Carnaval

Yesterday I mentioned Business Trip Eats and the variety of food we’ve been eating. Nothing really stood out. That is until last night. Where we indulged.

Excessively.

A coworker who had come to Winnipeg previously, as well as my boss recommended a restaurant to me for our last night here. So three of us hit up a place in Winnipeg called Carnaval: Brazilian BBQ. It was an all you can eat meat extravaganza.

There was so much meat. It was on huge skewers and the cooks brought it around to each table asking if we wanted to sample some. At first we were tackling the food faster than it was coming out.

Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, more beef, sausage, wings, beef again… it just never stopped. As we were eating, we were laughing at how awesome the food was and how foolish this restaurant is. Because we were going to get our money’s worth and more.

The food was coming so quickly that I hardly had time to pause and get any photos. It was evident rather quickly that we were going to be in trouble. Our laughter about how this restaurant was foolish turned into how foolish we were.

We only managed to eat for an hour. We were stuffed. And hurting. But it was so worth it. My coworker Dillon was putting me to shame with his ability to want to continue sampling the meats. I was unprepared to push my limits and was done about four plates before him.

If you ever make it to Winnipeg- the Carnaval Brazilian BBQ is worth a stop. Especially if you love meat. And BBQ. And hating yourself afterwards.

Old Fogey Friday

I enjoyed last night more than I’ve enjoyed previous gatherings at my home. It was because people came out for the sake of visiting and enjoying dinner. Not like the old days of Friday night pre-party drinks leading to a late night of drinks.

Most of my friends have matured. Myself included. Those feelings of suffering a hangover are long behind us. Casual drinks and good food are much more enjoyable. And that’s what we experienced.

Last night our BBQ started at 7pm. By 9:00pm the first of my friends started to depart. Then the next wave of people were leaving just before 10:00pm. By 11:00pm everyone had gone home. I couldn’t have been happier. Everybody left with full stomachs and a smile. No weird drama, no drunk shenanigans, no mess to clean up. I was in bed by midnight.

I’d call that a successful dinner party. Those are the kinds I’d like to host more often. Good friends and good food makes for a good time.

I Missed My Wife

My wife was out of town for a work function over the past few days. I missed her tremendously. So I’m throwing her a BBQ party tonight!

Ok, I’m lying.

The BBQ is for my friends and coworkers. Many of my friends are my wife’s friends as well.

But I still missed my wife while she was gone. So I plan on having a great time laughing and clowning around with her at the BBQ. Time to go get ready to entertain!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Barbecue Brisket Baby!

Over the past few years, I have been perfecting my ability to make a smoked bbq brisket. I usually only end up making three or four of them a year. That way it keeps the family desiring more and doesn’t overdo the enjoyment of the meal. Last night was the largest one I have ever made.

We do not have a smoker, so I have become resourceful in using our bbq. I put a smoker box on the side burners and place the brisket on the opposite side. I keep the temperature between 200° and 250° allowing the indirect heat to slowly cook the meat over the course of a few hours. Every hour or so, I add some more water soaked hickory wood chips. But before the meat goes on the grill- I have to prepare it.

We have found the best cut of meat for the price is down at the Costco in the USA. Once I open the meat I give it a quick rinse and pat it down with paper towel. Sometimes I’ll trim some of the larger fatty bits if it’s over an inch thick. Then I salt the entire thing, followed by pouring some soy sauce and brushing bbq sauce all around it. Next I add a dry hickory seasoning on the entire brisket to create a crust once the meat is cooked.

As the brisket smokes, my entire neighborhood smells heavenly for hours. (It’s amazing how olfactory senses can add to the enjoyment of a meal.) Last night I also made a different type of potato salad. I roasted some cubed potatoes tossed in olive oil and covered in garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. I baked the potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes turning them every 10 minutes so as not to burn the bottom.

Afterwards I allowed the potatoes to cool in the fridge before adding some chopped up fried garlic sausage, a bit of mayonnaise and two mashed avocados. The meal turned out beautifully. We shared our dinner with a couple of friends and only ate about half the brisket. That means leftovers for lunches!

I love making brisket.

The “Not-So-Secret” Secret To A Good BBQ

BBQ season is here! Flames, food, and friends. I love to barbecue. I have gotten pretty good at making food. Here are the secrets I utilize:

First a decent grill. Mine is okay and has five lengthwise individual burners. Prefect for when you need to use indirect heat for food such as brisket or ribs. Keeping good care of your grill is important as well. I always scrape the grills after they cool off and again before I start my meal. A few times a season I also clean the bottom of the barbecue of any crispy bits.

