Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Shep Gordon, Supermensch

By
October 6th, 2016



He still manages Alice Cooper, but Shep Gordon is otherwise retired and enjoying life on Maui, his home of the last 43 years.

Just out with a book, "They call me Supermensch," Gordon tonight talked about his life at an event that quickly outgrew its intended venue at CookSpace in Ward Warehouse. Instead, it was in a seating area next to the courtyard at the IBM building, and got started just after the evening's well-attended yoga class.

For those not versed in Yiddish, "mensch" means a person of integrity and honor.

Shep Gordon, manager to rock stars, movie stars and chefs, and a leader of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, appeared at a book signing in Honolulu Thursday night. Photos by Erika Engle.

Shep Gordon, manager to rock stars, movie stars and chefs, and a leader of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, appeared at a book signing in Honolulu Thursday night. Photos by Erika Engle.

The book represents "a backstage pass to the amazing worlds of film, food, and rock 'n roll," according to the cover, and yes, he's well-known in show-business circles. For Hawaii, though, he is likely best-renowned for helping to create and promote Hawaii Regional Cuisine (HRC) starting in 1991.

In the audience was chef Roger Dikon, one of the original 11 chefs of HRC, as well as chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney and Brandon Lam, an owner of La Tour Cafes, as well as recording artists Jack Johnson and Makana.

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, CEO of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival and wife of HRC chef Roy Yamaguchi, introduced Gordon, as well as CookSpace Hawaii co-owner Melanie Kosaka, who led Gordon through a question-and-answer session.

CookSpace partner Melanie Kosaka led Gordon through a Q&A session before opening up questions to the audience.

CookSpace partner Melanie Kosaka led Gordon through a Q&A session before opening up questions to the audience.

It was a chef that saved his life, Gordon told the audience. He was at dinner with a bunch of movie stars and other noteworthy figures of the time, after winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival. He was young and "too successful," he said, indicating a proclivity for drug use back then, as well as the then-recent deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom he'd known and with whom he had interacted. At that same dinner, when chef Roger Verge entered the room and Hollywood actor James Coburn leapt to his feet to hug him, Gordon thought of Verges, "this was the guy who was going to save my life," he said.Verge, who died last year at 85, told Gordon if he learned to cook, he could come work in his kitchen some time. Gordon took the classes, showed up at Verge's restaurant looking to cook with him, but instead traveled with him to Thailand. The journey made them fast friends and Verge, a leader in the nouvelle cuisine movement (along with Paul Bocuse and others), as well as Dean Fearing, a leader of the Southwestern cuisine movement in the U.S., came to Hawaii to help Hawaii's chefs lay the foundation of HRC.As for Gordon's decades-ago drug activities, he said it had been an awkward subject until friend and celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain jokingly referred to Gordon's past activities as his pharmaceutical career, which got a hearty laugh from the audience. Gordon's book, published by HarperCollins, also is labeled "an Anthony Bourdain book." Bourdain has never been a client, Gordon said, but described Bourdain as a rock star, and it was clear the two are friends.Gordon also has cooked for the Dalai Lama more than once, along with a cadre of volunteer chefs and other team members. Even then-Kauai Mayor Joanne Yukimura volunteered to scrub pots and pans and wash dishes for his Hawaii visit, Gordon said, describing her as a short, hard-working woman whose daughter was taller than her, and saving her name until the end of the story as a punchline, not intended to be funny as much as surprising.Given his long and storied career, Gordon was asked about his passion, about what makes him get out of bed in the morning. "I don't have a record player, and I don't really watch movies," he said. The culinary world is what inspires him, he said, and to illustrate the point, he said he soon will be going to Italy for truffle-hunting.

Chef Roger Dikon, Shep Gordon, Jack Johnson and chef Ed Kenney gather for photos after Gordon's talk-story session.

Chef Roger Dikon, Shep Gordon, Jack Johnson and chef Ed Kenney gather for photos after Gordon's talk-story session.

