Friday, May 24, 2013

Vastedda or 'Pane ca Meusa'

Hey! I ate this!

This type of sandwich is said to have its roots in the  Jewish community of medieval Palermo. A soft bun is stuffed with bits of beef spleen and beef lung which are first boiled and then fried in a little bit of lard. This one has a topping of shredded caciocavallo cheese and fresh ricotta under the meat.

This and other local snack specialties were had at L'Antica Focacceria de San Francesco in Palermo, and was said to be a more upscale version of a rough treat suitable for 'sailors or ruffians'.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Scandinavian Dining: Bistro Boheme

Just in case you can't be seated right away - you might take a nap on these plush leather sofas in the entrance to Bistro Boheme - a stylish restaurant in a lovely section of Copenhagen.

It's sort of French Brasserie meets Danish trad - for ladies who lunch, businessmen and couples looking for an open airy place to glitter in.

They really did a good job on the openfaced sandwiches, also. I only wish I could identify them with certainty. You can see from this picture that they aim to serve an arty scattered-style plate with a few exotic touches. This cashew and ruby grapefruit strewn plate has what I believe might me a crab or lobster mousse over the bread.

This is an openfaced duck sandwich. I'm not sure what is in the little pot, but a dressed salad is beside it.

This is most likely herring without which no meal in Scandi is complete.

Check out their website and explore.

Bistro Boheme
Esplanaden 8
1263 København K
Tlf.: 33 93 98 44

Scandinavian Dining: Kanal Kaffeen, Copenhagn Denmark

I'm finally getting around to talking about the wonderful restaurants we ate at in Scandinavia. I'm a little afraid to tackle Noma at this point - so I'm going to start up again with something simple and wonderful.

The Kanal Kaffeen in Copenhagen is the sort of place that serves impeccable openface sandwiches and good aquavit during lunchtime. The aquavit will be plonked down on your table and they'll watch how much of it you actually drink. You can see that we were trying various kinds from this picture. (ahem)

It's a relaxed place where friends can get together by the canal after work or anytime - and everyone's an honorary 'regular'. Apparently it often also has guests from the Christiansborg Palace where parliament is held.

The rabbit warren of tiny rooms looks like it might be below the level of the Frederiksholms Kanal - and it could possibly have been furnished in the time of Hans Christian Andersen by a committee of salty old seamen.

The sandwiches are great! - The eel and scrambled egg one in the picture above didn't last until I took the shot.

The lamb roulepolse was homemade and the shrimp and egg sandwich was without a flaw. The atmosphere was superb! Head for this place for a real Danish experience.

Kanal Cafeen

Frederiksholms Kanal 18
1220 København K
Phone: 33 11 57 70

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sandhamn Sailor Buns

We took an amazing boatride called the Thousand Island Cruise in the Swedish Archipelago on the historic boat, the Waxholm III which was built on 1903. Stromma Kanalbolaget runs this 11 hour cruise and several which are a lot shorter - but this one had a fabulous lunch buffet and a dinner, both of which were freshly cooked and extremely good. To see some pictures of this cruise go to my Flickr set on Sweden.

The route took us out to the outer Archipelago, including the island of Sandhamn, which is a sailor's paradise and a former enclave of the official pilots of the area. Historically, boats had to be guided through the maze of islands to find Stockholm. I'd believe it.

Of course, in the last while they have developed a local product for tourists to buy which is a unique local recipe. It's called a 'Sailor Bun'.

People line up to buy these yeasty, very un-sweet buns which have a crust of pearl sugar on top. They are pretty good. Here's Mark buying our buns.

So here's the bun. I'm standing on top of the 'Strindberg Mound' in Sandhamn which is an outcropping of rock in anotherwise sandy island. This is unusual for the outer archipelago which is largely bare granite; but this sandbar of an island has historically come in very useful - notably providing the sand for an artificial beach for a Hollywood starlet in the 1930s on the island of Bullerö.

