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Last summer, hit Food Network show Eat St. was in town filming 3 of our local food trucks. The first of those episodes aired last Monday, and featured Molly’s Eats and the trucks owner, Susan Chin.
If you didn’t catch the episode the first time around, I’ve included the link to that part of the show below. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the taping, so you’re not going to be able to avoid getting a healthy dose of me in the episode. Don’t worry though… my wife Robyn (the “It’s a monster!” girl) is also in it to keep me in line. Mostly.
Warning: you have to wade through a few commercials before you get to the goods. Enjoy!
We’re always up for a great burger, so when we got suggestions from from San Diego locals to check out Burger Lounge, we couldn’t resist.
The look and feel of The Burger Lounge reminded us a lot of Clive Burger in Calgary. Fittingly, just as the Custard Shakes at Clive caught Robyn’s eye first, at Burger Lounge it was the Brownie Shake. This is now in my top 3 favourite shakes, along with the Chocolate Cake Shake at Portillos in Chicago, and the aforementioned custard shake at Clive Burger. I’d probably give the custard shake the nod, but all 3 are fantastic. I swear there was a half pound of chunked brownie in that shake!
We both got the Lounge Burger, which BL proudly proclaims is made with 100% single source, grass-fed beef. The Lounge Burger is topped with Organic cheddar, fresh or grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, and house made 1000 Island. It’s served medium unless requested to be cooked more. I’m generally a “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” kinda guy, but the Canadian in me just couldn’t willingly order a burger medium, so we went med-well.
You know how I gave Clive the nod on the shake? Well Burger Lounge gets my nod for the burger. The juicy, gristle-free patty was delicious, the bun was soft and the grilled onions were a nice touch.
I wish I could say I was as happy with the combination of Onion Rings and French Fries we had to accompany the burgers.
The Onion Rings were pretty much flavourless, and although the rings and fries both had some specks of green on them suggesting a herb of some sort, neither of us could distinguish any flavour from it. The saving grace for the fries was the little side of homemade bbq sauce that we used for dipping. Tasting heavily of chipotle, they gave the fries and rings a nice kick and helped us finish them off.
Although the Fries and Onion Rings were a miss for us, I could definitely foresee a late night burger and shake in our future before we come home.
Nait recently offered a media availability with this years Chef in Residence, recent Top Chef Masters Champion Chris Cosentino. Nait generously included food bloggers in it’s description of media, so I instantly texted my friend Maki, whose own write-up of the event you can find here, and made plans to attend.
The day started with about an hour of observing Chef Cosentino teaching a very lucky class of Nait’s Culinary Arts students. What a fantastic opportunity for these kids to spend a few days learning from one of the best in the business!
The instruction was fast paced, and to the point. I overheard quite a few instances where Cosentino would stop a student in the middle of the task, and ask if they understood why they were doing what they were doing. If they seemed unsure, they were bluntly yet respectfully given instruction, and asked to continue. Although Cosentino mentioned to us later on that he doesn’t really teach students back home, I couldn’t help but think that his style of instruction and strong personality are very well suited to the classroom. Oh well, the students loss is a diner’s gain, I guess.
Some of the students were clearly a little intimidated working so closely with the well known celebrity chef, but they all seemed very eager to soak up every last drop of knowledge they could before Cosentino’s time at NAIT was through.
Of course fans will already know that chef Cosentino is very well known for his affinity for cooking offal. Although it was finished when we came in, I could overhear that one of the dishes they prepared that day was beef heart tartare. The chef stressed on more than one occasion how important it is to use the things that others waste. Cosentino considers it a chefs responsibility to do this, and you have to admire his conviction and respect for the animal that is obviously a foundation of his cooking style.
After class, there was a brief opportunity to ask a few questions. I didn’t want to ask the obligatory questions about the 2 feet of snow we got during his stay, or about T.V. shows. Instead, I focused on food. Specifically, where he ate while he was in good ol’ Edmonton.
He mentioned 3 spots that left an impression in particular.
First off he mentioned Tres Carnales. He commented that he was really impressed with their legit, authentic Mexican street food. High praise, considering the vast selection of quality Mexican food on his doorstep at home in San Francisco.
Secondly, highly acclaimed Corso 32 elicited some high praise from the celebrated chef. Apparently the crew at Corso 32 stuffed their guest full of darn near everything on the menu!
The other restaurant to garner some accolades was Three Boars. No surprise there, given their well publicized use of off cuts.
I was intrigued about where he got his dining suggestions, since those would have been the same 3 spots I would have recommended for him, personally. Does a world famous celebrity chef sit at home on his couch the night before a trip, munching cheetos and surfing Urbanspoon reviews? Or does he just take the advice of locals in the know when he arrives?
