crowbar's Profile

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Best Ground Espresso for Purchase in a Grocery Store

I actually prefer robusta coffee, so I especially like Lavazza's Creme e Gusto coffee, which is 70% robusta and 30% arabica. It's an espresso roast, so dark, with good body but enough acidity that it's far from flat-tasting. To me, it's got a deep earthiness that I adore so much that it alone is sometimes enough to get me out of bed in the morning.
It's in the blue and red vacuum pack.

So sad: Vachon cakes are not what they used to be. They changed the recipe!

Oh, my! Aren't you worldly.

Canadian treats for delivery to the UK

How about some Cherry Blossoms... which I absolutely adore. Even cooler: the Wikipedia entry says that the cherry is coated with an enzyme that breaks down its solid surroundings to produce, over the course of a week or two, the soft, liquidy cordial. I never knew that!

The Least Chowish ISO Ever: Reser's Red Hot Beef Burrito

You are so real, I love it :)

Christmas Dinner Highlights and Lowlifes

I think the point that needs to be discussed here is how Puffin is feeling: upset and annoyed. We don't actually need to debate MF's behaviour; she behaved how she behaved. The point isn't really whether or not MF's behaviour was acceptable/understandable/explainable, whatever. We weren't there, we can read multiple interpretations into Puffin's description, and we each of us readers have our own experiences to guage things by. The point is that Puffin is upset or annoyed or feeling slighted. I understand that feeling. If I had been somewhere, especially at a valuable social event such as Christmas, and if someone behaved in such-and-such a way, I'd be upset, too.
It's not nice to be upset as a result of events at a valued social event. But, things that upset us happen at social events. I think one of the ways we deal with it is by telling others about what happened.
I hear ya, Puffin.

Dec 30, 2014
crowbar in Not About Food

Woman's Bakery

I know exactly the donuts you mean! I had a weakness for them back then, and still do, now. Surprisingly, the chocolate-iced donuts from IGA are pretty close. Whodathunk? They come 6 to a pack in those clear cello boxes, but you have to be careful to get them on the day they're made. Check the date.

Brand-New Recipe Pages

I find this move towards huge pix and text ineffective for laptop/desktop users. It's as if my 5-year-old has thrust a picture-book right under my nose, with a 'Look, Mom!' at full toddler pitch. Pull it back a few feet, will ya?
Besides which, the giant size doesn't allow for much info to be on the screen format at any one time. Which means I can't see the ingredients and instructions until I scroll down.
I don't know why web designers, having formatted pages/sites for mobile devices, then simply 'adapt' that format for non-mobile devices. Why not 2 formats, one for each of its appropriate devices?
On sites that format their info primarily for mobile device users, I find myself less and less interested in spending time. Chow is becoming one of those sites. It's doubtful that I'll look at your recipes any more because I can't be bothered scrolling through sites that are clearly meant for other users.

Niagara Falls - I know, I know

I love Niagara Falls so glad to hear you had some silly fun! I adore the glitz and frivol of the Falls but every destination has its challenges… and in the Falls that challenge seems to be finding decent food. I have no problem with fudge stands, hot dogs, and other fair food… I love strolling down a crowed street or midway with a pogo and a bag of rocky road fudge. Much as I might think I’d like to, though, I can’t do it for 4 days running (the duration of our last Falls trip). And, since I’m also no fan of chain restaurants, I’m swallowed up in a food conundrum as soon as I’ve eaten my last hot dog (which is often also my first, but sometimes my second). So a-foraging we go…
The options in the falls, though, are really few. I agree with you about the Flying Saucer: they could do a lot more with it, but it did give us an option for dinner other than Boston Pizza, so kudos for that. Thanks, too, for the comments about Antica Pizzeria. Like you, I’m usually reluctant to eat Italian out for the same reasons, but next time I’m in the Falls, I’ll try Antica.
Absolutely agree that NOTL is twee. Really twee.

