By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
Every month, Toronto’s Cookbook Store manager Alison Fryer shares their bestsellers list with us. The February top-sellers, says Fryer, may have been partially determined by both Valentine’s Day and Family Day, with Nigella Lawson’s ode to Italy coming out near the top and Fifty Shades of Chicken making an appearance in the no. 10 spot. Plus, she says, “French, vegetarian, quick and one-pot [cookbooks] all resonate this month as we hunkered down in the kitchen during a wild month of winter weather.” And the fascination for food journal writing continues not only with the “much-hyped latest issue of Lucky Peach coming in at no. 1, but also with the third issue of Toronto-based ACQTaste, which quietly hit the list this month.” Fryer also recommends the Spanish So Good magazine for those that love pastries, desserts and incredible food photography. Although it’s not a magazine in the traditional sense, ” it is the go-to publication for pastry chefs.”
1. Lucky Peach issue #6, edited by David Chang and Peter Meehan
2. Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson (read our interview and watch our video with Lawson here)
3. Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
4. For the Love of Soup, by Jeanelle Mitchell
5. ACQTaste, edited by Chuch Ortiz
6. So Good Magazine issue #9
7. Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, by Jamie Oliver
8. One Pot French, by JP Challet
9. Dirt Candy by Cohen, by Dunlavey & Hendrix
10. Fifty Shades of Chicken, by FL Fowler
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
The Japanese dish’s alchemy of humble ingredients is only beginning its culinary ascent
In December, the first issue of Lucky Peach, a quarterly food journal produced by Momofuku mogul and chef-of-the-moment David Chang, sold on eBay for $162.50 to $152.50 more than its newsstand price in June 2011. Crazy? Not to anyone up on food trends: the issue is devoted to ramen, the Japanese broth-noodle combo once best known as a mainstay for starving students. But that was before forces—cultural, economic, primal—transformed it into the new cosmic chicken soup for the soul, metaphorically and culinarily speaking.
We’re currently in the grip of ramen mania, as illustrated by thousands of Instagrams of wheat noodles in glistening hot broth topped with sliced pork, mushrooms, egg, corn, seaweed, green onion, pickled bamboo shoots—you name it. The dish’s Vancouver toehold has increased and migrated east, with shops opening up in Toronto and beyond, seemingly with the frequency of Starbucks. Chatter on Chowhound message boards has turned to critiques of tare, the seasoned sauce that defines ramen type: miso, fermented bean paste; shoyu, soy-sauce based; shio, salty seafood and seaweed essence; and tonkotsu, creamy pork-bone broth. Studying ramen-making in Japan has become a chef’s bragging right, the way training at former molecular cuisine mecca El Bulli used to be.
Ivan Orkin, a New York chef turned ramen celebrity in Japan, sees the trend only beginning in North America. The self-described “Japanophile” moved to Tokyo in 2003 amid a ramen renaissance. His two Ivan Ramen shops, which offer a “Mexican” and a “BLT” ramen, were big hits; he also gained fame selling high-end instant ramen. Orkin is about to open his first U.S. outpost in Manhattan’s Lower East Side this spring. He’s publishing a book in the fall.
By Jessica Allen - Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM - 0 Comments
I can’t remember how I first became interested in food writing. But I think it might’ve had something to do with reading Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat. I bought it after seeing her TV show, Nigella Bites, in 2000, thinking it was a cookbook. And it is, but the tome ended up on my night table for weeks because amongst the recipes are beautifully written anecdotes about all that stuff that happens in between mealtimes: you know, life.
Nigella led me to Elizabeth David and M.F.K. Fisher. And over the next several years I plowed through the pantheon of usual suspects, both old and new, including Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, Craig Claiborne, Bill Buford, Anthony Bourdain, Nigel Slater, Gabrielle Hamilton and Calvin Trillin. I may have bought a food writing anthology or two, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone. And then I decided that I’d read everything on the matter. Call it the cockiness of youth. Or just laziness.
I saw the error of my ways last November. I was going through my mom’s copy of Edna Staebler’s Food that Really Schmecks, a collection of Mennonite recipes from Waterloo County, looking for the banana bread recipe of my youth. And there, amongst the shoo-fly pie, Marje Moyer’s noodle casserole and pigs knuckles and sauerkraut, was more of the prose that I’ve come to associate with my favourite food writers; writing that’s never fussy, just honest, warm, sometimes humourous, and usually oozing with nostalgia. (Coincidently, Staebler frequently wrote for Maclean’s in the 1950s.)
By Jessica Allen - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
You don’t need me to tell you that southern cooking is dominating the minds and filling the stomachs of serious gastronomes everywhere; the variations of grits and fried chicken populating trendy restaurant menus alone could have tipped you off. But there have been plenty of other harbingers, literary in nature, including an October 2011 New Yorker profile of Sean Brock, the Charleston chef extraordinaire who goes to great lengths to preserve the south’s indigenous produce and livestock; the February issue of Bon Appetit, which featured 41 “soulful recipes from American’s new food capital,” plus a fried chicken leg in all it’s battered glory on the cover; and a great piece in the Globe and Mail that focuses on another star chef of the southern cooking movement, Ottawa-raised Hugh Acheson. It’s actually pretty exciting that a North American regional cuisine is front and centre, stealing some thunder from the Italians. (Personally, I hope that Maritime cooking, from both Canada and the U.S., is next!)
But I’ve also noticed another contender for southern food supremacy: Antarctica. In the third issue of Lucky Peach, the magazine launched by chef and restaurateur David Cheng in collaboration with McSweeney’s last year, there’s a charming interview with the dinner production line cook for the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. (In fact, the entire issue is a keeper.) And in the current issue of CityBites magazine, there’s mention of a limited edition book about to be published called, The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning. It’s the story of a Russian-Canadian clean up project told by the two women in charge of the well-being of the volunteers, who culled their journals, recipes, menu plans and photographs for the book.
Of course, the south needn’t actually worry about Antarctica stealing their status. The continent has a population of zero permanent residents; most food can’t actually grow there (although, according to the website Cool Antarctica, “some stations grow fresh vegetables on a hydroponic system where the plants grow in slowly circulating water with nutrients dissolved in it,”); ice makes it hard to harvest whales, seals, fish and birds for dinner, and The Antarctic Treaty forbids the import of soil because of the risk of introducing non-native insects, fungi or bacteria. So the chance of the South Pole coming up with a regional cuisine that could compete with southern cooking is, well, nil.
Still, because there are 4,000 plus people from 30 different nations who man the permanent stations and field camps, it’s safe to assume that there have been some fairly interesting dinner parties held on the continent. And perhaps one or two concluded with a siphoning of scotch—preferably from the century-old cases left behind in the Antarctic ice by Ernest Shackleton.