Events

Happy Birthday Julia Child

Credit: WGBH Media Library & Archives

Credit: WGBH Media Library & Archives

Today would have been Julia Child’s 103rd birthday. In my eyes, she is the greatest chef that ever lived. She taught me that cooking could be easy and fun and that is was quite acceptable to make mistakes. I watched The French Chef—her TV show on PBS—as a wee lad. It was my first foray into the world of cooking. She masterfully eschewed the extravagant trappings of French cuisine and made it accessible to the novice.  Once a week I was let into her kitchen and instructed with great spirit how to properly trust a chicken, or how to select the right lobster or on the proper techniques to make a perfect omelette. She ushered in a style of cooking that was unfussy. Things burned, got stuck or were dropped on the floor. No matter. It made her real and this resonated with me. It may sound glib but she has had a profound effect on my life. She taught me to let go of my fears, to experiment and to most of all, have fun. Julia noted that “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” I have steadfastly applied this motto to my cooking and it has served me well. Happy Birthday Julia Child. Thank you for everything that you have given me.

Did you know . . .

  • Julia had several nicknames as a child, including “Juke,” “Juju” and “Jukies.”
  • Julia’s first job after college (she graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts) was in the advertising department of the New York home furnishings company W&J Sloane. Julia transferred to the store’s Los Angeles branch but was soon fired for “gross insubordination.”
  • When she found out that she was too tall to join the military (she was 6’2″), Julia volunteered her services to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), where she helped develop shark repellent used on underwater explosives during WWII.
  • Julia’s husband Paul, whom she met while working with the OSS, took her to La Couronne restaurant that started her love affair with French food when they moved to Paris for his work.
  • “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was rejected by publishers several times before being published in 1961 by Alfred Knopf, 10 years after Julia and her French collaborators Simca Beck and Louisette Bertholle began working on the book.
  • When Julia and Paul moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Paris, they designed their home kitchen around Julia’s requirements as a cook, installing taller-than-average counter-tops to suit her stature.
  • Julia’s first television appearance was on a show called “I’ve Been Reading,” on a public television station in Boston. Twenty-seven viewers wrote to the station wanting to see more, and the station obliged. By the end of 1965, her show The French Chef was carried by 96 PBS stations.
  • In 1993, Julia became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame.
  • Julia has a rose named after her that she chose herself. The color? Warm butter gold.

 Source:  CookingChannelTV.com

 

Event: Ottawa Ribfest

Ottawa Ribfest is back in town. While your there check out Camp 31. Camp 31 BBQ was established by Larry Murphy in Alabama in 1986. They offer Southern style Bar-B-Que and their meat is slow cooked over hickory logs.

There are 17 ‘Ribbers’ to choose from along Sparks Street. Ribfest runs from 11 am-10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 11 am to 7 pm Sunday. Admission is free.

Camp 31 chicken and ribs

Camp 31 chicken and ribs

Camp 31 chicken and ribs

Camp 31 chicken and ribs

The 2014 Rogers Cup in Montreal

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

My vist to the Rogers Cup in Montreal capped a “day of firsts” for me. It was the first time that I got to lay eyes on future hall-of-famer Serena Williams in person. She was in full-focused training mode, practicing for her next match-up. “Intense” would be the word I would choose to best describe my first encounter with one of my most beloved players.

It was the first time that I actually enjoyed concession food at a tennis tournament. The “Turkey Bretzel” managed to almost live up to its otherworldly $11 price tag . A cross between a baguette and a pretzel, this conveniently portable sandwich was stuffed with deli turkey meat, tomato, lettuce, cheese and mayo. Although made for the masses, the Bretzel managed to satisfy my hunger and delight my taste buds. Thumbs up!

As luck would have it, It was my first time to bask in the presence of two of the world’s best women’s doubles players, and my personal favs, Kveta Pechske and Katarina Srebotnik. I sat there staring adoringly for close to an hour watching them practice and punch out laser-like volleys and talk strategy. After they wrapped up, they even took the time to snap a pic with yours truly. I found them to be kind, funny and very cool.

After a day of watching the world’s best tennis players, what better way to reflect on the day’s action than to chow down on a big ol’ Montreal smoked meat. I made my first trip to the MTL landmark, Schwartz’s Deli. Also known as the Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen, the deli was established in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania. According to its website, the unique flavour of their smoked meat is attributable to their mandatory 10 day meat curing time, the high turnover of their meat, and their brick smoke-house which just happens to be covered with over 80 years worth of buildup. Hmm.

Our wait in line was negligible. We were stuffed into a 6-seater table next to a couple and their two children. We couldn’t help but overhear the dad regale his kids about his childhood memories of Schwartz. A parade of fatty smoked meat, sour pickles, fries and frankfurters made their way to their side of the table before being quickly gobbled up.

We had Schwartz’s signature dish, a smoked meat sandwich served on rye bread with yellow mustard. The meat is served by the fat content: lean, medium, medium-fat or fat. The sandwich was indulgent and delicious. Tender and smoky meat piled high on soft rye bread with just enough tangy yellow mustard. Schwartz is now firmly entrenched as a Cool Food Dude favourite and has “repeat visit” written all over it.

