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I will never forget that stink-hot summer that I biked home from work every day, through Forest Hill.  Which — don’t be surprised — has a HILL in the middle of it.  I used to hum the theme song to The Jeffersons every time I had to climb that hill, with a specific focus on “Fish don’t fry in the kitchen /Beans don’t burn on the grill /Took a whole lotta tryin’ /Just to get up that hill.”  Because, believe me, it did.

Happily, the move we’ll soon be making here at Order Up is a whole lot easier on the glutes.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting exclusively at the Order Up blog over on the main Restaurant Central site.  Much of the content will look familiar — I’ve been cross-posting for awhile now — and of course I’m still writing it, so the level of snark and general misanthropie to which you’ve become accustomed will not change.

In a few days’ time, we’ll set up a site redirect so that you’ll be magically transported directly to that page, easy-peasy.  If you’re worried about missing any posts in the meantime, just bookmark the new location.  And consider dropping a comment or two so that I’ll know you’ve found us!

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According to The Power Station, some like it hot.  I am not one of those some.

So on stifling days like today, I eschew my usual brew for something frostier, and share with you the same:

  • One of my favourite summer drinks is a Spanish drink called clara — it’s basically a beer cocktail made with whatever lager you have on hand, mixed half-and-half with gaseosa, which Wikipedia describes as “a mild-flavored low-sugar carbonated lemonade” (akin to Sprite or 7-Up).  It’s delicious, but decidedly low-budge — for a fancier blend, check out Cooling down with beer cocktails (Epicurious.com).
  • If you’re more of a purist than I am, you’ll want to know the answer to this question: What beer trends are on tap?  According to SmartBlog on Food & Beverage, American consumers embracing craft beers, along with budget-priced canned beers.  The class divide, in beer form!

Stay thirsty, my friends!

 

Coffee is a polarizing beverage — you either love it or hate it.

Here in Canada, survey says: Love.  Coffee consistently tops the list of favourite non-alcoholic beverages (see CRFA’s 2012 Canadian Chef Survey) and consistently manages to get this blog written.  What’s not to love?

In that loving spirit, a roundup of recent stories from the world of java journalism:

  • I found this study interesting, as its conclusions extend beyond coffee shops to all casual eateries: UCI study looks at how coffee shop customers mark their spot (via The Orange County Register).  The results?  “Their findings confirm what many of us habitués of coffeehouses and casual eateries have long observed: That people not only define and mark their territory with their belongings for an indefinite period – sometimes long after the coffee and/or food they’ve consumed is gone – they also sometimes treat that space as if it were their living room or home office.”  The article also includes some tips on “preventative measures” that managers can use to keep customer from using too much space for too long.

Tomorrow: Beer!

I promised you weird stories about food and paper clips, and here you go.

In truth, only two are weird.  Very disappointed that #3 merely uses them to hold closed parchment paper in a recipe, but I couldn’t shake the need for a third, and Google started to stall out when I encountered questions like, “How many people die from eating paper clips every year?”  <– since there seems to be no legitimate source for this kind of data, I’m going to say “zero in restaurants” and just get on with it …

From CHOW.com: How to pit a cherry with a paper clip

A quick (30-second!) video shows how you can put a common desktop object to use in solving a common kitchen problem.  Erma Bombeck would be so proud.  So would Martha Stewart who wrote about this technique nearly 15 years ago.

From National Post: Prepare perfect pork with paper clips

“This technique is legitimately cool: “When he was a college student, my uncle wanted to experiment with making traditional char siu … one day, as family lore has it, he started fooling around with a paper clip. When he bent both ends into an S-shape, he discovered the perfect hook.”

From FoodNetwork.com: Paper-clip asparagus recipe

A simple recipe for oven-baked asparagus that uses paper clips to hold closed the parchment paper.  I’m only a fan of this because my guess is that more people die from eating staples than paper clips (but still!  none in restaurants!)

