Category Archives: Blogs and Food Writing

A Non-Review of the Willows Inn, Lummi Isl., WA: Locavore or Loco-what?

While I do not do restaurant reviews or “serious” essays on IslandEAT, I have been thinking about a recent fine-dining “locavore” experience at the Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Washington.  It was one of New York Times10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride.  This is a lofty honour for a restaurant on an obscure island of 800 year-round residents off Bellingham, WA.

If you are not familiar with the term – in its most simplistic definition  – “locavore” refers to a person who focuses on local, in-season foods, in large part or exclusively.  The philosophy behind this “locavorean” ideal is that local foods:

  1.  Taste better, as they have not traveled tremendous distances.
  2. Work better together, as they are from the same area/region.
  3. Feature high nutritional value: they are fresh, seasonal, and often organic.
  4. Benefit the environment more, due to less packaging and transportation.
  5. Create less waste (see #4) and are to satisfy – but not stuff.
  6. Support local economies, small farmers, and independent growers.
  7. Represent how humans – or other animals – are meant to eat.

The above definition is my explanation and understanding of what constitutes a “locavorean” approach to eating.  It is one that makes sense to me as well as one I try to follow, to a large extent.  For me, I cannot find – or “source” – locally produced citrus, avocados, olive oil, cocoa/chocolate, vanilla beans, coffee, and tea (black, green, or white, that is, as opposed to herbal teas or tisanes).  Hence, I am not a hard-line “locavore”, as I have not stopped consuming these staples – at least staples in my kitchen.

Salmon comes from the Gulf Islands, though the lemon does not...

However, I eat only blackberries I have picked, as they are free and abundant in the Gulf Islands; buy eggs – all free-range/grain-fed/organic – just a 20-minute walk up the road; and have harvested nettles for cooking.   It is rare that I have any fish or shell fish from outside the seafood-rich waters of British Columbia, even some of which comes from right off this island.  (Here are some of my favourite recipes for maple-ginger-soy salmonsalmon chowderhalibut with lime-ginger-cayennehalibut cheeks, and scallops in brown butter with hazelnuts.)  Last week, I had eaten lamb raised on a farm on the other side of the bay, which I can see right from our house.  So that is pretty good, as far as “locavores” go.  I am privileged to live in a place where all this is possible.

For the “non-review”, keep reading…

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Guest Post by Moby on I Can Haz Food Blog?

I have been posting on IslandEAT for nearly one-and-a-half years ago – without any requests to do a guest post yet.  However, George and Jinja did an April Fools cat-food blog, but they already have their first guest cat food-blogger, Moby (AKA, “Mobesity Dog-Roast”).

Read about Moby and his many food issues on I Can Haz Food Blog?

IslandEAT will return with human-appropriate food matters shortly.

Avocado Sandwiches: Possibilities & Permutations

Are you looking for an avocado sandwich recipe? I was not really until I came across a recipe in Australia’s glorious gastro-porn, delicious.

In fact, I have hesitated to post about sandwiches, as they seem, um, well, so easy and straightforward.  So why bother?  Then this month’s Saveur arrived: The Sandwich Issue.  I happened to note that this excellent, wide-ranging, and thorough overview of (mostly American) sandwiches did not have many of the avocado varieties I often eat.

Avocado is one of the best sandwich ingredients I have come to realize over the years.  In fact, I myself have developed a number of avocado sandwiches varieties – more or less variations and permutations of other classics.

For instance, instead of a classic bacon-lettuce-and-tomato, I use prosciutto, a bit of mayonnaise, avocado, and tomato – faster, easier, and less messy than cooking bacon. This is one of my favourite sandwiches.  I serve it on sourdough, wholegrain, or even challah, for real decadence.  In my feeble attempt to mitigate the sandwich’s fat content, I remove the white lardy edges of the prosciutto and offer it to Jinja and George (who, BTW, might continue their April Fools Day food blog, I Can Haz Food Blog, due to interest from readers of IslandEAT).  These two cats sure love their prosciutto!

One sandwich I have developed of late is kind of a French tartine, with slow-roasted garlic spread over Dijon mustard on a multigrain flatbread or crackers, topped with a sliced avocado fanned out in wedges.  Sea salt (fleur de sel works especially well) and scads of freshly cracked black pepper are all you need for a great snack, brunch option, or lunch.  The tangy mustard and and nutty sweetness of the roasted garlic are superb complements for the rich creaminess of the avocado and the crunchy counterpoint of the flatbread – and vegan, vegetarian, and very healthful, too!

