Friday, August 29, 2008

Gjetost for the Masses

After reading the Ominvore's 100 list, I bought some gjetost cheese today. This brings me to 50 out of the 100 items. The brand we have around here is Ski Queen, from Norway. What a bizarre substance. It's positively unlike anything I've ever had before. When you unwrap that delightful red packaging, you're left with something like this:

It looks like a smooth block of peanut butter fudge and smells slightly cheesy. When you put it in your mouth, the texture is pleasantly smooth. The first thing you taste is an overwhelming caramel flavour. It's sweet and has all those deep milky notes, but then that's followed by the unmistakable flavour of goat's milk. I'm not usually a big fan of goat cheese, but this is significantly more complex, which makes it more palatable to me.

On the downside, this stuff is expensive around here, costing $14 for the block. It's a good-sized chunk of cheese, but I'll want to make sure I get my money's worth out of it. I'll need to think up some recipes I can use it for. For the first experiment, I had it on some toast with red currant jam. The tart jam compliments the sweet cheese nicely.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Omnivore's 100

Blog Very Good Taste has created this interesting list that's been making the rounds on the web. Basically, they've sculpted a list of 100 items that they believe every omnivore should try at least once.
The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all.
It's an interesting idea and one that's drawn a lot of responses. The author asks others to repost the list, bolding the items they've already experienced and striking the items they would be opposed to trying.

A few things occur to me as I go through the list. First, I've had 49 out of these 100 items, which seems to be fairly average. I was pretty conservative with crossing off items. I didn't cross off soft-shell crab or sea urchin, because I like to think I'd at least be willing to try them, but I admit that if you put either on a plate in front of me, I might chicken out.

I also take issue with some of the items being included in the first place. I think we're all well aware what eating a whole, raw scotch bonnet pepper might be like and I don't feel at all compelled to put myself through that experience. Call me a wuss if you want, but we're talking about a pepper that is (without exaggeration) at least 50 times hotter than a jalapeno. Not twice as hot, or ten times as hot, or even 20 times as hot... 50. I also don't think I'm missing out by not scooping up some roadkill on the drive home. Would these items really add more to the omnivore's experience than, say, an expertly baked piece of bread or an olive? Neither appears. The list tries to be populist by including items like Hostess pies, a Big Mac, and PB&J. I agree with all of those -- well, maybe not the Hostess pies -- but I think a lot of significant, though perhaps mundane, items are overlooked. Am I missing the point?

On the bright side, there are a number of items that I do still want to try. Here's how the list looks for me:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
Rare steak is good enough for me. Don't need it to be completely raw

5. Crocodile
I would've expected crocodile to look more steaky but web images suggest it is a very white-looking meat, somewhere between fish and chicken.

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
I have no idea what this fish would taste like and I'm not big on seafood, but I have been coming around to it lately, so I'd be willing to try.

9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
I may have even had this before, but it would be a long time ago.

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
This sounds positively delicious now that I've read about it.

31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
This is almost in the same category as the Scotch Bonnet, since I don't know why I would want to do it to myself, but at least this is an actual dish.

44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
The most I've ever spent on a bottle was $60. I'm not sure I believe that it would be worthwhile for me to spend twice that much.

46. Fugu
Death fish, eh?

47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
I was tempted to cross this off as well.

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
Yes, sadly. Most of these are gross.

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
As far as I can tell, kaolin is a mineral used in toothpaste, insect repellant, and anti-diarrhea medicines. Unless they expect me to go out and eat a whole rock of it, I'm going to assume I've probably swallowed some in my journies.

64. Currywurst
65. Durian
Famous for its foul smell. Well, I've never smelled it, but when I do, there's a good chance I may have to cross it off.

66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
Again, this one is tough. I don't want to cross it off because I don't have enough experience with it. It looks edible, but if it smells gross, I might still pass.

71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
I may pick some up tonight. I believe this is more or less what they sell under the name Ski Queen around here.

75. Roadkill
I saw a squirrel on my way home from work a few weeks ago, but I didn't act fast enough. The flies had gotten to it by the next day. I must be a bad omnivore.

76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
This sounds super tasty.

