A Belated 2016 Summer Bucket List

A Belated 2016 Summer Bucket List

2016 Summer bucket list

I know it’s a little strange to make a 2016 summer bucket list when summer is almost over, but so be it. Sometimes it’s fun to do things backwards. Rather than putting together a list of things I wanted to do, here are some of the things I actually did do this summer…whether I had initially intended it or not.

  1. Listen to the Arkells new album, Morning Report, on repeat. I’m listening to it right now in fact.
  2. Climb a mountain. Conquered Lady Mac in 3 hours because SOMEONE has gazelle-like legs and always seems to think it’s the best idea to run back down. Hmmm.
  3. Eat as many flavours of Kem CoBa’s soft serve as possible. Strawberry coconut has been my favourite.
  4. Use a chain saw (!!!) and help cut down a tree (!!!!!).
  5. Set off fireworks. Actually no, learn to use a zippo lighter and THEN set off fireworks.
  6. Consume 6/7 of my 7 Essential eats and drinks on a trip home to YYC.
  7. Try some of Montreal’s nominees for enRoute’s best new resto. Two thumbs up for both Candide and Agrikol.
  8. Go to a Just for Laughs show during the festival in July.
  9. Read a bajillion books. Pleasure reading, what?! (including the latest Harry Potter!)
  10. Binge on BC cherries.
  11. Learn how to disc in Muskoka. Well kinda.
  12. Water skiing/wakeboarding on the Okanagan, while trying not to pull every muscle in my body.
  13. WINE TASTING.
  14. Make friends with some pretty cute goats.
  15. Finally get my lit review accepted for publication. Oh wait, still working on that one..2016 summer bucket list 2
  16. Go for (several) runs in the rain. And embrace it.
  17. Brew up some kombucha. Try to stomach it because you let it over-ferment and it tastes like straight vinegar.
  18. Consume my weight in beef short rib at Lattuca.
  19. Go for (several) runs in 35 degree heat. I’m dumb.
  20. Drink a lot of really girly, but in my defence, refreshing (it is HOT here), cocktails.
  21. Make, and eat, cauliflower cake.
  22. Complete April’s doughnut crawl by finally making it to Leche.
  23. Eat mini doughnuts and tour J around the Stampede.
  24. Go to a wedding.
  25. Enjoy some west coast sushi. Enjoy is probably an under-statement.
  26. D Dutchmen. Ice cream is a summer food group.
  27. Do push-ups, lots of push-ups. Eventually learn to actually enjoy them (check!).
  28. Get a tan for the first time in my entire life.
  29. Did I mention I got a tan?
  30. A tan! A real deal tan! I’m embracing it because the second the leaves start to turn, I’ll be back pasty as ever. Small victories.

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Firefly Chocolate – An interview with founder Jonas Ketterle

Firefly Chocolate – An interview with founder Jonas Ketterle

Firefly 1

Jonas Ketterle didn’t plan on becoming a bean-to-bar chocolate producer, but the story of how his Firefly chocolate came to fruition is as organic as the brand itself. Built on relationships with producers and other members of the bean-to-bar chocolate community, he strives to inspire awe and wonder through a medium we can all get on board with, chocolate.

From mechanical engineering at Stanford to chocolate making, how do you explain that transition?

It was kind of a prolonged one. I went into engineering because I love building things. I was working on renewable energy technology in developing countries, specifically on solar energy. I eventually quit because it was too much travel and I was more interested in early stage product development. I went on a trip to Mexico and discovered chocolate making. It was the best chocolate I had ever had and the first time I connected to the process of making chocolate. I’ve always been a chocolate consumer growing up, typically Rittersport bars hiking and such. After I came back from Mexico I started thinking about chocolate. I built my own winnower and began learning through failure after failure.

Have you done any formal training or are you self taught?

Entirely self taught. I learned to monitor texture, humidity, and other variables through trial and error and a lot of Google queries. After about 2 years of experimenting I got it to a point where people were interested in buying my chocolate. I switched to all 85% cacao and an only coconut palm sugar sweetened product. At that time I actually took on a part time job back in solar energy and didn’t ever think I would ever do chocolate full time. But in July 2015 I took the leap.

Where do you get your cacao beans from?

Currently, all of my cacao beans come from southern Belize. They produce high quality beans and foster socially and environmentally conscious practices. I used to use many origins, but decided to go deep into showcasing one origin. I like cacao from Belize because it is very complex, with a balance of fruitiness and nuttiness. It also makes an excellent 100% bar and pairs well with the flavour of the coconut palm sugar I use. Also, I took into account how I felt after eating it – it made me feel good. We’re now selling 100% dark cacao for drinking chocolate. Many people are interested in using chocolate medicinally as a super food.

