Thursday, April 29, 2010

What a Rashid!

I don't spend a lot of time promoting the work of other manufacturers. Since the firm I work with manufactures its own line of cabinetry, that could be seen as, well, a bit of a conflict. However, every now and then I run across something that is so unusual, and to be frank, out of our league, that I feel okay in sharing it here.

Italian manufacturer Scavolini Kitchens has teamed up with a number of designers to help create several very unique lines of doors for it's series of cabinetry. One of the best I have seen in a very long time is the Karikon design by designer Karim Rashid in Scavolini's Crystal line. Known for his whimsical work with Umbro and chef Morimoto to name but a few, Rashid's contribution to the world of kitchen design is a perfect foil to the clinical crispness that dominates the world of design today.

The doors are made of aluminum and tempered glass and are available is a myriad of solid colours. But the highlight for me is Rashid's Karikon series, with the pattern screened on each. The design not only looks amazing, but is also durable, easy to maintain and features high-end hardware and accessories. This collection is available in all the standard modules you'd expect from a modular line, and also features coordinating furniture pieces and even appliances!

Thanks again to Trendir for bringing this line to my attention.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bistro in Burnaby Heights

I've written about The Heights before. It's the stretch of Hastings between Beta and Boundary, and is home to all sorts of shops and services. But the best thing about The Heights is simply that it's close to home. It's (sort of) part of my neighbourhood.

So when a new restaurant opens up in my neighbourhood, I make an effort to try it out ... support the local businesses. Sometimes, this sounds like a better idea than it turns out to be. Not so with Chez Meme Baguette Bistro.

Chez Meme has been open for a few months now, taking over from the old Heavenly Bites location. Owners Ross (chef) and Isabelle (front of house) Ross have been in the restaurant business before. However, long work hours and a young family were not a good mix. So, a new location and business hours (8am - 3pm, M-F) more suitable to family life, and The Heights is the beneficiary of a terrific new bistro.

The fare is as the name suggests; French, and baguette focussed. Most of the menu is baguette sandwiches featuring fillings like braised short ribs or ham and brie. There are several breakfast items (waiting for another visit!) and plates du jour (duck confit, salad nicoise), and a small but well chosen wine list. The food is simply prepared and very flavourful. Isabelle's presence up front is welcoming too, her lovely French accent whisking you away to that little spot in the 11th your frequented on your last trip to Paris.

I have but two complaints about Chez Meme. The first has to do with their hours. I'm being completely selfish, but I hope their children grow up soon so I can enjoy an after-work Pastis. The second, comes as a result of the first. The place is pretty crowded at lunch. Get there early, or phone ahead on a sunny afternoon and get your lunch to-go.

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro
4016 Hastings Street (b/w Gilmore & MacDonald)
(604) 299-1141

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Capital Eats

I'm really surprised I've never written about the food in Victoria. My wife's family lives there and we've got friends there, so it's not like I never go. I have written about cooking on Vancouver Island, where Victoria is situated, but never about Victoria and its vibrant food scene.

Victoria is the provincial capital of BC, it's a university town and it's situated within an hour's drive of some serious farming and food producers. (Remember Cow Bay?) What this all means is that there's an audience for eating out, staff for the restaurants and pleanty of suppliers. Keep in mind that Victoria is also a tourist town, so there are LOTS of tourist traps. But with a little research they're easy to avoid.

A typical visit for us almost always involves a visit to Choux Choux, the French charcuterie and frommagerie on Fort Street. They import a lot of their products, but much of what they sell is house made. Terrines, pate's and charcuterie (coppa this time) are all standouts. A selection of cheese, some pate and a baguette from Fol Epi and you're just a visit to one of the nearby wine shops away from a picnic ...

The southern part ... surprise suprise ... was barbeque. PIG serves smoked meat on bread. Every now and then they serve something called BBQ Spaghetti, and there are also minor distractions like coleslaw and a Kosher dill on the menu. But make no mistake, this tiny hole in the wall (said with all the respect in the world) is all about smoked meat and bread ... GREAT smoked meat on bread. Pricing is incredibly reasonable with 2 sandwiches (one pulled pork, one brisket on our case) setting you back a mere $10. The meat is tender, perfectly sauced and thick with smokey goodness. As a bonus they had the Rolling Stones Some Girls playing on a turntable ... perfect background music while waiting for BBQ.

The eastern part ... well it was more the item on the menu that was eastern than the restaurant. And "restaurant" is also a bit of a stretch. Red Fish - Blue Fish is more a food stand than a restaurant. They serve up terrific fish and chips, fish tacones and oyster po' boys (if that sounds familar, it's because they're ex-Go Fish! folk from Vancouver) out of a shipping container (is nothing original?) on the pier at the foot of Broughton in downtown Victoria. But we weren't there for the fish (which is excellent) this time. It was for the Curry Chips - Hand cut Kennebec potato chips slathered in red curry sauce. It's an idea so ridiculously simple and incredibly deliscious, I'm surprised it's not repeated elsewhere. The only thing I would do the improve on this dish? Paneer. Add paneer and call it Bombay Poutine. Feel free to use it Red Fish ... or Go Fish!