81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
The only rabbit I've found is frozen. Plus, my wife's not a fan of the idea. I don't want to be stuck eating an entire rabbit by myself.

87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Not sure about this one. I may have had it in a restaurant before.

100. Snake

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Missing the point

Islamic group wants title change for the film "Towelhead" (Cinematical)
Group claims that the title will "increase [the slur's] acceptability in public discourse," while the writer of film argues that the title "dramatizes the pain inflicted by such language, something many people of non-minority descent never have to face."

Give me irony or give me offense! (Scanners)
Is the film "Borat" anti-Semitic because its protagonist is? Is "Tropic Thunder" attacking the disabled with its use of the word "retard"? Does Randy Newman think short people should die?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Trail of Dead

Finally, some actual news on new music by ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead comes from Billboard (link). Here are some of the highlights:
  • [The band] is putting the finishing touches on its sixth album in New York with producer Chris Coady. The as-yet-untitled set is due in January via the band's own Richter Scale label...
  • An EP, "Festival Time," will precede the album in October. In addition to the title track, it will feature an unconventional cover of the Replacements' "Within Your Reach" as well as the instrumental "The Betrayal of Roger Caseman and the Irish Brigade" and the dark, riffy "Bells of Creation," which will appear on the album in a different form.
  • The material previewed for Billboard is ... more hard-hitting than on the past two Interscope albums, with "Inland Sea" building from a measured, midtempo rocker to a furious instrumental finish and the snappy "Fields of Coal" conjuring an inspirational chorus that Reece says reminds him of the Summer Olypmics. Another untitled track is fast and punky, with an Unwound-style feedback barrage.
  • "On the last two albums, we were really meticulous recording to click-tracks and doing overdubs," Keely says. "This time, we threw all that out. We learned the songs and all tracked live."

Monday, August 25, 2008

A/V on video

I took some video of A/V's set when I played with him in Saint John a few weeks ago. Check it out:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food Fight

More chain restaurants
Apparently a Montana's steak house is opening (Gleaner) in Fredericton in the same area where an East Side Mario's is also scheduled to open. This is at the top of Regent street in what they seem to be calling the Corbett Centre now. While I'm all for new businesses (restaurants in particular), this sounds like just about the last thing we need. More lame burgers and steaks from a company that doesn't really care about making interesting food or providing new options for the community. And I'm not just picking on Montana's specifically, since my opinion of East Side Mario's isn't any better.

Canadian meat recall
Maple Leaf Foods recalled a whole bunch of meat this week after discovering evidence of listeriosis in products "distributed to nursing homes, restaurants and deli counters across the country – including McDonald's and Mr. Sub." I don't really have a comment to go with this, but it's something worth thinking about.

Farmers market move?
Back in April, there were concerns about the future of Fredericton's Boyce Farmers' Market, with the owner of the land claiming they were looking to sell. Needless to say, this upset many of the locals (myself included). On the bright side, a radio report this morning suggested that a new location might be established, still in the downtown area . I have no idea how certain any of this is, but if they could find an acceptable new facility to ensure a healthy future of the market, I'd be a very happy camper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crap... in 3D!

With the local grocery getting rid of their electronics section recently, I was pleased to find a bunch of bins full of super-cheap and accordingly terrible movies for sale. Nearly every movie in the Friday the 13th series for $1.75 each? Yes, please. I arbitrarily grabbed parts 3, 6, and 7, having already seen 1 and 8 a long time ago.

I think it's well-known that horror movie fans have a high tolerance for crap. Frankly, they have to. For every good one there are thousands of terrible ones and we desperately want to beat those odds. Subject yourself to enough of these "misthaufen" (look it up) and a self defense mechanism begins to kick in. You become immune to a great deal of awfulness and learn to seek out even the slightest scraps of entertainment a film has to offer, allowing you to persevere to the end credits.

That said, Friday the 13th part 3 still totally sucks. I realize I'm stating the obvious in a way, since these movies are known for their predictable formulas and not much else, but my defense system had to work in overdrive to get me through this one.

For starters, it's incredible how boring this movie is. With a synopsis like "vengeful supernatural murderer attacks sexy teens (and a few dorky ones) in a variety of creatively gruesome ways" you wouldn't expect to find yourself reaching for the fast forward button nearly as often as I did. The truth is that 90% of the movie could actually be more accurately describes as: "teens think they hear something, go investigate, wonder what happened to that other guy."