Niagara Falls - I know, I know

You may have already come and gone, but you might be interested in the Flying Saucer restaurant, on Lundy's Lane, which ticks your 'something different' box. The building is shaped like... a flying saucer and the interior decor is space-ship-ish (round booths, lots of red and silver - not sure how that makes it 'space-ship-ish' but I'm sure you get the idea). Food is standard Canadian-ish: burgers, salads, and blue-plate dinners. I was expecting it to be pretty awful, but was pleasantly surprised. My spinach salad was fresh with lots of big fat chunks of home-cooked bacon. Teens at the table loved their foot-long hot dogs. The place gets really busy around dinner time, and service can get a big hectic. Otherwise, a kinda fun place to hit. Here's their link:


Ottawa - solo dining, coffee/cafe, first time visiting...

There are a few little gems over here :)
If you're a frites fan, for example, you're in luck. Patate Dore makes the best frites I think I've ever had. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place on Eddy St ('downtown' old Hull), run by a French Canadian woman. She and her frites are spectacular.
Order frites straight up (served in a brown paper bag - she loads up half the bag then asks you if you want to salt & vinegar them before filling up the bag) or poutine. If you're really hungry, add a hot dog, Quebec style: piled with coleslaw, onions, and mustard. Oh, man....
I've done little experiments with her frites: the last few strands in the bottom of the bag still have a crisp to them. And the really toasty ones are a bit sweet, having caramelized in the oil... :)
Also, there's supposed to be an excellent old-school pizzeria on Montcalm, aptly named Naples Pizzaria, that I'm going to try this weekend.
The people behind Edgar used to have a higher end dinner spot, but it's since closed.
Many Metros have stunning selections of local beers that I don't seem to see elsewhere. Not sure why.

Ottawa - solo dining, coffee/cafe, first time visiting...

A taxi is always, IMO, a great idea. I've had good experiences with Royal taxi, so recommend calling them. Public transportation should be easy for your partner as the hotel is on a main road well-serviced by buses. Buses running on the same side of the road as the hotel will take your partner into downtown Hull ('downtown' is a stretch here) and into Ottawa.
As for restaurants, I'd recommend Edgar, a teeny-tiny lunch/coffee place with a great local reputation. Here's their link: www.chezedgar.ca. It's also just down the road from your partner's hotel: just jump on the #800 bus (direction Labrosse, same side of road as hotel) and get off 5 minutes later at rue Begin, and walk to Edgar at 60 Begin.
I'd also recommend trying Quebec beers, available at depanneurs, supermarkets, and the SAQ. Bigger locations will have more variety. A nice take-home treat.

Culinary adventures in St. Lucia

I've never really thought of St Lucia as a 'foodie' destination - a lot of people living there struggle to feed themselves and their families - although there's great food to be had. The touristy restaurants in and around Rodney Bay are what they are and a crazy food lover might be disappointed. Of the touristy restaurants, the one I've heard the best reviews about is Rainforest Hideaway in Marigot Bay (you can google it) although I've not been.

As for the rest, there's a Saturday morning food market in downtown Castries that's a lot of fun - and I think it recently nabbed the number 3 spot in Nat Geo's best markets in the world survey - but get there early as it begins to wind down shortly after noon hour (although remains open until mid-afternoon). At the edge of the market is a strip of vendors selling home-made lunch meals. Food is fantastic, home style, be prepared to get seriously jostled while you're eating.

There are coconut trucks downtown and at the top of the road from Rodney Bay, vendors selling fresh coconuts to drink and eat. You can also ask them to bottle the water for you to take back to your hotel to mix with rum! Definitely buy samples of whatever fruit you see people selling on the street - it's fresh and in season.

If you see ladies (and for some reason, it's always ladies) by the side of the street selling little goodies, ask if they have coconut fudge. It's fantastic and home-made. Also, if you see a lady frying something by the side of the street, it's probably floats (sometimes called bakes, but really the same thing), basically fried dough. But it's really good fried dough! Fried in coconut oil and sometimes she might have things to go in it. If she's got one with saltfish, get one. If it's Friday night, she might be selling fried fish. Ask for the price and get some. It's usually great. Chances are she'll only know the Creole name for the fish, not the english name.

At the supermarket, if you want treats to take home, buy the local coconut oil. It's fragrant and wonderful to cook with. Also get a cocoa stick or ten, which are round tubes of pressed cocoa and used to make cocoa tea. Alcohol-wise, get a bottle of Nutz and Rum, a local creamy rum drink that's great and dead cheap. Or try JavaLatte, similar and very smooth and tasty. I'm not a rum person, but there's an amazing selection in the shop around the corner from the JQ supermarket in Rodney Bay.

