Museums: Inspirations from artists of the past (and present). Restaurants: Inspirations from living artists’ #experiments. Kitchens: Experiments by the artists in us all.
#yam’Tcha #paris #restaurant Chef’s Table: France – Adeline Grattard
Dec 22, 2017 Update: Wonderful to try the baos (buns) yesterday lunch and got a chance to have a wonderful long chat with Chi Wah as the store was a bit quiet because of the rain in Paris.
I just watched a nice video showing me how to make the above cool looking Tequila Sunrise! The video by Andy is in Cantonese and has clear English subtitles. You should be able understand everything and make the drink yourself. Have a watch of A Classy Man’s Tequila Sunrise (龍舌蘭日出) video! Thanks Andy for making the great video. (note: The instructional part starts at time code ~3:16 if you want to start learning how make it right away! :)
“But when it comes to food vloggers — that is, bloggers who post videos — it’s the new order. Vlogging requires crazy commitment and passion. Sure, cellphones and pocket cameras can easily capture video, but scripting, shooting, editing and uploading is another thing. It takes a sizable bite out of one’s life and exquisite patience. Ouch!
One such local vlogger, Mijune Pak, of Richmond, posts on YouTube and on her blog, Follow Me Foodie. “I know the food blogging community is very saturated right now but vlogging hasn’t been touched,” she says.
Here’s the reason in a nutshell. She and her two-man crew shot for three hours, then edited for six hours to produce a 1.5 minute video. Who’s got that kind of time or expertise?
“We’re doing it because we’re passionate and it’s a good way of getting exposure,” says Pak, 25. One video, The Things Foodies Say [note: see below], “went crazy,” she says. “It’s very challenging because most viewers click off after two or three minutes. To lock in a recipe in two or three minutes is very challenging.”“
Also check out her FollowMeFoodie YouTube channel and this really funny 90 seconds clip. If you love food, I bet you will laugh at recognizing things you or your friends say! Enjoy.
I think my home convection-oven-roasted chicken is very close in taste and texture to 炸子雞(crispy fried chicken), and likely much healthier as it removes the oil from the chicken as opposed to deep fried the chicken!
Anyway, I found the following videos instructive in how to cut up a chicken, chinese style.
The important and user friendly “Inspection Reports” database gives you an interesting behind-the-scene look of restaurants, bakeries, etc. If your favourite restaurants, etc are repeatedly committing critical violations (those flagged with Critical: YES), then you probably should be considering switching to cleaner establishments.
P.S. On a serious note, a friend of minie ate some bad seafood in a supposedly great Hong Kong restaurant and was in hospital for many days. So it never hurts to be more careful with where you eat.
P.P.S. The database goes by the registered official name, so it may be slightly different from the names they put up on their stores or ads. I recommend you search by the first letter of the name of the store. And then try to find the one you are looking for using the text search on your browser.
[Dec 21, 2011 Update: See additional somewhat negative remarks in the comment section at the bottom of this post.]
[Feb 16, 2013 Update: Why we stopped eating at Macleod Sushi & BBQ? We had been a long time customers even though the food quality sometimes varies. Over Christmas holiday, we went there well before closing (30-40 mins) but were told that they don’t & won’t serve us our favourite all-you-can eat sushi anymore because of a busy day. So we were greatly disappointed. And then later another time, we were told that if we need a pot of hot water (we don’t drink tea, just hot water), we would be charged a $2 per pot fee in the new year of 2013. This disappointed me greatly as it seemed so wrong a way to treat a long time repeat customer. So in 2013, I am glad to say I have stopped eating at Macleod Sushi & BBQ. Gave me an excuse to eat a few less all-you-can eat meal, which may be a good thing for me to shred a few kg! :) ]
I love food, especially reasonably priced, reasonably good food. So we were quite happy to discover Macleod Sushi & BBQ (Suite 100, 5211 Macleod Trail SW, Calgary). We went there twice already in two weeks to check out their lunch time $14.95 all-you-can-eat Japanese sushi & cooked food and Korean BBQ. After my first visit, I even spent sometime to chat with the sushi chef Ken about the food (Ken told me he is in charge of food quality).
