Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What to do with half a bag of almost rotten carrots?

Like Clara says, 'it's just wrong to let things go to waste,' but.... she believes that to be true with Guiness Beer but doesn't eat leftovers?! Go figure.

Anyhow thinking about her words I decided to make something with the half bag of almost rotten carrots in the fridge. What to do? Nothing too fancy, threw them in a pot with boiling water a whole onion and a few potatoes and some garlic and voila some soup for the chillier nights that are approaching. I added an organic stock cube and lots of chili pepper and salt and ground black pepper. Once it was a little cool, I threw it in the blender and voila I will have soup for dinner the next few nights -although I am out each evening for the next few nights so those carrots may have been cooked in vain :)

And read on Wiki yesterday that almost 70% of Sicilans and descendants from the Mediterranean are lactose intolerant (LI) in comaprison with 5-10% percent of northern Europeans and Americans. All of this new LI info is fascinating.

Come to think of it I never saw my grandparents drinking milk or having cereal...I think my grandfather drank goats milk while he was making his cheese on the farm but that may be it...will have to check with the aunties and uncles about their milk consumption. Giovanna - does your mother drink milk?


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gerry at the market

Gerry is a natural born performer - he comes from a circus family and entertains us at work with his circus routines. He is always 'clowning' around as it is in his nature - he is a former clown and he and his dad ran the great Cottle circus and now Wookey Hole. Here he is eating his favourite olives from Borough Market - they are stuffed with garlic and he is entertaining as usual, some of his lines are classic and can make you spit that olive out into oblivion as you laugh so hard.

He is standing in front of Applebee's where I got my Cajun fish wrap on Friday and where we all had our lovely garlic prawn wrap the Friday before....mmmmm....can't wait til Friday again!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pumpkin pound per pound
The difference: Canada vs UK

With three days left until Halloween these are my observations.

  • I have had no Halloween invites nor have I heard of a fabulous Halloween party that I should attend in full costume - I am going to a gig Wed night with work and doubt any of the musicians will be in costume
  • I have not seen any pumpkins in any doorways or any type of Halloween decoration -unless you count the lone, orange pumpkin candle I have on our lounge table
  • If you do want to buy a pumpkin, they are probably only sold for the expat American community, you will pay through the nose - at £1 a kg, thoughts of having pumpkins strewn along the stairs and on the porch may be quashed as it could end up costing you a pretty penny. The BBC reports that due to such a terrible summer pumpkins are in shorter supply as they are not ready yet so some people will have green-y orange pumpkins.
  • Am positive that we will not get one trick or treater - we haven't even bought a bowl of candy!
I think Halloween is not so big in the UK because a) it is considered an 'American' thing and b) the Brits are always throwing 'fancy dress' (costume) parties - they happen a lot and it is great fun to get the chance to dress up in silly, flamboyant, outrageous or sexy outfits all year long -not just on Halloween.

  • I have heard of several parties and lots of talk of what people are going to wear and where they are going to get their costume from
  • When I left T.O. in October there were already several houses with elaborate scary decorations, inflatable ghosts and goblins and bats hanging from trees
  • Trick or treaters will be out everywhere and am sure friends and family will give out bags of candy and see a vast array of cute kids costumes
  • Several friends have been to pumpkin patches to pick their own pumpkins and am sure the prices for pumpkins in Canada are not outrageously expensive - can anyone tell me how much they paid?

Am going to check the Time Out to see if there are any Halloween parties - fingers crossed some American contact lets me know of a great house party to slink away to after work on Wed! Must remember to bring some ad hoc costume ideas to work...
Mammoth at MonmouthThis is the mammoth queue to get a coffee at Monmouth Coffee. Saturdays at Borough Market are total madness and even during yesterday's lunch hour I had to wait in a smaller queue to try out the legendary coffee. When you order they make the coffee right in front of you drip-style (see pic). A regular filter coffee costs £2.00 ($4.20CDN) which I thought was a bit expensive. But one must never do the conversion when in London or elese you would only eat discounted bread and butter when visiting.

Monmouth started roasting and selling coffee in 1978 at its first location in Covent Garden (the old flower market). They source beans and form relationships with growers in South America, Central America, Asia & the Pacific and Africa. Their builds relationships to ensure sustainability and fair trade from their partners so perhaps that explains the quality and price of the coffee. Also for the sweet tooths, they serve cakes and sweets from Paul which is another of my favourite French bakeries in London.

I must admit I wasn't impressed by the coffee probably becaues I took it black with sugar. Since I have been dairy free I have not taken to the black style of coffee or really enjoyed coffee that much; I think I just loved the combination of coffee and milky goodness.

