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Pie Pride · I apol­o­gize in ad­vance for brag­ging, some­thing I do here on­ly rarely. But my Mom taught me to make pie and now I make pies. It’s a beau­ti­ful thing, and there are lessons to be had ...
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Super Stifado · My Su­per Bowl Stew has be­come a tra­di­tion, so I should share it. With some tech mag­ic too. [Up­dat­ed again for 2017.] ...
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Vegetables! · This morn­ing we went to the Mount Pleas­ant Farmers’ Mar­ket, which is small and good, if kind of pricey. It’s soup-to-nuts where by “soup-to-nuts”, I mean meat, veg­eta­bles, and booze. I ap­prove of all three, but it was the veg­eta­bles in the sun that want­ed to be pho­tographed ...
 
On Pancakes · Some­time in 2004 I start­ed mak­ing tra­di­tion­al Sun­day break­fast­s, fea­tur­ing pan­cakes and ba­con; and nev­er stopped, so there’s a tenth an­niver­sary com­ing up. I’ve learned enough about them now to of­fer tips both on them, and on what you put on them. Which mat­ter­s, be­cause pan­cakes, un-topped, are kind of bor­ing ...
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CL XXIX: Biryani · What hap­pened was, my fam­i­ly signed me up for an Indian-cooking class. On Thurs­day Nas­reen taught us Chick­en Biryani and so I thought I might try to en­rich early-2014 Cot­tage Life with it ...
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Night Food · I mean at the Rich­mond Night Mar­ket. Rich­mond is a sub­urb of Van­cou­ver not­ed for flat­ness, Chinese-ness, and the air­port. I gath­er night mar­kets are a big deal in the great Asian cities, so why not Rich­mond? ...
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Midwinter Veg Sauté · I in­vent­ed this dish this evening and ev­ery­one liked it; a hearty and fairly-healthy comfort-food veg­etable dish ...
 
Wok Lore · If you’re on the Pa­cif­ic Rim and you cook much, you need a wok. The right kind is the cheap kind; makes it pret­ty hard to go wrong stir-frying ...
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On Oatmeal · It has come to my at­ten­tion that much of the world is Do­ing It Wrong. This is the ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion from the many su­per­mar­ket shelf-feet of mis­guid­ed “Instant”, “Quick”, and “Flavored” prod­uct­s. Oat­meal por­ridge done right is a fine start to any day; but like many of the best things in life, you can’t hur­ry it up ...
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CL XXII: Blackberries · Let’a be hon­est: Cot­tage Life is pret­ty soft. That’s the point, I be­lieve, but... There Are Ene­mies. Chief among them are black­ber­ries, not mo­bile de­vices I mean but vi­cious re­source­ful adap­tive blood­thirsty veg­eta­bles. This sto­ry has a hap­py end­ing: we beat ’em and we eat ’em. In this life­time, any­how ...
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Thai Poutine · No, that’s not a ty­po. I’ve al­ways seen Pou­tine as the Great Québec Mis­take, a culi­nary mis­ad­ven­ture which for some rea­son has be­come sort of hip in our nation’s down­town­s. Ba­si­cal­ly it’s fries and gravy and cheese. Ex­cept when it’s in a Thai restau­ran­t ...
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Thanks · Thanks­giv­ing has passed in Cana­da and has yet to ar­rive in the States. How­ev­er, even in a dark time there are thanks to give ...
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Good Afternoon · We of­ten use the In­ter­net as a ve­hi­cle for bitch­ing and com­plain­ing, and I sup­pose that’s OK. But some­times things go well, and we should talk about that too. With a hair­dress­er anec­dote and pasta-sauce recipe ...
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Tiramisú · What hap­pened was, we’d done a Google DevFest all day, deal­ing with crowd over­flows and balky In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty and cov­er­ing too many ses­sions with too few speak­ers in a hot room with not much ven­ti­la­tion. After, Fu­mi and David and I climbed out of the taxi by our ho­tel in the financial-as-in-boring part of town (although the name of the street is pret­ty won­der­ful: Aveni­da Isi­do­ra Goyenechea). I spot­ted some sort of pa­tio with awnings and trees and said “Let’s have a drink”, so we found our­selves set­tled at Tiramisú which is called a pizze­ria on some map­s, but has high­er as­pi­ra­tions ...
 