Next is taking the time to cook your meals. I like to start at a high heat in order to get a nice grill mark. I also add a third of a turn in order to create a “diamond grill mark”. The high heat is done within the first 2 minutes. Then I turn the heat down to medium or low depending on what I’m cooking. Usually I flip at this point in order to get a quick grill mark on the opposite side. Then cook slow and steady.

The biggest secret is having people to share the food with. I love serving friends and family. Here’s to good food and good times!

Easter Sunday in Tokyo

Easter isn’t something that I usually celebrate. Our kids are growing up and hunting eggs doesn’t happen. In the past we have given them a few board games or video games. No hunt this year- this year we are in Tokyo.

The beautiful pastels and Sakura have made for a wonderful Easter Weekend/ Spring Break. So we enjoyed a Ruby KitKat today in lieu of cheap chocolate eggs. Needless to say, they are very tasty (for a single stick that cost about $4.50 CAD).

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Pokemon Mega Center. Our son is the big Pokémon fan, but we all kind of like it. Lots of Pikachu and stuffed animals at the store. He was off like a kid in heaven and rushed around like a crazy person checking out all the merchandise. He was looking for an elusive Mudkip souvenir, but wasn’t having much luck. After we left, he named every Pokémon that was on the walls of the outside of the store.

While there, we were treated to a mall performance of Batten Show Jo Tai. I had not seen a performance in a mall before (I remember them being huge in the 90’s). I also didn’t realize that so many grown men were into teen J-Pop stars. The first song was a heavy metal style J-Pop and the crowd was head banging along with the girls. As outsiders, we were very amused by the whole experience.

We needed to have a nice dinner, so I found us a Japanese BBQ restaurant: Gyu-Kaku (it also happened to be above the Ramen place we frequented a few times this trip). We decided to do the 90 minute all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza. MEAT! MEAT! AND MORE MEAT!!! So many delicious flavors of beef and pork. By the end, we were stuffed.

It was an Easter Sunday to remember. (Besides just being in Tokyo!)

How To Throw A Good BBQ

Last night we went to a "Backyard Bash". There was a $15/person fee to enter and enjoy. And enjoy we did.


The main food attraction was a spit roasted pig! It smelled and tasted heavenly.

There was a live band echoing some fun and amazing cover tunes.

We played badminton (for fun this time, not like I mentioned in Bad Min Ton). My daughter and I then had a water fight and a few more people joined in.

There was a face painter and a guy who made balloon animals. My daughter learned how to make balloon dogs and is now contemplating a career in it…

Food and drinks and friends and family and music and fun. A perfect Saturday BBQ party. All proceeds going to Stepping Stone Community Services Society.

All-in-all it was a successful mid-summer BBQ.

Grilling on a Long Weekend 

This weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday. So naturally people have a long weekend planned.  Either today or Monday off.  I’m planning on enjoying the time with my family tomorrow during the day.  An old friend of mine will be visiting in the evening for dinner.  Pretty subdued and relaxed. My favorite part of the weekends in the summer? We are going to BBQ!  

I forgot to Instagram my dinner tonight.


Smart shopping and preparing meals is another aspect of my father that I took away from him.  Sure, when I was younger I just wanted to take off instead of help.  But I did learn a lot about being a savvy shopper when it come to meat.  I learned to buy in larger quantities and separate the meat into meals.  Today I bought some grilling steaks and divided them into three meals for the five of us.  As I trimmed the fat off the meat, I remember clearly my father explaining the easiest way to do this to avoid waste.  

I also recall late afternoons on weekends, my father would come home from his morning golf game and we would watch PBS.  Sometimes it was “This Old House” or “Fawlty Towers”, usually it was “The Frugal Gourmet”.  I would sit on the floor and play with my Transformers or Lego and the show would be on as background noise. The room we had was segregated from the kitchen with a half wall. When cooking at the stove, you would face the tv.  My father would be in the kitchen preparing our weekend meal and talk to no one in particular about “what a good idea” when he saw something on the tv.


Maybe it was subconscious.  Maybe I took my father’s acknowledgement of the show as intelligent.  Whatever it was, I have become a great chef in our home.  I can make some of the most flavorful meals around with some of the simplest ingredients.  I love experimenting with foods and spices.  Not to mention accompanying sides.  This summer, I look forward to all of the meals that we can cook and enjoy outside.  Hopefully I can convince our children to help out.  Maybe they could learn a thing or two.  Sort of how I did- even without my father being aware of it.

