Feed The World: Do They Know It's Christmas Time

Around this time of year, that eighties special celebrity Xmas song always pops into my head

You know the one that goes....feed the world...do they know its Christmas time...

I imagine bands of celebrities descending on poor villages in Africa (which as the lyrics tell us, aren't snowing, is world of dread and fear, where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears and the Christmas bells that ring there
are the clanging chimes of doom and the greatest gift they'll get this year is life... Where nothing ever grows and no rain nor rivers flow) and asking poor little children...

"Do you know it's Christmas time? Do you know what that means"

Heads shake and look perplexed

"Well my starving little heathen native...have you heard of Jesus Christ?"

More perplexed looks

"Well...Jesus was.....umm, look forget about it what it means is today's you're lucky day - how about lunch?"

As much as I try not to be a cynic...I think it must run in my blood...and although I seem destined to make a living out of picking on good Samaritans, there's something in my bullshit radar that rings the alarm, the-empty-gesture-designed-primarily-towards-self-gratification-alarm

I loved the idea of Menu for Hope.....and I got on board. Organised some kick ass prizes and generally tried to rouse our small readership to action...but all the while knowing in the back of my head, after having read James Ferguson's "The Anti-Politics Machine: "Development", Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho a few years back, like all good development studies scholars should, that such efforts especially in the area of agriculture seldom work due in great part to the oversimplification of the supposed problem, I am after all writing my PhD thesis on agricultural aid and development.

Although I'm no expert on Lesotho, Ferguson does point out that Lesotho must must be understood within its environmental, historical and geographical context. That is, that it is a country where farming has traditionally always been unsustainable. At best the mountainous ranges support grazing stocks. The population has always sought its sustenance through economic migration to South Africa (where rain and rivers do flow and things do grow generally well). Lesotho, like so many other countries is an economy dependent on outside interconnections, regional migration and remittances. Ferguson details how development efforts always try to frame problems as if countries like Lesotho exist within a vacuum, as economic and agricultural nulius, instead of acknowledging the reality of Lesotho's historical economic relations. Borders are taken as "natural" and problems are posed as if they exist only within these borders. The "problem" is then further reduced to a set of technical problems that can only be solved through technical interventions of high paid international consultant staff whose interest may be as much one of "feeding the world" as of preserving their 100,000 plus salaries and expat perks.

Ferguson goes a long way into detailing one such failed attempt to "improve" cattle farming in Lesotho, all the while explaining how while the development project failed at it's intended aims (due to a complete misunderstanding of the culturally specific uses of cattle within the Lesotho economy) it very much succeeded at extending bureaucratic power, reorienting bureaucratic accountability towards the aid industry rather than the people they were supposed to serve, and depoliticising development through framing problems as merely a set of 'technical' problems to be solved by consultants rather than a deeply political issue with long standing historical antecedents and regional connections.

Nonetheless, I hope the WFP school lunch program for Lesotho works and not just on Christmas either

I am a big fan of the World Food Program. At least they do give food directly to the poor, even if they make them build roads in exchange (try heavy labouring on an empty stomach) and even though many a local government or patron will often try to make out as if they food is actually coming from them, it is after all no easy task to depoliticise development.

At least the WFP give directly to starving people, unlike say some other development agencies which set up complex conditionalities and projects aimed at stimaulting economic growth all the while holding their fingers crossed that this will mean that people will eventually be able to feed themselves in the long run.

So that's why I've spent the last couple of hours supporting the WFP and playing my new guilt-free highly addictive procrastination game Free Rice. Afterall, I'm not procrastinating...I'm feeding the world...it is Christmas time you know

Firefly Squid

As a pre-Xmas celebration, Hock took me to my favourite Japanese restaurant in Bangkok, the other night. Tensui. I've written about it before here

The reason I like Tensui is that you can get rare Japanese delicacies that are normally unavailable for ordinary gaijin customers. Many a time have I tried to make it into one of those secret Japanese ONLY restaurants only to be met by the proprietor at the door with the crossed finger sign


See Japanese Gesticulations

This basically means

"Fuck off you filthy gaijin scum"

So I'm usually relegated to bog standard Japanese food for the masses. Tempura, sushi rolls, udon etc...yawn.

But not at Tensui. They have a Japanese and English written menu. Offering up such delicacies as Sea Slug liver in raw egg, whale meat (no I haven't tried it) and firefly squid marinated in ponzu. 

