Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Andrew, an English food writer who co-authors a blog called Very Good Taste, created a list with the following instruction:

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (nothing hotter?)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda<--- MUST TRY! 31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (and then I ate the bowl!)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal <--- MUST TRY! 44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (only one?)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (as a cheeseburger bun!?)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (all of the above)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (Charlie Trotters was close enough)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I'm surprised at the lack of a deep fried mars bar.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mints

In two words, curiously delicious.

Imagine Junior Mints, only using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and crunchy.

Good times.

Mexican Sushi: The Beginning

No, not sushi in Mexico, but a Mexican-themed sushi.

A couple weeks ago I pondered the concept.  Since sushi is very 'fresh' tasting, and many Mexican cuisine elements are aswell, I figured they might work well together.  With hot peppers, cilantro, onions, salsas and very other ingredients at my disposal, I figure there's alot of deliciousness to be had.

Gathering some nori and sushi rice, and the above mentioned Mexican elements, I experimented.  Following Ming Tsai's 'perfect sushi rice' directions, I had no trouble using my rice cooker to get the rice exactly how I had experienced it in many Japanese restaurants.  The nori was also quite similar to what I was used to, so I had no problem laying the foundation for the sushi.

Here you can see my working space:


Before rolling, I had chopped up a couple hot peppers, some green onion, vidalia onion, cilantro, garlic, cooked shrimp, smoked salmon, and zucchini.  I also prepared a little Tex-Mex sauce consisting of habanero salsa, dijon and bbq sauce.

1st Roll:  Cilantro, Shrimp, Both Onions, Tex-Mex Sauce, Hot Poppers

2rd Roll: Smoked Salmon, Both Onions, Zucchini

Initial results were quite good.  Both rolls had a wonderful freshness to them which I partly credit to the cilantro.  The peppers I used weren't as hot as I had hoped they'd be and the cooked shrimp was kind of bland, but otherwise, I'd consider both rolls to be a success.

I then decided to experiment with the shrimp, zucchini and various peppers. I heated up a pan and separately fried up the above mentioned ingredients in oil, garlic and hot sauce.

My goal was to add some more depth to the blandness experienced earlier. Just be careful when frying hot peppers (i.e. do it outside) as the smoke that comes off the pan is quite fierce.

3rd Roll: (Pepper roll): Fried Hot Peppers, Raw Hot Peppers, Onion, Cilantro
- see below with smoked salmon roll

4th Roll: Smoked Salmon, Fried Zucchini, Both Onions

5th Roll: Fried Zucchini, Raw Hot Peppers, Cilantro, Both Onions

6th Roll:  Fried Shrimp, Fried Zuchini, Both Onions, Cilantro

To be blunt, cooking the shrimp made all the difference.  Also, the cooked peppers were quite interesting (I was sure to leave all the seeds too).  

To conclude, a moderate success with lots of room to improve.  

Once summer is upon us, I plan on using the bbq and smoker.

Heh, all this excitement and I haven't even began working on my deep fried sushi yet!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Death By Roast Beef

I am speaking to you from beyond the grave because I visited Katz's today.  I ordered the open face roast beef sandwich, a sandwich that has elluded me for a while.  You see, a friend of mine commonly orders it, and each time I have been jealous, but I never really took the plunge, until today.  Turns out it filled me up alright, to the point where my stomach explanded and collapsed my lungs.  Thus, death by roast beef.

Before I continue, I should give you some backround on Katz's Deli and Corned Beef Emporium, I've been going there for as far as I can remember.  After traveling much of the globe in search of a comparable corned beef or pastrami sandwich, I have found none to compare.  Located at 3300 Dufferin, near Yorkdale, you'll see the large yellow sign featuring a very large head.  Don't let large head of an Australian explorer fool you, they mean serious business here, deli business.  They feature a wide variety of smoked meats and other traditional deli dishes to choose from.  Some examples include corned beef (duh), pastrami, turkey, tongue, roast beef, Montreal smoked meat, knish, knucker, baked apples, marinated tomatoes, yada yada yada.  Some of my favourites are the knish, corned beef (duuhhhh), and pastrami.  If you do opt for a sandwich, I highly recommend ordering it with pastrami sauce.  Pastrami sauce is essentially a psuedo gravy mixture combined with various meat trimmings (I think it might be left over knish filling aswell).

