Month: January 2013

Greetings All… I am back!

My Mountain

Hey Folks…

Way back on January 8th, I announced that Sybaritica would be on a three week hiatus following a whole year of daily posts. My vacation, however, was from blogging only and, the day after that last post, I was off on a Court circuit to the tiny community of Sanikiluaq way down at the bottom of Hudson’s Bay. The beauty of that circuit is that you cannot fly there directly from here in Iqaluit but must, instead, go south all the way to Montreal and then catch a ‘milk-run flight’ north to the Belcher Islands. As usual, I arranged to spend two nights rather than just one in Montreal and got to dine in a few different restaurants while I was there.

Shortly, I will post a pictorial account of the Court circuit along with a couple of Montreal restaurant reviews, but, for today, I thought I would share with you a picture of the mountain I was able to see from my Hotel downtown. The picture is taken on the highest zoom setting of my camera and, in normal view the mountain is not much more than a small bump on the horizon. I include it here, though, because (drumroll)… it is named after me!

No, really… I swear to God….

Actually, I should probably point out that the (re)naming of this mountain is just a tiny bit less than completely official and known only to a fairly small group of people (just three, I think)… It happens that two friends of mine, almost twenty-five years ago, were driving to Ottawa from New Brunswick and they took a picnic break on the side of the highway within view of this mountain. They decided (quite generously, I thought) to christen it after yours truly and did so with all due ceremony. Lacking a bottle of wine to smash over the promontory (as they do at ship launchings and the like) they threw grapes at it as the next best thing. Given that they were several kilometers from the base, I am not entirely sure the christening ‘took’, but the thought was there and I am thus, as you can see, now immortalized.

Anyway … after Sanikiluaq, I was home for just over a week and today (my birthday, actually), I am away again for more Court in Pond Inlet. I will be busy seeing clients for the next few days before the Judge arrives, but I will also have a bit of free time to finish editing my pictures and reviews from Montreal. Stay tuned…


Hi Folks … I am still on my blog ‘vacation’, but I spotted this post at Stefan’s Gourmet Blog (which I follow regularly) and thought it worth sharing…. You may want to take a closer look at the blog as it is well worth the visit!

Stefan's Gourmet Blog

No recipe today but just a simple trick. I tried it on a hunch and was surprised how well it worked!

Basil is notoriously difficult to keep because the leaves are not very robust and can’t withstand refrigerator temperatures — they turn black when kept below 12C/55F or so.

But outside of the fridge basil wilts easily, as shown in the picture above. If it is only just a bit limp but not completely dry or black, it can be rescued with a very simple trick!

Just submerge the wilted basil in cold (not too cold) clean water and wait. The water has to be clean, because the basil will take on any bad smells or tastes from the water.

It takes longer than you might think, about 12 hours or so, but then the firmness will return completely to all of the basil that had not wilted beyond the…

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Sybaritica Celebrates: 365 Days … 365 Posts!

Anniversary 1

When I began this blog, one year ago today, I  had no real sense of how it would develop, but I decided, after reading about others who had done the same, that I would challenge myself to writing  post a day for a whole year. Yesterday, I published post number 365 and the challenge is done!!

Thus far, after a full year, I have garnered over 500 followers and received well over 55,000 visits from people in over 160 countries and the question now remains: where to go from here…

I have every intention of continuing this blog but I decided, over the last few months, that cutting back a bit on my rate of posts is in order. I have calculated that I spend, on average, about three hours on each post (taking into consideration the writing, research, photography, editing and indexing) and, at over twenty hours each week, I don’t have a lot of time for much else. It has been loads of fun, and meeting the challenge felt really good, but, after all that effort, I think it is time to take a bit of a break and focus on some other projects.

I have decided that I will take an absolute break and write no posts for the next three weeks or so. I may check in and respond to comments and so forth, but other than that, a much needed hiatus is due. After that, I am thinking that I will likely post no more than one kitchen experiment per week (a Sunday Dinner special, perhaps). I will publish restaurant reviews as when I get to explore new places, and I will also feature interesting dishes and foodstuffs from time to time, but, other than that, I will be posting at a little more leisurely rate than during this past, very busy year…

Sincere thanks to all my followers and I hope to see you all after my return from ‘vacation’….

Pepper Steamed Beef Rib

Pepper Steamed Beef Rib 1

While perusing an online menu for a Chinese restaurant in Montreal, I saw a picture of a steamed dim sum dish they called ‘Veal Chop with Black Pepper’ that looked rather interesting. I don’t recall ever seeing veal chops in this neck of the woods, unfortunately, but I do have several packages of some beef rib that may make a nice substitute… Continue reading “Pepper Steamed Beef Rib”

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback 1

I came across this interesting idea at ‘Cutedogsandhugs’, but, after doing a bit of research, I discovered all sorts of different varieties on the Internet. The name sounds vaguely German but once source I came across claims that the creation was spawned at a restaurant in Stockholm.