August Strindberg spent a lot of time in the Archipelago, initially on Kymmendö Island which was the model for the fictional island Hemsö in his novel Natives of Hemsö. After the people read his book he had to find another island to spend his summers on. ;) I can picture him on this rock, comtemplating his plight.

Mark in the rain after dinner as we approach Stockholm.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Scandinavian Dining : Oaxen Skärgårdskrog

Apparently, THE place to dine in the Stockholm archipelago is the 50 seat terrace at Oaxen Krog overlooking the bay of Himmerfjärden. Due to inclement weather we had to eat inside - but I didn't mind. The dining room seats 40, and is absolutely charming. I was glad to explore the building - and I can sit on a deck any day.

Oaxen has been named as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world (#32) along with El Bulli (#1) and The Fat Duck (#2). Emphasis is on VERY local and quite often 'humble' ingredients transformed with all culinary arts blazing. And what can you say about the setting? - The Stockholm Archipelago is like no other place on earth. It has many moods but all are simple, stark, elegant and chic.

Their webpage is here. Address - Oaxen SE-153 93 Mörkö Sweden. Phone: +46 (0) 8-551 531 05

About 50 km out of Stockholm, it’s rather difficult to get to without a boat - but worth the effort. We hired a cab which took us through farm fields and dropped us off at a small hut on a brackish shore, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The hut kept the rain off us, and eventually a ferry arrived. After a brisk walk in the rain trying to make it on time, we found Oaxen Skärgårdskrog. (We had missed the shorter route over a hill. I was glad I didn’t wear my ‘kitten heels’. I felt like something the cat dragged in when I arrived.)

From our window seat we could see the Prince Van Orangiën, a boat which doubles as accommodation for Oaxen Krog. A great Flickr set about staying overnight on the Prince and eating at Oaxen is here. Check it out to see what the place looks like in the sun and what the rooms are like on the boat.

Here's what we ate. Not to belittle the service - it quickly became apparent that the servers couldn’t describe the courses very well and the English menu had many errors. So, some of my descriptions may be inaccurate – take all this with a grain of salt.;)

The ‘amuse’ that was sent out was a play on 'chips & dips'. A perfectly shredded and deep fried pig’s ear was paired with a dip that tasted exactly like an Alabama white BBQ sauce. I was in heaven; and it was the best version of pigskin I’ve had since Eastern Europe. I could have eaten a plate of these. The other chip was described as an ‘Isfahan sausage puree chip’ and indeed it had a mild lamb 'kubideh' taste to it but crispy. It came with a roe and herb mayo that came off a bit like a taramosalata. (no picture, alas)

The first little course was quinoa (?) with foie gras and little hats of some sort of vegetable leather (?). In tumblers was a mushroom gelée with a white sauce of some kind and glasses of ‘local water’. If this was indeed the brackish water of bay of Himmerfjärden, I wouldn’t be at all surprised - I could barely get it down.

Cockle and beef heart 'marinated with oregano and light smoke' arrived but it was scarfed down before I had a chance to take a photo. Here’s the shells, though…yes, they were superb.

Two butters from the island made from local herds (we probably saw them on the road) - one with a hint of bay leaf are served on local stones. I asked about the origin of the flake salt, but I got the impression that the server thought I was pulling her leg.

Breads were very good (as everywhere in Sweden) but at Oaxen they tended towards the soda variety and were a bit sweet for us. Undoubtedly crowd pleasers, the first ones to arrive were their ‘pancake’ (mini loaf) soda bread and sourdough (croissant shaped) roll. A second serving was sweet black soda bread (mini loaf) and Chef’s baguette slice.

A "Trou Normand". Oaxen kir royales with arctic raspberries & Pineau de Charente and a contented dinner companion.

Working from the menu provided the starters are described as – “raw shrimp & lobster with cold smoke, beetroot crudité (sic - actually was more like a canapé), sorbet of buttermilk (it looks like an egg), vild (sic) chive juice & pea crust. The raw shellfish was sweet and succulent – much like ‘dancing shrimp’ of good sushi bars.