Anyways, back to the topic of the day, the open face roast beef sandwich.  As you can imagine, the construction is quite simple.  
  1. Take two pieces of bread  (did I mention they have the best rye in the city?)
  2. Cover in gravy (a very good gravy too)
  3. Add machine sliced roast beef atop each piece of bread (what I'd give for a machine slicer)
  4. Pile fries between two stacks of meat (mm, crispy)
  5. Cover in addition gravy ( precious!)

This was my first time trying the Katz's roast beef and I was quite impressed.  Very moist, soft, tender and flavourful.  It was one of the better medium cooked roast beefs that I've had. Coupled with the gravy and fries, it was a force to be reckoned with and it's quite easy on the eyes aswell.  One problem I find is that their gravy isn't normally hot enough, so try to ask them to heat it up if possible.  Also, to truly be able to enjoy the fries and gravy, you have to eat them fast as the gravy with crispy fries is unmatched in terms of deliciousness.

I also ordered my usual marinated tomatoes and onions.  They're marinated in a mix of basil, oil and some other spices.  It's quite good, and it's really the only finite item that I order everytime I visit (besides Fanta cream soda which is no longer available).  The tomatoes are both an excellent side and wonderful addition to your sandwich.  Add a few slices of tomato and onion and you won't be disappointed.

The open face sandwich didn't dethrone my usual corned beef and pastrami sauce combo, but it was certainly enjoyable and I'd have no trouble ordering it again when I can stomach it.  While it was suggested that I take the remains home, you just can't take home a dish that's covered in gravy, it's sacrilegious!

Oh, and your friend said Centre Street Deli was better?  He'd certainly be no friend of mine.  While I don't think there's anything wrong with the Centre Street Deli (except the meat being excessively bland and hand sliced), I have trouble finding anything that makes them stand out from other delis.  Perhaps it's tradition?  

Oh well, times change.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

A day to justify drinking Guinness, great!  Normally I don't need a reason to drink Guinness, but I certainly won't turn one down.  The same went for Pi Day, how can one turn down pie?

The day started off at Fionn MacCool's.  I started to line up around 10:45am and they eventually opened their doors at 11:15am.  Inside, we were unable to get seats, but we did get this nice island to stand around, and we were able to order food from there, so a moderate success of sorts.

I was in the mood for some sort of sheppard's pie to eat on St. Pats.  Since it was Pi day earlier in the week, I figured it was the perfect extension.  I picked Fionn because it had both a sheppard's pie and Guinness steak and mushroom pie.  I've never tried a Guinness dish before, but I expected Guinness to just add some thickness and a little flavour.

I picked the Guinness dish, surprised?  I thought not.

Now, firstly, it wasn't really a pie, which was a little disappointing.  It was more of a stew of steak and mushrooms, with a slab of mash and some vegtables on the side.  Most importantly, it tasted very good.  It was hearty, beefy, and there was a subtle hint of Guinness; but, had I not known it was in there, I wouldn't have noticed it.  To summarize, it was a decent beef stew.  While it couldn have been larger, I didn't regret ordering it.

My regrets came later, as it dawned on me that I should have:
a)  Had some breakfast before drinking.
b)  Paced myself to a Guinness every 30 minutes, not every 15.
c)  Had some non-Gino's related sustenance afterwards.

Anyways, all in all, it was a delicious day.


Friday, March 16, 2007

The Black Clover

Various Guinness mixes have gained popularity as of late. The Black and Tan is probably the most popular, combining equal parts of Guinness and your favourite lager (such as Bass).  Other combinations can be found here.  A Black Shandy consists of Guinness and lemonade.

So, last year, before going out for St Pats, a friend and I sat in my kitchen drinking Guinness cans.  As I went into the fridge for another, I noticed a large container of limeade staring me down.  For those unaware, limeade is essentially lemonade made with... limes! (Amazing, no?) So I thought, if lemonade works, why not limeade?

