FORTUNE PALACE

I was apprehensive returning to the gastronomic “Thunderdome” that is Chinese cuisine.  My appetite and my colon fought a desperate battle of wills for control over my culinary desires.  The decision was made easier by my lack of transportation this week with my Evolution wedged onto Fountain Tire car jacks to get re-shoed.  It was either Westwood Pup or a protracted trek through slush to Fortune Palace, often lauded as the best Chinese restaurant in Prince George, a claim uncontested with the best Chinese restaurant in Prince George being analogous to the best Dixie Chick; no one cares.

 

Fortune Palace is cursed with a location that appears advantageous, but is actually somewhat frustrating.  Located off-highway, it’s difficult to notice from the distant lane, and once you see it from the adjacent lane; you’ve already missed its only entrance, forcing you to drive nearly two kilometres up a hill to the next intersection.  It does benefit from an impressive exterior, with tall spreads of glass fringed by an immense parking lot which was, as you might expect, empty.  The interior compliments the outer first impressions.  The tables are nicely spaced with friendly employees covered in traditional garb, meaning threads no one in China wears outside of a period film.  Fortune Palace has one distinction not shared with anyone else.  It offers dim sum. 

 

Let’s set the way-back machine to 2007.  Despite being nearly bankrupt, I thought it beneficial to spend my last few coins on a vacation to China.  I had an assignation waiting and it was a country I’d always desired to see.  Not once during my time there did I order one chow mein or egg foo young.  Mostly, I had dim sum.  I not only haven’t found many places offering dim sum in my other travels, but the frozen varieties I did locate paled in comparison.  Despite having tried the dim sum at Fortune Palace before, I decided to repeat the experience for the sake of this article. 

 

Before the plate arrived, I ordered a bowl of wonton, and thank the Monkey King that Fortune Palace doesn’t follow Great Wall’s example.  The broth had flavour and the wontons share the bowl with vegetables and cuts of indentified beef.  Good enough for me.  The dim sum that did arrive strangely matched the frozen variety you can purchase far cheaper from the local Chinese Store (the punctuation is correct; it’s actually called the Chinese Store), so much so that I wonder why anyone would waste their time and money paying a place to cook it for them.  Plus, for $10.75, I didn’t get a lot of food.  I got one egg-roll, four pot stickers, two shumai (pork), and a pair of har gow (shrimp).  I can get can more sushi for that price.    

  

I’m sure their regular menu is superior to their competition, so goes the claims made by friends and family.  On those grounds, Fortune Palace deserves some attention, by any other measure that there’s no other Chinese restaurant for miles.  Approaching from the South, Fortune Palace would be your first taste of Asian cuisine past the city limits, with your next stop being Great Wall.  Despite not comparing these restaurants on an equal culinary baseline, I can still confirm the claim that Fortune Palace would be the preferred location.  I would just avoid the dim sum; it’s borderline larceny. 

 

Food:  3/5

Service:  3/5

Presentation:  4/5

Value:  2/5

Recommendation:  3/5

 

My #Monday lunch game was once again strong this week! Gotta start things off right! Favourite meal at #CafeMei on #SaintLaurent ;) Check it out #Montrealers! #ChowHa #sweetandsoursoup #shrimp #cloudears #veggie #dumplings #asianfood #spicy #healthy #lunch #mileend #montreal #mtl #mtlphoto #foodey #foodgasm #foodporn #love #food #instagood #instacollage

Cocktail Hour - "Deconstructed Jalapeño Poppers + Gin & Basil Tonic" - by Prairiewood Farms

Cocktail Hour – “Deconstructed Jalapeño Poppers + Gin & Basil Tonic” – by Prairiewood Farms

Basil Gin & Tonic

6 fresh Basil leaves

1 shot of your favorite Gin

Ice

Tonic

1 slice lime

Tear the 6 basil leaves, add them in the bottom of a low-ball glass. Pour in a shot of your favorite gin-add ice-top off with tonic – Rim the glass with the lime slice and toss it in.

Deconstructed Jalapeño Poppers

8 ounces cream chess softened

Pinch of salt

2 fresh finely chopped jalapeño (less or more to…

View On WordPress

MR. JAKE'S STEAKHOUSE

Many readers will disregard the remainder of this review based on reading the title.  Jake’s couldn’t be more rebellious if the patrons all wore Guy Fawkes masks.  Like A&A Burger Bar, Jake’s defies definition, flying in the face of expectations.  One part industrial zone cafe, one part hospital cafeteria, and one part family restaurant, Jake’s is about as reserved as a Rottweiler gnawing on your testicles.  I’m surprised the chefs aren’t screaming orders to each other in clear view of the public. 

 

I had the impression that if I gave Jake’s a poor review, fanatical defenders would staple my netbook to a crucifix made of beef.  However, looking at the other patrons upon entering, I started to doubt any of them knew what a netbook was.   This was the only place where I would be worried about leaving it here while going to the bathroom.

 

Jake’s tables resemble that of a truck stop diner, perhaps with a scant more polish.  Burned bronze chandeliers and lamp posts offer some measure of prestige against the wooden railings and period murky posters hanging off of slate blue walls.  The dominant feature is the order counter where customers flank the chefs opposite searing oven tops and broilers.  They take the orders and cook the food.  Above them a classic order board lists options in wavy retro font.  No menus.  Jake’s bleeds local history, like it hasn’t changed its decor in 50 years.  Photos under the counter harken to a time when this town was dominated by a single street, surrounded by an invasion of old-growth pine.  The illusion is that Jake’s steakhouse survived all those decades, with the town growing around them.  Regardless of the truth, it’s a believable claim given the decor.

 

Being lunch, it would have been inappropriate to open with a steak, so I opted for a slightly more reasonable bacon and mushroom cheeseburger.  The prices were exactly where you’d expect them to be, with nearly every selection under 10 dollars.  The exceptions to these were the steaks with the king a 15 oz mini-cow at 22$.  There was nothing terrible fancy with the burger, and it wasn’t required with a quality of beef.  This was not some frozen patty from an unlabeled wholesale box but a molded piece of art sculpted by hopefully sanitized hands.  Even the unsung fries were among the best I’ve had, that perfect balance between soft and crispy.  This is the kind of place that serves coleslaw in a styrofoam cup but also offers Caesar salad as a complimentary starter.  You would expect the service to be lackluster but the single waitress that snaked around the tables was attentive and perky. 

 

So, a waste of a review I would think.  I mean anyone looking for a pretentious restaurant to conform to their ostentatious demands would be best to avoid Jake’s.  People who know Jake’s love Jake’s, and people who don’t know or don’t care might be turned off by its borderline schizophrenic nature.  Doing so would be denying some of the best fried and broiled meat in town.  This is a vegetarian’s nightmare, mocked across the order board.  But anyone renouncing meat is flicking a bull’s scrotum by walking into a place called a steakhouse.  It would be like a chocking victim walking into Christian Scientist convention.  I can imagine the entire restaurant falling into an ominous hush like that moment in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise bolts from the coffee shop at the mere mention of vegetarian dishes. 