Monmouth only use whole milk which could explain their popularity...all in all an interesting place to visit but until they use lactose free milk I will have to only listen to Diana's squeals of delight in regards to her visits to Monmouth.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Celebrity Chef James Martin Dishy looking and good in the kitchen the pics above show the cuteness. We are working with James Martin - celebrity chef on a new project with Alliance & Leicester bank where he mentors kids who are not going to university but going to pursue a career straight out of middle school - like being a chef!

He likes fast cars, expensive watches, has a cute dog and does Saturday Kitchen - a program on the BBC. Cute! He was even on the UK version of Dancing with the Stars - a man you would like to bring home to Momma!! Well at least I know Momma Dolce would love him - she loves Dancing with the Stars.

Also, need to check out his latest cookbook entitled, Sweet Baby James -much better than the Disney title from yesterday!

p.s. went to Monmouth Coffee today - Diana I was disappointed - probably because I couldn't have milk in it! I tried to sip it all day and re-heat it in the microwave but I just couldn't finish it... such a shame as if it were a frothy latte it would've been gone in a minute. Unfortunately they only use whole milk with all their coffees. I am going to now be a Mrs. Lio and moan about the lack of lactose free options - stay tuned.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Worst cookbook title ever

Thanks for sending me this Ben!
Disney's cookbook entitled, Cooking with Pooh is not going to be on the list for my cookbook...


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Streaky BaconThe bacon we eat in North America is called streaky bacon here in the UK. See the tray of streaky bacon that is in the back of the shot. I think the name they give it is funny!

The Brits do not really eat streaky bacon much they eat larger slices of bacon which is shown in the tray on the right. Borough Market is open again tomorrow so will try and get there for some Monmouth coffee and some more pics!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pistachios for breakfastSince I have cut out all dairy from my diet (I now feel 100% better) I am still unsure of what to eat in the mornings. I absolutely loved cereals and yoghurt and muesli and lots of milk so now am a bit stuck. Am trying to have fruit juice and fruit in the morning but sometimes I need a little more. I am having toast and jam, sometimes granola bars but today I had a bag of pistachios.

I know it is odd but that was the only thing in the kitchen this morning. I ate the unsalted Marks and Spencer brand ones which were great. I then Googled what they are exactly and found out that the pistachio is the name of the tree and we eat the seed of the pistachio fruit. Did you know that –it is a fruit seed not a nut.

The reason why the Diabs were always eating nuts like pistachios are that the trees are native to the middle east, namely Iran and Afghanistan but the US –mainly California is now the second largest producer and exporter of the tree’s seed. I guess we call it a nut to make life easier and because it looks like a nut. Unlike olives which need to be cracked by hand, the pistachio shell cracks itself when the fruit ripens, apparently you can hear the pop.

Just some interesting food for thought today – I was unaware of any of these facts but they say, you learn something new every day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Purple clothes, drinks and more...

Sorry readers it has been a hectic week and not much time at home or near the computer to post, I actually have a job now?! It does truly interfere with my spare time though... :)

Worked on the Girls Aloud private gig at Sketch on Conduit Street last week (their website is quite cool). It was an event to launch the new purple Samsung F210 phone and it was purple power all night! The girls looked fab in their purple outfits and the venue was set up to be a mini concert venue - great job Olivia! There were purple cocktails and lovely canapes passed around but unfortunately the life of a PR gal is not to sip cocktails and eat the food but to work the event.

So will have to wait for pics of the food and get the recipes for some of the lovely purple signature cocktails that were created. Other food related bits about the day are during media interviews the girly group were housed at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair and journalists awaited their turn to interview the girls in the hotel's lobby bar - The Polo Bar. I recall eating some lovely crisps -hand cooked sweet potato chips, small salty biscuits and other cocktail-y nibbles that were great. Again no time for pics but you can imagine what a swanky hotel bar would bring out. The Polo Bar's menu online also looks delicious - need to find an expense account to take me there for a grand lunch!

I did have dinner at Sketch a while back and can't remember what the food actually tasted like but the atmosphere is like no other, especially the toilets which remind you of Mork and Mindy's egg shaped space vehicle.

Will post more pics and some info on the purple themed cocktails if anyone of the team stopped and actually drank one! By the time I was ready for a glass of champers the bar was dry.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dans le Noir?Eating in the dark with blind waiters serving you. Is that something you would enjoy? I think it may be quite an experience, although Rexi said she heard people come out of that place with food all down their top ;)

The restaurant Dans Le Noir (which means ‘in the dark’ for those non-frenchies) opened last year in London after their first restaurant has had a few successful years in Paris. Since you are in complete darkness your other senses are heightened. I am curious to see if you will enjoy this experience or find it frustrating as the first time you eat in total darkness am sure there is a lot of learning our brain needs to do in order to memorise where forks, knives and glasses are and also to get used to eating dinner but in total darkness. Some say that enjoyment of a meal is enhanced by the sight of it – the colors and presentation also prepare the brain for the meal. Am definitely intrigued…

Founded in 2004, Dans Le Noir started in Paris with the support of their leading institution for blind people – the Paul Guinot Foundation. Their website says that they are the largest institution creating awareness of disability in France (am not sure where that statement comes from or how it is quantified?) But I agree it does bring great awareness to every day folk.

