Food Archives (22 posts)

Why do restaurants microwave deserts?

This is a random rant about restaurant food and microwaves. I blame chef Gordon Ramsay.

There was a story in the National Post (Eating Away at Nostalgia) about the reopening of a famous Montreal restaurant called Laurier BBQ. Gordon Ramsay took over the restaurant, renovated, made some minor changes to the menu and renamed it Laurier Gordon Ramsay. In the article Ramsay comments on the deserts served at the old Laurier BBQ:

“The mocha cake is staying,” he announced Tuesday. Just don’t bloody ask that it be heated in the microwave, as had been the custom. “From a chef’s point of view, to stick a dessert in the microwave, it hurts,” he said. “God it hurts. It’s like sticking a knife in, twisting and putting it even further.”

If your restaurant isn’t a fast food joint you should never microwave cake, pie, or any desert that is normally served warm! How is it that restaurants don’t understand this simple concept.

I once went to a restaurant in the Beach neighbourhood of Toronto called Whitlock’s Restaurant and I’ll never go back. I ordered a strawberry rhubarb pie and asked for it to be warmed up. The server returned in a few minutes. My pie tasted like sweet glue. The pastry was like rubber.

I asked the server how the pie was warmed up and he said “microwave”. This was about eight years ago and a slice of pie at this place was $8. I would expect this from a McDonald’s for 95 cent apple pie in a box but not a restaurant.

Whenever I order a desert that needs warming up I ask how the restaurant does this. Most of the time they say they’ll throw it in the microwave. I tell them that I want it warmed up in an oven. Occasionally the restaurant will say that they can’t do this which I find amazing and leads to a discussion on whether they have stoves in their kitchen.

If you own a restaurant and you allow your kitchen staff to heat deserts in a microwave then you’re a lazy idiot and should be managing a McDonald’s instead.

Posted in Food at 1:20 PM

How Natural Is That Wine?

Gord Stimmel has an interesting article on wine additives that might be used in your favourite Merlot. I’m not sure that I care if a wine has additives in it or not to make it taste better. Have a look at Additives seep into wines of the times and decide for yourself.

Posted in Food at 11:12 PM

For The Perfect Pint

I may have to get a set of these Samuel Adams Boston Lager Glasses. Can a glass be engineered to improve your beer tasting experience?

Posted in Food at 12:32 AM

Cigars and Coffee

The “lovely” made it back safely from Managua in Nicaragua and that means two things: I just had my best cup of coffee ever with a fabulous cigar from Joya De Esteli.

The coffee is a full bodied, smooth roast from Café Las Flores and it tastes incredible! An instant favourite. The cigar is incredibly fresh and smells amazing. It feels like Christmas morning for this web designer.

Posted in Food and Observations at 10:09 PM

Kicking Horse Coffee

I picked up a pack of Kicking Horse Coffee and it is fabulous. I had some last month in Vancouver and was impressed. I was in a Dominion store yesterday and noticed they sold it there. I grabbed a pack of Kootenay Crossing and wasn’t disappointed.

At $16/lb it isn’t cheap but it beats the taste of Starbucks. Kicking Horse prides themselves in selling ‘organic fair trade’ coffee whatever that means. Personally, I don’t care, just as long as it tastes good.

Posted in Food at 7:57 AM

Tear-off wine labels

Oxford Landing’s South Australian Shiraz sports a tear-off label to help you remember the name of the wine. Brilliant package design. More info and a couple of photos at website.

Posted in Design and Food at 5:54 PM

How to store your coffee beans

Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh ground coffee or the taste of a freshly brewed cup? To get great tasting coffee you need good quality, fresh roasted coffee beans that have been stored properly.

I start with coffee beans from a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans on the premises — The Savoury Grounds Coffee Company or Balzac’s Coffee are my favourites.

Purchase whole beans instead of ground coffee

A lot of experts will tell you that “roasted coffee beans are partially stale after 2 weeks.” That bag of ground Starbuck’s coffee at your local grocery store was roasted weeks ago. Who knows how long it has been sitting on the shelf.

I’ve read in a few of different places that ground coffee loses a lot of its flavour shortly after grinding. My coffee always tastes best if I grind the beans right before I make it.

Always store your beans in an airtight container

Don’t leave your beans in a bag or paper container. Put them in an airtight container and store it at room temperature. Never put your coffee in your refrigerator. offers this advice on when to refrigerate coffee:

Never, unless you are conducting a science experiment on how long it takes to ruin perfectly good coffee. The fridge is one of the absolute worst places to put coffee.

