Posts from — September 2013
September 29, 2013
I couldn’t help LOVING Hannah’s nostalgic recap of SH winter last week and wanting to do something similar for our summer here in the north. I always lament the end of summer, and this year is no exception. It’s hard to say goodbye. (Though not hard to say goodbye to the fruit flies in my kitchen, who apparently still think it’s August. Be. Gone. Pestilence.)
So I’m going to do a roundup of the best of our summer in this little corner of the west coast of Canada. Naturally, it’s made up mostly of food. And then some books. I guess this is the right blog on which to be posting it all…
We have amazing garlic around here. I wasn’t on the ball enough to plant any last fall, so this summer I scoured the land for big, fat juicy heads of garlic. It’s amazing the difference good garlic makes. It’s sticky when you cut into it. It’s oily and pungent and potent. It’s a whole different beast and one of my favourite things to splurge on when I find it. And next year, we’ll have our own harvest, mark my words.
September 27, 2013
We’re mixing it up! This week’s Sweet Little Something is a little morsel from each of us that we would love your comments on. A photograph, a link, a poem…a tidbit of inspiration. Leave us a note or create a haiku for a photograph if it takes your fancy. Have a wonderful weekend!
(Image from cherry blossom girl)
Stumbled across these sweet literary clutch bags by Olympia Le-Tan. Crazy-cool. She says ” I grew up in a house full of books, old books with beautiful covers. They always inspired me and one day I just thought I would try turning them into bags.”
Would they make it onto your ultimate Christmas wish-list?
I love maps. I married a cartographer. We have a lot of maps in our house and we also have a map wish-list. This makes me happy in a random, lucky-dip kind of way. Which one’s your favourite?
September 22, 2013
Officially, winter is over. Spring is here. There are little signs all about – freesias, rain, the wearing of sneakers sans sox. It was a good winter, we all agreed, in whispers, lest we jinx the incoming season. It was mild and not too rainy, which is saying something for this little pocket of the planet. But I know that you Northern Hemisphere (NH) peeps are heading into a fall and then into a winter, possibly suffering from a summer hangover – the fruitless longing for the summer days to never slip away, the good times to keep rollin’. Never fear, my friends. I bring you The Best of SH winter to inspire you for the seasons to come.
Winter is a great season for reading. Early nights + elasticated pants + book = Ahhhhhh. I stunned myself by actually reading some real-life, honest-to-goodness books this season as B2 got a little niftier at sleeping. I fell in love with some great children’s books – The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate de Goldi and Heartbeat by Sharon Creech were my two favourites. I also read Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, which every blog I read seemed to mention and with good reason too, it’s a goodie.
This winter I thrashed these shoes, my John Fluevogs from Vancouver. The bestest laces-less shoes you ever did slip right into. When they cark it, there might be tears.
And wore this double-sided woollen scarf, from Aritzia, which reminds me of New York and can be used as a single bed blanket it’s soooooo huge. Here it is in Boston because it’s seen a bit of the world.
And had this fancy-schmancy hair do. For one night only.
I ate a LOT of scones, because hot scones with jam and cream make everyone happy, from little to not-so-little. And drank about a gallon of tea.
I loved watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s speech over at O Magazine, Brody Dalle’s interview on The Conversation, listening to the first few bars of this lovely, longing song (any more and I get choked up) and sitting about staring lovingly at my vintage globe from my darling friend, Lucie. Did I mention that my birthday is in winter?
But now it’s goodbye winter, socks off, feet in the wet grass, listening to Tuis singing and feeling the anticipation of a new season. What will it bring? Wishing you and yours the very best for whichever seasonal adventure you are heading into and wondering – what were the best bits for you about the season you just adios-ed?
PS. Am I the last person on the planet to learn this? Seriously?! Face-palm.
September 20, 2013
Hello there and Happy Weekend! If you are a regular visitor to Fork and Fiction you already know that Friday (or as close to, we have a couple of hemispheres to cover here) is the day for Sweet Little Something. What do we do? We post a photo. What do you do? You write a haiku. If you fancy it of course, no pressure.
But, with a new season in the air we wondered if we should mix things up a bit. What would YOU like to see on Sweet Little Something? How can we get you involved and hear from you? What would make your weekend? You tell us and we’ll deliver. (It’s like UPS but more online and food-y and book-y and serves purely to bring you a bit of joy. Oh, you get the idea.)