Will check out Dans Le Noir soon and report back. May try and eat dinner tonight in the dark to give it a test run. Not sure my dinner guest will like it though.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pineapple and zucchini cake
An odd combo when you think about it - but it works well. Will post the recipe when Susie sends it along. Thanks Susie for bringing it over - it was delicious and I could almost eat the whole loaf!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ahh Borough MarketThis was my lunch on Friday. The wrap came from Borough Market which is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Located near London Bridge on the south bank, the market is a wonderful experience. You can get great fresh fruit and veg, fresh meats, fish, cheeses and chutneys along with other items like flowers, food related gifts and more...

I didn't get the name of the fish shop we went to but they had a queue out the door. The shop sells fresh fish at the front and on Friday's, in the back, they cook up and make two types of wraps for customers. The one above is a garlic prawn wrap (prawn=shrimps for the Canuckers) and the second one is a cajun white fish wrap. Mmmm. For £4 and £5 respectively you can get a decent serving of fish wrapped in salad with some fish sauce. It was divine and so fresh - I shall return next Friday for lunch again - this time stopping at Monmouth's coffee as per Diana's recommendation.

Our office smelled like garlic prawn as about four of us ordered the special - next week we will have more recruits as a few other staff were curious as to what smelled so good - am sure some were prob grossed out by the fish and garlic smell too ; )
This aint no brown turkey!
Pic of Zia Grazia's Butterball and hungry Steve. The brand Butterball has been around forever and I think they must soak their turkeys in water and butter as they always seem to be so juicy for such large birds. A regular turkey from the butcher shop is usually dry and needing lots of cranberry sauce and gravy but the Butterballs seem to need none of this.

Maybe their secret is this... they sell a 'special breed of broad-breasted white feather turkey.' (from their website) So our beloved Thanksgiving turkey is not really brown? But instead white like a swan? We draw, sketch and make them from crafty materials from kindergarten up and paint them brown our whole lives?! V.odd, non?. I want to see this white feathered turkey now.

You can subscribe to the turkey lovers e-newsletter from the site if you want to keep 'abreast' on turkey talk! :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Feeder This is the great British feeder. Marks and Sparks a.ka. Marks and Spencer feeds millions of people in the UK with their better than average food products. The chain used to be in Canada but closed down several years due to the fact that they only sold ugly granny sweaters, old lady chocolates and sensible shoes. In recent years there was a massive re-vamp and now the stores that were saved from the cull, sell food, cooler clothes, nicer shoes and great things for your home.

The prices at Marks (as ppl. call it for shortform) are a little higher than average but their selection and taste is better than some of the grocery stores. They have a great organics range and some great nibbles like hummus, olives and other tapas-style foods for when you are having a posh dinner party.
It is a popular place to get breakfast, lunch and dinner...and I have frequented the feeder a lot this week. Will need to do a proper grocery shop and start cooking.
Note to Alex - I will be cooking!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Served at the PalaceI was invited to watch the changing of the guard and have post event drinks at Buckingham Palace last week but unfortunately I could not attend (What would I have worn to that anyway?! All my hats are page boy caps). The report back was that it was a lovely day and the crew got to drink Moscow Mules afterwards with some of the officers. Don't ask how or why I refused an invite to the palace :)

The crew were served Moscow Mules in traditional copper mugs. The Moscow Mule is a highball drink - highball means that it is a drink with a base of alcohol and mixed with a larger percentage of a non-alcoholic beverage (coke, juice, tonic). The mule is made with vodka, ginger beer, lime and Angostura bitters (bitters are made with herbs and citrus dissolved in alcohol with a mix of spices blended -bitters are used for flavoring of cocktails)

Can you tell I am back in the UK-the alcohol posts will be flowing in!? Hopefully another invite to the palace will come along again. Thanks DJ for the info - next time take pics!


Monday, October 08, 2007

Torta di mandorla
Do you like almonds...this it the type of cake you can get in Sicily. Torta di mandorla - almond cake - this was one of many cakes served at my cousin's wedding. I am going to try and dig up the recipe for you! Hope you all are full from your thanksgiving meals and remembered to be thankful for all the little things in life.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gobble Gobble
It is Canadian thanksgiving tomorrow. You should always be thankful for all the goodness that you have but this weekend you can do that and eat turkey at the same time. We should always celebrate the abundance of food and good fortune that we have. Enjoy turkey weekend!


