Pork and Chicken Liver Pâté

It’s long past New Year’s and I’m not into resolutions, but I was inspired over the holidays to try my hand at more charcuterie and I’ve decided that trend will continue into 2019 as part of my weekend kitchen routine. The sausages we made over the break (more on that in a bit) were not the first bit of salted meat I attempted and my first foray into this exciting new realm of grinders and guts was quite a hit at our holiday table.

Call it pâté, terrine or fancy meatloaf the concept of salted, pressed, finely ground fat, flesh and offal that is shaped into a mold then slow cooked and served cold is about as old as the concept of “cuisine” itself. If you didn’t pick up the accent, this dish is French, unapologetically oldschool French in the same way that quail with grapes or veal tripe in white sauce is. The process has been streamlined since the days of Grandfather Escoffier, but it’s still got that that slightly fussy way about it that both makes it a joy to execute and a hell of a story for your guests when you drop it on the table.

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Howe Sound Brewpub (Squamish, BC)

howe-sound-brewery-1Squamish (or “Squampton” depending on where your allegiances lie) is a small burg nestled in the peaks between metropolitan Vancouver and the bacchanalian circus that is Whistler. It’s one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places in BC that you can easily visit by car (half an hour from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry!) and if you happen to love outdoorsy stuff like my wife and I do it’s a must-visit destination… Except… Well… It’s kind of at war.

Y’see it’s still a small town, just enough industry to keep it going during the winter and enough summer kids hanging around to run the store while all the tourists pile in. Problem is we’re not talking a handful of tourists here. When a sizable portion of metro Vancouver decides to holiday in Whistler, they’re all driving up the same highway at the same time to get there. And they’re all having lunch in Squamish.

During our entire five day long stay in Squamish we witnessed cooks, servers and baristas battling some of the most outrageous lineups of entitled people we’ve seen since… Well, Whistler *laughs* But Whistler’s veteran hospitality army can handle ‘em… Squamish just couldn’t seem to hold the line. Nearly everywhere there were long waits for food, dirty tables and panicked bussers, fuming customers and thousand yard stares from beyond the pass. Our sushi restaurant even ran out of rice!

But I said “nearly” everyone didn’t I? Yes! One shining beacon of hospitality stood out amidst the cloud of war. It’s the biggest, baddest, jam-packed fullest joint in town. The number one recommendation for dinner and post-MTB drinks we got from everyone. Squampton’s Generalissimo in the war of hospitality: The Howe Sound Brewpub.

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Turkey Mole

Turkey MoleThe holidays have mercifully fallen behind us as we blast off into 2016, boldly going where some (but not all) cooks have gone before. New culinary cultures to explore! New twists on a classic protein! New recipes involving chillies and chocolate! New! New! New! (more…)

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Halloween “Severed Hand” Punch

Halloween Punch 1Two Halloween memories from my formative years:

First – Walking into my elementary school dressed in a full-body black cloak, gloves, and intricately painted skull mask (seriously, it took days. Do you have any idea how many pits and cracks line the surface of a skull?) and a demon-topped walking stick that lit up when I tapped it against the ground. I stalked the halls like a boss, scattering kindergarteners and even freaking out some of the teachers. Won first place at the costume competition and the principal had to ask who I was under all that freakish awesomeness before handing me the award.

Second – Every year my mom made a Halloween treat for my class. Or wait, maybe it was just elementary school, or maybe she skipped a year or two. My memories are all messed up… For sure, she made a couple of Halloweens extra special by either baking a large, domed sponge cake with black icing and licorice sticks shaped like a spider, or serving a severed hand punch to my mostly horrified classmates.

My mom, by the way is awesome. (more…)

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Roasted Venison with Potato-Watercress Gratin

Venison1Thanks to a whirlwind foraging weekend with Toni I’ve got fresh watercress, I’ve got a venison roast and I’ve got a couple days of holiday dinners to cook my heart out.

Forget the turkey. That’s old news… A Christmas ham? That’s been done. This year I’m going new and different, seasonal and local. This is the kind of rustic, hearty meal that a pioneer family would have sizzling in the hearth on a cold winter’s night. (more…)

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