Gordon and the HRC chefs launched a movement some 25 years ago …

http://www.staradvertiser.com/2011/02/27/business/from-a-small-fraternity-came-an-identifying-style/

… and some returned to the James Beard House in 2011 to blow away some mainland taste buds.

http://www.staradvertiser.com/2011/03/21/business/hawaii-regional-cuisine-pleases-palates-that-matter/

An alumnus of that Beard House dinner, chef Wade Ueoka, now owns and operates MW Restaurant with his wife Michelle Karr-Ueoka, and it was at MW that Gordon, the Dikons, the Johnsons and the Kenneys enjoyed a pre-event dinner.

Gordon's book is $25.99 and is available at bookstores and online.

Look for more insights into Gordon's thoughts about, and love for, Hawaii and its food, in next week's Crave.

 

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Smoky goodness at Yacchaba

By
September 29th, 2016



Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuedays to Sundays. It will eventually offer lunch service as well.

Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuedays to Sundays. It will eventually offer lunch service as well.

The cozy setting of Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba, Hawaii's first "iburi," or smoked dish, eatery, comes not just from the little nooks of space and warm lighting, but the quiet sizzling and warmth generated by the little hot-stone grills delivered to tables. These keep plates of seafood and meats wonderfully warm and tender so patrons can leisurely enjoy their visit without sacrificing on the quality of the food.

This is supreme comfort food, but what takes the morsels from satisfying to delicious are four flavor salts that accompany the plate: yuzu, curry, yakuri/plum and sansyo. Each delivers a punch of tastiness with just a light sprinkle.

Seafood gets the iburi treatment on stone grill plates made from Mt. Fuji stone. Food is grilled for 2 minutes before eating. The experience also includes grilling over cherry and apple smoking chips.

Seafood gets the iburi treatment on stone grill plates made from Mt. Fuji stone. Food is grilled for 2 minutes before eating. The experience also includes grilling over cherry and apple smoking chips.

While the stone grills are headliners, there's so much on the menu to keep customers' taste buds engaged: Items such as saba and pork benefit from the special seasoning shio koji, made from rice-malt salt.  Starters such as a simple Japanese-style potato salad is elevated with the inclusion of half a boiled egg that's been smoked. The smokiness of the creamy egg adds layers of texture and flavor that elevates the humble dish. Ditto on the Kuro Edamame, with flavor that penetrates the seared shells.

Other delicious items: Curry Kimpira, Fried Ebi-Bread, a fresh smoked salmon salad and Inaniwa Udon, a cold dish centered on thin, soft udon that nonetheless boasts a delicate chew.

The drink menu includes Kirin and Asahi beers, Honolulu Beer works craft beers,  wine, sake and shochu.

Yacchaba offers a new way to enjoy fresh, simple, nicely prepared Japanese food, with a flavor profile that is sure to appeal to the local palate.

The restaurant, located at 1718 Kapiolani Blvd., is across the Hawaii Convention Center. It currently serves dinner, but look for lunch service in the near future. Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Call 945-0108.

A standard starter of potato salad is livened up by a smoked boiled egg.

A standard starter of potato salad is livened up by a smoked boiled egg.

 

Curry Kimpira stood up to the smoky flavors of the rest of the dishes.

Curry Kimpira stood up to the smoky flavors of the rest of the dishes.

 

Another starter, Homemade Atu-age Tofu was delicious.

Another starter, Homemade Atu-age Tofu was delicious.

 

Fried Ebi Bread pieces each had a shrimp inside -- satisfying comfort food.

Fried Ebi Bread pieces each had a shrimp inside -- satisfying comfort food.

 

Inaiwa Udon is a more delicate noodle than what Hawaii folks are accustomed to in an udon. It's soft yet has nice texture. The dish comes with dipping sauce and condiments of green onion, bonito flakes and grated ginger.

