Momofuku Kojin Toronto – Incredible

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It’s not easy for me to say a meal is “the best I’ve ever had”. Not because I’ve been to so many great restaurants in my life but because it’s usually a dish from a place that stands out, not the entire meal.

Having tickets to see the Arctic Monkeys, it was a good opportunity to get into downtown Toronto. Long a fan of NY chef David Chang, I was lucky enough to eat at Noodle Bar in Toronto at long last a few months back. Momofuku (which means Lucky Peach and is David Chang’s brand) Toronto closed their upstairs which used to house two restaurants and a bar to renovate and reopen as Kojin. Kojin is a grill-based restaurant. Fire touches most every dish in some way.

So having gotten in touch with an old friend to go to the show, he agreed to check out this great restaurant. We had a beer at the bar while we waited for the restaurant to open. I went with the peach ale as it seemed appropriate to the locale. And so we headed upstairs.

Kojin seating

I had booked seats at the counter so we could watch them prepare the food. I ordered a “Smoke and Mirrors” to drink, which is tequila, yuzu (a type of citrus), chamomile and agave (for sweetness). There’s also a touch of spice.
Light and delicious and strangely, my first ever tequila drink!

Smoke and mirrors

We ordered the corn flatbread to share with Drew’s grass-fed butter and spiced honey. The corn flatbread was light and crisp and delicious all on its own. The spiced honey had a nice bite to it. They also brought us some in-house pickled vegetables (and maybe fruit – wasn’t sure what some things were) which had great flavour without overwhelming each item. They also brought some house made hot sauce which was habanero based and was truly delicious. Basically we ate everything with everything and it all worked. The hot sauce on the pickles worked and the hot sauce on the corn bread worked. Added the hot sauce to the butter and honey on the bread and that worked too. Incredible!

Corn flatbread

Next came the appetizers! I had the sirloin tartare and my friend had the shrimp ceviche.

The tartare (which is raw beef) was my first despite always wanting to try it. I don’t know if I wrecked my ability to top it by starting here but man was it amazing. They brought out this ball of beef (the server said they hit the outside of the ball with a bit of flame to add texture but most of it remains raw) on a bed of all-dressed chip crumbs and an egg yolk on top. They proceed to mix it all together at the table and instead of bread or crackers, they use all-dressed chips as the vehicle for eating it. I tasted it by itself first and then with the chips. It was a remarkable flavour. There’s a mushroom spice in there as well which is strong but doesn’t take away from the beef taste. The chip crumbs add flavour and texture. It was truly stunning.

I got to taste the shrimp as well and I was thinking “how could this be amazing”? Shrimp is often bland or completely overwhelmed with spice. I had one bite and stopped and looked at my friend and said “What the hell? Wow!”. It was like there was the exact amount of onion to give a punch to the mouth but still taste the excellent shrimp flavour. Again, stunned (yes, this was theme of the whole meal).

When we were ordering, we were asking the waiter about the various steak cuts. He stops and says, we also have cuts off menu as we buy whole cows and do our own butchering. He then mentions the 30 ounce porterhouse (for two). I can’t say the price because I was thinking ‘no way’ when my friend says ‘yup, let’s do that’. He brought the monster out and explain that one side of the bone is filet and the other side is a New York strip steak.

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There are no words to adequately describe this. I have never tasted a piece of beef with so much flavour, cooked so perfectly and just melted away. The fat on the strip side was just, wow. They served it with their own barbecue sauce, a hot sauce and the most amazing marrow butter I’ve ever had. It also came with a small jar of Kozlik’s green peppercorn mustard which had a bite and is also delicious. It was stunning and we slowly worked our way through the entire thing. Part way through, one of the chef’s came over and made us a bonus sauce. Grilled corn kernels in a small cast iron pan on which he poured what he called ‘corn tea’. It bubbled and settled down and it went amazingly well with the beef. Like a corn gravy, really.