On Bacon · Not on­ly is it pop­u­lar around the globe, it has for some rea­son spe­cial cul­tur­al weight among geek­s. I cook some for my fam­i­ly most Sun­day morn­ings. Have done for years, and on­ly re­cent­ly have I start­ed get­ting con­sis­tent­ly good re­sult­s; so maybe shar­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence will be use­ful ...
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Fried Noodles · I speak of Yak­iso­ba and Yak­i­udon, Ja­panese stir-fry dish­es dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed by whether the noo­dles are thin buck­wheat (So­ba) or thick wheat (Udon). The way I make them, peo­ple like them; but the names are a lit­tle mis­lead­ing be­cause the noo­dles are pret­ty well back­ground­ed. Here­with some il­lus­trat­ed rec­om­men­da­tion­s; in­clud­ing ex­ot­ic hand-imported in­gre­di­ents ...
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On Baked Potatoes · I re­cent­ly re­marked “There are very few foods in­deed that com­pare with a high-quality Rus­set pota­to, prop­er­ly baked.” A voice in the com­ments won­dered “And what do you call ‘properly baked’?” A harm­less enough ques­tion, but then alu­mini­um foil was men­tioned; shud­der. Please don’t do that. Here’s how to bake pota­toes cor­rect­ly ...
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Sunday Diary · A do­mes­tic win­try day (high of 3°C with gusts of very un­pleas­ant wind) re­called and il­lus­trat­ed ...
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Oddball Beet Salad · Last week­end, friends were about and we went to the mar­ket and I made lurid bi­coloured sal­ad for the ball­game and it was all good. With pic­tures and a recipe ...
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21mm Fight Dance · I had two ten-year-old boys with me; they said “Fight dancing!” Real­ly it was Capoeira, some­where be­tween a mar­tial art and dance for­m, in­vent­ed by African slaves in Brazil. There are a cou­ple of sto­ries but let’s start with the pic­ture ...
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枝豆 · I sus­pect that most read­ers here, and in par­tic­u­lar any­one near the Pa­cif­ic Rim, will know about edamame, green soy­beans in salty pod­s, a nice Asian hors-d’oeuvre which I nor­mal­ly as­so­ciate with cold beer and friend­ly talk. You can have them at home too, and this evening I dis­cov­ered they have a sur­pris­ing ef­fect on chil­dren ...
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Night Out on The Main · Vancouver’s Main Street has enough places to eat and drink that a per­son like me with a wife and fam­i­ly and job will to­tal­ly nev­er get to all of them. But the oth­er night we got to Zakkushi and Sweet Re­venge, in good com­pa­ny. With pix ...
 
On Toast · It’s im­por­tan­t. If I had to list things that dif­fer­en­ti­ate us from Ne­olith­ic club-wielders or fun­da­men­tal­ist Scripture-wielders or videospud remote-wielders, good hot morn­ing toast would be right up there. It seems sim­ple and it is, but not easy ...
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Canteen Mitra · It’s on Main Street near 14th Ave. They make a damn fine chick­en Shawar­ma ...
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Vertical Vegetables · Be­ing a pho­to of a sun­lit sal­ad at the restau­rant in the Tea­house in Vancouver’s Stan­ley Park ...
 