Mark’s starter was described as – “oysters and perch with lemon verbena & horseradish jelly, broad bean pureé & blue clay baked parsley root” All I can remember is the effect of the blue clay (I had a bite) and I swear that this is the picture of the dish – but I can’t make heads or tails out of it!

My main was – “seared herb spiced top round steak of veal with deep-fried brisket of veal & molasses bread, cauliflower and loan lichen (?), sweetbread fried in garlic ash & red wine jus”. The veal was unbelievable.

Mark’s main was - “Baltic cod marinated in seawater, charcoal baked with reed (?), crab in oat porridge, pike roe, bouillon of roasted fish bones & rooster with carrot & cucumber”.

A little cheese course was – “cheese truffle with warm marmalade of Arctic raspberries & blackened goat cheese”. A little difficult to see; but all these things coated in ash were remarkable. It wasn't going to be the last time we were served somethng in ashes on this trip, either.

My dessert was – “marmalade of green tomatoes (more like poached, sweetened green tomatoes) with paté à chou (in shards), cream cheese ice cream, vanilla cream and meringue of cacao”. It was excellent.

Mark’s dessert – “pudding of raspberries with crust of white nougat and burnt sugar whit (sic) ice cream”. It was more like a custard with perhaps raspberries in it with a brulée crust.

As it is their 15th Anniversary season, a beautiful box was presented at the end of the meal with recipes in Swedish (and a promise to email translations – although I have yet to hear from them), and the menu – without which I wouldn’t have been able to describe these dishes.

Scandinavian Dining : Frantzén/Lindeberg

Frantzén/Lindeberg was the first ‘arty meal’ we had in Scandinavia. Situated in Gamla Stan, Stockholm in a couple of old houses the main dining area seats only 18 and another room 12. Frantzén/Lindeberg just received their well deserved first star from Michelin – a coup for a young kitchen and house which so obviously has a delight and passion for their art.

The restaurant offers a tasting menu and wine pairings with running commentary from the sommelier which is a performance in itself - informative and humorous. I’m afraid you’ll see that my attempts at taking pictures with the iPhone in low-light - and the influence of these wine pairings – made for VERY poor photography. You can go to their website for more info. | +46 (0)8 20 85 80 | Lilla Nygatan 21, 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden

Amuses bouches arrived in the form of smoked nuts and frico (fried cheese). The surprise was in the smoking; it was our first example of a taste/smell experience which would be repeated throughout Scandinavia. Foods were cold smoked only briefly using a specific wood and quite often were presented under a dome which contained more of the smoke. The result was ‘NOT kippered’ but only slightly redolent of the hearth. (no picture)

Appetizers were tiny tastes of mustard ice cream and a mushroom truffle, minted peas and sprouts, and yellow tomato gazpacho.

Breads everywhere in Sweden were a surprise and delight. Here bread and butters arrived as a stand-alone course with recommendations for bread and butter pairings. A sourdough épée and a mini version of a wholegrain Scandinavian flatbread with anise (complete with it's own tradidtional mini stand) arrived with two butters - a Brittany sweet cream and a smoked, cooled and beaten brown-butter.

Scallop with asparagus saffron/pistachio sauce. (no picture)

Turbot with lardo balsamic reduction potato stuffed onion with watercress sprouts, licorice root shavings and port sauce.

White soy (miso?) and truffle tea with a tiny ‘French Toast’ made of onion, 100 year old balsamico and a HUGE truffle slice on the top.

Veal sous vide, smoked pepper and bay coulis, white wine butter sauce. What a flavour! - it was superb! I was getting very overloaded with sensations by now, however.