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We polished off the evening with a slice of Momofuku Milk Bar’s insane crack pie. It was quite an evening. Without question, the best meal I have ever had. Period.

The space is beautiful without being stuffy or high-brow. It can be a fancy date night or a comfortable hangout. We were in shorts, as were others, but some were dressed up. It all works.

The chefs and the service staff are friendly but not intrusive. We had some great chats with the various people who work there. It was comfortable and at no time was anything off or out of place. Clearly they work hard at bringing both personality to the restaurant but letting you have whatever type of evening you want. It’s the type of place anyone would enjoy, whether a foodie like me or not. Relaxed environment with friendly staff and the most beautiful food you can imagine. Go here. I want to take everyone I know here. As over-the-top as this was, it can be much simpler as well. The type of place where dinner for two can run a hundred dollars if you want it to or five hundred. Find a reason and go.

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Taut

Depressed 1

You sit in a room, looking relaxed,
Fingers splayed on your knee
Your unseen fingers clenched in a fist held so tight the nails could make your palms bleed
But who can see?

The smile on your face belies how you feel
The picture of joy a mask
Your internal ghost has clenched teeth and thinned lips
Every breath a task

Your eyes have those smile lines that everyone loves
They don’t know
The second you look away the gaze becomes unfocused and internal
All for show

Arms wide and legs long and crossed
Serene and sweet
Inside your arms are crossed holding tight, legs pulled up
Deceit

Not what you want nor what you need
It is how you are and you’re afraid to show
It shouldn’t be like this but it is
And it is what you know

Is it you?  Is it me?  Is it all of us?  Is it life?
Is it damage?  Is it physical, chemical or rust?
Sure but it’s hard when
It’s your own mind you can’t trust

The fight feels endless and hopeless in moments
The tension is real and the darkness manifests.
You are drawn taut and vibrating
Is it just a test?

It’s hard to look for light in pure dark
But you try and try
Most days it’s for them and not so much for you
You need to know it’s okay to cry

Feeling worthy, when feeling worthless, is hard
Society makes feeling like shit feel like sin
So much of the time it feels like you’re losing
The constant fight to win

Sharing and being honest is not weak
We feel like a burden and we’re done.
We can be there for each other and should
Let’s bring each other up into the sun

It can be so hard and the road so long
The path to joy needs you to persist
You may not know happy today
But getting there is hard to resist

Hang on tight
To yourself and those around you
Know together we can make it there
Take my hand and let’s see what we can do

Sunrise
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I’m Biased. So Are You.

Bias

Part of being human is the fact that we all have a tendency to believe that our opinions are always right.  The way we think, whether religiously, politically or socially, is influenced by our upbringing, our friends, our surroundings and the information we consume.  Sadly, too many of us don’t seem to understand that opinion and truth are two different things.  Worse is the fact that too many of us don’t care about what the truth or reality is these days.

A friend of mine mentioned the term “ego-casting” the other day.  It describes the tendency we all have to only consume information that agrees with our feelings and our comfort.  This leads us to live in our own world view.  It can also be described as “confirmation bias”.  It is a dangerous way for the bulk of the populous to live.

Recently I was on Twitter and got into a discussion about a bill (S-219) that the Conservatives had put forward about having our intelligence community investigate and report on Iranian terrorist activities.  The ruling Liberal majority was against this and that had set the right wing Twitterverse into a spiral.  I asked the question: “Don’t you think this is something that is already being done and is just a political stunt?”  I got a variety of rather negative comments to that to which I replied: “You do understand that we have agreements to share intelligence information with our allies, don’t you?”  Clearly they thought our intelligence units should be doing the same information gathering that the U.S., Britain, Israel and others already do.  Needless to say, the thread went dead from my comment.  I love people who complain bitterly about spending on social programs but are more than happy to spend any amount, no matter how redundant, on military and intelligence.