It turns out that there is indeed a pattern to how he selects the spots to try out when in a new city. He always seeks out a good Italian restaurant for starters. His own food is heavily Italian influenced, and so he likes to keep abreast of what other Italian restaurants are doing. Hence his dinner at Corso 32. He also likes to seek out restaurants that are using offal, so that explains his appearance at Three Boars. And as it happens, Tres Carnales was just around the corner from the hotel. Lucked out on that one!
My final question revolved around what he sees as the next big food destination. I suggested that to me, Philadelphia is a very underrated food destination. A sly grin swept across Cosentino’s face as he said that Philly has been cranking out fantastic food for a long time, but the difference is that they don’t tell anybody. He says that his prediction is an explosion of southern cuisine, and mentioned particularly relatively unknown dining destinations Nashville and Charleston. I can’t wait to find out if he’s right about that.
Keep scrolling to check out a few more pictures of the day.
If you’ve been sitting around just waiting for someone to invent Poutine Meat Loaf, your wish just came true.
After the success of my Poutine Burgers a few weeks ago….
….I thought I’d try making a meatloaf version, complete with crispy potato crust. Check it out.
Poutine Meat Loaf
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 cups diced cheese curds
8 cloves roasted garlic
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup of your favourite bread crumbs (I used sourdough)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 sprigs of fresh basil (when chopped, approx. 3 tbsp)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandoline
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease your large casserole dish and layer potatoes on the bottom
- Mix remaining ingredients and put on top of potatoes
- Bake 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees
- Strain out fat and flip out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
- Roast under the broiler, potato side up until browned. Approx. 5 minutes
- Remove from oven and rest 15 minutes, covered with foil.
- Use 4 tbsp beef fat for the gravy. Add 2 tbsp flour and make a roux. Mix in 2 cups of beef stock, and season with salt/pepper.
- Slice and serve with gravy
Saying goodbye is so hard.
On Saturday February 18th, 2012, at 12:30pm, Robyn and I had to say goodbye to our beautiful dog, Maya.
To say I am devastated would be such an understatement. As I write this, it’s been barely more than 24 hours since she’s been gone, and already I am missing her immensely.
I really miss our walks.
I miss her following my every move, especially if I’m doing anything in the kitchen.
I miss her running to the pantry cupboard where we stashed her snacks every time she heard the door open.
I miss tripping over her when you’re trying to do anything.
I miss her loving stares while I prepare dinner. (love of food, of course)
I miss her sitting pretty to watch me when I’m eating, and drooling the whole time.
I miss watching her dreaming while she sleeps, her leg twitching while small grunts and groans escape her mouth as I envision her dreaming of chasing rabbits in open fields.
I miss looking into those sweet brown eyes.
I miss coming home and having her meet us at the door, tail wagging.
I really miss the sound of her nails click-clacking across the hardwood floors.
I miss seeing her happy face in the side mirror during one of her favourite activities- the car ride.
But most of all I miss the companionship. Knowing that when I feel kind of down, I can just sit with Maya, pet her, and let her remind me in her own way of what’s really important in life. Your loved ones.
I miss it all.
Except the farts. Those pungent, lingering, room clearing farts. Those, I won’t miss.
When Maya was 8 months old we took her to the vet and we were told that she had the most severe case of hip displasia that this vet had ever seen in a puppy. We were shaken terribly at the news from the vet that we would likely only have 3 or 4 years with Maya before we’d have to put her down. I remember us both sobbing all the way home, then drowning our sorrows at Tony Roma’s with ribs. We brought the bones home and Maya devoured them while laying out in the snow. Since then, we knew this day would come eventually. As it turns out, knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it one ounce easier when that time actually arrives.
The following is a short gallery of some of my favourite pictures to celebrate our good fortune to have her in our lives almost 11 years.
This is one of the earliest pictures of my girl.
She loved her yard.
Occasionally Maya and Maverick got their dishes confused.
turned into this…..
But seriously, they were the best of friends. (and no, Maya wasn’t the cause of Mavericks cone)
She had a phase where she loved the Chubby Chicken.
And just like her daddy, she loved to eat…..
She also loved the snow.
And she really loved her walks.
The last few days of her life were filled with sadness for me. I had to carry her up the 2 stairs to the back door because she couldn’t make it under her own steam. You could see the pain she was in every time she sat or got up. She could only enjoy the car ride for a short time before her sore hips let her down and she had to sit instead of hanging her head out the window and enjoying life. She knew she was defeated, and it was so heartbreaking to watch.