A Tour de France of cheese. A map of France arrived with little tastes of French cheese. The Tour de France was on at the time, and an iPod also arrived with a mock TdeF running commentary of what you were tasting. Talk about a hoot! - and you can't complain about this restaurant engaging all of the senses. Here's a little snippet of a video -

Cheeseburger – a sweet course that looks like a cheeseburger. Buns were macarron shells, chocolate truffle hamburger, and the sauces were mustard (mango) and ketchup (Swedish berries). I know, it's really blurry...definitely my fault by now, and not the camera. ;)

The main dessert course - vanilla bean ice cream with sundried local strawberries and rhubarb in strawberry juice, cookie crumbs and cookie-dough sauce. (no picture – I was really beginning to lose it by then…)

Chocolate truffles and macarrons. (Maybe the sugar was waking me up.)

Just when you though it was safe to stop - coagulated apple juice sphere with a sugar and eucalyptus ‘fog’ contained under a glass dome. Frantzén/Lindeberg goes ‘molecular’. No, this time you're actually seeing a mist in the centre of the picture which was for inhaling.

At this point I really couldn't even walk home and halfway down the street a cab was hailed. Ladies, note that you might not want all the wine pairings - I certainly learnt my lesson. This place refilled glasses and gave you extra tastings of things if you showed enthusiasm.

To take back to the hotel we were given a bag with yet more chocolates, little cakes (which we had for a hotel meal) and granola (which is being eaten here at home) all made in their own bakery.

I'll remember this meal and restaurant for its warmth and humour. Observing the other tables, people obviously come here for an entertaining experience, as well as artfully done food. I'd recommend this restaurant to anyone. Go there as an 'event' when in Stockholm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scandinavian Fun - Geiranger Pizza

As many of my readers know, we just returned from a trip to Scandinavia. Many fabulous mealswere had. Most of them are almost too grand to speak of in this blog.

To wet my feet, I'll start with something very simple...the pizze we had in Geiranger, Norway.

I usually avoid getting pizza when I travel but after many long weeks of pizzalessness I usually break down and order one somewhere. I remember one with great fondness that I had in a cafe in Luang Prabang in the Lao Republic. It arrived with a tofu cheese, corn kernals, cream and snow peas. The dominant herb was thyme.

I started getting the pizza urge in Geiranger, Norway after long weeks of fabulous seafood and adventuresome cuisine in Sweden, Denmark and Bergen.

Geiranger is a village that hosts thousands of tourists in the summer months. They arrive by cruise ships and buses, caravans, cars and bicycles. The local Joker store posts a list at their front door of the boats arriving on which days, how many people they carry and what language they speak. A large hotel by the harbour has a harbour level cafe which can please everyone's tastes and pizza is quite often involved. We tried two of their special ones.

This one was my choice. The sausage was much like a salami and was made locally - which means that it is goat meat. It came with local apricots halved. Most local fruit this year hasn't gotten very sweet so the tart fruit was sort of refreshing with the slice.

Mark's choice was this reindeer pizza with the reindeer meat appearing much like fajita meat. Red onions and shredded lettuce went over the top and added to the effect. Pretty tasty!

Of course they were far too much for lunch. We doggie bagged the rest and had a feast in our room that night with a bottle of wine and licorice from Stockholm. Now - does it really get any better? Well - stay tuned!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Great Sandwiches of the GTA #5: Mihalis Place

This is the sort of European restaurant that has devoted followers who eat there every day, or have breakfast with friends before work. I'm not sure if it's Polish or Macedonian (?) but the current young ladies serving there seemed to be speaking Polish. Zakopane-like wooden objects are everywhere and  they have Polish beer and Zubruvka which is a sweetgrass-flavoured vodka which young Poles like to drink with apple cider.

Years ago I developed a fondness for a veal on a kaiser sandwich here. It is a very odd sandwich indeed, and one which I have to re-investigate quite often.

First of all - it is small enough for me to eat in one sitting. I love Italian veal sandwiches, but always have to have help with them. Second of all - although it has all the elements of an Italian veal sandwich... white bun, tomato sauce, lightly breaded veal, cheese and does not taste anything like an Italian veal sandwich. I would say the GPS on it's flavour locus would be firmly set in "Middle-Europe". Delicious - and very, very different.

