Monday, April 26, 2010

Lobster Foam is the part of the lobster that is...foamy?

I've known and read about molecular gastronomy and all its weird science creations for a few years now. I've read about savoury cocktails, strange culinary experiments of the marshmallow variety, and oodles of other edible fusions of science and food that would make Einstein go "oooh" and Bill Nye go "aaahhh".

Recently I was looking through the chef picks in The Straight's recent Golden Plates awards and The Pear Tree Restaurant  in Burnaby came up. It sounded intriguing and a faint ping of name recognition went off in the food section of my brain (an entire 50%, I would say), so I investigated. Meaning, I googled it.

After being impressed by the website (I won't book a B&B, hotel, or any other accommodation unless it has a website) and the photographs of the room, I went to the menu and found what you see above: 
"Lobster Cappuccino" Lobster Foam.

Pardon, I ask? Now the fact that the lobster cappuccino is in quotation marks would lead me to guess that it isn't really a cappuccino of the espresso and milk foam variety, which is good and I really hope to be true because the idea of seafood, espresso, and milk intermingled makes me want to projectile vomit all over myself. And my desk. And get the picture with major yuck factor.

I just don't understand this "foam" trend in fine dining. Just like I don't understand the love of cappuccino foam. But, seriously, crustacean foam? Sometimes, okay, often, fine dining restaurants just seem like a collection of big men with small dicks constantly trying to make up for the latter with stupid come-on's like, lobster foam. Here are some other local examples in this particular pissing contest:

Blue Water Cafe: Cannellini Bean Veloute with rosemary croutons, truffle oil, and parmesan foam

Raincity Grill: Seared Baynes Sound Scallop with melted leek risotto, sunchoke, and music garlic foam

db bistro moderne: Pork Cheek Tortellini with celeriac, wild mushrooms, carrots, crisp pork belly, quail eggs, and sage foam

Other recent culprits: C Restaurant's bacon foam and Social Restaurant &  Lounge's...wait for it...clam foam! In unison, ewwwwww!

As you may have noticed, I haven't included any sweet foams because in my mind, that could work. And there are and have been lot of sweet foams in town: Voya's seasonal fruit with coconut foam and pistachio powder and Bridges Restaurant's Chocolate and Licorice Mousse with vanilla bean foam are examples.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for culinary innovation and I'm open to trying new things, but sometimes if it ain't broke, don't try to freakin' fix it, okay. Clam foam is as disgusting and unnecessary as the pollution foam we see floating on our precious oceans and waterways every day. There are actually many dangerous and damaging chemicals and the like used in molecular gastronomy.

So, let's leave foam to the foam parties, mattresses, and cappuccinos where they belong.

And by the way, Urbanspoon rocks!

Friday, April 16, 2010

30th & 120th Place! Celebrate!

Ok, so maybe I won't be donning a tutu, spiking my hair Ace Ventura style, and dancing with the old crazies anytime soon, but I do have cause for celebration!

I was just checking my urbanspoon links to see if my reviews were being posted on urbanspoon and linking back to my blog, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my blog is the #30 ranked blog on Portland Urbanspoon! What a surprise, being that I only have one review (so far...) on a Portland eatery. Now, #30 may not be much to some, but there are 66 blogs on that list and it means a helluva lot to me.

Also, I found that my blog is the #120 ranked blog on Vancouver Urbanspoon, which also makes me proud because there are 156 blogs on the Vancouver leaderboard. For a truly fledgling blog that does not necessarily specialize in restaurant/eatery/cafe reviews, and that only has three reviews in total on Urbanspoon worldwide, I award myself a real big pat on the back! It actually makes me quite excited and hopeful for the future of this blog. I may not be as ripped as the above, but I'd venture that I'm just as freaking excited! Yay!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prawns, Garlic, & Tomatoes

Prawns, Garlic, & Tomatoes 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Tomatoes (4)
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil (6 tbsp/3 fl oz/90 ml)
Prawns (1 lb/500 g, peeled and deveined)
Garlic (1 tbsp, finely chopped)
Sherry vinegar (1 tbsp)
Fresh parsley (2 tbsp, chopped)
Cayenne pepper (dash)
*I served this dish with brown rice. I recommend you do as well or else it is just will not be hearty enough.

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C).
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side up in a shallow baking dish (I just used a regular cookie sheet. What exactly is a "shallow baking dish" anyways?) Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. About 3 minutes before the tomatoes are finished, in a saute pan over high heat, warm 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the prawns and salt and pepper to taste and saute until pink and firm, 2-3 minutes. (I personally would give more for this step. More like 6-8 minutes.)
4. Transfer the baked tomatoes to individual plates. Place the prawns on top of the tomatoes.
5. In a small saucepan over high heat, combined the garlic and remaining olive oil and saute until the garlic turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan by stirring to dislodge any browned bits, about 30 seconds. Pour the contents of the pan equally over each serving. Sprinkle with parsley and cayenne. Serve immediately, nice and hot! 
(If you follow my blog, you may remember this step crashed and burned almost too literally. The garlic  burnt, the vinegar burnt into thin air, thus leaving me with nothing. So, if you find yourself in the same situation-or are too scared to even try step 5-just follow steps 1-4, then drizzle a little bit of sherry vinegar and spread a small amount of raw minced garlic or store-bought crushed Asian garlic on top of each dish evenly while food is hot, right before serving..)

