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Restaurant Reservation for a Very Particular Mother

I'd like to think I'm really good at finding pleasing restaurants. But I'm stuck, guys. I need help. Where can I take my mother out this Saturday in Toronto?

Here's the thing. She's very health conscious and particular - almost alarmingly so. And although she likes the "idea" of trying new things, when the puck drops, she always asks the waiters and waitresses to take off all the unknown sauces, etc.

Where would I find a restaurant that would have these qualities?

Atmosphere: Elegant, or at least not overly loud or "hipster/trendy". Traditional, I guess.

Food: This sounds terrible, but... A place that might care about the image of their food more than the food itself. A place where you can still order simple salads and meat, but it seems a bit more impressive on the menu.

I think I'm looking for a food experience that is more about a place to sit and drink wine in a nice environment, and have some simple, yet elegant-seeming food available.

I'd really appreciate some help on this one. I'm stumped. Thanks!

Aug 08, 2012
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

For a bit of short term closure, I'll say that I baked out some meringue shells of various strengths of blood, and I tested them using a vanilla custard and a berry whipped cream. Both were pleasant, but they walked a fine line between being absent with blood flavour, or too strong with a bit of "something". I think that I found a point where there was a really fun flavour that makes you think, so to speak.

I've decided not to pursue selling these at a food festival just yet, but the experiment was very interesting, nonetheless...

Oct 17, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

October 2011 Update!

I'm exploring this concept again. If anyone has any advice, I'd like to hear it.

Game plan:

~3:2 Blood:Egg Whites, stabilized with cream of tartar
~Going to add a hint of molasses again, a bit of vanilla extract, sugar, and a smidge of corn starch

I plan on baking these into meringue shells, maybe in little aluminum tins (~2 inch diameter)

Once these bake out to bone dry, they will get filled with a custard or a whipped cream (thoughts? what would you prefer?)
The fat-based filling has to complement a deep flavour that might be provided by the meringue shell, but not completely overpower it. I was thinking a fruit, like cherry. Maybe cranberry, actually, since we're sort of in the season.

I'd love some thoughts on this. I really believe that there is something real to this, but it does need some accompanying ingredients to round the flavour out. The blood cannot just be a gimmick ingredient, as I'd like to sample this at an amateur food festival of adventurous people, and it'd be selling them short to tout a gimmicky product.

Thanks everyone - I'll keep this updated! Advice/suggestions welcome...

Oct 13, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Any romantic restaurants located in waterloo or kitchener?

RYP has hit the nail on the head here. Verses would be my #1 for romantic atmosphere. Phone to make reservations, and ask for a spot on the balcony. You won't be let down!

Oct 02, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Salting water - A poll - why or why not?

I salt the water quite liberally - until the water tastes "like the sea". I do it for flavour (and I usually add less salt to the sauce, so my noodles help bring the saltiness out), and for the starches. I've read (and been told) that salt concentrations in boiling water decrease starch gelatinization on the surface of the noodles, which makes the noodles not stick together as much. Scientifically, I believe it, but in practice, I'm not sure it makes a huge difference if you're one to mix your noodles and sauce right away, and serve from that. Perhaps if you are the kind of person that does spaghetti with a dollop of sauce on top, then you might consider salting the water more...

Aug 18, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

University of Waterloo student looking for good eats

I respectfully disagree that KW is a food wasteland - I lived there for 5 years and found it actually had quite a vibrant food community with a lot of high quality, inspired restaurants around.

Cheap eats:

Ben Thanh - Northfield & King st - A small chain restaurant, slightly expensive pho (6.95/7.95/8.95 S/L/XL) but always consistent in their quality. Huge Viet/Thai menu for the non-pho people
Homestyle Diner - Philip & Albert - Homey diner that I've only been to for breakfast, but they are much better than the other picks. They do up good pan-fried hashbrowns that aren't your standard deep fried bland morning fare.
Twice the Deal Pizza - Okay, this pizza is NOTHING special, but they have very good prices for an XL, pepperoni-only pizza.
Vincenzo's - Upscale grocer that sells sandwiches and the like around lunch time. They are good, and I know of people who make the trip out there (King & John, ish) around lunch.

For restaurants where you may spend 30-75 per person:
Uptown 21 - Uptown Waterloo - My #1 pick for quality, atmosphere, restaurant ideals, and food. Priced really well too (3-course menu for 35 or 40 I think). I've taken my family here before.