Be prepared to wait a good 20 minutes for this sandwich - it seems to require a long time on the hardtop to develop. They'll ask you to sit down instead of waiting behind the take out window - you'd better do it.

Mihalis Place is at 791 Broadview, north of the Broadview subway on the same side.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great Sandwiches of the GTA #4: The Black Camel

Here it is - one of the top five sandwiches. This is one serious sandwich. It's the steak sandwich from the Black Camel.

I can hear the wails from every direction - how could I write about The Black Camel and not mention their brisket or pulled-pork sandwiches? Sorry - I almost have to send my resident sandwich-sharer to get any 'alternative' sandwiches here - because if I go there, it HAS to be the steak.

Funny thing - it really isn't a steak sandwich. It's cold, in the usual Camel soft bun and contains tons of thinly sliced rare roast beef. For me it also has to contain arugula and the charmoula mayonnaise, which is a spicy sharp sauce. If I'm really feeling like abandoning all reservations, I also have the fontina cheese.

The Black Camel doesn't really have a sign, just a black flag with a white outline of a camel on it. Nice grocery bags with this same drawing can be bought at the counter. The window signage announces the fact that it's a cafe and that sandwiches can be obtained. 

The inside may indeed have a few seats taken up with young ladies from Branksome Hall in their plaid kilts. One can overhear orders coming in on the phone for 50 sandwiches at a time - probably finding their way down to FilmPort. Wide eyed newbys gaze in amazement at the menu on the blackboard. You can look at a book of historical pictures of Rosedale while you wait in line.

Last summer when we were having our house painted I had many philosophical discussions on the merits of the various Camel sandwiches with the painting crew. If you can't find this little gem - stop and ask any painter or home renovator in Rosedale. It's right across from Rosedale Subway station just off Yonge Street.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great Sandwiches of the GTA #3 : The Original California Sandwiches

Here's one of my top ten sandwiches. I don't eat one very often - I don't think my constitution could take it. I usually have to have a nap afterwards. I suppose if one were a construction worker or a firefighter this puppy would stoke your engine for an afternoon of heavy work; but for a ceramic restorer it's a little bit much.

That being said, this sandwich rates high on both categories of my secret rating system. First, food of any sort - and it doesn't have to be spicy or very warm - will make my nose run if I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it. I don't know what that means - perhaps I am weeping at the beauty of it all. Secondly, if a food really turns me on, I really BOLT it down - I can't help myself - I snuffle the thing down so fast I almost gag...I barely have time to breathe. Not many foods do both of these things but this sandwich is right up there with childhood guilty pleasures like perogies and good shrimp fried rice.

Of course, there's always getting it sliced in half and sharing it with a friend - but somehow I always want the whole thing. There are signs in the sandwich shop asking that you notify them in advance if you wish to have it cut - but I was told by an old Italian sandwich expert that keeping it in one piece is a guarantee that you can manage to eat it with less of a mess. As you can see from the picture, they assumed I wanted it cut. The three guys ahead of me in line asked for a cut, and when the lady at the counter took one look at the little female customer, I think the deal was sealed.

Now, I'm talking about the original California Sandwiches in downtown Toronto at the corner of Claremont and Treford Place, in a maze of one way residential streets between College and Dundas, Bathurst and Ossington. Even finding the door is difficult. In the picture above it's hidden behind the pickup truck.

There's a bit of seating in the front but the main action is at the counter where the sandwiches are ordered and dealt out - usually for take out.

Parking is usually easy on the streets around and you'll know you're close to the right place when the percentage of vehicles turns to panel vans and trucks. Yesterday, a front-end loader pulled up behind me - the guy was getting his lunch.

And, it's all about the veal here - tons of freshly breaded and fried up veal that really tastes like VEAL in a couple of layers in a huge kaiser roll. The sauce is perfect, goopy and excessive - and I can sometimes be spotted in my MINI looking like a lion at the kill. If you ask for hot peppers, they really tend to add them - but not in a crazy abundance. There used to be a time when one ordered in a sort of verbal 'code', but the lady there drew a blank when I asked for a hot veal with grinders (maybe she's new).

