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Thursday, March 19, 2009

barry reminds everyone that it's the last day to vote.


yes, today is your last day to vote for our recession-themed drink: the pink slip. will it be pink slip #1 with it's bitter campari and caribbean flair? how about posh #2 with it's haughty display of the last vestiges of wealth? or maybe #3 with it's easy-to-remember recipe so you can order it again and again at the bar? you tell me! go take the pink slip poll on the right and help decide what our recession drink should be.

click here to find the three recipes again, mull it over, AND THEN GO VOTE!

come back next week to find out the poll results, as well as some reviews on all three pink slips; we'll see if the right decision was made.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

barry's famoso haikus.

famoso pizza,
i’m sad you disappoint me.
flavourless and blah.


excited for taste,
prosciutto-arugula
combined disappoint.

STOP: fantastic greens!
a symphony of flavours.
you win me over.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

barry’s angry.


aarrgghh!

has anyone read the march 2009 issue of avenue magazine? they have an article by gail hall of the 25 best things to eat in edmonton. my co-worker showed me the article, knowing full well what i am (an edmonton foodie, dammit!) and that i would appreciate something like this. i start reading; okay the ural burger at high level diner. good burger. is it the best? dunno, but i appreciate the suggestion that this could potentially be a top 25 food in edmonton. i keep reading. a lot of items and restaurants that i haven’t tried yet, but this intrigues me to go out and see if they deserve to be on the top 25 list…but then i arrive at page 38. there noted is the only gelati to make it to this illustrious list and it comes from fantasia gelateria e caffe.

w.t.f.

has the writer ever had real gelato? has she heard of eclectic edmonton gelaterias such as da capo or leva? apparently not, because she seems to think that the best gelato around is supposed to taste like crap and have a terrible grainy texture and is made of various syrups instead of fresh ingredients. maybe she really thinks that’s what good gelato is, but come on people! argh!

okay. okay – i’m okay. breathe.

i could barely read the rest of the 25 bests without scepticism. i mean, how could i trust the writer’s judgement after such an outrageous remark?

For example:
  • she lists the shrimp lollipops at wild tangerine (several people have told me they’re overrated, although i haven’t tried them myself to find out)
  • the turkish egg and spinach pizza at sofra (tried it; WAY better choices at sofra to choose from)

  • and other picks she makes seem scandalous in other ways (read: culina highlands)

i don’t know what to feel other than saddened that of all the culinary wonders edmonton has to offer – and it has a lot, believe me – she chose to highlight some of edmonton’s less than stellar choices.

tears.

do you think i’m crazy? let me know what your favourite gelati in edmonton is and why, or what your thoughts were on avenue’s 25 best things to eat in edmonton.

Monday, March 9, 2009

barry's bud learns a thing or two about salt.

eww.


and now we bring you the another installment of "barry's buds" – a guest column of barry’s many comrades who share a love of all things food-related. this week one of barry’s buds tries out a new recipe and ends up with a salt lick.

do you have a delicious recipe idea? if you do and you’re celebrity chef art smith, you’d preserve it for future generations by burying it in salt. delicious, mouth-watering salt…

i’ve heard of art smith before – his famous 'table 52' restaurant in chicago, and his numerous appearances on oprah (he was her personal chef apparently). i tried one of his dessert recipes a few weeks ago (a nifty thing called hummingbird cake) which turned out well, so i thought i’d attempt to make one of his provocative main courses: crushed pistachio chicken with spicy coconut curry ginger sauce.

this also was the most extravagant recipe (more than just one stop at a grocery store) that i've attempted, which was obtained from oprah’s website: http://www.oprah.com/recipe/food/recipespoultry/food_20071002_chicken.



crushed pistachio chicken with spicy coconut curry ginger sauce – by art smith

chicken ingredients

4 brined (no! i'll explain later...) boneless chicken breasts
1 quart buttermilk
1 pound salted pistachios, shelled and toasted
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1/3 cup chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (again, no!)
grape seed oil to taste

sauce ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
2 blades lemon grass, chopped
3 pieces (1/2-inch) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 cup sweet white wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons chinese black bean chili sauce
1 can (8 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
salt (no! damn-it!) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

brine ingredients (don’t do this!)