If you’re not going to use your fresh pound of beans right away, put them in an airtight container and throw it in the freezer. They’ll stay relatively fresh for a month or two but why bother? Just go to your local coffee shop and pick up some fresh roasted beans.

Posted in Food at 11:23 AM for cheap cooking and photography books

If you’re at all like me love photography books then has some incredible bargains for you. I couldn’t believe how many of the books that I own were available on this site for 50-70% off. With the markup in Canadian books the discounts are even greater.

This isn’t but for Photograpy books, this should be your first stop when shopping.

For books on cooking, food and wine then you’ll definitely want to check out this site. They are offering an additional 25% of their ridiculously cheap prices.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, then use the online promo code road and password to receive $5 US off your order of $35 US or more. Unbelievable.

Posted in Books and Food and Photography at 9:49 PM

Taste and Power — Mondovino Revisited

Jonathan Nossiter, a trained sommelier, produced, directed, shot and edited a fabulous documentary film about the wine industry called Mondovino (2004). I’m amazed at how many wine lovers I meet have never heard of the film. If you enjoy wine at all then purchase this film or at the very least, rent it!

3 years later, Nossiter is still on a crusade to tell us about the evils of the globalization of wine. He’s written a book called Taste and Power that continues to slam influential wine critics and the outrageous prices of some wines. Robert Parker and The Wine Spectator are favourite targets in Nossiter’s book and film. is reporting that Nossiter “attacks just about anyone involved in the production or sale of wine” which should make it a good read in my opinion. Love him or hate him, Nossiter has a lot of interesting things to say about the wine industry.

Posted in Books and Food and Movies at 12:56 AM

Frozen or fresh?

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay’s show, The F Word. Part of the show deals with people who can’t be bothered to cook, have these amazing kitchens and mostly microwave their dinners from the freezer.

I like to cook but occasionally those microwave dinners are convenient when you’re in a rush. It’s easy to live on frozen microwave dinners instead of actually cooking a meal with fresh produce.

What do you eat when it’s time for dinner and you’re hungry?

Posted in Food at 9:13 PM

Newcastle Brown Ale

I’m working late (again), munching on a bowl of popcorn and enjoying a Newcastle Brown Ale — full of flavour, easy to drink, one of my favourite beers. What’s yours?

Posted in Food at 12:54 AM

How to make crystal clear ice

I can’t believe that I’m blogging about this but somebody might find this useful — how to make crystal clear ice cubes. Two steps:

  1. boil bottled water in a pot and let it cool
  2. boil bottled water in a pot and let it cool and pour into your ice tray

If those last two steps were too confusing, then you can watch an instructional video on how to perform this procedure.

Oh and in case you were wondering how to make your own Boba Fett knee armor or a 25mm pneumatic sniper rifle then visit instructables — The World’s Biggest Show & Tell.

Posted in Food at 10:50 PM

Popcorn Seasoning

In Canada, some of us like to put popcorn seasoning on our popcorn at the movie theatre and at home. My personal favourite is the salt and vinegar popcorn seasoning powder by Kernels. Just shake a little onto your bowl of popcorn for instant flavour.

I recently ran out of Kernels’ popcorn seasoning and decided too try a similar seasoning powder by Club House. The container was twice the size and almost the same price as the premium Kernels brand.

Take it from me, Club House salt & vinegar popcorn seasoning is awful! I threw out the package. It tastes like dill pickle seasoning with a mystery flavour.

Moral of the story? Don’t be cheap when it comes to popcorn seasoning. Pay the extra and get Kernels popcorn seasoning.

Posted in Food at 3:38 PM

wine library tv

Gary Vaynerchuk is the host of a daily video blog called wine library tv. He’s completely obnoxious, over the top and a lot of fun to watch as he talks about wine in a way you’ve never experienced.

Today he’s featured in TIME and Gary couldn’t be happier. He celebrated by tasting 3 different champagne wines.

This is what he had to say about a 1996 Duval Leroy Brut Femme:

Exceptional stuff. 63 bones… Mmmm. It’s pricey, but it’s special. And it kicks Dom in the nuts!

You won’t find a review like Vaynerchuk’s in Wine Spectator which makes him a breath of fresh air in the stuffy world of wine tasting.

Posted in Food and Web at 11:27 PM

No Wine Should Be Served At Room Temperature

Thank you Beppi Crosariol for your wine column, in today’s Globe and Mail. My wife prefers to drink red wine at room temperature which always drives me nuts because all I can taste is the alcohol.

To chill the wine I usually drop an ice cube in my warm glass of Shiraz, swirl it around with a spoon then remove it. My wife usually shakes her head at this practice and calls me a peasant.