Verses - Pricey (Cocktails/Apps/Entrees/Wine for two = 200-250 or so), but the service is flawless and if you request a seat in the balcony, it's extremely intimate and you will feel like a King. Save up, and go here at least once during your stay in town - you can't miss it.

Well, this isn't actually a restaurant, but you probably know that you'll save the most money just cooking for yourself. The Kitchener Market, while perhaps a bit further than you'd like, is an excellent place to go Saturday mornings to get produce/meat/etc, and also some pre-made baked goods if you'd like. There's some very cheap asian supermarkets nearby, too (New City Supermarket and B&T Supermarket)

There's plenty more, but there is definitely a community here focused on local, high quality food. Unfortunately, the closer you get the UW or Laurier campus, the more the business angle will take over, as it becomes a no brainer to cut corners in the name of profit (as would make sense when you have tens of thousands of students that may not all be particularly discerning).

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Vincenzo's
740 Belmont Ave W, Kitchener, ON N2M1P2, CA

Aug 18, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

And it Was Absolutely Delicious.

The dough itself tasted extremely pungent, but after baking the loaf for 4 hours at a low temperature (in a Pullman pan), the sharpness of all that onion powder went away, and left a strong onion taste that was mellowed out. I'd never do it again, but not one of the 50 slices of that bread went to waste!

Aug 17, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

And it Was Absolutely Delicious.

I baked a rye loaf that was supposed to have 15% bread flour and 1 T onion powder, but I accidentally baked it with 1.5 cups (15%) onion powder and 1 T bread flour!

The loaf took longer to proof, but still baked out and tasted quite onion-y, but with a fried egg on top it was great!

Aug 15, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Rally for Hounds who will eat ANYthing.

This might not be popular with many people (at all), but my contribution to this post - dumpster dived food. With the proper knowledge and common sense, regarding what to take / not take / eat cooked / broiled / raw / etc, I've eaten just about every single food group in some way or another that had first graced the inside of dumpster. (These supermarkets are surprisingly sanitary in their disposal methods!)

Jul 28, 2011
Chipp in General Topics

Night It Up and Waterfront Night Market 2011

I just tried some stinky tofu tonight from "Wei's Smelly Tofu", which apparently is one of the more popular vendors. As a first time consumer of stinky tofu, I must say I was fairly underwhelmed. The odour was present, but not pungent by any means, and the taste of the tofu was slightly fermented, but easily overpowered by the sweet-based sauce that covered some parts of the pieces.

Now, were my preconceived notions of stinky tofu skewed because of its reputation? I was really expecting a very strong, pungent and fermented flavour, with a crisp texture (Wei's tofu was crisp, I will say that). I was just expecting more strength overall, I guess.

Anyone with experience in stinky tofu - how pungent is this stuff really? Is the stuff sold at the night market a bit more tame? If so, are there places in the GTA that sell better or stronger stuff?

Jul 21, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Need suggestions for a 4 cheese course (wedding)

Fifth Town - My favourite cheese in the last few years has been a cheese they produce called "Quinte Crest". It's a semi-hard cow's milk cheese that tastes delightfully nutty and a bit sharp. My favourite cheese are extra-old, extra-sharp cheddars, but this cheese has enough of that sharp and hard texture, while having a very deep flavour, so it won't be so strong that it offends anyone, but if given the time on your palate, you'll love it!

Jul 17, 2011
Chipp in Cheese

Suggestions for veg/seafood-friendly lunch and dinner places near Peterborough (or a little east)?

Lakefield isn't *that* far north of Peterborough - Riverhouse is definitely the best bet for dinner. Maybe check out the map and give it a second thought, but if it is too far, then I guess you should plan for next time!

For lunch options, I was at Cosmic Charlies about a year ago and the food was nice and fresh - I'd recommend it.
There's a place called "Maggie's Eatery", which is open for lunch and offers some really good vegetarian options. It's less of a restaurant, but with a bit of seating if I remember correctly. I'd recommend it for the local ownership, and the quality of what they turn out.

That's all I've got - good luck finding places to eat in Peterborough!

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Cosmic Charlie's Cafe
170 Charlotte St, Peterborough, ON K9J2T8, CA

Jul 17, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

BHCO

Early May would be awesome! I'm wondering when they will be confident enough in their dates to start accepting reservations... I feel like the first few weeks (months?) are going to fill up quickly!

