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Monday, November 29, 2010

kbculture: Halftime Pastime

kbculture: Halftime Pastime: "From the Department of Guilty Pleasures comes this retro-style reefer that I'd venture would make any Man Cave [is the plural of that Men De..."

Pastrami to the World

Regular readers of I Could Eat may remember that this is the time of year my wife and I host our Cookie Exchange.  It's our official start to the Christmas season and an excuse for me to fire up the smokers yet again.  Pastrami is my go to recipe for this event, but this year I decided to add to the menu.

This is Chinese Smoked Duck.  2 ducks were brined for 24 hours and then smoked for 5 hours over white oak.  The finished bird has a deep red-brown skin which, like my smoked chicken experiences, is somewhat rubbery.  The meat is very moist and deeply smoky and rich.

I've broken down each bird, and removed the fat (there was lots!) for rendering.  The carcasses will make some nice stock (along with the pictured necks and wing tips which were also smoked) ... and now I just need to figure out what to do with the meat.  If you've dealt with duck before you know that the meat yield isn't particularly high.  Delicious yes, plentiful no.  So my concern is having enough meat to give 30 people a taste.  Any ideas will be appreciated!

Pastrami is the star of this party ... or at least that's what my friends tell me.  I used 2 smaller briskets this year and since I've acquired a small bar fridge I was able to brine them at home this year.  The actual smoking was uneventful other than a cold snap towards the end of the day which complicated things a bit (I smoked a couple pork butts at the same time as the briskets and ducks ... a little craziness is par for the course at Christmas right?).

I've started using a small amount of curing salt with my pastrami.  Yes, I know about the negative health aspects, but I use less than is called for, and the finished meat is beautiful, so I'll risk it for the one time a year I make pastrami.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NIM - The Ups & Downs of Bathroom Sinks

Determining the height of the bathroom sink is a real struggle for some people.

If you walk into your typical home centre and have a look at pretty much any bathroom sink cabinet or pedestal sink you'll find they come at an average height of 30" (765mm).  If you're an average height person you'll be spending the better part of your life bent over when you wash your hands at one of these sinks.

Many designers (myself included) have started using kitchen heigh cabinets to solve this problem.  However, the 36" (915mm) height of the countertop can be a bit of a stretch for children and those who require a wheelchair for mobility.

For years I've thought it would be great to have a sink you could adjust to suit the user.  We've played around with some ideas, but the plumbing always seems to get in the way.  The Allatezza height adjustable sinks by Italian company Rapsel seem to have that problem sorted out.  The pedestal uses pneumatics to raise and lower the sink ... you pump it up or down like a barbershop chair!  And as if being functional wasn't enough, they look pretty darn cool!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Photo Mural in Tile

French company OKHYO has come up with one of the coolest ideas for tile I've seen in a long time.  If you can remember the 1970's, you'll likely remember the photo wallpaper that was popping up in rec rooms throughout suburbia.  Scenes of tranquil streams and mountain ranges were popular designs.

OKHYO has taken this idea and brought it to the world of ceramic tile.  Browse through their catalogue of designs to select a scene you like, indicate the size of the area you want to tile, and then select the size and grade of tile (interior or exterior).

You can then adjust the image size and location in your field of tile before you order, a nice option if you'd rather not have a faucet or electric outlet in the middle of your picture.  And if you can't find an image you like you can upload one of your own.

The OKHYO site is fun to play with even if you don't plan on using their tiles.  Select a room, and then select a tile image to place it in the room.  Everwonder what your office would look like with a New York City backdrop?  Some of their images border on the "sickeningly cute" but if you want a dalmation puppy to adorn your backsplash (seriously, it's in the image gallery under "Animaux") who am I to judge?  One note:  You'll need to brush up on your French and Metric system to use the site.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Last Friendly Trip to Seattle

Yes, that's an Air-Stream trailer.  An Air-Stream trailer that's been converted into Skillet's travelling food show.  If you live in Seattle you are very lucky because this Air-Stream is cruising your streets and serving up some very tasty grub.

It was a happy accident that led us to Skillet.  We were at a coffee shop on Alki Beach in West Seattle, taking a break from walking the dogs when this beautiful silver bullet drives by.  I'd actually heard of Skillet before, having read about it in an article about the street food scene in Seattle and Portland.  I gave chase, but the trailer turned the corner and was gone.  Disappointed we headed back to the car only to see Skillet parked not 10 metres from my drivers' side door!

There was no way we could pass up a chance to try some Seattle street food.  But since we'd already made plans for lunch that day (more on that later), a slice of lasagne or a burger with poutine was out of the question (no offence Skillet, but poutine is NOT made with cheddar).  It's a shame because it all looked really good.  They even sell something called Bacon Jam, which regrettably they were out of that day.  Probably for the best as I have no idea how the border guards would react when I included "bacon jam" in my customs declaration

We ordered a bowl of Roasted Duck & Coconut Curry Soup.  For $5 the bowl seemed a bit small at first.  But then we opened the lid and realized that about 40% of the soup was huge chunks of very tender roasted duck!  The soup was amazing.  Flavourful, satisfying and a perfect way to warm up on what was a typically cool November day in the Pacific Northwest.