Choux Choux Charcuterie
830 Fort St
Victoria, BC
(250) 382-7572

749 View Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 381-4677

Red Fish - Blue Fish
1006 Wharf Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 298-6877

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bathroom Vanities Come Out Of The Woods

File this one under "cool under the right conditions."

Stone Forest of New Mexico has some of the most interesting plumbing fixtures I've seen anywhere. While they specialize in stone sinks and bath tubs, my favorite part of their collect is this series of bathroom vanities made from bamboo. There are 4 designs in the wood series, each of the surface mount variety.

Retail information is found here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Everything Old Is Old Again (Still?)

The design industry, in particular the kitchen design industry, spends a lot of time focusing on the new, or the latest trends. We spend a lot of time and effort ensuring our latest project doesn't look dated. Granted, there's something to be said about making sure the Harvest Gold refrigerators or New Orleans Blue bathroom fixtures never again see the light of day.

But what if you really like that sort of thing? What if you own a well kept mid-century home and just want a kitchen that looks appropriate to the home, just newer? Enter Pam Kueber and her brilliant web site Retro Renovation.

If you're looking for a source of inspiration for your retro-reno project, Retro Renovations is the place. It's extremely well written and a great resource for all aspects of renovations for projects trying to capture a look all the way back to the 1940's. Retro Renovations also promotes the belief that any project should employ qualified trades people. Translation: don't re-wire the kitchen yourself unless you're qualified.

Pam's site also bring to mind another aspect of the retro look I appreciate: It unintentionally promotes an environmentally friendly approach to design. Rather that throwing out everything, ask yourself what can be kept? Can the fridge be re-fit with a new compressor and re-painted? Can the light fixtures be cleaned up and re-installed? Sometimes it's just not possible, but rather than tossing everything out, consider what CAN be done.

BBQ - Southside Style

Regular readers (and I'd like to thank both of you!) will be aware that I'm quite passionate about two things: BBQ (Smoking) and Football (Soccer). This past weekend these two passions combined, and I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into ...

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC started their 2010 campaign at Swangard Stadium last weekend, and the Southsiders held their inaugural tailgate festivities before the game. The Southsiders are the supporters group for the 'Caps. Their loud, obnoxious, rude, crude ... everything you look for in a supporters group. Watching the game with them from the south end of the Swangard pitch is a combination of mosh pit and gospel choir.

The Whitecaps are making the jump up to the MLS next year, and subsequently, so are the Southsiders. This is quite the big deal. The Southside will be moving from a handful of loyal supporters, to thousands of fans ranging from old timers who "were there in '79" to those who want to get in on the latest scene. It's a big change, and the Southsiders are already raising money in preparation.

This is where the BBQ fits in. When I heard the opening tailgate was to be a fundraiser, I saw a chance to help out a great bunch of people while at the same time breaking in the smokers for a new season. After all, the Luau is only a month away and any chance to practice smoking is as good an excuse as any!

Butts were procured, rubbed and smoked, and some 45 Southsiders were introduced to the joys of pulled pork! It didn't hurt that the weather was fantastic, and that it's been 6 months since the last game. Even coach Teitur Thordarson, assistant coach Colin Miller, and goalie coach Mike Salmon came for a visit. Saddly their strict diet prevented them from enjoying the pulled pork (WTF???), but their support was greatly appreciated by the fans.

So who says you can't have it all? And the Whitecaps won by the way, defeating NSC Minnesota 2-0.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Beer Tasting - Tullibardine 1488 Whiskey Ale

I Could Eat has been on a bit of a break. The Olympic Games (which I DID eat at and will be sharing later) and work has prevented me from posting. Today however, I am awaiting Easter dinner, and since I'm at the father-in-law's, there precious little to do except appear busy ...

We're actually staying in downtown Victoria, not far from a pretty good private liquor store at the Strathcona hotel. There's a nice selection of wine, beers, and a huge collection of whiskey's. I'm not an expert in any of these areas, but I've yet to come away without something I've never seen before.

Last night's find was a Whiskey Ale from Tullibardine, who is better known as a distiller of single malt. At $6.50 a 25cl bottle it was inexpensive enough to take a leap of faith on, but pricey enough to fall into the "it HAS to be good at that price" category.

Here are my (sketchy) notes: Clear, amber coloured. Not unlike the whiskey it's been made with. Sweet on the first sip. Sweetness fades to ... meh ... followed my a bit of smoke. Much like really watered down whiskey.

I'm may try this one again when I have some whiskey to go with it. But at the premium price it just doesn't deliver as a beer to keep in the fridge.
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