Most Canadians serve their wine at taste-distorting temperatures - the whites are too cold, and the reds are too warm. But with a little know-how and a few tricks from the pros (that’s right, you can drop an ice cube into your Aussie shiraz), getting the most out of your bottle is as easy as reading a thermometer.

Beppi goes on to say that “no wine – repeat: no wine – should be served at room temperature, which in Canada is a flavour-busting 21 C (and much higher in many homes in summer.” I couldn’t agree more.

Posted in Food at 3:37 PM

Heritage Traditional Dark

I’m enjoying a Heritage Traditional Dark from Heritage Brewery in Ottawa. I think this might be a new beer judging from the lack of information on their website, the newly designed cases, and the stubby bottles.

If you like dark beer then you can’t go wrong with Traditional Dark. It’s quite good. It reminds me a little of Gritstone Premium Ale—a favourite of mine.

Posted in Food at 6:13 PM

Lose weight on red wine diet

New reasons to drink more red wine:

  • double your endurance
  • lower your weight
  • reduce the risk of diabetes

Read the full story at Of course this story came from my father who loves his red wine but I have to question its ability to help one lose weight. Hmm. Maybe you have to actually exercise and drink vino to lose weight.

Posted in Food at 10:21 AM

Unbreakable wine glass

For the clumsy, sloppy drunk that likes to wave their wine glass around, or the gadget hound that has to have the latest and greatest, there is a new unbreakable wine glass on the market. It is made of a material called Kwarx. Mikasa is going to use Kwarx in its new ‘Open Up’ brand of glasses.

Interesting side note—Mikasa was invented by Japanese Americans interned in California during WW II. Now the company is owned by ARC International which makes the glass in northern France.

Posted in Food at 9:12 AM

Souvlaki Salmon Fillets

Feeling hungry? I added a really simple recipe for Souvlaki Salmon Fillets in the Cooking section of the site. You don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients and it doesn’t take hours to make. Delicious!

Posted in Food at 1:16 PM

Black Coffee

These days I’m drinking my coffee black, with sugar. I’m down to one pack of sugar (from three).

Just after Christmas, a friend of mine said I should try drinking my coffee black and without sugar. He said I’d be able to taste the coffee more. Graham, you were right but I still need a bit of sugar to sweeten things up a little.

I never liked Tim Horton’s coffee with cream and I feel nauseous whenever I hear someone order a “double double” or a “triple triple” coffee. Call me a snob but I prefer Starbucks’ Italian Roast, JJ Bean’s Nero Forte or a cup of house blend from the Savory Grounds Coffee Co.

Posted in Food and Personal at 8:24 PM

McEwan’s Scotch Ale Grumblings

Wow! It looks like struck a nerve with my McEwan’s Scotch Ale post back in June. There have been a steady stream of comments from people that love this beer.

I’ve tried a lot of beers from around the world and have enjoyed at least, 90% of them. But I’m afraid that, even with my Scottish heritage, I still have no desire to drink another McEwan’s Scotch Ale.

A buddy of mine has a friend from the UK that likes to put Scotch in his beer. Apparently this is a pretty common thing to do. I’ve also heard of people putting Canada Dry Ginger Ale in their beer or lemonade and calling it a Shandy. I don’t get it.

I like my beer without coffee, scotch, sherry or lemonade in it.

Posted in Food at 10:10 AM

McEwan’s Scotch Ale

I love going to the LCBO and looking for different beers to try. There is so much variety and seldom do I come across a beer that I can’t stand. I’m not crazy about Belgian beers (Hoegaarden or Duvel) but will have one now and again.

I enjoy Newcastle Brown Ale and thought I would try McEwan’s Scotch Ale (also brewed by Newcastle). So I purchased a six-pack, put it in the fridge to chill, and cracked open a bottle an hour later.

My initial reaction to this beer was that it was absolutely awful. I finished a bottle expecting to like it after a few sips but I kept thinking that Buckley’s Cough Syrup tastes better. I was shocked. I found a beer that I would have to categorize as revolting.

It’s a strong beer at 8% alcohol and it has bit of a Sherry taste with chocolate. Nasty stuff. Give me a Samuel Adams. I tried Crazy Horse Malt Liquor when I was down in Baton Rouge and liked that better than McEwan’s Scotch Ale.

I would rather eat a plate of haggis than drink another bottle of Scotch Ale. So what do I do with 5 more bottles of this stuff?

I placed a bunch of small bowls in the gardens around our house and filled them with my least favourite ale. Slugs and snails are attracted to the beer, crawl in the bowl and drown—there are worse ways do die.

Problem solved.

Posted in Food at 11:22 AM