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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Appetite For (liver) Destruction

There are two things that I never grew out of--fart jokes & dressing up. Luckily this post is about the latter.

I LOVE Halloween! I had been thinking about my costume for this year since, oh last November!
I had an awesome couple costume for me and The Fella, however, The Fella had to work.
No worries, I am a lassie who always has a back up plan.

Ever since we watched the episode of Top Gear with Slash, the seeds of the idea of dressing up as him for Halloween were planted.








The evening began with cocktails at my place featuring two GNR themed libations with some cool SPIRITZ that I procured (ahem...smuggled) from trips across the border.

Sweet-tea Child o' Mine:
1 part Burnetts Sweet Tea Vodka
4 parts soda water


















Welcome To The Jungle:
1 part Reserva 1800 Coconut infused tequila
3 parts coconut water




After listening to tunes (yes Appetite for Destruction was on the playlist) and the de rigueur viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we head out on the town where The Fella met up with us.



                                          Jenn as Miss Havisham - If I had known her costume
                                          in advance I would have invented a "Grape Expectation"
                                          cocktail.

Best way to end the evening-- watching the end clip of Slash's appearance on Top Gear when he plays the theme song "Jessica". Watch until the very end --Jeremy Clarkson has the best line at the end.

http://youtu.be/J0we4emuFdw

Sunday, 21 October 2012

This Ain't Hollywood



I shook my groove thang. I think I broke it. Last night we headed to This Ain't Hollywood to see punk legends Walter Lure (The Heartbreakers) and Andy Shernoff (The Dictators). These guys have played with the who's who of 70's punk. They were backed by local punk legends Gordie Lewis, Cleave Anderson & Steev Saint.

I love This Ain't Hollywood (www.thisainthollywood.ca).  They have the best bar staff in all of Hamilton. The spiritz selection is quite impressive for a live music venue. They carry Crystal Head vodka, Dan Akroyd wine along with their own special brew for the beer drinkers.





You have to hand it to owner Lou Molinaro for booking amazing acts. Thanks to Lou our city has hosted legendary performers - Glen Matlock, Slim Jim Phantom, Jello Biafra, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Cheetah Chrome, Hugh Cornwell & Clem Burke (who I actually met & giggled like a little girl!!).  He was such a sweetheart. He patiently posed for a picture with me while my friend Robin tried to stop giggling & figure out how to work my camera phone.
Here's a few shots of the Walter Lure show.

Lou keeps outdoing himself. Upcoming acts include Lydia Lunch & The Rezillos. You can also check out a great mix of local talent. I recommend keeping an eye out for The Mystics and The Beards--two local bands that I am now a fan of after seeing their sets at TAH.

Check out their gig listing today!


           Vivieen, Rob, Robin & Jean in the front row with me dancing up a storm


                                                            The Lassie & The Fella
                                                 Erics, Robin, Andy Shernoff and Rob

Friday, 19 October 2012

Turning Japanese


I am a recent lover of sushi.  It took a while for me to come around.  I was under the common misconception that sushi is raw fish.  In fact, sushi is a catch all phrase that includes rolls, which can contained cooked meat & vegetarian options, dim sum and tempura. I am extremely squeamish when it comes to seafood. I have a phobia of all things aquatic which borders on sheer terror. I am terrified of bodies of water & all things that live in bodies of water. I can't go anywhere near the aquarium section in pet stores -- my heart starts pounding and I break out into a cold sweat.
In my early twenties I visited Mexico with my boyfriend at the time. We walked hand in hand along the beach and I was able to handle the tide washing in over our bare feet. Sounds romantic right?  It was until I wondered out loud what the little holes in the sand were when the tide washed out.  My boyfriend replied "Well, it's this sea creature ...". To this day I can't tell you the rest of his explanation. The mere thought of my bare flesh anywhere in the vicinity of a creature from the Gulf sent me into utter panic. I don't think that I have ever run that fast in my life--not even when The Bay has it's annual designer shoe sale for a limited time.


Last night we visited Sushi Star, an all you can eat sushi restaurant in Hamilton (www.sushistarcuisine.ca).  There are LOTS of options for fish-a-phobes like myself  (try the onion pancake- shown below).  I stay clear of the sashimi--which is in fact raw fish.  My friends tried to coax me into trying the unagi (fried eel)  singing it's delectable praises--to which I quote Jules from Pulp Fiction "it may taste like pumpkin pie but I'll never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy mother***".   Nope, I will only eat fish the way the Scots intended--heavily battered and swimming in malt vinegar next to it's best friend, chips.






Our server Ken was very funny and attentive.  He (along with my so called mates and The Fella) mocked me about my "cheater chopsticks" that I brought with me.  I have yet to master the art of the chopsticks - so I was thrilled finding this pair at Home Sense. 
Our menu was also quite funny - complete with a customer's edits.



We also tucked into the saki - which we tried both cold and warm. 