I use this example to highlight how people don’t look at information outside their sphere.  In another conversation I had, I was saying how media slants coverage so you have to be careful what you read as truth.  I mentioned MSNBC as being left leaning and FoxNews as right leaning.  The person laughed because they felt FoxNews was the absolute purveyor of truth.  How do you get people to see truth when they don’t even know their own biases?

I’d love to say there was an easy short-term fix for the whole thing.  There isn’t.  Think of the war against science right now.  People have done a great job of mixing up corporations and drug companies with actual science.  Science is the least biased because they do peer reviews.  If you have a scientist pursuing a theory and he/she fudges the results, the scientific community will take him/her down for it.  I understand why people don’t trust corporations.  They do not follow the same rules and money is used to get approvals.

We have to teach our children about bias from the beginning, in school.  We need that concept taught and pursued throughout the breadth of the education system.  Open minds are better minds and better at solving complex world problems.  All we get today is divided nonsense without solutions.  Where there is no ability to negotiate and compromise, there is no forward progress.  Whether there would be any ability, in this divided climate, to change a lot of adult minds, I do not know.  Honestly, I don’t know what it would take for someone who is hardened into their bias to open their mind.  When someone is presented with proof that they are wrong and they just don’t care, there’s something wrong with the world.  We are in dark times.  We need the next generation to step up and show this one how to be.  I truly hope they can and do.

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Men Suck

Men Suck

I feel uniquely qualified to say that.  For one thing, I am a man.  I also happened to be married with four daughters.  But this goes back a lot farther than my current life.

In my single days, more often than not, you’d find me where the women were.  I’d hang out with the men as long as I could stand it.  Too many times they would just sit and talk sports and hot women.  I like sports and I like women but the world is a much bigger place and I can’t sit and listen to that endlessly.

It’s easy to look at the Weinstein’s and the Trump’s of the world and be sickened by the behaviour.  Men who believe because they have money and status that they DESERVE whatever they want.  That women are just things to be used and discarded.  How does a man who is successful cross the line from asking to demanding; from trying to expecting?

Do we all have something like that in us, men?  I sometimes think we do.  How many of us have pestered our wives for sex until they give in?  Are we thinking about their feelings or just trying to satisfy ‘our little friend’?  In those moments we are ruled by our needs without a thought to theirs.  Why is that?

I think it’s an apologist’s view to say it’s just our primitive need to procreate coming through.  Is that a cop-out?  Of course it is.  We are selfish.  Too many of us grew up in a man’s world and I think that has pervaded our society for so long that we really need to step back and think about this.

The boulder that is equality of the sexes is a long way from the peak.  We don’t have enough women in government.  We don’t have enough women executives.  We don’t have enough women in tech or trades.  How many women have left school or jobs in these areas because the men think it’s okay to berate and belittle them?  How many are told that they have to put up with it because the men are just ‘kidding around’? How many women have been passed over for positions because they are just that, women, in the eyes of others.  And that’s just North America.  How many girls are killed each year because they want to go to school or drive or work or marry someone they love instead of someone their parents picked?

Men suck.  We truly do.  Women are objects too much of the time.  Everywhere we look from beer commercials to fast food ads to fashion to tv shows and movies, that’s what we see.  From our parents to our mentors to the famous who are famous for nothing but their looks.  What kind of message is that?  The mere fact that most of us can’t name more than one woman scientist, astronaut, CEO, government leader or even sports hero is a great indicator of how far we have to go.  How many churches, businesses, sports clubs don’t allow/have women leaders?  And if they do, can ou name them?  Yet if I say Kim or Khloe you know exactly who I’m talking about.  Isn’t that sad?

Systemic racism is still a thing.  Systemic sexism is also still a thing.  Have things changed?  Yes, a little.  My fear is how many generations it will take.  Will my granddaughters have an easier time of it?  I hope so but I take no comfort at the question of if it’s true.  Not every man of wealth and power is a sexist asshole but too many of them are.  Not every man in government is a sexist asshole but too many of them are.  Not every successful businessman is a sexist asshole but too many of them are.  Have I been a sexist asshole?  Yes.  I am far better than I used to be.

