I Came For The Food - chu on this

By: I Came For The Food  09-12-2011

At the famous Ritz in London for high tea. The picture is blurry from my excitement.

I feel I owe you an explanation for my absence over these last two weeks.

I moved to London, England at the end of September. Since then, I’ve been enmeshed in a flurry of activity. Everything here seems to take longer, especially the basics, like getting internet, a bank account, mobile phone, accommodations. That’s not to say I haven’t been eating out, because rest assured, I still get hungry.

Amidst all the crazy logistics of moving to a new country, wrapping up my Metro Calgary Lunch Rush column and other assignments, I’ve also been hard at work, curating a Calgary food tour for a food app launching December 1st. More details to come, soon!

Just so you know, I am alive, kicking, and eating as much as my former cheapassness in Calgary is affording me in expensive London-town with its overwhelming dining options.

Thanks for your patience and I hope you keep checking back here for more reviews and food-musings.

Happy eating, whereever you are in the world,
- Anh

Your home. Original artwork. Canadian Prime dry-aged steak. These are all “investments,” wherein the satisfaction and value you derive over time make the initial costs worthwhile.

As a practical person, I would add to this list: handmade Japanese knives. I’m not kidding.

The king of knife nerds is happy and sharp.

These are the areas covered:

  • parts of a knife
  • knife basics
  • how to hone a knife
  • how to hold a knife
  • knife motion
  • types of cuts (baton/dice, julienne/brunoise), paysanne, oblique, tourne
  • choosing a knife

The class is taught by Knifewear owner Kevin Kent and Rob Stillborn. Both are chefs with extensive kitchen experience who have had to find shortcuts (ed note: bad pun but it stays) in their techniques. They’re quite entertaining and accessible as well. These are people you want to learn from.

For me, the highlights of the class included:

  • learning to cut a green pepper and dice an onion the fast and “right” way
  • interesting banter about all things cooking-related (like Kent’s method for making fries and roast beef)
  • test “driving” gorgeous knives that I can’t afford to buy (yet)
  • hearing julienne cuts described as “flaccid”

My classmates and I walked away knowing how to impress our friends by fluting a mushroom, making orange supremes and peeling pineapples the proper way. It kills me how many people do the pineapple incorrectly. So much pineapple wastage!

If you walk into this store, you’ll covet these high performance knives. Luckily, if you need to sharpen your kitchen knives, Knifewear is donating 50% of proceeds from knife sharpening to Red Cross’ Japan Relief Fund for the rest of 2011. To date, Knifewear has donated $8,500 to the disaster and hopes to raise $20,000. As a result of this initiative, Knifewear will continue to donate 50% of all sharpening to a different charity each year.

Knifewear is the only shop in Canada to sell these exclusive Japanese knives. You’ll also find accoutrements like cutting boards, sharpening tools, honing rods and selected food-related literature like David Chang’s and local author/illustrator Pierre Lamielle’s , among others.

I highly recommend taking this class if you’re looking to improve your kitchen prep skills and speed.

This is the non-stupid way to dice an onion.

Mushroom mushroom. If you want to impress guests, fluted mushrooms are brilliant.

Last year we planted four strawberry plants but no fruit ever came out of those. This year, the plants’ runners have done their job and strawberries have taken over the garden (talk about the best “weeds” in the world). Here’s today’s bounty.

Garden strawberries are incredibly sweet, organic and simply sublime.

The store-bought variety can’t compare to these sweet babies. No wonder the robins keep pecking at them.

If you have a plot of land or a balcony, strawberries are idiot-proof to grow — I, the person who has killed a cactus, am living testimony. Strawberry plants can get out of control and take over your garden, but that is a first-world problem we’d all like to have, non?

Happy eating

Oysters are wet, smooth and the quintessential aphrodisiac. Luckily for landlocked Calgarians, our love for the fresh mollusc means many an oyster bar to grab that fix.

By Anh Chu (Published in FFWD Weekly‘s 2011 Annual Bar & Restaurant Guide).