I've never heard of any cooking classes that were available for tourists.

Hope this helps.

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

Since when did making a dinner reservation become making a formal business contract? When a person makes a reservation, they’re not negotiating a lease. They’re not taking on the business role of a lessee with its (possibly) negotiated responsibilities of move-in time, move-out time, number of tenants, etc. It seems that at least 5 of the respondents (ylsf, sloweater, GoodGravy, downtownfoodie, julesrules) to the OP suggest just that.

IMO, a reservation is a kindness or thoughtfulness that restaurant-goers offer freely to the restaurant. The fact that many restaurants request reservations is somewhat akin to requesting a present, in other words, a reversal of the original transaction. To the extent that many restaurants require reservations formalizes that reversal. Which is unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because it points to a model of society that’s becoming increasingly enacted: the business model. Sure, a restaurant is a business... but it’s their business, not mine as a restaurant-goer. Part of running a business is dealing with what happens on a day-to-day basis. Naturally, savvy business operators will try to anticipate what those happenings may be and plan accordingly. But to enforce customer participation in this action is putting a business responsibility on the customer that is not the customers’.

The more regularly restaurant-goers are persuaded by restaurant owners/managers into participating in this business model in which the customer bears responsibility, and the more regularly a customer cedes to that model, the more business-like, the more lease-like, the restaurant experience will become. Hence, the more business modelled our non-business experiences (such as eating at restaurants) become and the more naturalized that model becomes.

Which may not be a problem for some (the 5 above-mentioned, perhaps?) but it is a problem for me... and I think it might have been the problem the OP was describing.

So, bink, I wouldn’t go back, either. And I want to thank you for choosing not to go back, too.

Nov 05, 2011
crowbar in Not About Food

An Open Letter to the Eaters of Istanbul

You can always change the language of the machine to English... doesn't change the keyboard but at least the commas and the 'i' end up being in the right place.

Dec 24, 2009
crowbar in Europe


Funny you mention NO SALT on live snails. Here in the Caribbean, there is a plague - of sorts - of Giant African snails. No natural predators to scarf them down... and as you've noted they gobble up greenery. So, the cheap and easy way to get rid of them is to dump a handful of salt over them as they snail their way thru the garden. It turns them into globs of goo.... Personally, I think it's gruesome... but, then, I don't have a garden to guard!

Jan 23, 2009
crowbar in Home Cooking

Have recs for everywhere but Katakolon and Ephesus

I'm not surprised you haven't found much in the way of restaurants for Ephesus. The area is touristy and most places cater to the backpack crowd (cheap and cheerful) and the busloads of Christian tourists visiting the Virgin Mary Church, etc, etc.
Ephesus is the ancient city, just on the outskirts of Selcuk, the modern town. There are no restaurants, save some fast food joints as you buy your entrance tickets, in Ephesus. Best to avoid them. However, if you jaunt out to the Church of the 7 Sleepers, a left turn about halfway down the road into Ephesus, and maybe a kilometre or 2 along, there is a home-style outdoor restaurant/cafe just before you get to the entrance of the 7 Sleepers. Sit outside on weatherbeaten furniture slathered with pillows and carpets enjoying home-made ayran (frothy yougurt drink) out of clay jugs. Gozleme (filled pancakes) are home-made, fresh, and tasty.
In Selcuk, try Amazon, a modern-looking place in the old section of town, back in behind the Selcuk museum. Nicely done Turkish fare in up-scale-ish (for Selcuk) environs.
However, not to be missed, is Sirince, a little Greek village up the hill from Ephesus. You will have to take a bus or drive up there, a stunning 15 minute drive that always seems too short. Mind the dizzying drops as you climb up. Once there: Just where the bus drops you off, is an old winery/church/school (can't remember) converted to a restaurant. Not the best food in Sirince, imo, but a gorgeous view and surroundings. The best place is a further climb up, by foot, to the top of the village. It's just before you get to the old Greek church. Another mostly outdoor place that couples a fantastic view with fantastic food: stuffed zucchini flowers, dolma, olives bathed in oil, home-made bread and that's just the mezze.
Trundle around the village and pick up some of the new season olives, figs might still be in season, persimmons too, and some of the old variety apples from the old ladies selling by the streetside. There will be loads of home-made olive oil, too, sold in re-used plastic coke bottles. It's a touristy place, too, but one that Turks frequent so quality is higher, prices lower.