Inaiwa Udon features a more delicate noodle than what Hawaii folks are accustomed to in an udon. The noodle is soft yet it has nice body and texture. The dish comes with dipping sauce and condiments of green onion, bonito flakes and grated ginger.

 

Delicious grilled saba, with a smoky touch.

Delicious grilled saba, with a smoky touch.

 

A variety of meats on the stone pot grill -- great to share with a pau-hana crowd. The grill is made of Mt. Fuji stone.

A variety of meats on the stone pot grill -- great to share with friends pau-hana. The grill is made of Mt. Fuji stone.

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Man finds brunch battle at MW Restaurant

By
September 28th, 2016



Travel Channel host Adam Richman makes a point during a mock brunch battle Wednesday morning. Photo by Erika Engle

Travel Channel host Adam Richman makes a point during a mock brunch battle Wednesday morning. Photo by Erika Engle

The Travel Channel's "Man Finds Food" host Adam Richman is in town briefly for preliminary work for next month’s Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, and participated in a mock Brunch Battle this morning.

The combatants and host gathered at MW Restaurant, owned and operated by husband and wife culinarians Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka. Chef Lee Anne Wong, of Koko Head Cafe, was paired with "Sunrise" anchor Grace Lee for the mock battle.

Richman and his room-filling, funny personality had the chefs and Lee cracking up as they prepared their respective dishes during a broadcast shoot for Hawaii News Now’s “Sunrise” morning show.

No winner was named after this morning's demonstration, but at the real Brunch Battle during the festival, diners who taste six dishes prepared by three competing teams will decide the victor.

It was impossible to get close-ups of both dishes as they were plated, because the TV shoot was underway.
Wong’s cornflake-crusted French Toast, or what was left of it, was delicious and sweet but balanced, and notably, was not made with a mere slice of bread, but rather a large cuboid, or rectangular prism. The sauce was creamy and not overly sweet. You can see that bacon also was involved.

 

Chef Lee Anne Wong prepared long, thick, rectangular cuboid-shaped French toast, crusted with cornflakes for a mock brunch battle.

Chef Lee Anne Wong prepared long, thick, rectangular cuboid-shaped French toast, crusted with cornflakes for a mock brunch battle.

The base of Ueoka’s French Toast was a thick slice of brioche, crust removed, made by his wife and MW Restaurant pastry chef Michelle. It incorporated savory ingredients such as onions and Hamakua mushrooms, served with a jus made from pork bones and pork belly from Dave Wong’s pig farm, which is run according to traditional Korean practices. Ueoka plated up a new dish for pictures and for tasting.

Chef Wade Ueoka's entry for the mock battle was built on a foundation of brioche with crispy chicharron and savory pork belly as well as a jus made using pork bones.

Chef Wade Ueoka's entry for the mock battle was built on a foundation of brioche with crispy chicharron and savory pork belly as well as a jus made using pork bones.

Both dishes were amazing, though Ueoka said the one prepared this morning might not be the dish that goes into battle the morning of October 30 at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. He and his wife will brunch-battle against a team comprising Celina Tio, a Kansas City chef and restaurateur and "Top Chef Masters" contestant, and Colin Hazama, executive chef at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel & Resort; and against two-time champions Wong and her teammate, Sven Ullrich, executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort.

The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival runs from October 14 through 30.

http://www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/

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Kona Grill open in Waikiki

By
September 15th, 2016



Arizona-based Kona Grill has opened its first Hawaii location in the International Market Place, on the third floor Grand Lanai.

The Big Kahuna cheeseburger at Kona Grill. Photos courtesy Kona Grill Inc.

The Big Kahuna cheeseburger at Kona Grill. Photos courtesy Kona Grill Inc.

Offering such items as the Big Kahuna cheeseburger, sushi rolls both traditional and naruto-style, or rice-free, the more than 30-location restaurant company has recently rebranded to avoid using such terms as Hawaiian, or Asian-fusion, to describe its menu offerings.

The Atlantic roll at Kona Grill includes baked salmon, spicy aioli, cucumber, tempura flakes and eel sauce.