I recommend visiting Sushi Star on a week night.  Weekends tend to be very busy - but it is worth the wait.

 






Monday, 15 October 2012

Rock n' Roll n' Roti

I had the pleasure of catching up with my friend Tracy over lunch.  I met Tracy when I first starting dating The Fella.  The Fella and Tracy’s fella play in a band together (http://www.crawlinkingsnakes.com) and the first time I attended one of his shows (in the official capacity of “band girlfriend”) Tracy and I hit it off instantly.  Tracy and her fella also play in a band together (http://www.beyondthecage.net) -- let me tell you, this woman can ROCK! 

Unfortunately I have absolutely NO musical aptitude whatsoever.  The only thing I can play is the stereo.  I also was not blessed with a singing voice.  People kindly refer to me as “tone deaf” – what they really mean is that my voice can peel paint off the walls.  Karaoke hosts are always thrilled by my unadulterated enthusiasm to participate (I usually hand in three-four song requests at the beginning of the night).  Then, after I am called up for the first time they mysteriously lose the other request slips and avoid eye contact with me.   
People asked me why I have no inhibitions when it comes to karaoke (usually upon hearing me “sing”).  The way I see it is:
a)      I am aware that I am daft
b)      I am aware of my serenading short-comings
c)       I am a rock and roll star only in my head
d)      I am OK with others being aware of this
I love my lunch chats with Tracy.  We cram as much band talk/gossip (peppered with goose honk laughter) as we can into our lunch hour.  We always meet at the same venue – Little India on Queen Street West in Toronto (http://www.littleindia.ca) – and we always partake in the all you can eat lunch menu – a bargain at $12.95 per person.  Usually I am not a fan of all you can eat buffets, as they tend to sacrifice quality for quantity, but this is not the case at Little India.  The buffet trays are small so that the food is constantly being replenished.    

I also love that they have great healthy options to offer.  Yes, when it comes to Indian food you can make wise choices.  Anything labelled “tikka” “tandoori” “marinated” is not cooked in heavy creams or oils so they are your best bets.  Other healthy choices include paneer (yes a healthy cheese!), lentils, vindaloo or rogan josh.   

Little India also stocks “Kingfisher Premium Lager” (LCBO 6 x 355ml $13.00).  I am hoping that we can arrange a dinner date soon – as neither of us are able to partake in this lovely beverage during work hours.
You can catch Beyond the Cage this Friday night (Oct 19, 2012) at Club Absinthe in Hamilton (http://www.clubabsinthe.ca) competing in the “Last Band Standing”.  And yes, we will be partaking in lots of beer this evening!



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Americano Gigolo

I love getting together with my bestie mate Vivieen. We met ten years ago when we worked together at a horrible company (the name of which rhymes with "hell"-- this should have been our first clue). Although neither of us miss working at this company, we do miss the luxury of seeing each other every day.


We do our best to schedule cocktail & coffee dates. I am glad that we were able to manage a few hours for a much needed catch up at Johnny's Coffee, a cosy new java joint on Locke Street in Hamilton. http://www.johnnyscoffee.ca/




Funny enough, it was thanks to the Hell company that I began drinking coffee. A die hard tea drinker, I rarely ever drank coffee until a business trip to Seattle seven years ago resulted in falling in love with the city's coffee culture. Ever since I have become a two cup a day coffee whore. 

On our coffee date I began with a macchiato & a caramel apple spice muffin. But the conversation outlasted the treats so I moved on to a latte that literally made me weak at the knees. The barista was lovely -- very friendly & extremely tolerant of our extended stay & goose honk laughter. What did we talk about? Well, never you mind.



Johnny's is a welcome addition to Locke Street. They are open to midnight so I recommend being seduced by their caffeinated delights.


Monday, 8 October 2012

What's so funny 'bout eats, love & understanding?

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the day cooking with my mom. Did we make haggis?  Stovies?  Nope--cabbage rolls. Not terribly exotic at all, but it is for my mom.

To say that my mom is unadventurous in the world of cuisine is an understatement.  My mom grew up in World War II Britain in  small rural Kilsyth, near Glasgow.  She was two years old when Scotland entered the war and eight when it came to an end.  Her earliest memories include being awoken from her sleep and carried out of the house into an air raid shelter.  Air raid drills were part of her early school life and along with her school bag, she had to carry a gas mask--hers was shaped like Mickey Mouse.

In order to weaken the U.K., the Germans limited the supplies going into the British Isles. Every household was issued a ration book to ensure each person received their fair share of the available supplies. I believe it was growing up on rations with a limited breadth of food that has made my mom a picky eater.  The trend now is to eat locally and think locally.   My mom, her parents, and everyone else in the country had to adopt this lifestyle out of necessity.

Living in Kilsythe with the proximity of small farms meant that there was never a shortage of meat and milk.  My grandfather, a miner who was never drafted as his job was considered an essential service, also had a chicken coop which allowed for a steady supply of chicken and eggs. 

