Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gumbo - The Smell of Nostalgia

Well as time passes, and memories fade into obscurity, I can often find comfort in waxing nostalgic over photo's of days long gone. In this particular case I have been longing for the liquor soaked blurred streets of New Orleans. With all the smells, tastes, and visual splendors. Its warm climate, hospital people, and never ending cycle of alcohol abuse and places to dance. So I decided to take comfort at home, and enjoy on of the New Orleans treats. Which also so happens to be a good hearty cure for the Canadian Winter Blues.

So lets rattle off the ingredients shall we;

1/2 cup veg oil
3/4 cup all purpose flour

3-4 Andouille Sausage (or other smoked spicy sausage)
1 lb shrimp
4 bone in skin on chicken thighs (deboned, skinned, and diced)
3 celery ribs
1 green pepper
2 medium yellow onions
4 cloves garlic
3 tbs creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
2 L chicken stock
Hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste
File Powder to taste

So lets make the roux. In a deep pot, heat the oil. Once hot, add your flour. Whiskey for about 10 minutes.

Your aiming for a colour slightly darker then that of milk chocolate.

Once your roux is ready, lets begin to cook the meat and veg. Add the chicken, sausage and all the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are soft.

Now lets add the herbs, the chicken stock, and the chicken skin and bones. This is going to cook for approximately 2 hours.

Once nice and thick, add the shrimp, hot sauce, File Powder and Worcestershire.

Once the shrimp are cooked, its ready to be served. Take care to not over cooked the shrimp. Serve on a bed of rice, I use basmati. You can also feel free to garnish with parsley and/or green onions.

The File powder can be substituted for okra when in season.

A delicious meal for a winter day, or summer day a like. And whilst eating it, I may reminisce of days of cocktails, staggers, and brass bands, not even a tasty gumbo can take me back to the streets of the big easy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Public Service Advisory - The C-Lounge

Whilst during a pleasant evening out myself and my friends made a trip to C-Lounge. Whilst by no means my 'cup of tea', my typical evening haunt, not my local, not a place I would normally so much as cross the street to spit on. However, after one too many beverages, the worst of ideas can seem like the greatest. So we landed in, and continued our revelry. Eventually after returning from a cigarette, I could see a confrontation brewing between a friend of mine and the security. The confrontation which I would find out would be as trivial, as my friend trying to defend his right to remain in the establishment, after ANOTHER patron had pushed him. The offending patron, more then likely friends of the security. Within a short amount of the time annoyed security upped the anti and called for back up. Suddenly myself and my friend were swarmed by upward of 8 bouncers. Whilst being thrown out, I was thrown down a flight of stairs on to concrete, kicked down the road, and inevitably kicked in the head. My friend received a sprained wrist. I ended up receiving 5 stitches, and my back has been sore for months.

Now I implore you, does this sound like rational treatment? Considering, I had done nothing but wait for my friend as he explained his circumstance, to people who neither cared nor wanted to hear it. To people willing to react to harsh violence at the drop of a hat. To use gang mentality to a T. Now whilst stories of abuse of power are a dime a dozen (by anyone with power to abuse, this particular case bouncers), I hope this helps convince you to avoid the C-Lounge, and falling victim to these pre-historic minded assholes.

I beg of you, do not end up like me. Do not attend the C-Lounge. Lets face it, good security or bad, its still a shit hole anyway.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One for Poland - Pierogi

Ah pierogi, a simple, delicious, and frustratingly time consuming meal. For all the simplicities of the dish, dough, potato, cheese, it does take a pain staking amount of time.

For this recipe I used;

6 large Yukon potatoes
2 heads roasted garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Diced herbs to taste, such as; chives or green onion

3 cups flour
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt

2 large onions
8 pieces bacon
1 tbs butter

Start by making the dough, don't over knead, and allow 20 minutes to sit. Whilst allowing the dough to sit, start making the filling. Start by peeling and dicing the potatoes, then add them to boiling salted water. Once soft, drain the potatoes and place back in pot. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly till all the cheese is melted.

With filling ready, begin to roll out the dough. Once approximately 1/3 cm thick, begin to cut into circles, preferably with a cookie cutter of appropriate size. Add one large tbs off filling to the centre and fold over. After all the filling has been used begin boiling a pot of water.

