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New site is up and running!

December 10, 2009

With the help of my brother and autofocus I have moved my blog over to my own site at and am super excited about the design.  Keep checking back as I make little adjustments and tweeks.

As well, anyone who is interested in having a custom blog designed please contact me and I will get you in touch with my brother who is a web developer.  He has experience designing blogs from scratch using wordpress.

Thanks for all your support!

Fol Epi Bakery

November 23, 2009

Victoria BC is really growing into a foodie mecca and Cliff Leir’s beautiful breads are leading the charge!  I had to feature this beautiful bakery as it satisfies both my design and food desires.  Cliff has set up shop at Dockside Green complete with a hand built wheat grinder and a brick oven that sits half inside and half outside. The name Fol Epi mans “wild wheat stalk”.  Fol Epi breads are probably the closest I’ve tasted to the French and European breads I’ve had.  The shop is designed beautifully with reclaimed wood, slate for serving platters, iron and brick.  The breads are made in a traditional manner with starters and ferments.  Then they’re hand shaped with care and attention.

I was lucky enough to spend about an hour or so hanging out, taking pictures, laughing and trying a sip of some amazing apple eau de vie that Cliff made at home.  What I learned is that Cliff doesn’t take himself seriously.  When I asked him why bread he said that an Old Russian guy convinced him to build a brick oven in his driveway and well…the rest is history.  Does he love what he does…his answer is like anyone who is working their passion, “sometimes yes, sometimes no”.  “I don’t always love getting up at 3 in the morning and I sometimes don’t love having rain pelting me as I ride to work.  But then sometimes the feel of the rain on my face is soothing and amazing”

I hope that the pictures above shine some light onto a beautiful craft and convince you to go and try some of Cliff’s breads.  If that isn’t enough then maybe heading next door to dip your all butter croissant in a Caffe Fantastico cappuccino will convince you.  Here are the directions.

Food to celebrate

November 4, 2009


I’m lucky enough to work part time at an amazing Italian Deli/cafe where my love for all things cured, fermented and aged has grown immensely. Re-designing their newsletter has inspired me to share with you some pantry ingredients to have around or to get in a pinch when you have some people over.  Ottavio Italian Bakery and Deli is an amazing resource for such items here in Victoria BC but I’m sure that wherever you are you will be able to source out a great deli/bakery.

The items photographed above and listed below are probably not things most people have or would have around the house but this is where I would love to change your mind about that.  Our culture isn’t set up the same way as the Europeans.  We are less likely to have an impromptu get together as they are.  They are also used to spending the time between 4-8 not rushing around trying to get dinner done but instead relaxing after a days work, having a drink, something to nibble on and sharing this with friends.  Dinner can come after.  You’ll be in a more relaxed state to decide what to have.  It’s not always easy as most of us are stuck in the same routines but I urge you to try it out.

Here are a list of things that can set you on your way to try this lifestyle out.   Look to spend around $100.  This would include stuff you can save for next time along with a selection of wines or beers.    So what’s $100?  A pair of shoes that you can’t eat…that’s what that is!

1. Have a small selection of cheeses on hand – Here are some different styles of cheese.  You could choose 3 styles or more but 3 keeps it simple and affordable.  Don’t be overwhelmed by all of these cheeses.  Any good cheese monger or deli should be able to help you out.  It’s worth it!

Hard ( Parmigiano, Pecorino, Aged Cheddar, Manchego)
Semi Hard ( Tete de Moine, Ossau-Irraty, Gouda, Comte)
Semi Soft (St Nectaire, Morbier, Pont l’Eveque)
Soft (Camembert, Chevre, Triple Cream Brie)
Blue ( Stilton, Fourme d’Ambert, Dolce Latte)
Sheep/Goat ( Macedonian Feta, Chevre Paillot, Valencay)

2. Have some cured meats like Prosciutto, Salami, Saucison, or even some cooked hams like Rosemary Ham

3. Olives – Source out some great olives even if it means driving all over town – I can’t stress this more.  I will usually take olives in brine and season them myself at home with some fennel seeds, rosemary, fresh lemon zest and olive oil.

4. Some nice baguette or Italian style bread.  Keep these in the freezer as they only take about 15mins to thaw.  Also a mixture of crackers along with some grissini (Italian breadsticks- see top picture) if you can get your hands on some.