Friday, October 05, 2007

Minestra Zucchina Siciliana - as everyone seems to be getting sick this week...

  • tenerome di zucchini-ends of zucchini plant (ask an Italian neighbour or go to an Italian grocery store as this may be hard to find)
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 1-2 small zucchini
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ditali pasta - small, short-cut pasta tubes
How to prepare:
Wash, peel and chop all ingredients to soup size.

Boil all ingredients together in a large pot of water, once potatoes are soft add salt and pepper to taste.

Add pasta to existing water when potatoes are almost ready. Cook pasta in same pot to preference (al dente /well done) and serve. You can add chili pepper to give it a little kick.

So simple...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

SOMA ice cream
The berriest ice cream you have ever had. It was almost too flavourful as it was soo potent. You are not used to eating pure crushed blueberries mixed with a little bit of water and sugar - blueberry ice cream is usually almost 90% artificial with blueberry flavour added.

When I tasted this ice cream it tasted nothing like the bluberry ice cream that I am used to. Instead it tasted strong and the blueberry flavour was almost over powering as it is so concentrated. I saw them make a huge batch of the puree and it was basically a 10kg bag of frozen blueberries poured into a large blender and pureed with ice.

Am sure the mango, strawberry and the pistachio were made the same way. Oddly enough, I didn't like the ice cream as it was too much, too strong and maybe the right balance of sugar and fruit was not made, the mango seemed too sweet while the blueberry seemed too sour.

Oh well - I will definitely keep taste testing!

Go to the Jane Corkin gallery and then SOMA, in the Distillery District, for art, chocolate and ice cream and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Good food from a family run restaurant. Capocaccia is located at Yonge & St. Clair.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

E.T. - what did he eat?E.T. ate Reese's Pieces in the film.

Entitled Event Horizon, the pic above shows one of the exhibits from Nuit Blanche (one of the best). At Kings College Circle (U of T), the field was filled with the hustle and bustle of a live emergency scene complete with live TV crew interviewing live, emergency workers, police and military....inside the tents nearby you found out what happened and saw the victim. Little Yoda's aircraft must've crashed and E.T. was giving him a final magical touch from that lovely raptor-like, glowing finger before he went to Star Wars heaven. It was soo cute.

I think Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman (the artists) should've put a pack of Reese's Pieces somewhere...the chocolate bar/candy was introduced to us in 1978 -isn't this post is full of interesting facts?! There needs to be a link to food in all my posts so there it is folks!
Googled it but couldn't find out what Yoda eats ;)

Congrats to the artists looking forward to next year's installation.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Gotta love performance artists (performance artist Jesika Joy)
The city came alive last night with Nuit Blanche, TO turned into an all night art festival. There were thousands of people everywhere, art installations everywhere and the mood and atmosphere was fantastic. It was an excellent night and I recommend that anyone who didn't go last night gets out to it next year. This is just what Toronto needs to compete with fantastic cities like London and New York. The vibe and the feel of the night was incredible.

In Zone B -two blocks of Church Street were turned into a red light district with several dancers in windows mimicking the feel of Amsterdam with live sex shows (pretend - of course), can-can dancers, pole dancing in windows and more.

This artist Jeskia Joy (see pic) was drawing quite a crowd in this red light district; she was writhing and sliding across the floor dragging this dead goat or lamb in her arms & on her back - p.s. it stank! She was mumbling and singing to herself to the delight & shock of many onlookers (shock - for those who don't get performance art). Entertaining to say the least - some dum, dums beside me (after they screeched and eek-ed) thought it was a greyhound dog -umm...duh, I don't think a skinned greyhound dog is easy to find, but yes - a goat or lamb is easy to purchase in the city and haul over your shoulder as an artiste for 7hrs.

Some other art installations were more family friendly and easier to comprehend and also entertaining, check the newspapers and online for reviews and photographs. At University of Toronto we stopped at a few other exhibits and at the String of Diamonds piece we ate some cheese and crackers. That is all we had...everywhere else the queues for food and drink were enormous. We got some drinks and snacks at 7-Eleven and saw this yummy cheese under the nacho-cheese dispensing machine - it looks grosser in real life.My only question is when is the city going to allow street vendors to sell anything more than rubbery hot dogs?! Can we not get creative like other cities. How about a Choc-star van? A van in London sells all kinds of chocolate treats (cupcakes, brownies, fudge, cake, cookies and more..) ...well it was a great night - maybe I will enter Nuit Blanche next year with a Choc-star van as a 'chocolate installation'