Lunch and Learn at Ingersoll Library

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: Events, Recommended Reading | Tags: |

Thursday, March 11 was another Lunch and Learn event at the Ingersoll Library, organized and hosted by our very own Gail Kavelman.

Food Education Consultant Kim Quigley shared Mediterranean cooking tips and tricks with the 20-plus attendees. As she prepared several dishes, her assistant Caroline passed around various specialty products for us to view, sniff, and savour. The texture of quinoa, the scent of Greek oregano (wow!), the taste of fresh dates.

We were only too happy to eat the fruits of Kim’s labours: roasted olives; drunken prunes; Greek salad with ancient grain; and roasted sweet potato, tomato, and feta salad. Healthy and delicious.

Hungry yet? 

Mediterranean display

Staff had set up a display of Mediterranean photographs, culinary travel books, and pottery.  Out in the library, one side of the new books displayer is filled with Mediterranean travel books, cookbooks, and other enticing titles.

Here’s a quick list of books I’d recommend, if you’re suffering from wanderlust (and not among the lucky hordes heading off on a March Break vacation), or, like me, love to read from the culinary travel genre (or foodie books in general):

Heat by Bill Buford; Romancing the Vine by Alan Tardi; Stolen Figs by Mark Rotella; No Vulgar Hotel by Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners); Around the World in 80 Dinners by Bill Jamison.


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Culinary travel

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: Recommended Reading | Tags: , , |

At a time of year when most people try to avoid thinking about food, I share with you a favourite culinary travel show, and my most memorable food adventure to date.

Anthony Bourdain was the Executive Chef at New York’s Les Halles restaurant, and hosts the “No Reservations” culinary travel show on the Travel Channel. Unlike more traditional (and noteworthy) travel guides, such as Rick Steves and Richard Bangs, Bourdain seeks out the “nasty bits”, preferring to become familiar with what the locals eat (he loves “street meat”) rather than playing it safe at 5 star destinations.  I didn’t enjoy Bourdain’s crime fiction, but his non-fiction is highly entertaining. Kitchen Confidential (made into a short-lived 2005 TV series starring Bradley Cooper — watch our catalogue for the dvds — I donated my set); The Nasty Bits; and my favourite, the Les Halles Cookbook.  In addition to mouthwatering classic French bistro dishes, Bourdain’s cookbook is  great fun to read — he writes like he talks.  Too many quotable quotes for this blog post.  Check out OCL’s copy of Bourdain’s published works, dvds, and visit his blog for fun. 

I made Bourdain’s veal stock and demi-glace recently, and can only say, wow.

My favourite food adventure (to date)? September 2009, the Perigord region, southwest France. We stayed overnight at “La Borderie”, chef Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch’s 700 year-old truffle farm, for a private cooking class. Daniel had been President Mitterand’s personal chef in the late 1980s, and now runs periodic cooking classes at her farm. We met her at the morning market at Sarlat, where she walked us around the stands — cheeses, dried wild mushrooms, fresh produce, duck products, and of course, foie gras. Later that afternoon, we arrived at her farm where we spent the next 8 hours cooking, eating, and talking.  Her stories, including her arrival in America, her longtime friendship with Julia Child, her time on Mitterand’s staff, and her stint as the cook at an Antarctic science station, made for a thoroughly delightful experience. And the food….

I have been able since our visit to purchase a reprint copy of Jeanne Strang’s Goose Fat & Garlic, country recipes from South-West France. It has helped me recapture some of Daniele’s recipes, such as “carcass soup” and pommes de terre sarladaises.  OCL has a copy now, too.

Fortunately, I can get my duck confit fix at Woodstock’s Six Thirty Nine, where a duck dish is almost certain to be on the menu.

The Perigord is breathtaking, with medieval villages hugging the Dordogne River. The movie “Chocolat” was filmed in Beynac — we took a Gabarre boat trip — without Johnny Depp at the helm, alas.


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