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Vol. 3: No. 191 – January 9, 2015

Buy the January 2015 edition of Bon Appetit

Entitled “Get Healthy in 2015” it is chock full of interesting ideas and recipes. We were so taken with its originality that we asked Chef what he thought. He offered the following comments on the articles:

  • He loves the idea of roasting fruit which he does at GEORGE frequently. An alternative to roasting is to singe it using a torch.
  • He loves the combination of wheatberries and kale, which is available at the moment.
  • He already makes the chickpea pancakes which he recommends strongly.
  • Salad for breakfast is a good idea he says – really!
  • By all means roast root vegetables.
  • Vadouvan spice? He is a convert and makes it himself.
  • He uses raw Brussel sprout leaves and raw turnips all the time in salads. They are better tasting than when cooked, particularly the turnips.
  • The beet and goat cheese recipe looks simply awful to him.
  • Not crazy at all about smoothies which he always finds bland.
  • Sean Gabrysch our baker, is itching to make the energy bars. Also, he liked the recipe for chocolate rye crumb cake which he plans to work on.

With this sort of endorsement by the pros, we think that Bon Appetit continues to lead the pack in food journalism. See for yourself here.

The tide towards healthy food may be turning

An article in the Financial Times on Dec 27, 2014 reviewed food-giant Nestlé’s commitment to nutrition. In recent years, we have been bombarded by nutritionists and journalists on the correlation between junk foods provided by huge food processors like Nestlé and obesity/diabetes. One wonders whether the big food processors will become places where most people will soon prefer not to work. Will they carry a stigma like cigarette companies over the past 25 years or beer companies in our parent’s generation— before beer executives were re-categorized as craftsmen?

This article, “Nestlé Boosts R&D to aid Nutrition” reviews Nestlé’s commitment to make its food more nutritious. Its R&D costs last year were almost 2% of sales, almost $2 billion. One project incorporates changes within the structure of food materials so that salt is incorporated on the outside of the structure rather than all the way through. When you bite in, you get your salt fix but you only consume about 50% of the salt normally in the food. Another project is described as follows: “One example of the increasingly scientific research in which Nestlé is engaged is its work on an enzyme called AMPK which regulates how the body uses and stores energy. Scientists at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne have worked out how this enzyme can be ‘tricked’ into ordering the body to burn fat, in a discovery that could one day allow the development of products that will help people who cannot exercise much to maintain a healthy energy balance.”

All of this seems awfully fanciful (it reminds us of the recent fat pill fantasy) but the article surprisingly ends with the following quote from a Nestlé spokesman: “In the longer term…as consumers become more health conscious, even food companies focused purely on more traditional types of food and drink {read junk food we suppose} will need to exploit advances in nutritional science better. The reality is that we have no choice, I don’t think that the food and beverage industry as we know it will still be there in 20 years from now. People will be better educated, they will have higher expectations. We have to anticipate those expectations and this is what we are doing.”

Now 20 years does seem like a long time to wait for the industry to address the problem of feeding people massive and unhealthy amounts of fat sugar and salt, a situation obvious to most of us now. More positively however, the article suggests that Nestlé does grasp that something ought to be done.

We suggest that they stop using the words nutrition and health science and approach the problem using something like Adria Bulli’s lexicon of deconstructionism and creativity. Throw in a reference here and there to nanotechnology and maybe build a new and improved creative reputation.

It’s a misery this week at the Ontario Food Terminal

Chef reports that the miserably, cold weather early in the morning at the Terminal was matched by the most miserable offering he has yet witnessed. Supply to the Terminal had ground to a halt over the holidays. Little produce was available and what was there was remarkably expensive. Virtually nothing was arriving from California for whatever reason, except for some cauliflower and artichokes. Nothing from Mexico either. The premises of one of the largest produce importers was more than half empty. Chef did find some rapini and bought expensive leeks from Holland.

The next fruit coming in will be blood oranges from Sicily. Some have arrived but are distressingly coloured orange rather than red. Wait for the red ones because you will find the orange ones do not have the tartness that you’re craving.

Leaving soon will be Spanish pomegranates and persimmons. There are no mangos, passion fruits or grenadillas (like passion fruit but sweeter and less flavour intensive) available.

Wild pine mushrooms are done but BC Chanterelles are available. Weirdly, morels from California have arrived two months early. We are not sure why.

Wild boar is now finished as the boars move into their winter quarters away from humans. We are buying bison and elk. Bison cheeks from Quebec are arriving on a regular basis and Chef loves using them.

Chef is sourcing organic farmed BC salmon and so far likes it better than wild. He continues buying sustainable sturgeon caviar from Nova Scotia which accompanies a tuna dish.

For dessert, Chef has concocted a chocolate banana mascarpone treat. He will be introducing tropical fruit as soon as it arrives.

A Year in Review: Recipes

The New York Times recently published an interesting article titled “The 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2014.” From Rigatoni and Cauliflower al Forno to Catalan Stew with Lobster and Clams, the article outlines dishes that look simply delicious and easy to make.

There were two recipes in particular that intrigued us; the first and most popular in this survey being Chef Melissa Clark’s Pasta with Fried Lemons and Chile Flakes. In our recent trip to Italy we had a number of wonderful lemon pastas and we look forward to trying this one. The second was Clark’s Fruit Galette. We tried it out and it proved to be delicious and very easy to make.

— Le Patron

A monthly online newsletter, Ecclesiastes 3 contains Le Patron’s ruminations on local seasonal food markets as well as speculation on broader global food issues.