Sep 22, 2008
crowbar in Europe

Izmir Restaurant Ideas

It turns out there are several Reci's in the Izmir area (I googled it to double-check), but only the one in Alsancak. It is definitely not walking distance from the Crowne Plaza but is an easy walk from the Hilton.
I don't think the one you saw on your way out of town was the one I'd talked about. It's not really on the route out of town (I mean, possible, but not likely).
Glad you found some places you liked!

Aug 05, 2008
crowbar in Europe

Does banana belong in fruit salad?

The star of your fruit salad is going to be the mangoes. In that case, I'd avoid adding the banana because the textures of the 2 - bananas and mangoes - are too similar.
IMO, fruits of varying texture usually work best together, as do fruits from similar geographic areas. Then I usually go either monochromatic for colour or the other way, and colour contrast.
So, with mangoes, fresh slivered coconut, lime or passion fruit (the fruit, not bottled or boxed juice) for spark. Then I'd break my geographic rule and add the blueberries :) No honey or sweeteners, the mango sounds sweet enough.

Jul 09, 2008
crowbar in Home Cooking

Izmir Restaurant Ideas

Try Reci's (pronounced Reggie's) in the neighbourhood called Alsancak, walking distance from the Hilton. Order a lavas pizza (very thin crust): the best one is the eggplant (patlican) lavas.It has no tomatoes. A casual place, no alcohol, but fun and friendly with outdoor seating. Good for lunch.
Also, try along the water in Alsancak. Lots of fish places with varying prices, service,
and ambience. Look especially for grilled cupra, a local fish. A nice walk along the seaside, too, in checking out the restaurants.
If you like sweets, when you leave Reci's walk to your right and take the first right. Walk down to the end of the block, and on your right hand side, at the corner, will be a cafe, with plate glass windows and a large outdoor seating area. They have fantastic desserts, home-made ice cream, chocolates, cakes, etc. An upscale place for Izmir, sometimes seeming a bit pretentious... but nice desserts and good people watching seating.
Or go into Kemeralti (the street bazaar, within walking distance from the Hilton), let yourself get lost, try some stuffed mussels (you won't get sick), and enjoy finding your way back out again.

Jun 11, 2008
crowbar in Europe

baking without an oven

I've baked a cake on a stove-top when I was without an oven. I used a regular cake recipe (can't remember which one), a pan, and a lid.
I cooked it on low heat and the main thing was to get rid of moisture as it accumulated on the lid. So I stood and watched the cake - I had a glass lid - and mopped up the moisture with a towel throughout the cooking process. I also flipped the cake near the end of the cooking to make sure the top was cooked - kinda like cooking a pancake.
It didn't turn out as high as it might have in the oven, partly because I didn't have a very deep pan. And it was also of a more dense texture and a little rubbery. Do 2 of them so you can make a layer cake. By the time you get icing in between the layers and on top, it turns out pretty good.

Apr 15, 2008
crowbar in Home Cooking

Suspicious smelling spatula

I recently replaced my defunct spatula (the bowl-scraping kind, not the pancake-flipping kind). I got the new one at the grocery store... it's not a special purchase, right? Got the wooden handled, rubber topped (not plastic) version that's always worked for me in the past.
The problem is that this new one gives off a strong chemical smell which gets worse when I use it with warm ingredients. If I taste the food that's on the rubber portion, it has that same chemical taste.
I know I'll have to throw the thing out... but in all my spatula-purchasing years, I've never come across this problem.
Any ideas on what's going on?

Mar 17, 2008
crowbar in Cookware

favourite meatless lentil recipes

Lentil 'meatballs' made with red lentils and fine bulgur (mercimek kofte, in Turkish)Fantastic!

Haven't tried this particular recipe (mine's an in-your-head, no measurements thing) but it looks right. Be particular about the lentil-bulgur ratio so you don't end up with soup! It has to be the right texture to form.


Feb 09, 2008
crowbar in Home Cooking

Cocoa Sticks

I have access to cocoa sticks, compressed chocolate with its nibs (no sugar, no flavourings, no milk products added). Traditionally, it's used to make a delicious hot chocolate drink.
I'm wondering what else I can use it for. It's texture is grainy so I'm not sure how it would respond to baking. Any ideas, baking or otherwise?

