Friday, February 27, 2009

HARD AT WORK





























The last couple of days I spent visiting a number of factories to find the best supplier for a new fitness machine, aptly called CRAZY FIT. Basically not much more than a vibrating platform, this machine will be the next big fitness craze for lazy people. Already a huge hit in Europe, you heard it from me first!

10 minutes of full body vibration supposedly equals one hour of workout. Add to that "promises" of multiple other health benefits such as strengthening of bone density, vericous vein reduction and many more miracles, I can see it become the next treadmill.
Just no walking. I am not convinced, but my client sure is. I had to test so many machines, some of my fillings fell out....just a minor side effect.
I told my client to put it on the label with all the other warnings, such as "do not operate when drunken" or "feeble people shall not use machine". Yes, those were actual warnings in CHINGLISH. How about this one: "Automatism/Fat testing"...Which I believe is meant to say Auctomatic Body Mass Index.

Anyway. Minor flaws. We found a good factory that seems to be able to correct those issues and my job is done. Back to Shanghai.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

YONGKANG, CHINA
















The hardware capital of China. If you own a generic frying pan or pot, chances are it was made in this city.
Arrived today late afternoon, about a good 6 hrs by car from Shanghai. It did test my patience to get here today. The driver originally estimated it to take 4 1/2 hours....but so it goes in China.

The first factory tour was finished around 7 m and of course that means just in time for dinner.
Not really a culinary capital it seems, we actually had a hard time to find a place that was open at 8pm. But we got fed. Good. A simple restaurant had some great flavors.
The standout dish of the night was a plate of candied, caramelized sweet potatoes, which I have to say, really impressed me. Very similar to the caramelized apples or bananas you would get in a Calgary restaurant, cold water bowl included. Just with sweet potatoes.

Scrambled eggs with onions, chicken with mushrooms, plain fried rice for my not so adventurous
client and a few more tasty plates rounded out a pleasant first night in this town. More factories and food tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

JET LAG IN HONG KONG











The flight from Vancouver clocked in at 13 hours and 37 minutes, gate to gate. Add to that the flight from Calgary and a couple of hours layover in Vancouver. Long trip. Confused inner clock.
So I booked a decent hotel in a neighborhood location, not on a hot spot like TST or Central.

The first night is crucial for me when I travel, I need a good bed, nice pillows and a hot shower.
This hotel delivered. Located in Sheun Wan, west of Central, in the middle of a residential area.
Despite a good bed, I was up by 4am, CNN was boring, so I decided to go for a walk and find a breakfast spot that's open. Not a Starbucks.

Less than 3 minutes I did find a Dim Sum place that was open and full with patrons. No english menu, fairly authentic, including a shirtless server. Perfect place....
The lack of communication was overcome by showing me all the available dumplings, I pointed at the two most appetizing ones and a cup of rice. Pot of tea, no coffee, I was set. No idea what was in the dumplings, but for me, that's half the excitement.
A great start for this trip to China.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ON THE ROAD AGAIN




I am off for a while, going on a sourcing trip. Back in town early March.
Look at the images and guess which city I am starting with? A great food destination. Hopefully I can post during my trip.




Saturday, February 21, 2009

CREME BRULEE




It seems that Lauren finally has found the right size takeout cup to make Creme Brulee. Gorgeous little cups of creamy sweetness, with a nice layer of caramelized sugar.

Go get some! A bargain @2.50

Friday, February 20, 2009

IS THIS SOUP GLUTEN FREE??







Isabella spent the day with me today driving around visiting clients and inevitably around 11am she starts to get hungry and wants a snack or something.
I was en route into the city and close to Bridgeland where I remembered a good looking establishment, called THE MAIN DISH.

Half self serve resto, half take out, I had an excellent espresso there once. The food looked appealing, so I decided to buy my daughter a bowl of soup or something there.
Isabella is on a gluten free diet, so I have to watch what she gets to eat.