The Atlantic roll at Kona Grill includes baked salmon, spicy aioli, cucumber, tempura flakes and eel sauce.

The company calls its 8,380 square-foot restaurant in Waikiki the first of its kind in Hawaii. Led by chef Alejandro Baez, the restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

The Kona Grill bar offers daily pau-hana specials including cocktails and pupu.

http://www.konagrill.com/locations/waikiki-hi

Stripsteak by Michael Mina and Eating House 1849, by Roy Yamaguchi, opened on August 25, the day of the International Market Place opening. Additional restaurants will be opening on the Grand Lanai in the coming months including Chinese dim sum restaurant and tea house Yauatcha, in November; pizza restaurant Flour & Barley, in December; Herringbone, by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey in February; and Japanese restaurant Baku, in Spring of 2017. Other restaurants, including locally based Goma Tei, are characterized on the International Market Place website as "coming soon."

http://www.shopinternationalmarketplace.com/dining_entertainment

 

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Kalo crunch 'pie' hits market

By
September 14th, 2016



Adam Tabura's kalo crunch "square pie" will be sold in individual portions and 8-by-8-inch whole cakes.

Adam Tabura's Kalo Krunch "square pie" will be sold in individual portions and 8-by-8-inch whole cakes. Photo by Betty Shimabukuro.

When Adam Tabura was in his first year of culinary school, the students were given an assignment: "You had to make something you grew up with that you didn't know how to make."

Tabura, who grew up on Lanai largely under the watchful eye of his grandfather, decided on a sweet potato crunch cake that his grandparents made.

Years later that exercise has developed into a cake made with poi and sweet potato, with a crust of macadamia nuts and pecans, topped with coconut cream and more crunchy nuts. In a partnership with Hawaiian Pie Co. — they're calling it a "square pie" — Tabura now has his creation, the Kalo Krunch, on the market.

Chef Adam Tabura discusses food styling, dishes and backgrounds for his Filipino cookbook with photographer Kaz Tanabe and Mutual Publishing production director Jane Gillespie at The Pearl restaurant at Leeward Community College. on Tuesday March 15, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Kat Wade special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Tabura has several projects in the works this year; the crunch cake is the first to be announced. Photo by Kat Wade.

Tabura, owner of the Spice Rack and a 20-year veteran of several island resort restaurants, shot to fame when he and his brother Lanai and friend Shaun Felipe won the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" in 2013. He says the crunch cake always sells out when he offers it on the truck, but "I only made it when I was in the mood."

It's a lot like a classic pumpkin crunch dessert but because of the taro blend is not nearly as sweet; the delicate cream plays well with the substantial heft of the cake.

It sells for $8.50 per 4-inch square (which can be cut into at least four portions) or $32 for a whole 8-inch "pie." A half-sheet is available for $80 by preorder.

Hawaiian Pie is at 508 Waiakamilo Road; call 988-7828. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Tabura's new Filipino cookbook launches next week. See Crave on Sept. 21.

 

 

Dean & DeLuca previews first Hawaii location

By
September 9th, 2016



Dean & DeLuca’s first Hawaii location is a bright, airy, two-story market, cafe and wine bar at the base of the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, at 383 Kalaimoku Street, that will open to the public on Wednesday.

Assistant General Manager Karina Pinto and Executive Chef Johan Svensson of Dean & DeLuca display platters for Star-Advertiser photographer Dennis Oda. Photo by Erika Engle.

Assistant General Manager Karina Pinto and Executive Chef Johan Svensson of Dean & DeLuca display platters for Star-Advertiser photographer Dennis Oda. Blog photos by Erika Engle.

