toronto newborn and family photographer

Jaspal and Aastha - Toronto Newborn and Family Photographer

Yesterday I did a maternity shoot with Jaspal and Aastha. They’re 6 months pregnant and recently learned that they’re having a baby boy! They’re a wonderful couple with a fantastic sense of humor, and they were very warm and welcoming. We had lots of fun during our shoot, and afterwards they made me an Indian lunch. It was delicious!

It was so much fun to photograph you, Jaspal and Aastha! I can’t wait for our next shoot and to meet your baby boy!

A small career milestone, kind of.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to have my photographs published in magazines. In the days of Blueprint magazine (RIP), the hip younger sister of Martha Stewart Living, there was nothing that I wanted more than to be featured in their pages. When they folded I decided that being in Martha Stewart Living would suffice.

This month it happened. Kind of.

Martha Stewart Living licensed one of my photos from Getty Images to use in an Iams advertisement in their magazine. That sweet little cat was the one that befriended us in Costa Rica last December.

So, not exactly how I imagined it, but technically it is an achievement of one of my goals. Now, the next step is to shoot for one of their editorial spreads rather than for one of their advertisements. ;)

7 Course BBQ Tasting at Buster Rhino's Southern BBQ

We braved the snowy roads today and drove up to Whitby with hungry stomachs and watering mouths to attend a 7 course tasting at Buster Rhino’s Southern BBQ in Whitby, Ontario.

Buster Rhino’s is a restaurant that R and I frequent whenever we happen to be in Whitby, which is more frequently than you might imagine. There’s a forest down the road from Buster Rhino’s and it’s a great place to find owls. So far I’ve seen a Great Horned Owl and a Northern Saw Whet Owl there. In case you guys didn’t know, R is a total bird nerd. If I didn’t spend time birding with him I’d probably never get to spend any time with him!

Anyway. Back to the point of this post: The tasting!

We attended the first tasting series last year, but this year Darryl, the owner, promised to serve some different and exciting dishes, so we signed up again for round 2.

Our amuse bouche was a jar of deep fried black eyed peas, seasoned with the Buster Rhino’s seasoning salt blend. They were really good! I’ve had deep fried chickpeas at the Hoof Cafe, but I have to admit that these were better. I think that black eyed peas just lend themselves to deep frying better than chickpeas. Darryl admitted that he got the idea from Alton Brown. I like it when someone is modest enough to give credit when credit is due!

Course 1 - Pig Candy. Darryl says that Pig Candy is a slice of bacon that has been cooked to slightly crispy then covered with a sweet mixture of sugar and spices. It is then cooked again until the sugar has melted then it is cooled down. This was great. Salty and sweet are always a winning combination.

Course 2: The Buster Rhino’s BBQ take on stuffed potato skins. These were great! They had BBQ sauce, brisket, caramelized onions, smoked cheddar cheese and a garnish of green onions. I wish that they would put these on the everyday menu! They were perfect. Darryl says that smoking cheese is a very delicate process and when it’s not combined with something else, it’s way too smokey to eat on its own until months after it’s come out of the smoker. Also, a tip for people buying smoked cheese: If you cut into it and it’s not brown near the rind, it’s probably made with artificial smoke. True smoked cheese will have a ring of brown around the outside. Good to know!

Course 3: “Redneck Wellington”. This wasn’t really redneck-y at all! It was house made Italian beef sausage, formed into a meatball and wrapped in dough. It looked very Asian and tasted very Italian. I loved it and would try making these for a dinner party sometime!

Course 4 - Pulled Pork Slider. Darryl says that pulled Pork in the Southern US is just called “BBQ”. If you ask for BBQ in the Southern US, you’ll get pulled pork. If you want to truly try it Southern Style you will put the coleslaw right on the slider. They slow smoke this their pork shoulders for 16+ hours with real locally sourced cherry wood which produces a nice sweet smoke taste and wonderful pink smoke ring to it. I did put my coleslaw onto my sandwich, and it was better that way. I’m used to really sloppy, saucy pulled pork sandwiches so it was a nice change to actually taste the meat in this one.

Course 5: Beef Brisket Slider with potato salad. Darryl learned his brisket recipe from a Texan that knew how to make a killer brisket. It comes with a wonderful side The sweet potato salad was good, and a welcome palate cleanser after so much meat! I’ve had the brisket here before, so I knew what I was in for. I love the brisket. It’s even better with some of their home made BBQ sauce.

Course 6: Southern Dry Rub Ribs and Baked Beans. The dry rub that is applied is Darryl’s family’s secret recipe from the Three Time State Champions Smoke Shack BBQ Team. Darryl asked us to try them without sauce before we put sauce on them, and since I’ve had the ribs before I knew that no one would put sauce on them after they tried them without! These are like no other ribs I’ve ever tasted. Ribs here in the city are mostly the super saucy kind. And I do love me some super saucy ribs. But the dry rubbed smoked ribs are completely different. And they smelled like a campfire! The baked beans were the perfect companions to this dish, but I ended up giving R one of my ribs and half of my beans because I was starting to run out of steam.

Course 7: Double vanilla ice cream with candied pecan and bacon brittle. This was definitely a happy ending to this meal. The pecan-bacon brittle was the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and every once in a while you get a little punch of smokey bacon taste. If you think that meat has no business in dessert, you are dead wrong. Darryl promised to share the recipe for this on his website (in fact, he’s going to use the image above when he does), and when he posts it I will make sure that everyone here gets the recipe too.