With a full belly and an iPhone full of snaps of the tennis elite, the “day of first” was concluded. Thank you Rogers Cup for delivering another first-class enjoyable event full of action-packed matches and happy, fan-friendly tennis players. And thank you Schwartz Deli for serving mouth-watering and crowd pleasing deli staples. I’ll be seeing you very soon!

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Milos Raonic, poutine and mango flowers converge at the Rogers Cup

Disclaimer. I attend the Rogers Cup to bask in the presence of the world’s most elite tennis players. I gawk, observe, touch, run after, pose with and marvel at. It’s an exhilarating and sometimes exhausting endeavour that requires regular fuel ups throughout the day. Although I am thankful for the rationed IÖGO yogurt and Lindor chocolate samples, they are certainly not sufficient enough to sustain me for a day of chasing after Rafa and Nole.

I am usually quite ambivalent of sport arena grub. I’m there for the event. I don’t expect stadium food to be a first-class gastronomical wonder. But in a culinary mecca such as Montreal, I yearned for something a little more palate pleasing. This longing set me up for a big letdown.

For lunch, I ingested a hapless sandwich named “The Baguettini.” It was sad, painful and even insulting to eat. The hard, dry exterior managed to sheer off the skin on the roof of my mouth. The sandwich’s interior contained a tasteless collection of flavourless turkey, soggy lettuce and some kind of spread. This rather unpleasant experience cost a whopping $11.50.

After having scored a pic alongside Milos Roanic and snapped some shots of Nadal and Djokovic, some substenance was required. After my last experience, I was wary to venture into anything too adventurous, so poutine was my next selection. The iconic dish is a Quebec native. Perfection was not expected but I didn’t anticipate the sloppy, deplorable, unappetizing mush that I was subjected to. Disappointing.

Was I just bad at making the right choices?

Seems not. I was saved by a food on a stick in the form of a mango flower. Imagine a whole mango, peeled and carved into a blossom. Wacky novelty? Yes. Delicious and beautiful? For sure. Manly? Not so much. But a relative bargain for under $5.

So what’s the lesson here? The Rogers Cup is Disneyland for adults. A rip-roaring fun place to marvel at the brilliance of professional tennis. Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Roanic and Simon are a wonder to behold. But the food? Well, let me set myself a reminder for next year. Pack a lunch. It will save me from the unsavoury alternatives of the concession stand.

Milos Raonic


Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray
Rafa Nadal
Daniel Nestor
Gilles Simon
Grigor Dimitrov
Rafa Nadal
Stan Wawrinka (with little man on his shoulder)
Vaclav Pospisil

Tennis and Ravioli at the Rogers Cup

The Rogers Cup is tennis nirvana. It’s where I go to be amongst my people. Around these parts, most folks are not tennis aficionados. The conversation never gets beyond Federer or Nadal. I can’t rhapsodize on the virtuosity of Katarina Srebotnik or Kveta Peschke without seeing eyes glaze over. It’s saddening. But at the Rogers Cup, I’m surrounded by tennis fans that are enlightened, passionate and just plain nuts. Walk over to any practice court, point at even the most obscure player and say “who’s that?” and not only will you learn the player’s name, you’ll get a personal and professional bio, an anecdote on the player’s likes and dislikes, which hotel they stay at and sometimes, the fan might even pull out a scrapbook filled with photos of past tournaments. It’s bonkers and sooo incredibly fun.

I couldn’t help but enjoy myself standing a few feet away from some of the best tennis players in the world. Check out a few pics I took.

Caroline Wozniacki
Daniela Hantuchova
Sam Stosur
Dominika Cibulkova
Anna Ivanovic
Parc Jarry Fountain

After hours of stalking players, my buddy and I decided to call it a day and get some supper. But where? The great city of Montreal is a culinary Mecca with no shortages of fine eateries. My friend chatted up one of the tennis fanatics and she recommended Ristorante Pomodoro, a favourite haunt of tennis fans. It was located on St-Laurent Boulevard in nearby Little Italy, about a 10-minute walk from the tennis stadium. It did not disappoint and I highly recommend it. Good service, fantastic food and a seat on the terrasse made for an outstanding end to our day.

On the drive home, I felt a twinge of sorrow and couldn’t help but replay the day in my head. Goodbye crazy tennis fans, fellow stalkers and overzealous Felicano Lopez devotee. Buhbye Rogers Cup Official who writes the names of the players on the white boards while we peer over her shoulder. See ya later nice policeman who helped us find a parking spot. Sayanora Marion Bartoli and your disturbing training methods. Au revoir Anna Ivanovic. I can watch you train all day. Sigh. Fare thee well Aleksandra Wozniak and thanks for the pic. Peace out Lidnt chocolate lady, “merci beaucoup” for the free samples. And so long grumpy stadium usher guy, telling us to sit in our proper seats. I will miss you all (well maybe not the usher dude.) Until we meet again next year.

Ravioli alla Gigi/Ravioli sauce rosée, pancetta and champignons