The first floor features a coffee bar and cafe that will offer coffees and other hot or cold drinks with pastries and additional baked goods, as well as ready-to-eat, or heat-and-eat foods that can be purchased for grab-and-go or by-the-pound.
Hawaiian sodas, Dean & DeLuca’s take on Italian sodas, will be offered in tropical flavors including lilikoi, according to General Manager Luke Blubaugh.
The first floor also has a gourmet market with Dean & DeLuca-branded food items and snacks such as coated almonds in a range of flavors, and a variety of chocolate bars, such as salted dark chocolate, and logo items such as tote bags, canvas and insulated, water bottles, and more.

Dean & DeLuca General Manager Luke Blubaugh shows an example of branded merchandise the market will have for sale. Photo by Erika Engle.

Dean & DeLuca General Manager Luke Blubaugh shows an example of branded merchandise the market will have for sale.

Dean & DeLuca chocolate bars on shelving awaiting further stocking.

Dean & DeLuca chocolate bars on shelving awaiting further stocking.

Matcha-flavored coated almonds are among the treats offered at Dean & DeLuca.

Matcha-flavored coated almonds are among the treats offered at Dean & DeLuca.

The second floor wine lounge will offer wines by the glass and noshables such as charcuterie, cheese, or bruschetta platters made using a range of imported, domestic, and made-in-Hawaii products.

An example of a charcuterie platter that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge.

An example of a charcuterie platter that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge.

An example of a cheese platter that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge.

An example of a cheese platter that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge.

An example of a bruschetta trio that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge.

An example of a bruschetta trio that will be offered in the second floor wine lounge. Choices can be mixed and matched.

Specialty meats and cheeses also may be purchased by the pound, and there are 30 to 35 cheeses from which to choose, said Johan Svensson, executive chef for Dean & DeLuca. More are coming from local purveyors, he said. Svensson also is executive chef for BLT Market on the building’s eighth floor.
Dean & DeLuca’s first-floor patio offers outdoor seating for 40, while the second floor lounge can seat as many as 20 people.
Dean & DeLuca will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily starting Wednesday. The first hour of parking is complimentary with a minimum purchase of $30, and costs $4 for each half-hour thereafter.

Corrected: Based on information from the company, a previous version of this story reported a different opening date.

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Hawaii chef trio cooks at James Beard House

By
September 9th, 2016



For chefs, going to the James Beard House is akin to a pilgrimage to Mecca. If they are going there to cook for some 80 guests, a bit more pressure and stress is involved, as one's reputation is at stake in front of a very important audience.

Chefs Shaymus Alwin, Jeremy Shigekane and Carolyn Portuondo of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort are in the Big Apple for just such an event, and have been busy preparing for tonight's opportunity to display their culinary mettle.

Chefs Shaymus Alwin, Jeremy Shigekane and Carolyn Portuondo at the Beard House. The giant sunflower pineapple was created by Hawaii event designer Steven Boyle. Photo courtesy the Royal Hawaiian.

Chefs Shaymus Alwin, Jeremy Shigekane and Carolyn Portuondo at the Beard House. The giant sunflower pineapple was created by Hawaii event designer Steven Boyle. Photo courtesy the Royal Hawaiian.

Luckily, the home crowd can watch the cooking unfold beginning at 1 p.m. today (Friday) as the James Beard Foundation's kitchen-cam will live-stream their work in the home-sized kitchen. (See link below.)

Jeremy Shigekane, Shaymus Alwin and Carolyn Portuondo, chefs and pastry chef at the Royal Hawaiian, at a New York City farmers market picking up fresh ingredients. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

Jeremy Shigekane, Shaymus Alwin and Carolyn Portuondo, chefs and pastry chef at the Royal Hawaiian, at a New York City farmers market picking up fresh ingredients. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

 

The nine-dish menu features flavors from delicate to bold and playful, with wine pairings prepared in cooperation with Southern Wine & Spirits in Hawaii. One particularly bold choice sure to have the New York food media buzzing, is the serving of a white wine with beef. Alwin is confident in the pairing, which met with positive reviews at a preview dinner last week. He knows it will attract attention, discussion, and debate.

