Posts from the ‘Canada’ category

How to eat chicken-fried gator? Chomp it quickly

The fried gator is buttery soft, surrounded by a thin layer of crunchy batter.

This is a story about food: about longing, and the yearning for comfort. There are many words, but no photographs; you have been warned. May the words flow with you, and may hunger strike at your desire for more …

Comfort food, comfortable chomps

It all began innocently: a sudden rush, a deep craving for comfort food: southern-style fried chicken and waffles.

But “chicken and waffles”? Definitely.

Depending upon what I’m feeling, I crave all kinds of comfort food; for example:

•   A steaming bowl of wonton (wuntun) noodle soup, because that’s my childhood in Vancouver.
•   A peameal bacon sandwich from the St. Lawrence Market, after seven years in The Big Smoke (Toronto).
•   A “Juicy Lucy” burger with a side of tater tots, after a couple of years in the Minneapolis/St. Paul.
•   An “empanada de pino” (baked meat pie) and a bowl of “cazuela de mariscos” (seafood chowder), after five years in Chile.
•   Döner kebab and currywurst, because 14 consecutive years still aren’t enough in Germany.

But where am I going to find “chicken & waffles” in Vancouver?

I’m at a seminar about social-media by Rebecca Coleman, and she also writes a lot about food. I inform her of my quest, and her recommendation is swift, straight to Chewie’s.

They have two locations: one downtown by Coal Harbour, and the other in Kitsilano. Their online presence leads me to their brunch menu, helpfully listing “chicken and waffles.” But I’m chomping at the bit, when Rebecca mentions chicken-fried alligator, and Chewie’s has half-price happy-hour afternoons.


SOLD! Where do I sign up?

I soon realize this first visit to Chewie’s is going to be different: no camera, no photographs. Why?

I want the experience to be free of burdens: to photograph the setting; to photograph the food as it’s brought to the table; to find the “right light”; that I need a shot, any shot, a perfect shot.

I simply remove the idea from my mind, and I’m free.

But is an online post worth reading if there aren’t any photographs, especially if there’s food?

Some would say “no”, but that’s the challenge and opportunity, to see if the following description can hold readers to the end of this post.


Full with 2 Apps

It’s 330pm on a Thursday afternoon, and I see soon after entering their Coal Harbour location that the place is alive with sounds of activity from conversations and cooking. The restaurant is at about one-third capacity, which is fine because I won’t feel rushed dining on my own. Some well-dressed business folks have occupied a couple of tables by the far end, getting their weekend off to an early happy start.

In time for their half-price Happy Hour, my eyes go to their “First Bites” or appetizers. Recent experience has shown appetizers tend to be small, and I’ve already decided I want two. Instead of beer, it’s hot tea; there’s more writing afterwards.

Little time passes, and my two requests are brought to the table at the same time.

1. Pan Seared Calamari: B.C. Humboldt squid (not breaded) with smoked paprika aioli, and cucumber and onion jalapeño mint-vinaigrette salad.

Because it’s easier to hide the quality of the squid behind breading, I prefer calamari unbreaded. The mollusk is sliced strategically for guests; from a distance, the plate appears suspiciously like penne pasta in a creamy sauce. “Best seafood penne ever!” Closer examination shows there’s bite-sized squid in small tubes; no knife is necessary. Removed are the little tentacles so often disconcerting to some, but I find I miss the wae tentacles.

The squid “tubes” are cooked perfectly: undercooked and it’s too chewy, overcooked and the tubes hang limp on the fork. The smooth creamy spicy aioli complements the flavours of the pan sear and the deep sea. The accompanying cucumber and onion salad provides another counterpoint with fresh garden textures and the jalapeño vinaigrette pushes out a slightly sour edge balancing the oil used in the sear and the cream in the aioli. Eating a couple of tubes with the salad in the same forkful works very well.

2. Chicken-Fried Gator & Hush Puppies: buttermilk-soaked chicken-fried alligator, corn hush puppies, jalapeño jelly

I’m sure the first thing anyone thinks on first sight is: hey, chicken fingers and a fried carb! Come to think of it, “fingers & fries” are a comfort food, too.

Both gator strips and hush puppies appear golden, fried at the right temperature for the right amount of time; neither is burnt or undercooked. The first bite blows away the thought of “chicken fingers”. Marinated for hours in buttermilk, the strips of alligator meat is lightly breaded and fried. Tearing easily, the meat is not chewy; the soft gator meat is a nice contrast with the crispy exterior. As the batter is lightly seasoned, the jalapeño jelly dip for the gator adds another sweet-and-spicy layer to the flavours. Instead of the ubiquitous fries, that “fried carb” are tasty savory spheres of fried cornmeal batter. They have a touch of sweet, reminding me of Tim Hortons’ Timbits, but I can see from the open kitchen the hush puppies are made on order. The accompanying salad garnish composed of crispy bitter arugula leaves and thinly sliced sweet beet slivers provide additional balance to colour, flavour, and texture.

As appetizers go, each is sufficient as a starter to be shared among two or three people, and with two full-sized appetizers consumed, I am very content. The hot tea is a great choice, as the sharp bitter drink cuts through and helps to “wash down” the fatty food. That’s an important lesson after hundreds of dim sum/yum cha sessions.

