cherry, sage & st. germaine ice cream

cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream
cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream
cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream

This flavour combination was a bit arbitrarily constructed, but once it was put together it seemed to actually make rather lovely sense.

A combination of custard and pureed cherries makes up the ice cream base. The woodiness of the sage gives it the nostalgic mustiness of withered plants, still lingering in discarded pots in late fall sun. Sweet and floral elderflower liqueur St. Germaine is like throwing lace doilies haphazardly on top – and curiously enough it all goes together so swimmingly such that it looks a bit more like an art installation in questionable taste than a trash can.

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black forest baba

black forest baba
black forest baba
black forest baba

This is a mashup of my two favourite retro desserts: baba au rhum and black forest cake – the result is, in essence, a very, very boozy black forest cake. The baba is flavoured with chocolate, soaked in a syrup of kirsch, rum and Chambord, and then served with plenty of whipped cream and a cherry kirsch compote.

Baba au rhum is classically a rich, yeasted cake soaked in a rum syrup. Recently I’ve been making babas based on the recipe in the Duchess Bake Shop book by Giselle Courteau. She dries out the babas for a couple days until they’re thoroughly desiccated and ready to absorb a startling amount of syrup. It’s a method that ensures the flavours of the syrup penetrate throughout the entire cake!

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strawberry rooibos almond cake (& the nagoya protocol)

strawberry almond rooibos cake

Rooibos tea comes from the plant Aspalathus linearis which grows only in the Western and Northern Cape areas. San and Khoi people, the indigenous peoples of southern Africa, have been harvesting, processing and drinking rooibos tea long before colonial times, passing traditional knowledge regarding the medical properties of rooibos between generations.

Under colonialism, the atrocities of genocide, enslavement and resource extraction concentrated political, economic and social power in the hands of colonists. One of those resources was the traditional knowledge around rooibos; during the apartheid in South Africa, the Rooibos Tea Control Board held a complete monopoly over production and marketing.

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peach houjicha mousse cake

peach houjicha mousse cake

Earlier in the spring The Alley, a Taiwanese tea chain, (I get too many ideas from bubble tea places) had a houjicha and peach series; my roommate and I longingly stared at the sign in the window as we walked by on our way to the store to stock up on rice and instant ramen. I ended up never trying any of the drinks as the pandemic came into full force soon after, but I’ve been keeping the flavour combination in mind.

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peach, mint and gin ice cream (& alt food media)

peach, mint and gin ice cream
peach, mint and gin ice cream

peach, mint and gin ice cream

A couple of months ago, a slate of toxic workplace features came to light at Bon Appetit: people of colour, particularly Sohla El-Waylly, being pushed into unpaid video appearances for token “diversity,” unequal pay and support, and plenty of microaggressions. The Bon Appetit story is not exactly surprising – it falls in the tradition of white-led food media (ex. see Peter Meehan and Lucky Peach and the LA Times food section).

As I’ve been reading about these events, this passage from an article in the Atlantic stood out to me (emphasis added by me):

Regarding the industry’s whiteness, it might be tempting to dwell on questions of representation, or to wonder who ought to occupy the top positions at legacy publications. But as years of examples have shown, the work of challenging biases in food must dig deeper. After all, hiring a handful of people of color at these outlets doesn’t fundamentally alter the media landscape at large. Too often, such staffing shifts represent decisions made with optics in mind, which tends to mean that new voices are elevated but then not empowered, or that sufficient resources aren’t put toward substantive changes in coverage. Challenges to the dominant framework often come from outside legacy institutions altogether.

That and this quote from the infinitely quotable J Mase III:

In this time of COVID-19, Black Uprising and economic shift, a lot of white institutions that have been gaslighting Black folks for years will fail and fall into irrelevance. Let them.

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strawberry daifuku mont blanc cakes

strawberry daifuku mont blanc

strawberry daifuku mont blanc
strawberry daifuku mont blanc
strawberry daifuku mont blanc

Mont blanc is traditionally a chestnut and cream dessert. The components vary, but it is always easily recognized by its pathognomonic piped spaghetti-like strands of chestnut cream – there is a piping tip specific for it (which I recommend acquiring if you plan to make mont blanc a regular thing as trying to do this with a single or tri-hole tip is… terrible.)

Mont blanc was enthusiastically adopted in Japan in 1945, where it seems to have gained more traction than in its French home. And as is the great thing with adopted foods, they come into their own in their own ways. While I love the chestnut and cream profile of the original, I can take a cue from the strawberry, sakura, sweet potato, and matcha versions that abound to try something different as well.

In this case, I based mine around strawberry daifuku, a whole strawberry typically encased in anko (sweetened red bean paste) and wrapped in mochi.

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strawberry milk with matcha panna cotta

strawberry latte & matcha panna cotta

Last fall my roommate and I spent an hour in line at the new Machi Machi, a Taiwanese tea shop chain, that had opened up in Toronto – the wait an obvious necessity, my roommate pointed out, as after all, Jay Chou is a fan. We also discovered that Machi Machi drinks make for perfect colour-coded fashion accessories and there is a super cute wall to take photos with (note: none of these infants, dogs or fashionistas are me).

Long wait aside, we both agreed that the fresh strawberry latte with panna cotta (also a fashion necessity) was our favourite – strawberries pureed with milk, poured over a soft and jiggly panna cotta, and the whole thing drank with a straw. (It must be said: eating panna cotta with a straw is pure brilliance.)

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coconut, genmaicha & strawberry layer cake

genmaicha, coconut & strawberry layer cake
genmaicha, coconut & strawberry layer cake

What is a weed? If one cared to ask the right people with the right intonation (and maybe a single, raised brow), it could elicit a plethora of answers – do we consider intention, indigeneity, utility?

My favourite is a succinct and pragmatic definition from an expert with the local horticultural society: a weed is anything that you don’t want growing there. It’s a definition that allows for flexibility, including both intention and allowing some spur of the moment impulse. Hence the reseeded spinach crowding out other seedlings, yes, can be a weed. And, alternatively, something you didn’t intend to grow, but that you’ve become rather fond of, can stay.

For instance, bright pink, miniature peony-like poppies first began appearing in the community garden a few years ago, and each year they grow more numerous. This year they’ve gone rogue – you can find them spindling up through the canopy of potatoes, growing alongside peas, and in some plots, even an entire patch.

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yuzu kosho pissaladière danishes (& on body-worn cameras for the police)

yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes

Certainly advocates are not a monolith, but some of the key advocacy organizations leading the current movement such as Black Lives Matter TO, have not recommended body cameras as a measure to reduce police violence. On the other hand, body cameras seem to be a popular proposal by governments, and a frequent recommendation in police service use of force reviews I’ve read. As I’ve explained before, I think it is best to follow the lead of advocates.

A recent discussion I had about body cameras has prompted me to write up my impressions on the debate in order to formalize my thoughts for any future discussions. In sum, I would characterize body cameras 1) a reform with a small potential benefit likely outweighed by a large cost, and 2) furthermore a measure that maintains/increases the scope of policing, which is the opposite of what the defund movement is pushing for.

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