Tomato soup with Polenta. Pretty safe with a good chef, right? Tomatos, veggies, spices and Polenta. To be sure, I did ask the question about gluten free ingredients.
Ah. The response was comical and very uninformative. The cook who was very pleasant, went to ask the head chef before she came back out and gave me a long monologue about "Polenta having lots of gluten because it's really sticky, you know?" "The corn when it's ground just creates it's own consistency", etc., etc. Ehm, yes or no? Gluten free or not?

I really appreciated the effort made, but had to bite my lip so she would not catch me laugh. It was similar to a politician trying to say NOTHING in a two minute sentence.

Anyway, I took the calculated risk and let Isabella have a go at the soup. No harm done and the soup was EXCELLENT! So good in fact, that I can recommend it! So does Isabella with two thumbs up. The Polenta added a really nice richness to the whole soup.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

GLUTEN FREE PANINI SANDWICH
















So get ready for the summer @ GF Patisserie. I know it is still February. But if we all think summer, maybe the snow goes away and it gets warmer faster? Help me!!!!! I need warm sunshine. NOW!

Anyway, the images are mostly of what Victoria wants to offer this summer. Though the open face sandwiches are just a sample, so you can see what's inside. Egg salad, Salami, Mortadella, anything really.
I am most fond of the PANINI idea, a hot grilled sandwich with a bit of Tomato Aioli to dip in. Very Eurofoodish. That's not a real word but you get the idea.

It's fresh all the way with GF Patisserie's bread, cold cuts and cheeses from the Italian Market and easy to snack on the way!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GLUTEN FREE DANISH











GF Patisserie may only be open 4 days a week but let me tell you, the girls work almost every day. Procuring ingredients, all important paper work and most exciting, product development.
Weekly experiments, new equipment tests, buying a new cook book to find exciting, easy to convert recipes, it all has to fit in a week's work.

Today both Victoria and Lauren experimented on how to create the best gluten free danishes. I am telling you, the best part of it all, I get to try every single effort they come up with. I have said this before, but their talent knows no end.
Three trials, all three are ready for the store in my eyes. Ah. But not for Victoria. She will keep perfecting them the next few days and then when it fits her palate, only then will Victoria offer them for sale.

There are also some breakthroughs on the savory front. Though both Victoria and Lauren do not want a full fledged restaurant with gluten free gourmet dishes, this summer you can expect some take out sandwiches and Paninis with premium ingredients.
And most exciting....Victoria bought a Pasta machine. FRESH PASTA! GLUTEN FREE! Now that's tasty!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

GLUTEN FREE HAMBURGER BUNS







My post about IN-N-OUT BURGER caused quite a ruckus with Lauren & Victoria. Lauren is cranky, since I had a double double and she did not, and Victoria calls me a (food) traitor.
Ah, so sorry girls. But worth the wrath....

Lauren then decided to have Hamburgers for the weekend and she would make her fantastic gluten free Hamburger Buns. Now, GF Patisserie is selling those buns for a while now and there are hardly ever any left on Saturday. But this time, Lauren made them specifically for the family.

Victoria came up with a recipe for this bun a while ago but kept tinkering with it, and now in my non celiac opinion she has created the perfect GF Hamburger bun. Light, airy, a touch of sweetness to offset the onions and condiments, yet firm enough, so it does not crumble when you bite into it.

On my next trip to Vegas I will take Victoria with me (I think she is cranky about me going alone as well), hand a couple of buns to IN-N-OUT BURGER and Victoria can experience the whole thing with me. I promise.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

IN-N-OUT BURGER LAS VEGAS







NOT GLUTEN FREE!!

During last week's trip to Vegas, my food intake was mostly attached to business meetings or crowded social events and it would not have been wise to snap images in front of my (potential) clients for a Blog.
So, sadly the only foodie post I have with images is from my favorite Hamburger joint, IN-N-OUT BURGER.
And unbelievably, even there, the one night without any obligations I ran into a client of mine from Galena, Kansas. Gerry was in town for the same show as I was and apparently also had a craving for something "down to earth", the best Burger in Vegas.