All I can say is - "YIKES! That's a sandwich!". I'm not sure what the connection is with the fancy California Sandwich shops in the suburbs. I've tried them various times - but it's never the same as the true original. May it never change!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Great Sandwiches of the GTA #2 : The Fish Store

On College Street there is a small, almost triangular spot. I'm not sure I can call it a 'shop' or 'restaurant' - it's almost more like a permanent 'stall' that makes up the most exquisite fish sandwiches. It's called The Fish Store. Follow this link to read even more - I'm not the first to sing it's praises. It's definitely on my top ten sandwiches list.

When you arrive you are asked to pick a type of fish. The fish is out for you to see on the counter, like a fish store. It's hard to pick - it's FRESH! There is also some seafood. When I took the picture above, I had found a plastic seat up against the end wall - you are looking at the entire place. Don't expect to get a place inside to sit when the weather warms up - the lineup will be out the door! There's places to sit outside on picnic tables.

They also make great soups, apparently...but I can never get enough of their wonderful sandwiches. My grouper sandwich today had assorted vegetables and cilantro with a spicy sauce, Sriracha and tabasco were also available. Even the buns are great.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eating Out of Hand: Great Sandwiches of the GTA

Part One : Pita Grill in Mississauga Falafel Wrap

Here's to the sandwich - when it's done well, it can be a thing of beauty. I've been meaning to start a sandwich series for a while, but when I get one of my favourite sandwiches and drag it back to my car, I never think of getting the camera out.

Well, now it's all going to change. Here's part one of this series and it's actually a wrap. This beauty is from a small place called Pita Grill (perhaps styled after the Manhattan Pita Grills - but not associated) and it's in a plaza in Mississauga that has a Starsky's supermarket and a Mandarin Restaurant on the north side of Dundas Street West (in the 3000s) at Winston Churchill Blvd.

This sandwich is perhaps a little large for me, just bursting with vegetables. This is made up with onions, pickled jalepenos, pink pickled turnip, a salad of cabbage and parsley, tons of tahini sauce and a little hot sauce.

It takes four people to make this packet of goodness -  they pass it along assembly-line style and refine it as it goes. Falafel balls don't get fried on demand during the lunch hours, but are fresh and properly smooshed down by hand - there isn't any air in this pouch of pulchritude.

Gosh, I feel full! - but healthy. ;)

While I'm out here in Mississauga, I also have to pass down one of Mississauga's best bets for lunch. There is a place called Bara's "Hut" Doubles and Roti at Dundas and Camilla (127 Dundas Street East, north side, (905) 281-9368.  If you've never had a 'double' - try one from here first. It will set a standard that will be hard to come up to anywhere else. Google their name and find tons of happy customers raving about them. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

The TinTin Chestnut Adventure

I saw chestnuts being sold at T&T Supermarket and decided to try them out. There was a large write up on them posted nearby which told of a Toronto guy who was importing these from China, aging them so that they turned largely to sugar and then roasted them fresh daily. The name of the company was Tin Tin.

Not knowing much about chestnuts, except when they came in a MontBlanc, I figured it was worth the experience for a few buck's investment.

Much to my surprise, when I got them home I found them to be quite leathery in the shell. If this shell was pierced (there was a description of a Japanese chestnut-shelling tool in the article, but unfortunately T&T didn't sell them) one could squeeze the shell and extract the nut. Most of the time it would also come free of the papery inner covering also.

It really didn't seem to be worth the fuss, however, as they were very bland and too sweet. Far too much of a carb hit! Sasha the cat found a use for them first, fishing them out of the bag and chasing them around until she fancied a new one...but I persevered and finally made something nice out of them.

Chestnut Chocolate Rum Patee

I shelled the ones the cat didn't get and boiled them up with a little milk, vanilla, a pinch of salt  and a glug of dark rum and a glug of honey. Then I turned off the heat, covered them and went to Pilates.

