Tag: foodstuff

Foodstuff: The Splash Pluot

The Splash Pluot 1

When I came acre these little fruit recently, I took them to be some sort of dwarf peach, especially as they also have a ‘velvety’ skin to match the general appearance. The store, however, labeled them as ‘Pluot’, which, I have to confess meant nothing to me. I did a little research, though, and it appears that a Pluot is just one of several hybrid crossings of the plum and the apricot, others being apriums, apriplums, or plumcots. As it happens, there are even several different varieties of pluots themselves and it appears to be that the type I purchased is the ‘Splash Pluot’.

As you can see, the resemblance, once cut, is still very peach-like, but one difference I noted is that the stone is a bit easier to ‘pop’ out. The aroma was vaguely plum-like, and not very intense, and the flavour was, I would say, somewhat a cross between a plum and a mandarin orange, with the ‘orange’ component being quite faint. It does taste nice but the consistency was not especially appealing to me. First, I dislike the velvety skin both on peaches and here but the flesh in this fruit is not especially succulent. The texture is a bit ‘mushy’ to my mind and, while I could overlook that if the flavour was more exciting, the overall effect here was a bit underwhelming.

It strikes me that, if halved and stoned, the fruit could be glazed in a sweetish sauce and would them make a very attractive edible garnish if arrayed around say, a baked ham or roast of pork. I don’t think I would bother with them as a hand-fruit in future though…

Notable Nosh: Buffalo Steak

Buffalo Steak

I probably wouldn’t have done a post featuring this particular meal except for the fact that this is the first time I have ever eaten ‘Buffalo’ and I thought it might be interesting to share the experience.

First, I used quotes around the ‘Buffalo’ because when you encounter it on a menu in North America it almost invariably means the animal more properly called ‘Bison’, which, I gather, is only distantly related to the true Buffalo. Buffalo is eaten in some parts but I have yet to see it on a menu here, or in stores either, for that matter.

The cut I was served here was the rib-eye. I won’t comment on the vegetables except to say that the roasted carrot and green beans were unremarkable and the braised red cabbage not at all well-executed. The steak, however, was very nice. The cut was not perfect, a bit gristly in places but it was cooked to a good medium rare as ordered. I was surprised that it was as juicy as it turned out to be. Being largely grass-fed and relatively lean, I had been expecting something a bit drier, but it turned out to be quite as succulent as many a good beef steak I have had. I have read where others describe the meat as being a bit sweeter than beef but I didn’t really get that at all. It did, however, have a pronounced earthy taste that I really enjoyed. Beyond that though, had this been served to me as beef, I wouldn’t have cocked an eye and would have accepted it as such. In short, I would happily order a Buffalo/Bison steak again and I can pretty confidently state that you could substitute the meat in any recipe calling for beef without changing the result over much.

Foodstuff: Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit 1

Ages ago, I published a post featuring a little South American fruit known as the Granadilla and I mentioned, not only that it is sometimes called the Passion Fruit, there is also a smaller, purple fruit (also from South America, that goes by the same name. I came across these just recently and I was curious to see how they compared…

The purple Passion Fruit is a bit smaller than the Granadilla and a little less elongated. Inside, it has the same cluster of small black seeds (which are edible), but the rest of the pulp is different. In my post on the granadilla, I mention that the soft material had a custard-like texture but a rather off-putting, gelatinous appearance. Here, in the passion fruit, this soft equivalent  has an opaque yellow appearance and this gives it an even more custard like quality.

As with the Granadilla, the taste is both tangy and sweet but the Passion Fruit has a slight bitterness in the background. I described the Granadilla as being somewhat like Kiwi Fruit but the best way I can describe the taste of this fruit is as a cross between strawberry and grapefruit. I far prefer this to the Granadilla but I also will not be buying them often. Each cost about four dollars which means the experienced worked out to about two dollars per tablespoon. It’s good… just not that good!

 

Foodstuff: Bothwell™ Horseradish Cheddar

Bothwell Horseradish Cheddar 1

I can’t say I have ever thought about pairing horseradish with cheese before so I was curious to see what this product might be like. I have tried quite a few different Bothwell brand cheese products and, so far, they have been pretty good. I have to say, though, that this particular idea didn’t work that well.

The cheese itself is very good. It has a very nice texture that is a bit creamier than many cheddars and the basic cheddar flavor is apparent, albeit quite mild. Unfortunately, the horseradish component, which is plainly identifiable, gives a very harsh, bitter note to the overall taste. I don’t want to discourage others from giving the product a try, but I didn’t care for the effect overmuch.