 

This was a perfect burger with a proper level char, filling up every square inch of the bun, even to the final bite.  It may not be appropriate to wear a tie here or talk about something other than hockey, but Jake’s is a location those customers enjoying quality beef should take in.  It’s one of those restaurants Gordon Ramsay would take another restaurant’s owners to in Kitchen Nightmares to show them what a good burger looks like.  Unlike the Burger Bar, I can see returning to Jake’s for dinner, granted I don’t bring my fedora and wear those jeans I’m never seen in outside of my house.

 

Food:  4/5

Service:  4/5

Presentation:  3.5/5

Value:  4/5

Recommendation:  4/5

 

And for those still on the firing line of deciding, or need some additional justification for coming here, Mr Jake’s offers free wireless internet.  In defense of my previous statement, I stated that the customers probably didn’t know what a netbook was.

 

Mr. Jake’s Steakhouse 

1545 3rd Ave, Prince George, British Columbia V2L 3G3, Canada

 

 

De Dutch

I had previously made an exception for Kelly O’Brians due to it being a chain.  I established an exemption that if the chain was limited to British Columbia and was less than a dozen locations, I’d include it in this blog.  De Dutch doesn’t fall into that category.  Though limited to BC, with over twenty locations peppered through mostly Vancouver, I’d hardly call it a humble franchise, though paling to the cyberpunk level of monopoly held by Yum! Incorporated (owners of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, among others).  Despite being a chain, DeDutch fails to resemble one.  There’s a corner-cafe look to it, wedged under a Best Western with few signs to establish its presence.  I’d driven by it numerous times before without any knowledge of its existence. 

 

It’s very yellow, with a natural wood motif divided by checkerboards of white and blue tiles.  The menu was the first indication of its parent business, presented in that all too familiar nylon-fringed stain proof plastic coated picture saturated pages made popular by Denny’s and IHOP, which is somewhat of a criticism if I can by ignorant enough to mention it.  There’s a definitive Denny’s texture to DeDutch’s presentation, a requirement of any family restaurant, especially ones that make their money primarily from breakfast and lunch services.  I’m starting to understand why so many other locations in this blog have been spartan at lunch time.  They flood into places like this.  It’s not like I have anything against Denny’s or IHOP, I just do.  I avoid patronizing them whenever possible.  It’s always been my opinion that Denny’s isn’t as much a decision as it is a settlement.  Just below Boston Pizza, Denny’s is curmudgeonly accepted when no one can decide any other option.  Boston Pizza is the agreement amongst most of my friends, reserving Denny’s for those named Tucker or Dale.  The only exception to this rule is when you absolutely, positively must eat four pounds of breakfast food at 3:00 am. 

 

De Dutch’s claim to fame is the popularization of the pannekoek, a cousin of the pancake, a throwback to a time where you ate and then farmed.  In praise of the Dutch, what most people don’t know, is that a large number of dishes we assume to be “North American” were carried over from the Netherlands by pilgrims hundreds of years ago.  The pannekoek slots somewhere between the pancake and the crepe in thickness, but closer to a large pizza in size, occupying my entire plate with overhangs.  The distinction with each plate is the topping; I opted for the hash, placing a casserole dish of hash browns, cheddar cheese, and turkey bacon onto the cake.  There’s no wrong way to eat a pannekoek, but there’s apparently a right way, directing me to spread the dish over the pannekoek and roll it up like its crepe cousin. 

 

The concept of introducing some measure of culture in a breakfast restaurant is not unheard of.  A restaurant would inject some ethnic characteristics like taking an insulin shot.  But in truth, what is it that sets DeDutch from being a vaguely artistic IHOP?  Not much.  The food, though good, lacks any punch.  The hash casserole tastes exactly like it would at any other family restaurant if it wasn’t resting on a bed of bread.  With that criticism out of the way, I understand that DeDutch has balanced the proportion of culture and American ignorance properly.  To function as a family restaurant that has any hope in succeeding in this era dominated by American juggernauts, De Dutch must mimic its competition to some degree.  It must present itself in a way comfortable to the average patron.  They can’t go full Dutch, else they’d alienate those people thinking themselves the better person for choosing De Dutch over Denny’s.  And they’re right.  DeDutch is not that much better than Denny’s…but it is. 

 

I never have a desire to eat out for breakfast.  A miniature casserole of hash browns and meat over an extra large pancake that I can make in my own kitchen in ten minutes is not worth $12.50.  Should one compare the prices of DeDutch with that of IHOP or Denny’s?  Absolutely.  If you are mimicking their menu and attempting to attract the same clientele, you must weather the storm of comparison, and when levelled against IHOP, DeDutch wouldn’t survive charging what they do. 

 

I know DeDutch is popular with some people, but for me, it falls into that cavernous abyss of generic family eateries that I’d go to once and never return.  Slapping a windmill on your menu does not make you any better than your competition.

 

Food:  3/5

Service:  3/5

Presentation:  3/5

Value:  2/5

Recommendation:  2.75/5

    

 

INDIAN LION

The first issue I have with this part of the city is its lack of parking, barren for several blocks unless you wish to pay.  Having placed my ticket butter-side up on the dash, I strolled into Indian Lion.  Lion was once a well known establishment called Tandori Curry House.  I know this from friends and from the fact that the menu still has the old name.  I don’t know the reason for the name change.  The last location I visited was also Indian, and these two restaurants couldn’t be further different. 

 

I entered with the customary “please wait to be seated sign” greeting me; haven’t seen one of those in a while.  As is the standard, I was the first and only patron sitting down for the entire lunch service (people need to eat out more).  I took the opportunity to listen to the funky Indian music whispering from overhead speakers.  Lion King—I-I mean, Indian Lion—looked good; it actually looked really good.  Consistency shouldn’t be a compliment; it really shouldn’t.  Having matching chairs and color complementing tablecloths shouldn’t have to be praised.  I should consider that a minimum; and yet, here I was, shocked at the uniform red and white motif throughout the place.  It even had lions etched in glass.  I’ll admit there was a pronounced lack of any ethnicity about it, the music being the only characteristic that revealed the restaurant’s nature.  Indian Lion was dangerously close to the family restaurant stigma, with coffee condiments on each table and baby seats within sight.

 

Marks went to a pitcher of ice water delivered at my table and the speed of the waiter’s response.  I took them back as she paid no attention to me for the rest of the meal, even delivering the cheque while I was eating the main, bad idea, poor form; you should never do that.

 

I found myself inadvertently bobbing to the bollywood.  Eventually, I ordered the vegetable pakoras to start and a chicken vindaloo for the main, a departure from my normal Indian fare and a nod to my favourite British science fiction comedy.  The pakoras were served with two plates, one stainless steel for serving and one ceramic for eating.  With a fantastic dipping sauce, these gave Dani Mundi a real run for their money.  These were huge, resembling coral reefs.  I could tell they had been recently deep fried.  The spice was not overwhelming.  I could have eaten fifty of these things.  Not a bad start for $4.50. 

 

The vindaloo, at $15.95, was practically a steal.  You get perfumed beige-tinted jasmine rice on one stainless steel bowl and a heaping portion of chicken and potatoes in another.  The chicken was so tender, I could break it up with my spoon.  The naan was better than what I make at home, which was high praise.  No wonder Dave Lister loves this so much; vindaloo is incredible.  The chicken was so tender, I could cut it with gravity.  Indian Lion’s medium spice was definitely bordering on my upper tolerance.