SPotD: Lemonade · I’ve been too over­load­ed to write much or even post pix, but nev­er (it seem­s) to take pic­tures, so they’ve been build­ing up. I look at the buildup and dis­cern a the­me; here­with the first Sum­mer Pic­ture of the Day; more to come. And what could be more sum­mery than lemon­ade? ...
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Moonstruck Camembert · We had a few peo­ple over Satur­day on an im­promp­tu ba­sis to watch the first game of the Stan­ley Cup (poor Pitts­burgh). Be­cause we’re ef­fete West Coast New Age type­s, we had bar­be­cued salmon and pi­ta and dips and ex­cel­lent white wine, and some­thing new, a Grey Monk VQA rosé, which was not su­perb but per­fect­ly OK. All this goes just fine with hock­ey, but be­cause there were four tod­dlers and the adults bare­ly out­num­bered them, we didn’t get to see that much of the game. But the high­light was the cheese ...
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Island Food and Drink · Here­with some words on re­al ale, fake wine, and Fran’s Is­land Gril­l, with pic­tures for at­mo­sphere and a recipe even ...
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Tab Sweep — World · Wel­come to the 2008 dispatches-from-the-front flow ...
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Baby Hand Wine · I was car­ry­ing the girl, now near eigh­teen month­s, up­stairs for sto­ries and bed­time, jug­gling her, her milk, and the last glass of din­ner wine, a very de­cent Pen­folds Shiraz-Cab. She saw her chance when I had to free up one arm for a door; feint­ed left, squirmed right, plunged her hand all the way in­to the ru­by red, and beamed tri­umphant­ly. I’d just fin­ished wip­ing din­ner off it so with no hes­i­ta­tion I stuffed the wig­gly pink drip­ping fin­gers in­to my mouth. The wine tast­ed good off her warm skin, odd­ly dif­fer­ent but good. I rec­om­mend this.
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Minneapolis OK · The flight down here, on a brand-new lit­tle Em­braer, was hor­rid. Min­neapo­lis was hav­ing weath­er is­sues and held us on the ground in Van­cou­ver, then we cir­cled our des­ti­na­tion for a half-hour. The pi­lot came on and said “Well, ladies and gen­tle­man — uh, hold on” (a minute’s si­lence) “I was about to tell you that we’d been di­vert­ed to Du­luth, but we just got clear­ance for Minnie”. He said it was a thousand-foot ceil­ing, but I think that was op­ti­mistic. Any­how, I thought I’d stick my head out of the ho­tel and see about din­ner and the ball game. Right across the street was the Town Hall Brew­ery, and I rec­om­mend it whole­heart­ed­ly. Lots of beer­s, but the first one tried, a sea­son­al Scot­tish Pale Ale (Scot­tish Pale Ale? Huh?) was so good that I stuck with it. The burg­er was com­pe­tent and the fries out­stand­ing, I mean re­al­ly great. Plus, they had com­fy chairs and so­fas set up in front of a big HDTV screen to watch the ball game. Friend­ly strangers to ar­gue with about Joe Borows­ki and Mike Tim­lin (who was pitch­ing for the Blue Jays when I was watch­ing them win the Series in ’92, he’s still throw­ing 93m­ph, yow). Town Hall is ten years old and I’d bet on ’em for the long haul.
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Pick-me-up · OK, here’s the prob­lem. It’s a warm day, and kind of stuffy, and what you’re work­ing on isn’t that in­ter­est­ing, and you’re re­al­ly hav­ing trou­ble keep­ing a grip. Here’s the so­lu­tion: dou­ble iced lat­te! ...
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Sunday · One of those great sum­mer days. Base­bal­l, hap­py boys, good food, and sun­lit flow­er­s, all among friend­s ...
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The London Illustrated News · I spent the week in Lon­don. Fun was had, pic­tures were tak­en, I learned things. Here­with il­lus­trat­ed notes on trans­porta­tion, en­er­gy, fi­nance tech­nol­o­gy, busi­nesslike drink­ing, women’s cloth­ing, Groovy, ex­cel­lent lamb-chop cur­ry, and a round red anoma­ly ...
