French Fried Potatoes also know as Pommes Frites in France, Chips in England, and simply Fries at McDonalds, are one of the most universal foods. The French dip the fries in Mayonnaise, the Brits use Vinegar & Salt and in most of North America, it’s Ketchup and some people even put gravy on the morsels or carbohydrate goodness.
In France they accompany Steak and Moules (mussels for Michigan fans), in the UK it’s with deep fried Haddock but in over here in the new world fries go with BURGERS. Other stuff too but especially Burgers.
The French and the Belgians are still fighting over who first created deep fried potatoes and the origins go back to the 1600’s. Some fry historians think that St Teresa of Avila in Spain made the very first ones. Whomever is responsible doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they did. And millions of people enjoy them every day despite the fact that large fries at Ronald McDonalds joint hit your body with 350 calories and 260 grams of Sodium. Yikes.
Canadian Company McCains is the largest producer of frozen French Fries in the world. But McDonalds restaurants is the largest retailer of fries in the world. They own entire potato farms in Idaho to secure their supply. But recently they failed us.
Last weekend, right here in PARKSVILLE, my sister in law ordered a McChicken Combo at the local drive thru. Sorry! No Combos today! We are OUT OF FRIES! can you imagine? McDonalds out of fries! What we have here folks is
FRENCH FRY ARMAGEDDON,
Tragic beyond words. A culinary disgrace. An assault on the middle class. We may need a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of this.
Although the restaurant in the Qualicum Beach Inn had reopened a while ago under new ownership, we had yet to visit. Now known as the Qualicum Beach Cafe, it’s owned and managed by the same folks who run the Water Street Cafe in Vancouver’s Gastown which has been a very successful eatery for many years. Since my digital media son from Toronto was here we decided to try the Qualicum Beach Cafe on Friday night.
From the first greeting from the hostess when we arrived the service was excellent. The atmosphere is great and the food met our high expectations. We shared an order of Calamari, the best I’ve had for ages. Tender with crispy batter and some sliced Jalapeño Peppers included which gave the dish a nice little kick.
The Media Mogul ordered the Steak Fritte. Consider that in another life he cooked steaks at the KEG Restaurant to pay for college, so he knows Steak. This Steak was perfectly cooked medium rare and came with a spicy dipping sauce and perfect fries which also had a touch of heat.
My choice was the Seafood Gnocchi. It included salmon, Shrimp & tiny Scallops. The sauce was simply amazing and the dish was beautifully presented. I would order it again.
Since son Jackson and I had consumed numerous Creme Brûlée’s on a trip to Normandy 15 years ago, that was our choice for dessert. Alas, they were out of their Banana Creme Brûlée so offered a tart that we shared. It was chocolate with perfect pastry. So good.
Of course, the guy from Toronto chose the wine, an expensive French Pinot Noir that was the perfect choice. The food is a bit pricey but not too bad. Gnocchi was $22, the Steak $34.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to the Qualicum Beach Cafe and will return. Great atmosphere, great service, great food. A perfect place for a special occasion. You can check out the menu at https://www.qualicumbeachcafe.com/main-menu. By the way their on line reservation system is the best I’ve ever used.
If you are a foodie or a home chef or just like cooking shows there are a few series available on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO that you might enjoy. We are at our home. If you don’t have access to Prime Video you are out of luck.
My favourite Chef is Jacques Pepin and his series, HEART & SOUL was filmed in 2015. There are 26 episodes to enjoy and they are delightful. If you like French cooking you will love this show. Pepin makes cooking look easy.
The Late Anthony Bourdain produced two series, THE LAYOVER and NO RESERVATIONS. In THE LAYOVER, Bourdain visits various cities for 24-48 hours and highlights the culinary specialties of each city. Among our favourites are his visits to Rome, London, Paris, New Orleans & Montreal, but they are all worth watching. 20 episodes in all. If you have been to some of the cities you will find it all the more interesting and you will wish you had watched the show before you went. Look what you missed!
Bourdain’s other series is NO RESERVATIONS, 32 episodes find Tony in more unusual places like Cambodia, Haiti, Croatia and Mozambique. These are part travelogue, part foodie and all quite fascinating.
Finally, there is a series featuring British Chef Rick Stein and his quest for the perfect curry in India. 6 episodes so far. We thoroughly enjoyed the first one.
Food and travel make for great entertainment.
By the way we would also recommend a couple of books.
*The Apprentice, my Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
Met two old friends from Victoria today for lunch at my favourite, the CROW & GATE PUB in Cedar just south of Nanaimo. I arrived at 1115 and there were already 10 cars in the parking lot. By 1145 the Pub was nearly full. On a Tuesday in October. And it’s out in the country, not really handy. But is us quite delightful.