We ordered the firefly squid the other day. For some reason I assumed they would be grilled. How wrong I was. Out of the kitchen popped a small bowl filled with four raw, black tiny octupuses, bulbous head, eyes and tentacles in tact. They looked like raw baby alien foetuses.

I forgot to take a photo, but this should give you the idea


I closed my eyes and put one in my mouth. 

It tasted good. There was an explosion of seafood, soysauce and ponzu in my mouth.

I tried not to think of the little eyes. 

Hock said he liked them. 

I tried not to think of the little eyes. 

I try not to think of the little eyes. 

Yauatcha: Yau at ya



Pictured: violet, kumquat and fig macarons from the mediocre patisserie counter at Alan Yau's Yauatcha restaurant in Soho (it's right across from the kiwi coffee shop called Flat White which was also mildly disappointing).

It seems macarons are best left to the French, and high-end Japanese-style confectionary is best left to the Japanese, rather than trying to imitate both along with a dollop of jammy English blandness.

Macarons from Laduree or Pierre Herme or various small shops in Paris are very delicate, melt in your mouth affairs. These had the requisite jewel-like colours, but the flavours were not pronounced enough and the filling was a shock: a mouthful of sticky sweet jam. Yuck!

I've read that Alan Yau doesn't like Chinese sweets and desserts – so has the entrepreneur decided to tailor his offerings at Yauatcha to the tastes of little old English ladies? That's the only logic I can see behind the stodgy-jam-filled macarons idea. He would be better off making refined versions of custard tarts and puff pastries, or ginger-anise or jasmine or almondy apricot-kernel flavoured sweet rice flour dusted jellies in pretty shapes or, well...Actually there are a range of Asian-inspired French patisserie on offer, but this type of thing is never done properly outside of Asia. Not even the French or the Japanese patisserie chefs who live in Paris (i.e. Sadaharu Aoki) can get it right. Maybe it's our fault for being Westerners with bland palates.

Alan Yau is not actually the chef. He's an entrepreneur, who learned the restaurant trade first in his father's takeaway bar, then by opening the westernised-Japanese noodle chain called Wagamama in 1992, which he then sold and which grew into a behemoth. He has achieved something like celebrity-chef status via his 'soft-engineering' (mega-hussling and idea-mongering) in the restaurant trade.

He now owns two Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants in London, Yauatcha and Hakkasan (chefs Tong Chee Hwee and Cheong Wah Soon, both from Singapore), and a popular Thai chain called Busaba Eathai in collaboration with chef David Thompson. Smart guy... with a knack for seeing those obvious gaps in the culinary scene. I wish I could impress upon him the huge market potential for gourmet burgers or yakitori in Cologne – then he could go do all the venture capital stuff and make it a reality. And we wouldn't even need to have a 4-million pound restaurant interior. Child's play for Yau, I'd say!

But he and his patisserie chef Stephane Suchata at Yauatcha are not that good at desserts.
dah nah nah nah, da nah nah nah naaah...it's the final countdown

and so far Hock and I are the only ones to have bid on the Asia Pacific Gut Feelings booze offering of 12 bottles of 42 Below Vodka and 6 bottles of Seven Tiki Rum

Code: AP24

Code: AP25

In hindsight I guess most people coming to Bangkok are tourists and don't know what to do with a whole case. So just to make it easier for you we can break up the bottles and give them to people you know passing through or even store them for you if you plan on making several trips to Bangkok.

At the moment however, we are the only ones with a bid on it, and if we win I don't like the chances for our livers

Plus our kiwi pals who donated the bottles will think us awfully suspicious if we end up with all their booze

So please...bid on the booze.

Instructions for doing so, found HERE

There are good odds on the dinner at Bed Supperclub (Code: AP28) and the whiskey (Code: AP23)

Again here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above or at the global prize list site

2. Go to the donation site at First Giving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

You have 26 hours before our livers will self destruct

Check back here on January 9th for raffles winner announcements for these prizes and on Chez Pim for global prizes.
Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Menu For Hope

Come on people

I know you're busy with Christmas shopping etc....but we need bids

right now if you bid on any of the Thailand or Cambodia prizes you have a nearly 100% chance of winning them...because no one has bid on them.

Do you know anyone living or travelling to Thailand or Cambodia? Do you plan on travelling here in the future?