How about you?  Are you a sexist asshole?  What are you going to do about it?

Feel free to comment, either way, on this!

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What Kind of World?

What kind of world

I used to think I understood
The world, it used to make sense
Now our lives are all closed in
With an endless barbed wire fence

Was there ever a time
When people were just people?
Not colour, country or sex
Cash, drug or steeple?

Immigrants ‘steal’ jobs
That no one else want?
Gays ‘destroy’ marriage
By going to city hall?
When did being rich
Become a sign of intelligence?
When did humanity and rights
Become less indigenous?

You and I don’t have different ‘facts’
There is no opposing truth
Reality is not a show on tv
Pretending is not proof

If you don’t think we’re in danger
You need to pay attention
Not to political discourse
But the reality of the situation

This is a fight
And it’s to the death
Not of beliefs or ideology
But for all of our breath
I can’t sit here silent
Being labelled a villain
What kind of world will we leave
For all of our children?

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Repost: My 5 Favourite Christmas Songs

Larry Lootsteen's Blog

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It is, after all, that time of year! I’ll do a proper countdown from 5 to 1! Some choices may seem odd but hey, they are mine!

#5 Christmas Is Coming
A classic from forever! A Charlie Brown Christmas!!! Can’t get better from the classics department!

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#4 Fuck Christmas – Eric Idle
Okay, so rude as it can possibly be. Bypass it if it offends your delicate sensibilities! I love this! Hysterical! An absolute classic from Eric Idle!

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#3 Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
This may fall into the WTF category for people’s impressions of me. I’m a sappy sentimentalist at times. I just thought this was fun, different and a little goofy but nice!

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#2 Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth – Bing Crosby and David Bowie
I remember watching this when it first aired. STUNNED to see Bowie with old Der Bingle. When I heard he was going to…

View original post 93 more words

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Progressives, Please Stop Whining!

whining

I may be liberal in my views but I get very tired of listening to the post-election whining of people, media outlets and progressive sites. The hypocrisy is endless.

Case in point, the calls to ban the electoral college. If Hillary had won the electoral college but lost the popular vote to Trump, would you do the same? What’s that? No? Well, then shut up! You don’t get to change the system to suit your outcome.

I don’t believe the electoral college is the issue. There’s so many more reasons for this Trump victory than that. Ummm, gerrymandering anyone? Defining districts to suit your goals while you are in power, to maintain power, is the ultimate cheat.

Money in politics is another issue. It will be very difficult for a moneyed candidate to run and say they will clean up Washington. There’s a good reason for that. They won’t. Everyone knows it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe Trump will deliver much of anything he promised and he will continue to blame the broken system for his failures. Taking responsibility is not his strong suit. Blaming anyone and everyone else is and will be.

Hillary lost this election for a pile of reasons. The electoral college was not one of them. Calling voters names was the back-breaker in my mind. It showed just how out of touch she was with the voters. She made them ‘not my voters’. She was running for President. That is supposed to be for all Americans.

I can hear you yelling, ‘But, but, but, Trump did the same!!!’. Yes he did. Except he had a message for white, lower and middle class Americans. I will fix this. Hillary did nothing in this regard. They still make up the bulk of the electorate. Many of the groups that Hillary should have had locked up swung to Trump, in part, as well. Bottom line is she was well qualified to be President but a terrible candidate. We have to accept that and not pretend it wasn’t true.

Bernie Sanders likely would have wiped up Trump and tossed him aside. That there was a bit of conspiracy in the DNC to choose Hillary shows the sad state of democracy doesn’t it? I don’t see the Dems getting their act together any time soon. Why? Because they are not being honest about the issues, the errors or what really needs to change.

The Dems need to find themselves another enigmatic candidate. More than that, they need to actually want to change the system. Check that, clean up the system. If they are willing to remove power and influences from money, lobbying and beyond and are honest in that, have plans in place, they will win. Right now I only see a second term for President Trump because progressives are too busy crying foul and DNC has no interest in change.