 

By the end of the meal, I’d eaten more than a hundred people had in Bangladesh in one day.  I’d hoped to have enough room for desert, but my stomach waved a little white flag, declaring me a fat bastard.

 

The prices were higher than what you might’ve expected over their competition ($28 with tip), but the quality of food was so much higher.  I should have gone here first after my England trip; the transition would not have been as alarming.  Curry Kingdom didn’t have a chance.  I actually thought I had seen the best Indian Restaurant in town with Dani Mundi, but Indian Lion just might topple the competition from its perch.  I’d say Dani Mundi still corners the market on value with their buffet (which Indian Lion lacks; almost grateful really), but if you want a good Indian “restaurant” experience, you finally found your place.  Thank god; I was getting worried.

 

In the end, I’d give Indian Lion marks for its food and presentation, however, it badly needs improvement in its service, something lacking in virtually every restaurant in Prince George.  Something must be done; as patrons paying good money, we deserve the best.  With competition so fierce and patronization so low, these places must understand that crappy service and good food does not equal a good restaurant.  We want the experience, not just the food.  Otherwise, we’ll just get take out. 

 

Make us want to stay. 

 

Justify the tip; else I’ll stop giving one out, because I’m starting to agree with Mr Pink on this one.  Giving out a tip automatically despite lacklustre service is for the birds.

 

Food:  5/5

Service:  2/5

Presentation:  4/5

Value:  4.5/5

Recommendation:  4/5

 

PS:  Vindaloo, by the way, although Indian, is actually a Portuguese word.  It became popular because of variations that gained prominence in England and the US, making it almost the chow mein of Indian food, thus its absence in many ethnically untainted Indian restaurants.  Just saying…

 

Indian Lion Restaurant & Pizza

1063 5th Ave, Prince George, BC V2L 5K7

 

PPS:  Yes, you’ll notice it says “& Pizza”.  I was as surprised as you, especially since I never saw any pizzas offered on the menu.  Are they Indian pizzas or regular pizzas?  What a bizarre combination.    

 

GOLDEN PLACE

It was -25 outside, not counting the wind chill.  My testicles had fled into the warm crevices of my plump frame as I waited for my car to warm up.  Twenty minutes later, after wandering about town running errands, it had finally become a refuge against the recent downturn in weather.  It was a struggle to exit after parking in front of Golden Place, a pocket of China nestled next to my favorite book store.  You read that right, not Golden Palace, just Golden Place—apparently, the owners didn’t consider themselves reputed enough to claim royalty.

 

This was not an ugly restaurant.  I tried to envision some metaphor to properly describe it.  There’s more wood here than a Victoria’s Secret fashion show (meh, I’ll do better next time).  A stained or finished natural look covered every surface save the carpeted floor.  Not since Twisted Cork had I seen a wood-panel roof.  The seats had no cushions, so yeah, fat people be warned.  The restaurant was divided by an oddly placed cashier bar and a display shelf of various Chinese iconographies.  It was right in the middle, where a sane designer would have dropped at least three more tables.  They had just opened, and within seconds Cantonese TV began echoing from a mounted CRT (actually a mounted CRT, going old school). 

 

I was greeted with as much courtesy and excitement as an inmate on the green mile.  I honestly thought I was imposing.  Both employees, I assumed owners and related, were still with their winter coats despite the buffet being already full—not a good sign.  That meant the two of them were cold or all this food had been reheated from the previous day.  I had been there for five minutes and was still freezing but still believed the food was leftover.  As for service, I hadn’t felt this unwelcome since staying at my ex-girlfriend’s house in China and being told to leave by her mother on account that I was white and couldn’t speak her language.  It was that exact look.  In defense, every other person in that country was considerate and loved the fact that I was white…and had money…more the latter.

 

Returning from pleasant memories to the painful present, the older lady that waited on me actually walked away without taking my order.  With her back turned to me, she said “help yourself to the buffet.”  She appeared frustrated that I asked for a menu.  Seeing the single loose-leaf paper dropped on my table, I understood why.  They’re not even trying.  I could see them being pissed at me if I did order something.  I feigned sympathy and opted for the boring buffet.   Boring was the first word to come gurgling from my lips, followed later by the meal I’d soon try to keep down.  The egg roll tasted like soy-flavored grease.  When I bit into it, what flowed out was grey and translucent. 

 

You all just threw up a little in your mouth reading that; I did writing it.   

 

The rice was tepid.  The dumplings had no flavour and enforced the theory this was all leftover from the day before.  The chow mein was mostly comprised of Brussels sprouts. The wonton soup lacked any seasoning and the buffet had lazily replaced deep fried wonton with just deep fried wonton pastry.  The sweet and sour pork was about the only thing worth tolerating, but I’m pretty sure it was going to be firing out on a grease slurry in about an hour. 

 

The silver-colored turd lining to this experience was that the buffet was only six bucks.  $5.99, and for that, you could have two or three plates of the most lacklustre, disappointing samplings of Chinese Cuisine I had ever encountered in Prince George.  Even the water had a flavour I didn’t particularly care for.  I’ll state now unequivocally what the best part of the meal was, beyond its end, and that was three Dare cookies I had for dessert.  That’s how lazy this place was.  They didn’t even serve pie—fucking cookies was the best you get. 

 

It was cheap, but if I wanted to eat out at a soup-kitchen house, I’d go poor.  At least at McDonalds, you know what to expect for $5.99.  They have biochemical engineers gene splicing flavoured fat and creating food designed from the molecule up to maximize our pleasure response.  Golden Place was just painful.  And what a shame given the pleasant presentation of its decor. 

 

I really didn’t think Great Wall would lose its title as the worst Chinese restaurant in Prince George, but Golden Place manages to prove me wrong—a lazy and unfortunate experience that made me sour about doing more Chinese restaurants in this blog for fear they may try to compete with the lowest rung on the ladder.  $5.99 is not a steal—it’s like paying for water-boarding.  I don’t care if some idiot makes an argument about it not being torture—it’s still not something you looking forwarded to doing on the weekend.  Let me put it another way.  I’m on a diet now and I was almost looking forward to being nauseous so my body didn’t take advantage of inferior food.

 

In a final nod of classiness, at noon, a second customer finally entered the establishment.  He wasn’t the most pleasant looking fellow but I suspected no ill will.  He was prejudged before sitting down and was literally ordered by the squawky mother that waited on me that he must pay ahead before eating.  Classy.

 

Food:  0/5

Service:  0/5

Presentation:  3/5

Value:  2/5

Recommendation:  1/5

GOLDEN PLACE

1645 3rd Avenue Prince George, BC, Canada
(250) 564-3811


Empress Tea House

Assumptions firmly crushed.  Let me defend my presumption for a moment.  The proliferation of tea upon this globe originated in China.  It expanded at a wagon’s crawl into neighboring lands, percolating in greater Asia for centuries before the British clippers began shipping it back by the boat-full to the motherland because of a dire need to justify a break between breakfast and lunch. 

Everybody wanted tea…that’s why they call it tea (my homage to Mamet). 