5. Dried fruit, mixed nuts, and some fresh fruit as well.  Fruit compotes and chutney are great as well.

6. And of course your beverage of choice.  It’s really easy to find wines under $15 that represent great value.  Wines that work well are soft, fruity reds like Aussie shiraz, Pinot noirs, and basically anything with low tannins and acidity for reds.  For whites it’s best to get that acidity as it acts like a palate cleanser.  So think Sauvignon Blanc.  Rieslings and Gewurtztraminer (awesome with stinky and blue cheeses) and a Dessert wine is always amazing for a different experience (Blue cheeses being the typical pairing). Beer also is an amazing pairing.  Especially the hand crafted beers that offer a bit more complexity that just your run of the mill lagers.

Why I want a Bulthaup kitchen!

October 30, 2009


These pictures speak enough of why I want a Bulthaup kitchen.  If you’ve never seen or heard of this company than you need to either go to the showroom or visit their site. Bulthaup is a German company who have a long history of producing kitchens without any unnecessary decorations.  Everything you see has a function which makes it a dream kitchen for anyone who is serious about cooking.  I’m a minimalist by heart so these kitchens are just my thing.  I really love the mixture of materials plus the juxtapositions of modern and rustic.  Using wood gives the kitchen a really grounded and earthy feel. I love modern but I don’t want to feel like I’m cooking in a space movie.

So please enjoy, dream, drool and start planning your kitchen.

Warm fall salad & bruschetta

October 28, 2009


Who doesn’t love a salad?  That is until it becomes repetitive and boring.  I’ve gone through a streak like that but then I decided to be daring and try different combination’s.

Spring salads are exciting with their fresh tender greens, peas, young early vegetables.  Summer salads are focused around outdoor eating and grilling.  Think big juicy ripe tomatoes, grilled veggies and some prawns on top.  But for me, warm fall salads are where it’s at.  I still use baby greens but top them with grilled or sauteed fennel, onions, wild mushrooms and roast carrots.  Toast some nice sourdough or french bread, rub loads of garlic on it and top it with tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs or all of the above.  Making bruschetta is less about specific recipes and more about finding food from leftovers, seasonal ingredients and anything you really love to put on top.  Traditionally the housewife would use leftovers to create spectacular hor d’oeuvres in France, tapas in Spain and antipasto along with bruschetta in Italy.  So no rules here.

The following is some ingredients and produce I love using for warm salads.

Sweet Onions
Roast Carrots
Roast Parsnips
Bacon & Brussels sprouts
Roast squash
Green beans
Wild mushrooms
Marinated artichokes
Roast garlic
Baby greens
Bacon (it’s a vegetable isn’t it??)
Pine nuts
other toasted nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds)

Here is a fantastic dressing as well

1/4 cup Olive oil
Juice of one orange
splash of red wine vinegar
2 cloves fresh garlic crushed or minced
small handful fresh thyme

mix all ingredients together and store in a jar or use all at once.

Thanksgiving on Salt Spring Island

October 25, 2009

This Thanksgiving was all about indulging in food, drink and friends on Salt Spring Island where I didn’t have to do any of the cooking!  I also didn’t feel the need to try to record Thanksgiving dinner through my lens.  Instead the evening was spent drinking, discussing, eating and laughing.

Our hosts were Danish so naturally we started with a lethal dose of Aquavit, a Danish aperitif with hints of dill and caraway, followed quickly with a good chaser of beer.  My kind of start!  The food was stunning.  Organic, free range Turkey from a farm down the road, gorgeous big creamy potatoes, squash, glazed carrots, stuffing topped with beautiful gravy and more Aquavit.  The aperitif turned digestif.  The night capped off with one of each pies; an apple and pumpkin pie.  A real memorable evening and one that I am truly thankful for.

So below are a collection of  images not from that evening but instead from the days spent roaming around with my ipod plugged into my ears capturing anything that caught my eye.  Oh, and if you’re looking for a place to stay when you go to Salt Spring Island then look no further than here….(a shameless plug! It’s my Mom’s b&b)
































5 reasons I love chanterelles

October 17, 2009


It’s that time of the year again.  Wild mushroom season!  Or at least it is in my part of the world.  There is something amazing about eating wild food.  For a man it’s all about being the forager, the hunter gather that resides within. Trekking out into the damp forests and bringing home a bounty to rejoice and feast on.  Exactly the kind of activity that I’ve had little success with!  These gorgeous Chanterelles were picked by a friend.  The ones we gathered were mushrooms that resembled Chanterelles and luckily were not harmful.    But the act of foraging was very exciting and enjoyable and I recommend it to anyone.  Just get a good mushroom book, a good pair of boots and pack a lunch!

There are so many varieties and so many flavours and textures.  From silky, soft and buttery to meaty and earthy.  Chanterelles fall into the more buttery catagory with slight earthy tones.  Here are 5 ways that I love to cook and eat Chanterelles.  The season is short so take advantage while you can get them.