If so bid!!

Bid round up

AP23 - 1 bid
1 bottle of 18-year-old Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky Gold Signature (valued at US$95)

AP30 - 1 bid
An eating tour of Bangkok with Austin Bush, Thai food expert and Lonely Planet writer plus a copy of the latest edition of Lonely Planet Bangkok Guide (valued at US$200) 

AP32 - 0 bids
One night accommodation at Be Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia (valued at US$150) 

AP33 - 0 bids
Market Tour and Cooking Class with Joannes Riviere, Khmer food expert and author of La Cuisine du Cambodge avec les apprentis de Sala Bai (valued at US$200) 

AP31 - 0 bids
One night accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Hotel De La Paix, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia (valued at US$235)

AP25 - 0 bids
6 bottles of 42 Below Seven Tiki Rum (valued at 6000 baht) 

AP24 - 0 bids
12 bottles of 42 Below Vodka (valued at 12,000 baht) 

AP28 - 0 bids
Dinner for two at Bed Supperclub in Bangkok, Thailand (valued at 3500 baht)

AP34 - 0 bids
Wild Jungle Honey Collecting Tour with Angkor Conservation Centre for Biodiversity Sustainable Bee Program (valued at US$200) 

AP29 - 0 bids
One night accommodation at hip hotel Dream Bangkok, Thailand (valued at US$280+) 

Menu for Hope '07


Menu For Hope '07 annual raffle has begun and we're a bit late off the mark.

What is Menu for Hope?

It's when food bloggers from all over the world join together, and take leave from our usual obsession with our own stomachs. Throughout the year, we tend to wank on about food, beer, wine and other such visceral pleasures, but for two weeks every December, we pull together a bunch of excellent prizes and ask you, our readers, to help us support those who are not so lucky, to whom food is not a mere indulgence but a matter of survival. This Menu for Hope is our small way to help.

All proceeds go to the World Food Program

Gut Feelings and all our excellent and gracious friends have managed to add to the global prize pool....prizes are:


Dinner at Bed Supperclub
Dinner for 2 @ Bangkok's premier destination restaurant Bed Supperclub Bangkok (value 3500 baht)
Code: AP28

18 year old Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky Gold Signature
18 year old Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky Gold Signature (value 95 USD) also from the good folks at Bed Supperclub. Deliverable in Bangkok.
Code: AP23

12 Bottles of 42 Below Vodka
12 bottles of deliciously good 42 Below Vodkas to see you through 2008 courtesy of the kind kiwis at 42 Below. Deliverable in Bangkok only. (value 12,000 baht)
Code: AP24

6 Bottles of 42 Below Seven Tiki Rum
6 bottles of 42 Below Seven Tiki Rum. Also from the kiwi crew. Makes perfect mojitos. Deliverable in Bangkok only (value 6,000 baht)
Code: AP25

1 Night at DREAM Hotel, Bangkok
One night accommodation at hip hotel Dream Hotel, Bangkok (value $280++ USD). Donate and sleep in peace in their sumptuous DREAM Beds
Code: AP29

Food Tour and Lonely Planet Bangkok Guide with LP Writer Austin Bush
Free copy of latest edition of the Lonely Planet's Bangkok Guide + Eating Tour of Bangkok with LP writer and Thai food expert Austin Bush. He really knows Thai food (value $200 USD)
Code: AP30


1 night at Hotel De La Paix, Angkor
Deluxe Room View 1
One night accommodation at uber hip hotel Hotel De La Paix, Siem Reap (value $235 USD)
Code: AP31

1 night at Be Hotel, Angkor
One night accommodation at boutique hotel in the heart of Siem Reap's charming laneway Be Hotel Angkor subject to availability (value $150 USD)
Code: AP32

Market Tour and Cooking Class with Joannes Riviere chef and author
Market Tour and Cooking Class with Joannes Riviere, Khmer food expert and author of La Cuisine du Cambodge avec les apprentis de Sala Bai. He knows all the women at the market, speaks fluent Khmer and can teach you how to make a mean samlor machu (value...priceless)
Code: AP33

