Gray Flannel Dwarf


The Ukrainians were ahead of the game –ew…?

So, a couple of years ago there was a story flying around the web about this grand new confection in the Ukraine, chocolate-covered salo (pig fat). The link supplied here is from 2004, but I am sure I had seen something similar earlier than that.

Now, consider the boutique chocolatier, Vosges Haut Chocolat has some interesting products in the past, some truffles that are most fascinating. Odd as some of these sound, they are apparently pretty tasty, as they got the approval from the members of my family who received them as a gift a few Christmases ago.

But… well, I guess you know where I’m going with this.

Yes, Vosges is now featuring Mo’s Bacon Bar.

Now, one part of me really wants to trust Vosges on this. I mean, they generally get rave reviews, and they’ve had some other things in the past (beyond their overpriced designer fashion products, anyway) which looked downright terrific. Furthermore, I’ve got a pretty open mind when it comes to food, and I’ve tried a lot of apparently odd delicacies in the past. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like chocolate… or (yum) applewood-cured bacon?

But this… well, quite frankly, it kind of scares me… although after initially revolting me, I’m now kind of curious. It might be an interesting experience, but I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to fork over the $7.00 on it.

I guess I’ll have to put it on my wishlist.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:37 pm


Ten minute crostini

Before I go any further, have I mentioned before just how happy I am that a Trader Joe’s opened up down here? Oh, I have? Sorry about that. The only thing that would thrill me more would be a Wegmans.

Anyway, so although we have always liked TJs, it has now become one of our staple stops. Considering that a gallon of milk is $2.99, and bananas are 49c/lb — vis a vis 3.79 and 52c at Super Target — TJs has definitely moved into our radar as a necessity.

So there we were, the grocery list says we need to buy bread. Well, while she’s not so shameful to like that glue-like substance called Wonderbread, the wife is still pretty much your average “normal” loaf of bread type. I can’t fault her too much — it works in a pinch, I guess, and she’s doesn’t really eat a whole lot of bread in the first place. I, on the other hand, want real bread. It’s one of those things that has to be “quality” for me (I’ll weblog that list eventually).

We get her loaf, and then the Tuscan Pane catches my eye. Seems like a good choice — and one confirmed by another couple who pick up not one, but two, loaves.

Long story short, a few purchases later, we were out the door, and I decided to try my hand at some (very) basic, albeit gargantuan, crostini. As it turns out, this bread is perfect.

Ten minute crostini

You’ll need:

  • Three slices of Tuscan Pane
  • One tomato
  • One nice sized knot of fresh mozzarella
  • Olive oil
  • Assorted herbs and spices
  1. Slice tomato thinly and put aside
  2. Cut off a few reasonably thin medallions of mozarella, about 1/2cm thick
  3. In a bowl, pour a few Tbsp of olive oil and add some seasonings as desired. I used garlic and a few hot pepper
  4. flakes.
  5. Drizzle or brush the olive oil onto each slice of bread
  6. Arrange a few tomato slices
  7. Atop the tomatoes, put probably about two medallions ea. of mozarella, depending on the size of the slice of bread.
  8. Sprinkle with copious amounts of italian spices and, if so desired, parmesan cheese.

Bake in your toaster oven for 10 minutes @ 450 – although they’d probably be better toasted, or maybe baked in the oven on a pizza stone. Slice in half and serve.

Once again, I don’t suggest that this recipe is anything fancy. Far from it, you can probably improve upon it in a great way. But I will reiterate that, as far as pre-sliced, store-bought bread goes, this stuff is ideal for making some terrific snacks.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 10:17 pm


I’ve got a Chip(per) Jonesin’

Well, I’m guessing they’re pretty new, since I can’t find much online, and certainly didn’t find any reviews here and since The Chippie seems to be out of commission, I thought I’d give a ten-cent review for a pretty tasty chip you can find at Target: the Archer Farms Maui Onion kettle chips.

Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty satisfied with most of the store brand (Archer Farms) chips put out by Target. These are quickly moving up on my list, however, As they are pretty darn great. They’re crisp and thick like a kettle chip, with a little bit of that Funyuns pizazz.

Well, maybe that last bit won’t interest you, so I’ll clarify: If you have a seething hatred for Funyuns, then you’ll probably won’t like this product. But otherwise you may be impressed by these chips. They do pack quite a punch of flavour, so you’ll probably want to wash them down with a soda or a beer, or something. But one discovery I did make is that these chips are an even better complement to ro-tel dip. Maybe not too orthodox, and perhaps even bordering on heresy, for those of us who who grew up with Fritos, or at very least a traditional corn chip, to accompany our processed cheese(like) dip, but honestly, this is a fantastic variation on the old theme.

Just hoping Target decides to keep this product on the shelves… they have the tendency to introduce a bunch of different flavoured chips only to phase them out a few months later. These are a winner, if you ask me. Perhaps Joe will be able to work them into his fitness routine.

And for what it’s worth, sorry for the headline, but “Maui Wowie” would’ve been too blindingly obvious.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 9:32 am


The sissification of Outback

I’d kinda had something in the back of my head about this for a long time, but it wasn’t until Jess’ bit about “TJ McFakerson’s” which kind of inspired me to write about it.

