The Lady Sage Cocktail

Lady Sage CocktailIt’s now safe to say that 2014 was the year without a winter here on the West coast. I’ve done my best not to rub it in the face of my Eastern relatives, but seriously… T-Shirts in early February. It’s been a good, good year!

Already the fennel, sorrel (more on that in another post!) tarragon and various tough, fibrous perennials are returning to the garden wasteland to stake out their spaces like suburban families awaiting a parade.

The gnarly old rosemary and sage bushes spent the mild non-winter locked in combat for more territory, each trying to stretch wider and taller than the other. I hacked the tops off both of these beasts on the weekend to let the rest of the garden in on the sunshine party, now I’ve got a kitchen table covered in herbs. The rosemary is no problem, just hang it and dry it out for later use. But what the hell do you do with pounds of sage leaves? (more…)

Five More Great Food Podcasts

Five More Food PodcastsScrolling through itunes, I noticed that only one of the food podcasts from my previous list (less than a year ago!) had captured my interest long enough to survive.

Time moves fast in the podcasting world, and the culling can be merciless and swift. Two weeks of un-interesting episodes and my fickle fingers strays toward the “Unsubscribe” button…Don’t judge, I’m not the only one.

Luckily I’m not starved for content. As I said, seasons wax and wain at blinding speed and the fertile fields of itunes, Downcast, Sticher and Google Listen blossom with new food-related podcasts every month. With all the time I spend biking to work (yes, even in February) I got time to kill, and learn. So give me all the content, and then gimmie more! (more…)

Pickled Red Cabbage

Pickled Red Cabbage 5Walking around the local Megalomart produce section in the depths of a rainy West coast winter is a real lesson in our dependency on other places for our food. Yeah, I’d love to eat strawberries, tomatoes and mangos all year long, but the costs (financially and environmentally) of supporting the industrial mega-greenhouses of Mexico, Argentina and China outweigh my base cravings.

So I obsessively scan the “Product Of…” signs, hoping to hit something Canadian, or better yet, from our own backyard. Drives my wife freakin crazy!

These local eats are often hardier root veggies, or tough fibrous greens that look a bit scrubby next to piles of supermodel red peppers and dragonfruits. The kind of tubers, berries and brassica that need a little bit more processing to be as tender and sexy as the subtropical stuff. (more…)

The Sooke Harbour House (Sooke, BC)

Sooke Harbour House 1It’s been 35 years since The Sooke Harbour House opened on the tip of Whiffen Spit overlooking the Juan de Fuca Straights, a mere hour or so from our province’s capital. Owner and slow food proponent Sinclair Philip and celebrity chef Edward Tucson built North America-wide cred by sourcing local, sustainable foods and focusing on clean unobtrusive flavours decades before it became the standard. The Inn has won boatloads of awards (both as a hotel and as a restaurant) and been profiled by every food, drink and travel publication you can think of.

That was then, and this is now. The majority of praise for the South Island institution has grown a tad quiet as of late. Chef Tucson moved onto other projects years ago and according to the spiteful whispers that prickle at the edges of our industry, when he left a lot of the Inn’s hard-won reputation left with him.

Neither Crystal nor I had ever been to the Inn during its halcyon age, but we had always kept it in mind as a sort-of “bucket list” type destination. Someday we’d try it, how could we not?

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