Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Granville Market - Vancouver

One of the most amazing markets we've ever visited is Granville Market in Vancouver, Canada. It is a mixture of restaurants, farmers markets, bakeries, and sellers of all sorts of food products. I could eat myself silly in that place and we nearly did on the morning we visited. If I lived nearby, I could eat there most every day of the week. I share some pictures of some of the delectable delights we saw and tasted.
One of my favorite parts of the market were the stores selling seafood. Here are some fresh salmon.
Smoked salmon, capelin and other kinds of fish.
This maple smoked salmon was fantastic.
We purchased a sampling of the smoked salmon types. All were good. The salt and pepper salmon, back left, was particularly good. 
Wonderful soft smoked salmon. 
Salmon collars.
Lots of deli style dishes.

Lots of cheese.

Cured meats. 
This wild boar prosciutto looked really good.
I had to try some in honor of the wild boar prosciutto that was confiscated from me at JFK on our way back from Italy years ago.
They also had Jamon Iberico, which we hadn't seen since being in Spain years ago - so we had to sample some of it.
Slices of Jamon Iberico.
We got some wonderful bread with black olives in it.
Blueberry bread with powdered sugar.
Foccacia bread.
This looked really good - had to have some - roasted red pepper and spinach focaccia with Asiago cheese. 
A quiche of roasted peppers. Unfortunately, this one looked better than it tasted. 
A crepe with banana and Nutella.
Trays of sweets.

More bread
Some of the nicest stuff was produce.

Mangosteen, the purple fruit to the bottom left, and rambutan, to the right. 

These currants were screaming at me.
I don't remember if these were cape gooseberries, golden berries, or something else, but they looked really good.
We got one of these baskets with a sampling and enjoyed them while we drove around in our car later than day. I would love to have better access to all of those berries. The currants were a little tart, but good and the orange berry was great.
Vancouver has great access to seafood, coastal farms, mushrooms, berries and other foods. Granville Market brings much of the best that the area has to offer. It was a treat to visit. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Annabelle's Famous Keg and Chowder House - Ketchikan

We arrived in Ketchikan on the Island Princess and immediately set out for a bear watching excursion to Anan Bay that involved a flight on a float plane.
The Island Princess docked in Ketchikan, viewed from our float plane. 
One of the bruins we viewed.
By the time we got back we were hungry. I was in salmon mode, I'd seen bears eating salmon and wanted some for myself. I really wanted to try coho. I'd tried chinook and sockeye several times and coho was the last of the big three I'd not tried. We got several recommendations for places we could get salmon and started out. Our first choice looked great, but was closed because it was between lunch and dinner. Our next choice, Alaska Fish House, was quite a walk, was completely out of salmon, except that they did have salmon tacos and were using coho. Judy patiently followed me as we turned around and left
I wanted a filet, so we tried several other places. One was a commercial fishing house that sold fish, and had coho, but would not cook it. We were running out of time and were getting hungry, so we went back to Annabelle's, a place we'd passed earlier, and found that they had chinook salmon filets, and decided to stay. 

We got off to a rocky start. Our server let us sit and sit before taking our order. We were hungry and it was a very late lunch. Then when we did order, she did not write it down, which always worries me. It took quite awhile for our food to arrive and it trickled in. I had to remind her to bring my Diet Coke, which arrived well after our food arrived, except for the clam chowder, which never did arrive. I decided not to remind her of it, I didn't want to have to wait for it.  

We started out with a pound of steamed clams in an herb garlic wine sauce with bread and butter. I adore garlic sauce with clams and mussels, more so than the clams and mussels themselves, because it is so good to dip bread into and sop it up. The broth had an extra spicy quality to it that detracted from it, and I left a good portion of it untouched, something I'm generally not inclined to do. So it was a little disappointing. 
Judy ordered wild salmon tacos, with cabbage, cheddar cheese, green onions, tomatoes and a lime cilantro sauce. She really liked them and I tried a bite and it had a nice kick to it, which worked with the tacos.  
I ordered the chinook filet and it lacked something, I'm not sure what it was. I'd ordered grilled and it looked fried. I'd had salmon many different ways by then and missed the accompanying ingredients, such as rice, greens, capers, peas, etc. I found that those ingredients really enhance the salmon and I missed them. 

They did have fantastic fries. In fact, Alaska in general, serves great fries. Cooked just right, nicely seasoned, nice size, and particularly good dipped in the accompanying tartar sauce. 
This was one of my least favorite meals in Alaska, all around. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Forage - Vancouver, B.C.

In our trip planning I often make reservations at restaurants before we leave home, sometimes one in every city we stay in. I try to discern any local cuisines we might want to try and look at Trip Advisor and Yelp for suggestions. For our Alaska trip I only booked one restaurant ahead of time and that was Forage in Vancouver. Vancouver is known for its good food and Forage was ranked no. 10 out of 2,836 restaurants. It focuses on local farms and seafood and shared small plates. This is what drew me to it. Chef Chris Whittaker is a local pioneer for responsible eating, using fish recommended for sustainability by the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program.
Our first course was conifer gnocchi in brown butter. Judy has always loved gnocchi and I'm only so-so on it. But I really liked this, perhaps my favorite ever. It had a browned crispy outside, somewhat gooey inside, and a very distinctive taste. I asked about it and was told that the small flecks we could see in the gnocchi were conifer tips, basically pine needles, which offered a very interesting and unusual pine flavor, and made me appreciate it all-the-more.
Our next dish, brought out after we'd finished the gnocchi, was corn bread cooked in a cast iron skillet with cheddar cheese and spicy honey. Another creative and nice tasting dish. This super-moist cornbread had large melted sections of cheddar. At least part of the spice was added by bits of jalapeno, or some other type of green pepper. This was great comfort food - stick-to-the-bones, moist, flavorful. I could have eaten much more of it.