That the RNC is no better is not part of this equation. They’ve made no bones that they want more of the same. That they have the 3 primary positions of power doesn’t mean that much will get done. Republicans will fight Trump on lots of issues and Trump won’t hesitate to veto bills if he sees it as being in his best interest. The Supreme Court picks will be the worst of this in my mind. Hillary and the DNC put us here. We can blame Trump and everyone else for it but that is being disingenuous. Everyone focused on ‘not Trump’, especially progressive. Because of that we all lost sight of the voters, the American people.

For anyone to not stop to acknowledge what went wrong here is simply looking at losing the 2020 election as well. If you want to win, go back to being the party of the people, the working class, everyone. Make real plans for change NOW and have them ready for the elections to come. And make bloody sure when you get back into power that you deliver on that change. The whining needs to stop. We lost within the bounds of the rules and it is OUR fault not theirs. Take responsibility. It’s what grownups do.

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Trump. I Get It. I do.

I know so many of us are stunned at Donald Trump’s surprising win against Hillary Clinton.  At the same time I completely understand why so many want radical change.  People are angry.  I am one of them.

For years our lives have been a steady decline.  We have lots of toys.  We have a million distractions.  Most of us who have jobs have watched prices climb, companies make billions, executives win big even when they fail, while our salaries stagnate.  Good middle class jobs have been sent elsewhere consistently for decades.  If you don’t have a post-secondary education, your options are limited.  And even if you do, there are no guarantees.

We are angry.  The government we fund isn’t looking after us.  There is inherent corruption at some level of every government.  Doesn’t mean everyone in government is bad.  The system needs a major house cleaning, especially in the U.S. where money in politics is rampant.  If you believe that is only true on either the right or the left, you are fooling yourself.  It is pervasive.  It is everywhere.  Why do you think fundraising is a 24×7, 365 effort for these people.  Who has time to look after the people when there’s an election coming.  There’s always an election coming.

No one wants to deal in reality anymore.  I mean real reality, not tv reality.  Because of the lack of good paying jobs and stagnating wages for most of us, no one wants to pay for anything.  So many believe that cutting taxes is going to save us.  It will not.  It’s the same reason so many are cutting their cable and strictly dealing with internet for entertainment and news.  The same reason Spotify and other streaming services have changed how we consume music.  The deniers around climate change find traction because no one wants to pay for fixing it.  No one wants to take responsibility for anything.

We’re at a point in history where it is all “the other guy’s fault”.  The right, the left, government, business, Muslims, Mexicans, Syrians, ISIS.  Do we ever tell ourselves the truth about anything?  Is it always someone else’s fault or do we have to take responsibility as a people, as a country, as humanity for the state of things?  How many of us look at Canada but judge it based on the U.S.?  How many people in each country think the left wants to ban all guns?  Can you name one motion put forward in the last 30 years that said that?  Nope.  Because no one is doing that on the left.  The most anyone on the left is asking for limits and controls.  I have no idea why that’s a bad thing.

My fear is that democracy, which in the U.S. hasn’t truly existed in a long time, may be dead.  Money in politics, religion in politics, gerrymandering districts are not what America was founded on.  You can pretend it is but it truly isn’t.  There’s so much misinformation now that no one bothers to look at what is real.  People want to hear and believe what they want to hear and believe.  There was never a time when the founding fathers wanted corporations/companies/money to define the government.  Religion was something to be protected but not to inform the government because it meant you were only leading for a group of like-minded individuals, not the whole country.  Manipulating districts so your party can win is cheating.  Does anyone care?

What happened to running on a platform honestly and letting people decide direction, without lies or interference?  What happened to compromise?  What happened to working together?  Democracy doesn’t exist and the bulk of the population has no clue.  This is not a jab at right-wingers.  This is true on both sides.  Do you bring up your children to lie?  Do you teach them to cheat?  Do you tell them that winning by any means is right?  Do you tell them to bribe people to get what they want?