In the following food review, you will see what I like and don’t like about Macleod Sushi & BBQ.
House Salad: 7/10 It tasted nice, nothing too unexpected.
[Possible improvement: put the same amount of salad dressing on each salad. Of the two house salads we ordered, one had normal amount of dressing and the other one (above photo) had too much dressing.]
Various Nigiri Sushi and Rolls (over two visits and multiple orders)
General comment: These sushi and rolls were all quite nice, not your typical “all-you-can-eat” stuff. Some years ago, one restaurant used a machine to form the sushi rice, that was horrible. Fortunately, they aren’t in business anymore. And some all-you-can eat places put way too much rice on the sushi, as if to try to stuff you full first. Now the following are my ratings for the Nigiri sushi and rolls.
Tuna: 8/10, Salmon: 8/10, California roll: 7.5/10, Chopped Scallop: 9/10
The chopped scallop got a 9/10 because the scallop was fresh and sauce was nice. And the seaweed was crunchy if I eat it right away. This is nice attention to detail. note: of course, if you leave the Chopped Scallop uneaten for too long, the seaweed will soften and it won’t taste as nice in terms of having a crunchy and smooth taste in your mouth.
The above pictures of sushi and rolls were taken from our second visit. I want to bring out an important point that the food have to be consistently good. The food’s taste and presentation should be consistent over multiple visits. [July 26 update: We recently had our third visit. And I am happy to say, the food is still consistently good plus they even improved some of the dishes. e.g. I will rate the Shrimp Tempura: 8/10 now.]
You see, there was one restaurant that we visited once, it wasn’t even able to send out consistent dishes from the kitchen on the same day when we ordered the same thing!
As you may notice in the photo on the right, we ordered some rolls to try. We ordered Spicy BC Roll and Dynamite Roll, I think thats their names. Anyway, they are the ones that have BBQ salmon skin in them. When done well, the salmon skin should be crunchy and mixed well with the rest of the roll. In this case, the salmon skin was too hard and tough to chew. I ended up eating the rest of the rolls and picked out the salmon skin (the roll’s main ingredient).
Spicy BC Roll and Dynamite Roll: 2/10 (Macleod needs to fix this asap)
[…] After a while, Ms. Gold’s injunctions to cook “breathtaking” food made me want to curl up on a cinnamon bun for a nap with “The Happy Baker: A Girl’s Guide to Emotional Baking” by Erin Bolger (Harlequin, $17.95), a bright spot on the often-messy bookshelf of culinary comedy. Ms. Bolger’s tales of love, loss and caramels, matched with easy recipes, include advice on why sleeping with the gardener at a Cuban resort hotel is a good idea, and how to deal with a Valentine from Mom. She and Matt Moore, the earnest author of the self-published “Have Her Over For Dinner” (Last Resort Press, $25), might make a nice couple. Mr. Moore, a musician in Nashville, targets the young man who wants to make dinner on a date — while managing to avoid the usual Playboy-tinged prose of cookbooks “for men.”
Congrats Erin on your great job! You’ve worked hard to make this possible!
Many of Superstore/Loblaws‘ in-store President’s Choice brand of products carry the “Try it … you’ll love it!” guarantee (or money refunded with proof of purchase). I see this as a great promotional method to get customers to try PC brand products and ways to collect customer feedback. The guarantee lead me to try their PC brand of Chinese frozen dim sum.
Unfortunately for me and for PC, the frozen dim sum tasted awful and nothing remotely like what you have in a Chinese restaurant or the cheapest frozen dim sum you can buy from Chinatown.
So I took up the PC’s guaranteed offer and called their 1-888 number and managed to get a $10 gift card as refund, saving me the hassle of bringing the box & receipt and lining up at the store for refund.