Our planned destination for the day was also in West Seattle.  I've mentioned The Swinery before, but the last time we visited The Swinery it was at their temporary kitchen near Pioneer Square.  They've since closed down that location and have moved into some newly renovated digs on California Avenue.

These folk run a butcher shop the way it was meant to be.  Meats are sourced as locally as possible and most everything is cured in house.  Don't see what you want?  Just ask and they can likely source it.  Other products, like the bacon candy from last post, are also available.  (Note:  Just tried some on the Bacon Brittle and it's AWESOME!)

I can't say too much about the butcher shop outside of what I read and saw.  Such is the plight of a tourist without a fridge or a kitchen ... I just wasn't able to do the place justice.  But fortunately that didn't mean we couldn't enjoy some of their product, for just around the corner and behind the butcher shop is their lunch counter.  (That's head butcher & owner Joey Brewer in the kitchen working on a bottom round roast.)

Just like their old kitchen in Pioneer Square, vegetarians should stay away.  There's a breakfast menu (served Saturday and Sunday from 10-2) that features Biscuits & Gravy and a Daily Hash.  The lunch menu (served Tuesday to Friday from 11-3, and a smaller lunch menu for the weekend) has a burger, pulled pork sandwich, Scotch Eggs ... and FRIES!  I use the upper case letters because these are old school fries, cooked lovingly in healthy (seriously!) tallow.  If that's too healthy for you, there's the Danger Fries that take Tallow Fries and add a bacon-cheese bechamel sauce.

J had a breakfast sandwich:  house-made sausage with egg and cheddar on a fresh bun.  The sausage was so tasty in this.  Like any sausage made with fresh meat, the flavour of the meat really stands out.  The pork flavour from this sausage was off the chart.  If I could change one thing I would use a biscuit instead of the bun.  Minor I know, but when I see Biscuits & Gravy on the menu, I get a little loopy.

I went with the Bacon Dog.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking "where's the bacon?"  Think inside the bun, or rather, inside the wiener.  The wieners are 40% Swinery bacon, and very juicy as a result. They're a European-style wiener so they have that snap to the skin when you bit into them.  And if the BEST WIENER EVER isn't enough, The Swinery provides their own pickles for condiments.  Sauerkraut, pickled onions and some amazing dills complete a really good hot dog.  Add in some Tallow Fries (no Danger Fries... we're not piggy!)  I felt there was too much bun for his hot dog, easily solvable by using a thinner baguette.

And so ended our last friendly trip to Seattle.  Next year the Whitecaps join the MLS, and Seattle, saddly, will become enemy territory.  Good thing we know where to eat ... just in case we get caught behind enemy lines.

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Skillet Street Food
Seattle, WA
Check their calendar for their locations

The Swinery
3207 California Avenue SW
Seattle, WA
206.932.4211

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Best Post Ever


I kid you not.  Bacon candy!  This is even better than making my own bacon.  Details on where these treats came from in a few days ... but in the meantime, think about it.  Bacon Candy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

Countertop surface manufacturer Vetrazzo is finding out just how tough it is to stay afloat in tough economy. If you're at all considering "cashing in on the green economy, I'd suggest you follow the link and read the story first.  Even great ideas get burned by those that are supposed to help.

Mission Serendipity

The typical autumn rains have been absent these days and we've been blessed with some really nice weather.  Not t-shirt weather, but go for a drive in the country type weather.  So on a recent visit to see my sons in Pitt Meadows, I suggested we carry on up the north side of the river, cross the bridge in Mission and pay ah-Beetz Pizza in Abbotsford a visit.

But this was one of those times I should have called ahead, because when we arrived owner Terry informed me they weren't going to open that night.  Dejected, I asked him if there was anything nearby worthwhile so we could salvage the road trip.  He suggested we return to Mission and seek out Cleopatra.

Cleopatra Mediterranean Cuisine is and unassuming little restaurant along the main drag in downtown Mission, the sort of commercial area that looks like at hasn't changed much in 50 years.  Furniture stores, doctors' offices, pawn shops ... and several restaurants of the "family" variety.

The interior of the restaurant is finished in bright paints and tiles inviting you inside to sit at a small group of tables near the front (I suspect take-out is bug business here).  And if the decor isn't enough to get you in, the wondrous spicy smell of Mediterranean cooking will be.  Both my sons were grinning from ear to ear as they inspected the buffet tables that were teaming with all sorts of Middle Eastern salads, mezes and meat dishes.

The deal of the day is the buffet, although each item is available a la cart.  For about $8 (slightly less at lunch time) you get a plate piled high with as much or as little of each item as you like.  The owners are proud of what they serve and with good reason.  Dinner was delicious and satisfying.  It's at least as good as anything I've had in Vancouver.

This discovery also proves that if you're looking for good value in a restaurant, ask a cook that offers the same in his restaurant.  People who love food love sharing their discoveries.  Thanks Terry for sharing yours.

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Cleopatra Mediterranean Cuisine
33082 1st Ave
Mission, BC
(604) 287-1767
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