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No Cucumbers, Please · Is it just me, or is cu­cum­ber tem­pu­ra a com­plete­ly lame food? Your typ­i­cal assorted-tempura for lunch will have prawns (de­li­cious), yams (m­m, the con­trast be­tween the crunchy out­side and the firm in­sid­e), maybe a green pep­per (not that ex­cit­ing, but OK), and then the cukes, which are limp, damp, and fla­vor­less un­der the bat­ter. Why both­er?
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Princebowl Sunday · Wow, was that mu­sic hot, or what? I get the feel­ing that Prince de­cid­ed some heavy rain would help his vi­su­als and he had so much mo­jo go­ing in­to this par­tic­u­lar Sun­day that God took his call and set it up. I won­der how much re­hears­ing it takes to pull to­geth­er some­thing that chore­ographed and have it come off on the first-and-only-chance per­for­mance, weath­er be damned? We had a bunch of peo­ple over, so I was host­ing and missed quite a bit of the game, but I grabbed a seat at half­time, and turned it up and told ’em to shut up when the mu­sic start­ed. By the way, I made Paul Humphreys’s Beef Sti­fa­do for the after-game din­ner, and it came out great; hearti­ly rec­om­mend­ed for a good sol­id feed on a cold win­ter day. Looked just like Paul’s pic­ture. I dou­bled the recipe and quadru­pled the gar­lic.
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Christmas Pictures · Another Christ­mas in the bo­som of the fam­i­ly; we got all of Jean Bray’s chil­dren, their spous­es, and her grand­chil­dren to­geth­er, which we don’t man­age of­ten enough, in Cal­gar­y. Like many oth­er­s, I find with ev­ery year that pass­es that the peo­ple seem more im­por­tan­t, the eat­ing and drink­ing and so on less; but I got an out­stand­ing pre­sen­t ...
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On Bacon · You buy it shrink-wrapped in the su­per­mar­ket, right? And it’s not bad; per­haps a slight­ly guilty plea­sure and cer­tain­ly best en­joyed in mod­er­a­tion. But you know, that’s not re­al ba­con; some­how, de­spite hav­ing grown up part­ly on a far­m, un­til a few weeks ago I’d nev­er tast­ed the re­al thing. On Main Street in Van­cou­ver (which is not and has nev­er been the main street) at the cor­ner of 20th Ave you’ll find Con­ti­nen­tal Sausage Co., which I guess sup­plies restau­rants and has an un­pre­ten­tious lit­tle deli that we’ve start­ed pa­tron­iz­ing. The meats are in the Ger­man style and the am­biance and pace are def­i­nite­ly of an­oth­er er­a. Any­how, on im­pulse one Fri­day I or­dered six slices of ba­con for Sun­day break­fast, and she pulled out a big brown slab and sliced them on the spot. Oh my good­ness gra­cious, it’s noth­ing at all like what the su­per­mar­ket has. Now what I do re­mem­ber from the farm is fresh eggs, laid in the last day or so. I won­der where I can find those in Van­cou­ver?
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Thanksgiving · To­day was Thanks­giv­ing in Canada. It’s hard to imag­ine any­one not lik­ing this New-World-only hol­i­day; we all have lots to give thanks for and ded­i­cat­ing a day to ac­knowl­edg­ing it has to be a good thing. Along with the big things, a cou­ple of small thanks-worthy events. First, at the outstandingly-beautiful Queen El­iz­a­beth Park Pitch & Putt, I hit a hole-in-one at the ten­th. All of 70 yard­s, mind you, and com­plete­ly lev­el, but stil­l. And lat­er on, I un­der­took man­age­ment of the turkey and the dress­ing and the veg­gies on my own for the first time ev­er, and they came out not too bad at al­l. I al­so got a suc­cess­ful gravy-making les­son from Peter Sharpe. Then there’s the fam­i­ly and the weath­er and the job and all that oth­er stuff too. Dear Uni­verse: thanks!
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Apple Pie · On Thurs­day, my Mother made the best pie I’ve ev­er eat­en. I sus­pect that there are many peo­ple who’ve nev­er ac­tu­al­ly eat­en a good fruit pie made that day with fresh in­gre­di­ents, tra­di­tion­al meth­od­s, and love. This was an ap­ple pie, the ap­ples ex­treme­ly tart; the fill­ing elec­tric with fruit and cin­na­mon and the pas­try di­vine­ly crumbly on the tongue; words can’t be­gin to de­scribe it. I’ve in­clud­ed the recipe ...
 