I was originally going to write about the awesome series of Canada Day eats that the National Post featured yesterday.  Then I got all twitchy when I realized that my news feed featured not one, but two — and leave it up to me to find three — stories featuring unusual uses for paper clips in the kitchen.  I was going to toss the Canada Day idea like a naughty salad.  Then I saw the photographs.

Square one, pleased to meet ya!

Here’s how the NatPo described the challenge:

What is the quintessential Canadian dish?  Surely our national cuisine consists of more than poutine and maple syrup (not necessarily together)?  To investigate — and to celebrate Canada’s 145th birthday — we asked chefs from across the country to whip up and photograph the ultimate “Canadian” dish.

The responses proved that not only is this a nation of considerable culinary talent, but that Lenovo makes one heck of a laptop.  Still functions despite the puddle of drool all over the touchpad!

Ten chefs were featured in the article, representing four provinces and a nation’s worth of ingredients:

I’m not going to reveal which chef was responsible for which dish — you’ll have to click on the links above to find out for yourself — but the patriotic menu featured a mix of fun (roast duck poutine pizza, beavertail sandwich) and fishy mains (roasted Atlantic halibut, sockeye salmon salad, maple-and-tea-glazed Atlantic salmon, a salmon share plate and a “the great Canadian burger), twist-on-traditional desserts (wild blueberry tart, panna cotta) and a breakfast dish simply called “Eggs Canada.”

And they looked a little something like this:

 

Eater.com described the current state of restaurant criticism thusly, Across the Nation, Restaurant Critics a Casualty in the Demise of Newspapers, and then went on to list several examples of how dead tree critics are faring in major cities across the U.S (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, New York City, Portland, Austin, New Orleans).  The upshot?  Not well.

Now, if you’re managing a diner in Moncton, does it really matter to you that a food critic left Atlanta for L.A.?  Gosh, I hope not.  But I think you should care about the future of restaurant criticism in general, and here’s why:

The public needs critics to force them not to overlook that strip mall mom-and-pop, or to give them the tough news that their favorite landmark restaurants are slipping.

Restaurants need critics for the same reason: reviews, even negative ones, can be good for them. Positive reviews obviously generate diners, money, and boost team morale. Bad reviews are also important: They can be seen as a challenge, a call for constant improvement (and the fear of bad reviews keeps restaurateurs on their toes).

San Francisco chef Dominique Crenn: “It gives us a goal to strive for, to correct whatever may have been wrong, to make something that may have been a hindrance into something great.”

Still, I wonder … does it really matter to you if professional restaurant criticism goes the way of low-carb carbonara?  Do  you you think of pro critics as helpful members of your team or would you rather leave your restaurant’s reputation to the masses (Yelpers, Foursquarers, Twitterers)?   Leave a comment below and let us know.

At last, the answer to that age-old question, unique to Canadian cuisine: but how do you eat it?

… donairs are best eaten over a cardboard plate and as far away from your body as possible.

A recent article in The Globe and Mail described donairs as “the tastiest treat you have probably never heard of,” though I’d be surprised if it’s unknown to restaurateurs, or anyone who has visited Halifax, or anyone who knows anyone who has visited Halifax (in my experience it’s one of those “okay, shut up about it already” food phenomenons).

In short, it’s shaved meat in a pita with tomato, onion and sauce.  In long, it’s this:

First, there is donair meat, heavily spiced ground beef that’s shaped into a large loaf and roasted on a spit, then shaved and seared on a flat top range. The meat is placed on a thin, Lebanese-style pita and topped with tomatoes and raw onions. The donair sauce is an addictively sweet blend of evaporated milk, vinegar, garlic powder and sugar. The sandwich is wrapped in tinfoil and eaten out of hand.

The Globe’s article describes the assembly process quite well, but if you haven’t seen the creation of a donair in person and are of a visual bent, this three-minute customer-side video shot at Halifax’s King of Donair shows how it’s done (warning: it appears that the camera person was jacked up on too much caffeine and not enough donair at time of shooting; image is shaky so have some Gravol at the ready).

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