Chinatown Ottawa

One of the first things we learned on our first visit to Ottawa was that there wasn’t as vibrant of a Chinese culinary community in Ottawa as compared to Calgary. While there was a Chinatown, I did not expect it to be smaller than Calgary’s (which is small in comparison to other big metropolitan centres in Canada!).

But we found some great little gems along Somerset Street where Chinatown is located.

One of my biggest concerns was finding Asian grocers to fulfill some of my requirements for foodstuffs, luckily I have found two Vietnamese supermarkets in Kanata and a few Chinese/Vietnamese supermarkets along Somerset. There is a T&T Supermarket, but while you can get many of the staples there, the pricing for meat and seafood is not always the best.

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Review: Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.

Growing up I was never a fan of bagels, to top it off, I was not a fan of cream cheese (or cheese for that matter). So in my mind, why spend money on a bagel and cream cheese when you dislike both items?

Fast forward to today. Now, I enjoy bagels, but they have to be fairly fresh and involve meat. Bagel and cream cheese? Um, no thanks… Bagel and meat? Please!

And so when we had a church staff and board retreat in last October in Canmore, Alberta, it was a pleasant surprise for us to drop in on a busy Sunday morning to grace the local establishment known as Rocky Mountain Bagel Company.

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From Nose to Tail

Yesterday, two good friends of mine had mentioned that they had seen a book at called The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating at a store and instantly thought of me. In Vietnamese culture, as in many other cultures, when preparing an animal for consumption, often the entire animal is put to use as much as possible.

I’ve only ever grown up eating an entire chicken or parts of the pig or beef (often called offal) that you would not find in Western cuisines.

So when I went to a birthday party yesterday, I was absolutely delighted to see an entire suckling pig presented to each table at the party!

An interesting exercise that I often partake is then to observe people and how they react to an entire animal being presented for dinner. Some people were obviously alarmed as the only part of a pig that they had ever seen was a hotdog (and really… we know that a hotdog really doesn’t just have pork in it…). Others were excited with curved smiles that would make a banana jealous.

Still eating something as simple as roasted pork skin (or crackling) is an oft missed opportunity in North American cuisines, let alone the soft and succulent portions of meat found on a pig’s head (e.g. the cheek or the jaw meat).

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Processing and Preparing Your Own Food

Because of the busyness of life, lack of time or simply having never learned the skills, many people in our society today do not know how to process their own food. I’m not suggesting that we all need to raise animals and know how to slaughter them or go hunting in order to get our proteins. What I mean is that we often trade quality of our foods often for immediacy and availability by choosing to buy processed chicken or other meats, sauces, and “instant” foods.

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Food: The Epitome of Creation

Bread Basket from Wilde Grainz Artisan Bakery, Calgary AB

If one were to use words to capture in the imagination the wonder of food, I would suggest that food is the epitome of Creation. Yes, I am suggesting that in the creative world of culinary arts, there is that hint of the creativity that God has bestowed upon all of humanity. From the intricate design of food art to the amazing subtleties and raw flavour found in the myriad of sauces from cultures all around the world – food is creative. It bestows upon us the sense of the divine.

Whether it is the intricate designs that can be carved into a soft and sensitive piece of tofu, to artisan’s mastery of creating a piece of bread that carries just the right toughness on the crust and yet is airy and light on the inside. The creativity of food piques our hearts and mind to the sense that we can taste a bit of heaven in some of the best things that we have here on earth.

I like food. I’ve been cooking since I was ten years old, seventeen years later, I have found a profound and even euphoric experience in cooking and of course, eating.

I cook alot. I eat alot. And I love to write. I thought, what the heck, I am going to combine all three of those passions and start a food blog!

My culinary background is in Vietnamese cooking, over the past seventeen years, I have added Chinese, French, and Italian cuisine to my repertoire as well. Whether it is the richness of a French pastry (and the insane 4 to 6 hours put into making a block of puff pastry) to the freshness of making your own tagliatelle pasta, I love it all!

This blog will be a tapestry for me to share my family recipes and to some of my own food creations with the world. It will be a place where I will also share restaurant reviews and also my pondering about food and life – a foodology of sorts!

I invite you to join me on my travels and adventures! Subscribe to the blog, write emails, ask questions! Let’s have fun with this because ultimately, food is about relationships.