September 15, 2013
Another installment of our How They Do It series! This time we’re getting into the kitchen with a real live chef.
Ryan Zuvich owns and operates Hilltop Bistro in Nanaimo, BC, but DH and I first met him when Ryan was opening his first successful venture in our town: Markt Artisan Deli. We would oggle his cheese selection and drool over his preserves and imported olives. DH had to work his way through all the meat products (oh, hardship). It was a little slice of heaven for us, going there. And then Ryan started to do lunch: deli sandwiches and sides and other goodies. We took Little e there when she was a few weeks old and she slept in her carrier while we had delicious plates of bread, cheese and sausage. Then Ryan started his dinner series, a monthly celebration of food that focused on a theme cuisine: Italian, French, German, Spanish… One big family-style table, course after course, good wine, good conversation. The whole thing was a hit–not just with us, but with customers all over town. Next we heard rumours of a restaurant, and while we mourned the loss of the deli as it was transformed into the Bistro, it’s hard to complain about something this good: Hilltop Bistro is now our favourite place to eat.
It’s been fun and fascinating to watch this part of Ryan’s career evolve and take off. We’re thrilled to be able to introduce him and his experience crafting delicious and artful food!
First off, how did you come to be in the restaurant/cooking business?
Once upon a time I applied for a serving position at an up-and-coming restaurant. They promptly hired me as dishwasher. A trip across Canada and a few trips around Europe later, and here we are.
What about your work brings you the most joy?
Joy/satisfaction comes at the end of any day when everything was executed to the best of our collective abilities without one misstep. It’s elusive.
Who is your biggest supporter / cheerleader and why?
My biggest supporter is my wife. A close second would be my family. None of what I do would be possible without them.
What do you enjoy least about your work?
Negative people. Some people just like to complain. It’s hard with something as personal as food. It’s frustrating to send out a dish that’s been developed over months, that we know is good, and have someone compare it to the quality of a box restaurant or greasy spoon and complain about the price. Fortunately, that seldom happens.
What do you have to sacrifice or compromise in order to do the work you do?
As I get older I’m learning to sacrifice less. Though throughout my career I’ve sacrificed everything from relationships to my personal health all in the pursuit of being better.
When did you know you wanted to do the work you do?
I wasn’t certain until my move from dishwasher to cook. Restaurants have a very social atmosphere and when everyone clicks and works towards a common goal it’s a special thing. A team sport basically. I was sold.
What do you still hope to achieve in your field? Secret dreams!
My biggest fault and greatest asset is my ambition. I feel like I’m at the tip of this huge world of food and wine. My not-so-secret hopes are more restaurants, different concepts, books, teaching, and more.
What quality do you think is the most important for a person to be successful in your field?
Passion. You have to love cooking at an obsessive level to stay, let alone excel, in this industry.
How do you juggle the work you do with your other demands or responsibilities?
“Juggling” is appropriate. Systematic prioritization. I write a list starting with the most important and cross reference that against the things that take the longest, and go. It’s satisfying when I finish a list, although most days it carries over.
Which book(s) made a big impact on your life? Why?
Too many to list, but career wise: Larousse Gastronomic, On Food and Cooking by Harold Magee. Molecular Gastronomy by Hervé This. All these at different times and because they mark turning points in my understanding of food.
Who would be on your dream dinner guest list?
It would have to include Ferran Adrià, Thomas Keller, Hervé This, Harold Magee, Rene Redzepi… I think they all have dinner together already though–they just haven’t got back to me with an invitation yet…
The best meal of your life was….?
I’ve been fortunate to have had some pretty exceptional meals, but a simple one that stands out is a pâté a friend and I made one afternoon while doing recipe development. It was amazing with fresh bread, mustard and a bottle of Chardonnay.
What is the most important non-food thing in your kitchen?
My knives. Without them I’d just be smashing things with my hands.
Sum up your life right now in three words.
Work in progress.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Thank you, Ryan, for participating in our How They Do It series!
If you want to read more about Ryan’s great work, look here and here. And if you’re on Vancouver Island, or will be sometime soon (a goal that should be on everyone’s list), drop by Hilltop Bistro. You can tell them Ria sent you. 🙂