It wouldn’t steep into England until the late 1600’s, by then it had already become a staple in half the populated world.  Then let me address the word “empress”, a term probably coined by the Byzantine Empire but later associated with Russia.  China and Japan, as you might have assumed and would be correct, is burdened by those claiming that title.  The only modern monarch with such a label still resides in Japan.  With those two critical pieces of quotable trivia, you can understand why I’d assume the Empress Tea House would be Chinese, not even citing the astronomical ratio of Chinese to non-Chinese restaurants in town.

The Empress Tea House is not a Chinese restaurant.  The closest comparison I could make would be that of the bed and breakfast my mother and I stayed at in Edinburgh.  The only Asian presence I saw was the wooden folding screen dividing the tea selection with the rest of the restaurant.  Ceramic kettles were adorned on tapestries, paintings, and tiles.  From the roof hung brass chandeliers like one would find in a respectable (but not luxurious) dining hall.  The tablecloths were doilies.  The floor was auburn carpet.  Even the salt and pepper decanters were made from miniature ceramic people.  And I thought New Asia was adorable, like Bambi, which makes Empress comparable to Thumper, almost too cute to exist.

I arrived on the threshold between breakfast and lunch service, so was offered both menus with a third of only tea.  I asked for recommendations, and I’m eventually presented with cream earl gray, an Aussie meat pot pie, and a bowl of borsch with a cheese bun accompaniment.  The tea was offered in its own kettle with built in filter, flanked by a cup of milk—no vacuumed-sealed creamers here.  Classic. 

I won’t criticize Empress on the quality of its borsch.  I had no idea what borsch was until now.  If you assumed that the name borsch didn’t sound particularly appetizing, you’d best avoid it because your impressions were correct.  Borsch is for people looking to reduce their chances of cardiovascular disease by pumping themselves with beetroot, apparently the only ingredient.  A dollop of sour cream adds a nice island amongst the blood-red broth.  I discovered I dislike borsch.  It tastes funny and if you drip any of it on a piece of clothing, it’s basically set for life.  I can only assume Empress made a good borsch, so I won’t blame them for the unpleasant experience.  At least now, the next time I happen to pass through Estonia and am offered a steaming bowl of borsch, I’ll be able to decline with dignity.  It contrast, the Aussie meat pot pie, despite being hot enough to start fusion, was really quite good. 

Empress is located next to the Curry Kingdom, a bigger disparity you will never find.  Empress is classy, old-fashioned, and mostly true to the spirit of a quiet English tea house, only miss-stepping at the goal line with the offering of standard family restaurant fare like paninis and hamburgers.  In fact, most the menu offerings taste of the problems cited previously with Pannekoek, attempting to compete with Denny’s on their own turf.  The big HOWEVER, emphasis on every capital letter, is that Empress also offers a high tea menu incorporating all the classics found back at the Orangery in England (see my previous blog about my vacation).  Finger sandwiches, Devon crème, preserves, biscuits and scones, and with that, I fell in love.  How could I’ve known that a classic English tea could be had in Prince George?  I like to consider myself a modern man; I keep to the trends, owning the coolest gadgets promoted in the pages of Wired and Popular Mechanics, but the growing practice of today’s youth appears slanted to trendy tea places offering sugary concoctions saturated with floating balls of jelly you have to begin drinking by impaling a plastic seal with a sharpened straw.  In order to milk this growing consumer, the loose teas for sale are offered at exorbitant prices.  As I finished my meal, I glanced at the reserved tables and crowds forming.  Empress is not hurting from this lackluster competition, but I do realize that I’m at least 10 years younger than anyone else here.  So to the ice-espresso- and bubble-tea-drinkers in town, you’re missing culinary latinum not coming to the Empress Tea house.  As I left, I snatched up a new tea filter and a $10 bag of Dutch licorice rooibos, a value only beaten by David’s Tea (located in the mall) and substantially cheaper than Capstones (the aforementioned bubble-tea connoisseurs). 

I look forward to returning to the Empress Tea House not only for dinner, but for breakfast as well, perhaps accompanied by my sister and mother.  My iPod wielding, WOW-playing friends may not appreciate what Empress offers.  Their loss.

Food:  3.5/5

Service:  5/5

Presentation:  4.5/5

Value:  4.5/5

Recommendation:  4.5/5

Yes that was a Star Trek reference; you want to make something of it?

PS:  I recently discovered that the Empress is for sale…so best you experience this restaurant before it’s gone.

 

A&A BURGER BAR

I found the one restaurant in town resistant to any criticism—the one which cannot be condemned for its menu or motif.  I couldn’t judge A&A on the predominance of burgers.  It’s called a burger bar; any elitism I flaunt would be instantly rendered moot the moment I enter.  A&A is built from restaurant critic kryptonite (crityptonite?).  This is a classic diner, probably the only location in town that could make such a claim.  Is it a family restaurant?  Yes.  Does a radio blare with annoying volume above?  Yes it does.  Does the entranceway offer a shelf of that day’s free press?  Yes it does.  However, unlike the many (many) restaurants I’ve visited that try to plant a flag atop this narrow peak, A&A may the first that didn’t toss that flag from fifty feet below. 

 

A&A began as a popular eatery at the fringe of town, remaining there for nearly thirty years until recently expanding to its current location, from the hart to the heart, just like the cholesterol in its meat.  On that history alone, A&A earns some equity—the fact that it escaped the Bartertown of Hart Highland.  What was built at the new location is a time hole to an era seldom forgotten, an era which never actually existed in this town, that of a 50’s American diner.  This is not a criticism.  They didn’t have to put this much effort into this, into the bright coca-cola-red chairs, the propeller fans, the swinging doors to the kitchen.  I expected the front half of a 1955 Ford Thunderbird to be sticking from a wall somewhere. 

 

After finding my seat, I looked over the menu and finally settled on the A&A special burger, consisting of two patties overlapping on a sub bun and topped with mushrooms and bacon.  It was $12.99.  The delightful waitress  warned me about its size. 

 

Whoa there, buddy?  Are you sure you want to order that?  It’s a lot of food. 

 

Who warns someone about the mass of arriving food?  I have criticized the sizes of dishes, but here I’m given a warning.  How hungry are you?  Normally, a restaurant possesses an uncanny instinct to portioning a dish to satisfy rather than stuff.  Suzuran knew this, something I commented with friends recently.  I was given enough sushi to make me look forward to next week where I could enjoy sushi again.  I discovered that on the rare occasion where I would have more sushi, like when a friend didn’t finish her plate (yes, it was always a she), I would get uncomfortable having eaten so much and lose the desire to eat sushi again.  When stuffed, I wouldn’t return to Suzuran for two or three weeks.

 

Still, I’m able to devour most anything that could be put in front of my—Holy shit.  I actually said that; I actually said, “Holy shit”.  She did warn me.  It had been five minutes after ordering and the waitress dropped a burger so tall, it eclipsed my water glass when placed.  There’s nothing cheap about this.  I suspected that within three minutes it will be a disgusting mess requiring a knife and fork.  The patties are homemade and the final sandwich is a lovingly clumsy collection of food groups requiring a wooden stake to hold together.  Even the fries are good.  I defeated this rancor-sized beast and the waitress followed up by offering dessert, her idea of a joke.  The meal was fast with little panache in its presentation.  I do prefer my burgers neat and tidy.  I like a sandwich that can be devoured like a sandwich and not crumbling into pieces like the first victim of the move Cube.  This wasn’t one burger but two that had been unlucky enough to go pass through Doctor Brundle’s telepod. 

