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Lay's Do us a Flavour 2015 Edition

Ok, I tasted 'em... well, 2 of the flavours. And, not surprisingly, they suck. We got the Butter Chicken, cos we like Indian, and the Scalloped Potato, cos the idea of potato chips flavoured like scalloped potatoes was too absurd to resist (maybe they were betting on that?)
Anyway, generally, we're fans of plain chips and the basic plain (not kettle, or extra thick... just plain). And salt and vinegar. And I have a bit of a soft-spot for dill pickle.
So, the Butter Chicken tastes vaguely of barbeque. I'd thought it might have had a curry-ish flavour, but... no. Watered down barbeque is what you get. The Scalloped Potato has a cheese-ish kinda flavour going on, but it's a sour cheese thing, and rather awful.

I think the next flavour they should do is buttered toast. That flavour could represent the west, cos of all the herds of cows there. Then, after that, how about potato flavoured potato chips? That flavour wouldn't be PEI, because that would be where potatoes come from, but would be Vancouver, the Canadian home of meta-awareness ;)

Culinary adventures in St. Lucia

I'm bumping this thread because I can now address the OP's request for cooking classes.
Spices Cooking Studio in St Lucia offers cooking classes for tourists (and locals) who want to learn more about Lucian and Caribbean cooking. I haven't attended myself but a friend of mine has - she loved it - and I respect her opinion.
The website is well done, too - always a plus - with descriptions of the available courses and lots of photos.

What to do with Incredibly Smelly Black Salt?

Thanks, everyone, for your comments and suggestions!

MikeG, altho soaking in sulphur water is 'de rigeur' in St Lucia's sulphur springs, I think I'm with you: in the confines of a home tub, it's overpowering.

Scoyart, that's a good idea, to re-purpose as a scrub. I'm the adventurous sort, so I'll probably try it even tho there's a good chance the smell will send me running.

If worse comes to worst, DuchessNukem, I might follow your suggestion of throwing the stuff on ice. God knows, we have enough of it here in QC, and it seems my 250 grams is probably 200 grams more than anyone needs in a lifetime :)

Not surprising that the stuff kills slugs. Even regular salt does that so the added dose of sulphur hurries it up?

For everyone else who posted, thank you! I will probably save one chunk, to use on Indian snacks... mango... raita. Another chunk for a skin scrub, and the rest on ice, next winter :)

Apr 30, 2015
crowbar in Home Cooking

What to do with Incredibly Smelly Black Salt?

I bought about 250 grams of black salt recently. I bought it as a flavour enhancer, specifically to use on tofu so it will have an 'eggier' taste - it's a vegan thing.

Anyway, opened up the packet today. The crystals - lava chunks, more properly - are about the size of quails' eggs and don't have much of an odour. Until ground, that is... and then, wham! my kitchen turned into a giant, oozing sulphur spring.

I needed only a few grains for my tofu 'egg' salad, so sprinkled a few on... but a couple of minutes in, and I couldn't handle the smell. I saved the tofu - rinsed it off and re-seasoned with yeast - but have no idea what to do with the rest of the black salt.

Any ideas? It's not valuable - I think I paid about 3 dollars for the packet - but I don't like wasting things. Any non-food uses for it? In the bath, as a spa thing? Pickles?

Apr 29, 2015
crowbar in Home Cooking

Any experience with Lodge Cast Iron pans?

I have three pieces of Lodge cast iron: a griddle pan, a small frying pan, and a loaf pan. Although the pans looked seasoned when I bought them, I still seasoned them myself... for no real reason, just because I figured I couldn't go wrong.

Although I've only had them for about a year, they're great. Actually, I started with the 2 pans and liked them so much that I bought the loaf pan a few weeks later.

Pancakes are a dream, the pans heat evenly and haven't pocked even tho I cook all kinds of things in them, and they're easy to re-season if I screw up. I love 'em and am planning to buy more... the muffin tins, in particular.

Apr 29, 2015
crowbar in Cookware

Rude treatment at Khao San Road

Not concerned about profitablility? You gotta be kidding...

The popularity of Swiss Chalet seems to be waning in the GTA. Thoughts?

It is the same thing. Years ago, I worked at Swiss Chalet. The sauce came as a powder in these huge knee-high sacks which burly teen-age boys opened, poured into giant steel cauldrons, and then soaked down with multiple plastic garbage pails of water, filled up with hoses! Forget now how many garbage pails of water per sack of powder. Ugh.
The sauce is repulsive.
Its charm, if there is one, is the excuse to eat ridiculous amounts of salt.