Wild Jungle Honey Collecting Tour with Angkor Conservation Centre for Biodiversity Sustainable Bee Program
Benthen and Beehive
Wild Jungle Honey Collecting Tour with Angkor Conservation Centre for Biodiversity Sustainable Bee Program. A once in a lifetime experience. Trek into the jungle with experienced guides (a Southeast Asian Bee expert, an ecologist and environmental journalist from NZ and a ninth generation Khmer bee hunter), collect wild honey and taste the magic that is freshly harvested bee pollen (value 200 USD)
Code: AP34

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here's what you need to do:


1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above or at the global prize list site

2. Go to the donation site at First Giving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Regional Prizes
UK: The Passionate Cook and Cooksister!
Europe:Food Beam
US: West Coast:Rasa Malaysia
US: East Coast: Serious Eats
US: Central: Kalyn's Kitchen
Canada: The Domestic Goddess
Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand: Grab Your Fork

and, last but not least, our special Wine Blog Host: Vinography

Check back here on January 9th for raffles winner announcements for these prizes and on Chez Pim for global prizes.
Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Hottest of Hotpots

Chongqing spicy hotpot is slowly becoming a standard fixture in Australasia Chinatowns thanks in most part to the recent influx of Mainlanders and their national obsession with Sichuan cooking. It's not all wonton noodle soup anymore baby.

In Sydney, go to Shancheng Hotpot King on Sussex St in Chinatown and join the queue. Once you get a table, order the half chicken half spicy and go for mild. Trust me. Even if you do usually live in Bangkok, once the 'medium spicy' reduces down it becomes so achingly hot that all you can do is used droplets of it to season the mild chicken side.

On arrival tick the boxes of the plates of raw food you want to add to your boiling cauldron. The list is badly translated so you might want to use your powers of deduction (I guessed correctly that by "taste mushroom" they meant shitake). Pretty much every type of edible offal is available and then some.


Order the Shancheng special sauce and a couple of other dipping sauces like the seafood and sesame and garlic. One of each should suffice for a group of four.

We ordered too much and the bill came to 33.00 bucks per person including a couple of beers.

8a/363 Sussex St
Open 7 days 11:30am -12:00am
phone: 02 9267 6366

Too Bloody Right Mate

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Above you see friend/employer/neighbour Torsten Schmidt brandishing a Blutwurst from the village where he grew up, Thalfang.

So far we've had two blutwurst fry-ups...
I'm a big fan of proper Blutwurst.
The silky small cubes of fat give this particular sausage an interesting texture when eaten in its cold, unfried state. This adds to the crispiness when fried.

I also like the less-firm, 'wet' textured Blutwurst that is served up in local Brauhaus Putz, when you order the local Cologne specialty 'Himmel und Aed' (Heaven & Earth). The visceral sloppiness is not for the faint of heart but goes great with the caramelised onions, apple sauce & mash potato.

It's a great dish for this time of year (savoury but not greasy like regular sausages, and winter-fortifying: all that iron and vitamin B). When Torsten takes the leftovers to the office the next day, David, Alfred, Wulf and him crowd into the kitchen to eat slices of it cold with mustard, gherkin and horseradish and there is much giggling and manly enjoyment.

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The Trash Heap Has Spoken

An article in the NY Times discusses how, just as buying at Whole Foods is not necessarily instant bonus karma points, neither is shopping at local farmers' markets.

One of the points in the article is that wasted food counts for a huge amount of the carbon quota caused by food consumption/production. Depends how much edible food you are in the habit of throwing in the trash, I guess. If you are buying more food than you eat, the food production enviro-costs outweight the benefits.

Since I'm living in a city of apartment-dwellers, maybe I should try to start a local collective compost initiative. Or save scraps and go out to Erik's dad's village once a week to contribute dutifully to the compost heap? We are planning to stake our claims to a patch in Erich-senior's garden when spring comes, so maybe the vege-scrap ferrying will be feasible. And we'd take the train, too... (I'm sure our fellow passengers would appreciate the smell of our virtuous weekly kitchen scraps!!)

Influenced by my Dutch Oma who (dubiously) claims to have had to cut mold out of slices of bread during the war and eaten nettles as salad, I am one of those people who will cook carrots once they've gone all floppy and will stubbornly plan on using that one wilted segment of onion in the fridge which has been there forever. Erik hates this, as he's been brought up to be paranoid of the terrible health risks of mold and bacteria. He tells me that Turkish people leave a cut onion in their fridges specifically to absorb bacteria. I, on the other hand, would be happy to use the leaves from those two basil plants in the window which have half-dried up and which have mold sprinkled like snow across the surface of the dirt they're planted in. The one thing that I have learnt can't be used once it's gone a bit squiffy: parsley. Bad vibes.