Passed appetizers include heart of palm chawanmushi with Peaky Toe crab, Maine uni and nasturtium, an edible flower; "Abalomi" made with Kona abalone, lomi heirloom tomato and chili water, and Kona Kampachi with caviar served atop a shrimp chip. Dinner comprises Alwin's elegantly plated take on a lobster roll, a nod to his upbringing on the East Coast and his father, who was a lobsterman, as well as dishes highlighting Kauai shrimp, crispy-skinned onaga from Hawaiian waters; and Hawaii Ranchers Ribeye of Beef. Portuondo's dessert is a compressed pineapple butter rum cake with Volcano honey yogurt gelato.

jbh-menu-rh_azure_shaymusalwin16_09-09

The trio, as well as one of Chef Shaymus' childhood friends who also is a chef, started going about their work in the Beard kitchen early this morning, Hawaii time.

Royal Hawaiian Executive Pastry Chef Carolyn Portuondo slices rum cake in the kitchen at the James Beard House. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

Royal Hawaiian Executive Pastry Chef Carolyn Portuondo slices rum cake in the kitchen at the James Beard House. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

Royal Hawaiian Executive Sous Chef Jeremy Shigekane prepares crispy-skinned onaga in the James Beard Foundation kitchen. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

Royal Hawaiian Executive Sous Chef Jeremy Shigekane prepares crispy-skinned onaga in the James Beard Foundation kitchen. Photo courtesy Royal Hawaiian.

Portuondo, Alwin and Shigekane, at the James Beard House preview dinner Sept. 1, around servings of the dish highlighting Kauai shrimp. Photo courtesy the Royal Hawaiian.

Portuondo, Alwin and Shigekane at the James Beard House preview dinner Sept. 1, around servings of the dish highlighting Kauai shrimp. Photo courtesy the Royal Hawaiian.

The action will unfold about 1 p.m. Hawaii time as the chefs prepare the menu dubbed "The Royal Treatment." Guests arriving at the Beard House will be greeted by life-sized "pineapples" and other floral creations by Hawaii event designer Steven Boyle, and hula performed by expat dancers and musicians living in the New York area. Then, the culinary adventure begins.

Watch:

https://www.jamesbeard.org/kitchen-cam

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Making the airport part of the vacation

By
September 7th, 2016



English breakfast at Gatwick airport in London.

English breakfast at Gatwick Airport in London.

Twenty hours of flying at the start of a vacation is made easier by the air of anticipation, but 20 hours at the end is pure drudgery. Curb the pain a little by treating layover time as an eating extension of your vacation.

I usually refuse to buy food in airports, as a captive audience often equals high prices and limited quality, but we were lucky enough to find a couple of exceptions as we returned Wednesday from a trip to Europe. It was a grueling airport-fly-airport-layover-repeat cycle.

When your layover is three or more hours long and the airline provides nothing but crackers even when the flight is 10 hours long, you may as well eat in the terminal. The act uses up time and provides sustenance. And as it is my job to eat food, I treated it as a learning experience.

At Gatwick Airport in London I had a version of an English breakfast fry-up with fried eggs, sausage and potatoes, plus grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers. On the side, an avocado and mango guacamole-type mix. Not sure how traditional that last item is, but it was delish.

HP Sauce, a version of ketchup.

HP Sauce, a version of ketchup.

Offered along with ketchup was HP Sauce, which I learned (by reading the bottle) is a "brown sauce" make in the Netherlands by Heinz (same as the ketchup). It's more tangy than ketchup, made with malt vinegar, tomatoes and various spices. Learn something new every day.

We also used up our last euros on two salads for the flight and a box of nuts.

A Canadian merlot with a portobello burger at the Vancouver airport.

A Canadian merlot with a portobello burger at the Vancouver airport.

At Vancouver International it was harder to find a traditional Canadian dish (besides poutine, which is not my favorite), although local salmon and beef were featured in the higher-end sit-down restaurants. A lot of Asian food is offered at the takeout stands here. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn't fulfill my quest to sample something local at each stop on my way home.