It's a very simple drink to make and it's quite good, so don't be afraid of it.  The sweetness of the limeade works surprisingly well with the bitterness of the Guinness.  For a lack of a better name (actually, I forgot what I had originally named it), I present the Black Clover.

To make:
  • Fill about a third of a Guinness glass with limeade (I used McCain)
  • Then using a large spoon, slowly poor the Guinness on the convex side of the spoon, layering the Guinness and limeade like night and (St. Patricks) day
Sometimes you'll also encounter a very hypnotic 'wave' effect when layering the Guinness.


Thursday, March 15, 2007


I discovered at a young age that I had a very odd palette.  I'm quite surprised that with all of the experimenting I used to do with things I found in the fridge, I never ended up having to get my stomach pumped.  I mean, who could fault me for trying ice cream, peanut butter and hot sauce.  It really wasn't that bad... (back off Ben and/or Jerry)

With that said, I don't know why I've been drawn to scotch over the years, but I certainly have no complaints.  As far as I can remember, I've always loved the smell of scotch.  I'd normally huddle around my father's tumbler and bask in the sweet aromas of Cardhu that would slowly rise through my nose.  

As much as I loved the scent, it wasn't until I was 18 that I could actually drink it and enjoy it.  I wasn't actively trying to acquire a taste for it either.  One day, I poured a glass of Black Label from a bottle my father received and... I was hardly repelled from it.  It was the first time I actually took the time to savour it.

For a novice spirit drinker or cigar smoker, you only learn to appreciate the best after trying the worst.

While a bad cigar may repulse you, bad scotches just lack flavour, character and aren't very 
smooth to drink. They essentially taste just like flavoured grain alcohol (or a light beer  compared to it's full strength relative).

It isn't until you've actually had a nicely aged single malt, that you can sit down and appreciate all the years that went into making the amber elixer that stands proudly before you.


Green Tea Pocky?

A week ago, I ventured to an Asian supermarket in the west end of Toronto.  Wonderful store, consisting of a great selection of sauces, canned goods, fresh produce and very reasonable prices.  It was almost like shopping in a clean Kensington Market.  I could go on, but I'll save my trips to the supermarket for another post.

Now, Pocky!

Pocky in its native original (red boxed) form is merely a biscuit stick covered in bitter-sweet chocolate.  

Lately, I've been seeing a variety of different of Pocky flavours surfacing.  While these probably have always 
been available, I've only started noticing them now (and if I haven't seen it, it's new to me).

In the past I've tried: Original,Almond Crush, Milk, Honey and the aforementioned Green Tea.

Original doesn't leave much to the imagination.  The chocolate isn't that sweet, nor that enjoyable.  But it is the Pocky that started it all, so you have to try it atleast once.

Almond Crush consists of a dark chocolate coating with chunks of almond.  I found it to have a little coffee taste to it, but the almond pieces were quite bland.  Better than original though.

Milk was kind of 'bleh'.  Instead of a chocolate coating, it features a yogurt coating which had this slight sour quality to it.  If you like sour bland yogurt, this Pocky is for you (but I wouldn't go as far as calling it a sour cream).

Honey also also featured a yogurt coating, but it was slightly sweet.  It did have hints of honey and it was better than the awful Milk Pocky, but I don't think I'll be revisiting Honey Pocky.

Green Tea is currently the Pocky to beat.  Featuring a green tea cream coating that one could swear to be actual green tea ice cream.  It's quite wonderful.  After my first stick, I was in disbelief that Pocky could actually taste this good.

Moral of the story.

Say yes to Green Tea Pocky, say no to drugs and candy from strangers (especially if it's Milk Pocky).

Better Late Than Never

This is something that I really should have started a while ago, but alas...

My ultimate goal is to focus on my fancies.  My likes, my dislikes, and various nuisances inbetween.

Restaurants, recipes, cigars, spirits, hot sauces, ties, and essentially anything and everything you've come to associate with me through the years will be found on this little blog.

I certainly enjoy myself, I hope you will too.