Wednesday, June 25, 2003

So long Jagermeister!

The LCBO has finally allowed absinthe into the province. Real absinthe, wormwood and all, as Jennifer Bain explains in The Toronto Star today.

Last week, I was excited to have a car so I could go to a drive-in movie. This week, the car comes in handy to chase down a bottle at one of the very few Toronto LCBOs that actually carry the stuff. Life is good.
I'm often resistant to the portrayal of Canada as slightly more humane and progressive than our neighbours to the South but I have to admit that Vancouver's new safe-injection site leaves me impressed. This, in combination with other recent events, has me wondering if we are finally living up to our reputation.

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell was quoted as saying:

"There's a part of me that says I'm prepared to try anything to save people's lives and to help them overcome addiction," he said.

"We're not going to get rid of drug trafficking and drug addiction in the city of Vancouver," added Campbell. "That's not going to happen.

"What we will do is get it under control and those people who are addicted will be in a position to get the help they want."

This all just makes Toronto's mayoral race yet more disheartening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I was going to have a nice sesame ginger grilled chicken over bok choy for dinner this evening, but I think I'll order Swiss Chalet as the Ontario environment minister is urging us not to use our Barbecues.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Reports that the Grand Central Station Oyster bar is being told they have to go non-smoking is a travesty. Can't we get some heritage group working on this sort of thing?

Next they'll be telling Nat Sherman's they can't have a smoking lounge.

link found at Gawker.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Something about having a car (when you don't normally have one) makes you crave junk food. Drive thru's are way more appealing when you don't have to yell at the speaker box on foot. Although you can get much closer. So I betray all my principles around food preparation and pick up McDonald's on the way to the drive-in movie theatre.

Now despite the on-line advertisement that Matrix Reloaded was the flick of the evening, we got there only to find 2Fast 2Furious or whatever it's called. Quite the dilemma. Do you actually face the dissapointment of having been at the dirve-in gates and leave? Or, do you sit through that movie waiting for Bruce Almighty to begin?

Well, to make a long story short, I have now seen one more of those suspense/action movies where you have no interest in whether or not the characters actually live. Bruce Almighty wasn't a total disspointment though, better than the Truman Show, but not nearly as good as Groundhog Day, the movie that obviously inspired it.

Steve Carell steals the movie though. I know I'm not the first person to say that.

All this rambling to that the movies aren't really the point of the drive-in experience. In a way it only makes it better if the movies suck.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Monday, June 16, 2003

Today is, of course, Bloomsday. I haven't begun celebrating yet, but will be into the Jameson's in a moment or two.

I've been planning a trip to Dublin for the centenary (next year) but often fear that I have already missed my opportunity, what with every Joyce fan on the planet wanting to go do the famous walk on June 16, 2004. Fears are somewhat allayed by this report that Davy Byrne's pub is only prepared to sell 400 gorgonzola sandwiches.

Could it be that there are only 400 people fanatic enough to travel to Dublin in order to travel in packs eating pork kidneys and gorgonzola? Seems there would be a wider market for that.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

You'd think I'd be inspired to write about something what with the new fall television schedules for Global and CTV coming out today. Funny, I'm not. I guess that kind of says it all.

So instead, I'm planning my dinner. Tonight we'll opt for the simplest thing possible, I'm going out to the local market and picking up some Atlantic salmon. I don't have the energy to hike it to get organic salmon tonight which, I swear, is worth the price and effort.

I get some arugula and baby spinach greens and cover the plate with it. If I have time (which I likely won't today) I marinate the salmon in rice vinegar, tamari and a bit of sesame oil. Then I wrap it all up in tinfoil and put it on my rapidly disintegrating barbecue.

I always make sure the salmon isn't overdone; it should still be pink and tender in the middle. Occasionally, I'll just sear it and leave it quite rare in the center. Parasites don't scare me in the least - after all, Maria Callas successfully used a tapeworm to lose 80 pounds.

Then, the sauce (and this is the key to the whole dish). I finely mince garlic, ginger and some green onions, throw it all in with a dab of sesame oil, a good tamari soya and Nakano rice vinegar. It's important to get the right rice vinegar and while there are some better vinegars out on the market, I have yet to experiment with all of them so rely on Nakano. I got some truly hideous stuff a couple of weeks ago when I strayed. It was pretty much tasteless.

Throw the salmon on top of the greens, the dressing on top of everything on the plate and dinner is served. This is my fallback recipe but it's really very good.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Many interesting things emerging about food at a moment when we are re-evaluating our production and consumption of edibles. The Toronto Star books section had reviews of three books of interest this weekend. The first, by Stuart Laidlaw, puts agri-business on the hotseat, pointing to unsafe practices like feeding animals to animals.

This all seems pretty obvious to me, my Dad having grown up in Argentina, I have known since I was weaned on wine that the beef we have here in Canada is inferior and that the pracitce of feeding cows anything other than grass or alfalfa is reprehensible from aesthetic and saftey points of view. This, of course, does not mean that I don't eat beef. Rather, I walk considerably out of my way and pay full price for my organic beef raised without hormones or by-products. Whole Foods does the trick nicely.

However, The Atlantic Monthly points out that I'm still not getting the best bang for my buck -- a tasty cow is raised on grass, whereas a lot of organic meat is grain-fed (cheaper and more enviro-friendly) which makes the beef fatty.

Laidlaw's book apparently goes further, tackling the GMOs as well. Personally, I'm on the fence here. So far, the only solid evidence I have heard about GMOs is that they feed a lot of starving people and produce inferior tasting tomatoes.

The Star also has a review of two new books about the culture of food, reviewed by Nora Young.

Young says: Not that this obsession means we're interested in doing any actual cooking. Most of us are more removed from the actual process of planting, reaping, and cooking than ever.

This pretty much sums up my point of view on one of the fundamental problems with North American food. I remember a line from The Economist a year or so back that claimed that the number of hours spent actually preparing food in England had declined in an almost direct inverse proportion to the number of hours spent watching cooking shows.

I haven't decided what's for dinner tonight, but organic veal chops have got my taste buds tingling.