As smart consumers, I think we should take these money back refund guarantees by companies seriously for two reasons. Firstly, if they guarantee we will “love it” and we don’t, they should refund. Secondly and more importantly, I believe by us complaining about the product quality or taste, the complaints allow the companies to improve their product offerrings in the future. Having a monetary cost associated with the complains will give them a better chance to be heard by some mangers somewhere because the money payouts have to be recorded, accounted for, and justified.
Lastly, I should mention that I have tried various President’s Choice products (from various food products, to non-stick pans, and even meat and poultry scissors) and they taste pretty good and work pretty well.
Kings of Pastry is one of my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks. The film was great to watch for food/pastry lovers as the pastry were all beautifully made , creatively inspiring, and made with all the attentions to the smallest details. On a deeper level, I also see Kings of Pastry as a film about the journeys for a group of people (pastry chefs in this case) who are willing to go really far (to the extreme) in their pursuits of excellence.
Kings of Pastry made me felt like one of the chefs, experiencing their ups and their downs with them. I highly recommend you check out Kings of Pastry when you can.
Are you a food lover? Well, I not only love food, when it is great food, I also want to see and experience the exquisite preparation of food. Kings of Pastry is a film about sixteen French pastry in pursue of excellence.
Here is some info about the film from the filmmakers’ site (emphasis and link added),
“Imagine a scene never before witnessed: Sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared by President Nicolas Sarkozy one of the best. This is the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France). The blue, white and red striped collar worn on the jackets of the winners is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef – it is a dream and an obsession.
Filmmakers D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus secured exclusive access to shoot this epic, never-before-filmed test of France’s finest artisans. The film follows chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, as he journeys back to his childhood home of Alsace to practice for the contest. Two other finalists are profiled in the film — chef Regis Lazard, who was competing for the second time (he dropped his sugar sculpture the first time), and chef Philippe Rigollot, from Maison Pic, France’s only three-star restaurant owned by a woman.
During the grueling final competition, chefs work under constant scrutiny by master judges and the critical palates of some of the world’s most renowned chefs evaluate their elaborate pastries. Finally, these pastry marathoners racing the clock must hand carry all their creations including their fragile sugar sculptures through a series of rooms to a final buffet area without shattering them. The film captures the high-stakes drama of the competition – passion, sacrifice, disappointment, and joy – in the quest to become one of the KINGS OF PASTRY.“
This film is made by the same team (co-directors Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker) that made The War Room. Here is an insightful “Kings Of Pastry – Doc Talk” with the co-directors.
P.S. Incidentally, love Ang Lee’s classic “Eat Drink Man Woman” and it makes me want to eat or cook some good food after every viewing. If you love food and haven’t seen the film, check it out.
“Last Tuesday, Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut was placed in receivership by ATB Financial, which alleges in court documents it is owed roughly $3.9 million by the company. […]
Callebaut is candid about the issues. One crux is a $5-million land purchase west of Calgary made during the boom — a 78-hectare expanse Callebaut dreamed one day would house a factory and warehouse facility and would feature an organic dairy farm to round out his chocolate production.
He recently tried to sell that land, but was only offered $2 million.
The head office building on 1st Street by 13th Avenue S.E. was sold during the boom to raise capital, he says. It did that, but also saddled the company with an expensive lease signed with the new owner during the height of the market.
Then the economic downturn brought sliding sales. In June 2009, the company temporarily reduced its workforce to a skeleton crew. But Callebaut says when people saw the headlines, they believed the chocolaterie was closed, leading to an immediate 15 per cent drop in business.”
English (英文): Bought our first Durian yesterday for less than $6 at Superstore. (Never opened up one of these monsters myself before.) It tasted like fresh ice cream as hoped. We plastic wrapped those we couldn’t finished and put them in the fridge. Ha ha, unfortunately, the plastic wrap is no match for the strong smell of the Durian and its smell is now all over the fridge.