 

If you demand a slightly more comprehensible metaphor, I could offer that the two burgers were the unfortunate victims of a Star Trek transporter accident.  As one might expect, the resulting abomination didn’t stay intact very long.  So yes, I ended up using a knife and fork.

 

It’s hard to find fault with a diner.  It’s not like it could be more than it is, and yet A&A actually is in many ways.  With some period-specific tunes vibrating from the speakers, the motif could be completely sold.  This is a minor quibble and one which deflects off A&A’s armor like a bullet against the aforementioned thunderbird.  You can’t ask for much, so I’m surprised when I got it.  I liked all the touches they didn’t have to put in—the checkerboards floor tiles, the classic coke iconography, the fact that virtually every table is booth.  A&A even has a candy bar where you can purchase a variety of nostalgic and imported sweets, unavailable virtually anywhere else. 

 

I hope A&A continues to exist, bordering on a landmark.  Nearby completion includes a pair of sushi restaurants and a Boston Pizza which recently burned to the ground.  If you have any decency, you’ll avoid the McDonalds a block away and support a classic local diner like A&A.  The meal may not be pretty, and that is somewhat of an issue with me, but the quality of beef cannot be questioned.  That being said, I can’t see myself returning here for the dinner stage of my blog.  This is where friends go to eat after a movie or for someone’s birthday.  Delightful and speedy service and inexpensive prices makes A&A a foregone conclusion for lunchtime.

Food:  3.5/5

Service:  4.5/5

Presentation:  4/5

Value:  4/5

Recommendation:  4/5

A&A BURGER BAR

1393 W Central
Prince George, BC


Ramsday 10: Butter Chicken

For obvious reasons, I was especially motivated to get this one right.  I love Indian food and butter chicken is near the top of a very long list of dishes from that region that I adore.  The only challenge behind this dish sat with the large number of spices required to do it right.  Lucky for me, I have a significant spice collection. 

To begin, I placed all my ingredients on the counter.

800 g boneless chicken (thighs recommended but you could use breasts)

2 garlic cloves

2 cm ginger

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chilli powder

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

75 ml natural yoghurt

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

Vegetable oil for brushing.

…and this was just the marinade for the chicken.  To make the sauce, you’ll need the following.

1-2 tbsp melted butter

2 garlic cloves

2 cm ginger

1 cardamom pod, seeds crushed

2 cloves

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp hot chilli powder, or to taste (OR. TO. TASTE.)

275 ml tomato puree

1 tbsp lemon juice

40 g butter

100 ml double or whipped cream

To prep the chicken, you’ll need to mix the garlic, ginger, salt, chilli powder and lemon juice with the chicken and let that sit for 30 minutes.  Follow that with the other spices and the yogurt, then let that sit for 3-4 hours.  I didn’t say it was fast.

A few minutes before cooking the chicken ready, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  I used a drying rack over an aluminum pan to reduce staining the oven racks.  Place the chicken on the drying rack and cook for 8 minutes.  Turn over…the chicken, not you, brush the chicken with oil and cook for another 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, time to address the sauce.  Heat the first batch of butter in a pan and add the garlic and ginger.  Follow that with the cardamom, cloves—well, everything else save the chicken.  Fry the lot until the smell makes so hungry, you’ll nibble on your arm like a crack junky (about a minute, but be careful not to burn).  Add the tomato puree and lemon juice, and then stir a couple minutes before adding the chicken.  It doesn’t say to mix in the rest of the marinade, but no harm in doing it anyway.   Finish the whole thing off by stirring in the cream and butter until everything is nice and glossy. 

THE RESULT

It’s butter chicken; what else can I say?  It was amazing.  My favorite presentation involves nice fragrant rice with a couple pieces of homemade naan bread.  If in a pinch and I have to decide, I always go with naan.  The first attempt wasn’t without its hiccups.  A full teaspoon of chilli powder with the sauce was a bit much.  I suggest cutting that in half…especially if using naan.  If you plan on being generous with the rice, you can leave it at a full teaspoon.  I had several guests this time, so I made an effort to make the dish look posh. 

WHAT I LEARNED

Once you understand the basics of the sauce, it’s a rather versatile and quick dish to cook up.  Two days later, out of chicken, I used a batch of fried minced pork (leftovers from the previous entry) and the result worked almost as well.  I’d prefer the chicken but had to use breasts for this recipe.  When I do it again, I’ll use the thighs recommended by Gordon. 

With my second attempt, I replaced the tomato puree with marinara sauce.  You would think the basil, onions and other assorted Italian invaders would turn the sauce into something you’d spread over rigatoni, but not so.  Don’t short sell the power of Indian spices.  Although tomato puree is cheaper, a simple pasta sauce like marinara is nice surrogate in a pinch.  Using the sauce also results in a looser consistency.  The straight tomato puree does make it quick thick, so much so that I’d add another ¼ cup of cream or even straight milk to loosen the final sauce. 

Of course this dish was amazing and I can’t wait to do it again.

NEXT TIME, I MAKE DESSERTS

SUSHI HUT

Points went to Sushi Hut for presentation and authenticity.  Unlike the other Sushi places in town, this one didn’t phone it in.  However, they didn’t offer bar seats, unusual since it had a sizeable counter.  This place dripped of Japanese novelties, from lanterns to fans to hanging scrolls.  If you weren’t aware that it offered sushi, it reminds you several times, being stenciled, painted, or illuminated somewhere in this cozy little restaurant.  Burgundy walls were met halfway down by the bizarre choice of metal siding, which carried to every corner and the counter.   Above sported the modern look of exposed jet black pipes.  That wagging cat that was given to me as a gift was everywhere.  Behind the busy sushi chef, dozens if not hundreds of different serving trays can be seen, including massive sushi boats which I doubt can even fit on any of the ten tables in this tiny place.  No, I’m not criticizing the size—on the contrary, I can appreciate little places; they can often have the best food if their owners take pride in their presentation.

 

The waitress, decked in an ethnically-expected Japanese coat greeted me and recommended a table.  The menu advertised its website and a shockingly diminutive selection of sushi.  This was half the size of So Good’s, not counting the Chinese food offered.  The other surprise was the lack of any decent combos.  Correction, they did have combos, which began at $12 and ran up to $20, though nigiri was only offered at the $19 mark.  With that you got eight nigiri and one dynamite roll.  Although noticeably pricey compared to every other sushi place in town, I decided my hankering for raw fish demanded such an expense.    

 

What happened next surprised me.  I ordered this aforementioned combo, only for the sushi chef to call out “F” loudly to the waitress upon hearing my selection.  The lady then turned the menu over and pointed to the bento box selection (A through H).  I wasn’t sure why they were pushing that.  It was 2$ cheaper; did they not have enough fish?  There was a picture of the combo, so I knew it wasn’t too much food.  I realized I could either enforce my decision with someone that I knew wasn’t totally understanding me, or I could just settle with their decision.  At least I got miso soup. 