1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns







the poison (aka: brine)

place the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 cups cold water into a saucepan over medium-high heat. stir constantly until the sugar and salt dissolve. remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

when brining chicken use a non-reactive pot or plastic container. completely submerge the poultry in cold water and weigh it down with a plate. add the brine and cover. let the chicken sit in the brine for at least two hours, preferably overnight (to prolong your lifespan by 10 years, skip this process entirely).



the chicken

remove the chicken from the brine and cut in half. with a meat mallet, pound until 1/4-inch thick and place in a non-reactive bowl. pour the buttermilk over the chicken, cover, and let sit for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.

in a food processor, place half of the pistachios, half of the parmesan cheese, and half of the herbs. pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture is finely chopped. transfer to a bowl. repeat this step with the rest of the pistachios and combine with the other pistachio mixture.

preheat the oven to 250°F.

place the flour in another bowl and season it with salt (no!!) and pepper. remove the chicken from the refrigerator and prepare it for assembly. pre-heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat with a thin coating of grape seed oil. remove one breast, shake off any excess buttermilk and dust the breast with flour on each side. dip only one side of the chicken back in the buttermilk and press pistachios onto that side. repeat that step with all the chicken. place the chicken in the sauté pan, pistachio side down, and cook for 2–3 minutes. turn and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. place in the oven to finish cooking for 8 to 10 minutes. remove, let rest for 5 minutes and then slice to serve with the coconut chili ginger sauce.




the sauce

in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tablespoon of butter, the shallots, lemon grass, ginger slices and wine. reduce to half. add the broth, red curry paste and chinese black bean chili sauce and reduce to half again. add the coconut milk and reduce to half a third time. remove from the heat and whisk the bits of butter into the sauce until all the butter has been incorporated. season with salt (wtf?!) and pepper.

if you re-heat, do not allow the sauce to boil or the butter will separate.



the review

the starter:

my guest brought a spinach, blackberry, and tear-drop tomato salad with a delicious maple vinaigrette bought from the strathcona farmers market. it was an excellent starter – light and slightly sweet with just the right amount of tartness from the berries.


the entrée:

this was the saltiest meal i have ever tasted (editor's note: that's what she said), and i once ate a big heaping bowl of salt! well, maybe just a tablespoon, and i was six years old... but trust your instincts when trying a new recipe – it would have been saltier, as art smith calls for salt to be added in the battering flour and curry sauce - which i didn’t do thankfully. still, the brined chicken was so salty, my vision started to fade, and i swear i could see through time and space to see art smith laughing menacingly at my hallucinogenic sodium trip.

i later found out that he’s a good ‘ol southern boy, so that might explain the salt fetish. luckily, i had two fresh chicken breasts left in the fridge, so i battered them, pressed them in the pistachio mix, seared, and baked – it was so much better (the salt from the pistachios should be enough to please anyone). the brine-less second try was tender and juicy (and as opposed to the hard fibrous salt slab on the first attempt – chicken flavored), allowing us to appreciate the pleasing texture and taste of the seasoned pistachios, and the deliciously creamy and sophisticated sauce.


you like-a da sauce? the sauce is good? i'll get-a you more sauce...

this is a good 1 - 1½ hour sauce, because after adding each group of ingredients, you need to reduce to half every time. worth the effort. imagine the best butter chicken curry sauce you ever had, then add ginger with some rich coconut goodness, and two small rocks of crack.


the dessert: avocado pie



a complicated main dish calls for a simple dessert. i found this anonymous recipe for avocado pie by accident on the internet. it is the best chilled pie i ever made/tasted.

2 avocados
1/3 cup lime juice
1 regular can of condensed milk
1 pie crust (graham cracker crumb)
1 1/2 lbs. salt (just kidding)

mix avocado pulp, lime juice, and condensed milk in a bowl until it resembles a green and slightly lumpy pancake batter, and pour into a graham cracker crumb pie crust (i bought a pre-made one). chill for half a day or overnight. outstanding!