So I went with wine, a Jackson-Triggs merlot from British Columbia. Went well with a mushroom burger topped with local goat cheese.

 

 

5 foods Germany

By
September 5th, 2016



I’ve been on a low-carbohydrate diet for going on two years now, but all those good intentions evaporated when we hit Germany on vacation. From Munich, traveling on to Stuttgart and later to the German-speaking part of Switzerland, we were struck repeatedly by the quality of the breads.

Germany's beer, wine, sausage, schnitzel and cheese are also worthy of applause but on my list of favorite things, 3 out of 5 involve starch.

I'm not pretending to be any kind of German food expert, this is just a  list of foods that made the greatest impression on a traveler.

A selection of pretzels on display at a train station kiosk in Munich.

A selection of pretzels on display at a train station kiosk in Munich.

Soft pretzels: The bretzel is a food group unto itself here — flavorful and chewy (but not at all hard to chew). These pretzels are substantial in size — I saw some that were more than a foot across — and sold everywhere, including as part of a traditional Bavarian breakfast of pretzel, sausage and wheat beer. I had them with toppings including a heavy dose of pumpkin seeds, in forms such as rolls and croissants, and split to make sandwiches.

All manner of fillings in a variety of breads can be found at take-out stands all over German cities.

All manner of fillings in a variety of breads can be found at take-out stands all over German cities.

Super sandwiches: It’s possible to eat in a cafe in many parts of Germany for 10 euro ($11) or less per person (until you add beer, which it would be shame to do without). This is not bad, but given that airfare, train tickets and hotel fees have already sucked the life out of your wallet, you may want to go easy on dining. Supplement the  occasional sit-down meal with grab-and-go sandwiches, freshly prepared and tastily displayed in little stands everywhere. Train stations are loaded with them, so if you’re hopping from city to city, you’ll find them to be a great convenience, with sandwiches at 3 to 5 euro for all kinds. A popular type is a take on Italian caprese salad — mozzarella and tomatoes with pesto in place of the basil leaves.

Flammentachen, or German pizza, with ham, cheese, onions and garlic, in a cafe in Tumingen, Germany.

Flammkuchen, or German pizza, with ham, cheese, onions and garlic, in a cafe in Tumingen, Germany.

Pizza is a universal language: A game I sometimes played would be to try to decipher a menu before the server arrived to shame me with his/her perfect English (me being a typical dumb single-language American). Google told me that flammkuchen was a tart, so I ordered it expecting a tiny quiche of some kind, only to be rewarded with a footwide pizza, with a thin crust perfectly scorched in a wood-burning oven. Turns out to be a specialty of southern German and parts of France (where it is called tarte flambe). This one -- the classic -- is spread with creme fraiche and comes topped with ham and onions — speck and zweibel, words I was able to translate off the menu. So you could say I got the details right, anyway. It  was a great happy accident.

A venison and wild boar sausage served with bread and horseradish.

A venison and wild boar sausage served with bread and horseradish.

Sausage (with bread): Always easy to spot on a menu — just look for something-wurst, and don’t worry about the something part, just order and take your chances. You can also get sausage made into a salad (wurstsalat) My favorite was venison and wild boar, a fairly dry combo ordered with a red wine from a Stuttgard-area vineyard. Slept well that night. Sausage normally comes with sauerkraut or potato salad, American versions of which you’ve probably had. I’d make these side dishes top choices on their own, but I’m trying to keep this list to five.

In the average market, sausages in jars.

In the average market, sausages in jars.

 

Poha, or gooseberry, sold by the carton in a grocery store in Stuttgart.

Poha, or gooseberry, sold by the carton in a grocery store in Stuttgart.

Tropical tartness: I was so surprised to see this fruit on a breakfast buffet in Munich that I exclaimed, “Hey, that’s poha!,” words that no one around me understood. I always thought of this tart, golden berry with its parchment shroud as a rare tropical fruit. You’ll find poha jelly in Hawaii, but seldom can you find the fresh fruit. In Germany it's a called physalis (in English, gooseberry) and it's easy to find in regular supermarkets for cheap. Ate my fill.

