It's looking like a surprisingly busy summer. This July, Kate is:
proofreading the newsletter of a major American oil company through a U.S. communications firm
rewriting the brochure of an adventure tour company
helping to judge a writing contest
writing about Vancouver's EAT Food + Cooking Festival, a blog about blogs, and copy editing for City Palate magazine's Sept./Oct. issue; also writing stories about trips to San Antonio and Azerbaijan for upcoming issues
writing articles for Doctors of B.C.
writing for the Vancouver Aquarium
going to Osoyoos to meet and write about a local winemaker and organic farmer
accompanying husband Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk on a few barbecue-related jaunts to Whistler
cooking recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi whenever possible because they are DELICIOUS
Fall 2015 is looking great. This month, Kate is writing for:
- a Fortune 50 company
- the Asia Pacific branch of an insurance company
- Doctors of B.C.
She is copy editing Calgary's City Palate magazine and temporarily filling in for the owner of a company that keeps writers on task. Over the next month or so, she will also be writing stories about recent trips to San Antonio, Texas, and Osoyoos, B.C., and about the food of Azerbaijan.
Brunch is now extremely popular in Vancouver. Try:
The Gruyere baked eggs with rosti at Twisted Fork Bistro. http://twistedforkbistro.ca/
Poisson lem Marrakech, where a soft-poached egg makes whoopee with cured wild salmon, sprouted wheat berries, pistachio and parsley salad and sesame yogurt at Café Medina, then waffles with milk chocolate and lavender topping. http://medinacafe.com/
Farinata, a delicious eggless chickpea omelette with oat and seed bread toast at Exile Bistro, a “plant forward” restaurant serving vegan treats but also ostrich tartare and marinated elk. http://www.exilebistro.com/
The 15-minute SeaBus ride from Waterfront Station to North Vancouver, which lands just outside the Lonsdale Quay’s cosy market (http://www.lonsdalequay.com/). Visit nearby Pier 7 Restaurant + Bar, a seafood enclave that on Thursday nights offers “The Boil,” a heapin’ two-person helpin’ of seafood, corn and drawn butter. http://pierseven.ca/
The tastefully appointed Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, perfectly located in downtown Vancouver. In 2015, it hosted Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper and India’s head honcho, Narendra Modi simultaneously, though probably not in the same bed. http://www.pinnacleharbourfronthotel.com/
(From Food & Wine, October, 1997; recipe by Jacques Pepin)
This is excellent with a dessert wine. I'm posting it here because my husband posted a photo of it and friends requested the recipe, and this is the easiest way to share it.
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole almonds (5.5 oz.)
2/3 c. plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp, baking powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. milk
6-8 ripe plums, preferably Black Friar or Santa Rosa
½ c. plum jam
1 Tbsp. plum brandy or cognac
Optional: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 10-in. spring-form pan with ¼ tsp. of the butter; reserve the rest.
2. In a food processor, combine the flour, almonds and 2/3 c. of the sugar and process until a coarse powder forms. Add the eggs, oil, baking powder, vanilla and remaining butter; process just until incorporated. Add the milk and process just until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan; it should be about 3/4 –in deep in the pan.
3. Using the tip of a sharp knife, remove the pit from the stem end of each plum. Rinse the whole pitted plums well in cold water and, while they are still wet, roll them in the remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar. Push the plums down into the cake batter until half immersed, making sure to space them evenly.
4. Set the pan on a cookie sheet. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and browned. Let cool on a rack until lukewarm.
5. Mix the plum jam and brandy and brush the glaze over the lukewarm cake. Remove from the pan and cut the cake into wedges; each serving should contain a plum. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.
Wine note: Juicy, ripe plums need an equally fruity, plummy sweet wine. Muscat has just the right amount of sweetness and aromatic flavour, according to Food & Wine.
IT was Shark Week on the Discovery Channel recently. Programming vacillated madly between trying to placate shark-paranoid viewers (selachophobics) and attempting to stir them once again into the hysterical froth that has abated only slightly since the film Jaws came out in 1975.
