O.K. I Just realized I’ve quoted ‘The Sound of Music’ in my post title, but I’m comfortable with it.
I’ve had a few random thoughts, theories, tips, and opinions rolling around in my head and quite frankly I believe they are starting to block new information from entering. So, I thought I’d share them with you and hopefully free up some space! (I should add some ‘legaleze’ like “the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the Good Earth…and so forth”.)
In no particular order…here is a brain dump from cheffer.
Butter: Not all butter is created equal. We could have a spirited debate about the backbone of cooking, but in a nutshell, buy good butter, it is worth the extra buck or two. Lactancia unsalted (‘silver label’) is fully acceptable and is sold really cheaply at Costco, Denningers, and – for you Stoney Creekers – Punjab Food Mart. It’s great for ghee.
Frozen fish: Not all frozen fish is foul, not all fresh fish is fresh. At times there is marked advantage to buying frozen fish (shrimp, scallops, most things vac-packed). Fish that is caught (or harvested) and immediately frozen until it reaches your kitchen is often of a higher quality than its ‘fresh’ counterpart which has seen a multitude of trucks and warehouses and cartons and ice and hands etc. etc. etc. If you’re buying fresh fish be sure to use your eyes, your nose, and your head – in that order! If you’re buying frozen fish – you can be safe and confident in anything packed by F.P.I. – Fishery Products International of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Pork: Pork is my hero. If you can, roast large pieces of Berkshire pork and roast them often. If you can’t, try Highland Country Markets (A.K.A. Highland Packers) in Stoney Creek. Great quality, cost, and selection of Ontario raised pork.
Road Tripping: I don’t go antiquing, my kids are too young for sports tournaments and meets and the like, and I’m even less a spa guy than an antiquing guy, so I like to go on food adventures. If you can’t find at least 4 unique, practical and fun ‘food stops’ within an afternoon’s drive, you’re not trying hard enough. For some reason food and wine just taste better when you’ve journeyed to get them. For me, I can head into Toronto and pick up oysters from Rodney’s, get a six pack of Apple Ale (O.K, a twelve pack) from Nickel Brook Brewery in Burlington, stop at Mike’s and drink one or so, carry on to Hannon for some Paron Cheese Co.’s Montasio, cross highway 20, get some of Highland Packers’ Ontario beef hanger steaks, a bottle of red from Thirty Bench Wine Makers in the 20 Valley, and be home in time to shuck, grill, and quaff. That, my friends, beats looking at credenzas.
Sustainability: A worthy concept but remember that for every person using the term there are a thousand who have never heard it.
Canned Tomatoes: Tastier than any tomatoes out there with the exception of about July 30 to September 20, give or take. I literally just opened a can of Aurora diced Canada grade A’s today and I just wanted to drink them.
Your Local Supermarket: Your local grocery chain doesn’t care about you. It’s nothing personal, there is no need to take offense but this is a good thing to keep in mind. They are a business and their goal is to get you to buy as much as they can, for the most that you will pay, while spending as little as possible on labour. You are a consumer and your goal is to get the best quality and price. These goals are mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, most of us are creatures of habit, convenience, and acceptance and the large grocery chains in this country (of which are down to about 3) know this and realize that they don’t have to be good, they just need to be marginally better then their competitors. I don’t have the answer, but if you come up with it, let me know.
By the way, when they re-arrange the store it is not to serve you better, it’s to get you to see and buy junk that you haven’t previously seen or bought. It’s kind of like dangling a string in front of a kitten or a hook in front of a fish. Don’t be a fish or a kitten – the next time they move everything on you, tell them you know what they’re up to, and you don’t like it!
Sparkling wine: Still goes with anything.
Dining Out: Saturday at 8:00? Really? I’m raising a quizzical eyebrow at you right now. I’m speaking on behalf of all of my restaurant chef friends who feel awkward speaking up. Shake it up a little. Everybody wants to eat at 8:00 on Saturday night and I’ve never been a fan of going out when I know the floor staff and the kitchen are at maximum capacity. Break the week up with a nice dinner date on ‘hump day’ (Hay-oooo). Better yet, get a jump on the week-end and make Thursday your night out. Both the food and the staff will be at peak freshness. The Thursday night dinner movement, let’s mobilize!
Life: Enjoy quality things with quality people and have as much fun as you can whenever you can. And little airplane-sized bottles of booze make excellent stocking stuffers!