Stir-Fry Improv · Lau­ren and I were rushed for time but some­one had to make din­ner. I’d pulled a frozen steak out to thaw that morn­ing (not that big, not that great-looking), and had no­ticed the veg­gie bin was pret­ty ful­l. “If you’ll mar­i­nate this, I’ll stir-fry” I said, and it came out great; so here’s the recipe ...
 
Mark’s Salad · You know, it’s re­al­ly aw­ful­ly nice to have Mark Pil­grim back. A small but good de­bate has bro­ken out in the com­ments over the mer­its of Red De­li­cious, Fu­ji, Brae­burn, and oth­er va­ri­etal­s. While the com­menters are right that Mark is wrong to se­lect Red de­li­cious, it is fool­ish to dis­miss the Mac­in­tosh for be­ing too tart; a fresh well-grown Mac is about the best ap­ple there is. But then Mark just gave up on Mac­in­tosh­es.
 
Dumbarton · This is the name of the south­ern­most bridge across San Fran­cis­co Bay. At the west end is our Men­lo Park cam­pus, where I usu­al­ly work while I’m here, and at the east end is Ne­wark, a salt-mining town, where I usu­al­ly stay. So I’ve driv­en across that bridge a lot, usu­al­ly in a hur­ry, of­ten not­ing that there’s a walk­ing trail at one end and a wildlife refuge at the oth­er. Yes­ter­day I stopped at both. Here­with the pic­tures, with re­marks on tequi­la and hel­l ...
 
Just A Kid · Last week­end, Lau­ren felt like cook­ing up home-made Easter eggs, so the shop­ping list in­clud­ed “chocolate chips (large bag)”. I was head­ing down the bulk-foods aisle and re­al­ized one of the ver­ti­cal acrylic bins was full of them. Some­one had been slop­py, and there was a lit­tle heap of choco­late chips on the shelf un­der­neath it. For a sec­ond, I flashed in­to pure eight-year-old mod­e, think­ing “Holy cow, there’s a whole bin full of choco­late chip­s, and more just ly­ing there!” I popped a few in my mouth and they were ex­cel­len­t; semi-sweet, dark, strong, and fir­m. I was still in the state that Bud­dhists don’t mean when they say “Child’s Mind”, think­ing “I can get as many as I want!” The list did say “large bag” af­ter al­l, so I put a bag un­der the spout and glee­ful­ly jammed the lever all the way over. At home, Lau­ren said “You went over­board, a bit, didn’t you?” and now we have a plas­tic canister-full in the pantry which should last us in­to 2007. It’s a good feel­ing.
 
The Big Island · I’m good at va­ca­tion­ing; sleep a cou­ple hours ex­tra ev­ery night, lose all am­bi­tion, dis­con­nect from work. Here are some pho­tos from the Big Is­land, which is a good va­ca­tion spot, and re­marks on: palm trees, re­sort main­te­nance and eco­nomic­s, bad cloth­ing, lava, the size of things, where to buy fish, beer, fly­ing with the kid, weath­er fore­cast­s, Kailua-Kona and sea turtles ...
 
Tea · I’m try­ing to stay on top of one or two too many things and feel­ing kind of stressed out, so I thought I’d post a pic­ture of a tea ser­vice ...
 
Cardiobonara · We were driv­ing home talk­ing about what to have for din­ner, when Lau­ren said “How about Penne Carbonara?” I knew that this was some kind of pas­ta sauce, but some­how I’d nev­er ac­tu­al­ly had any. Wel­l, there are cook­book­s. My good­ness gra­cious: I thought that Amer­i­ca had seized world lead­er­ship in the art and sci­ence of coat­ing the in­sides of your ar­ter­ies with fat­ty, greasy, sub­stances; but I see that the Ital­ians are still the mas­ter­s. First, you cut up a third of a pack­age of ba­con and cook it in olive oil. Then you’ve got four eggs, con­sid­er­able but­ter, some cream, and a bunch of grat­ed Parme­san. Cook ’em up in just the right or­der, toss the pas­ta in it, and ap­ply great lash­ings of fresh-ground black pep­per. I had lots of red wine in the faint hope that it would mit­i­gate the ar­te­ri­al dam­age. With apolo­gies to all the ob­ser­vant ve­g­an Jews and Mus­lims among my read­er­ship, I have to say it tast­ed damn good. [Up­date: I re­al­ly have to write that com­ment­ing sys­tem. Now up to four sev­en eight smart car­bonar­if­er­ous replies. Al­so, check out the Wikipedia on Car­bonara, al­so the Wi­ki Cook­book, and es­pe­cial­ly the Cookbook’s dis­cus­sion page]. ...
 