 

The large segmented plate which finally arrived offered salad with ginger dressing, five pieces of tempura, two dumplings, three nigiri, and four sashimi.  The ginger dressing was watery—a pale inferior example of the greatest salad I ever had.  The dressing also had far too much onion, making it bitter.  The rest of the box was not as disappointing.  The nigiri was cut to proper size (maybe a bit on the small side), and the nigiri was tender.  The tempura was both chewy and crunchy.  The gyoza tasted homemade.  This was high praise and I on taste alone, I could see Sushi Hut becoming a favored location.

 

Then why did it cost $17. 

 

By noon, the place was nearly packed, so they must be doing something right.  I think I would have preferred the combo—that looked like a decent amount of food, even if Suzuran offered the same for less.  There was a sizeable amount of tempura, but I really had my hearts set on combinations of rice and fish.  This marked one of the better sushi meals I’ve had in some time, easily beating Wasabi and Sendo, and perhaps edging out So Good by a narrow margin.  The issue was value—I just felt something was missing from a $17 dollar bento box, especially since it wasn’t my initial selection.  Why did they push the bento on me?  My only guess was that Sushi Hut probably made more money off it over the larger combo.  The salad costs next to nothing and the tempura was probably emerging from the backroom in baskets.  I may also be some oddball, since clearly the bento was the dish of choice here.  I’m usually one that likes being recommended a dish; but it’s another to have it practically forced on me.  I could have said no, but I’m not one wanting to be difficult.  All I’m saying is that I had a hankering for some raw fish and this experience did not satiate that desire.  Not only that, I was still hungry.  The final bill came to 21.78 ($25 with tip), realizing that the tea I’d ordered which I had only sipped had cost me $2.50.  And it wasn’t even very good.   

 

Two weeks ago, the chef at Suzuran, a man I made a point of befriending years ago, invited me to his home to enjoy what I had missed in years.  It reminded me of how little touches in presentation and quality can make the difference between an exceptional sushi restaurant and a passing one.  I glanced around at the packed capacity of Sushi Hut and felt the urge to tell them that sushi in Prince George was lacking, that there once was a time when we boasted the best in the world. 

 

Recently, Liam Neeson praised a certain sushi restaurant in Smithers while being interviewed on The Daily Show.  He had been filming The Grey and declared unequivocally that the best sushi restaurant he’d been to was located in this small town of 5,000 people.  I made a similar claim of Suzuran years back.  I had only restaurants in Prince George, Vancouver, Guangzhou and Hong King as my sampling.  You can imagine Neeson’s claim carried a bit more weight.  Looks like I have an extensive road trip waiting for me.

 

Food:  4/5

Service:  2.5/5

Presentation:  4/5

Value:  2/5

Recommendation:  3/5

 

Sushi Hut

892 Central Street East Prince George, BC


COFFEE GARDEN

I suspect I may be in error here. 

My mother convinced me to visit the Coast Inn of the North.  I’d avoided it for some time because I felt that most hotel chains didn’t boast exclusive restaurants within them.  Of course this was in error considering that one of my earlier reviews was for Karahi King, located under the local Day’s Inn. 

Passing through the wormhole of shatterproof glass doors transports you to a miniature high-class mall located in another city that takes pride in its shopping establishments, over the normal practice in town of tile-like linoleum and semi-lucent sneeze guards over fountains.  The micro-mall boasts a jeweler, a body shop, a hair salon, and three restaurants.  Two of them are dining rooms only, open only for dinner service.  These would be Shogun and Winston’s.  Since I decided to keep this initial phase of reviews to lunch services only, I can’t call on these locations until I’ve sampled all the others.  That would assume then that these two locations have gained automatic promotion to the second tier.  Given their reputations in town, this is not hard to accept.  All of this and I still haven’t mentioned where I am actually eating. 

It’s called the Coffee Garden and initial impressions made it out to be a traditional mediocre hotel cafe.  I mean it’s called Coffee Garden, and I don’t drink coffee.  I like tea but I doubt they’d offer the orange rooibos or raspberry chocolate black I have at home, so I opted for water like I usually do.  I should also point out that like Barb’s Place, I reduced the average age of the patrons to about 65 (average, I stress). 

The tiles stopped about ten feet in, replaced with rather uninspired blue carpet.  Christmas decorations still weathered the walls.  Plastic flowers adorned every table.  I felt like a pariah not ordering coffee.  I read of Pisa, Napoli, and Montecantini Torrefazionne Italia coffee.  With as many syllables as that, you know it has to be good.  Beyond this, the menu didn’t scream anything particularly unique, though the prices did smack me like an angry wookie. 

A $15 burger should come with a complimentary reach-around. 

Before looking at the menu, the delightful waitress (stressing female, otherwise I wouldn’t be so sexist be add the “ess”) offered the chef special, beef quesadillas with a side offering of soup, salad, or fries.  I break tradition and get the chicken soup.  Good idea.  The eventual plate was impressive, with large dollops of salsa and sour cream.  I took a minute to overhear that same waitress dealing with difficult elderly individuals next to me, oblivious to the idea that a restaurant may at some point change its menu.  The pancake sandwich was practically hemorrhaging cheese, covered in tempting, but ultimately avoided, jalapeno chillies.  You know this thing was cooked to order; the cheese leaked onto the pan and burnt to that brilliant dark brown.

This was one of the better lunches I have had since England.  I can see why my mom recommended this place.   Shredded steak with cheese, grilled onions, and peppers, yes, thank you.  Eating Mexican food, even Mexican-inspired, is never a pretty sight but the experience was pleasant.  With the sour cream assuring it’ll take care of me, I spoon generous portions of it over the mouthfuls of quesadilla and jalapeno.  I sweat under non-spinning fans, but still enjoy my meal. 

I can’t say much about the decor.  It’s every shade of brown, whether it’s beige, umber, taupe, mahogany—basically every color on a L’eggs carouse.  I can praise the service on average, though at noon, despite not being busy, the staff all but vanished from the floor, and it took quite a few minutes to clean my table and offer a cheque.  In defense, she could have been avoiding the difficult people beside me.  One asked for a milkshake, not offered on the menu.  They still delivered, though in mango.  I’d have had it. 

Can I recommend the Coffee Garden?  Well, sure, if you like coffee.  It’s an above average generic restaurant, which automatically puts it in the top ten percent of all restaurants in the Prince George.  I know, depressing isn’t it?

 

Food:  4/5

Service:  4/5

Presentation:  3/5

Value:  3.5/5

Recommendation:  4/5

 

I’m still not sure if this is a chain or not.  If so, then I’m sorry.

 

Coffee Garden

770 Brunswick St Prince George, BC V2L 2C2
(250) 563-0121

Ramsday 11: Chocolate and Nutmeg Mousse

Ok, this was an annoying one.

Humor me a mo’

Go online and find the most complicated recipe for chocolate mousse recipe.  Go do it.  This is blog so it’s not like I need to wait.  It’s not like the words won’t still be here…unless the entire internet crashes—like ATT decides to tell the world to go fuck themselves—I’m off topic, have you found one?  Good, now add six steps; that’s the Gordon Ramsay way of doing mousse.  Basically, the whole thing revolves around mixing three different bases with some dominant flavor which defines the dish (in almost every situation, it’s limited to two or three).  To complicate matters, the book (Gordon Ramsay’s Desserts) doesn’t make it easy for you follow in a step-by-step fashion.  You’d think it would be as easy to—look-look; it’s just best that I dive right in and go from there.

