Food at the Fair likely not fair to your waist line!

Are there any foods that can’t be fried – or eaten on a stick – or combined in wild and whacky ways?

Visitors to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), currently on in Toronto until Monday, Sept. 5, will find the answer is no, no and no.

This year the buzz in the Food Building at the CNE is over the latest culinary creation, or what some might dub ‘culinary catastrophe’: Epic Burgers and Waffles Doughnut Cheeseburger.

This entree/dessert combo consists of a hamburger patty topped with cheese, lettuce and tomato, and sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Adding a fried egg and bacon is optional.

Tipping the scales at 1,500 calories (minus the egg and bacon), it isn’t for the faint of heart. And probably not a wise choice for the strong of heart either!

Also making their appearance at the fair are deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and deep-fried butter balls (introduced in 2010), as well as an assortment of other foods dipped in batter and fried in oil. Apparently deep-frying just about anything makes it taste good? Just not so great for one’s waist line and arteries.

Give these treats a try if you must. It is the Ex after all and nutritious eating does tend to be the furthest virtue from peoples’ minds while there and confronted with options like deep-fried cola and deep-fried slushies. Yum. Once you’ve indulged, please wipe this fair fare out of your mind as future dining options!

In addition to fried foods, decidedly popular is anything edible served on a stick. This video by Jennifer Bain, the Toronto Star’s food editor, documents 30 foods served skewered at the CNE!

If you’re heading to the Ex this year, seems there’s a good chance you’ll be downing something bathed in oil or pierced. Bon appetit!

The County Grapevine reveals charms of Prince Edward County

I’m a food magazine junkie, always on the lookout for the latest issues of my favourites, or the arrival of brand new publications.

A quick perusal of the magazine shelves at a Kitchener grocery store tonight rewarded me with a newbie – The County Grapevine. This newcomer focuses on the food, wine, art and culture of Prince Edward County (PEC) in southern Ontario.

It seems I’m a little late getting to the party on this one; the issue I picked up is for Fall/Winter 2009/2010 (it’s a biannual publication). The magazine has been around for a while. How did I miss it??

So where exactly is Prince Edward County? PEC is an island at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. It is surrounded on the north and east by the Bay of Quinte, and is west of the St. Lawrence River. Its mild climate (by Canadian standards, that is!) has made it home to numerous vineyards and wineries.

What initially attracted me to The County Grapevine as I leafed through it in the store was the article Steeped in Tradition by tea expert Melody Wren. As a tea lover always looking for new places to enjoy a good cuppa’, I was interested to read her review of tea rooms in PEC.

Since bringing the magazine home, I’ve read and enjoyed a couple light-hearted pieces – “I was a teenage waitress” by comedian Deborah Kimmett and “Table Manners: The Lost Art of Dinner Parties” by sommelier Natalie MacLean.

I also noticed that food stylist and blogger Ruth Gangbar was credited for food styling in the magazine.

Tomorrow I’ll have to take some time to savour the food and wine articles!

The County Grapevine is available free in Prince Edward County and surrounding areas and can be purchased at Chapters, Indigo, Metro, and stores within the Loblaws chain.

Gravy wrestling might be someone’s idea of a good time. Just not mine!

Driving home from work tonight with the radio tuned to CBC’s As It Happens show, I heard an interview with Joel Hicks, British athlete and 2009 gravy wrestling champ. Yes, you read that correctly. The man holds the world championship title in gravy wrestling!

I know there are lots of whacky food competitions out there: hot dog, chicken wing and pie eating contests, cheese rolling, pudding throwing, even jello wrestling. But wrestling in gravy (leftover gravy at that!) was a new concept for me. With the image of bodies flopping about in a pool of thickened meat drippings now in the back of my mind, it may be hard to look at the little lake of gravy I like to create on the top of a mountain of mashed potatoes the same way ever again.

You can read more about Joel Hicks, gravy wrestler, or if you’re really curious to see how its done – in case a food fight breaks out after a family Thanksgiving dinner some day – you can watch Joel Hicks gravy wrestling on YouTube.

New York City is Cupcake Crazy!

The cupcake craze has been in full swing for a few years but I still did a double take when I saw a mobile cupcake shop on a New York City street recently.

I didn’t stop to check out the confections at the Cupcake Stop as I’d just come from a day of classes at the French Culinary Institute and couldn’t possibly have eaten another bite. And besides, it was cool, windy and raining, although that didn’t seem to deter others from choosing from an assortment of cupcake flavours. (View the full menu of cupcake flavours online).

