly, no matter the day or the hour, the place was jam-packed and you were always rubbing shoulders with people at the next table, making new friends. It gave the restaurant a particular noisy vibrancy that I loved. Now, there is a lot of space and the feeling is very different — not bad, just different.
There also used to be crowds of people waiting in the vestibule, spilling out onto Victoria. No more.
In the scores of times that we have been there over the years not once have I ever seen an empty table, until today when there were a few. However, I doubt they have lost much business. They had a double-length table set aside for Skip, Uber, and online order pickups where dozens and dozens of bags filled with food went on and off that table in the time we were there.
Finally, all the staff wore gloves and masks, which I guess is standard now. More interestingly, I noticed that about 90% of the Chinese customers arrived at the place wearing masks, while only about 25% of the westerners did.
The food was as always hot, fresh, and absolutely delicious. I miss the almost frenzied atmosphere of the past, but it won’t keep us away.
A couple of weeks ago I made a gluten-free chocolate cake that was divine to taste, but my photograph was terrible. Tonight I made it again, and here is a much better shot of it, served in my favourite way with sour cream and raspberries.
Made only with 75% cocoa chocolate and eggs, I find that this does not negatively affect my blood sugar levels.