Maybe you want a little purple passion pre-Prince show tonight in Halifax? There’s the Purple Prince a mixture of vodka, triple sec, pomegranate juice and curacao, served at an industry listening party for his album 3121. Or maybe you’d prefer the Purple Rain, with gin and blue curacao. You could even steal another prince’s drink. My choice would be the classic Kir Royal. Of course, I don’t think Prince drinks, so if you are straight edge like the man himself, just enjoy some grape vitamin water.
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Yesterday we posted an early version of Read Up On It, since we were in the mood to toot our own horn. We now return to our regularly scheduled edition of our favorite readings of the past week..
Aziz Ansari, David Change and James Murphy grace the inside of GQ. We thank them for it.
- I can’t get over how much I love this story. GQ notices a photo tweeted by Aziz Ansari of him, LCD Soundystem/DFA label owner James Murphy and Momofuku’s David Chang, with the tagline: “”David Chang, @lcdsoundsystem, and myself want to go to Tokyo and eat food. Can some magazine/Travel Channel pay.” GQ obliges.
- GQ hits the ball out of the park lately with some of its food writing. Their chef of the year? A vaguely inarticulate man whom you’ve probably never seen on television.
- The University of King’s College’s journalism program publishes a newspaper for most of the academic year. In this issue, they take on shark finning.
- The CBC posts possibly good news for lobster fishermen in south western Nova Scotia.
- The Washington Post casts light on an interesting situation in Afghanistan: an american man, a slaughterhouse, former insurgents and a great story.
- It’s Thanksgiving for our american cousins, so The Atlantic posits that when it comes to heritage breed turkeys, caveat emptor, but please do buy one.
- On the blog side of things, one mother asks, How do I get my kids to eat animal hearts?
We here at Passable like to spread our love of food as far and wide as possible. Wether we’re discussing our devotion to local goodies to international writers, mover and shakers, we think that sharing is an important part of food culture. Part of that sharing means that some of us have day jobs, and some of those day jobs have us writing for other publications. We also don’t have much of a habit of tooting our own horns here, but every once in a while, there comes a reason to break with tradition.
Image via The Coast
One of our writers, Melissa Buote, recently returned from a brief hiatus as restaurant reviewer for The Coast. She will be resuming her regular gig reviewing restaurants in their pages. Melissa worked alongside editor Kyle Shaw on this week’s issue, focusing on the new and interesting in Halifax. To start things off right, she chose three restaurants which she believes to be among the best in the city. In her words, it was “Tasty, enjoyable work maybe, although still difficult.” Buote also writes about the forgotten gems this city has to behold, hidden away in hotels around the city.
As for the rest of out team, our own Andy Murdoch wrote an article about the recent surge in supper clubs and pop-ups around HRM. For those of you looking for more info, you should read his recent Passable post about it. As for myself, I wrote two short blurbs about my love for asian food in Halifax, as well as the burgeoning cocktail culture in the city.
If we can toot our own horn one last time, kudos and congratulations to Buote’s triumphant return to the pages of The Coast.
If you missed eating tacos in Natalie Chavarie’s backyard last summer as part of the Young&Dublin:open air eating supper club, you’ll get a second chance this winter.
Young & Dublin will offer community dinners at Local Jo’s Cafe on Oxford, starting in January and running until March.
“One of the main objectives of doing things at Local Jos is that a lot of the values that Local Jos has are really similar to the value of Young and Dublin,” says Chavarie. “The whole meat thing and where your food comes from was a big part of it. Same for Local Jo’s.”
“Drip down your hand street food”
The inspiration for Y&D came from travelling and eating street foods in Korea, Mexico and Cuba. She’d been jonesing for a food truck for a couple years, one that would use locally sourced foods and “serve drip down your hand korean-mexican fusion street food.”
She is working on a business plan for the truck (don’t go stealing her idea, ok), but in the meantime, last summer a supper club seemed like a good start to the open road.