1. Sauteed for a Bruschetta

Roughly cut a few of handfuls of Chanterelles and saute over med to high heat with some olive oil in a large pan.  Add some salt to help release the juices and some pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes but not too long or they will shrink and taste horrible.  Meanwhile, toast some sour dough bread  and rub with garlic.  Cover bread with sauteed mushrooms and drizzle olive oil all over. Sprinkle fresh thyme (orange or lemon thyme is amazing)   Grate fresh Parmesan if you’ve got it.

2. Wild Chanterelle & Smoked Salmon Omelette

Saute Chanterelles as per recipe above omitting the thyme and set aside to keep warm.  Gently beat 2-3 eggs, melt some butter in a  6inch diameter non stick pan over medium heat.  Once butter is melted and foaming, add the eggs and turn the heat up a bit.  When the eggs start to set, use a spatula to lift up the edges to let the uncooked egg run under to cook.  The omelette is done when the bottom is golden brown and the top is still moist.  Transfer to a plate.  Fill with mushrooms and pieces of smoked salmon.  Grate some Gruyere cheese or a Swiss Emmental.  Fold over and serve.

3. Grilled Rib-eye with Chantrelles & Vincotto

Season a Rib-eye steak with salt and cracked pepper.  Sear or grill steak to desired doneness.  (1 inch steak needs 5 mins on one side and 4 on the other. Or with an internal temp of 130 F to 135 F)  Saute Chanterelles as per first recipe and add two or more tablespoons of Vincotto at the end.  Serve steak with mushrooms on top.  Vincotto (literally “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet dense grape must produced artisanally in the south of Italy. Kind of like a reduced balsamic.

4. Chorizo, Chanterelle and Broccoli Tapa

Saute a couple of chorizo sausages(preferable the dry ones) on medium heat for a couple of mins.  Add a couple handfuls of rough chopped or torn Chanterelles (not too small, you’ll get better flavour if they are kept larger), garlic clove, salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few mins.  Meanwhile par boil one broccoli crown cut up into bite sizes.  Add par boiled broccoli to pan with the chorizo and mushrooms with some olive oil and stir to coat.  Serve in a bowl with warm bread and let people tuck in.

5. Sauteed with Roast Butternut Squash

Cut butternut squash into wedges and drizzle olive oil over pieces.  Season with salt(try a smoked salt or another flavoured salt if you can get some) and cracked pepper.  Roast side down on a pan lined with parchment paper at 350 F for about 40 mins.  Check it after about 20 mins and if brown on one side then flip over to brown the other side.  This method really caramelizes the sugars in the squash.  Saute Chanterelles as per first recipe and serve squash with mushrooms on top.


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Refrigerator Soup Q&A

October 6, 2009


So I’ve been fortunate enough to be the first blogger that Refrigerator Soup is featuring in a 20 question Q&A here.  Refrigerator  Soup is all about bringing the best photos & food blogs to you!  It’s a great way to browse around and find cool and interesting food blogs.  Check it out!  And a great big thanks to those guys for featuring me.

Tuesday night dinners

October 4, 2009




Here is a fun concept…get a bunch of friends together on a random night for a fantastic meal!  I’ve been inspired to break out of the weekend entertaining and to try something different.  The idea of eating together on any given night isn’t new so why are we not doing it more?  It’s simple. Make time every week to invite people over to have a meal together.  Some people won’t make it every week but keep at it.  This is exactly what happened at my place.  I kept doing the dinners and slowly people could hardly wait for Tuesday night to come around.  Make it as complex or as simple as you want. Get people to bring something along or do all the cooking.  Basically do whatever you feel you’re capable of doing and not just once but week after week.   For me it’s all about trying new dishes or things I’m really excited about.  I get my friends to bring $10 each and a bottle of wine.  Very affordable and it means that I can experiment but still remain thrifty.  The result; three or more courses at a very reasonable price.

Fall has set in and so the menu for this Tuesday dinner was inspired by harvest and warm comforts.  Bresaola, a cured beef thinly sliced with fresh shaved Parmesan and lemon juice starts the meal off.  Gnocchi with butternut squash brings smiles while the aromatic roast pork with fennel, cinnamon and chili round off the meal on a savoury note.  Finish it off with a Tarte Tatin topped with cardamon spiced vanilla bean ice cream and you’ve got some happy happy friends!

I’ve included the roast pork recipe from this dinner as I felt that it was this that I built everything else around.  So here’s the challenge…what would you build around this dish?

Roast Pork with fennel, chili and cinnamon

This recipe was inspired by the flavours of southern Italy.