For the recipe – and the review…

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George and Jinja announce their new food blog

George and Jinja, who have more time to post than I these days, would like to announce their new cat-food blog, I Can Haz Food Blog? Check it out.

IslandEAT will return next week with human recipes.

 

Triple Mushroom Barley Soup: Hot, Hearty, Healthful Fare

Looking for an easy flavourful yet wholesome soup for the winter doldrums? This triple-mushroom recipe is the perfect antidote to snow, cold, rain, wind, or whatever weather is making you crave a sturdy soup.  Even if you live in more temperate climes, this soup should cure any longing for mushrooms in a full-flavoured yet exceedingly nutritious meal.

I had been looking to use up a gift of a handful of dried porcini from Poland and had some organic cremini on hand, making me think mushroom soup would be in order.  This recipe recently appeared on Smitten Kitchen, from which I adapted it slightly (it originally was in the New York Times).  As Smitten Kitchen was the first food blog I followed, I thought this recipe would be appropriate for my first visit from a food blog-buddy I had never met before  – in person, that is – Jackie of I Am A Feeder.

Jackie’s site never fails to entertain or educate me. I find it very unusual to discover consistently humourous food blogs.  There are those blogs, which have to use “LOL”, “LMAO”, or such to let me know they are supposed to be funny; hers is not one of them.  I first came across Jackie’s site it while waiting for a flight at YVR (the Vancouver airport, where there is free WiFi!) last May, and it made me chuckle out loud (“COL”?), in the U.S.-departures lounge.  Since then, we have been following each other’s sites.  While we missed getting together in the UK during our visit last October, Jackie made it out to our little island in the Pacific.

I went into Vancouver first to meet Jackie, and the two of us visited some Vancouver food and culinary hot-spots and not-so-hot-spots, as Jackie mentioned on her site.  It was fun to get to know each other in town and back on the island, via very different experiences.  I thought it would be good to introduce Jackie to slow-cooker Italian beef sandwiches, a distinctive Chicago specialty, to prepare for her upcoming visit there.  But the mushroom soup seemed to be a good starter for the meal, if not a traditional one.

I had just about everything on hand for the soup.  We popped out to the local market for some more mushrooms and barley, spelt, or faro (“far-what?” was the clerk’s response, when I asked), but fortunately the shop across the road had “pot” barley – I wonder if they stock this variety for its cheeky reference to British Columbia’s major economic driver).

As it is not quite spring in B.C., it is time for a gratuitous floral interlude, amidst all this brown soup:

For the review and recipe…

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2010 – A Year in Food, Part Two

Following on the previous post, here are my favourite dishes which I made for the first time in 2010, followed some year-end musings.

Top Savoury Dishes

5. Yorkshire Pudding – from My Grandmother Jessie’s Recipes

4. Jewish Pork Tenderloin – from My Grandmother Jessie’s Recipes

3.  Linguine Umami – My original creation

2.  Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza – from America’s Test Kitchen

For the top savoury dish, top sweet treats, and…

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2010 – A Year in Food & Food Trends for 2011

What are your favourite food-related items of 2010?

As I realized my blog is just over a year old (December 23, 2009 was my first post), I decided to jump on the bandwagon with my own year-in-review.  This post is on 2010’s top posts, photos, and favourites, plus trends for 2011.

IslandEAT‘s Most-read Posts

According to site stats, my most popular posts are unexpected – at least, by me.

5.  My adaptation of Peter Reinhart’s Multi-grain Bread.

4. No-bake Whipped Cream Mocha Ice-box Zebra “Pie”

3.  Thick and Chewy Brown-Sugar-Beurre-Noisette Cookies

2.  Thick Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies

For my most popular post in 2010, Five Food Trends, and Top Food Pictures…

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Friday Food Fun and Facts, Third Edition

Pizza Party!

I will be posting the outstanding America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Chicago-style pizza (above), which I recently made – very authentic and worth the extra time to prepare the buttery crust. The recipe features an authentic tomato sauce and makes two pizzas. My versions were a hot-hot-hot chorizo (above) and a pizza with caramelized onions.