Although I think it's a type of trivial obsessive-compulsiveness more than any great laudible enviro-friendly habit, I also freeze unused egg yolks, and vege scraps for stock, and slices of stale bread for bread crumbs, and reuse plastic wrap and random small plastic bags that nuts&seeds came in. I tried saving lemon rinds to soak in the bottom of the shower as a natural de-scumming technique ...but as we don't have a plug, it didn't work too good... I still need to get a non-leaching stainless steel bottle for carrying water.
I did read about a company in the UK that makes designer coffee tables out of coffee grinds...
Now, if we can just come up with a good use for potato peels apart from as a dressing for burn victims!
(Maybe as a glue for our huge collections of coffee tables?)

I'm not sure on the point in the article below about canned tomatoes: it's hard to see a can as more enviro-friendly than a 'perishable bag of fresh tomatoes with light packaging', if those tomatoes were then bottled at home.

These days, every single thing you buy has to have its costs & benefits mentally weighed before purchase. "Can it be that it were all so simple," as the Wu Tang song goes...

Some people walk or take the subway to buy their groceries and then compost what they don’t use. But, let’s face it, most of us drive and toss the leftovers into the garbage disposal or the garbage can. In doing so, we may be contributing nearly a quarter of the greenhouse gases associated with our food, research has shown.

Here’s why: Instead of going to the grocery store once a week and stocking up, many consumers are driving for groceries several times a week, if not every day, to all sorts of different stores.

“THE old idea where our mother goes to the store on Wednesday or Thursday with all the coupons to buy all our groceries has changed,” said Harvey Hartman, who tracks consumer behavior as founder and chief executive of the Hartman Group. “Now we are on our way home from work and we say, ‘Oh, geez, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ”

If all the driving wasn’t producing enough greenhouse gases, Mr. Tomich points out that an even bigger factor may be the amount of food that is tossed out, wasting all the energy that was used to produce and transport it.

Certainly, there are many reasons for eating local food — from supporting local farmers to a desire for fresher, potentially tastier food. The research in California, however, offers the prospect of a more nuanced debate on eating a low-carbon diet. In the meantime, Ms. Feenstra said, the research has already led her to one conclusion:

Don’t drive your sport utility vehicle to the farmers’ market, buy one food item and drive home again. Even if you are using reusable bags.

Article in NY Times

Say Hello to Your Little Weckman

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Weckmanner like this fellow are made for St Martin's Day, and are stocked in German bakeries until almost christmas. St Martin's Day is a nice festival where kids join a candle light parade with lanterns, and people roast geese. The day honours a military man who gave half his jacket to a beggar and became a saint. Apparently it was a very nice jacket.

Naturlich, this Weckman eventually met his fate and was eaten, starting with the head. He was a bit dry & salty. Erik thinks a wholewheat weckman is like cruelty to children. But the white ones are usually much more misshapen, even if they taste better.

This Tim Burton-esque 'weckman' (whole wheat, from the Biomarkt) is the nicest & most handsome one I've seen: but for some reason, he looks like he needs to go to the toilet.

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The cool thing about Weckmanner, which are apparently based on a priest, is that their little pipes do work. Saintly fun for all the family.

London Got Game

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Here's the mixed game pie I keep harping on about, from the Broadway Market
in London.

That pie was so bloody damn good. It was the apple of my pie, ah, eye.

It was sold by a nice old fellow with a trestle table, from an award-winning pie-maker who had prepared it herself the night before. (I didn't write down the name unfortunately).

This market has a very nice selection of foods (mostly organic or wild) including yummy Ghanaian stews like okra & pork and a peanut chicken stew (very good and a long queue), some nice 2nd hand clothes and a Japanese lady selling cute knock-offs, some overpriced antiques, old children's textbooks and good-looking bretagne-style crepes, brown and oozing with spinach and cheese.
It's very nice to walk there along the canal from Islington.

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This trip to London (stopping off on the way back from Toronto) really changed my opinion about the food offerings of Old Blighty!