When I returned I threw them in a food processor with a few nubs of dark chocolate, more rum,  sour cream and pureed them until I found a flavour and consistency I liked. 


Monday, February 16, 2009

Chino Locos Review

Great review of Chino Locos - from the Film Buff on Queen Street East in Toronto.

I read the above review of this new fusion burrito place in Ashbridge's Bay area of Toronto and it made me salivate at the very thought of trying them out. Chino Locos (see their menu at this website) is at 4 Greenwood Avenue, just around the corner from Queen Street East. 

If these guys are crazy - they're crazy like foxes. Three cooks in a hole-in-the-wall smaller than my home kitchen greet you, wave knives and tell you stories while a friendly young lass takes your order. The kids are fresh and the decor fresher - with Lucha Libre masks, local papers and people's business cards pinned to a corkboard.

Read the great review I mentioned for descriptions of the burrito in mouth-watering detail. I won't duplicate it here - but BOY - this is good eats! - fresh and healthy with complex taste combinations that go way beyond Mexican or Chinese. Woooooo!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Search of Great Herring

We recently had a brunch with friends who like pickled herring and a 'herring tasting' was proposed for some time in the future. I admit my heart sank...I haven't been able to find prepared herring I've liked for a while and I've never prepared or pickled my own. 

The most impressive herring experience I've had was having raw matjes on a slice of bread with onion in Leiden at the time of the Ontzet. I also used to like the herrings from the tubs at a store formerly at York Mills Plaza - but they're not there any more. I recently retried the Abba herring jars from Ikea (which will do in a pinch), and some "Solomon Gundy" from a Loblaws (which was too vinegar-y). The jarred rollmops of the world always seem too sweet. What does a herring-loving lady do?

A business jaunt took me to the wilds of Mississauga where I found an abundance of herring at Starsky's supermarket. There were many kinds and I should have bought a great many more varieties to try, but being conservative, I left with only one -  and BINGO! - it's become a new favourite.

It's the Lisner brand 'Bosmanskie herring' [bosun's style - labelled herring fillets in oil boatswian (sic) style on the translation sticker] from Poland. I wish I had bought the large size of this!

These seem lightly pickled then rolled up and placed on a bed of onion. They are speckled with spices which are very mild, but DO add a lot besides a strange look. The overall taste is quite a lot fresher than most pickled herring. They do not taste too sour or too sweet. I could eat these forever.

Second runner up is from a Sobey's supermarket (I believe I also saw it at Starsky's). Golden Herring fillets in wine marinade is a standard chopped squares of herring a sweet/sour vinegar  with onion - a Solomon Gundy sort of herring and a decent one. It's a product of Canada.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Day After Boxing Day Pizza

Here's a little Tre Stagione pizza I made as an antidote to Christmas food. It was in honour of the black truffle olive oil we received as a present from our friends, John and Victoria Carley.

After years of making pizza dough in various ways, and getting too soft or too sweet a dough, I went back to my notes I made at the elbow of Sam Furgiuele - the father of my friend Cathy. There are no measurements - just technique. originally this would have been made on a table - volcano-style. I used a stand mixer, but kept true to the traditional way of combining things.

The right side has a bed of (leftover) braised leeks finished with heavy cream and tarragon. They got chopped up and topped with a wonderful Westfalian ham from Leslieville Cheese store. Little dots of Gaie Blue cheese from New Brunswick were scattered over.

The middle section was some nice cremini mushrooms I got at Harvest Wagon and roasted up in a hot pan. They went over passato and were finished with olive oil and mozzarella cheese.

The left side also had the passato, with oregano and Westfalian ham and mozzarella cheese punctuated with a few cherry tomato quarters.

A shaving of Reggiano parmesan, fleur de sel and olive oil went over it all. The famous truffled olive oil was kept off the pizza until it was served and drizzled on at the table.

The verdict on the crust? - the old ways are best!!!