Grilled

Yesterday I was hanging out with an old friend of mine. We have been friends for over 35 years. No matter what happens in our lives- we have always remained in contact. We have had many adventures together, dating back to our childhood. 

The first day we met was in Edmonton when his family moved into the neighborhood.  I went over to say hello and introduce myself. Within minutes, we were playing together.  We ended up going down his sloped driveway in a little wooden wagon. We rolled down towards the road where the moving truck was parked blocking the driveway. Two little boys had almost no control over the wagon. Just before we hit the truck, my brand new best friend of five minutes “steered” the wagon with the little metal bar, thus forcing the front wheels to turn sideways.  The momentum of the wagon initiated a sudden crash as we flipped over onto the concrete driveway.  Scraped and bruised we ended our first day together.  A friendship that has never faltered. 

Over the years, we had bicycle accidents together. We attended Boy Scouts.  We played Colecovision for hours.  We made Lego spaceships and had sleepovers.  We got caught by my mother as we recorded on a cassette a song we sang about our penises. We went tubing down a river and he taught me how to play D&D. He was in university and I came to visit. On that trip, we got “arrested” by mall cops for smoking weed in an underground parking lot. He was in my wedding party.  He’s The Godfather of our eldest child. Through it all, we’ve been great friends.  I gave him a nickname when we were in grade 1 that he is still called by my wife and I:

Willbum Pukus.


Last night our adventures didn’t stop.  What should have been a nice dinner garnered some excitement right before the meal was served.  I broke one of my cardinal rules but since we’ve been friends forever, I didn’t think anything of it. 

“Never touch another man’s grill.” 


I have adhered to this rule all my life.  I never BBQ at a friend’s place, even if I am asked to.  You see each grill is a bit different.  There are hot spots and cold spots.  There are places on the grill that meat sticks to or slides gently off.  My grill is off limits to everyone but me.  Even my wife won’t use it.  But last night, my lifelong best friend asked me to attend to the grilling of the pork ribs.

Everything was going smoothly until I was about to take the meat off the grill.  Suddenly a grease fire took over.  I shut all of the burners off and moved the meat to the edges.  My friend in all of his wisdom acted quickly and dumped his beer into the grill.  A huge cloud of smoke went up into the air.  With a sudden crash, the bottom of the grill fell out.


More flames remained stuck on the bottom dancing wildly under the BBQ. My friend grabbed my beer and dumped it on.  This time the flames went out.  Grease fire and beer- not the smartest plan.  I had no idea we were going to his place for dinner and a show.  

My friend and I have had numerous adventures and we have lived to tell the tales. We are only ten days apart in age (I’m older-therefore wiser). Our sons have become good friends because they are very close in age. It’s a lifelong friendship that is passing on for another generation.  Many more stories to tell.

Assuming we don’t burn the place down in the process.

Experimenting with Foods


I love to cook.  90% of the time my meals turn out perfect.  The other times, I screw up & when I screw up, I screw up big.  Today has me worried…  So I have a back up plan.

We are attempting to make a brisket for the first time.  However, we don’t have a smoker.  I borrowed one from a friend, but upon doing some online research, it’s not the right smoker for tonight’s dinner.  So I am trying to use my gas grill with a smoker box and indirect heat.  It will take all day.  I am hoping for it to be ready by dinner time.  The rub recipe is one a friend from work sent me.  His advice was to cook at 190 for what seems like a gazzilion hours.  So, I woke up at 06:30am and started the meat.  Halfway through the day, it smells fantastic but still has a long way to go.


Usually I BBQ my meats.  I have mastered the cooking times of everything I’ve ever made.  Like I said, 90% of the time the food turns out juicy and flavorful.  The other 10% is me rushing.  Waiting patiently all day to see the final product on a new dish is killing me.  I want it to turn out perfect so badly.  Ugh! The suspense!


What’s more terrifying is the fact that we are having some people stop by for dinner as well.  Remember I said I have a back up plan?  Well, it’s more my wife’s back up plan.  She is using the slow cooker and making a Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork.  It’s one she makes often and it is amazing.  So if I fail on the brisket, at least people will be fed on the pork.  I feel like I’m the Swedish Chef facing off against Gordon Ramsey.  Both cooking icons, both have different styles.

Slow and steady.  Slow and steady.

I must learn patience.  I wonder how long that takes?  Ugh.