I enjoyed both appetizers, but the clear favourite is the gator. If you must have images, you can bank on the Internet:

Chicken-fried gator :
Rebecca Coleman for VanCity Buzz | Eatiful | Gastrofork

Pan fried calamari :
Food and Wine with MyWinePal | Eat With Jenny | Jeremy Lin (in Flickr)


Inevitably, return for more

I’ll have to go back and try their crabcakes; it’s only fair to compare and contrast against the famous crabcakes I had in Baltimore. I have to go back for weekend brunch to dig into their chicken and waffles. And they have oysters: lots of `em. So that’s another visit yet …

I visited Chewie’s Coal Harbour on 6 November 2014, and I shelled out my own clams for all food and drink. After paying the bill, I informed the staff of my visit as an interested and hungry travel-writer. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I did not receive any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the restaurant or food mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

Vancouver Gastown Photowalk with 500px’s Evgeny Tchebotarev

500px‘s Evgeny Tchebotarev flew over from Toronto to Vancouver recently, and met local photographers on a photowalk through the city’s historical Gastown district. 70 people signed up for the photowalk, and the crowd assembled at the Gastown Steam Clock.

That’s when the skies unleashed its waterworks, ranging from a light sprinkle to a hard soak. A number of people stuck through to the wet bitter end.

I was not one of them, as I tucked into a nearby coffee shop to dry out, stocked up on caffeine, set upon a butter tart, and reviewed my “photon haul” for the day.

The following photos are evidence the afternoon was not a complete washout.

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Rallying the troops”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“A swarm of togs around the Steam Clock”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Speaking, clicking, sharing”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Water Street wave”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“IN FORM”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Dueling cigarettes”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Step” (Kim Yee)

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Up and over” (Kim Yee)

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Hello, I see you …”

500px photowalk, Vancouver Gastown, fotoeins.com

“Vertical flip”

I made all photos above on 28 June 2014. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Fotoeins Friday: fall fog in Vancouver’s 1st Narrows

My progress with Canon, from 450D to 6D

I seemed to have skipped a step, as I’ve moved from a triple-digit camera model to a single-digit model.

For over five years, I owned an entry-level Canon DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. Carrying the EOS 450D (XSi) along for the ride, I traveled over one million miles in the air and I made over 75000 exposures.

Canon EOS450D (XSi), by Dr.K on Wikimedia

Canon EOS450D (XSi), by Dr.K on Wikimedia

The shutter finally failed to close properly about a year ago as I stood in front of the television tower in Prague’s Zizkov. I made do with an aging iPod Touch for another five months. When the calendar flipped over to 2014, I’d been missing photography with a camera by a very large mile.

Leaping up to the 6D

I picked up the Canon EOS6D in mid-January under the banner of post-Christmas post-New Year’s sales. I already have the EF 50-prime and EF 70-300 lenses, and I wanted to take advantage of these great lenses with a full-frame camera body; I had the idea of purchasing only the camera body. The bundle with the preferred 24-70mm L-series lens was too far, but the package deal with the more affordable 24-105mm L-glass including an additional padded camera strap, a padded camera carrying case, and an extra battery was a decent compromise.

Canon EOS6D, by Dave Dugdale for Wikimedia

Happily, I’m no longer concerned with the 1.6 crop factor; that is, a shot with the 450D at 50mm focal length has the same imaging area as a shot with the 6D at 80mm focal length. I’m enjoying the camera and I’m a big fan; here is a shortlist of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ with the camera.

    Pros:

  • GPS, for automatic geotagging of my photographs
  • WiFi, for direct upload onto my iPod Touch (or future smartphone)
  • Much better low-light performance; higher ISO range
  • Large range of RAW and JPG sizes
  • Video capability, though I haven’t used video much at this stage
    Cons:

  • Body heavier and more cumbersome; already knew this for full-frame camera
  • Internal GPS can be slow to connect with satellites
  • Battery drains quickly with GPS and WiFi usage
  • Could use an extra card slot
  • Still no focal length displayed with aperture, exposure time, ISO

At the Digital Photography Review website, you can compare side-by-side an entry-level Canon DSLR with a full-frame Canon DSLR. For example, select and compare the 500D (T1i) against the 6D; the 450D is so ‘old’ it’s unavailable in the listing. You can do your own intrabrand or interbrand comparison(s) here.


8 with the 6D

With this post, I’ve already made in eight months over 9000 exposures with the 6D, edging ever closer to turning over the four-digit image-number counter for the first time. Below are photographs over the first eight months of the year.

(F)Light of the Columbidae, Vancouver City Centre, Skytrain station, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“(F)light of the Columbidae”, Vancouver City Centre – 17 January 2014

Chinatown Plaza, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“C is for Chinatown”, Chinatown Plaza – 23 February 2014

Caught in a web of TED, Vancouver Convention Centre, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“Caught in a web of TED” (by Janet Echelman), Vancouver Convention Centre – 20 March 2014

Parking lot in English Bay, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“Parking lot in English Bay”, West Vancouver – 13 April 2014

Drive by, Harbour Green Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“driveby”, Harbour Green Park – 6 May 2014

Mother and daughter, sister and niece, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“Mother & daughter, sister & niece” – 12 June 2014

Holiday sunrise over Burrard Inlet, Canada Day, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“Holiday sunrise”, Burrard Inlet – 1 July 2014

Downtown Vancouver, construction, urban commentary, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

“… at the right price”, Downtown Vancouver – 22 August 2014

What camera are you using? Have you bought a new camera this year or will you be buying a new camera soon? Please leave your questions or comments below!

I made all of the photos above in Vancouver, Canada. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Fotoeins Friday: pull shot over midwicket for six

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