“We thought the time was really right to offer a space for that type of offering in Halifax,” she says. “We purchased really beautiful wood from this local mill owner in the valley. Then, with the help of a friend who used to run the Bus Stop Theatre, we built this pergola and wrapped it with an old tarp from a skating rink that a friend gave to me.”
Suddenly they had steating for 22 people. They used twitter and social media to get the world out. People could make reservations on Twitter, Facebook or by text.
Enter Virgil Muir: tacomaster
You might remember Virgil Muir from a stint at The Good Food Emporium a couple years ago. He cooked asian fusion meals on weeknights. Quality, homey stuff. He cooks all the food.
“Part of the creatvity that went into the food there transferred into Young&Dublin for sure. Virgil put a lot of creative thought into it. He did all the cooking and I was doing the hosting,” she says.
Muir created a wide range of tacos: korean beef bulgogi taco with kim chee and green onions; a jerk pork taco; a spicy pork Korean taco with Korean toppings; a more traditional Mexican beef taco and a really good Mexican tofu taco. He did a korean split meung bean pancake that was vegan and wheat free.
The kimchi and warm corn tortilla were all made in house and everything was served with sides of rice and beans.
Y&D’s main suppliers are Holdanca farms, “a really beautiful naturally pastured meat farm in Tatamagouche,” Dinicola’s Farm and Ted Hutten.
Lessons learned about supper clubs
Running a supper club gave Chavarie some surprises, not the least of which was just how deeply mainstream society has fallen for this trend.
“I was surprised by the demographic. There were lots of younger people that came, but the median was about 30-45. One other thing that surprised me was that there were lots of kids.”
“I think the essence of open air eating is a hunger for experiential dining and dining that maybe offers more unexpected elements to traditional dining. I think there’s a really big appetite for that. It’s something that we are seeing all over the world.”
She also didn’t expect that people would start organizing nights for themselves at Y&D, or that local restaurants would call up, asking to hold staff parties at her house.
“They would organize a group of ten people and then say, ‘OK, we’re meeting at this time.’ It was kind of like these satellite dinner clubs where one person is like, ‘Hey, I want to get together with all my friends.’”
She doesn’t consider the club illegal. She calls it, “an open air eating club whereby people were able to make reservations to a dinner club where we would serve. The payment was based on a cost recovery donation model and prices were itemized.”
As I said in my Coast article on this, the law depends on how hosts see diners – are they friends or customers? If you serve food in your home to friends, then ask for a donation, that’s fine.
Given that Chavarie tends to use words like “community,” and “neighbourhood,” when talking aboutt her club, the whole ethic points to friendship over custom.
The success of pop up dining shows it’s tapping into all sorts of social desires. It’s about focusing a meal the social experience rather than simply another exercise in taste. Eating and socializing are inseparable in my mind, anyway. Really, the law is an ass in cases like these. Fuck ’em.
This trend is 100% in keeping with the DIY esprit of this city. I hope this pop-up idea is here to stay, even if each one enjoys only the doomed lifespan of a teenaged hardcore band.
Someone should write a samizdat how-to manual for setting these up. We should all be doing these for friends, neighbours and people we ought to be, and want to be, friends with. Get the social network off Facebook and into the dining room. The city and our lives, would be a much better place for it.
I recently read a Catalan proverb in Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine, that makes my point: “Si vols tenir molts amics, fes molts convits.” If you want to have lots of friends, give lots of parties.
Natalie and Virgil, I salute your work and look forward to a taco takedown in your company this Janaury.
One of the most engaging parts of food writing online is the ease and accessibility of video content. Think of the great content on Chow or The Perennial Plate (whose Daniel Klein appeared in Passable last February).
This week’s edition of Read Up On It has three videos this week. We think these are videos worth watching, unlike those mindless videos of kittens doing things (though that’s not to say we don’t enjoy watching those videos).