Social · Our third an­nu­al “Lauren and Tim’s New Year’s Day Social” is his­to­ry. Forty or so peo­ple, plus as many as nine si­mul­ta­ne­ous kid­s, went through some pret­ty good cham­pagne, juices, gaz­pa­cho, lentil soup, dip­s, and so on, and did a whole lot of talk­ing. Mar­lowe, who’s now six months old, as­tound­ed us by stick­ing around and chill­ing with the crowd, ap­par­ent­ly en­joy­ing the buz­z. Thanks all for com­ing, and for those who brought bot­tles of wine and oth­er bonus­es, that’s re­al­ly to­tal­ly un­nec­es­sary but thanks any­how. I en­close a pho­to of the af­ter­math ...
 
A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee · A lat­te ac­tu­al­ly, at Braz­za, on Lons­dale Road, in North Van­cou­ver. Pic­tured, with a fun­ny cof­fee sto­ry ...
 
Hot Chocolate · Satur­day soc­cer prac­tice was at 10AM, 5°C with the wind push­ing the rain side­ways. On­ly six of the nine Dragons turned up, but they were in good spir­it­s, played through the pain; but by the end of the hour were look­ing kind of blue. So I said “Everyone come to the café for hot chocolate” and did they ev­er bright­en up. It’s on­ly a cou­ple of blocks from the dis­mal grav­el field we have to use when it’s too wet for the grass; soon we swarmed nois­i­ly in­to the wel­com­ing warmth. There was a cou­ple in our cor­ner that maybe want­ed some qui­et Saturday-morning cof­fee talk, we chased ’em away. One of the par­ents said “Oh, you shouldn’t pay for them all” but six kid-sized hot choco­lates doesn’t cost much and that was more smiles per dol­lar than just about any­thing else I can think of.
 
A Better World Through Garlic · My broth­er Rob is re­al­ly hit­ting his stride at this online-writing thang. Blog­gers should aim at big tar­get­s, and this week­end he’s ar­gu­ing that, by and large, the world is get­ting bet­ter; can’t go big­ger than that. But we should al­so fo­cus on the de­tail­s; last week he of­fered a prac­ti­cal small-scale im­prove­men­t: Nu­cle­ar Gar­lic Paste. Mm­m­m­m­m­m­m­m­m­m.
 
Zlatorog · It’s fun­ny, that’s al­l. Every­where you go in Kapor-Capodistria, the beer is Zla­torog. We were sit­ting around and I did a lit­tle sur­vey around the ta­ble and, sure enough, An­glo­phones, to a one, think that name is fun­ny. The rest of the Eurotypes looked puz­zled. I put on a melodrama-narrator’s voice and said “The Vo­gon gen­er­alis­si­mo Zla­torog ex­trud­ed a slimy ap­pendage and curled it around our heroine’s shud­der­ing curves...” but that didn’t seem to help. I have a pic­ture of Zla­torog and Danese Coop­er, itin­er­ant Open Source Di­va ...
 
Check out Lauren · Dr. Lau­ren Wood [Dis­clo­sure: my wife] has a few re­cent things worth check­ing out. Item: An Okana­gan wine-tour nar­ra­tive (think Na­pa or Sono­ma, on­ly cheap­er and pret­tier). Item: A guest-blog by Sal­ly Faulkn­er on the The Per­fect G&T, a sub­ject that mat­ter­s. And fi­nal­ly, a LazyWeb cri-de-coeur, Why Does Win­dows/XP hate us?.
 
Therapeutic Soup · I’ve got this hor­ri­ble cold, con­ges­tion with mus­cle pains, and was go­ing to claim that I’m suf­fer­ing from flu but that’s un­sup­port­ed by the ev­i­dence. Any­how, af­ter lunch at Phở Thăng Long, the Phở joint across the street, I felt quite a bit bet­ter. I sup­pose this is kin­da like your Jewish Auntie’s chick­en soup, on­ly Viet­namese not Jewish and beef not chick­en.
 
Kelowna Chutney · We took our friend Sal­ly on a mini-vacation this long week­end, up to the Okana­gan Val­ley, B.C.’s wine coun­try, dis­tin­guished al­so by beach­es, out­door fun, beau­ti­ful moun­tain­side views, and gen­er­al­ly na­ture. Here are some tourist tips and a first pho­to­graph­ic fruit ...
 