The issues here go far beyond politics.  Education is the problem.  We have elite schools for people with money.  We have poverty based education which does not allow the have-nots to move up in the world.  We have governing bodies changing textbooks to reflect political views rather than reality.  We’ve lost the ability to look at ourselves and question whether what we think is really true.  Critical thinking is all but dead.  We blame everything and everyone but ourselves.

Will Donald Trump be a good President?  I don’t know.  If he governs as he campaigns, no.  If he really wants to enact change to the corrupt culture in politics, he has a hard road. Chances are, because he is someone who grew up with a silver spoon and the ability to be smug because of money, no.  I hope he will take the idea of fixing government seriously.  Truly.  I don’t expect that but I am also willing to let him govern and see what happens.

My biggest fears out this election are women’s rights, minorities/immigrants and climate change.  I hold little hope right now that right will defend and fight for these people and the planet.  I’d love to be wrong about that.  I doubt very much I will be.  How they all govern and how the world looks in four years is unknown right now.  People have fears on both sides.  We can only hope leading for the greater good is on the agenda.  And truth and reality are part of it.  We see so little of that from anyone these days.

This feels somehow appropriate for both sides today.

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Oleumm8 – Oil Blend Review

I was lucky enough to obtain a sample of this oil through Foodie Pages.  Oleumm8 is a blend of 8 different oils that is high in Omega 3 and Omega 6.  You can get the background by watching the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd8ldf_Q-q4

It is a unique oil in that it is both delicious but also has a high smoke point so it is good for cooking as well.

I tried a few different applications and here is what I found:

On it’s own it has a unique nutty flavour that is very pleasant.  Because of the blending that flavour changes somewhat depending on that you use.  A simple, plain bread provided a beautiful accent of nuttiness.

A more complex brown bread with seeds came with a surprise.  Instead of simply enhancing the seed flavour with a nutty note I found the avocado side of the oil shone through instead.  A very pleasant surprise indeed.

For a third application I fried an egg in a little oil and found it did not change the flavour of the egg (which is good) but provided a very subtle under flavour which just enhanced the taste.

 

Overall, I was very impressed with this oil and I would love to experiment more with it to see what other surprises it may contain.  If you happen to try it, let me know what you think!

oleumm8

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New USS! Work Shoes

Check out this awesome new track. Lyrics and more below!

Their new PledgeMusic campaign with some amazing stuff here!

Here’s their Spotify stream:

And finally the lyrics:

I’m about to rise; I’m about to shine
I’m about to, I’m about to leave this all behind
I’m about to check; I’m about to change
I’m about to realign, connect, and rearrange
Howlin’ at the moon
Kryptonite the sun
We’re living in a daze for weeks, and months, and years; I’m done
The ace is in the base
The sign it says to stop
Well I’m about to, I’m about to, I’m about to drop
And my heart sings

I watch the clock tick-tock
Been saving all the green that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes
I watch the clock tick-tock
Been saving all the green that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes

I’m about to seek; I’m about to find
I’m about to calibrate and shift my state of mind
I’m about to flux; I’m about to flow
I’m about to, I’m about to, I’m about to blow
Time to start again
It’s time to move my feet
Life is but a fortune cookie puzzle to complete
A record’s built to spin
The bubble wants to pop
So I’m about to, I’m about to, I’m about to drop
And my heart sings

I watch the clock tick-tock
Been saving all the green that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes

And once I hit the spot
That’s the greatest fucking thing that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes
But I’m not leaving till the whistle blows
I’m not leaving till the whistle blows, blows, blows, blows

I watch the clock tick-tock
Been saving all the green that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes
And once I hit the spot
That’s the greatest fucking thing that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes

And my heart sings
I watch the clock tick-tock
Been saving all the green that I got
I can’t wait to kick off my work shoes

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