A look inside the moist cornbread.
We were hitting on all cylinders. Out came another cast iron skillet filled with foraged and cultivated mushrooms, Okanagan (region of British Columbia) goat cheese and grilled caraway rye bread on the side. The rye bread was good with mounds of mushroom piled on it. This was our second mushroom on toast dish of the trip using wild and foraged mushrooms (the other was in Seward) and I was wishing Andrew could be with us to enjoy it. I liked this one, with the rye bread, best.

The last dish was Turtle Valley Bison Ranch bison ribeye, smoked sausage, smashed potatoes, pickled mushrooms and foraged green chimichurri. This is the signature dish of Forage, probably the most expensive, and the one I was looking forward to the most. I love bison ribeye. Everything about it was good, the ribeye, the potatoes, the sausage, the greens, it all worked. But taking into account the originality, the cost, as well as the taste of the various dishes, I preferred the other dishes more. The chimichurri was different from any I've had, the oil was not separated from the greens and it was almost like a green slime (not saying that in a pejorative sense). I really liked the large pieces of green scallions.
I didn't get a picture until we'd divided into it a bit.
We had a deceptively large amount of food and left stuffed. It was a great meal, worth the advance planning and I enjoyed the creativity of the dishes. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

River Otter Salami

I dropped by Exotic Meat Market a few weeks ago to share my sous vide camel ribs with Anshu Pathak, the proprietor. He was not in, but one of his employees was, and we talked for a few minutes. He asked if I'd like to try some river otter salami and I indicated I would love to. 
River otter salami
This was the first time I've tried any of Anshu's salami. I tried river otter stew meat about three years ago and it was not my favorite. It was quite strong and had a very interesting texture and taste, not bad, just very different.  I could not imagine putting it into a salami. The salami was quite large, a purplish color, the color of the river otter meat. It was full of pepper, lots and lots of pepper, but I'm guessing the pepper was necessary to tone down the taste of the meat. It was surprisingly good and nice because it did not need to be cooked first. I emailed Anshu and asked what kind of fat was included in the salami, as otter is very lean, and he responded that it was camel fat. 

A few thoughts. The salami is a great way to go for those who are trying unusual meats for the first time. It needs no cooking, it lasts quite awhile, and it can be handed out in small slices. I took it to work and shared it with co-workers and also shared it with guests at home. I got surprisingly positive reviews from those who tasted it. It is very inexpensive, comparatively. I've had the little jerky packages you can buy in gas stations with alligator, bison, elk, ostrich, kangaroo, etc. and if you look at the ingredient list, those exotic meats are mixed in with another filler such as beef or pork, you're not really tasting the meat you think you are - and they are very small. Here you are getting a lot of the indicated meat and the filler fat is camel, of all things, instead of beef or pork. I am going to have to try other varieties of Anshu's salami. He really runs an amazing operation. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Camel Ribs - Sous Vide

I've had camel in various forms and ways: camel milk; camel milk chocolatecamel sausage; ground camel in mashed potatoes; ground camel pattiescamel filet mignon; and camel ribeye. However, I've been wanting to try camel ribs for some time. Recently as I went through the freezers at Exotic Meat Market in Grand Terrace I found some and was quite excited to try them. The package had two ribs in it, identified as "short ribs," both very long and very wide. Much longer and wider than any ribs I've seen before, but quite thin. 
These two camel ribs dwarf an ordinary plate.
I'd seen a post by Justice Stewart who'd sous vided camel ribs and I went to his post for a primer. He'd also received his ribs from Exotic Meat Market and Anshu Pathak, the owner, warned him that camel ribs are "very tough and should be cooked a long time." So Stewart did his ribs for 72 hours at 133 degrees F (56 degrees C) in a sous vide. 

I was a little taken back by the long cooking time and thought I'd do it much shorter. I rubbed the ribs in some Ethiopian Berbere Spice, which includes nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, clove, onion, garlic, Himalayan pink salt, fenugreek, allspice, coriander and ajwain, and added additional pepper, garlic and salt. 

I put them in the sous vide for 9 hours and then cut the meat off the bone in strips. 
Camel ribs after 9 hours in the sous vide.
Camel meat cut from the ribs after 9 hours in the sous vide.
I was not prepared for the result. The meat had a good taste, but it was tough, tough, tough, so chewy that I finally had to spit out several bites of it. The only thing that came to mind as tough was some coyote leg I'd eaten. I was a little bumfoggled. The other kinds of camel I've tried have been very wonderful, and rib meat is generally pretty fatty. Why was this so tough? I packaged up the remaining meat and vacuum sealed it and put it back in the sous vide for another 63 hours, to equal the 72 hours Justice Stewart had done. 
The meat after an additional 63 hours in the sous vide.
The empty camel ribs.
The additional time did have a pretty dramatic impact on the meat. It was much less chewy, now edible, but it was still way more chewy than regular rib meat. If I ever do camel ribs again I will brine them over night to break them down, and then I might do them in a crock pot. Very surprising result, but that is part of what is fun about cooking unusual meats, unexpected challenges and learning ways to prepare and cook them to make them better.