300 g milk chocolate

(Don’t bother asking, the only milk chocolate you’ll find in any convenient form is milk chocolate chips.  PC offers it in their Decadent line; I’d go for that).

1 quantity of Pâté à bombe

1 quan—wait, what the—what was that?  Pâté à wha?  Two a-graves?  What the hell is this?  The book says to flip to page 86, so I flipped to page 86.  Okay, here it is, pâté à bombe base—the base recipe for all mousses Gordon Ramsay makes.  This is good.  Here’s the procedure for that:

"Prepare the pâté à bombe according to the basic method (see page 198)." 

What the fuck?  Seriously?  Sigh…OKAY.  Flipping to page 198.  Here we go.

100 ml water

150 g sugar

5 large egg yolks

I only have one stand mixer and no hand mixer.  I probably should’ve asked it for Christmas over Futurama Vol. 6.  Whatever.  I have to make stock syrup.  I did this by adding the sugar and the water to a pot, boiling until the sugar reaches 120 degrees C and then remove, all without stirring.  Easy enough, no?  No.  For one, 150 g of sugar is too little.  What happens is that I got inconsistent syrup with portions at the hard crack phase and other portions at the soft ball phase (see, I learn).   I don’t have a gas range; I have an electric, just as most humans have enjoyed since women invented the kitchen.  Adding that mixture created hard crystals in my bombe base, forcing me to discard the sugar and half the eggs and start over. 

Do what I do then, and use this very easy technique.  Use a cup of sugar (It’s not like its expensive) and just enough water to soak the whole mix.  Cook at medium-high but before stirring that ONE time, add a tablespoon of corn syrup.  It helps.  Using my digital thermometer, I waited until it read 120 degrees.

Meanwhile, through all of this, I’m whisking the six egg yolks.  I know it said five; here’s the deal.  Five egg yolks don’t reach high enough in the bowl for the stand mixer to properly mix them, so I upped it to six.  I was using more sugar, so it worked out.  When your sugar has reached the proper temperature, slowly drip syrup into the eggs while the mixer is still running.  We’re still not done.  Get a big pot with some boiling water and a heat resistant bowl overtop (not touching the water).  Drop the bombe and whisk until the whole thing turns nearly white…eh, about five minutes.  Set aside the cool.   What’s next?

1 quantity of Italian meringue base (page 86).

Are you shitting me?  Sigh…I’m just going to stay calm and not jump to conclusions.  Maybe page 86 will have a nice and easy explanation…

"Prepare the meringue according to the basic method (see page 197)." 

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  I MEAN….WHAT THE FUU…uuuu….

GRRR.

120 g sugar

1 tsp liquid glucose

2 tbs. water

2 large egg whites

This makes more sense, but why doesn’t Gordon mention the liquid glucose (which is CORN SYRUP, by the way) in the Pâté à bombe base? 120 g is still not enough; I’m better off just repeating the first step from the previous base.  Also, I’m using all the egg whites from the bombe base because they’ve already been separated.  I’ll just use any excess for something else, toast them and make a funny hat, I don’t care.  See my previous note as to why it’s important that I have more egg whites in a stand mixing bowl.  Blitz on high until you got basic peaks and repeat as before, slowly drizzling in the syrup.  The result here is much more dramatic.  You have to keep this machine going for something like five minutes.  The result should hang upside down in the bowl (try it…I dare you…double dare you…chicken).   As you might have predicted, I don’t own two stand mixers, so make sure it’s squeaky clean before you start the meringue.  A sane man would assume that I’d make the meringue first, but a meringue has a better chance of breaking down before a Pâté à bombe base would, so I’d still make the meringue last. 

Okay…so that’s done.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool.  Let’s flip back to the original mousse recipe and see what I need to do next.

"Melt the chocolate (see page 183)."

Really? 

REALLY? 

Holy Shi—you know what.  Sighhh.

I don’t care anymore.  I know how to melt chocolate.  He’s gonna say “bowl over hot water or use a microwave.”  I didn’t use the microwave.  I should have used the microwave.  Let’s move on.  You’ll still need to whip the cream.  Yeah, about that, get about 300 ml of whipping cream—the good kind.  So for the third time, I empty the stand mixer and whip the cream into tall peaks. 

To conclude this Shakespearean level dish, I folded the Pâté à bombe into the chocolate, following that up with the Italian meringue and then the cream.  As I did that, I sprinkled in about a teaspoon nutmeg.  Chill until set.

THE RESULT

About thirty cups is the result, a side effect of increasing the recipe as much as I had to.  Having a hand mixer would really help with this.  An hour after folding, the result still hasn’t set to the consistency I expect with mousse. That being said, the result is still pretty fuckin’ good.  I should be a tad bit more prepared next time, and I’ll be sure to have a hand mixer when I do so.  Nutmeg and chocolate go well together and I’m happy I had a small supper because five eggs and a cup and a half of sugar do not equate weight watchers. 

One last thing, Gordon doesn’t say this but I have read that you should never over mix your mousse, light folds only, and don’t be afraid to leave patches of white and dark in the serving glass.

WHAT I LEARNED

For one, make sure you put the cap back on your ground nutmeg so you don’t spill three bucks works down the sink.  What’s that, I used pre-ground nutmeg?  Yeah, fuck it, I couldn’t FIND whole nutmeg anywhere, so I used ground nutmeg.  Don’t judge me.  This shit’s hard, you know! 

Sigh…I’m not angry with you. 

I mean flipping through the book five times to make mousse…It’d get on anyone’s nerves. 

Second, anytime you cook eggs with sugar, the result will be stickier than a seventeen year old Japanese girl to a rich Australian banker, so clean up your kitchen or else you’ll a scraper.  Also, make sure you plan ahead and prepare some serving bowls.  I often see martini glasses being used but I don’t drink, so I have two wine glasses (cause my Mother comes by biweekly), three ramekins, and a three tea cups, not terribly organized.

NAAN BREAD

My sister offered some suggestions today.

She recommended that I post the recipes for my home-cooked meals.

She also suggested I use a different backdrop for my photos.

And since I was making naan bread for a family dinner, I decided to cover my bases…

NAAN BREAD

 

 

2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup white sugar

3-4 tablespoons yogurt

1 egg

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups AP flour

1/4 cup olive oil

 

Dissolve the yeast in the water and wait a few.  Beat your egg in the sugar (I gotta check if that’s a euphemism for something) for a minute, and add the yogurt and salt.  Dump the flour into a mixing bowl and add the yeast.  Then add the egg mixture.  I’m a lazy, lazy man, so I’m not for kneading.  I have a stand mixer; I use it.  Elbow-work is for mothers and people without electricity.  So I let that machine run for three minutes.  I toss the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it sit for an hour.

 

Now, thankfully, my oven can go above 550 degrees.  I throw a cast iron skillet in there and let it sit an unsafe amount of time.  And do wear protection ‘cause my ears are red after an evening of doing this. 

Separate the dough into racquetballs and let it set again for 30 minutes.