Best Poutine in Ottawa

This might be very nice french fries with gravy and curds, but it's not poutine... It actually doesn't look like very good gravy, either; there seems to be a congealed skin on the surface of the gravy that isn't very appetizing.
Anyway, best poutine in Ottawa is in Hull, which is actually walking distance from downtown Ottawa.
Try Patate Dore or Pataterie Helloise. Either'll knock your socks off.
If you're so inclined to order anything to go with your poutine (pronounced pooh-tin, with the emphasis on TIN), it has to be a hot-dog. Ok, and a pepsi.

Have Farmer's Market apple pies gone downhill??

I really like Saint Donat's pies, although I haven't tried their apple pie.
I have had their pecan pie, creamy fudge pie, and creamy fudge swirl pie. They kinda fall into the food crack category for me... so I'm glad that they also make their pies in a smaller version, too. I can hardly remember one of their pies lasting overnight in our house.

ethically sourced dairy in Toronto

The use of 'indeed' doesn't make you sound any smarter.

ethically sourced dairy in Toronto

I get your conundrum. I've been vegetarian on and off for ages. Cutting out the meat is the easy part. 'What to do about the dairy?' is the hard part.

Eventually, I just gave up... even with organic dairy, there's really no way of knowing if an individual cow's life is something I want to support or not.

Now I'm more or less vegan. Rather like smoking cigarettes, you think you'll miss it (meat, dairy) but you don't.

ethically sourced dairy in Toronto

According to the 'Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle', published by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (see below for the link; take note: it's a long document), an Ontario dairy cow's life goes something like this: artificially inseminated on a yearly basis so that the cow is lactating for 10 months out of 12. Upon giving birth, the guidelines state that the newly born calf must receive "4 litres of good quality colostrum within 12 hours of birth" (p. 17). There's no requirement that that colostrum is from the calf's actual mother. After that first 4 litres, although the Codes' best practices recommend otherwise, the calf may be fed low quality milk, milk-replacer, and may be force-fed. The calf is also separated from the mother almost immediately. The mother, meanwhile, continues to lactate and produce milk for human consumption until, 10-ish months down the line, she's again artifically inseminated, and the cycle continues.

While a cow's natural life-span is about 20 to 25 years, dairy cows are typically slaughtered at 4 to 5 years as their milk production slows down, making them less profitable.

Here's another ethical practice: disbudding and dehorning ('disbudding' is the removal of horn buds prior to 3 weeks old). While the Code recognizes that either practice is 'invasive' (p. 32), they recommend disbudding as the less invasive option. I don't know how they determined that (maybe because horn beds are less visible than horns?). The only requirement is that pain control and bleeding control must be used. Kind of horrifically, best practices states that only trained people should disbud and dehorn. Which means that lots of people aren't. I'm not sure how ethical it is to have an untrained person administer "pain control" while pulling out a body part.

I could go on, but I think think we're getting the picture.

Interestingly, while the Code states actual requirments of care and clearly sets out best practices (which tend to incorporate higher qualities of care, although the outcome of these best practices is stated in terms of increased milk production, i.e. not in terms of animal welfare), I haven't been able to find out how to determine if the milk/cheese that I might buy meets these best practices. That's probably not too surprising since they're suggestions, not requirements, so would be difficult to measure.

DockPotato, while I'm sure the links you provided connect to cheesemakers who produce a good product, no mention is made on PineRiver's or Millbank's websites about the sourcing of their milk. In other words, the milk they use is from cows who have met only the Code's requirements.

While I like to believe that there are individual dairy farmers who do meet and even exceed the Code's best practices, like I've said, there's no way for us consumers to get that info, as far as I can tell, aside from going to the farm ourselves.

Of course, all of the above assumes that there is no ethical issue in forcing a cow to pregnacy then taking away her calf, and forcing a cow to lactate for most of her life.

These are all very interesting issues, and current, too. The idea that animals might be sentient beings, legally, has been the goal of many professionals working in areas of animal welfare, particularly the Nonhuman Rights Project. Just 2 months ago, a court in Argentina was the first court to rule that an orangutan was a 'non-human person' and therefore had rights (see link below). I think we're going to continue to see developments in this area.

Jayt90: hope this helps a bit.

ethically sourced dairy in Toronto

Have you ever lactated years on end?

No question that Daiya and Unisoya are the ethical choice.

ethically sourced dairy in Toronto

Daiya cheeze and Unisoya's feta style tofu cheese. Totally ethical!

I'm not in Toronto but both are available at Metro in Quebec. Should also be available at Loblaws and Whole Foods, plus any health food store.

Here's the link for Unisoy:

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: 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