We are also looking into new origins, like Tanzanian cacao, to pair with some of our different flavours. I never thought I would make chocolate with beans from Africa because central/south America is closer. We are also experimenting with Costa Rican and Dominican beans.

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What’s your favourite bar in your lineup?

Well that’s like choosing which of your children is your favourite. How I’m feeling dictates what I choose to eat. Maca is my go-to for stamina. On a hot summer day, it’s crunchy almond and sea salt. Spicy chai is for mornings to wake up. Coconut cream for when I want a real treat. Plain dark chocolate, well I eat that every day. It doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it, so if you want to eat it every day, eat it every day.

What are some of your favourite lesser-known bean-to-bar chocolate producers?

Starchild. They also use coconut palm sugar, and I would happily eat their chocolate every day. They have (or at least they used to have) almost identical chocolate making machinery to us, so we would share similar stories of frustration and joy.

LetterPress is also producing great bars out of LA.

What are you goals with Firefly moving forward?

I view chocolate as social currency. Beyond doing a good job sourcing and ensuring sustainability, it is a tool for social change and living happier lives. Actually the name Firefly comes from the fact that chocolate can inspire awe and wonder, just like fireflies.

Awe and wonder are elusive; hard to plan, but powerful and beautiful. I find that consuming chocolate makes me more susceptible to experiencing awe and wonder.

I’m really excited about creating high quality dark chocolate (85% or higher) and am increasingly fascinated with 100% chocolate. I want to make chocolate that surprises people. Many taste it thinking that they will never like 85% cacao but they do.

Overall, I think chocolate is a lifestyle. There are a lot of positive health benefits that come from eating what we want regularly. Chocolate is a way of life, and it is also a bridge to other areas of the world, other communities.

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5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

August is upon us, which means that there’s one more full month of summer to melt (pun intended) in all of the frozen treats your heart desires. That’s right folks, the time for ice cream indulgence is here. Here are 5 places to check out before the snow starts to fall again in Montreal. Dalla Rose 1

Dalla Rose 2

Dalla Rose

The new kid on the block, Dalla Rose recently opened down on Notre Dame in St. Henri (right next to Arthur’s, the modern Jewish deli that also recently took up shop). Try their ice cream offerings on their own, or sandwiched between a variety of homemade cookies (the only complaint here is that some of the cookies are a bit on the hard side, making the ice cream sandwich difficult to eat without squeezing out all of the actual ice cream – hopefully this is just the result of growing pains and they will work out the kinks). Flavours include tournesol (sunflower seed), which is especially good paired with vegan chocolate coconut.

Dalla Rose Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Diperie

La Diperie

Less about the ice cream and more about the bajillion different dips and toppings you get to chose to coat it, La Diperie brings out the kid in anyone who visits. Start with basic vanilla soft serve, and choose from at least a dozen varieties of melted chocolate to dip it in (salted chocolate and dulce de leche are both winners). Roll it in a mélange of toppings from crushed pretzels, to Oreo crumbs, and you are in for a treat.

La Diperie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kem Coba 1 Kem Coba 2

Kem CoBa

Kem CoBa has been a fan favourite on the Montreal ice cream scene for awhile now, so much so that there is even a Twitter account dedicated to monitoring the size of the line to get some (be prepared to line up around the block if it’s a scorcher out). It’s worth the wait though for their Asian-inspired flavours of ice cream and sorbet like pandan and chai. Don’t forget to try their homemade soft serve either, which is an ever-changing sorbet/ice cream combo, making for a refreshing, creamy treat.

Kem CoBa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pandan

Pandan Cremerie

Easily the most unique “ice cream” on the list, Pandan is one of only a handful of Thai rolled ice cream shops in the country. Given that all of their ice cream is frozen and rolled right before your eyes, it does take at least 4 to 5 minutes per customer, but time goes by quickly when you are watching the novelty of it all (honestly it’s worth it just to get a video of the process in action). Try the Vietnamese coffee ice cream topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

Pandan Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ripples

Ripples

Located on St. Laurent right across from the infamous smoked meat shop, Schwartz’s, Ripples may look like your typically old-timey ice cream shop, but it is anything but, as indicated by unique flavours like kulfi and pistachio (loaded with pieces of actual pistachio). It may not be the lightest option, but it is decadent, full-fat ice cream at its finest, ultra dense and super smooth.