A trio of beef Dips were the choice at our table. In my opinion they serve the BEST Beef Dip, period. And it is a generous portion of sliced beef. No deep fryer here so the sandwich comes with a scoop of really good potato salad and a small green salad with their delicious house dressing. And Beer. It was National Beer Day after all.
Because of Covid regulations the CROW & GATE PUB now has table service. No lining up at the bar to order.
Service was prompt and friendly as always. As we were leaving one of the staff remembered me by name. Nice touch.
Too bad it’s a 50 minute drive from home otherwise I’d be there at least once a week.
If you have not been to the CROW & GATE PUB and like pub lunches this must be on your ‘Giddy Up’ list.
Occasionally an Old Boys Lunch is a great idea and today was one of those days. There is a group of boaters and former boaters, all former Burrard Yacht Club members who now reside in the PARKSVILLE Qualicum Beach area. Two sailors, 9 power boaters in all. Today 8 of us met for lunch at, where else, The LANTZVILLE PUB.
The pub was surprisingly busy for a rainy Tuesday but organizer Mike had made a reservation. In addition to an array of pints the meals included soups, fish & Chips, Pulled Pork, and a Club sandwich. It was all good as expected because the food in this joint is consistently very good. Pub food, to be sure, but very good pub food.
There was lots of interesting conversation mostly about boats and hot rods. Some of the ex boaters are now into cars.
Thinking of going for a pub lunch? Hard to beat Lantzville Pub. Open 7 days a week. Had Sunday brunch there recently and can recommend their Eggs Benny. They also do a Prime Rib dinner on Friday nights ( check first) I’ve had it and it is excellent.
Good on street parking now with the beautification of downtown Lantzville. Also free parking behind the pub. By the way, this pub has been open since 1925 but had a major remodel a year or so ago.
Their Covid preparation is very good with lots of dividers. You will need Proof of Vaccination and photo ID to get in.
Nashville, Tennessee is one place in the USA we have not visited but youngest son and his wife have and they first told us about the now famous NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN. it seems that back in the 30’s a philanderer named Thornton Prince stepped out on his wife one night and in retaliation the next day she loaded his fried chicken with Cayenne Pepper. It backfired. He loved it and soon it became popular all around Nashville.
Today, in Nashville, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is still serving up the deliciousness. The other famous joint is HATTIE B’S HOT CHICKEN. They have several locations in and around Nashville and they ship their chicken all over the country. Probably not to Canada though. Check out their website.
Since I don’t expect to get to Nashville anytime soon, I was delighted when I learned that right here in Canada A & W Restaurants were introducing their version of the Nashville crusty bird. So the other day I pointed the Acura towards the local A&W for a trial. My conclusion? It’s really good. Very crusty chicken with pickles and a sauce. It is HOT❗️So if you can’t take the heat, stay away from this one. But for me, I’ll be back for more. A Touch of Nashville right here in Parksville.
If you want to make this dish in your own kitchen, check out this recipe.
Well it took me to age 80 but I finally have tried NUTELLA. Not sure why, just curious I guess. For some reason I thought Nutella was from Australia but recently discovered it is Italian and dates back to the end of WWII. After the war there was a shortage of chocolate so Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker from Piedmont in Italy, ingeniously created a sweet paste made from hazelnuts, sugar and just a little of the rare cocoa. Originally, it was marketed as SUPERCREMA . In 1964 Ferrero’s son perfected the spread and named it NUTELLA. It’s popularity soon spread to Germany and then France.
In 1978 the company began manufacturing in Australia where Nutella had become popular. The company now has 20 production plants around the world producing 365,000 tons of Nutella and employs more than 34,000 people. It’s annual sales exceed 8 billion Euros per year. That is a lot of Nutella.
The Chaiman of the company is Giovanni Ferraro, grandson of the founder. He is reportedly the richest person in Italy with a net worth of
over $35 billion US.
So last week I bought a bottle of this now famous chocolate spread and enjoyed it on a toasted English Muffin. It was really good. I’m a convert.
Nutella is made of 7 ingredients. Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Milk. Lecithin and Vanilla. And it tastes like a chocolate spread.
If you have never tried it, I recommend that you do.
Drove up to Coombs today to buy some Take Out Cannelloni from Cuckoo’s Trattoria and since it was close to lunch time I checked out the TAQUERIA. Had not been for a few years. THE TAQUERIA has been improved significantly and now has a large covered patio with big log posts and beams and a see through roof. There were 16 tables, appropriately spaced and table service is standard. A big circular bar and serving area has been added around the base of the enormous Cedar tree. This patio really is a great place to sit back and enjoy a Corona or a Margarita and relax.