Three years after starting out as tiny seeds in the ocean, oysters get to fly on a jet plane. A few hours and short truck ride later, they arrive at a Calgary restaurant. Here, oysters get royally shucked by a chef wearing a chain link glove on one hand and wielding an oyster knife in the other. The shallow shell is popped off, leaving the oyster, flesh exposed, in its own juice on its half shell. A splash of lemon, perhaps a dash of hot sauce, then down a diner’s throat the oyster goes.

Had to recover from a weeklong burger-coma, so without further delay, the WINNER of the BT Burger Battle was none other than:

Boogie’s Burgers!

Hello, says my mouth to the giant, head-sized Boogie's burger.

It was a close call with Boogie’s taking the win by 0.5 points, followed by Fatburger, Burger Inn and Five Guys.

Happy Jugheading!
-Anh Chu

Time: 7:20 am. Roll out the red carpet. This burger is all pomp and circumstance.
Judges: Me (the new columnist), Cheap Eats author and food critic John Gilchrist, Kitchen Scraps author and illustrator
Criteria: 5 points each for Taste, Presentation, Value.
Eats: King Supreme. 8 oz. of 100% lean beef, with 2 slices of bacon, real cheddar cheese, onions, centre-cut tomato, pickles, and a lateral slice of lettuce ($8.99).
Scoring: The results are in! Find out the

7:20 am. Breakfast that takes the term meat-gasm, literally.
Judges: Me (the new columnist), Cheap Eats author and food critic John Gilchrist, Kitchen Scraps author and illustrator
Criteria: 5 points each for Taste, Presentation, Value.
Eats: B.I.G. burger: flamebroiled 1/4 lb. beef patty (no fillers) with 2 slices of bacon, grilled onions, thick slice of beefsteak tomato, pickles, and shredded lettuce ($5.50).
Scoring: Tune in to on Friday May 13th for the burger battle winner. Results will also be posted here thereafter.

Burger Inn's B.I.G. with one patty to save room for impending burger feast.

7:20 am. Breakfast of gluttons. Or the indecisive, who can’t decide between a hot dog or a hamburger.
Judges: Me (the newly minted columnist), Cheap Eats author and critic John Gilchrist, Kitchen Scraps author and illustrator
Criteria: 5 points each for Taste, Presentation, Value.
Eats: Jebb’s Doggie burger, named after former Breakfast Television host and standup comedian, The burger consists of: one patty (we added a second), cheddar, bacon, 100% all beef weiner, Boogie’s signature red sauce, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pickles on the side. Unlike at , extra bacon and extra cheese costs more here.
Scoring: Tune in to on Friday May 13th for the burger battle winner. Results will also be posted here thereafter.

Back row: Boogies owners Noel, Kipp, Jill Belland. Front row: Pierre Lamielle, Anh Chu, John Gilchrist, Citytv camera supernova and secret judge, Nick Blakeney.

in Airdrie.
Time: 7:20 am. Breakfast of champions. Or sumo wrestlers.
Judges: Me, John Gilchrist,
Criteria: 5 points each for Taste, Presentation, Value.
Eats: Double-bacon cheeseburger ($8.49). Mine had all the toppings sans lettuce (iceberg lettuce is filler with no nutritional value, whatsoever). Added green peppers. Argued with Pierre about the merits of green peppers versus lettuce off-camera.
Scoring: Tune in to on Friday for the results-show. Results will also be posted here thereafter.

Burgers for brekkie. L to R:Five Guys' staff, Jill Belland, Pierre Lamielle, Anh Chu, John Gilchrist, secret burger judge Nick Blakeney.

Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I’d be getting my Jughead-on. In the morning. On live TV, to boot. Woohoo!

Jughead is getting the meat-sweats from all those hamburgers.

From May 9th to 13th on , I will be judging burgers alongside author Pierre Lamielle and Cheap Eats author and Calgary Herald’s food reviewer .
The burgers will be judged on taste, presentation and value.

The schedule is as follows:

I hope you’ll tune in to see the early meat-eating.

To prepare for these horrifically early mornings, I’ve put myself on a modified sleep schedule. Today I woke up at 8:00 a.m. I have two more days to change that to 5:30 a.m….wish me luck.

If you love burgers, please comment and let me know why you love them so.

Happy eating!
-Anh Chu

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

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