Other treats over four days included tasty soda bread from Selfridges supermarket, huge decadent Morrocan meringues covered in pistachios piled up in the window of a restaurant near Angel in Islington, very good lamb tagine, dips and flatbreads from one of three restaurants in Islington all called Gallipoli, and, on the more traditional tip, a YUM sticky date pudding – warm, steamed, light-textured but rich flavoured.

Another highlight was the famous London "foodie" (hate that word) destination the Borough Market
, which is in a very urban setting (under the struts of London Bridge?): we had warm organic apple juice with honey which tasted like apple pie, and bought an artisan brown loaf (I say brown because I'm not sure exactly what was in it,) from the Degustibus stall. Is artisan the most overused and confusing word of the moment? We saw an 'artisan toaster' at Saturn mega electronic store the other day. I'm waiting for the slow food movement toaster....it takes five days to slowly dry your bread into a cracker.

Of course there are still plenty of windows advertising jellied eels or baked beans and chips, too...

Top nosh, geezer.

Nothing like a good pie!!
MySpace Codes

Due to an increased number of E.coli scares, the American ground beef industry is stepping up efforts to wash the dirty bits off the dirty animals and to butcher them carefully especially around the guts, plus installing huge chambers to scald carcasses and wash them in acid, steam vacuums to suck away microbes and elaborate gear to test hundreds of meat samples a day. However, as the Pentagon would no doubt agree, this is one battle that may not be won without nuking the suckers.

Late last month, the Agriculture Department announced its 20th recall of beef this year because of contamination with a toxic strain of the bacterium E. coli. No one knows for sure what is causing the jump in recalls, though theories abound, from the cyclical nature of pathogens to changes in cattle-feeding practices caused by the popularity of ethanol.

This much is clear: Fifteen years after an outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants made people aware that hamburgers could kill them, the American beef industry is still searching for a practical method to prevent the toxic E. coli strain from contaminating ground beef.

“If you gave me a million, zillion dollars and said give me a plant that doesn’t have E. coli, I couldn’t do it,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Department officials acknowledge that short of irradiating the meat, there is no magic bullet to prevent E. coli contamination.

Article in the NY Times about American ground beef industry attempting to clean up its act.

Wing and a Prayer

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There are the wings (from Duff's, the Toronto branch of the Buffalo restaurant which claims to have invented the things), now here's the prayer: please god never make me have to eat a Buffalo chicken wing again.

I love good junkfood as much as the next guy – but I'm not so much into breaded or deep fried things that are then coated or drowned in sticky-ass sauce. Sweet & sour chicken, no thanks. General Tso, I'll make an exception if done well. I'm also not into macho food that's so spicy it makes you cry (unless it's like, from fresh chillis or sambal or something).
I guess Buffalo wings and me just weren't made for each other.
Even if a huge bucket of them does look kinda cool.

Spot my place at the dinner table: the pansy drinking wine instead of beer and a burger instead of buffalo wings. (The burger was damn good actually). Sometimes I think I just like to be contrary.

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And another thing: shouldn't these Buffalo wings really be called drumsticks?

Indie Cola For the Kids

German no label Premium Cola, more of a philosophy than a drink
...says this article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 107, Issue 12, December 2007, Pages 2125-2129


Long-haul truckers are confined, by parking regulations and other constraints, to dining at truck-stop restaurants. Objectives were to (a) compare truckers’ anthropometrics with recommended guidelines; and (b) assess eating/exercise habits, importance of healthful food choices, and attitudes about restaurants’ provision of healthful options. Hypotheses were: (a) overweight/obese drivers will place less importance on healthful food choices than will drivers of optimal weight; (b) importance of healthful food choices and attitudes about their provision will be positively correlated. Questionnaires included Food Choices Index, Nutrition Attitude Survey, and demographic information; bioelectrical impedance assessed weight, body fat, and body mass index. Subjects (n=92) were truckers at a Midwestern truck-stop restaurant; 79 were overweight, 52 were obese. Mean rating of importance of healthful choices was above average. There was no difference in importance of healthful food choices for overweight/obese and optimal weight drivers, t(89)=−1.312; P=0.19. Drivers placing more importance on healthful food choices had more positive attitudes about restaurants’ provision of such options, r(90)=0.74, P<0.001. Overall, drivers indicated they would choose healthful foods if available and appetizing. Registered dietitian-directed wellness programs that include education, support, and cooperation of truck-stop restaurants are critical to reduce obesity and risk of disease in this population.