Apr 13, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

BHCO

I was just thinking about BHCO, actually - I can't find any info on their progress! Hopefully somebody can chime in - I hope they don't get bogged down with reservations too fast...

Apr 12, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Remington's of Niagara

Well, don't pass on Applebee's solely on my review. It is what it is - 2 eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, coffee. You really only get that one option - everything else costs extra. Perhaps I'm just a breakfast snob - so when all of your parts of breakfast come out mediocre and unexciting (think brown tasteless pasties for hashbrowns, boring spongy toast, microwaved bacon, etc), it's hard to get excited. I absolutely HATE food waste, and I still was able to justify leaving half of my meal for the garbage can (I feel it'd be just as wasteful to try and scarf it down).

Anyways, I know that this kind of food is still enjoyable to many people, and I don't claim to think that it shouldn't be - but it definitely was not my cup of tea!

Apr 06, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Remington's of Niagara

I was there last summer, as it was included in a 1-night Niagara package too. You get an appetizer, entree, and coffee/tea. They give you a drink menu and their full menu, since you can order anything else at additional cost. Dessert is extra (I didn't get it, so I can't comment).

The items included were a prime rib (I believe), chicken, and a pasta dish. The soups were a beef barley, and something else that I don't remember. Pretty standard food - my dishes were not bad, but not overly remarkable. What was interesting, however, was that the wait staff pass around a microphone between themselves throughout the night and they sing along to the music playing in the background!

Anyways, don't get your hopes up expecting an elaborate meal where the food is passionately prepared - you will be disappointed! However, take it for what it is, and you'll have a good time (or at least I did)!

On the plus side, it was miles better than the free breakfast at Applebee's the next day. Now THAT was disappointing, even with my expectations at rock bottom...

Apr 05, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Stovetop popcorn with lower heat, no agitation?

I did use olive oil - medium high heat and constant agitation. I didn't really have problems with it sticking to the pan, but then again, I couldn't tell you specifically how much oil or kernels I used. Next time I'm going to try this on low heat, however, and see how it stacks up!

Apr 04, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Stovetop popcorn with lower heat, no agitation?

I've popped without oil (paper bag in microwave or a forced air popper), and also with some oil on the stovetop. Do you notice that the kernels popped without oil are sort of dryer? I find that my stovetop kernels don't feel greasy, but the oil sort of soaks throughout the kernels evenly, and each bite is a bit more "moist" than the air-popper variety.

Do you find air-popped kernels dry? Do you add anything afterwards?

Apr 04, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

No pictures, unfortunately, but here's a few conclusions regarding the whole thing.

Baking: Due to the extra moisture in the blood, this took MUCH longer to bake. I also don't think I added enough sugar to stabilize it. As a result, it deflated overnight. The small "forgotten cookie" that I baked alongside it was nice and crispy, however.

Taste: The taste was different, but still quite enjoyable. Initially the sweetness comes through, but as it dissolves in your mouth, you are left with a bit of a heaviness from the minerals in the blood. I made a quick custard mixed with cranberry chutney, and the combination of the custard and (deflated) pavlova was excellent.

Overall, I think that there is some promise in balancing the unique deep flavour of blood with sugars, and I think that some smaller sized pavlova meringues would definitely be worthwhile again. I think it was shown that blood can indeed be beaten, or, at least, it doesn't negatively impact egg white peaks too much (since the smaller cookie I made formed a shell and a crisp just fine). Now, to sample these semi-failed meringues on others, to verify that my taste buds aren't just convincing me I didn't waste hours in the kitchen on a complete failure!...

Mar 31, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

(For the blutnudeln, which was my first foray into blood cuisine, check out the recipe I followed here: http://honest-food.net/2011/02/28/the...

)

Update on the blood beating:

So, I tried to beat about a 1/3rd cup of thawed blood in my trusty KA stand mixer. First low speed, then medium, then a bit faster. I don't think there was enough volume in blood for the whip attachment to really do anything. Since I had used up all my other blood by congealing it for congee, I decided to add two large egg whites to it.

I beat the egg white / blood mixture as I would for a meringue. I slowly added the following (rough estimate on amounts):

- 1 tsp malt vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/3rd cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp molasses

I thought the molasses would pair well with the "mineraly-ness" of the blood flavour.