1.31.2010

External image



We drove an hour out of the city today to visit Buster Rhino’s, an authentic southern BBQ joint. Darrly Koster, the president of Buster Rhino’s, was hosting a private tasting night. He served a seven course meal and gave a talk about southern BBQ while we were eating.

Buster Rhino’s restaurant is actually inside of a meat packing plant in the middle of an industrial park. They started out making food to sell to other restaurants, but decided to open up a restaurant in the front of the plant to service the other warehouses and factories in the area. There is absolutely zero decor. It’s like sitting in the break room at an automotive factory. The tables are black with mesh tops, the floor is a gray non-slip surface, the ceilings are high and the lights are florescent. But we city folks love a good hole-in-the-wall. We love to have a dirty little secret to drive for an hour to visit. That’s why (I think these are the numbers that Darryl gave us:) over 50% of Buster Rhino’s customers are from Toronto and less than 50% are from the small town where they’re actually located.

Anyway, their focus is definitely on the food. And that’s fine with me!




External image


Course 1 - Pig Candy. Description from the website: “Pig Candy is a slice of bacon that has been cooked to slightly crispy then covered with a sweet mixture of sugar and spices. It is then cooked again until the sugar has melted then it is cooled down. The end result is a product like you would never imagine.” This was good, but not quite as candy-like as I’d imagined.

External image


Course 2 - Smokin Jalapeno Bites. Description from the website: “These are commonly referred to as ABT’s in the Southern BBQ world, unfortunately calling something this in the restaurant business isn’t conducive to people actually trying them (Atomic Buffalo Turds). Smokin Jalapeno Bites are Jalapeno Peppers cut in half length wise, cored, stuffed with a cream cheese mixture then wrapped in a succulent piece of bacon which are lovingly BBQ’d until the bacon is done. The most common response we get from these little morsels of goodness is…OMG!!!” These looked pretty sloppy, but they tasted great. I can’t handle a ton of spice, so I was ready to pass on these, but I tried one anyway because Darryl explained that jalapeno peppers vary a lot when it comes to spiciness. Out of the three that I ate, one was almost unbearably spicy, one was slightly spicy and the other had almost no kick at all.

External image


Course 3 - Bacon Explosion. There’s no description of this on the website, so here’s what I remember Darryl saying about it. The bacon explosion is bacon that is pan fried and cooled, then wrapped in a sausage, then wrapped with more bacon, then smoked to perfection. I could only eat half! I knew that there were still 5 more courses to come and I didn’t want to ruin my appetite for what was next…

External image


Course 4 - Pulled Pork Slider. The website says: “Pulled Pork in the Southern US is called "BBQ”, so this wonderful BBQ sandwich comes with a side of coleslaw. If you want to truly try it Southern Style you will put the coleslaw right on the slider. Pulled Pork is our Signature product that we produce and sell the most of. We slow smoke this product for 16+ hours with real cherry wood which produces a nice sweet smoke taste and wonderful smoke ring to it.“ I did put my coleslaw onto my sandwich, and it was better that way. I’m used to really sloppy, saucy pulled pork sandwiches so it was a nice change to actually taste the meat in this one.

External image


Course 5 - Beef Brisket Slider. From the website: "Our beef brisket is by far our most under rated product by our customers. The usual pattern is a customer orders pulled pork for months, then we convince them to try the brisket. 99.9% of the time we get this look of amazement and the words "why didn’t I eat this sooner”. Brisket is probably the toughest product we have to cook correctly. Luckily I was taught by a Texan that knew exactly how to make a killer Brisket. It comes with a wonderful side of Sweet Potato Salad.“ The sweet potato salad was good, especially after so much meat! I’ve had the brisket here before, so I knew what I was in for. I love the brisket. It’s even better with some of their home made BBQ sauce.

External image


Course 5.5 - Koolicke. A pickle brined in cherry Kool-aid. Darryl just had a couple of these sitting around and passed them out to the people who wanted them. It tasted pretty good! Sweeter than a normal pickle. Darryl explained the process of making them: Buy a jar of sweet pickles (the kind with garlic doesn’t marry well with the Kool-aid), drain and reserve the brine. Mix a package of Kool-aid and a cup of sugar in with the brine, then put the pickles back in and let them sit for a couple of days.

External image


Course 6 - Southern Dry Rub Ribs and Hushpuppies. From the website: "Three bones of our amazing ribs and sought after hushpuppies. These two products we constantly sell out of at our restaurant and we believe you will understand why once you have tasted them. The dry rub that is applied is my families secret recipe from the Three Time State Champions Smoke Shack BBQ Team. You can either eat them as a dry product (as most of our customers do) or you can smother them in one of our three homemade BBQ sauces.” These were like no other ribs I’ve ever tasted. Ribs here in the city are mostly the super saucy kind. And I do love me some super saucy ribs. But the dry rubbed smoked ribs were completely different. And they smelled like a campfire! Hushpuppies are like deep fried balls of corn bread. I can only eat half of one before I’ve had enough. They’re incredibly salty, although I’m sure that’s why most people like them.

External image


Course 7 - Smoked Mars bar with house-made vanilla ice cream and smoked caramel sauce. No description on the website, but Darryl told us that it’s incredibly hard to smoke chocolate because of its low melting temperature, but it holds smoke incredibly well so he loves to experiment with it. Basically, they freeze the chocolate bars and smoke them for a couple of minutes. The smoke taste did come through, but after eating the super smokey ribs it was hard to pick up on it. The ice cream and smoked caramel sauce was a nice refreshing finish.