Thursday, March 5, 2009

barry, the pink slip, and the honour system.

it has been brought to my attention that SOME people are voting multiple times on the pink slip recipe. people, this is not american idol – you don’t just “call in” as often as you want in order to get your favourite in. the point of this is to get as broad a range of people’s votes as possible. but i DO love your enthusiasm.

one man, one vote. got it? got it.

besides, as of today 18 people have voted (well, not really 18 people, cheaters, but thank you to everyone who has voted) so i can expect roughly 5 more votes as there are only 25 fans on the edmonton foodie facebook fan site, with three of them being integral to this blog (thank you to my pimps!) and several of them being related to my pimps and therefore threatened with thumbscrews if they didn’t join (not really expecting them to vote, unless under duress).

i also have to say a big THANK YOU to the seven commentators of the pink slip – your insight and reasons into why you chose which recipe fascinates me.

anonymous who chose #3, love that you’re planning your drunkenness ahead of time: don’t forget to pack a plastic bag and some soda crackers for the cab ride home.

stone fox: i enjoy that a good drink wins out over a steady paycheque. glad you’ve got your priorities straight.

dly: really, who can resist pineapple? nobody, that’s who.

oh billie, perhaps you should cut down on the sauce. maybe then you’ll see beyond mariah’s glitter.

this is a recession, anonymous #2, stop being so damn positive!

and mona, with all that ginyness i want you to be careful not to lose your panties. check?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

barry lets you in on a little secret (update).

i’ve heard a lot of shocked gasps from friends after my last post (barry lets you in on a little secret) and even some commentary of bus trips to vegreville (enjoy your trip down ukrainian lane, ruby) mixed in with disbelief of how little my monthly grocery bill is. to prove to you that this isn’t some hunger-induced dream, i’ve photographed my whole bill for you nonbelievers to show you the truth of these ridiculously low prices; it’s not just no-name or president’s choice products covered either, robin hood baking goods, duncan hines, bick’s, dole and beatrice are some of the other brands included in this crazy scheme.

finally, here’s a recipe for you to show you just how cheap cooking at home can be.

lemon-rosemary roasted chicken.

1 fryer chicken (not on my bill because no frills ran out. luckily my uncle bought four of them and i bought one off him (full-price) for $3.78.)
1 lemon (i bought 3 lemons for $1.00)
fresh sprig of rosemary (i had this on hand)
1 onion, quartered (90 cents)
salt, pepper and oil.

1. wash chicken inside and out. pat dry and put in a roasting pan.

2. cut up lemon and stuff into chicken as much as you like. add rosemary sprig and onion as well.

3. rub top skin of chicken with mazola oil, then salt and pepper.

4. roast chicken in oven at 350F until done. juices should run clear, and skin should be crispy.

this dish cost me $5.01. if i had steamed a package of broccoli and seasoned it, and then roasted my yam with seasoning and oil, my dinner would have come to $7.20 and served 4 people. i could have prepared my duncan hines devil’s food cake mix and had dessert for 4 for 99 cents. yes, i’m well aware of how much you hate me right now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

barry lets you in on a little secret.

i almost didn’t write this blog, for fear of family reprisals, but the ridiculously low prices made it impossible not to. how much do you spend on groceries for a month? $150.00? $200.00? uh-huh. that’s plain ridiculous. i just bought my groceries for the month, seen below as the giant pile of food, and spent (drum roll please) $72.89. this includes: a whole wild salmon for $2.28, a turkey for $10.78, a litre of buttermilk for $1.00 and broccoli florets that serve eight for $2.00 – the same price for a jar of bick’s dill pickles.
this food madness is brought to you by no frills grocery store – a delightful low-brow version of the real canadian superstore – and cannot be found in our city. no, within the edmonton area you need to head on down to leduc, fort saskatchewan or vegreville to find this gem, but believe me, it is well worth the trip.

YAY:
  • food that is cheaper than borscht. (by the way, i bought a beet for 18 cents.)

MEH:

  • it’s a bit of a trip to get there, but make a day of it and go visit rumor board shop in leduc or go for a trip down ukrainian lane to vegreville, or do whatever it is that you do in fort saskatchewan.
  • the selection might not be as vast as in edmonton, but it’s pretty decent.

NAY:

  • the prices are so good that sometimes the shelves can get a little bare.


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