Pork Loin – You get about 3 servings per 1lb of loin with the bone in and about 3.5 for boneless
fresh cracked pepper
dried chili flakes
kosher salt
cinnamon powder
dried fennel seeds

Mix equal amounts of all the ingredients (except salt)  in a pestal & mortar and bash up a bit.  Lay the mixture on a chopping board and roll meat until completely covered.  Sprinkle a few pinches of salt all over the loin.  Sear the pork in a stainless pan until completely brown.  Roast in a roasting pan for 20-30 mins for each pound at 350 F.  Remove from oven when you’ve got an internal temperature reading of between 160-170F if you have a thermometer or follow the roasting guide.  De-glaze roasting pan with some white wine and add stock.  Reduce rapidly to desired thickness, strain off and return to stove on low temp until ready to serve.  You could add a knob of butter to the sauce at the end to mellow it out.  Serve with your favourite side dishes in season.

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Everyday meals under $15 – Tonight, Pappardelle with ragu

September 22, 2009


One of the things I have noticed while talking to friends is that most people have a hard time making great tasting, everyday meals on a small budget.  This got me really excited because this is EXACTLY what I’ve been doing for many years now.  It just takes a bit of creativity and some practice working with limited ingredients.  But it can be done.  So this is the first of many recipes I will post on this subject and my hope is that you’ll try them, mix them up and get inspired to try new things yourself.  I’ll focus on seasonal meals as things in season are always cheaper than when their out of season.  I want to share recipes that excite me, are affordable and taste great. So the first recipe is Pasta with ragu sauce done my way.

There are few cooking pleasures that equal making your own fresh pasta.  The confidence and pride that comes with being able to make something from scratch is amazing.  Pasta made with fresh eggs is  silky and delicate and is preferred over dried pasta for this recipe.  I love my ragu with a mixture of wild mushrooms with not too much tomato in it.  The result is a very savoury and rich ragu screaming for a gorgeous Chianti, Southern Italian red, full bodied Grenacha from Spain or a spicy Shiraz from Australia.  I’ve added a super simple side dish of steamed broccoli with chili, garlic and olive oil that cuts the richness of the pasta.  Enjoy!

Fresh Pappardelle Pasta

300g Flour
3 eggs
splash of olive oil

Place flour in a bowl or on your counter and create a well in the middle.  Crack the eggs into the well along with the splash of olive oil and mix with fork until the mixture comes together.  At this point it will look like a shaggy mass of dough.  Knead the dough by squashing it with the heal of your hand, stretch it, pull it, flip it, squash it some more, fold it over and keep doing this until your shaggy mass has transformed into a smooth ball of dough.  The kneading helps develop gluten which gives the pasta a nice springy texture.  Wrap in plastic cling film and rest in fridge for at least 30 mins.

I use a hand crank pasta machine but if you don’t have one you can always roll it out with a rolling pin. The trick is to cut off smaller pieces off the main ball of dough so you’re not trying to hand roll a piece that is 6 feet long!  You want to roll your dough out to the thickness of between a drink coaster and a playing card and about 12inches long and 4 inches wide.  Flour the long piece of thin dough and roll from one end until you have a cigar shaped piece of dough.  Use your knife to cut 1 inch slices.  Unwind the Pappardelle and dust with more flour and put to the side until you are ready to cook the pasta.  The same applies if you’re using a pasta machine.  Continue to roll it to the same thickness as per the hand rolling technique.

Ragu Sauce & Broccoli with chili

250g ground pork
250g ground beef
4 cups rough cut mushrooms (wild & brown mushrooms)
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 broccoli crown
1 red chili diced
1 clove garlic diced
olive oil, salt and pepper
parmesan (optional)

Sautee onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt until translucent.  Add the pork and beef and continue to fry.   Add mushrooms & thyme, increase heat and add some fresh ground pepper and cover with lid making sure to stir it every couple of mins for 10 mins.  Add balsamic vinegar turn down heat slightly and continue to simmer for another 10 mins.
At this point you can just leave it on a low heat and allow the sauce to concentrate and get richer!

Boil two big pots of salted water and add the pasta to one and boil for 3-5 mins and the broccoli to the other.  After about 2 mins the broccoli should be ready.  It should look bright green, not army green.  Drain off broccoli, add diced chili, diced garlic, a splash of olive oil.  Mix together and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Serve on small platter or dinner plate. Drain pasta, arrange on plates or pasta bowls, scoop generous amounts of ragu over pasta and finish the dish with a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan if you’ve got it.

Serves 4
Wine Pairings – Australian Shiraz, Italian Chianti, Spanish Grenacha, Negroamaro from Southern Italy

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