5 foods Montreal

By
August 28th, 2016



From the delicacy of foie gras to the hot mess that is poutine, this town can eat. Favorite foods here are as cosmopolitan as the population, reflecting an amalgam of immigrant heritages. It's -- hey! -- a melting pot. I imagine that the loco moco would be quite happy here.

I spent just a few days in Montreal, and make no claims to being an expert, but I did ask consult several natives about the iconic foods of this city, and some of them were indeed quite expert. Then I made it my mission to taste them all.

Bagels are dumped into these baskets straight from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood.

Bagels are sorted into these baskets straight from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood. You can see them pulled from the oven as you stand in line to order.

  1. A Montreal bagel -- as opposed to a New York bagel -- is thinner, crunchier on the outside, softer on the inside, and sweeter. Among bagel connoisseurs, the relative superiority of either city's bagel is subject to often impassioned debate. I stand firmly on the Canadian side on this one. Both types are boiled, then baked, but the Montreal version is boiled in sweetened water and baked in a wood-fired oven. No salt is used in the dough, which is always hand-rolled (no machines). All this adds up to major differences in taste and texture. Bagels can be found everywhere in the city, but the most acclaimed are from St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmont Bagel, both in the Mile End neighborhood. The favorite flavor, by the way: sesame.
A smoked meat sandwich from a stall in the Jean Talon market.

A smoked meat sandwich from a stall in the Jean Talon market.

2. They call it smoked meat, but it will likely remind you of pastrami. You can get it at food stands, delis and sit-down restaurants in this city, served simply on bread with mustard and a pickle -- although you could skip the carbs and just eat a pile of it plain. Smoked meat is beef brisket that is brined, marinated in a spice blend, smoked and then steamed to tenderness. In preparation it is much like pastrami. Differences in flavoring, smoking methods and time taken for each step, as well as the exact cut of meat, account for the taste variation. Like bagels, smoked meat is a delicious tradition that grew out of Montreal's Jewish heritage.

Portuguese chicken from Piri-Piri.

Portuguese chicken from Piri Piri restaurant.

3. Portuguese chicken a la Montreal is first marinated in a blend of paprika and other spices, then brushed with a spicy sauce made with piri piri, or bird's eye peppers, and, finally, turned on a rotisserie over a coal fire. More piri piri sauce goes on top, if you like. The usual companion is french fries. It's like an extra-extra special rotisserie chicken, with the flavor cooked deep into the meat. Delicious hot or cold.

A foie gras mousse atop toast with pickles is served at Maison Publique, a pub in the Plateau neighborhood.

A foie gras mousse atop toast with pickles is served at Maison Publique, a pub in the Plateau neighborhood.

4. This town is exceptionally big on the French classic of foie gras, with some restaurants that make it a specialty, offering several preparations a night. Especially famous for it: Joe Beef, which offers a Double Down "sandwich" of two deep-fried slabs of foie gras with bacon, cheese and chicken-skin mayonnaise between; and Au Pied de Cochon, where the menu lists 10 foie gras dishes, including "Fg" on burgers, in croquettes and over fries (see poutine, next). In some restaurants it's even merged with desserts.

Fries + gravy + cheese curds = poutine.

Fries + gravy + cheese curds = poutine.

5. Last and by all means least -- poutine. The word is Quebec slang for "mess"; the dish is french fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. Not all poutine is created equal. The cheese is basic -- mild, fresh, unaged cheddar -- but the rest is only as good as the gravy and the quality of the fries.  You can get a basic version like this one from food stands or fast-food restaurants. Fancy restaurants dress it up with special sauces, even foie gras. Take it or leave it, depending on of the depth of your personal culinary mission to pursue the iconic foods of Quebec.

Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on 5 foods Montreal

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