Anyways, I beat that guy into stiff peaks, and the result was a rose-coloured meringue that spread beautifully into a circular pavlova. It's in the oven now (overnight).

If anyone is interested, I'll post a picture and some updates when I get to sample the taste of this thing. I'm very interested.

One question remains - does this give any insight into whether or not blood can be beaten? I'd like to think so, since 2 egg whites combined with 1/3rd cup of blood still managed to form stiff peaks, like a meringue. The proteins in the blood must have helped a bit in the meringue formation, since I really don't think that adding 1/3rd cup of water (aka a liquid without useful proteins) would allow for a meringue formation like this. I'm not entirely sure either way, though...

Mar 30, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

Well, I used the blood fresh the day it was let, then I froze the remainder. I hope that the freeze-thaw isn't going to impact any potential whipping/beating possibilities, but I didn't want to keep blood unfrozen for any longer than a couple days.

Mar 26, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Beating blood - as you would egg whites?

I know, I know. This sounds pretty left field, and borderline ridiculous. Thing is, I got my hands on some fresh pigs blood to make Blutnudeln (pasta rolled with blood in the dough), and with the leftover blood, I just sort of got thinking. Egg whites are mainly water-soluble proteins, right? And blood is also mostly protein by weight, with no real fat to interfere in the foaming process.

I'm going to give it a shot within the next few days, purely as an experimental idea. What about a swirled mixture of a sweet meringue (from egg whites), and whipped, seasoned blood that has been swirled in gently and baked, creating some sort of a pavlolva-inspired dish that is both sweet and salty, with visual separation of red and white?

Forgive me if this just sounds ridiculous, but I couldn't keep my mind away from the idea, until I actually give it a shot in the next few days. First things first, however - will the protein-based liquid (blood) behave at all similarly to the protein-based egg white?

Mar 26, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Repurposing subpar non-fat frozen yogurt

That's so far the only choice I know of. It's hard for me to just throw things away, so that's why I was trying to find some sort of way to use their sweetness for another purpose. But, you may be right... I'll keep them in the freezer for another couple days until my imagination fails me and they get tossed!

Mar 07, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Repurposing subpar non-fat frozen yogurt

I was gifted two 1/2 pint containers of non-fat frozen yogurt (hazlenut and butter toffee pecan) a few weeks ago. The thing is, they don't taste all that good, and the mouthfeel of these products is no fun at all. Is there something I could do, with any sort of recipe or technique, to put these products to use, instead of just getting rid of them? Perhaps I could reduce them in a saucepan and make some sort of caramelized spread, or just turn it into a sweeter topping/sauce of sorts?

Thanks for any creative ideas!

Mar 07, 2011
Chipp in Home Cooking

Big changes in Hoof Land

Thanks - clearly I was skimming too fast when reading this news!!!

Feb 01, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Big changes in Hoof Land

I'm excited for this to happen, for sure...

Any word on when BHCO will open? The article doesn't seem to give an indication, vague or otherwise...

Feb 01, 2011
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Waterloo on Sunday night

Just wondering - where did you end up going? How was it?

Nov 29, 2010
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Waterloo on Sunday night

Bauer Kitchen or Verses would be good bets. If you want a more intimate atmosphere and don't mind paying a bit more, Verses is awesome. The Bauer Kitchener actually just won the Uptown 21's "Iron Chef" competition last week, which doesn't really mean anything, but the two chefs from the restaurant did impress and seemed like they knew what they were doing in the kitchen!

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The Bauer Kitchen
187 King St., Waterloo, ON N2J 1R0, CA

Nov 25, 2010
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pullman Loaf Pan - Where to find?

Excellent! Thanks a lot. I'll have to pick one up next time I'm through the GTA, which is still sooner than getting one shipped from somewhere.

Thanks again.

Nov 25, 2010
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pullman Loaf Pan - Where to find?

After calling dozens of places, I've come to the conclusion that either I don't know where to call, or these just can't be found without ordering online.

Anyone care to help me out? I'm looking to buy a pullman loaf pan (like this: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/...). Any stores in the GTA (or the KW region, preferentially, but the GTA works well too!) that might carry a pan like this? Restaurant supply stores or something? I don't mind calling around - I just don't know who else to call.

Thanks for the ideas!

Nov 25, 2010
Chipp in Ontario (inc. Toronto)