To attract people to its new Kensington area to try its food, Sushi Kai Calgary created an “All you can taste buffet” (note: it is still an “All you can eat buffet“). The food at Sushi Kai’s old Chinatown location were reasonably good so I decided to give the new location’s buffet a try and review them at the same time.
The batter for the deep fried shrimp wasn’t the fluffy tempura batter I had expected so I was disappointed. But the deep fried oysters used a lighter tempura batter which I liked more and it was quite tasty. Unfortunately, when I ordered some more deep fried oysters later, the chef (or a different chef?) decided to use different batter which I didn’t like at all.
Second batch of deep fried oysters (3/10) (they looked and tasted different from the first batch):
The presentation and taste of the first dish of sushi were pretty good. I particularly like the Mackerel and BBQ Eel (which were warmed up by the chef).
Now, what I can’t understand is why the second batch looked and tasted different? You can’t see it but the BBQ Eel were cold (the chef should have warmed them up like the first batch) and the Mackerel didn’t have the cuts and burn-marks like the first batch (see following photo).
Consistent presentation and taste of food over different days (let alone on the same night) should be a minimum requirement of any self-respecting restaurant. Most customers won’t go back after a bad food experience at a new restaurant.
Hand cone & Sushi Rolls –
Toro hand cone (7/10), mango paradise (8.5/10):
Naraku roll (7/10):
Deep fried shrimp roll (Age sushi) (1/10):
The novelty factor of the deep fried shrimp roll ended badly after the first bite. Bad job in deep frying the shrimp roll. The Naraku roll was ok, not something I would order again. I enjoyed the Mango Paradise rolls and did order it again and still enjoyed it the second time. Other restaurant uses a thin slice of real mango but I found the mango sauce was an cheaper but still ok substitute. The Toro hand cone was ok, the distribution of the toro was a bit uneven as there were no fish left in the last bite.
Deep fried squid legs (6.5/10)
The two same sauces are used here. And the chef might have forgot to add a tiny little bit of salt to the dish.
Mixed veg tempura (7/10)
I’ve had better tempura, they were ok.
Steak & Chicken (1/10 & 3/10)
The steak was so tough and chewy, Sushi Kai needs to buy a slightly better cut of beef or prepare them better. The chicken was barely ok as I can cook better chicken than this.
Octopus balls (7/10)
For someone who likes octopus balls (essentially a ball of starch with a tiny bit of octopus in the middle), it was ok so I leave it as a 7/10. For me, I never like it and this one hasn’t changed my mind.
Grill squid (8/10)
Other than the sauces (more on this later), the grill squid was tasty.
Sushi Kai seems to sprinkle the same two sauces on most of their dishes. Why? They should really spend a little bit of time to create appropriate sauces for each dish. There is no point in using the same sauces over and over and over again as it shows a serious lack of love of food.
Presentation & plates
Except the first dish, every other dishes were put on a cheaproundglassplate. Why? Food presentation should be pleasing to the eyes and the big round plates do take up way too much space on the table. And have I said they look ugly?!
I want to give this restaurant another chance but given some of the poorly made dishes (simple stuff like beef, chicken) and the inconsistency of the food (the first vs the second batch of sushi), I don’t know if I will give it another chance.
These days, every restaurant should have a proper website. And failing that, a simple basic site with basic information, including the hours of operation, should be posted. (note the word “Hours” is on the site but without the actual hours of operation).
NOTE: All food review ratings are based on the initial date of review. Food quality may improve or deteriorate over time. Feel free to share your personal experience (respectfully) in the comments section.
Food at funfair should always look great and smell good to attract people to buy them (often at outrageous prices)! Mini-donuts & Deli Manjoo are two of the fun food I saw at the 2010 Calgary Stampede. Have a look of this video showing how mini-donuts & Deli Manjoo are made and judge for yourself if they are fun and makes you want to buy and try them.
