Festooned with cowboy memorabilia like guitars, antlers, taxidermy and an extensive collection of belt buckles, the room is instantly uplifting. Communal tables throughout are lacecovered, some inset into nooks with fake window treatments. You could well imagine you were paying a visit to the renegade faction of the Walton family. Our visit took place over the holiday season where twinkling lights and baubles—even on a stuffed moose head—added another layer to the room’s lowbrow magnificence. The menu is pure unadulterated home cooking—breakfast, lunch and dinner—with no-nonsense waitresses working the room with consummate efficiency. While heaping platters of breakfast fare whizzed past, we settled on the Spar burger, promising an all-beef patty with bacon and cheese. The sesame-topped bun handled the ingredients well. The bacon was meaty, the Cheddar perfectly melted. The cook’s touch of soaking the onions first to rid them of that intense raw taste was noted and greatly appreciated. There was a little char on the patty, and we hunkered down to one of the best damn burgers we’ve had in years. The accompanying fries were piping hot and of ample girth. The coffee was dark, thick and refills free. In short, perfection. When I spoke to the owner and head cook Linda Smith a few days later, she assured me that everything is made in-house: from freshly baked bread every morning to soups, gravies, sauces and her own hamburger patties. Those fries were hand cut from Kennebec potatoes and the veal cutlets for the dinner-for-two specials are prepared by Smith and a few assistants, seven days a week. So bid “happy trails” to those city slicker small plates menus and say “howdy” to the honest-to-goodness big plates of Buckles and the Smokin Spur Diner. Yee haw! Smokin’ Spur Diner, 460 Trans-Canada Hwy, 250-748-7757
Orange Crushed Over the holiday season, I was given a litre bottle of A. Monteux orange flower water. The water hails from Grasser, the French capital of perfumes and scents, and is made from the macerated and distilled blossoms of Seville oranges. I’ve taken to splashing it on my face and neck in between bouts at the computer; its intense floral fragrance is a refreshing pick-me-up. You can also use it to freshen up linens—just add to a spritzer bottle. You might not be able to change the world, but you can at least help it smell better. The flavour tastes like its aroma: imagine eating the flower’s petal and there you have it. Used sparingly, it finds its way into French and Middle Eastern desserts. And any bartender worth his weight in swizzle sticks will have a bottle on hand, including Chris Flett of Vancouver’s Chow restaurant. A proponent of classic cocktail culture—“drinks with a pedigree,” he says—Flett uses the water in the decidedly old-school Ramos Gin Fizz, a cocktail created circa 1888 by Harry C. Ramos in New Orleans. “I love drinks that are process-driven,” states Flett, “that have a story attached to them. Ramos used to employ dozens of shaker boys at his bar, just to get the consistency right.” The shaking of the gin-based drink is needed to incorporate the egg white and cream, integral parts of the recipe along with lemon and lime juices and the orange flower water for a delicate perfume. Flett suggests using an eyedropper to control the amount used, noting, “You don’t want it to taste like an orange creamsicle.” The drink is shaken by three people at Chow and served traditionally in a Collins glass. Unfortunately, I only have one shaker boy at my house, so we’ll be taking as long as needed. Ramos Gin Fizz Fill a shaker with ice and add the following: 1 1/2 oz gin 1/2 oz lemon juice 1/2 oz lime juice 1/2 oz heavy cream 1 medium egg white 1 1/4 oz simple syrup 2 dashes orange flower water (use an eyedropper) Shake until you achieve a creamy, almost meringue-like texture. Strain into a Collins glass and top with 2 to 3 ounces soda water. Note: If you double the recipe, still use only one egg white. firstname.lastname@example.org
COOKING WITH CLASS
...and juicy. This tender and juicy meat comes from premium, grain-fed, Canadian Pork, making it an extraordinary eating experience. Available now, exclusively at Thrifty Foods.
Recipes from the Chef Instructors of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts henever I see a cookbook that is spiral bound I know its author is serious about the reader using the recipes inside. A book bound with spiral rings is the best kind of cookbook as it lies flat on the table making it easy to keep the page open. The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, based in Vancouver near the Granville Island Market, is one of the country’s top cooking schools and attract the best instructors. PICA Founder and President Sue Singer has pulled together the best recipes from the school’s instructors to celebrate the school’s tenth anniversary. Julian Bond, Executive Chef and Program Director, along with the nine other instructors offer up a range of recipes from appetizers such as Baked Mussels with Spicy Tomato Basil Garlic Butter to entrées like Togarashi Crusted Albacore Tuna, Seared Tofu and Peanut Lime Sauce. The high quality of the recipes in this book bode well not only for the students at the Institute but the population at large who will one day be the recipients of this cooking knowledge. For a copy of Cooking with Class contact the school at 1-800-416-4040.
www.eatmagazine.ca MARCH | APRIL 2008
Celebrating the Food & Wine of British Columbia