Lucky Dip – Monday, November 28th, 2011

Oh, hippies… Occupy Toronto protesters have taken over the basement of St. Patrick’s Market, a building owned by the city but leased out to various food shops, and the soon-to-be home of The Grove food emporium. The hippies occupiers swear to run a food strike and then a hunger strike unless they can become legitimate tenants of the space. [Toronto Star] [Globe and Mail]

Let it be noted that we are the architects of our own demise. Canada and Mexico are arguing that the US’s super-awesome Country of Origin Labelling laws violate the free trade agreement our countries have all been roped into. Which means that, besides forcing the US to stop labelling the food it sells so that consumers can know where it comes from, the chance of getting similar laws here in Canada (which local food advocates have requesting for years) is pretty much screwed. [Food Safety News]

Poor weather in the US south means that peanut butter is now too expensive to stock at food banks. [Village Voice: Fork in the Road]

You know how it just takes some people a while to figure out where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing? Writer Sarah B. Hood finally found her “thing”, cooking in the historic kitchen at Fort York. [Toronto Tasting Notes]

Yet again, this holiday season, Brits are in the aisles of Waitrose fighting over the last Heston Blumenthal Christmas pudding. [Independent]

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Lucky Dip – Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Has science found a way to turn off food allergies? Even more interesting to me is the similarity/comparison  to multiple sclerosis. I have a friend who swears that her MS gets worse when she’s suffering from food allergies – she literally can’t walk if she eats wheat. Really intrigued to see where this goes. [MSNBC: Vitals]

Is the now-ubiquitous Italian trattoria replacing the doughnut shop and pub? [The Grid]

Are we pushing the holidays or is everybody just excited to find out what “pine sugar” really tastes like? Heston Blumenthal’s mince pies go on sale in the UK this week. Last year they were fighting in the aisles and selling them at a 300% mark-up on eBay. [Guardian]

The pizza in a cone thing is not new – but it’s new to Toronto. The Mad Italian offers it at both Toronto locations. [Toronto Star]

8 ways to cut your food waste. [Culinate]

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Lucky Dip – Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Back in my days in Kensington Market, we’d refer to the week or so before school started as “pup season”; in part because of all the keen shiny young kids from cities and towns far and wide converging on Toronto to attend university, and also because if they were of the punk/goth/industrial persuasion, they’d inevitably be wearing a Skinny Puppy t-shirt. This week Steven Davey has a whole selection of food stories for “pup season” from cheap eats and late-night noshing to delivery options and of course, the obligatory experiment (especially for Skinny Puppy fans) with veganism. [NOW]

Speaking of cheap eats – will the Urban Eatery concept at the Eaton Centre actually work or is it going to be a big ol’ disaster zone come Saturday afternoons? [BlogTO]

New food adjective – “Hestonian”, as in the 3 Hestonian flavours of frozen cookie dough that Blumenthal is selling through Waitrose. [Telegraph]

Martini = gin & vermouth. That’s it. Appletinis do not count, and are just one ofthe many signs that you’ve picked a bad restaurant. [Food & Wine: Mouthing Off]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, May 30th, 2011

Lentil chips? Fruit snacks? Is the end nigh for good old sugar and powdered beetle wings?? Sing it with me folks, I Want Candy! [The Atlantic]

The USDA’s food pyramid is so ubiquitous, most Canadians think it’s the system we use as well. But it’s getting a redesign and will apparently look more like a plate, which might actually be a better gauge for people to calculate their food portions. [CBS Atlanta]

Would you like some tea with your Secret Pickles? This supper club is laid back and unpretentious. [The Grid]

Heston Blumenthal creates a pommery mustard ice cream for UK supermarket Waitrose. [Daily Mail]

Canadians share a common border with our neighbours to the south, but we have very different tastes in snack food. [Toronto Sun]

If you could redesign the nutrition label on packaged foods, what would it look like? Now’s your chance to show the world. [Food Politics]

Could foods containing a potentially lethal chemical have been shipped to Canada? [Globe and Mail]

An e.coli outbreak in Germany has killed 14 and may be linked to cucumbers. [Toronto Sun]

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From Away

You’ve gotta give Marco Pierre White credit – his whole career has been about stirring things up and being in the spotlight, even if it hasn’t been all positive. He was in town last month to promote Knorr stock cubes, a product that he’s shilled in the UK for a few years. When challenged on their use, he gets defensive, insisting that he uses the product in all of his restaurants. Okay, whatever.

The fuss this time around comes from a piece in The Atlantic that basically skewers a couple of Toronto food writers for gushing about White and his stock cubes when he was in town, making the writers (newspaper writers, mostly) out to be bumbling hicks. My opinion of newspaper food columns is not what I’m on about today, though. In defense of the individuals – it *was* Marco Pierre White. And whether you like stock cubes or not, there’s no arguing that he’s the original rock star chef. It would be like a bunch of music writers being invited to a private jam session with the Rolling Stones. Even if you hated their last album, you’re not going to pass up the experience to meet them. You might have less respect for them because of that last album, but you overlook it compared to their lifelong body of work.

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Buried Treasure – The Hidden Gems of the Food Network and Why You Can’t Find Them

It’s no secret that I would rather watch UK food shows than anything made in Canada or the US. Chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Valentine Warner and even Gordon Ramsay do a lot of good work for Channel 4 and the BBC when it comes to promoting seasonal, local, sustainable foodways. For years, Greg and I have had no choice but to download these from online file-sharing sites (shhh!!) because they seldom get shown here and there’s few, if any, domestic equivalents.

Except, bit by bit, Food Network Canada has been picking these shows up. Heston Blumenthal’s Big Chef Takes on Little Chef series that ran last year recently got aired here. Likewise his feasts series in which he recreates (with his own twists, of course) historic meals. Jamie Oliver is a big commodity on this side of the pond, so most of his stuff eventually shows up, but sometimes up to a year after its original air date.

This delay is annoying enough, but makes sense – Channel 4 wants to rerun these shows before selling the rights to anyone else. My frustration is that when Food Network Canada finally gets them, they do very little to promote them.

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