It all happened so fast.
One minute my wife Crystal is explaining what “Family Day” is, and the next she’s outlining her plan; two days off together, score a cheap hotel room over on the Pacific Rim, weekend of adventure with our mutual friends Jen and Sean and the kicker… She already nabbed four seats at The Wolf in The Fog, Canada’s best new restaurant.
“Jen and Sean have already gone over and will text us the road conditions,” she explains whiles stuffing a shopping bag full of toiletries, “They’re predicting a hurricane on Friday, but it should all be cleared up before we get there! Adventure right?”
I’m standing there in my bike pants, still soggy from my ride home from work, face squidged up in shock/concentration/confusion.
“Uhhhhhh, okay… I’m in. But ummm… What’s Family Day again?”
Walking 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…)
It’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?
When I was a kid I would run outside every New Year’s Eve just as the ball was dropping and the whole neighbourhood was shrieking “Ten! Nine! Eight…” to stare up into the sky and feel the changing of the old year into the new.
I’d stare and stare listen and wonder what made the last year different, and squidge my eyes shut and search in my guts to feel something new and grown up inside.
Every year was the same. No change… No difference between one year and the next. Not until this year… 2014 is the year everything changed! (more…)
As many sharp readers may have guessed, I’m not only a cook, amateur writer and degenerate wastrel, but a huge… And I mean HUGE geek. Capital G!
I love 80s ‘wrasslin, comic books, Godzilla flicks and nostalgic video games almost as much as love shaping dumplings or searing duck breasts. So when I was researching my 2014 Holiday Guides (plural, I also have a gift guide for foragers in the works that probably won’t make it out before X-Mas) I was floored by the massive amount of geek-centric kitchen gifts available to the internet-savvy public.
Sites like Nerd Approved, Archie MacPhee’s, and Pintrest led me down a long ‘n dark rabbit hole of nerdy kitchen accessories. This stuff is serious kitsch… It’s like the internet knows me!