Ripples Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.

Stop and appreciate this for a moment.

This is the image of the perfect cookie. These are the best cookies ever. Period. Full stop. I’m saying it with confidence and am willing to take full responsibility for my actions, whatever the repercussions may be.

I’d say that in general, people have a fairly high tolerance for truly terrible cookies. Not all cookies are going to be good, that’s the reality of life. Just because someone went out of their way to bake them for the office and came by your desk to offer you one doesn’t mean you have to fawn over it. It’s a cookie, but that doesn’t make it a great cookie, or even a remotely mediocre cookie. I’d estimate that 99% of the cookies that we eat suck. We’re just too nice to admit it.

I on the other hand, am a terrible person who has zero tolerance for bad cookies. Life is too short to eat crappy cookies. That’s my motto. So make these, the best cookies ever, and share with your friends. Or don’t. Your call. You never know, it might just encourage them to up their cookie game in future. And hey, the more truly excellent cookies we have in the world, the better.

The Best Cookies Ever, Period.
 
Just make them, eat them, and don't ask questions.
Author:
Serves: Makes 7 fairly massive cookies
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup (280g) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cup (240g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (225g) white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 3½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (445g) all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ lb. (565g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (you want the chunks to be pretty large so they melt into giant pools of chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and both sugars.
  2. Add in the eggs and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and stir. Once it is almost incorporated, add in the chocolate. Stir until just combined but don't overwork it.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24h (it holds well for up to 5 days).
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Portion dough into 120g balls and place on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. You want the cookies to be nicely browned around the edges but still underbaked and doughy in the centre.
  9. Cool for about 10 minutes before shoving in your face hole (seriously, do this, otherwise you will burn your mouth on scalding hot chocolate. Trust me, I speak from experience).

Best Cookies Ever 2Best Cookies Ever 1

7 Essential eats and drinks on a trip home to YYC

7 Essential eats and drinks on a trip home to YYC

charred cabbage from Pigeonhole

Montreal has a great food scene but this is what I really crave when I head back west to Calgary. Rest assured there will be plenty of ice cream, tofu, chocolate, and an abundance of other delicious eats and drinks.

  1. Village Beer

Specifically Village Blacksmith. It’s a dark beer like no others; light enough to be sessionable, but not so light that it’s no longer dark. Easy drinking stuff. Plus the bottle fits really nicely in my tiny hands (maybe Trump would be a fan?).

  1. Village Ice Cream

Apparently there’s a village theme here. Man if Village Chocolate existed I would be all over it. Anyways, back to the topic at hand, Village Ice Cream. Their salted caramel is what dreams are made of, and their seasonal vegan coconut milk-based varieties are off the hook. Yup, I just said “off the hook.”

  1. Crispy Tofu at Anju

I realize as I write this that I’ve never had the true version of crispy tofu. It comes with pork belly and in my previous life as a vegetarian, I always ordered it sans piggy. Now I’m scared. Is it going to be the same? Will all of my expectations be violated? Who knows?! Heck it’s pork belly, how can adding that be a bad thing?

  1. Charred Cabbage at Pigeonhole

Charred cabbage is one of Pigeonhole’s signature dishes for a reason. Elevating the humble brassica is no simple feat but the smoky, blackened exterior contrasted with the melty mimolette and spicy salad cream is pretty incredible for what is essentially a three component dish. The reservation has been made and we will be ordering several plates of this.

  1. Smoked Salmon Pappardelle at Villa Firenze

No restaurant encompasses my childhood like Villa Firenze. I could rave about pretty much anything on the menu but my go-to for the past several years has been their smoked salmon pappardelle. The fish is hot smoked and blended into a rich cream sauce that envelops the perfectly cooked, homemade pappardelle. Leftovers the next day are just as good.

  1. Milkshake (preferably vanilla or chocolate) at Peter’s

If tongue workouts were a thing, Peter’s would have already banked their millions from their milkshakes and moved on. Thankfully (to my knowledge), they’re not. That doesn’t make Peter’s milkshakes any less jaw-achingly delicious. No spoons allowed, straws are the only way to go. And yes, you can get about 5 bagillion different flavour combinations but for me, simple chocolate or vanilla shall suffice.

  1. Cococo Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut’s Sea Salt Habanero bar (milk or dark)

I’ve had a lot of chocolate that claims to be spicy, but none of them can leave you in a coughing fit quite like this bad boy (and I mean that in the best of ways). It delivers on both the salt and the spice, and the two of them together make it about as addictive as chocolate gets.

gin and tonic container bar

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