Duck noodles, three years in the making.

For the last few years my father-in-law has talked at length about the famous "duck noodles" of Saint Louis, Bangkok. He has promised many a time to take Maytel and myself there to try a bowl, we came very close to sampling these mystical noodles a few months back but our attempts failed as the shop was closed and we had to settle for an excellent bowl of fish ball noodles .

As with all good vendors in Bangkok THEY choose when to open.

As my father in-law's partner is out of town and mine is getting wasted on sake in another country, we have had extra time to hang out and bond (meat eating is usually what we base our outings around) so finally after three years, I got to eat the duck noodles of St Louis.

st louie

Is the guy in the white shirt praying to that roasted duck? Most likely.



No verbal orders are allowed. You have to write it all down, even the little things like to have bean shoots or not. An excellent strategy to keep out those pesky foreigners. So you will need the assistance of your Thai partner or friends unless of course you are Thai or some super nerd who knows how to write Thai (ahem) otherwise sorry no noodle for you!

Plate of braised livers and gizzards, pretty good.

8 ndl
"3 year duck noodles"

They were worth the wait a yummy scented broth with super tender and flavoursome duck and perfectly cooked noodles with bean shoots of course.


Pepsi, grease cutter.
As much as I hate going to over hyped expensive restaurants and being overcharged for mediocre food, I love leaving things to chance and discovering something cheap and delicious...

Me and my youngest sister were first to arrive in Sydney for the gathering so we headed down Harris St from our hotel in search of lunch.

We stopped at what appeared to be a shitty little standard sushi lunch joint, called Sushi Club. I assumed that more standard shitty sushi would follow inside but my hopes were peaked by the sight of two older Korean men who had appeared to have picked the place out for a long lingering lunch and were chatting with the owner.

They had a very yummy looking Korean pancake on their table....we changed plans, scrapped the sushi idea and decided to order Korean. Starting with the pancake. The owner came out and said it would take 20 minutes to cook if we didn't mind. And at that point I felt like I had struck gold.

"no we don't mind"


Sorry the photos suck, I was using my camera phone which in no way did this delicious and crispy eggy pancake filled with seafood the justice it deserved.

My camera phone also badly misrepresents the hwe dup bap. A rice bowl layered with sliced raw fish, fresh raw julienne vegatables of daikon, apple, carrot, etc and tobiko roe mixed up with sesame chili sauce.......


It's my dream dish. It's the thing I've always wanted to eat but have never known of its existance. It's what I would like to eat most days if I had the chance but I don't. It's low fat, tasty and spicy. It's the answer to many a food prayer.....now to hunt down a recipe

Anyway a reviewers on eatibility seem to agree as to the high quality and standard of this diamond in the rough sushi joint.

I absolutely adore this little Japanese/Korean place. As noted by other reviewers its food is extremely fresh. It rivals Sushi-e and Tetsuya! No I'm not kidding! It is simple yet very delicious and really kills the competition across the street which, although 'looks nicer' has overpriced and low quality food. I live in Pyrmont and go there with my friends and family often, almost twice a week. They are always friendly and rarely busy. Which suits me since there is always a table waiting.
Definitely recommend but they are closed on Tuesdays, so avoid disappointment and don't go then.

Go and be pleasantly surprised.

Sushi Club
Harris St
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Phone (02) 9692 8280

East Ocean Yum Cha, Chinatown Sydney

Sydney's Chinatown shits all over Melbourne's...to put it bluntly. Its bigger, better, and yummier. There's more of a hustle bustle....and the yum cha is better

I've never really had really good yum cha in Melbourne. And I have no idea why this is. For some reason medocrity prevails over Melbourne yum cha.

My view is that East Ocean should open up a branch in Melbourne.

East Ocean is good yum cha of consistent quality. The dishes are simple and unfussy. All the usual suspects are to be found in carts that are still pushed around the enormous dining room. While Hong Kong may be going a la carte with its yum cha, I still prefer to peek inside bamboo steamers at the table al la cart (bad pun i know)

The dumplings taste fresh and handmade


They know how to make the humble yum cha standard egg tart perfectly. It's fresh and custardy with a good flake, not a great flake but a good decent flake

Plus Sydney has the Chinese Gardens where one can wander around sedately post-yum cha and admire the views

and calming swimming carp.

