Sunday, 31 May 2015

Book ~ "The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue" (2014) David Sax

From Goodreads ~ Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.

Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the ’80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?

In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America’s premier grain guru to Chicago’s gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. "The Tastemakers" is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it and why. 

David Sax is a freelance writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Saveur, The Grid Toronto, and other publications.

In this book, Sax analyses food trends in three categories:

  1. The four types of trends - cultural, agriculture, chefs and health
  2. How trends break out - sales (the sofi awards), data (the trendwatchers) and marketing
  3. Why food trends matter - ethnic foods, food politics, money and an update on fondue

Sax traveled around North America (including his hometown of Toronto) interviewing chefs, heads of food manufacturing companies, producers of food products, judges in food shows and more to discuss food and trends in food.

I thought it was an interesting topic and book.  I found the history of bacon an interesting chapter.  No one ate bacon then all of a sudden everyone was having bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Then bacon was unhealthy and evil and no one ate it.  Then along came the Atkins Diet where is was okay to have bacon again.  Then the Atkins Diet was discredited and no one ate bacon.  Then the pork industry came up with the "Pork:  the Other White Meat" campaign and people were eating pork again.  All of a sudden, bacon is a condiment on burgers and sandwiches AND we are paying extra for it!

Other chapters that were interesting were how East Indian food has been on the verge of being trendy EVERY year but it never happens; a couple in Ontario who are growing the rare Red Prince apples; reminding me about the healthiness of chia seeds. the food truck revolution, etc.

I liked the writing style.  As a head's up, there is some swearing in some of the interviews.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Toronto Rock 9, Edmonton Rush 15

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  This is our third year going to the games and our second year having seasons tickets.

Toronto hosted the Edmonton Rush tonight in the Champion's Cup (it was game one of three in the playoffs).  For the first time in NLL history, it is an all-Canadian final for the Champion's Cup.

Tim, who is a season ticket holder who sits in front of us, showed his support for the Rock.

As usual, Scotty Newlands sang the national anthem.

Amsterdam Bicycle Club, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper before the Toronto Rock game at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club on the Esplanade.

We'd walked by it a couple months ago and it sounded like a cool name so we thought we'd check it out tonight.

It turns out it is the bar of the Old Spaghetti Factory (the food is prepared in the same kitchen and the menu is similar).  Plus it's where people sit while they are waiting for a table at the Old Spaghetti Factory (which was packed).

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Craft Brasserie & Grille, Toronto, ON

The Craft Brasserie & Grille opened a couple weeks ago in Liberty Village (our 'hood).  As fans of craft beer, Gord and I have been looking forward to it.

They have 120 craft beer on tap.

Look at all those taps!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

JOEY Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB

I had lunch today at JOEY Polo Park.

I ordered the Hourly Roasted Rotisserie Chicken (minus the veggies).  It was delicious!  There were two big pieces of chicken (a breast and a thigh) and it was sooooo tender.  The potatoes were like homemade.  The gravy had a nice kick to it.  I would definitely get this again.

Amanda was my server.  She was friendly and helpful and took excellent care of me.

Joey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel by Lakeview, Winnipeg, MB

I have a seminar and one-on-ones to conduct for a client today in Winnipeg.  I flew in from Edmonton last night and spent the night at the Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel, which is at the airport and close to the client's site.  It's fairly new and has been open for about a year and a half.

Here's my room ...

My view was of the parking lot right next door
A comfy king bed just for me!
They have ipods in the room, which I've never seen before

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Blue Marble Restaurant & Lounge, Winnipeg, MB

I flew in from Edmonton tonight and had a late late supper at the Blue Marble Lounge.

As soon as I walked in, I saw the wine cooler.  One of the servers saw I was interested so let me go in (he came in with me).  The bottles of wine range from $30 to $700.

I ordered a steak with madeira sauce and mashed potatoes.  The steak was delicious.  The mashed potatoes were good too, though I found them a bit salty (I don't use a lot of salt).