To properly assess the product, I also tried cooking the cheese. I added small squares to pre-grilled rounds of zucchini and then put these under my broiler until the cheese was melted and a few brown spots were beginning to appear. When the cheese was very hot, there was no horseradish taste that I could discern (and the normal cheddar notes were diminished), then, as it cooled, both the signature cheddar flavours and the harshness reasserted themselves.

In all, this was rather an interesting idea but I can’t say I will bother with this particular product again…

 

Foodstuff: Enokitake

Enoki Mushrooms 1

Enokitake, or Enoki Mushrooms, are commonly used in Japanese cookery, as much (and indeed probably more) for their pretty appearance as for flavour. In the wild, they are most commonly found growing on the stumps of various trees and, in that case, are often a fairly dark brown in color. In consequence, are known in Mandarin as jīnzhēngū 金針菇 (or “gold needle mushroom”). When cultivated, however, they exhibit the stark, ivory white you see pictured above… [READ MORE] Continue reading “Foodstuff: Enokitake”

Foodstuff: Alligator Meat

Alligator Meat 1

I have eaten Alligator meat many times. The first time was at a roadside stand just outside ‘Gator World’ (I think it was called) in Florida about twenty years ago and, since then, all my other experiences have been in restaurants, most of which, as best as I recall, were of the ‘Cajun variety. Alligator meat has yet to appear in local stores but I was recently in Rankin Inlet over on the eastern shores of Hudson’s Bay and I came across a half-dozen packages in the freezer section of a nearby supermarket. Luckily, my hotel room had a fridge with a freezer and I was able to grab a couple to bring home with me… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Alligator Meat”

Bothwell Brand® Maple Smoked Cheddar

Bothwell Brand Maple Smoked Cheddar

I have been seeing quite a few different varieties of Cheese from this Manitoba based manufacturer recently. I haven’t, as yet, seen Gruyere or Emmental on local shelves, which is a pity, as it is the cheese I most commonly buy for snacking, but this type looked interesting.

I was rather suspecting that the ‘Maple Smoked’ quality of the product would be an artificial flavour. However, the ingredients list states ‘Natural Wood Smoke’, and while this is not conclusive (Liquid Smoke is made using the oils from smoke and could be an additive here), it is possible that the cheese is actually smoked. In any event, the very clear aroma one gets on opening the package is, not exactly maple smoke, but rather the richness of bacon… sweet, maple smoked bacon.

The texture is very nice and creamy and the normal bite of aged cheddar is apparent. It is also dominated by the same very rich bacon quality as in the aroma. Thus far, other than eating it cold, I have only had it melted over rounds of ham sausage and garnished with caramelized onion, but I think it would be a great burger cheese. Indeed, one could almost have a bacon cheeseburger without using bacon. I wasn’t expecting a great deal from this product, to be honest, but I have to say that it is worth a try…

Foodstuff: Eel Sauce

Eel Sauce 1

Eel Sauce is a Japanese preparation sometimes known as ‘Nitsume’ or ‘Kabayaki Sauce’. While it is quite commonly used as a glaze for grilled eel dishes (indeed, the ‘Unagi’ on the bottle label means the freshwater eel commonly appearing on sushi menus), the name arises because it was traditionally made by making a stock by boiling eels and reducing it to a syrupy consistence. Nowadays, sugar, Mirin, sake and soy sauce are all commonly used in the basic recipe and Dashi often replaces eel stock.

I often think of Eel Sauce as being the Japanese equivalent of Chinese Oyster Sauce and the two can be used almost interchangeably. Indeed, the taste is very similar, although, some varieties, especially those made with Dashi, have a slightly smoky taste that goes very well with grilled foods… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Eel Sauce”

Foodstuff: Preserved Radish

Preserved Radish 1

The radish in this particular case is the large variety most commonly known by the Japanese name Daikon. This very versatile vegetable is preserved by a variety of different techniques all across Asia, especially by lactic acid fermentation, but the most basic method is by salt curing the flesh to dehydrate it and prevent microbial spoilage. The Chinese were probably the first to treat the vegetable this way but the technique is widely used elsewhere, especially in Korea and Thailand. Indeed, the product pictured above is of Thai manufacture… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Preserved Radish”

Foodstuff: Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root 1

This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but rather is the root vegetable that is the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. Most people are well familiar with the commercial product as an especially good accompaniment to roast beef, but it does have other uses as well. It is sometimes used in ‘Bloody Mary’ concoctions, it works well as a sandwich spread for all sorts of creations (and not just those using cold beef), and it is very commonly used to provide the sharp bite of the standard seafood cocktail sauce. Quite a few Cole-slaw sauces also use it too. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Horseradish Root”