Sesame Street does a send up of The Iron Chef
- Deep End Diner Eddie Lin recently posted a video which shows the culinary adventurous how to extract squid ink. What I want to know is how many takes it took before they got one that didn’t explode.
- We here at Passable like to think we’re a pretty adventurous bunch. We order tripe and chicken’s feet at dim sum, some of us have been known to nom on pig tongues (more on tongues and offals later) and like to push ourselves. But casu marzu? Dunno. Worms in my cheese is a different thing.
- Speaking of tongues, Hank Shaw recently posted on his blog on what to do with deer tongue. I for one am calling my dad to save me one when he bags a deer.
- For those of you who think using animal products is wrong, what about that ink under your skin? The Atlantic asks, is it vegan?
- Two articles were posted this week where asian specialties meet western ideologies. Decanter posted an article by Andrew Jefford on using the nuances to describe tea as a parable to the nuances of fine wine. And it looks like Toronto might be the new place to drink sake in Canada according to Japan Times.
- On a more local bend, could organic wines be the next big thing in Nova Scotian wine? (via The Chronicle Herald)
- William Shatner is a lot of things. But who would’ve thought he would be a stickler for safety when it comes to deep frying turkeys?
And last but not least, a little bit of Sesame Street. We all know the show is fond of having sandwhiches and cabbages talk, and that Muppets have problematic relationships with food – just look at the Swedish Chef. But maybe they’ve been looking at it wrong the whole time. What about an “Iron Chef”-esque competition?
This week’s edition of Read Up On It is like a great movie: it can make you happy, sad, it can make you think, or be funny as hell. Hey, why not categorise the links in the same way? Check it out:
- A group of nuns in Virginia, get up, pray, eat, and then make cheese. (Via Richmond Times Dispatch)
- I had my first experience of this dish/dessert/side this thanksgiving. Now I know why americans freak over sweet potato casserole. (Via Saveur)
- Is it, or isn’t it honey? Food Safety News checks it out.
- The New York Times debates whether or not apps are making cookbooks obsolete. All I know is that I am not selling my cookbooks.
- Remember when Anthony Bourdain wrote that book where he told foodies around the world to never eat fish on a Monday? So when are we supposed to go out? (Via The Guardian)
- Saving the best for last, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi tried to teach Conan how to make cereal milk. Conan taught her a thing or two in the process. (Via Eater)
There is something about home baked goodies that brings out the kid in all of us. We seem to love gooey centres in cookies and rich batters baked into sweet cakes. Steven Kendall, the owner/operator of The Biscuit Cutter is devoted to that sweet tooth we all seem to possess. He has been selling his wares at the Historic Halifax Farmer’s Market for a while now, and recently started at the Alderney Farmers Market in Dartmouth. Passable had a quick chat with Kendall when he wasn’t covered in flour and batter.
What is The Biscuit Cutter? Where does the name come from?
The name The Biscuit Cutter came from the side of a box of actual biscuit cutters. I cut all my scones by hand with a knife, so I figured I am a biscuit cutter. As a business, The Biscuit Cutter is a collection of baked goods produced on a very small scale out of my home.
Image courtesy The Biscuit Cutter
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It seems like this week, everyone was talking about two things. First, the protection (and praise) of maple syrup. Second, there seemed to be an unabashed love of meat in food writing this week. We here at Passable would like to present you with some of our favorite bits.
- The Atlantic discusses the history of maple syrup in the U.S., and how darker (and cheaper) is often better.
- The Globe & Mail weighs in on protections as to what can and can (and should) not be called maple syrup.
- The New York Times discusses the revival of buying from butchers, and all that entails. Oxtail puns not included.
- Stephanie Pierson, author of “The Brisket Book”, waxes poetic about her favorite subject.
- Think you’re a real carnivore? Well, have you plucked a bird? Hank Shaw gives you tips.
And for something a little different:
- I always love how the bottles of mustard oil I buy from south asian grocers always say, “For External Use Only”. Well, some of us don’t think so.