Arms Reach · A friend had an open­ing in a gallery out in Deep Cove and it was my birth­day, so we drove out and went look­ing for din­ner af­ter. At the gallery, the jazz trio (com­bined age well over 200) played old-fashioned clar­inet tunes, so weird­ly slow that the fla­vor was more Twin Peaks than Ben­ny Good­man. Down at the end of the road the Arms Reach Bistro over­looks the cov­e, and I’d rec­om­mend it to any­one who doesn’t mind the trip. With two high-pressure jobs in the fam­i­ly we eat out once or twice most week­s: Ja­pane­se, Malaysian, In­done­sian, Thai, In­di­an, uh, can you spot a pat­tern? Very Van­cou­ver, but we re­al­ized that it had been a long time since we’d dined out à la round-eye. The carpac­cio ap­pe­tiz­er was very good and my chick­en penne with aioli was maybe the best dish I’ve eat­en this year. The room was nice, the view beau­ti­ful, they had a very fine lo­cal Pale Ale on tap, and the bill was rea­son­able. The jazz trio (com­bined age maybe 75) cov­ered Fred­dy Freeload­er with re­al grace, stretch­ing it out and even play­ing gen­tly out­side; what a nice evening.
 
JXTA Pancakes · One week late last year, on a lark I made a tra­di­tion­al Sun­day break­fast: pan­cakes, ba­con, and maple syrup. The kid has on ev­ery sub­se­quent Sun­day put in a non-negotiable de­mand for more of the same. The good news is that the pan­cakes are get­ting bet­ter. The bad news is that learn­ing suck­s, and my JXTA pan­cakes are still kind of burnt and mis­shapen ...
 
Bubble Tea · Any­one liv­ing in a city with any Chi­nese fla­vor at all will have no­ticed the ar­rival in re­cent years of Bub­ble Tea sell­er­s, which are of­ten al­so In­ter­net cafés and lat­te joints. If you fol­low that link you’ll dis­cov­er that Bub­ble Tea is a new thing in the world, bare­ly twen­ty years old. To­day we went on a fam­i­ly bike ride; at the ran­dom café where we stopped we were the on­ly round-eyes and bub­ble tea was on the menu. I or­dered one in green-apple fla­vor, and let me tell you, this is some se­ri­ous­ly weird stuff. You drink it with an extra-wide straw for a rea­son, and the sen­sa­tion is unique. I en­joyed giv­ing Lau­ren and the kid a taste and watch­ing their faces when they took that first pul­l. I don’t think I’m go­ing to be­come a bubble-tea reg­u­lar. But ev­ery­one re­al­ly ought to try it on­ce.
 
Bay Area Dining and Death · Din­ner on suc­ces­sive nights in the Ci­ty and the Val­ley: Mon­day with Der­vala at Fringale, Tues­day with Lau­ren at La Stra­da in Pa­lo Al­to. The dif­fer­ences are in­struc­tive, and the dis­tance can be dead­ly ...
 
Javapolis Jet-lag · In a week dis­tin­guished by good food and bad trav­el plan­ning, I flew to Europe on Mon­day to at­tend Javapo­lis in An­twer­p, Bel­gium, and re­turned Thurs­day. Here­with an il­lus­trat­ed trav­el­ogue and re­marks on the con­fer­ence, the Cathe­dral and the Pink Pan­ther, and the flesh of Je­sus ...
 
Bumper Crop · Pic­tures for the tum­my ...
 
Umami · This is a word used by food­ies to de­scribe a “fifth taste,” ac­com­pa­ny­ing sweet, sour, bit­ter, and salty. It’s al­so the name of a restau­rant here in Van­cou­ver on the south side of Davie just east of Sey­mour; there’s a rather over-wrought write-up on­line from Van­cou­ver Magazine. Any­how, this evening Uma­mi gave us the best dish I’ve had any­where this year; I’m not a se­ri­ous food­ie but we eat out a bit and Van­cou­ver is def­i­nite­ly a food­ie city, so the claim is sig­nif­i­can­t. It was grilled as­para­gus wrapped in prosci­ut­to with some lit­tle boc­conci­nis and toma­to sec­tions on the side. Divine.
 