In the end, we cradled her in our arms and told her for the hundredth time that day that we loved her very much. The light went out with a promise to never forget her and one last, long, tear-filled hug.
Goodbye Maya, my sweet girl. I will never stop missing you.
Last year we just asked you to send us an email letting us know that you donated a toy, and that got you entered to win a fabulous gift of homemade goodies. (retail value approx.* $1,000,000!) The contest generated about 25 toys donated, including a generous donation from our friend Shana all the way from New York. Hopefully we will beat that this year.
*VERY approximate. As in if you read that number with a mirror you’d be pretty close.
This year, just head to your nearest Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, or shopping mall to drop off a new, unwrapped toy, and then send us picture – either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com), or Tweet it to us (@baconhound and @joyfulfollies ) – of you dropping off your donation to be entered in our giveaway*! You can follow S.A. on twitter to get updates on what they are in need of most. (@santasanonymous)
You have until the end of the day on Friday, December 16 to enter.
We will enter your name into the draw (1 for every donation) to receive a treasure trove of the homemade goodness we are making this year – consisting of all the goodies Robyn is detailing this week on her blog, as well as my maple-bacon Chex mix and Bailey’s – and we will randomly select a winner on Saturday, December 17.
*if you are out of town, and are inspired to help, feel free to send a cheque and we will gladly do the legwork for you!
A special thanks to Saylish, Mike, and Nathan at the Next Act Pub for getting the ball rolling this year. A while back you may remember that Robyn’s burger submission was selected to run as a special Cameo burger for a week at the pub. As part of the deal, she received $1 from each sold that week in the form of a gift card usable at the pub. The grand total sold was 137. She recently contacted Saylish, who is one of the owners, and asked if instead of paying out gc’s to her, could they donate that dollar amount to Santa’s Anonymous?
Of course, being good community minded folks they enthusiastically agreed.
My name is Baconhound, and I am a recovering fast food junkie. The last time I “used” was 3 weeks ago.
It was a Friday; I was in my work van and had no prepared lunch. I survived the morning fuelled by coffee and granola bars, but I could feel the beast in my belly growing restless.
And I had been so good up to that point; eating lots of salads, grilled vegetables, juices, soups. No alley burgers, no fried chicken, no deliciously naughty french fries, no rain barrel of cola.
But on that fateful day, I happily made my way from appointment to appointment; chatting with customers, sipping my coffee, and singing along with my iPod’s warped sense of “shuffle”.* I’d pass a local drive-thru “restaurant” and pretend to yell out at the slobbish, sweaty patrons (for some reason in a weird Russian/ Polish accent- which I suggest you try right now) “WHY FOR YOU ARE EATING ZEES CRRRRAP, ZEES EES FOOD FOR DOGS!” Then continue on my way, proud of my newfound will power and finding myself extremely hilarious.
And then out of the blue it happened.
Through some evil twist of fate or karma, (or some mix of the two henceforth known as fatarma) I got dispatched to a place that would test my resolve like no other.
I sat motionless in the van, staring at my work screen; I pondered how I was going to get through this situation and maintain the same belt notch. Unable to stall anymore, I slowly put the van in drive and head out.
Pulling up to the front door, I frantically look at my phone like a convict in the electric chair; hoping for that last minute phone call that could save me.
It lay there silent.
I summon some courage, gather my tools, and head inside.
Then I came face to face with the evil temptress.
A powerfully seductive scent that lures in her victims.
I stand tall, resisting any and all attacks on my senses.
“I can beat this”, I tell myself; secretly knowing I cannot.
Instead I concentrate on my work, diligently completing task after task like an un-hungry robot. Finally having completed my work, I quickly pack up my tools and head for the door, marvelling at my self control.
Reaching for the door handle, I hear a voice call out to me.
“Would you like a free donair?”
Just like that, I succumb.
I quickly grab that foil wrapped saucy wench and dash back to the van.
Devouring the sweet, seared mystery meat I think to myself ”I don’t care who can see me”, while the tangy, delicious donair sauce drips from my chin.
Pushing the last morsel into my mouth, junkies’ remorse sets in, and a cloud of shame decends as I realize I have undone all my hard work for a few moments of bliss.
I share this story with you in the hope that it will inspire just one person to succeed where I have failed.
But more than that, there is a moral to this story:
Donairs are awesome, and I love free stuff.
* 5 consecutive songs- as shuffled by my iPod.
Bust a Move- Young MC
We’re not going to take it- Twisted Sister
A case of you- Joni Mitchell
Looks that Kill- Motley Crue
The Logdrivers Waltz (non Canadians, you tube it)