The two shows I watched attempted to excite us and calm us down in the space of one episode. In Bull Shark: World’s Deadliest Shark, English wildlife presenter Nigel Marven helpfully revealed that we needn’t just be petrified of swimming in tropical oceans, because the confluence of the freshwater Mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico is also teeming with vicious bull sharks.
They are cute at the outset, suggested the vegetarian host of the show. He patted a young shark in a soothing way before warning us in a dire tone that in a few short years they’ll be giant torpedoes who’ll mow down our dogpaddling toddlers.
But apparently, the bull sharks’ aggressive behaviour is just the result of a misunderstanding and shouldn’t be held against them. Marven demonstrated that the glint of a ring on a finger at the surface of the water could easily be mistaken for a delicious fish. Bull sharks get hungry, just like the rest of us.
Then, as home viewers en route to tropical or Mississippi river vacations began coating their ring fingers with lard and wrenching at their wedding bands, Marven revealed that frenzied kicking, such as swimmers do to keep from being eaten, was, for a shark, like a casual invitation for sangria and tapas. Sharks can sense vibrations from a great distance and are attracted to them, he noted.
In a month or so, my family is going to Maui. So my 11-year-old son has been studying his favourite subject, sharks, more diligently than ever. He is now given to such remarks as, “You have a better chance of being killed by a vending machine than you do of being killed by a shark,” which certainly makes me glare suspiciously at vending machines. The difference between a vending machine and a shark, of course, is that vending machines don’t swim underneath you in tropical oceans, smacking their lips while sizing up your clumsily pedaling drumsticks.
Then again, neither do sharks, according to half the experts on display during Shark Week (the other half said they did). A documentary called Sharks on Trial made excuses for the diet of Great Whites, who seem to honk back Australian surfers for roughage. Seen from below, backlit by the sun, a surfer on a surfboard is supposedly a dead ringer for a seal. Since sharks pop delectably oily seals like the rest of us plough through cherries in July, how can they resist, the announcer implied.
This gave me no comfort whatsoever. I look like a seal at the best of times and do not even need to accessorize with a surfboard. While I contemplated my imminent demise, Sharks on Trial insinuated that sharks were not benign creatures who blundered along like Mr. Magoo, accidentally ingesting vacationers mid-chuckle, but remorseless killers like Tony Soprano. They also have fantastic eyesight, the anonymous narrator noted, which certainly cast that “Sorry, thought you were a seal” defence into question.
He went on to talk about “rogue sharks” who cut a swath through Australia’s best beaches, presumably while their more conventional relatives dutifully stayed away and said “Tsk, tsk.” He then quoted an expert who said there was no such thing as rogue sharks. In summing up, the narrator broadly hinted that, actually, rogue sharks were all around us and if we had any thoughts of going surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, or kayaking anywhere at all, we were nuts. At that point, I was prone to agree.
Television is the perfect medium for fomenting shark anxiety because the truth is, sharks are terribly unphotogenic. Up close they may cut a dashing figure (although few humans live to tell that tale) but those dead eyes, that underslung jaw, and those hopeless, nasty, pointy teeth remind the TV viewer of nothing so much as a hungover Shane McGowan of the Pogues.
If sharks were more attractive, with an eyelid or two to make a friendly wink possible, it would go a long way toward improving their global reputation. The fin is also a liability, implying that there’s something sinister going on under the surface. I’m not sure what to do there, though. The fin is the shark’s “brand.” You can’t mess with that.
Of course, many do. Sharks are hunted by humans precisely because hunters get a great price for those fins; they’re the key ingredient in shark’s fin soup. According to Sharks on Trial, hundreds of thousands of sharks are killed every year to make this delicacy possible, which makes man by far the worse predator.
I figure some sharks are aware of this and believe in Old Testament-style justice -- an eye for an eye, a spine for a fin. My proposal, and I admit to just a tad of self-interest, is that shark slaughtering and baiting stop, at least until I return from Maui. After that, the conservationists and the hunters can duke it out while I stay well away from balmy seas.
My friend Laurie called with an offer of a free concert ticket yesterday. It wasn’t for the Australian psychedelic recording project Tame Impala, which my son and his friends were going to see in Stanley Park last night. It wasn’t for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, stars of their own universes, strangely aligned to croon jazz standards at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. No, it was to see Barry Manilow, on his optimistically named One Last Time tour.