Seriously, what is up with Outback these days? I mean, I never much went there in the first place — if I want real steak, I’ll go to a real steakhouse — but I mean, it seems like for the past eight months or so, Outback has been getting in touch w/ its softer side. Just consider the song they’ve been using in their jingles — which is apparently the result of a blatant sell-out by a band who penned another song to the same tune — it’s completely lacking in any sort of dignity. Seriously, it’s like, “Let’s go Outback to-niy-yight… and forget about testosterone…

But it’s not just the song. It’s the voice-over, too… and while maybe the whole Crocodile Dundee-Steve Irwin “macho Australian” stereotype is long since played out… there’s no need for it to go in the complete other direction, no need for this whole soft-spoken “so whay nawt come into Outback, whar th’ steaks are warm ‘n’ juicy, and so are the hugs” tripe. Come on, now! Are you all proprietors of steak or citrus-melon body spray?

Anyone out there able to tell me what the geniuses behind this campaign were thinking? Or has it even worked? That might be the scarier notion.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 3:37 pm


Have merci on me

Sometimes, when your college degree is rarely used, it makes itself known at odd times, resulting in somewhat obscure jokes that no one gets.

Someone was talking about thousand island salad dressing. I mentioned that I don’t really like it, that I never liked French dressing in the first place. I then went on to say that thousand island was a salad dressing experiment that went horribly wrong. And then…

“It’s like the maginot line of salad dressings.”

Where the heck did that come from? Oh yeah. That history/poli sci thing.

I’m sure this happens to jess (and probably catfish) all the time, too.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 11:32 am



Now, over the years, I’ve run the gamut on breakfast meat combinations. Steak and eggs. Bacon and eggs. Grits and bacon. Sausage, across its varied forms, in gravy, on a muffin, or alongside pancakes. Like most of you, I’ve probably tried just about everything… or so I thought.

Looked at the menu at the cafeteria today, and what were they serving up for breakfast? Chicken and waffles?? Are you kidding me? That’s the strangest thing I’d ever heard of. Is this actually… popular?

Well, apparently so.

All thing said, I’m still not so sure they served it up right here — looked like they were little more than breaded chicken fingers — and I didn’t try it. But I do have to wonder what it’s like…

Tags: — cswiii @ 11:26 am


Pumpkin Soup Recipe

As a follow-up… here ya go. Fantastic stuff. My modifications/changes are in italics. An addition I might make to this soup would be a few bacon crumbles, which probably would’ve tasted really good. Maybe next time. I’ve put underscores next to the recipe for your shopping list.

Spicy Chipotle Pumpkin Soup
Prep time: 45m
Ready: 1h 15m
Yields: 4 servings


__ 2 T oil
__ 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
__ 1 t minced garlic, fresh
__ 1 t minced ginger, fresh
__ 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
__ 4-5 C chicken/vegetable broth
__ 1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped roughly. I used three and it was pretty spicy. Prepare accordingly.
__ 1/2 C half and half
__ 2 T lemon juice
__ 1 T brown sugar
__ salt, pepper
__ 1/2 C creme fraiche (garnish) * I just used sour cream
__ Fresh cilantro (garnish)


1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
2. Saute onion for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender and golden. Remove about 1/2 cup of the caramelised onion and set aside for garnish.
3. Add garlic and ginger to the pot and stir for 2-3 minutes
4. Stir in canned pumpkin, 2 cups stock and chipotles, simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot I didn’t do this. I did mince the onions in a mini veggie chopper, however, before adding everything else. Probably a good thing.
6. Add the remaining stock (to desired thickness), half and half, lemon juice and brown sugar. Season to taste w/ salt and pepper. I added neither salt nor pepper. Used about 4 cups of stock overall and it was still thinner than I’d expected).
7. Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
8. Garnish each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche*, a spoonful of caramelised onions and a sprinkling of cilantro leaves.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 7:47 pm


Went to “La Bodega” for

Went to “La Bodega” for dinner tonight, here in Toronto. Herbed goat cheese, mushrooms and red wine pear for appetizer, bordeaux and filet mignon in cognac sauce for dinner, and coffee/creme brulee for dessert… and a big surprise “happy birthday” dinner out of it all.

One of the best meals of my life, I think. I mean, the quality compared to other great place I’ve visited before, but just the environment, the meal, everything… now I know what Anthony Bourdain was seeking.

I love this city.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:51 pm


Russian stuff…

A friend and old college roommate of mine recently moved up here . He’s originally from one of the southern Russian republics, however, and was looking for russian people/sites/shops. Recently, he found a place in McLean, The Russian Gourmet. We went there tonight, when it appeared the Redskins game was getting boring.

Neat place, albeit not as large as I’d hoped. He got a big kick out of their video selection, so if you know, or are learning Russian, I guess, you might enjoy that section of the store.

I bought some veal dumplings, a yummy russian tomato sauce, some russian beer (Moscova) and a Polish stout (can’t remember the name, but it wasn’t very good), as well as some russian candy. So dinner tonight consisted of dumplings and sauce, a sampling of beers, and finishing it off with some good cognac and a piece of candy or two to go with it (Russians traditionally eat chocolate with cognac).

Ethnic markets are fun. I don’t know that I’ll be going there often — I don’t know enough about Russian culture to really pick up choice items — but it was a neat place, all in all. Too bad they can’t sell Russian liquor. It would be easier than having my friend or his sister bring the bottles of cognac into the states, whenever they go home.

Funny thing: on the corkboard, with want ads, etc., was an amusing sign. My friend translated it. It came out to something like, “33 year old Russian male, looking for woman to assist with legal immigration”. More amusing, four or five of the phone number contact tabs had been taken.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:39 pm