Although the war ended in 1945, rationing did not stop until 1954. My mom finished school in 1952 and started working at Mateer's Grocery Store.  Mrs. Mateer was often able to source luxuries for her best customers.  She would somehow be able to procure tinned goods such as salmon, pineapple rings and ham. These goods would be hidden under the shop counter and only sold to the special customers of her choice.   She would however make these luxuries available to her staff and my gran would always be thrilled to have access to these treats.

My mom & her parents came to Canada in December 1956. They were awestruck by the Canadian grocery stores and the selection available. They were also slowly introduced to new & very different cuisines.   Although she did try all sorts of new food, mom never really developed a palate for them.
The year I was born, my parents lived in a small three story walk up that was owned by a Ukrainian lady. It was this woman who introduced mom to perogies and cabbage rolls to which she developed a taste for.  I enjoy making cabbage rolls with my mom every fall.

CABBAGE ROLLS
Two heads of cabbage
1 package of ground beef
1 package of ground veal
1 package of ground pork
1 cup of brown rice (cooked in beef broth)
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large jar of sauerkraut
2 large cans of tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Core cabbage and boil one head at a time.  Peel full leaves off as they soften.  Put aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, mix the beef, veal & pork together by hand in a large bowl.  Cook the rice according to the package directions using beef broth instead of water.  Allow to cool and set aside.  Heat the vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and garlic.  Cook until translucent and allow to cool. 

Add the cooked rice and onion/garlic mixture to the meat and work slowly and gently through the mixture by hand.  Scoop 1/4 cup of mixture and place in the centre of the cooked cabbage leaves.  Roll and place by row into a roasting pan.  Continue to bottom of ban is covered with cabbage rolls.  Cover layer with tomato sauce and a layer of sauerkraut.  Continue layering ensuring that last layer is covered with tomato sauce and sauerkraut.

Cook for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

SPIRITS

Enjoy with this light and refreshing Ukrainian beer - Lvivske 1715 (LCBO $2.50/500ml bottle).






Monday, 1 October 2012

How do I love thee? I bring you HP

I agree with Madonna…you sure don’t need diamond rings from a fella to illustrate that his love for you is real…he needs to express himself.

The Fella was out of town for a few days and on his drive back to Hamilton (the beautiful) he stopped by a British food shop to buy me some treats. Included in these treats was one of the most romantic (to me) gifts ever….HP Guinness! I love the mighty HP Sauce – like REALLY love it. When I travel on a plane I carry a bottle on my onboard luggage. I figure if my plane ever crashes in the Andes, and I have to resort to eating other survivors, I will be set because I will pretty much eat ANYTHING with HP Sauce on it. The Fella knew how much this would rock my world so when it comes to expressing himself, I think he came up trumps. He knew how thrilled I would be to find my beloved HP laced with Guinness-y goodness.

There is lots of rumous about the "health benefits" of Guinness and lots of websites that debunk this school of thought.  My great-granny advised me that having a Guinness everyday boosted your iron, pumped up your blood and it kept you from looking "peelie wallie" - a term reserved for the palest of pale blue Scots.  There could be something to this - as my great-granny lived to be ninety-five - and she never suffered from any ailments.  Mind you, her other piece of advice to me was "aye, if electric blankets were invented in my day, I never would have got married - sex...ach!  I'd rather have a fish supper".  Well....can't really agree with her on that one...

What better way to try out my fancy-arsed HP sauce than one of my personal specialties, Guinness stew.  Yeah, baby - a little Guinness on Guinness action made with love for The Fella.

One thing that you have to know about my "recipes" is that I never have exact measurements (unless when it comes to baking) and I rarely follow a recipe exactly.  I always like to substitute items and mix it up a bit.  So here is the "basic" recipe.  Feel free to change it up as you feel fit - throw in whatever vegetables or herbs you have on hand and experiment.

GUINESS STEW
1 package of stewing beef
1 package of "bangers" a.k.a breakfast sausage links (if it is a double layer package just use one layer)
1 medium onion diced
2 carrots chopped
2 potatoes cubed
1 can beef broth
1/4 can of water
1/4 can of Guinness (for the stew - drink the rest of it while you are doing all this bloody chopping)
Pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Dash of dried thyme
Small plate of flour

Dredge the stewing beef in the flour.   Heat enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your frying pan, brown the beef on all sides and place in a slow cooker.  Chop the bangers in half and brown them in the heated pan then add to the slow cooker.  Turn the slow cooker on low.  Add the broth, water, Guinness and the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low for four - six hours.  

Top with HP (any variety!)

FASHION
I covet these shoes with covety covetness.  How fab would it be to make this stew wearing these Alexander McQueen beauties?  Hey, it's a slow cooker - you can make this hearty meal while you lounge on the sofa looking fabulous south of the ankle.


Thanks for reading

Eat, drink, but don't be Mary - be yourself