I quickly made sure she knew she didn’t have me pegged.
“Laurie, I’m afraid I’m not a fanilow,” I would have said, if I’d only remembered that that’s what Manilow’s fans are called. But my hesitancy implied the same thing. “Uh….”
“Keep an open mind,” said she, so off we went. This, despite the fact that CBC Vancouver’s drive-home radio host had sarcastically warned his listeners, “We’ve all heard about those Manilow fans. You be careful out there.”
As we approached Rogers Arena, the crowd seemed unusually understated. The sole scalper looked downright embarrassed. “Want any tickets?” the grizzled fellow muttered, eyes trained on the ground and hat pulled low in case any of his cool scalper friends saw him. We followed the wobbling middle-aged asses, our own keeping perfect time with them, filing along the sidewalk and into the arena.
“Wait, Laurie -- my underpants have holes in them. If we’re going to be throwing stuff onto that stage, I’d better see if there are any ‘Fanilow’ g-strings at the kiosk,” I said. Then I remembered I’d spent all my money on a plastic cup of wine and we scuttled off to our seats in the nosebleed section.
Hugely enthused sax-player Dave Koz and his band were warming up the crowd with over-caffeinated glee – tight as hell and apparently wild about Barry. After playing their own brassy tributes to the ’70s – tunes like “That’s the Way (Uh-huh, Uh-huh) I Like it” -- they urged us to give the star a proper welcome.
Finally, with huge fanfare, and an enormous backup band including one male and two female dancers, Manilow strode onto the stage. The maestro of the middle-of-the-road was surprisingly tall, in a wine-coloured dinner jacket and the same kind of giant, hay-coloured wig Jane Fonda tosses around irritably in the Netflix series Grace & Frankie.
All my life, I’ve dismissed Manilow as a crass, Vegas-y, utterly commercial musician, his gremlin face now ludicrously pinched as tight as the skin on a banjo. According to Wikipedia, however, in 1978, the Brooklyn-born Barry Alan Pincus had five albums on the best-seller list at the same time, putting his success in the ranks of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. Manilow has sold more than 80 million records; he’s one of the bestselling recording artists of all time, and Radio & Records once named him the No. 1 adult contemporary artist. Even my kids and their friends, born in the 1990s, know who Barry Manilow is, though when we offered to trade our tickets with theirs for Tame Impala, we had no takers.
The crowd waving its glow-sticks at Manilow was not so blasé. He is also the inventor and singer of the jingle “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, cuz Band-Aid’s stuck on me,” but saw fit not to sing that tune beside such hits as Mandy, Can’t Smile Without You, Even Now, Tryin’ to Get the Feeling and Looks Like We Made It. He did, however, do a duet with himself shown as a skinny young man playing piano and singing on Clive Davis’ TV show, and another duet – Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart -- with a video of Judy Garland. His latest album features him doing such virtual duets with an assortment of long-gone stars, including Louis Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe and Mama Cass.
Now 71, Manilow performed for a solid 90 minutes, successfully joking with the audience, calling one woman up on stage for a stilted dance, and leaving with the kind of massive, polished finale where streamers shooting from the ceiling didn’t seem a bit like overkill.
I admit it: I went to see Barry Manilow. And guess what? Je ne regrette rien.
It's been a busy few months. You can find Kate's work in:
the Spring, 2015 issue of Montecristo, writing about Baku, Azerbaijan opening up to the world
the March/April issue of City Palate magazine, writing about Saskatoon Eats and, in her Palate column, What's Cooking Online
the Globe and Mail's March Break activities infographic
the May/June issue of City Palate magazine, writing about technology in restaurants, a recently released study of trends in wine consumption, and, in her Palate column, about wine blogs
the Summer, 2015 issue of Flavours magazine, writing about skewers
and on the website of Capilano University.
This week, Kate's writing more stories for Cap University, an article for the Vancouver Aquarium, copy editing City Palate stories as its contributing editor, and editing an English Literature paper for a York University student.