The basic idea is to roast potatoes, cut as you see above, after filling the slits with a variety of ingredients. Some versions, as the one at ‘Cutedogsandhugs’, are simple, involving nothing more than a little oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, but others are far more complex and can use such things as cheese, bacon bits, or fresh herbs. Tonight, I needed an accompaniment to some lamb chops and I decided to play around with  the basic theme in a fairly simple sort of way… Continue reading “Hasselback Potatoes”

Dry-fried Beans and Bamboo Shoots

Dry-fried Beans and Bamboo 1

The actual purpose of this recipe is to showcase some Brine-Packed Bamboo Shoots I featured in a recent post. However, the recipe itself is a modification of a very popular Sichuan dish called ‘Dry-Fried Four Season Beans’, the beans being a variety of the common green runner bean that is usually cooked to a nasty tasteless greyness in western kitchens. In this Sichuan specialty, the beans are generally deep-fried first in order to make them deliciously crisp-tender, and are then pan-fried with other ingredients. Typically, the additions will be garlic, ginger and chili, but non-vegetarian versions can include ground pork, dried shrimp, or even both… Continue reading “Dry-fried Beans and Bamboo Shoots”

Basic Chinese Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock 1

Several times, in earlier posts, I have alluded to the Chinese cooking medium, known in English, as a ‘master sauce’ or ‘master stock’, which builds layers of taste and incredible complexity through continual re-use. I have been thinking that this would be a very good project for a series of posts in the new year, but, for now, I want to take a look at a much simpler sort of stock for more immediate use.

There are several different types of stock used in the Chinese kitchen… One, the so called ‘superior stock’, is quite complex (and will be featured in a later post), but it’s simpler cousin, a basic chicken stock, is no less indispensible in Chinese cuisine as it is to any good kitchen in the west. Although the additional ingredients we will be using here are specifically chosen for their ‘Chinese’ flavor, the basic technique is little different than that for any sort of stock and is one which any serious cook will want to have in his or her repertoire… Continue reading “Basic Chinese Chicken Stock”

Review: E18teen

18 York St. Ottawa – 613-244-1188 – Website

Eighteen 1

Date of Visit: December 3, 2012

I must have passed by E18teen countless times without noticing it. The understated signage outside, and the rather imposing, yet featureless appearance of the building doesn’t really suggest a restaurant at all. I had taken a quick look at their web-site before deciding to visit, of course, but what I saw in those pages along with the ‘trendiness’ of the name, made be think it might be a bit of a ‘gimicky’ sort of place, with more emphasis on the ‘nouvelle’ rather than the ‘cuisine’. As it happened, I was far more impressed than I expected to be… Continue reading “Review: E18teen”


Bouillabaisse 1

A Bouillabaisse, for those unfamiliar, is a seafood soup claimed, by the residents of Marseille, in southern France, as their very own specialty. For the rest of you who have tried it elsewhere, the chances are virtually certain that it was a derivation of the sort that would have a Marseillaise restaurateur rolling his or her eyes and squawking Gallic epithets of deep disapproval.

According to tradition, a Bouillabaisse, was a very rustic soup made by French fisherman, who employed the less saleable remnants of the day’s catch which they then boiled (‘bouille’) for supper. It is said, in that part of the world, that a true version of the dish must contain at least three or four species of rock fish from the native waters and thus, since these fish are rarely available elsewhere, a Bouillabaisse, in other parts, will necessarily differ. Indeed, whereas a Marseillaise Bouillabaisse, is mostly fish, and only includes the occasional odd variety of shellfish, other versions are often mostly shellfish and can include, lobster, scallops, shrimp and clams. Far be it for me to argue the point with the guild of Marseille restaurateurs (who once drafted a charter specifying exactly what constitutes the dish), but I do recognize that any dish can have a whole variety of otherwise acceptable versions that the strict ‘purists’ will always disavow. Still, I do feel that, to properly be called a Bouillabaisse, certain features must come together:

In my opinion, a Bouillabaisse is a seafood soup based on a broth heavily redolent of the ocean, but infused with the additional flavors of saffron, garlic and fennel, with a bit of dried orange peel optionally added for that special taste. Potatoes, tomatoes and leeks are all welcome additions and a little bit of wine is also very nice. I think that some variety of fish (as opposed to just shellfish) really should be added, but for the present experiment, since I had nothing I thought suitable available, I am using a combination of shellfish only… Continue reading “Bouillabaisse”