 

Roll the doll flat, and brush some butter on one side.  Quickly drop the flatbread on the skillet and keep mind of the time; it could take a 1 minute or 3 depending on heat in the skillet and temperature of the oven.

 

Repeat until your hands blister…

 

Enjoy with Hummus…that’ll be next…

PS:  Will this be enough, Maura?

Best Night Scene -- Best of Prince George

image

WINNER
Nancy Os

RED RIBBON
Shiraz

Basically, I created this award to point out the truly impressive evening events commonly put on by Nancy’s O’s and Shiraz.  In truth, this award is owned by Nancy Os.  I admit it; this is that one award I created for Nancy Os—it’s one of those truly special restaurants I wish deserved more credit.  This is not some hand out award for participating.  I am not going soft around the edges.  Nancy Os truly deserves recognition and this was the one award where it rates the highest.  It’s food is amazing, the décor is unique, and the staff is pleasant.  Whenever anyone complains about PG cuisine, I’d tell them to walk down 3rd Avenue.  North 54, Nancy Os, and White Goose are all there.

BEST ANECDOTES FROM MY BLOG SO FAR (Part 1)

CONNAUGHT RESTAURANT

“And there was a rather disconcerting brown stain running down the middle of the ceiling, like someone either managed to projectile vomit with such velocity as to achieve escape velocity or someone lost their bowels during a brief case of reverse gravity.”

 

CIMOS

“When I hear arguments about the fastidious and ignorant nature of Canadian countrymen in a city steeped in a legacy of lumber pulp, and the need of restaurants to compromise their originality in favor of dishes that can be replicated in a Swanson “Hungry-Man” dinner, I will respond by trumpeting the accomplishments of Cimo, White Goose, and North 54.  Prime examples that quality fine dining is not limited to larger cities.  Also, the head chef of Cimos is named Wayne Kitchen.  I shit you not.”

 

D’LANOS

“This was the kind of place that served coleslaw in a tiny cream cup and gravy in a soup bowl.  Thirty minutes after sitting down and I was finished.  The coffee jawa came around repeatedly verifying my desire to not be topped up.”

 

HART WHEEL RESTAURANT

“After snaking my way through the demilitarized zone that is Prince George construction, I finally arrive.  Initial speculation would have the Hart Wheel as a local diner, half expecting world class apple pie and damn fine cups of coffee.  Each table is decorated by mugs, silo-sized sugar decanters and those classic napkin dispensers that always seem tear the paper when I try to remove one.” 

 

CAMELOT COURT

“That was always the disappointment, where you would see the photos of meals at Denny’s or McDonalds and realize what you got was that plate after it had gone through six years of the Russian Gulag, like a before and after photo with Hurricane Katrina in between.”

 

DADDY O’S

“Let me get this out of the way, I hate wings.  Specifically, I’ve an aversion to eating meat off bones.  I don’t like the feel of it on my hands.  I don’t like getting grease on my fingers—I admit it, accuse me of being an elitist.  When I was in China, my companion ripped out a vacuum-sealed chicken wing and began to ingest it on the train.  I couldn’t even look at her; I almost gagged.  I also don’t like licking my fingers.  I know where they’ve been.  I don’t order any food which is delivered with either a water bath or a bib.  What am I, four?”

EMPRESS TEA HOUSE

"I won’t criticize Empress on the quality of its borsch.  I had no idea what borsch was until now.  If you assumed that the name borsch didn’t sound particularly appetizing, you’d best avoid it because your impressions were correct.  Borsch is for people looking to reduce their chances of cardiovascular disease by pumping themselves with beetroot, apparently the only ingredient."   

Ramsday 12: Nougat Parfait

Have you ever made a dish where everything just fell into place, where it’s simple perfection?  You just look at the results, and you get all flustered.  After which, you want to either have a cigarette or unceremoniously take a nap, that ever happen?

No?

Just me?

Umm…

Well, this is a little awkward. 

Alright then, first of all, this recipe called on me to replicate a fragment of last week’s mouse, pâté à bombe.  To recap, you’ll need 100 ml water, 150 g sugar, and 5 large egg yolks.  I once again upped the sugar to 250 mg to ensure an even boil.  My oven—and yours—may have hot spots, leading to one side being caramelized before the other…and you can’t mix it or risk crystallizing the whole thing.  Once it gets to a certain temperature, that won’t matter. 

Along with the pâté à bombe, you’ll also need the following:

150 g sugar

3 tablespoons hazelnuts

300 lm whipping cream

2 large egg whites

Lemon juice

80 g caster sugar

100 g candied fruits

3 tablespoons sultanas (raisins)

40 g pistachios, chopped

For the uneducated, hazelnuts would be cheaper if they were made out of silver.  On a side note, if anyone needs hazelnuts, I have about a pound to spare.  Pistachios always come shelled and the weight is unshelled, so get to work.  Some grocers sell assorted fruits in syrup already diced.  If not, those will have to be chopped small as well.  If the sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice look familiar, that’s because I’m going to be making a meringue, though not the Italian variety from earlier.  Use half the egg whites you pulled from the pâté à bombe. 

I’m getting a head of myself. 

So, I dumped a cup of sugar (250 replacing the 150 g; use the rest for caramel if you desire) with the water and let that boil.  When it reached light caramel, I dumped in the hazelnuts and stirred.  Five seconds later, I dumped the lot over my name-brand Silpat silicon mat and spread evenly.

Basically hazelnut brittle. 

When it cooled, I went caveman on it, breaking it up into small chunks. 

As I don’t have two mixers, I let the stand mixer whip the cream to soft peaks while I hand-whisked the egg whites with a squeeze-o-lemon.  This wasn’t actually difficult; I’m just incredibly lazy.  It’s also a little clumsy since I had to slowly mix in the sugar as you whisk.  I didn’t get the types of stiff peaks as from the Italian meringue, but it’ll be good enough for the next step. 

To conclude the whole thing, I folded the pâté à bombe with the cream, and then folded in the meringue—I know this is looking identical to the mouse.  Then I folded in the nougatine, candied fruits (make sure any syrup has been washed away), sultanas, and pistachios (I also have a bag of those if anyone’s interested).  I could eat the result by hand now, but no, I needed to get this into a loaf tin or individual molds and get them in the freezer.  I don’t have a loaf tin, but I do own an inordinate amount of Corningware.  TO unmold, warm the bottom with water and drop it onto a plate. 

RESULT

Gordon’s looked glossier but the taste was amazing.  It reminded me a lot of a sauce my mother pours over an ice cream cake she makes once a year, only in parfait form.  I feel this dish should have something beside it, like a scoop of ice cream or better yet, biscuits. 

WHAT I LEARNED

There was one thing I did notice with the pâté à bombe, specifically involving the sugar forming lumps in the egg mixture.  If I kept mixing it and breaking up the chunks that formed, eventually, it will smooth itself out.  So don’t worry if you think you’ve ruined your pâté à bombe.  Chances are you haven’t. 

With the nougatine, don’t leave any big chunks of sugar from the hazelnut brittle.  It can be murder on your teeth.

Also, I may have a slight allergy to hazelnuts.  Oh, lucky me.

Text
Photo
Quote
Link
Chat
Audio
Video