Barbecued Broccoli · No, I’m not kid­ding. I was bar­be­cue­ing a cou­ple of lamb cut­lets and there was this great big head of broc­coli near the front of the fridge. So I tried an ex­per­i­ment and it came out great. Don’t break up the broc­col­i, slice right across the head; a few clumps will come off but you’ll get some flat­tish pieces with lots of stem too. Thin­ner is bet­ter, I think. Brush the whole thing with toasted-sesame oil—a lit­tle hard to come by, but very useful—and put it on the gril­l, high heat, for, well, about as long as it takes to bar­be­cue a cou­ple of lamb cut­let­s. The sur­faces of the leafy bits will be slight­ly charred. Yum­my; I’ll be do­ing this again.
 
Salt Spring Coffee Morning · A good morn­ing to you; I’m hav­ing one. Genx is (fi­nal­ly) pass­ing al­most the whole XML test suit­e, a nice Bach can­ta­ta fills the air (Leonhardt’s take on BWV12, Weinen, Kla­gen, Sor­gen, Za­gen), and I’m drink­ing a damn fine cup of cof­fee. The coffee’s from Salt Spring Cof­fee, which is sub­stan­tial­ly bet­ter than the beans from the lo­cal Star­buck­s. Salt Spring gets a tip o’ the hat be­cause I was go­ing to write about them some­time last year but their Web site was to­tal­ly IE-centric and I couldn’t use it, so I sent them a note point­ing this out, and just checked it out and now it’s fixed; quite de­cent in fac­t. We lean to the French Roast, but some might find this blend a lit­tle too ex­u­ber­ant­ly dark. If you like good cof­fee, there’s no sub­sti­tute for buy­ing bean­s, keep­ing them in the fridge, get­ting a good grinder and do­ing it right. I re­main con­vinced that the clas­sic Melit­ta pour-through sys­tem can’t be beat, and al­so con­vinced that a well-done Norteam­er­i­cano fil­ter cof­fee is the equal of any fan­cy espresso-based drink, and al­so has twice the caf­feine, which is good. Not that you’d want to give up all those nice espres­so drinks, there’s a time and place for ev­ery­thing. When I fin­ish the cof­fee and knock down a cou­ple more test cas­es, we’ll go do some gar­den­ing. Life is good.
 
Downunder Christmas · Since the friends down here knew we’d be vis­it­ing in Fe­bru­ary, Sal­ly left her tree up and cooked ev­ery­one fab­u­lous Aussie-style Christ­mas din­ner (on the bar­be­cue, of course) ...
 
AOCs and URIs · To ac­com­pa­ny the bar­be­cued chick­en at din­ner we had a bot­tle of hastily-purchased 2002 Côtes du Luberon rosé. Ini­tial­ly dis­ap­point­ing be­cause too cold, it be­came rather nice as the chill wore of­f. On the la­bel was a URI, not that com­mon in A.O.C. wines (yet), and a quick after-dinner vis­it to the Val Joa­nis web site was most re­ward­ing, check it out. It’s well-set-up, good-looking, works in more than one browser, and makes you want to vis­it the place; why do so many com­mer­cial sites fall short on these ob­vi­ous goal­s? Al­so it’s com­pre­hen­sive­ly bilingual—each page’s Union Jack glyph tak­ing you to the cor­re­spond­ing English page, very good. And an in­ter­est­ing piece of translation-ware; on the page la­beled (en Français) Le vi­g­no­ble and in English The es­tate (?), Un tra­vail de ti­tan est lancé... be­comes The Her­culean task of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion was be­gun... (bold­face theirs). A slop­py trans­la­tor would have made the task “titanic” but this feels way clos­er in spir­it; lan­guage is slip­pery, slip­pery, slip­pery.
 
The Tiger and the Skateboard Punk · So I said to the ori­en­tal guy, the one with the cru­el mus­tache and spiked hair, “Get me a tiger.” His eyes widened: “A Tiger?” But then “OK.” Out­side, the skate­board ca­reened down­hill, death and the law wait­ing ...
 
G & T · Sit­ting in the 757 I or­der a gin and ton­ic and it's free be­cause they've been hav­ing all sorts of trou­ble and had to switch planes on it. Kind of thirsty and I have a whole can of ton­ic, so I drink a cou­ple of glass­fulls be­fore I put the gin in. I'll have to try this again, the per­fume and deep flavour of the gin ex­plodes on the tongue to re­mark­able ef­fec­t. Mm­m­m­mm good.
 
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