Red Lobster, Edmonton, AB

I had lunch today at Red Lobster ... it had been a while since I've been to a Red Lobster.

Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel, Edmonton, AB

I have a seminar and one-on-ones to conduct for a client today in Edmonton.  I arrived late last night from Vancouver and spent the night at the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel, which is attached to the airport.

The library
The lobby
Funky chairs

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book ~ "They Left Us Everything: A Memoir" (2014) Plum Johnson

From Goodreads ~ After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents - first for their senile father and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year-old mother - author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when their mother, the surviving parent, dies.

Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, which hasn't been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three rooms bulge with history, antiques and oxygen tanks. Plum remembers her loving but difficult parents who could not have been more different: the British father, a handsome, disciplined patriarch who nonetheless could not control his opinionated, extroverted Southern-belle wife who loved tennis and gin gimlets. The task consumes her, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined.

Items from childhood trigger memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario in the 1950s and 60s. But unearthing new facts about her parents helps her reconcile those relationships with a more accepting perspective about who they were and what they valued.

"They Left Us Everything" is a funny, touching memoir about the importance of preserving family history to make sense of the past and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the future. 

Plum was in her sixties and living in Toronto.  Her mother, Anne, was in her nineties and living 90 minutes west in Oakville.  Plum is the oldest child and the only one living close to her mother so caregiving of her demanding mother fell to her (along with the help of a live-in couple).  When her mother passes away, it's up to Anne's children to sort through all the memorabilia and memories of their parents.  Plum moves into the family house for six weeks to facilitate this ... and it turns into 16 months.

Plum's father. Alex, was British and had had a rough childhood and had been through a lot in the war.  Her mother, Anne, was a spoiled Southern belle from a wealthy family in Virgina.  They found each other during the war, fell in love quickly and eventually married.  They lived in Singapore and Hong Kong in the early years.  When it came time to settled down some place, they compromised on Canada and ended up buying a 20+ room house in Oakville.

I thought Plum's parents were horrible and I give Plum credit for taking of them as they aged and died.  Alex was quite a disciplinarian.  He kept track of everything in ledgers.  When it was time to dole out their allowances, a lot of times they ended up getting nothing because they had misbehaved so he deducted money for their "offenses".  He beat his sons with a cane.  They had a family dog named Scrappy and on outings, he would tie to Scrappy to the side of the car and make him run home, speeding up to check the dog's stamina (I had the vision of Aunt Edna's dog from Vacation in my head) ... poor Scrappy.

Anne, on the other hand, was flaky.  She pushed her husband to get a rise out of him.  In the early days, her time was spent drinking gin and playing tennis.  Alex was a gardener.  While he was out of town one time, she had the backyard dug up, including his vegetable garden, and had a pool installed.  She spitefully would cut his flowers and them around the house in vases. But on the other hand, Alex and Anne would take in total strangers who were down on their luck.

I enjoyed the writing style and thought it was an interesting story.  I admired Plum's honesty when the book began.  She'd spent her 40s and 50s taking care of her father who had Alzheimer's.  She'd spent her 50s and 60s taking care of her mother who had gotten cranky in her old age.  Plum was tired and running out of patience but continued to be at her mother's beck and call.  It would have been especially hard considering she didn't have perfect parents growing up.  I imagine there are many people in this age group now experiencing this.

Delta Town & Country Inn, Delta, BC

I have a couple seminars to conduct today followed by one-on-ones in Delta, which is south of Vancouver, BC.

I stayed at the Delta Town & Country Inn last night, which is close to the client's site.

Here is my room ...

The bed was comfy!

Meadows Restaurant, Delta, BC

I had breakfast this morning at Meadows Restaurant, which is attached to the Delta Town & Country Inn.

I ordered The Homestyle with ham and a glass of milk.  The breakfast was good, though the hash browns could have been fried a bit longer (I left most behind).

 Debbie was my server.  She was friendly and took good care of me.