While I was in Chicago three times this year, this is the first time in my life in which nobody in my immediate family is living in the Greater Chicagoland Metropolitan Area (TV slang for the vast reaches of the city into suburbia and beyond).  My mother is now in an assisted living facility near my brother in Connecticut.  So maybe this is why I have been craving Chicago specialties, including the famed Italian beef sandwich, which I shall make in my slow-cooker this weekend.

The deep-dish buttery-crusted pizza and the Italian beef sandwich are perhaps the two finest exemplary Chicagoland dishes, originating in the city yet gaining renown elsewhere.  Stay tuned for Chicago specialties….

Upcoming Food Holidays, December 18 – 25

In case you had no other meal plans, tomorrow is another odd day for you to celebrate in the Wacky World o’ Food Holidays. Roast suckling pig, anyone?

The holidays on the 23 and 24 make more sense than Xmas itself, as I associate pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving, but who knows who is responsible for anything on the list, to begin with?

December 18 – National Roast Suckling Pig Day
December 21 – National French Fried Shrimp Day
December 23 – National Pfeffernusse Day
December 24 – National Egg Nog Day
December 25 – National Pumpkin Pie Day

For a holiday brown betty recipe and 2010’s best world cookbooks,

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Friday Food Facts and Fun, Second Edition


Did you celebrate National Chocolate Brownie Day earlier this week?

I am still in a reflective brownie mode, hence, the photo above of my double-chocolate double-malt frosted brownies.  It is the brownie I crave the most.  This year, I have tried at least four new chocolate brownie recipes and have posted three on IslandEAT. Holidays are about celebration and reflection…

Upcoming National Food Holidays

As this the “holiday season” is upon us, here are the food holidays for next week:

December 11 – National Noodle-Ring Day
December 12 – National Ambrosia Day
December 13 – National Cocoa Day
December 14 – National Bouillabaisse Day
December 15 – National Lemon Cupcake Day
December 16 – National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

If anyone knows what a “noodle-ring” is, or why it should be fêted, please let me know immediately.  I am most excited by the events celebrating cocoa and “chocolate-covered anything”.  Just where exactly does the chocolate-covering stop, in matters of good taste?

For questions, a retro video, and blogging resources….

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Friday Food Facts and Fun: A New Feature

What is Friday Food Fun and Facts?  It is a new interactive weekly feature of articles, videos, events, tips, gadgets, questions, and other items from the wide world o’ food on IslandEAT.

I continually discover bits and pieces of food lore and news, which somehow do not make their way into my posts.  My friend, former colleague, and subscriber, Michele, also suggested I offer a food question-and-answer segment, so I thought I could answer –  or attempt to answer – your burning food questions, from time to time.   Thanks, Michele, for that suggestion!

Yesterday, I was able to “Experience the Difference” on BC Ferries through an extended 10-hour trip from Vancouver to my island.   The trip involved three ferries/two transfers and should have taken less than one hour, nonstop, on one ferry.  Because of a “mechanical problem” requiring an “inspector”,  I had plenty of time to read and surf online, however.  One “upside” of the adventure was that I finally took the mammoth Coastal Celebration from Vancouver to Victoria, which I can see from our house (pictured in my post here).  A few major  routes now have WiFi – another very good thing, to borrow from Martha S.

Cookery Video

Still thinking about all things British after our recent trip, I came across an unintentionally hilarious instructional film,  from England, circa 1937:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgQkMGgHxr0&feature=related

“The broiler-griller is indeed the housewife’s friend…it may be well the husband’s companion, too”, according to this film.  Really? Rather.

News Flash:  The Pavlova Prize goes to…New Zealand!

The Vancouver Sun had a small item yesterday on a stunning development in the culinary world.  The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has awarded the Kiwis the ultimate dessert prize.  The OED has determined that New Zealand can claim creation of the meringue, whipped cream, and fruit dessert known as the “Pavlova”.

For years, Australia and New Zealand have battled over bragging rights for the invention of this famous dish.  The OED settled the dispute, as they found earlier references to the Pavlova in a New Zealand cookbook  in 1927, Davis Dainty Dishes – well before any mention in the land of Oz. (I would love to get my hands on a cookbook with a title like that….)

The dessert was named in honour of the Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who had a grand tour of NZ and Oz in the 1920s.  Congratulations, Kiwis!   You now have beaten Australia in one of the most hotly-debated food arguments of all time.

For views of New Zealand and food photography hints, keep reading.

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