You can carve your name into the bamboo forest and feel at one with your lunch

The only draw back is weekends. If you go on a weekend expect everyone else in Sydney to have had the same idea as you and expect to queue for at least an hour.

Memphis Soul Stew

668: Number of the Feast

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"Holy Cow!" I thought to myself, as I opened a packet of MSG-free vegetarian instant hot & sour soup a few minutes ago.
I never posted about Cafe 668 in Toronto!

To redress this criminal oversight, I now present to you photos of a most marvellous vegan restaurant in Toronto.

Blended ice & mango smoothie:

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There are a few notable things about Toronto, and 668 exemplifies them:
1) It is an amazing city to be a vegetarian. (From rasta food, to Asian fusion, to salad & rice bowl bars)
2) The best 'ethnic' food is often – maybe even usually - not found in 'authentic' (i.e. small and grimy) shops. It's more often found in places that in any other city, judging by the slick exterior, I would give a wide berth. This applies to Italian food (the best we had was at Terroni, which is a suspiciously clean and mid-priced place always packed with middle class people) and very often to Asian food (unless you are after some late night drunken candied-chilli-fried General Tso chicken, and then its all the cluttered humanity of Swatow on Spadina for you my friend).
3) The prices at slightly more upscale 'ethnic' eateries like these are very competitive with their more humble-looking counterparts.

668 is very stylishly got out with clean incense scented bathrooms with ornate carved doors, huge floor to ceiling windows on Dundas
, and a palette of browns, natural stones, nice white china and a couple of cute little 'mod acrylic' chandeliers (I like to think of it as the 'Celia Stephenson' look).

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Interestingly, as indicated by their unprepossessing website
, 668 used to be housed at a more humble, 'authentic' address. It's very good to see an eatery become more upscale without losing any of its edge. And also very nice that the servers have not changed, and are still family members of the restaurant's owners, very down to earth as they serve up organic wine.

Bravo to Ngoc Lam, first-time restaurateur and a self-educated chef, who has so successfully combined the flavours of Thailand, Vietnam and China with little innovations like shreds of a papery thin dried tofu mimicking bonito flakes in the delicious Vietnamese hot & sour soup, which is a very generous serving and comes packed with fresh-tasting vegetables (it's about four times as big as it looks in this photo).

Now magazine describes the version with noodles: "Like its terrific first courses, 668's mains are meant to be shared. Large steaming bowls of hot 'n' sour vermicelli soup ($8.50) brim with a clear, sweet tomato broth thick with large chunks of freshly stewed tomato, crisp celery stalk, crumbly bean curd sheet, chunked pineapple and fresh mint."

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The mushroom & tofu Tom Kha soup with coconut and ginger was delicious too though served as a much smaller portion.
How does Ngoc Lam achieve such depth of flavour without Nuoc Mam or other fish essences? In the case of the hot & sour soup it was clearly via spices & flavourings like chilli and tamarind, but also a goodly amount of tomato infused into the broth. She seriously should make a cook book, to school those people who think that noodle shops shouldn't see their doorsteps darkened by any veges other than cabbage, spring onions and the odd piece of pineapple.

Superb 'Singapore-style' fried-but-not-oily vermicelli with a tasty curry spice blend, crushed peanuts and little pieces of vegetable protein or flavoured seitan (which make moist & tasty morsels in a bird's nest of noodles), 9 dollars:

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It's better to go for noodles, tofu, soups and salads here: stubborn meat-lovers will be disappointed by the mains which offer 'veggie chicken' or 'veggie beef'.

The most memorable dish of all was this water chestnut salad ($8.99)

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- crunchy water chestnut
- slivered carrot
- celery
- green mango
- red bell pepper
- shredded coconut
- gingery candied almonds
- mint
- crushed peanuts
- thin strips of cold fried tofu

And as for the dressing, it's very hard to say. It seems not to contain (much) oil, maybe a hint of sesame oil. Definitely chilli. Citrus? We asked the waitress, and she couldn't (or wouldn't) tell us - then in a moment of generosity she hinted that "she always soaks the vegetables overnight". I wouldn't have been surprised if there were no dressing at all, but the "jubilant juliennes" (as Now magazine called them) including the tofu were soaked in a sugar-mirin-citrus-chilli brine. Worth trying to replicate!!

CAFE 668 (885 Dundas West, at Claremont, 416-703-0668)

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