The Cupcake Stop has been roaming the streets of the Big Apple since June of this year. You can find out where the truck will be by checking the CupcakeStop web site and Twitter.

If you’re a cupcake lover and plan to visit NYC, check out this list of where to get cupcakes in New York City from the Carroll County Times.

Or you can hop across the river into New Jersey and visit Carlo’s Bakery (of TLC’s Cake Boss fame) for cupcakes, as we did on a trip to NYC this summer.

Cupcakes from Carlo's Bakery in New Jersey

The colour of carrots

Did you know carrots weren’t always orange? I didn’t.

Carrots used to be a variety of colours – yellow, red, purple, white and even black.

In the 1500’s, Dutch growers bred carrots to make them less bitter. The result was an orange-coloured carrot that was claimed as the Royal vegetable in honour of the Dutch Royal Family, who were of the House of Orange.

You can read more about the history of the carrot by visiting the online Carrot Museum.

Who knew there was a Carrot Museum?? I didn’t!

The things you learn every day…..

Something’s fishy in Montreal

Sushi lovers take note!  All may not be what it seems when you order sushi in a restaurant in Montreal. (Who knows? The problem may be more widespread.) You may think you are getting sushi made with one type of fish, but instead are being served a different type altogether.

Read about and watch this interesting investigative piece by CTV in Montreal.

Cows with names give more milk than nameless cows – and other winning research

The  Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out today. These awards are for “achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think”.

There were a few food and drink-related achievements among the winners:

* The winners in the Veterinary Medicine category were Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University (UK). Their research showed that cows who have names give more milk than cows that don’t have names!

* The Peace Prize went to Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern (Switzerland) for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. (The answer? Empties are sturdier than full bottles, you really don’t want to be hit on the head with either because both can fracture your skull!)

* Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México won the Chemistry Prize for creating diamonds from liquid. Tequila, to be specific!

* The Biology Prize was awarded to Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences (Japan) for demonstrating that bacteria extracted from panda feces can reduce the amount of kitchen garbage by more than 90%.

As for non-food related research, these were my favourites:

Continue reading

How to eat bacon – properly

While out for breakfast recently, I happened to glance over at a neighbouring table where I became fixated watching a fellow diner chase a strip of bacon around his plate with his fork. The crisp strip refused to be ensnared in the tines of his cutlery but the diner valiantly soldiered on, determined to win the battle with the belligerent bacon.

I was tempted to lean over and helpfully suggest that he just pick up the darn thing and eat it with his hands but according to proper etiquette, I should have been concentrating on the conversation at my own table – not spellbound by what was happening next door (which was really none of my business!).

So what is the proper way to eat bacon? According to experts on all things manners such as the Emily Post Institute, bacon can be consider finger food if it is dry, crisp and served whole. However, if it is broken into pieces, served in thick slices, or cooked but still limp, it should be eaten with a knife and fork.

50 of the best food blogs? Judge for yourself.

Foodies who blog, bloggers who eat, and those who read food blogs will surely be interested in a list of the world’s 50 best food blogs compiled by Lynne Robinson for the Times Online on February 17.

Some of my fave food blogs are on the list – David Lebovitz, Tea and Cookies, In the Kitchen and On the Road with Dorie Greenspan, and Chez Pim. Poking through the list I discovered some new blogs which will likely become favourites including Tartelette and The Bitten Word.

Some other blogs I checked out (they shall remain nameless) seemed curious choices to me on a list of best food blogs. How they rated a coveted spot on this list was beyond me!

Suprisingly, my blog – FoodWise – didn’t make the list! Just an oversight, I’m sure. LOL!

If you check out the list, be sure to read at least some of the comments posted. Compiling a list of top food blogs is so subjective and, like any list of favourite ‘whatever’, the result will inspire discussion and debate. In the comments, blog readers offer their opinions about the list and share favourite food blogs that didn’t make the cut. Between the comments and the actual list, I’m sure you’ll find a few new food blogs to follow.

More dairy data: milk consumption in different countries

I thought Canadians drank much more milk than people in other countries but I was surprised when I saw these statistics reported in the February issue of Harrowsmith magazine.

This data is from 2005 and compares litres of milk consumed per person per year:

Finland – 176.8
Sweden – 144.9
Denmark – 131.5
Ireland – 125.8
Netherlands – 122.6
Australia – 103.3
France – 91.0
Canada – 83.8
United Kingdom – 78.9
United States – 81.0
Mexico – 37.1
Japan – 35.6
China – 8.5

Source: Statistics Canada