Serves 4. (More like 3).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Recipes

Chinese Crabmeat Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes  
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Canned crabmeat (7 oz/220g, drained)
*Peanut oil (1 tbsp)
Fresh ginger (1 tbsp, shredded)
Fish broth or chicken broth (3 cups/24 fl oz/750 ml)
Canned creamed corn (1 can/14 oz/440 g)
Fresh cilantro (1 tbsp, chopped)
**Chinese rice wine  (1 tsp)

*I used olive oil and it worked just deliciously.
**I used Japanese sake (rice wine). What's the diff I ask?

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and after about 30 seconds-1 minute add the broth and creamed corn. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. 
2. Once boil is reached, add crabmeat and stir well. Bring back to boil.
3. When the soup returns to a boil, stir in cilantro and rice wine. 
4. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4-6. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

"A Convention for All You Unconventional Conventionalists" (Or, An Unconventional Easter Lunch)

Full disclosure: This is my second attempt at writing this post, as I just deleted the first half. Motherf***er!

Almost simultaneously, when I thought of the title for this post "An Unconventional Easter Lunch", I thought of a phrase from one of my favourite films of all time and strongest and sexiest hero-villains in all of artistic creation (if I might say so myself), with the former being The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the latter being Dr. Frank'n'Furter himself. The phrase was "unconventional conventionalists". I love that kind of simple, but thoroughly excellent wordplay, so naturally with my pop culture addicted brain and immortal crush on Tim Currie as Dr. Frank'n'Furter I incorporated it into my title.

Moving on from the tangent of all tangents, which I obviously had to get out of my system, I cooked my first Easter lunch today. I don't celebrate Easter in the religious sense or any sense; it is merely a four-day weekend for me and always has been. Well, except for the childhood easter egg hunts.

Anyways, the last few years my mum, Anthony, and I have been having a special meal in honour of it. And this year, we even had one with my Dad. I don't relish cooking for other people most of the time, too much fretting and approval sought. But, it is excellent practice and when it goes right, it's self-affirming and even fun. Thus, yours truly cooking Chinese Crabmeat Soup at 11:30am this morning.

Chinese Crabmeat Soup, you may ask? Well. It is an unconventional Easter lunch after all. Bringing me to the menu. To Drink: Ginger Ale. To Eat: Prawns, Garlic, and Tomatoes with Brown Rice. Chinese Crabmeat Soup. Store-Bought (who do you think I am? Julia Child?) Caramel Apple Cake with Tin Roof Ice Cream.

To get it over with, the meal turned out great, except for one part of the prawn dish that proved inconsequential after some quick thinking on my bunion-ed (seriously I am already getting bunions) feet.

The Chinese Crabmeat Soup was remarkably easy and completely delicious and different. The cilantro gave it that special, unexpected kick with the sweetcorn lending a cozy sweetness (not sugary, but cozy) to it and of course the crab contributing a bit of glam and luxury. (I will be posting the recipes for these in a following post). I made it beforehand (we did not eat until 1:30pm), as it would have been literally impossible to have been making both savoury dishes at the same time, even if I had a big kitchen. Planning is key, even with the simplest and easiest of recipes.

Next was the Prawns, Garlic, and Tomatoes dish. I added the brown rice to make the meal more substantial, but keeping it healthy as well. I served it in a separate bowl so we could add however much we wanted to our plates. This dish basically consists of halved tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper baked in the oven (cut side up) with sauteed prawns. The part that went wrong involved high heat, garlic, sherry vinegar, and de-glazing of a pan. It didn't work, so I just put some Asian-style crushed garlic on top of the hot ready dish with a drizzle of sherry vinegar. Worked perfectly. Oh, I also forgot to put the chopped parsley on it with a dash of cayenne pepper. Balls. But, in the spirit of waste not and want not and the burgeoning chef in me, I added the parsley to the soup, which worked quite loverly, thank you!

Success! Everything was hot and delicious and fairly easy, not to mention healthy and nourishing, and offered some new spins on old tricks for me. I would make both recipes again (which were very well-received by Anthony and my mum), especially the soup as it took such a short time to make and was unlike any kind of soup I have ever tasted. There is such great diversity in cuisines around the world and I really enjoyed bringing a bit of that into this meal. So, what am I going to make next? Amped-Up Mac'n' Cheese. Just to get you salivating until the weekend-I won't be making it until Friday-it involves fontina cheese, mascarpone, cream, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Foodgasm-ing yet? I know I am. Happy Easter!