I believe money can be made in the restaurant business, good food at a reasonable price and service, how hard can it be? But many restaurateurs just want to make their quick bucks and don’t want to put much care nor attention into the quality of the food they serve. As a result, Chinese restaurants that serve good Dim Sum is very hard to find in Calgary (especially in Calgary South).
We had one vegetarian and 6 meat/seafood dim sum dishes. Following are the snapshots of the names & prices on the menu and pictures of the dishes we had this Sunday.
Veggie Shrimp Dumplings (Dim Sum by Chef Lau)
Comment: The ingredients are finely chopped and the results is a very tasty creation.
Shanghai-style Soup Buns
Comment: Like Chef Lau said, the tiny “buns” are very juicy by design. And the skins are thin and you have to be careful when you pick it up. I was extremely careful but still manage to break a few of them. (Tip: take one and put it into your bowl and then add the red vinegar.) Very tasty.
Honey Comb Tofu
Comment: This is a must have. I love this dish the most. The tofu is quite soft in the centre. And the skin is “honey comb” textured. Very tasty.
Fish Roe Siu Mai
Comment: A nice “siu mai”. Love the texture and the mixture of ingredients. And like the touch of adding fish roes on top after the steaming process.
Supreme Shrimp Dumplings
Comments: The shrimps are quite big. Very tasty. Because I was quite hungry and tried to take out a dumpling while it was hot and the skin still very soft, I broke the skin of the dumpling. May be the skin were a little bit too thin this day? Or the stick together?
Comment: Very tasty. Another favourite of mine.
Mayonnaise Crispy Rice Rolls
Comments: One of the most pleasantly surprising and yummy dish. Very light and tasty. Highly recommended.
The above dishes not only look great but they are very tasty as well, highly recommended. Now, let me say a few words about the English names of the dishes. To be honest, the English names of the dishes can be a bit cryptic (e.g. “Chiuchau Fangor”) to people who haven’t have a lot of dim sum. I’ve written about translating names of Chinese dishes into English in this previous blog entry and Chef Lau can take a look in updating the names for future if he wishes.
A few more words about naming. Chef Lau explained to me Buddha’s Veggie is an established brand name in Calgary which is why he wishes to keep it even he has extended the menu to add meat and seafood dishes.
I think Chef Lau has to solve this dilemma in the long run, and I am afraid name change will likely be required. Will see. Now, articles like this will help people to know more about this fine restaurant but it is still confusing when the menu has been extended.
The reason I decided to put a spotlight on this fine restaurant is because it is good quality and value Chinese Dim Sum is hard to find in Calgary (especially Calgary South). And I want this restaurant to be successful so that it will continue to thrive and I will have one more place to eat.
If you do decide to visit Buddha’s Veggie, I hope you like the dim sum dishes. And to keep Chef Lau working hard, tell him if you enjoy the food or tell him if you think the dishes can be impoved.
The following is my English interview with Chef Lau talking about Buddha’s Veggie, his experiences as a chef and the 7 types of dim sum we had this past week.
May 22, 2010 Update: Had a great dim sum lunch at chef Lau’s restaurant again today. Repeated some of our favourites we tried and loved last time like Supreme Shrimp Dumplings, Fish Roe Siu Mai, Honey Comb Tofu, Chiuchau Fangor, and Mayonnaise Crispy Rice Rolls. We also tried chef Lau’s new creation: Abalone Siu Mai. I am happy to see chef Lau creating and trying new recipes. The sight of a whole (very tiny) abalone sitting on top of a Siu Mai is quite pleasing to the eyes. (sorry, I didn’t bring a camera) At the same time, the tasty but more chewy texture of an abalone is tough to mix well with Siu Mai. So I look forward to chef Lau creating more dishes over time, and adding some of the really good ones to the regular menu over time.
NOTE: All food review ratings are based on the initial date of review. Food quality may improve or deteriorate over time. Feel free to share your personal experience (respectfully) in the comments section.