Fortunately, the movie's biggest blunder is also its most entertaining feature. Since the movie was originally intended to be presented in 3D, there are plenty of camera shots that were designed specifically to show off this technology for the audience (I'm sure they ooo'd and aaah'd back in the day). This is hilarious when you're watching the movie on your home tv in 2D, wondering why the cinematographer decided to focus on that kid's baseball bat for so long and why it's being waved around directly in front of the camera. Or the scene where the convenience store owner is hanging up a clothesline and waving the end of a long wooden pole in front of the camera. "Oh right... the 3D again." By the time peoples' eyeballs are popping out directly at the camera you actually start to enjoy it.

"A new dimension in terror" is what the tagline calls it. Indeed. I'd love to say I'm really excited to dive into parts 6 and 7, but I already know they weren't made with 3D in mind, so I wonder if they might possibly be even more boring. I'm sure I'll tough it out eventually, but I can't say when.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Na na na na na na na na...Batman!

I love my Wii, but it's starting to become a regular occurrence that awesome-looking games are announced for the PS3, XBox360, and... that's it. Everything but the Wii, basically. I realize there are technical and commercial issues involved, but really, all I want is to be able to play a Batman game that doesn't suck for once and today every game site on the interwebs has been mocking me with pictures like this one:

It's called Batman: Arkham Asylum and I want to play it. Destructoid has a bunch of cool pictures. It's being written by Paul Dini (of The Animated Series, Detective Comics) and seems to have a crapload of awesome villains in it. Joker shows up in the pictures, there are hints of a Riddler appearance (see question marks above), and Killer Croc, who appears to be fucking massive in his latest incarnation. Like, house-size massive:

All About You

I'm often reminded of particular friends when I read. Sometimes it's in the tone, sometimes it's in the content. Sometimes I have no idea why it made me think of the person. So I decided to play an association game today...

"[Squid are] repulsive, vile, hideously ugly creatures who deserve to die a fiery death."
David Lebovitz in a post about horse milk

Barbecued, chocolate-stuffed bananas. See pics.
- Glorious Food and Wine

"The semicolon allows woozy clauses to lean on each other like drunks for support."
- Slate, Has modern life killed the semicolon?

"Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
- Mark Twain, via Wordsmith's definition of "royal we"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All About Popcorn

Popcorn seasoning (Amazon)
I can barely remember why I even looked this up, but according to Amazon's categories, "Movie Theater Style" Popcorn seasoning (AKA "Theater Spice") is gourmet food. I think I've been going about this "gourmet" thing all wrong.

Buttery topping (Amazon)
On a related note, you can get a whole darn gallon jug of gourmet "Butter Flavored Popcorn Topping" for a mere $16.79 (plus shipping). On the other hand, that money could also get you 8 cups of real, honest-to-goodness butter. I just can't see myself spending $20 on a jug of hydrogenated oil and artificial butter flavor. Where would I keep it? Probably next to the jugs of motor oil and other inedibles I keep around. And when friends come over for a movie, I can get out the jug and we can all enjoy the fine butter-ish flavor from my gourmet oil jug.

Video: A Freak Like Me

The Dark Knight trailer reenacted by kids (College Humor)
A little brilliant, a little creepy, a little hilarious.

Get Your War On: You Are Loved (236)
You may remember Get Your War On as one of the better parts of Rolling Stone magazine. Well, it's an internet cartoon now.

Lykke Li video: "Breaking It Up" (Vimeo)
I was introduced to her by friends. I've really come to enjoy the music, but this video seems sort of... lame? Then again, it's not one of my favorite songs by her in the first place.

Gnarls Barkley cover Radiohead (YouTube)
Although I normally wouldn't think to put Radiohead anywhere in the same musical terrain as Gnarls Barkley, this actually isn't a bad cover. The vocal range of the original "Reckoner" suits Cee-lo's voice and the energy is amped up a bit.

Sesame Street's 39th Season
I definitely don't remember Sesame Street having this many celebrities on it when I was young.