Feb 09, 2008
crowbar in Home Cooking

Silicon verses metal for baking? [Moved from General Topics board]

Not exactly a non-baking idea... but it's great and kid-friendly. I have a 6-pack fluted silicon muffin thingy. I make pumpkin pie filling, butter the silicon, pour in the filling, and bake.
The sugar in the filling (I use brown) caramelizes around the edges a bit (if you leave it in long enough). Take out of the oven and let it cool some, then ease out of the forms with light fingers. I've never had a problem with sticking.
It looks fantastic, tastes great, and you don't have to bother with pastry.
I've fancied it up with various types of sauces, too, poured over after it's baked and on a plate (although that's not the kid-friendly bit :)
Probably also be good for those molded, chilled bread and summer fruit puddings. No baking so even better for kids.

Feb 07, 2008
crowbar in Cookware

ever had "green" oranges from Latin America?

I'm living in the Caribbean and like you've noted in Columbia, Sam, there is a huge variety of oranges here, too. Big and fat, small, thin-skinned, thick-skinned, smooth, bumpy, sweet, very sweet, sour... about the only thing they seem to have in common is that they're all green!
They're all just locally called, in English, oranges or tangerines, except for the sour ones, which are called sour oranges.

Feb 06, 2008
crowbar in General Topics

What's your favorite water?

Thanks, crt, for keeping us posted. I've just now read Rockwell's article... although I haven't checked his sources, his arguments are logical and sound.
Seems we should be washing our hands before dipping them into a spring! a point I'll definitely keep in mind (and one of those kindergarten lessons that crops up all thru adult life :)

Feb 06, 2008
crowbar in General Topics

What's your favorite water?

Crt, I don't know where the water I drank in Quebec originated from, probably nowhere near where I was so happily drinking it... but it seems it probably has a similar origin to the water you drank in Glacier National Park: the Quebec water I drank came directly out of a solid rock mountain-side.
BTW, the spring is near a little village and most of the locals get water from it, some getting ALL their day-to-day drinking water there. No one, as far as I understand, has suffered illness from giardia. In fact, I never heard it mentioned. Although it was 6 years ago that I last drank that water, I am in touch with people who still live there... am sure I would have heard about any problems with the spring.
I would, then, from my limited anecdotal evidence and your (impressive sounding :) sources, tend to agree with you.

Feb 05, 2008
crowbar in General Topics

What's your favorite water?

Someone once told me the same thing, too: a local city water-works guy. I was phoning them to find out about chlorine levels and wether or not it would be worth the trouble to buy (and use) a Brita. He told me 'nope, pass on the B and leave your water out for 24 hrs' . Chlorine is added in its gaseous form to water (unlike the powdered stuff that's added to swimming pools) and dissipates as a gas, too, according to him (which is why it's better to leave it open on the counter rather than in an enclosed space like the fridge).

Feb 05, 2008
crowbar in General Topics

What's your favorite water?

I adore water!!! Almost any kind including tap, but here are my faves:
When I lived in Europe and bottled water was cheap, I loved any sort of fizzy (natural or not) mineral water. I love that oily-smooth texture. I probably drank at least 2 of those little 200ml bottles per day, sometimes 5 or 6 bottles. I like still mineral water, too... the texture, again.
Not as crazy about bottled spring water - doesn't have that same texture.
Best water I've had in my life isn't for sale... you gotta go get it yourself... From a frigid, fast-flowing spring coming out of the mountains of Quebec... maybe because it was super-oxygenated (from all its movement) or something?

Feb 02, 2008
crowbar in General Topics

Buying Rice

Doesn't 'new rice' also require less cooking water? Maybe, if you've been buying new rice and using your standard water-to-rice ratios that you would have used back home, you are actually using too much water. That might be another reason why your finished rice has little texture.
When I lived in Asia, I was told to increase the water-to-rice ratio as the rice got older. Actually, I should write: decrease the ratio as the rice gets younger. In North American (and I'm assuming that's where you developed your ratio habits), the standard ratios are based on 'old rice'. Unfortunately, I can't remember the new rice ratios anymore... it's been a while. Maybe someone else can?

Jan 30, 2008
crowbar in General Topics