Julienne the onions, and dice the bacon. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the bacon, once half cooked add the onions.

Once the waters boiled add the Pierogies until they float and then remove.

After cooking all the pierogies, remove the topping from the pan, and add the pierogies to the remaining fat and butter, cook until golden brown.

Once fried, plate, add plenty of topping, and serve with sour cream.

A very tasty meal, but for the amount of work, something I will be serving only once in a blue moon.

The Story of the Fabled City of New Orleans

Just a recap of all 7 parts of our trip to Nola.

Chapter 1: The Open Road
Chapter 2: I've Got Those Hard Travelling Blues
Chapter 3: A Canadian, a Kiwi, a Belarussian, and a Irish Woman Walk Into a Bar...
Chapter 4: A Bigger Pain in the Ass Than a Bad Case of Hemorrhoids
Chapter 5: Where the Wild Things Are
Chapter 6: Don't Be Feckin With My Irish Whiskey
Chapter 7: Home for a Rest

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chapter 7: Home for a Rest

The journey back to Toronto was a bizarre spectacle, every bit as bizarre as the trip down, just less enjoyable. On the journey down, we got to watch as trees grew life, as sky's cracked blue, and as the breeze turned from fridged to warm. On the miserable return, we watched trees die, the sky fade from blue to grey, and the breeze go from carrying a warm caress to a deathly chill.

We passed many cities, and sights on the return but stopped infrequently. On one such stop while still in the dirty south, Billy discovered fountain pops so large they require handles on the lids.

Later on that night we called it a night in Kentucky, grabbed a motel, and some take out white castle.

Whilst having been curious to try white castle since the film (harold and kumar go to white castle that is) I admit I was vastly disappointed, and also curious as to how much White Castle paid to have their shitty hamburgers advertised in the film.

Of all sights on the return trip, non were as strange, and frightening as driving through Detroit near the border. A decrepit town reminiscent of post apocalyptic imagery. Cracked buildings, black bags covering stop lights that were broken and hanging on by a thread to the posts. There were children of no more then 13 years of age pan handling on and off of freeway rampways. It was a dirty feeling, but left me happy to be back in Canada, at least for a fleeting time.

After returning to Canada, we said our fair wells to one another. Anton returned to Sudbury, and to his day to day. Billy went to his fraternity like house, and later returned to New Zealand, Denise returned home where she would later receive her 2nd year Canadian Visa. I met Michael and Anthony and went on the piss for another week!

So in the end, whilst I spent weeks researching things to do and planning out our trip, we managed to do quite little. And despite the fading feeling of irritation that the work I had put in inevitably felt wasted, I would not have done this trip differently. The most important thing to remember when travelling with a group folks, is that co-operation, and compromise are key (they aren't half bad life ideals either). And you will know in life you are in truly great company, that when you can practise, sacrifice, co-operation, and compromise, when despite not getting your way, or doing the opposite of what you wish to do, that you still feel completely content and fulfilled. I'd like to take a moment to thank my 3 friends and travelling companions (yes that's right, THREE), it would not have been the same done differently, or with other people. And a special thanks to Denise, without you, we probably would have died in a firey wreck in Pennsylvania. I'd wish a final toast to those at whom we met and are acquainted with from the India House Hostel, who we shared drink, laughter, and happy days. Here's to those whom are in my heart and never far from mind, local and foreign alike, Cheers, Slainte, Na Zdrovia, Salute.

On a final note, after god only knows how many days of drinking, upon finally reaching home, I wrote this little ditty.

The 12 Days of Drinking

(Sung of course to the 12 days of Christmas)

On the final day of drinking my doctor gave to me -
Sever liver damage
Several stomach ulcers
A bad brain hemorrhage
Two black eyes
Nineteen staples
Cirrhosis of the liver
Intestinal bleeding
Multiple antibiotics
And a four week hospital stay!

(and lets not forget gratitude towards socialized health care!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chapter 6: Don't Be Feckin' With My Irish Whiskey!

Well there we were, Friday evening. Undoubtedly after another day spent lazing around the hostel, drinking bottles to no end. With only a meagre two days till the trek back to Toronto, it was time to get back into the thick of it.

First stop off the trolley was supper. After a few disappointing closures, we ended up in the nearest place that looked nice and would seat us. And whilst technically closed, our kind waiter convinced the kitchen to crank out one more meal.