Much has been said about IN-N-OUT, both in Blogs and online articles, but it is still worth a short post. I do not want to call it fast food, not only did I wait as usual for 7 minutes to get my burger and fries, but they have no freezer, no microwave, nothing. Fresh only. (Ehm, Victoria came with me many times....)
A simple menu, Burgers, fries and shakes allows for a focus to produce the best in that and not falter by offering a bit of everything.

My burger, a double double (Double cheeseburger) was hot and tasty. The fries are made from scratch, thin cut, and with some ketchup, are as good as the burger.
They also have a secret menu, which of course leads to a cult following among college students. I never ordered any of their specials, but you can see more images here:


The chain has locations in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah only, so if you ever find yourself anywhere in those states, go and find one. You will love it.
Even Thomas Keller, the Chef owner at French Laundry is a solid fan and that says it all. For me at least.

Friday, February 13, 2009

THE GLUTEN FREE GUIDE


Hilary Davidson, a freelance journalist who also wrote 17 books already, had a quick mention of Victoria's GF Patisserie on her site. Word travels beyond the borders....
Last week Victoria had a couple of phone calls from Manhattan, after another Blog there mentioned her bakery. So sorry, no deliveries to NY NY yet.

Read more about Hilary's gluten free guide here:


Sunday, February 08, 2009

GLUTEN FREE QUICHE











Sundays can be lazy around the house. The weather was great, so we ventured out for a while, visited Blush Lane and Planet Organic to see what's new in the gluten free section.

For dinner today we are having a couple of Victoria's gluten free Quiches, Cheese and Rosemary with my favorite greens, Arugula salad on the side. I am telling you, there is no difference in the crust from GF to regular. Unreal.

Early dinner today, I am leaving for a few days to attend a trade show in Las Vegas. I am sure there will be plenty to write about.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

LOVE IS IN THE AIR @ GF PATISSERIE









Now that's a cheesy title if I ever wrote one. But it's true. I went to visit the bakery today. Both Victoria and Lauren were busy baking up a storm for next week's Valentine's day.
And it seems more and more that their secret ingredient is LOVE. Love for baking, love for happy customers and it shows.
Lauren made gluten free "Love Bites" already, they are heart shaped Callebaut chocolate dipped mini cheesecakes. I was able to snag a sample and they are fantastic. If you like GF Patisserie's cheesecake, you have to try those.
Victoria was in the middle of making gluten free sugar cookies today. Very buttery, flaky delights. This is going to be a special weekend for all Celiacs.
Now here is my advise how to get those special treats.....send this post to your loved ones with a very strong hint that this is what you want for Valentine's.
Easy. The best gluten free Valentine's gift. Since you are at it with the hinting, tell them abut Victoria's gift certificates too! Double Bonus.

GF PATISSERIE - THE ORDER FORM


Victoria wanted me to post her fax number. It's finally working! There were some challenges with TELUS, but now you can fax the order form to:


(403) 547-0677

You can find the form on her website: www.gfpatisserie.com

Of course you can also email your order, or just call it in. Whatever is the easiest or best for you.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GLUTEN FREE BISCOTTI















What a breakfast. While I was spending my whole evening at the Auction, Victoria experimented with a gluten free Biscotti recipe.

I did not make it in the kitchen last night but let me tell you, I found them right away in the morning. Next to the coffee machine.
Victoria used her GF Patisserie flour mix, double baked the dough and I must say I did not taste a difference to a regualr Biscotti. To make them even more tasteful, Victoria added orange zest and covered the Biscotti with chocolate. The orange flavor especially made this Biscotti stand out.

What a breakfast. A Cafe Latte and a couple of Biscotti. OK. Three.