Typical Mexican fare is offered including Tacos, Burritos, Tortilla Soup and Nachos. I opted for the 3 Taco plate and chose two beef and one fish. Next time it will be all fish. Really delicious crispy deep fried cod with a red cabbage slaw on top. You can order mild, medium or hot. Unless you are nuts about heat don’t pass medium. The hot sauce made my eyes water and my lips were still tingling an hour later. Be forewarned. They make their own tortillas and they are good although I would prefer them a little crispier.
I was the 3rd in line when they opened but in 15 minutes every table was filled. As I left I noticed that there was a long lineup next door for Cuckoo’s which also has a most delightful patio. If you haven’t been, put it on your ‘must do’ list.
The other day while shopping in my favourite food store I saw Sirloin Tip Roast on sale. $15 for 1.4kg, whatever that is. It occurred to me that we had not had a Roast Beef dinner at home for at least a couple of years. It’s a lot of effort for two people. So I bought one and last night cooked it with the usual roasted potatoes, green peas and carrots AND Yorkshire Pudding. Making the latter can be intimidating as one does not want them to end up as dried out hockey pucks that my mother could produce. So using my late sister’s recipe I said ‘Game On’ . Mixed up the batter, waited until the oil in the muffin pan was smoking hot and poured them in. 25 minutes later out popped near perfect Yorkshire’s. My favourite girl polished of one completely and I managed to stop at two. Of course, they were lathered with homemade gravy that included a slug of Sherry. The beef was actually quite good, not Prime Rib good, but for a cheap cut pretty darn delicious.
Speaking of Yorkshire’s, the most memorable ones ever were at the Rotunda Restaurant in Newman Marcus in San Francisco. The Yanks call them Popovers and at the Rotunda they are served as an appetizer. They are huge. Bigger than a softball. Light, fluffy, and served with whipped blueberry butter on the side. We have gone back there several times just for the popovers. So good! Can’t get to San Francisco? Who would want to these days anyway. Here is their recipe. It can be cut in half.
3 1/2 Cups whole milk
4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
6 Large eggs, at room temperature
For the Butter: (a must)
1 1/2 Cups butter, room temperature
1 Cup of your best quality strawberry preserves
Place milk in bowl and microwave on high for two minutes, or warm to touch. Sift flour, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Crack eggs in another large bowl with an electric mixer and whisk for on medium for about 3 minutes, until foamy. Turn down mixer speed to low and add warm milk. Gradually add flour mixture and beat for about 2 minutes. Let batter rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450. Spray popover pan generously with nonstick spray. (or place 1 T of pan dripping or butter in pan, then heat till piping hot.) Fill popover cups almost to the top with batter and place popover pan on cookie sheet. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until popovers are deep golden brown. Remove from oven and pop out popovers on a cool rack. Serve hot with the Strawberry Or Blueberry Butter.
There are at least 21 different types of Onions available and in our part of the world we have access to a lot of them. Yellow Onions, Spanish Onions, Rked Onions, Green Onions, Sweet Onions are in our stores all the time.
We like Onions, particularly Sweet Onions. We always buy Vidalia Onions from Georgia when they are in season, and Walla Walla Sweets from Washington State. We love Maui Onions too but can’t get them here. Sweet Onions are so good raw. Perfect in a salad, on a burger or in a sandwich. In fact we never buy yellow onions even though they may be better for cooking. Green Onions are always in our fridge for salads and garnish. And for sauces I often use Shallots.
Only today did I learn that Leeks are of the onion Family. No wonder we like them. And Chives too! We grow them on our patio and the deer don’t eat them.
But lately I’ve had this hankering for Pickled Red Onions. I keep seeing them on TV and in magazines being used on burgers, salads, and fish. At Easter we had Smoked Atlantic Salmon Lox as an appetizer and pickled red onion would have been perfect on top but, alas, we didn’t have any. I searched in all the food stores, went on line too but to no avail. It seems that no one manufactures this product.
So it was time to make some. Couldn’t be that difficult. Hello YouTube. Eureka! A whole bunch of How To Videos. I looked at several then picked the easiest. Sam the Cooking Guy.
After picking up the necessities I made a jar. They were delicious. I’ve had them on Roast beef sandwich, on a hot dog and on a small salad. Then I made a few more jars that I gave away to friends and neighbours. I hope they like them as much as I do. Can’t wait to try them on a burger this weekend.
This is how they look after a few days in the fridge.