Our drinks arrived promptly, Sazeracs for the boys.

And a hurricane for Denise.

We split an order of the crab and crawfish balls for an appetizer.
Anton elected the gumbo to start.

I don't recall the name of Billy's extravagant main, but it was effectively a chicken breast, topped with a crab cake, topped with 2 grilled shrimp.

Denise had the Jambalaya Pasta.

I opted for the Crawfish Etouffee.

And Antone the mix seafood platter, containing catfish, oysters, shrimp, crab cake, and a softshell crab.

With dinner digesting it was time to move on to the old night out. First stop Molly's Bar. With the sign outside truly unique to New Orleans, that I can never get enough of; Drinks to go! The 5.50$ Irish Car Bombs didn't hurt my feelings any either.

After drowning in a few here we moved on next door to a hard rock bar.

Unable to shake the over filling from dinner, and failing to really gain any form of inebriation, we stumbled back to the hostel. We were greeted by a fair group of our international party goers. We stayed up chatting till the wee hours and then clambered to bed.

Bright eyed and refreshed Saturday morning, we were 4 people on a mission. To hell or intoxication! We took a short stroll to take in the sights before taking the trolley back into town.

Once back in town we went for the river walk.

It wasn't long however till talk of ice cream daqueri's came up, and before you knew it we were lined up to get our share.

After which we finally ended up taking in some of the French Quarter Festival. First off was Crepes with Goat Cheese and Crawfish Sauce. And of course copious amounts of dirty hurricanes and abita beer.

More Hurricanes and an Oyster Spinach dip.

We set our sights on The French Market for lunch. To wet the whistle it was Louisiana Lemonades, a rum strawberry lemonade. Absolutely delicious.

We split an order of the fried alligator.

An order of the crawfish and jambalaya.

After another serious feed and several more lemonades, we went to browse the market.

While browsing the market we discovered double vodka sweet teas. This folks, would be our ruin. After downing a few of these tasty beverages we went to the international stage to see our local happy pals perform.

One Toby Hughes

Kate and Chloe

And the happy pals

A great afternoon, marred only by losing my friends post show. After stumbling around on my own for sometime, I made trail back to the hostel.

Shortly after arriving I found quite the sight back in the room.

Oh my.

Ah Denise you lapsed catholic!

In the end we ended up spending another night sitting around the hostel. Most of it resulting in me talking pure shit to the fraternity variety of idiot after one too many. I seem to recall having them convinced that by Canadian federal law we are only aloud to listen to French country music (with lyrics regarding such relevant topics as mimes, and red wine) and predominantly speak only French within the country. Once again for peace of mind, idiots.

We decided to take a relaxed Sunday, and do a few touristy things, a bit of shopping and the like.

We also got to take in a bit more of the festival.

As well as taken another gander through the constantly busy French Quarter.

After some time spend wandering we went back to the hostel to drop off our stuff and find a grocery. We spend a fair bit of time wandering the grocery, and I left after spending about 80$ on hot sauce. I also claimed a 6 pack of beer, a litre of Elmer T Lee Bourbon, and myself and Billy grabbed a package of sausage each.

And not your garden variety sausage either.

Pork and Alligator

and a spicy pork and crawfish

With the wonderful use of the hostel BBQ, I went to work.

The sausages were delicious, and very filling. As excited as I was for the alligator, I must say, I think I preferred the spicy crawfish. Unable to eat them all, we offered the leftovers around to our fellow backpackers.

Shortly after, our group was reunited in its entirety. Plus new additions that had been met along the way.


and Joe

As one big happy family, we made trail for Finn McCools Irish Pub. A Northern (Irish) owned pub, within reasonable distance from our hostel.

Upon entering we were introduced to some locally brewed, Nola stout, and likewise locally distilled Irish whiskey - Feckin Irish Whiskey. Myself and Billy had 1 stout and 1 shot each. I can't even impart how morbidly awful each beverage was. One more vile then the other, combining the flavours to make an even more loathsome sickening flavour to invade your now morose palate. I've said it once, and Ill say it again; Don't be feckin with my Irish Whiskey!!!

We sat and passed the late hours, drinking, chatting, and blaring red hot chili peppers on the juke. It was a night to remember, despite most of us not being able to.

Goodnight New Orleans. Ill see you in my dreams.